posted by on Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Online Safety, Social media

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keyboard_and_mouse-625x1000Whenever I see these headlines about youth taking their lives and the word bullying or cyberbullying attached to it, I want to cringe.

The fact is, it’s sad we need headlines to remind us to continue to be kind to others, to continue to discuss with our children as well as our friends and colleagues about the importance of being an upstander when you see someone being shamed online and most importantly — it’s a reminder that this digital cruelty is not going away anytime soon.

The fact is – there is a live person on the other-side of the screen. Whether it is a smartphone, a laptop, a tablet or a PC – you have the potential to destroy someone’s life with your keypad.  Yes, keystrokes  (a click of a mouse) have become a deadly weapon at all ages – and in many cases – it’s completely legal.

In a PEW Study, researchers said that online harassment will only get worse in the next decade. Unlike finding a cure for cancer or polio, cyberbullying and digital abuse is a human behavior and it’s almost impossible to say we can control every person with a gadget.

We now live in a society where the majority of people live their lives online.  This includes grownups too.  I am firm believer that we can’t exclude parents from the way they are behaving online as well as their lack of understanding their role in educating their kids and teens on empathy, cyberbullying awareness and online safety and security.

Cyberbullying is a concern for everyone and if you believe it can’t happen to  you, you are sorely mistaken.  No one is immune to cyber-bullets – and the worse part about online shaming is it can happen when you least expect it and from a person that you thought was a friend.

We can focus on cyberbullying rising or we can empower ourselves to be upstanders for not only our family, but for others we see that are struggling online.

Parents need to make time, maybe weekly to learn something new as it pertains to online safety, security and digital leadership (this includes cyberbullying prevention and awareness).  This doesn’t replace your regular chats with your kids on cyber-life.  It can enhance it.  Some great sites to get resources from:

We turn to kids, tweens and teens who spend the majority of their time connected.  Sure I could repeat all those PEW stats, but you already know – our kids have their smartphones sewn into the palm of their hand!  This is the first thing parents need to address.

Boundaries — and this goes for parents too.  Un-stitch that phone from the palm of their hand, especially during meals and at bedtime. I shouldn’t have to mention – while driving!  The catch… that means “parents” too!

Parents have to lead by example.  It’s that simple.  (Well, not really), but it should be.

CyberMentor2So what can kids do?  Lead by example too! 

Reminding your child that someone is watching their posts, keystrokes and their comments – they are potentially someone’s mentor whether they realize it or not. It could be their younger sibling, it could be their cousin or a neighbor that looks up to them.

In a post for Gaggle, I wrote about being a Cyber-Mentor.  This is a role for all ages, and one that can benefit each party.  It can help reduce cyberbullying and help give your child a support online when they feel hopeless – they have a peer that understands them.

Yes, cyberbullying might be rising, but let’s start talking about how upstanders and kindness online is growing too.  Talking is great, but let’s start doing something.

It’s more than wearing t-shirts, wristbands or even singing songs – it’s about literally reaching out online when you see that cyber-bullet strike.  It’s about sending a message of support to that person when you see that the are being humiliated or embarrassed.  It’s about publicly saying to others – “that is wrong.”  It’s about standing up against online shaming – not only talking to others about it, but doing something about it.

Parents that assume their kids would never do that – or that their kids could never be a victim of cyberbullies, please don’t be that naive.  No one is immune.  No one.

Doing more than talking about it:

In conclusion:  Cyberbullying and online hate is on the rise.  We will combat it through empathy and kindness.   Parents and their children need to start engaging in more conversations and role playing about this important topic as well as other digital trends.  Turning the talk into action!

Eventually we will see headlines saying:  Upstanders on the Rise!

For more information on preventing, surviving and overcoming online hate, order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks) from your favorite bookstore today.

posted by on Apps, AT&T, Back to School, Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Distracted driving, Texting and driving

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Distracted driving is a major problem and our devices are one of the biggest culprits. According to a poll conducted by Braun Research, 95 percent of drivers polled in the survey said that they disapprove of distracted driving, however, 71 percent engage in some sort of smartphone activity while driving. It’s not easy for teens to put the phone down when they get behind the wheel; even parents struggle with distracted driving. That’s why companies such as AT&T are taking action against distracted driving. Here’s how:

360 Experience

At first you might not think that a quick glance to check your text or email is not really all that distracting. But new technology from AT&T shows just how dangerous it is. Called a 360 Experience, this virtual reality simulation shows the very real consequences of looking at a phone while you’re behind the wheel. Users can click, drag and move around to experience the simulation online or watch in Google Cardboard. The 360 Experience is a valuable tool that can show the real dangers of distracted driving and should be viewed by both parents and teens.

Take the Pledge

Parents and teens alike can join millions of other safe drivers and take the It Can Wait pledge. Those who take the pledge agree that distracted driving is never OK and that you’re never alone on the roads, even if you’re alone in your car. The pledge is simple and is something every parent should go over with their teen. It has three statements, the first being “I pledge to care for those around me and put my phone down while I am driving.” Second, “I pledge to share the message: distracted driving is never OK.” And lastly, “I pledge to be aware that I’m never alone on the road.” Teens and parents can share their pledge on Facebook and Twitter like millions of others with photos and the #ItCanWait hashtag.

Download the App

The Drive-mode app was created to minimize distractions while driving. When the free app is enabled it automatically silences incoming alerts, like texts and phone calls, so as to help drivers stay focused when they’re on the road. The app automatically turns on its functions when a car is moving at 15 mph so there’s no fuss about tapping it on or making sure that it’s set to do its job, which could create a distraction itself. Parents will also appreciate the parental alerts, including notifications when teen drivers turn off the app or if auto-mode is disabled.

Education

Safe driving starts with education. In addition to being a good example, parents, you can teach your teen driver how to be safe when behind the wheel. Did you know that in some states texting and driving is illegal? States like Texas and Missouri even have bans on texting exclusively for teens. Citations for texting and driving can even lead to higher insurance rates. And, consider that texting and driving makes you 23 percent more likely to be involved in a wreck. In fact, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported by Driving-Tests.org, 1.3 million accidents were caused by texting and driving in 2011. Next time you get behind the wheel, be a good example and put your phone away and out of sight so that you can drive distraction free.

posted by on Back to School, Bullying, Bullying prevention, Lunchroom Bullying

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Image courtesy of MySafetySign.com

Schools are opening across the country and although we know bullies didn’t take the summer off, the cafeteria bullies have had a summer break.

Lunchroom bullying like schoolyard bullying is often a place where mean kids will gather.

We haven’t heard a lot about food allergy bullying, but especially as school doors are opening, we need to have more discussions about it.  I posted an article on Huffington Post Parents about the dangers of cafeteria bullying.

Food allergies is a serious medical condition affecting up to 15 million people in the United States, including 1 in 13 children. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or brushing up on the facts, learning all you can about the disease is the key to staying safe and living well with food allergies.

Food allergy bullying is a growing problem in schools across the country. About a third of kids with food allergies report that they have been bullied specifically because of their allergies. – FARE

Watch their PSA:

Takeaway tips:

• Teens and young adults with food allergies have the highest risk of fatal anaphylaxis. Though many younger children don’t understand the danger of using another’s allergies to bully, teens are more likely to take risks when it comes to food allergies.

• Millions of Americans have food allergies; tell your teen they aren’t alone. Encourage them not to be embarrassed to tell friends about their allergies.

• Watch for signs that your child is dealing with bullying: an increase of allergic reactions or excuses to stay out of school.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Digital citizenship, Internet Safety, Kindness Counts

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What a fantastic headline! 

It can get exhausting hearing about the negativity of online harassment and how incivility is rising digitally.

Thanks to #ICANHELP, they put out a call for nominees of students that are making a positive impact online. They recently announced who they will be recognizing at their first annual #Digital4Good event which will be at Twitter headquarters.

Reprinted with permission:

(San Francisco, CA –August 1, 2017) – After receiving numerous submissions from across the country, #ICANHELP is thrilled to announce the students that will be recognized at the upcoming #Digital4Good. Happening on Monday, September 18th from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM PST at Twitter HQ in San Francisco, this is the inaugural event celebrating empowered digital citizens.

Each of these students were nominated by a member of their community and then evaluated by our panel of students, educators, and industry representatives. While we often hear stories of tech misuse, our award winners are students using digital for good.

The following students will be recognized for their work on September 18 in San Francisco, CA at Twitter HQ, with more specific information about their individual accomplishments to be shared in the coming weeks. Congratulations to Cody Craft, Excelsior Middle School, Brentwood, CA; Erika deGuia, Heritage High School, Brentwood, CA; Samantha Lucero, Chino Hills High School, Chino Hills, CA; Astrid Maunsbach, Carlssonskolan, Stockholm, Sweden; Nina Nguyen, Orange High School, Orange, CA; Bailey Wilcox, Grossmont High School, El Cajon, CA; Kara Hopgood, Mount Boucherie Secondary School, Kelowna, BC, Canada; Maeve Repking, St. Petronile, Glen Ellyn, IL; Samantha Bisbee, Patriot High School, Jarupa Valley, CA; Mia Moran, Bristow Middle School, Brentwood, CA; Mitch Fisher, Northwest High School, Grand Island, NE; Sophie Bernstein, Clayton High School, St. Louis, MO; Tony Salazar, Exeter Union High School, Exeter, CA; Maxwell Surprenanat, St. Sebastian’s School, Needham, MA.

#Digital4Good is being spearheaded by #ICANHELP, a non-profit organization committed to empowering students to play an active role in improving the online environment. The event on September 18th is #ICANHELP’s first national event, and is meant to raise awareness of the power of student voice for social good in social media. Students as empowered stakeholders. Co-founder Kim Karr explains that, “#ICANHELP has worked with over two hundred and fifty thousand students to be the digital change they want to see.” Co-founder Matt Soeth added, “The focus is always too much on the negative, and we have some amazing youth out there making a difference. We want students to inspire students to be digital leaders.”

By uniting a broad range of students, educators, and industry people, the #Digital4Good event on September 18 represents a student-centered, student-led approach to solving some of the complicated issues and social problems in social tech use – students as part of the solution not the problem! It aims to raise awareness, offer real-world best practices, and celebrate the many examples of students using digital for good.

Twitter will host the first annual #Digital4Good event at their San Francisco headquarters and it will be live streamed through #ICANHELP’s Twitter account or through our website to a global audience. Anyone from across the country and globe will be able to watch the event live and free through @icanhelp and on the organization’s website.

More information can be found at icanhelpdeletenegativity.org.

posted by on Cybersafety, Digital Parenting, Identity theft, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online Security, Privacy

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As a parent, you are probably concerned about your tween and teen’s use of social media. While you understand the appeal of sites like Instagram and Snapchat, you want to be sure your children are not sharing too much personal info or posting too many photos.

What makes this concern a tad ironic, is that you might not be worried about how you are representing your kids on social media. But maybe you should be.

What is Sharenting?

Almost every cute kiddo has an online presence by the time she reaches her second birthday. From newborn shots posted by proud parents on Twitter to hilarious videos of a toddler trying to eat chocolate pudding while decked out in a Superman cape that are shared on Facebook, parents are quite willing to introduce their kids to the world via social media. This tendency to share what our kids are saying and doing online is calling “sharenting,” and it definitely comes with a number of risks. For example, check out the following examples:

Identity Theft

Children are at a high risk of identity theft, and sharenting can make them a bigger target. Those beautiful newborn shots posted on Facebook probably included the full name and birth date of your newest bundle of joy; this is enough info for a nefarious nogoodnik to open up an account in your baby’s name and start wreaking havoc. To help counteract this risk, consider purchasing a service that will monitor for and mitigate against identity theft. Pick a reputable and reliable company that offers protection for family members, including those under the age of 18.

Increased Safety Risks

The last thing you want is to put your child’s safety at risk. But if you post first day of school photos along with the full name of your kiddos’ school and their teacher’s name, you may have unwittingly done just that. As the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan notes, social media sites like Facebook often add in your location to your posts, so even if you leave off your tween’s school name, the site might do it for you. Also, depending on how you have selected your privacy settings, your photos of your kids and the personal info might be able to be viewed by not only your friends and family but also all of their contacts and total strangers who pull up your page.

A Lack of Trust Between Parent and Child

Remember when you were younger and you blushed with embarrassment every time your mom shared something private about you with a friend, relative or neighbor? You probably didn’t want Aunt Betty to know your latest GPA or the lady down the block to hear about your newest BFF and what movie you just saw. Now, if you are sharing personal stuff about your tweens and teens on social media, even if you have the best intentions, you may be creating a sense of mistrust and disrespect between you and your kiddos. To make matters worse, instead of sharing a cute story with one relative or friend, you may be telling the online world about what your kids are up to, without their permission.

In order to keep your relationships with your kids as open, honest and healthy as possible, ask them what they think about your posts about them on social media. You might find that your teenage son doesn’t care if you post photos of his awesome soccer goal, but your tween daughter was mortified about your seemingly innocuous post about back to school shopping.

Your relationships with your tweens and teens are far more important than any number of “likes” and positive comments from your social media peeps. As a bonus, this approach will also make you a positive role model for your kids; it will help teach them the importance of asking permission to post photos and comments about others, and possibly prevent any privacy or other issues involving posts of their friends.

A Few Final Words of Advice

Even if your daughter said it’s cool to post stuff about her success as a debater or softball player, let caution be your guide. Ask yourself if you are fine with the whole world knowing these tidbits about your tween — because this is pretty much what will happen when you post on social media. Resist the urge to ask for advice about your children and any struggles they may be going through, and use either their first initial or a nickname to identify them.


This is a guest post. We do not represent any services mentioned in this post nor are we compensated in any way. This is strictly for educational purposes.

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Girl Bullying

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Unicef1As schools across the country get ready to open their doors, parents and educators prepare to address not only bullying but also today’s digital problem, cyberbullying.

Last year UNICEF released their report Perils and Possibilities: Growing up online, based on an international opinion poll of more than 10,000 18-year-olds from 25 countries, revealed young people’s perspectives on the risks they face growing up in an increasingly connected world.

One of the biggest issues facing youth today is online bullying and harassment. One survey found it to be more concerning than drug abuse.

Most teens know that when they encounter cyberbullies, they should stop, block and tell, (and I always advise them to screen-shot all the evidence before you block them), however the telling is most important.

When I went through my darkest times of being a victim of online shaming and abuse, you feel completely alone, fearful and humiliated. As an adult — I felt this way, so when I hear about youth being verbally tortured online, I know this has to be extremely painful. Without having someone to confide in, it can emotionally kill you.

  • In Central European countries, 63% of interviewees strongly agree they would tell a friend if they felt threatened online, compared to 46% who would tell their parent. Only 9% would tell a teacher.

More than half, (53%) of  the 10,000 that were polled around the world strongly agreed that online dangers exist.

With more than half believing there are online risks and dangers, 90% believe they know how to avoid these problems.

“Despite recognition that dangers
exist online, nearly nine out of 10
adolescents think they have learned
how to protect themselves on
social media and know how to avoid
dangerous situations while using the
Internet.”

Whenever you are being harassed or bullied online, especially if virtual violence or otherwise is involved, being able to tell someone is imperative. With younger people we encourage them to tell their parents, however we know at times this can be difficult. They fear their will lose their online privileges or not be taken seriously. Sometimes they fear they will be consider a tattle-tale.

In this report the majority of adolescents polled said the would turn to a friend, and that’s okay. As long as you tell someone.

  • 54% said they would tell a friend.
  • 48% said they would tell a parent.
  • 19% said they would tell a teacher.

Today sexting is considered the new flirting. So if your teen shares flirty pictures with their boyfriend or girlfriend keep in mind, those images will typically have a life span longer than the relationship. Most important is discussing the consequences of sexting: Sending or receiving a sexually suggestive text or image under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and can result in criminal charges.

Don’t assume your sexy images will be kept private even if your friend makes a promise they will be — once there’s a break-up, all bets are off.

It’s why we see the rise in revenge porn and sextortion.

  • 67% of girls agreed they would be worried if someone made sexual comments to them online.
  • 47% of boys said they had the same concern (a significant difference).

We often read so much about women being targets online when it comes to digital shaming, harassment, revenge porn and more, which is understandable with these statistics. Men can be victims too – but we do hear an overwhelming amount of stories that revolve around the female gender.

Parenting tips:

  • Communication is key.
  • Offline chats are imperative to online safety.
  • Go online with your child, be as interested in their cyber-life as you are in their school life.
  • Remember, short chats are better than no chats at all.
  • It’s not the apps – it’s having the skills and wisdom to know when to click-out when they are uncomfortable.
  • Continue to remind your kids you are there for them – but it’s also okay for them to talk to any trusted adult. If someone is being harassed online, they have to tell someone. Don’t be hurt – but grateful they are sharing it with someone.

“When young people, governments, families, the ICT sector and communities work together, we are more likely to find the best ways to respond to online sexual abuse and exploitation, and send a strong message that confronting and ending violence against children online – indeed anywhere – is all of our business,” said Williams.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

The full study is here: http://www.unicef.org/endviolence/endviolenceonline/files/UNICEF_Growing-up-online.pdf

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Online image, Online reputation, Reputation Management

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SocialMediaSignSummer can be a great time for teens to decompress from school and their hectic schedule of running from events and squeezing in your homework and studying for exams.

They will also have more time for social media, which isn’t all bad.  Especially if they are in high school and going to be applying to colleges.  Creating your online image (reputation) is going to determine your future.

Your digital trail started when you received your first keypad, however you truly need to start enhancing it for the college recruiters as well as potential employers.  The fact is, your name will be put through a wash-cycle of a search-engine.

One of the biggest mistake I see teens making is over-sharing and post remorse.

With over-sharing comes managing your privacy settings appropriately.

As we mention in Shame Nation, my upcoming book, it’s time for teens to start considering their LIKE’s. Remember, it’s not about quantity, but rather about quality.

Think of every LIKE as your endorsement of that post, image or comment.

It may be funny at that moment, but how will a potential recruiter or employer feel about it if it floats on top of an Internet search?

Here are some tips to begin your mid-summer social media footprint:

Privacy Settings: I promise to check my privacy settings on all my social networking sites weekly.

Share with Care: I promise not to use social media as a venting machine or a scrapbook. I will use custom privacy settings on photos that are for family only.

Password Security: Never give out your password to anyone except your parent. Don’t use passwords with common names and numbers of your family. Remember to use passwords that are not familiar to your friends (such as your pets names).

Keystrokes matter: Think before you type, pause before you post – it is really that simple. The Internet is the largest tattooing machine in the world – once it is sent, it is nearly impossible to erase.  Kindness counts – if you don’t have anything nice to say, just click off for the day.

Build-A-Blog: Especially teens that need to start building their online reputation, a blog is a great launching pad! It is a platform to showcase their interests, hobbies, sports, awards, selective photos, trips, community service and more. Your digital real-estate begins with you! It’s free with WordPress or Blogger.

With the cyber-world expanding everyday – this list could go on forever.

Don’t allow the summer time over-time get you in keystroke trouble, make it a time to create your platform for the future!

Most important again not to over-share.  Some things are better left between you and your closest friends – not for digital distribution.

Here’s a great reminder from Cyberwise, you are your “Digital Billboard.”


Video by CyberCivics.com.

posted by on Adult Cyberbullying, Cyberbullying

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In a recent PEW Research Survey, Online Harassment, 66% of Americans say they have witnessed some type of harassing behavior directed toward others online, with 39% indicating they have seen others targeted with severe behaviors such as stalking, physical threats, sustained harassment or sexual harassment.

The good news is people are starting to take cover (implement basic precautions to protect themselves) and/or become upstanders.

Just over a quarter of Americans, 28% of Americans say that observing the harassment of others has influenced them to set up or adjust their own privacy settings.

More than a quarter of Americans have chosen to not post something online after seeing harassment of others

Harassment has also caused 27% of Americans to stop sharing or commenting on posts after witnessing abuse on the platform, while 13% have decided to stop using a social media network all together due to the severity of harassment.

It also can impact adults mental health, while 8% say that even reading the cruelty online, although it isn’t targeted at them, makes them very anxious.

Becoming an upstander.

We frequently hear the word upstander as it pertains to kids with bullying and cyberbullying, but now grown-ups are understanding the importance of stepping-in online.

Three-in-ten Americans (30%) say they have intervened in some way after witnessing abusive behavior directed toward others online.

This latest survey by PEW Research confirms that no one is immune to digital harassment – at any age. This is a reflection of the decline of civility online yet also tells us that people are trying to climb out of it.  We can do this – 75% of Americans believe it starts with us. Today there are also many resources for adults to turn to for help.

Check out my forthcoming book, Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks) releasing on October 3rd, during National [Cyber]Bullying Prevention Month. From surviving, prevention and overcoming digital disasters, you will hear inspiring stories from people that came through dark places and top experts from around the globe. Pre-order today.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital Parenting

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Keeping teens and tweens safe online continues to be a growing issue that concerns parents everywhere. Statistics indicate that 20% of youths receive hateful or harassing messages via the internet. This is not what a parent likes to hear.

As a parent, you want to protect your children from dangers both in real life and online. Learning how to keep your kids safe online is a new form of parenting that is integral to this generation. Children as young as two are already using electronic devices for entertainment purposes and will graduate to social media in what feels like no time.  For these reasons, it’s important to educate both yourself and your child about online safety, cyberbullying, digital reputation, and potential predators.

What is digital parenting and is there any way to truly keep your kids safe online?

What is Digital Parenting?

Digital parenting means that as a parent, you are going to become informed and involved with your child’s online social life, and to educate yourself on how to keep your children protected. To tweens and teens, Digital Parenting may seem invasive. But its actual use is to help your children understand how to be safe online and prevent negative experiences with internet use.

Here is what you can do to become a better digital parent and educate your children about potential risks and acceptable online behavior.

Learn about the risks of using the internet

The internet is a great place for children to learn and connect with peers and can be an asset for doing homework, having fun, and strengthening cognitive thinking. However, your job as parental protector becomes much more difficult the moment your child steps onto the virtual streets of the internet.

Even the most careful child can easily get into trouble online. On the internet your child can be at the risk of sexual predators, doxing (hacking for personal information with malicious intent), viewing pornography and violent materials, being cyberbullied, and connecting with strangers online.

Get involved

Nobody wants to be a helicopter parent, but when it comes to your tweens, it’s important to have access to their social media accounts. You must  get to know about the different social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and Tumblr, as well as potentially dangerous or inappropriate platforms for your child to be on such as Kik, Tinder, and Reddit. Get familiar with these forms of social media so you can better understand your child’s digital life.

Check Internet History and use Internet Tools

Another part of being involved means checking the internet history and setting protective passwords.

You can download an add-on to your internet browser that is password protected. This add-on will allow you to block access to particular websites and keywords. This is great for blocking pornography. Just make sure you do it across all browsers you have, as well as on your child’s phone. Otherwise, they will be able to get around this add-on.

Another great tool to use online is called SpectorSoft, this program will take snapshots of your computer screen and then play the file like a video. This will let you know exactly what goes on when your child uses the internet. 

Set Rules

To ensure your child has less opportunity to get into trouble online, set ground rules that must be obeyed. This may include not being on the Internet via computer or phone past a certain time of night, or on certain days. Have your computer in the main living space of your home that faces outward so nothing can be hidden.

Setting rules ensures there is no confusion about what is and isn’t acceptable when using the internet. 

Explain the Importance of Privacy

There are some things your child is going to know are wrong after hearing your ground rules such as watching pornography or talking to an adult online. But, reiterate to them the importance of online privacy. Do not have your young child put their personal information such as last name, school, age, address, phone number, e-mail, or photos of themselves on the Internet. If your child does post photos on an account such as Instagram, have the account made private so that only people they know in real life can access their information. 

Cyberbullying

Your child may be a victim of cyberbullying; an epidemic that is only growing as the years go on. This commonly involves someone, or a group of people, harassing and bullying a child via social media.  Opposite of this, your child could be on the opposite end of the spectrum. They could be the bully. Keeping an eye on their social accounts will help you monitor potentially hurtful situations.

Talk openly about cyberbullying and underline the important of your child coming to you if they are bullying or being bullied, and also if they see someone else being bullied. 

Sexting

Sexting is extremely dangerous for children, whether they are texting an adult or a child in their class.

This can have devastating effects on their social lives and mental state. Explain, in age-appropriate terms, what sexting is and why they should not indulge in this behavior. 

Online reputation

Your child’s online reputation is important. What goes on the internet stays there forever. Even if they are young now, sending sexual photos or catfishing another person can stay with your child well into adulthood. Talk about your child’s online reputation and how important it is to protect it. 

Keep the flow of Communication Open

The best way to ensure your child stays safe online is to keep the flow of communication open. Express how vital it is that your child come to you whenever they feel uncomfortable online. Don’t jump down their throat when they tell you something that you don’t approve of. Instead, listen patiently, express logical reasons why the behavior or action concerns you, and talk respectfully. This will make your child feel more comfortable about coming to you in the future.

Author Bio: Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy, happy marriages. Follow her on FacebookTwitterStumbleUpon, Google+ and Pinterest.

 

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety

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The facts about cyberbullying are sobering. More than 40 percent of kids say they have been bullied online, 87 percent have witnessed cyberbullying and yet only one in ten victims will report the abuse to an adult. Kids who are bullied are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and in extreme cases, suicide. Furthermore, kids spend the majority of their internet time on smartphones, making it the likeliest place for cyberbullying to take place. These statistics are enough to give any parent pause about arming their child with a smartphone and sending them out into the scary online world alone. Keeping kids offline altogether and forever denying them a phone of their own is near impossible and, in most cases, undesirable. Instead of shielding children from smartphone and Internet use in an effort to prevent online abuse, use their phone as a tool to protect them. Here are three ways to use your kid’s smartphone to guard against cyberbullying:

1. Set Limits

The first piece of advice doesn’t require any technical know-how from you. A smartphone opens your child up to the internet and all the awesome and awful things that includes. And as you would with anything else potentially harmful or addictive, you need to educate and set limits for your kids. In addition to talks about topics like internet permanency, privacy and dangerous adults, talk to your kids about cyberbullying from friends and acquaintances, letting them know about trusted adults they can talk to about being bullied, what to do if they witness bullying and about acceptable and unacceptable behavior online. Consider limits on time and usage, like who your child can call, what times of day and where she can use the phone, what apps and websites are acceptable and what are the consequences for breaking the rules. Limits will help your kid from being consumed by their newfound freedom and let you keep a better watch over their internet use.

2. Privacy Settings

Most smartphones have privacy settings and child safety controls that will let you decide if you want to turn off features like texting or downloading apps, or restrict the websites they can visit. For example, using iOS on the iPhone 7, you can turn on parental controls through the Restrictions folder in Settings. Under Restrictions, you can turn off access to the social aspects of the Game Center or prevent apps from accessing your child’s current location. In the Messages app, you can filter iMessages from people who aren’t saved in your child’s Contacts. If your child is receiving harassing texts or calls, you can also block phone numbers or contacts in the Phone app.

Likewise, any social networking app should be at the highest privacy setting so that strangers are not able to view your child’s page or profile. Ensure that you have access to your kid’s social media pages by friending or following them, even requiring them to turn over their passwords, and let your kid know that you will be monitoring the accounts regularly. Knowing a parent has access will curb bullying behavior by your kid and let you watch out for it from others. Also, be aware that many kids have “finsta” accounts (fake Instagram), that they keep hidden from their parents.

3. Download Anti-bullying Apps

The last way to use your kid’s smartphone to protect against cyberbullies is to download anti-bullying apps that can educate your kids on what to do if they or someone they know is bullied, help you monitor their online behavior and make it easy to report bullying to a trusted adult.

a) KnowBullying – The KnowBullying app was created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and released in 2014. This app is an education tool that will open the discussion between parents and kids and give tips on how to deal with cyberbullying.

b) STOPit or Bully Block – Check with your child’s school to see if they participate in Stopit, which is an app that allows students to anonymously take screenshots of cyberbullying and send them to the administrative team. Similarly, Bully Block lets the user record and report bullies.

c) Monitoring Apps – There are multiple apps that allow parents to monitor internet activity. Go Go Stat monitors Facebook, while Safety Web tracks texts and instant messages as well as Facebook and Twitter. Other more comprehensive monitoring apps include Social Shield, Mobicip and Net Nanny.