posted by on Depression, Digital Parenting, Internet Addiction, Online bullying, Online Life, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Struggling Teens, Summer Camps, Teen Depression, Teen Help

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Internet addiction, is it real? YES!

Teens on a beach, yet immersed in their digital life.
Image: Pexels

Today we are facing a time when teen depression is on the rise. Young people are struggling with anxiety, stress and overwhelmed by peer pressure. They are completely immersed in their screens without considering their emotional or physical health.

Warning signs

-An obsession with being online
-Frustration, anxiety, and irritability when not able to get online
-Abandoning friends (family) or hobbies in order to stay digitally connected
-Continuing to spend time online even after negative repercussions (such as failing grades, deteriorating relationships, and even health issues)

Have you tried:

  • Phone contracts
  • Removing their devices
  • Local therapy
  • Digital detox plans

But find your teen still falling back into their old obsessive patterns?

Getting help

With summer around the corner, Reset Summer Camp could be a great option for your family.

Reset Summer Camp offers a fully immersive, clinical program hosted on a university campus, providing a fun-filled summer camp atmosphere. Participants are able to detox from their screen addiction and learn how to self-regulate, as they participate in individual and group therapy.

Both affordable and effective, Reset offers a 4 week programs for teens (13-17) and 2 week programs for kids (8-12). Visit www.resetsummercamp.com for more information. They also offer financial assistance.

Residential therapy

Maybe your teen has escalated to a point where he needs more than 4 weeks? In some situations the teen is struggling both emotionally and physically to a point that they need more intense care and attention.

This is where Parent Universal Resources can help you find safe and quality options.

Keep in mind, this is not about removing technology from your child’s life. It’s about giving them the tools to have a healthy relationship with their digital world.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying, Online Life, Online reputation, Online Safety, Online Shaming, Peer Cruelty

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Social distancing shouldn’t be cruel.

Photo: Pixabay, Geralt

We are living in an extremely stressful and unusual times with the corona virus outbreak (COVID-19).

With the majority of schools, restaurants, bars, retail stores, small businesses, etc…. closing – this means people are not only facing financial hardships, the emotional well-being of individuals is at risk too.

Unfortunately we’re also witnessing the ugly side of people, as they scour to get the last of the toilet paper, or treat cashiers with rudeness blaming them when a store is out of items they need.

I’ve seen all this happening and it’s really disturbing. One patron at our local grocery store literally called a girl that was bagging his food a retard!

Does he get a pass for being stressed out in this trying time? Absolutely not! This young girl is special needs and has been working in our local store for almost a year – she’s very proud of the work she does.

She didn’t let him phase her, but later told one of our neighbors how hurtful it was. This crisis is not an excuse for cruel and mean behavior.

An important lesson we all must be mindful of is our kids, as well as many that are now out of school, are watching how adults are behaving. As that man insulted a special needs person doing her job, what message did that send out to young people that may have witnessed it?

Especially during this time of uncertainty – we all need to be conscious of how we treat others, there are many young eyes that are impressionable. Never doubt, you are your child’s biggest influence.

Social awareness – not social shaming

If you are someone who is quick to judge others for their behavior—maybe they are in a bar or any public area where you believe they shouldn’t be, and you are going to publicly shame them digitally—take the time to reconsider. Maybe they have a reason to be there or maybe it’s none of your business.

Please remember when things go viral, it can impact a person’s future. Their ability to get a job could be jeopardized or the job they have could be at risk. 

It’s not about condoning bad behavior, it’s about being compassionate and empathetic  to other people’s needs, and understanding what they might be going through, especially if we don’t know them or the reason they are doing what you deem is wrong.

The aim and shame society

Maybe a person is in public place such as a bar (though people are being told to stay home) waiting to pick up food? Maybe they are delivering supplies to the establishment. Could someone have been hired to fix a broken pipe? A person doing a good deed could potentially be cyber-shamed because someone was quick to make a rash judgment, thinking they were saving the world.

This was actually posted on a comment section of a recent article:

I will show up and video them and post it online and shame them and destroy their reputations forever. The internet never forgives and the internet never forgets.

Like people who need to buy larger quantities at stores, let’s be slow to judge and take time to consider before we use our keypads as weapons.

Begin NextDoor

Social distancing can also bring out kindness. This was posted on our local NextDoor app. Instead of finding ways to hurt or harm others, find ways to help them during these uncertain times.

Original copy in Psychology Today.

posted by on Civility, Kindness Counts

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National Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17th but do we need a day to remind us to be nice to each other? Being kind starts with us and should be everyday.

Random Acts of Kindness Day is great time to emphasize the importance of humanity towards each other. At the same time, it’s a bit sad that we have to remind people to simply be nice to one another.

In my book, Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate we recognize that although we are living in a time of incivility both offline and especially online, it’s important to give you resources that are making a positive impact on communities all over the globe.

The Ripple Kindness Project

Founder Lisa Currie developed this Australian-based curriculum for the very youngest of students in elementary schools. “From what I could see, traditional antibullying programs were very negative and short-lived and really didn’t leave kids with any resources for improving their thoughts, feelings, or behavior,” she says. “Our aim is to infuse children with goodness by teaching them about their emotions, having them participate in acts of kindness, and experiencing the good feelings that are produced when they do good for others. When children learn to be givers, their whole world can change.”

Here are some of Ripple Kindness’s suggested activities to
get you started:

• Give blood.
• Leave a chocolate for the cashier.
• Bake a cake for someone.
• Feed an expired parking meter.
• Pay for someone’s meal.
• Give a compliment.
• Listen to and play with children.
• Clean someone’s home.
• Clean someone’s car.
• Buy coffee for the person behind you.
• Visit someone in a nursing home.
• Take some food or clothing to a homeless person.
• Leave a note in a lunch box.
• Don’t charge someone for some work you do for them.
• Become an organ donor.
• Ask an elderly neighbor if she needs any assistance
around her home.
• Hand make cheer-up
cards and deliver them to a hospital
for patients.
• Let someone go in front of you at a checkout.
• Babysit for someone.
• If you’re an employer, allow your staff to leave an hour
early one day.

#NiceItForward

“Who is the most awesome person today?” asks the Facebook page “Greenwich Compliments.” And every day, it answers, peppering those who live in this posh Connecticut town with a daily hip-hip-hooray for their beautiful voice, sense of style, or willingness to lend a hand.

The idea was sparked after a 2013 suicide of a bullied teen on his first day of his sophomore year shook the entire community. Looking for a way to turn things around, the Facebook page solicits compliments about Greenwich residents, receiving up to thirty submissions daily. 

“It only takes a few seconds, but by submitting, you are making a conscious decision to make someone else’s day better,” says the woman behind the site, a Greenwich High School graduate who chooses to remain anonymous. 

“People ask if I am a police officer or a teacher. I am neither. I am just a person who grew up in Greenwich and who knows how tough life can be sometimes and who knows how awesome it is to receive a compliment and how rewarding it is to give one.”

“Privacy and anonymity are very frequently used negatively on the Internet, unfortunately,” she explains. “I like to think that Greenwich Compliments is different.”

These types of #NiceItForward accounts have popped up across the nation, some created by students themselves and others by adults. One Twitter account, @OsseoNiceThings, was created in 2012 by Kevin Curwick, then a popular high school senior at Minnesota’s Osseo High School, who began anonymously tweeting shout-outs to his classmates.

The media attention sparked similar accounts all over the state and beyond, such as @ERHSnicewords, created by a student at East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota, and titled “The End to Bullying,” which now has more than forty thousand followers.

Down in Charlotte, North Carolina, one father of two had had enough with comments on Twitter bashing a sports media star he follows, so he decided to create the moniker Supportive Guy and put positivity out there. “I wondered what the counterpoint of this kind of online behavior would be,” he explains. “And I created the account [@SupportiveDude] that moment on a whim.”

Since then, he has grown his following to more than fifteen hundred fans, tweeting kind remarks, and has even started the SupportiveGuy minute-long podcast.

All I’m trying to do is give people a safe haven and an online friend they can always tweet and get a response [from], maybe even a laugh. And maybe, people can see that you can get attention online without being negative. The reality is that you have a right to be on social media whenever you want to, without [the] risk of being verbally attacked.”

For more of these inspiring stories, organizations and people making a difference, order Shame Nation book today from your favorite bookstore.

Helping make kindness trend starts with you.

posted by on Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Depression, Online harassment, Parenting, Teen Depression, Teen Help

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According to new research, cyberbullying can worsen symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in young people.

Photo courtesy: Keenan Constance (Pexels)

It’s not only about online bullying and harassment, social media use and screen time can lead to an increase in depression and anxiety among teens and adolescents.

Sticks and stones may break your bones – but words, they can last wound you for a long-time.

Especially when cruel comments, mean memes or even distorted images go viral, a young person isn’t emotionally prepared for the ramifications of how this can affect their mental health.

Teens, depression and cyberbullying

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine study examined adolescent psychiatric inpatients ages 13 to 17 and their prevalence of cyberbullying and related it to social media usage, current levels of symptoms and histories of adverse early life experience.

“Cyberbullying is possibly more pernicious than other forms of bullying because of its reach,” said Phillip Harvey, the study co-author, in a university news release. “The bullying can be viral and persistent. To really be bullying, it has to be personal — a directly negative comment attempting to make the person feel bad.”

The study also uncovered other facts about cyberbullying:

  • Time spent online is not a determining factor in who is cyberbullied.
  • People from all economic and ethnic backgrounds are vulnerable.
  • Those who have previously been bullied are at a higher risk of being bullied again.

As we read more about online harassment climbing and teen sadness on the rise, we have to note in 2019 a University of Buffalo study revealed that teens are suffering sleep disruption patterns – due to cyberbullying and social media usage. This is causing anger, persistent irritability, as well as anxiety in young people.

3 Ways to help your teen reduce cyberbullying

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize if your teen is struggling online, there are reasons they don’t want to tell someone (especially a parent).

  1. Fear of consequences.
  2. Humiliation and embarrass.
  3. Fear of making it worse.

Being proactive starts offline with regular chats about their online life. It’s imperative your teen (or tween) understands that online bullying is unacceptable. They also need to know that, sadly, it is part of the digital world.

  1. Flag, block and report. For every social platform your child signs up for (including text messages), be sure they know the features to report abusive content. Also take the time to read the terms of service as it pertains to harassment and abuse. It will give them a better understanding of what constitutes cyberbullying and hate speech.
  2. Critical thinking. The importance of their online reputation and how it will impact their future from college admission to potential jobs. Help them think through what they are about to post or text. It’s more about pause — than think. Yes, think about it, but literally stop (pause) before you hit that send. What’s going to be the long-term consequences of that comment, image or meme? If you are forwarding something – be sure it’s a truthful comment or post. We have seen people suffer with tweets and posts that have come back to haunt them.
  3. Encourage your teen to socialize more in person with their friends. Did you know that according to a Screen Education survey, 69% of teens prefer to be with their peers in-real-life rather than online? This same survey shared that 26% of teens wished parents would impose screen time limits. Help your teen curb their device time with these tips.

Remember, socializing in real-life helps us develop empathy for others….. isn’t that what the goal is?

posted by on Cyberbullying, Internet Safety, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Sexting, Uncategorized

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In an age where sending nudes has become normalized, we must educate young people on how to handle sexual content; sexting.

A JAMA Pediatrics study showed that 1 in 4 teens say they’re sexting—witness the sexting scandals that have popped up in small towns across America, from Duxbury, Massachusetts, to Cañon City, Colorado. The activity is also more common as young people get older, the study authors report.

Almost on a weekly basis we read headlines of adults being caught sexting minors or inappropriately, causing them to land in legal ramifications, not to mention losing their jobs. This is a perfect example that anyone (everyone) needs to be educated on using their devices safely when it pertains to sexual content.

Sexting is always about sex

When writing Shame Nation book, we interviewed a teenager that was involved in the sexting scandal in Duxbury, MA. Shockingly she said that sending nudes was common among girls.

“Girls were happy that their pictures were put there,” said Ginny (name changed for privacy. “It made them feel like all the boys loved them.”

Although there were some young people that were embarrassed and upset, when you talk to the girls directly, you find that what they dreaded most was not the reality that their naked bodies were circulating online, but the news getting out to the adults. “I don’t think the girls were all that embarrassed,” Ginny says. “They just were afraid of getting in trouble and sent to the police station with their parents.”

Safely handling sexual content

Hopefully you talk to your teen or tween (yes, tween) offline about online safety which probably includes how to handle inappropriate content when they receive it. Have you considered talking to them straight forward about handling sexual content – sexting – safely?

Cyberbullying Research Center founders, Drs. Hinduja and Patchin, understand, teens sexting is a problem, so “It is Time to Teach Safe Sexting.”

Hinduja and Patchin do want youth to understand that those who sext open themselves up to possible significant and long-term consequences, such as humiliation, extortion, victimization, school sanction, reputational damage, and even criminal charges. But they also want youth who are going to do it anyway to exercise wisdom and discretion to prevent avoidable fallout.

“This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex,” said Hinduja. “It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.”

Strategies for Safe Sexting

1. If someone sends you a sext, do not send it to—or show—anyone else. This could be considered nonconsensual sharing of pornography, and there are laws prohibiting it and which outline serious penalties (especially if the image portrays a minor).

2. If you send someone a sext, make sure you know and fully trust them. “Catfishing“— where someone sets up a fictitious profile or pretends to be someone else to lure you into a fraudulent romantic relationship (and, often, to send sexts)—happens more often than you think. You can, of course, never really know if they will share it with others or post it online, but do not send photos or video to people you do not know well.

3. Do not send images to someone who you are not certain would like to see it (make sure you receive textual consent that they are interested). Sending unsolicited explicit images to others could also lead to criminal charges.

4. Consider boudoir pictures. Boudoir is a genre of photography that involves suggestion rather than explicitness. Instead of nudes, send photos that strategically cover the most private of private parts. They can still be intimate and flirty but lack the obvious nudity that could get you in trouble.

5. Never include your face. Of course, this is so that images are not immediately identifiable as yours but also because certain social media sites have sophisticated facial recognition algorithms that automatically tag you in any pictures you would want to stay private.

6. Make sure the images do not include tattoos, birthmarks, scars, or other features that could connect them to you. In addition, remove all jewelry before sharing. Also, consider your surroundings. Bedroom pictures could, for example, include wall art or furniture that others recognize.

7. Turn your device’s location services off for all of your social media apps, make sure your photos are not automatically tagged with your location or username, and delete any meta-data digitally attached to the image.

8. If you are being pressured or threatened to send nude photos, collect evidence when possible. Having digital evidence (such as screenshots of text messages) of any maliciousness or threats of sextortion will help law enforcement in their investigation and prosecution (if necessary) and social media sites in their flagging and deletion of accounts.

9. Use apps that provide the capability for sent images to be automatically and securely deleted after a certain amount of time. You can never guarantee that a screenshot was not taken, nor that another device was not used to capture the image without you being notified, but using specialized apps can decrease the chance of distribution.

10. Be sure to promptly delete any explicit photos or videos from your device. This applies to images you take of yourself and images received from someone else. Having images stored on your device increases the likelihood that someone—a parent, the police, a hacker—will find them. Possessing nude images of minors may have criminal implications. In 2015, for example, a North Carolina teen was charged with possessing child pornography, although the image on his phone was of himself.

posted by on Cybersafety, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online harassment, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Online Safety, Online Security, Sexting

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Study: Kids as young as 10 are being exposed to sexting.

When to give your child a cellphone has been a big question for years. There really isn’t any right answer, as it really depends on your child’s level of maturity and responsibility. What we do know is according to a PEW Research survey, 95 percent of teens have access to a smartphone and almost half of them, (45 percent) say they’re online constantly.

Sexting: It could be your child

Don’t be a parent in denial when it comes to technology. Whether they are sending or receiving sexual content, talking offline to your child about online safety and security is imperative. We don’t give our teen key’s to a car without teaching them to drive one – let’s not hand them a smartphone without the same precautions.

By the age of 10, nearly 15 percent of children who own a smartphone will be exposed to sexting according to a recent report titled Sexting and Minors. As you child reaches 13 years old, the statistics go up, with over 36 percent now experiencing sexting.

Sexting and Minors report also shared that sexting was mostly mutual. Between the ages of 10 and 17, nearly 60 percent of all sexting involves interactions where both parties were involved. Although request for sexual pictures or videos reach their height in mid-adolescence, 24 percent of children that own smartphones also take part in these discussions.

Girls verses boys

First we should treat boys and girls equally on this topic, since the risks and consequences can be the same.  However by the age of 8, over 15 percent of girls who smartphones were exposed to sexting in some fashion. Boys’ sexting peaks at age 14, while girls’ sexting remains high consistently through their teenage years according to this latest report.

Being a proactive parent

Most people know offline conversations are key to online safety, but they are not always easy to get started.

Why do kids send nudes?

Reality is, they believe this is normal and everyone is doing it! What they don’t understand is the risks or real-life consequences that can be attached to it. This is where your offline chats are needed to help them realize the long-term costs:

Legal ramifications depending on where you live.

-Online reputation that can cost them their future college admissions or potential employment.

-Emotional distress that can have long-lasting mental health issues into adulthood from humiliation or embarrassment.

In a recent Parentology article, founder of the Institute of Responsible Cellphone Communication (IROC2), Richard Guerry shared his thoughts about young people when they share without thinking;

“At some point, should they wish to go to college, get a job, join politics or whatever their future holds – these [now] kids will be interacting with many people who don’t see sending nudes as normal.”

The ‘sext’ talk

It’s a parent’s responsibility to empower their children with the knowledge to make good choices about how to use all forms of technology and social media. But how can parents approach “sext education”?

• Start talking: When your kids hear news of sext crime cases or blunders online (especially when they involve adults too) initiate a conversation. Talk about how sexting leads to negative consequences even for adults.

• Just do it: You may not get a perfect time to break the ice, but don’t wait for an incident to happen. Be proactive and use the recent Sexting and Minors report to open the lines of communication.

• Make it real: Kids don’t always realize that what they do online is “real-life.” Ask them to consider how they would feel if their teacher or grandparent saw a provocative comment or picture. Remind them there’s no rewind online and no true delete button in the digital world. Comments and photos are not retrievable.

• Address peer pressure: Teach your kids to be self-confident and take pride in their individuality – but more importantly – social media doesn’t define them. ‘Am I pretty enough?’ is a burning question for many young girls today. It takes just a few keystrokes to help them feel good about themselves — or exponentially worse. Acknowledge that social pressure to participate in sexting can be strong. But remind kids that public humiliation stemming from it can be a million times worse.

• Give them control: If kids receive unwanted sexually-charged messages or pictures, they should know what to do next: Be the solution. They should tell you or another trusted adult, and never forward or share those messages with friends.

Order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate, helping teens choose kindness in a world of incivility. This book is one you can read and discuss together promoting online safety and making better digital decisions.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Kindness Counts, Online education, Online Safety, Online Shaming, Oversharing, Parenting, Parenting books, Parenting tips, Reputation Management, Uncategorized

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Why is the tech talk is more difficult than the sex talk?

Your ongoing offline conversations are what helps keep your teen in-check online. It’s important that you don’t loose your cool and keep those lines of communication open, many of us realize this isn’t always easy.

“Your teen may always be an app ahead of you, but they will always need your parenting wisdom whispering in their head as their struggling with difficult online challenges.”

Remember when parents cringed at the thought of the sex talk? Reality is – they still aren’t comfortable with it, but the fact is, kids are probably finding more out about sex from their devices before the parents can even have that one big discussion.

There shouldn’t be a debate, both the tech and sex chat are imperative to all kids today. The major difference is that the tech conversation needs to be ongoing.

Digital civility starts offline

The majority of parents (93%) believe they discuss responsible online behavior with their teen, while a new report was just released contradicts this. Sixty percent of teens say they rarely or never have had discussions with their parents about online behavior.

” Parents who aren’t having conversations with their kids about appropriate online behavior shared assumptions that their kids already know what they’re doing or don’t need such conversations for a multitude of reasons (limited access to internet, no concerns being voiced, etc.). “ – Survey

For most of us adults, we know never to assume, especially when it pertains to our children. The survey continues:

At the same time, parents are convinced their kids would turn to them for help if something bad, like online bullying, happens. Teens, on the other hand, are more likely to report their online bullying concerns to the platform or speak to another adult. ” -Survey

Cyberbullying

Digital Civility Survey revealed that although most parents (91%) believe their kids are likely to come to them if they are being bullied or harassed online, the report said that teens are more teens are more likely to report such issues to the platform where they occurred (53%) or tell another adult (33%) than talk to their parents (26%). When asked to share advice with their younger peers, teens recommend reporting bad behavior, blocking strangers, or telling someone who can help such.

Tech talk, 5 ways to stay engaged

Did you know that 58% of teens say their parents have been the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate online behavior. So it’s not only about what you say, but it’s what you do that matters.

  1. Shoulder to shoulder. Never miss an opportunity if you are side by side to chat with your teen about their online life, especially if you saw questionable behavior. Usually when you are riding the car or sitting watching a sports game – you tend to be more relaxed. Casually spark a conversation about something you may have seen on their social feed.
  2. Be interested. Does your teen assume you trust them online, or are you engaged with them about digital behavior? Get involved! When you see those headlines of students losing college scholarships or admissions due to inappropriate behavior – talk about it. These are great opportunities to open dialogue.
  3. Cyber-critique, offline. Another way to help your teen to better understand responsible digital citizenship is setting time aside to go online together. Review posts, comments, memes, threads of your friends, family or even acquaintances. Are you noticing someone is constantly oversharing? Maybe your friend made a snarky comment or forwarded a cruel meme. Remind your teen that online translates differently offline – and there is a very fine line between clever and cruel.
  4. Online reputation. It’s everything today! Your digital landscape is an extension of your online behavior which is a reflection of your character. More and more studies reveal that it’s not only about the content you post, but how you treat others online. From college admission offices to potential employers to even love interests – have no doubt, your online behavior will be judged by someone that matters to you. Remind your teen, what goes online today (can and will) come back to haunt them later. There’s no rewind online.
  5. Walk the talk. Have you reviewed the digital you lately? Make it a habit to go through your own social media threads to be sure you haven’t crossed the line of inappropriate behavior. It’s too often the headlines of adults acting badly are popping up on a weekly basis. On the same note, be sure you’re also reaching out to those that need a cyber-hug or smile. Leading by example doesn’t only mean to be sure your being a respectful on your threads – it also means you’re reaching out to people in need. Being an upstander.

Never doubt, you are your child’s greatest influence online and offline.

Want to have a educational conversation about the do’s and don’ts of online behavior? Pick up my latest book, Shame Nation: Helping Teens Choose Kindness In An Age of Trolling and Cruelty from Amazon or your favorite bookstore. There are examples of how real people made cyber-blunders – how to recover and survive online hate and more. This is a book for both parents and teens. Order today.

Order on Amazon today.

posted by on Online Life, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Online Safety, Social media, Social Networking, Teen Depression

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Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and more.

The CyberSmile Foundation released their Social America report. As many people are anxiously waiting to hear if the ‘like‘ button will be removed on both Facebook and Instagram, over 20,000 young people (both Gen Z and Millennials) were surveyed about their favorite (and not so favorite) social media platforms.

The 20,000+ respondents between the ages of 13 and 34 a series of twenty questions in regards to their perspectives of various social media platforms with a focus on popularity, safety, relevance, growth and perceived decline.

Respondents were asked to provide their answers through multiple choice and open text questions, with the option to select different social media platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube among others.

Instagram wins – Instagram loses

Instagram comes in as the front-runner overall as everyone’s favorite social media platform at 44 percent. Then why did I say it loses? Well if you are the most visited site, it’s likely it’s where people will say they have the biggest problem of online bullying and abuse. After-all they are spending the most time there. According to this report, Gen Z’s said that Instagram was the worst at 32 percent, whereas the older ‘young’ people said that they struggled with online hate and cyberbullying on Facebook at 35 percent.

The good news is, Instagram is taking steps to curb cyberbullying and online hate with their latest feature, Restrict. Restrict allows users to —restrict who can see comments posted to images.  Facebook, over the past couple of years, has also taken steps to limit digital hate with new features and tools.

The social media platforms with the least amount of cyberbullying overall are Pinterest (30 percent), LinkedIn (13 percent) and interestingly SnapChat comes in third place at 12 percent.

Safety and cyberbullying

When asked what social media platform young people feel least safe using when it comes to cyberbullying, we finally see Twitter come into the top three tied with Instagram in second place. Facebook took first place, overall, as the social hot-spot for digital harassment.

Below are some of the key findings from the Social America report:

  • TikTok was identified as the fastest growing social media platform in terms of popularity, along with Instagram in second place and Snapchat third by both Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Facebook was identified as the social media platform that is becoming less popular, along with Tumblr in second place by both Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Gen Z identified Facebook as the least relevant platform for young people in contrast to Millennials who identified LinkedIn as the least relevant.
  • Instagram was identified as the favorite social media platform by both Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Gen Z identified Snapchat as the platform they feel safest using when it comes to cyberbullying, with Millennials identifying Pinterest.
  • Instagram was recognized as the platform that both Gen Z and Millennials feel least safe using when it comes to cyberbullying.
  • Snapchat was identified as the second favorite social media platform for Gen Z after Instagram.
  • Over three quarters of respondents indicated that they did not want governments to regulate social media companies more.
  • Facebook was identified as the platform with the biggest cyberbullying and abuse problem by Millennials, with Gen Z identifying Instagram as the platform with the biggest problem.
  • Instagram was identified first, and Snapchat second by both Gen Z and Millennials as the social media platform most relevant to young people.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Online reputation, Online Safety, Online Shaming, Parenting, Revenge Porn

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Power Pervs, When Troll Armies Attack, A$$holes in Charge, Swipe Right for Stalking… are some of the chapter titles in this empowering and brilliantly written book, Nobody’s Victim by Carrie Goldberg.

As a victim (and survivor) of internet defamation, cyberbullying and online shaming, I consider myself very fortunate.

Nobody’s Victim outlines some of the darkest and cruelest ways people use their keypad to inflict pain on others and destroy lives. The author herself shares her most intimate story of sexual assault and humiliation, her tenacity to fight back – not only for herself, but for literally thousands of others like her, is absolutely captivating.

Every chapter has a story of a victim that has not only impacted Carrie’s life, but she has changed their’s in a positive direction. When you read this book, you will learn just how prevalent revenge porn, non-consensual pornography, sextortion, swatting, doxing and other outrageous behavior of human scum exists in this world.

Carrie Goldberg writes a book that everyone can understand – one that is a page-turner (I literally finished it in two-days) since I couldn’t put it down. She doesn’t write above the average person, as a lawyer, some people tend to write in legalese that will bore you or you will find yourself searching the meaning of too many of the words – and it’s not an enjoyable read. That’s not the case with this book.

Nobody’s Victim is quite the opposite. She is talking to all of us. She is relating to your daughter, to your neighbor, a family member, maybe a teacher or even your own parent. This can happen to anyone – no one is immune to bad things happening to good people.

Carrie Goldberg speaks with Soledad O’Brien

One of my favorite sections is how she addresses young people (teens especially) being pressured into sending nudes or other sexual images. As many of us know, this is a major concern for parents and schools as we have witnessed many headlines of sexting scandals and slut pages.

However Carrie makes it clear when it comes to being pressured to send sexual content, this is coercion. Let’ me quote her from page 61 in her book:

Let’s be clear: Coercing someone into sending an intimate picture and then distributing that image without consent isn’t “sexting.” It’s a violation and a crime. And the first step to protecting young people from this kind of abuse is to teach them about consent.

Carrie Goldberg continues with an excellent explanation that every parent and adult need to understand:

Yes, asking a girl over and over again to send you a nude is PRESSURE. And, Someone threatening to dump you if you don’t send a pic is COERCION. And, Sharing threatening someone else’s naked pics with your friends without their consent in many states is a f–king crime.

Thank you Carrie. Your book is must read for all parents with teens with smartphones. According to the latest PEW survey – that’s about 95 percent.

Order on Amazon today.

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Your online reputation can determine your future

Are you Google ready?

There’s no denying it, there will be a time when your name is put through a Google rinse cycle. Someone will be searching you on the internet. Here are some facts that survey’s have uncovered:

  • 70 percent of employers use social media to screen potential job candidates before hiring or even interviewing them – CareerBuilders
  • 75 percent of colleges consider a students’ social media behavior when reviewing applicants for admission – AACRAO
  • 56 percent of Americans will search a person online before they date them – YouGov

Recently I contributed to Social Graces for the Chicago Tribune, when I was asked if parents should look up their child’s teachers’ online.

Without hesitation, my answer is absolutely!

It’s back to school time, your child just found out who their teacher(s) are going to be. In my generation my mother would call her friends and ask about the teacher’s name (that we just received by mail), to get as much background as possible on him or her. Especially if she never heard of them. As the oldest, I always seemed to have teachers my parents were unfamiliar with.

Let’s remember in those days the type of background we would get on a teacher would be is how strict (or easy) they were, or if they gave out a lot homework etc.

Today, we now live in a world where practically everything is searchable with a click – and that’s why we all need to be Google-ready if (or when) someone decides to put our name through the Internet rinse cycle. You can literally find out where the teacher vacations, their children’s names, siblings and more with enough cyber-digging.

Isn’t it human nature, especially as a parent, to want to know who your child will be spending their school year with? Who will be responsible for educating them? Who will they be with them for more than 5 hours daily?

Teacher’s are probably one of the most vulnerable since I would imagine most parents do take the time to search them online. As someone that is an advocate to maintain your online presence and behavior, it’s especially critical for teachers to be mindful of their social media feeds, tweets as well as secure their privacy settings. At the same time, keep in mind, we can’t always rely on them so post with care and consideration.

Your online behavior is never off-the-clock.

Parents also have to be smart digital citizens, understanding that teachers are humans too. Know how to separate the cyber-fact from what seems to be cyber-fiction. Or if your teacher has a common name, be sure you have the correct Mary Smith before jumping to conclusions. If in doubt, go straight to the source. Ask the teacher. I’m sure they would appreciate it rather than you assuming the worse.

Should you look up your kid’s teacher on social media? In my opinion, yes. 

It’s not only teachers at risk, we all need to maintain our online presence. If you’re applying to schools, interviewing for jobs, own a business or simply online dating – the chances of your name being sifted through an internet search is very high. Many people don’t take the time to decipher fact from fiction and will simply move on to another candidate, applicant or date.

Going off grid isn’t an option

For those that believe having zero online image is the answer, think again. Studies have shown that business will actually pass over potential candidates they can’t find online because of the following reasons:

  1. Are they hiding something.
  2. Do they have an alias.
  3. Maybe they aren’t that tech savvy. Even if it’s not a tech job, everyone should be able to use email.

When it comes to colleges, it’s also been proven that if admissions can see where applicants have built up their digital landscape to showcase their interests, sportsmanship, community service, etc – it helps them have an edge over other students that have no online presence.

How will you be proactive in building your digital resume? Keep in mind, your online reputation is an extension of your online behavior which is a reflection of your offline character… it all matters.