posted by on Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting, Parenting books, Parenting Teens, Uncategorized

Our kids and teens may always be an app ahead of us, but make no doubt about it, they will always need our parenting wisdom.

As technology has taken over our lives (almost literally), we have witnessed a rise in online hate, a dip in empathy and compassion and most of all — parents struggling to keep up.

Let’s review three of the best parenting books that have been helping navigate these digital times, both online and off.

Teens want boundaries. Help them unplug and get connected offline with friends.

Socializing in real-life helps kids and teens develop empathy.

UnSelfie: Why Emphatic Kids Succeed In Our All-About-Me World by Dr. Michele Borba

Teens today are forty percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—which goes hand-in-hand with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, a lack of empathy hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate, and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy.

Order on Amazon.

In UnSelfie Dr. Borba pinpoints the forces causing the empathy crisis and shares a revolutionary, researched-based, nine-step plan for reversing it.

The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. Dr. Borba offers a framework for parenting that yields the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want to kids shift their focus from I, me, and mine…to we, us, and ours.

What goes online, stays online.

Public and Permanent: Creating a Mindset Through Our Digital Actions Are Public and Permanent® by Richard Guerry

Public and Permanent is a life changing philosophical guide providing the knowledge that all users of digital technology must know as citizens of a rapidly evolving digital village. 

This information will help to protect you and your family from making life and legacy altering mistakes online or with any digital technology. 

Order on Amazon.

Students, parents and teachers across the globe are using this book to learn and reinforce a powerful and effective method for reducing: 

-Poor Social Media behavior

And many other cyber issues many are not yet aware of!

If your school or community hasn’t booked one of Richard’s workshops (Institute for Responsible Online & Cell Phone Communication), they are super-engaging and educational. Sign-up today. You won’t be disappointed! Building and developing consiousness™.

Raising the device generation starts with a sturdy foundation.

Raising Digital Humans In A Digital World by Diana Graber

Sexting, cyberbullying, revenge porn, online predators… all of these potential threats can tempt parents to snatch the smartphone or tablet right out of their children’s hands. While avoidance might eliminate the dangers, that approach also means your child misses out on technology’s many benefits and opportunities.

Order on Amazon.

Raising Humans in a Digital World shows how digital kids must learn to navigate this environment, through

  • developing social-emotional skills
  • balancing virtual and real life
  • building safe and healthy relationships
  • avoiding cyberbullies and online predators
  • protecting personal information
  • identifying and avoiding fake news and questionable content
  • becoming positive role models and leaders.

This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine. Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for—a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

Pick these books up online and be sure to share with them your family and friends. Being an educated parent helps us all to have safer communities.

Find these authors online and follow them! You will be forever learning as technology and kids continue to grow in ways we may never understand but will definitely be able to parent.

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Colleges and businesses are watching you – digitally speaking.

Majority of schools & businesses will screen your online behavior before interviewing you.

Many teens are tired of hearing parents and teachers reminding them to pause before you post or think before you send a text.

They may be tired of hearing it, but that doesn’t mean we are going to stop preaching it, since it is imperative that not only youth pause before publishing anything in cyberspace — grown-ups need to start heeding this same advice.

Majority of schools and businesses search you online

There was a survey in 2017 by Career Builders that said employers eliminated fifty-four percent of potential applicants due to their social media behavior. And we’ve seen that the risks of a careless post or reckless tweet can be costly: some 75 percent of colleges preview a student’s online conduct prior to considering them for acceptance.

Some of these people already graduated college. These applicants can be young adults to possibly parents. No one is immune to being disqualified from a job interview for their actions on social media.

This is why it is important that teens know and understand that every click and post they do has meaning and potential consequences connected to them.

At this point, teens are also aware that college admissions are screening social media behavior, it’s not strictly about what they are posting online.

A New York Times article put this in perspective with the headline alone, They Loved Your GPA Until They Saw Your Tweets.

Be proactive

Let’s keep in mind that we can never give up on the mantra of think before you send a text and pause before you post, however we need to also review our overall conduct online:

  • Be mindful of what you post on others social media sites, as well as your own.

Keep private and personal matters offline, or use private messages, however never assume they will stay private.

  • Be careful of your tone. Never use all caps – NEVER. Typing in all caps is considered yelling or screaming digitally – and there is no reason for this to be done online. If you feel the need to do this, it is probably time for you to take a 24-hour reprieve from all digital devices.
  • Be emphatic to others on social media, especially if you notice someone that is being harassed online. Be the person that is the upstander.
  • Be interactive in positive ways and engaging in social networking groups that interest you. Especially if you are applying for scholarships, recruiters will admire your passion in your interests. For example Facebook has a variety of groups that people join with similar interests.

A final thought that some teens may not like, there is an old cliché, you are who you surround yourself with. Have you thought about de-cluttering your virtual friends list?

Keep in mind, especially on social media, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. Your social media matters, not only today – but it will continue to matter for a long time.

Social Assurity

Does your teen need a social media coach? Social Assurity has been helping students and their parents understand the importance of using social media for their future. Learn more – visit their site today.

Video by Social Assurity

posted by on Digital citizenship, Online activity, Online reputation, Parenting Blogs, Parenting Teens, Social media, Social Networking

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Summertime is a time to develop a digital landscape.

Teens Building Their Digital Trail During the Summer: Summertime Blogs

Digital citizenship is a phrase we hear a lot, especially as it pertains to young people.

Today your online reputation can and will dictate your future, so it’s important to start early in creating a digital platform.

Some 75 percent of colleges will preview a student’s online behavior prior considering them for acceptance, while 70 percent of employers will screen your social media before inviting you for an interview.

Creating a positive digital image will affect their future. It is a fact, there will come a time when your child’s name will be put through the Internet wash-cycle and how it spins out will depend on how they have maintained it through the years.

Most know that although we should disconnect frequently over the summer and spend more face-to-face time with our families, there will still be more screen time during the summer months.

Let’s be sure your teen’s digital resume is ready for their future.

Have they started their blog yet? If they have it is important to keep it updated and if they haven’t it is a perfect time to get started.

Keep in mind professionalism is always a priority, you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Your blog is not to impress your friends — it is to help maintain your teen’s online reputation and give insights for others to learn more about your teen’s goals, interests and personality.

Where to start:

1) Select a blogging site. These are the most frequently used and are free.

  • WordPress
  • Blogger (You will need a gmail account).

2) What to blog about and update frequently:

  • Your interests (sports, animals, health, etc)
  • Travel reviews
  • Restaurant and movie reviews
  • Summer camp reviews
  • Community events
  • Local clubs you are a member of
  • School events you attended
  • Current events
  • Anything that is relevant to you

3) What to avoid:

  • Profanity, nudity
  • Uploading provocative photos
  • Writing negative or slanderous content
  • Never lie
  • Don’t over-share your personal information or others

4) Blogging tips:

  • Use your name in the URL when creating your blog. For example
  • Take the time to review your blog settings, including the comments moderation. Are you comfortable with open comments or would you rather moderate them before they are posted?
  • Select a template that is easy to read for potential college recruiters and future employers. Remember this is not about your friends.
  • The Internet is permanent, you should have zero expectation of privacy online. Publish with care.
  • Use photos and images! It keeps people engaged and coming back. Remember to be sure you have permission to use the images.
  • Keep it positive. If you are having a bad day, simply don’t post.

The most important tip is to get started creating your digital footprint. A blog can be a step into your teen’s future that can help them your land their college of first choice and a job that they dreamed of.

Your teen’s name will be searched online. Their social media networking behavior will be analyzed and their blogs of their interests will also be read.

Social media is not always in our control, especially when you have unknown virtual friends commenting, copying, pasting and posting with your teen’s name — however your teen’s personal blog is in their total control. Encourage them to start one today.

Digital citizenship is today’s future.

posted by on Cybersafety, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Privacy, Reputation Management

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Social media wasn’t created for privacy.

What goes online, stays online.

Why are people always shocked when they find out their private information has been exposed online?

We read about teachers, school coaches, firefighters, police officers, youth pastors and other (so-called) responsible adults being caught sexting minors — we have to wonder, did they really believe they wouldn’t get caught?

The internet and social media was created for networking and communication. Privacy rarely is part of this equation, and for people to assume their information is not going to be shared or forwarded, is naive.

Terms of Service

Many of us rarely read terms of service when we sign-up for a new social media platform. As a matter of fact a Deloitte survey in the U.S found that 91% of people consent to legal terms and services conditions without reading them. For younger people, ages 18-34 the rate is even higher with 97% agreeing to conditions before reading.

This means we’re usually not aware of our privacy rights or terms on these platforms – until we are in crisis mode. Maybe you’re scouring to find those old photos you posted when you were drunk or the less than kind comments you decided to blurt-out when you pissed off at your colleague or worse, your boss. You thought that platform was only for a private group, who knew it would go viral — until it did!

Public and Permanent®

The Internet is public domain. Did you know that the Library of Congress is documenting every single public tweet that has ever been made? Sites like allow you to search old tweets going back much further than the Twitter search engine currently allows. Even old versions of websites that you redesigned ages ago are still viewable, thanks to the Wayback Machine, an Internet archive that crawls the web and preserves blasts from the past. Take a moment and search your own website (if you have one) to see what information lingers online.

Know that everything you put out there has the possibility of becoming “Public and Permanent®,” an expression perfectly coined by Richard Guerry, founder of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication. Far too many people with technology are not stopping to think about the long-term repercussions of their actions,” he says. Guerry advocates for digital consciousness—always posting with the awareness that anything you’ve documented could be disseminated.

There is no way to control what is going to happen, none,” he says. “Digital tools were never designed for privacy. We’re going against the grain for what these tools were intended. By no means is everything going to be Public and Permanent®, but you have to be prepared. Think about your legacy. It’s not just imagining [that] your ninety-year-old grandma will see your naughty text—but [that] your own grandkids will too.”

Social sharing with boundaries

We all enjoy our social media friends and family. In some ways our friends on social know more about our lives today than our own family — why? Because people like to overshare so much about their lives, from what they have for breakfast to where they are shopping to when they are giving their child a bath. So when people complain about privacy, sometimes we really need to chuckle.

Privacy starts with us. We all must begin by being mindful in our own social homes. If you don’t want to risk it going viral, it should never be on a digital device – ever!

Let me ask you, how many times have you read those confidentiality clauses on an email, yet you have forwarded it to a friend? Maybe you needed to help you understand what was in the email or just wanted to share that note with them. We all have. There is nothing confidential about anything electronic. There’s no rewind online.

How can we take control our of need to share too much?

  • Be mindful of what you share. Never assume your words can’t get twisted and posts can’t come back to surprise you.
  • Learn patience. Pause before you post. Write as if the world is watching. (In many situations, they are).
  • Never assume your among friends. Make it a habit to de-clutter your friends on social platforms. Eliminate those you don’t know and create lists when sharing your family pictures or other information that cyber-acquaintances may use out of context.
  • Never air workplace woes. If you’re upset for any reason, take it offline with a friend for some wine and whine.
  • When in doubt, you can click-out. The best thing about technology, you can turn it off.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Digital Life, Online harassment, Oversharing

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How cyber-gossip quickly transforms to online bullying.

An innocent post can often lead to hurtful comments.

Gossip can be mean, especially when it’s online. Bullies can build on gossip and create stories and ugliness about a student that can go viral in seconds.

In today’s internet age, gossip can be spread at lightning speed to hundreds, thousands or millions of people. The new party line is cyberspace where millions of people can all access the same information instantaneously. Just get on your computer, iPhone, iPad or smartphone and let the rumors fly.

Here are 10 ways people (including kids) can use new technology to rapidly spread gossip (in no particular order).

  1. Email – One way to spread a rumor quickly is to send an email to all the contacts in your account, except the one the rumor is about, of course. Then they can forward it to all their contacts and on it goes from there. You better hope they delete your name when they forward it, or you might get blamed for starting it.
  2. Facebook – Post your gossip on facebook and all your friends will know about it instantly. If they “like” it, comment on it or repost it, all their friends will see it too. Pretty soon you’ve got the rumor spreading quickly.
  3. Instagram – Another social networking sight great for gossiping is Instagram. Post an innocent picture and watch a rumor start and spread like wildfire.
  4. Twitter – You can tweet a rumor and all your Twitter followers will know your juicy gossip in 280 characters or less. They can re-tweet it to all their followers and in no time the gossip is flying through cyberspace.
  5. Blogs – Some people love to spread gossip through their blogs. Even unintentional rumors are sometimes started by bloggers.
  6. Website – You won’t believe some of the stuff you find posted on websites, and you shouldn’t either. There are whole websites put on the web just for the purpose of spreading misinformation. Always remember to check their sources.
  7. YouTube – If you have a registered YouTube account you can upload an unlimited number of videos. If you have a video of someone doing something dubious, this is the best way to spread that rumor to millions of viewers.
  8. Comments – A great way to anonymously spread gossip is to post a comment on a website, blog, YouTube video or any social platform. You can log in under an assumed username and say all kinds of outrageous things without revealing your identity.
  9. Chat rooms – Another anonymous way to spread rumors are internet chat rooms. You can start with an offhand comment and embellish it as you go.
  10. Texting – If you see or hear something juicy to gossip about, you can send a text message to all your friends. That will get the thumbs flying as the rumor gets spread.

The new social media available has taken gossiping to a whole new level. Unfortunately this can lead to cyberbullying and be very traumatizing to vulnerable people. Celebrities and politicians are easy targets for internet gossip and careers are ruined by unintended tweets.

Everyone should use the new technology responsibly, but many abuse their new found privileges. Be careful what you put out into cyberspace or it may come back to haunt you and always check the sources of what you see or read. Chances are it’s just more cyber-gossip.

The consequences of what you post. Take the time to consider what you’re about to publish online – and remember, it can and will impact your future.

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Digital Life, Harassing, Online harassment, Parenting, Uncategorized

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Majority of teens own smartphones, new survey shares how parents are managing to become cyber-savvy.

65 percent of parents worry their teen spends too much screen-time, yet parents themselves admit they struggle with device distractions.

Interestingly, in a new PEW Survey, the majority of parents (65 percent) have concern over the amount of time their teen is online. They are worrying that they are losing the ability to communicate in person or possibly sharing too much personal information and of course, the fear of them being harassed or inadvertently sending/receiving explicit images.

Parents are challenged with this same attraction. In this survey the majority (59 percent) admitted they feel obligated to respond to their smartphone notifications immediately and find they lose time and focus at work due to their phone. Over a third (36 percent) say they spend too much time on their phones.

Knowledge is power

Since we know we are as engaged in our gadgets are the younger generation is, this can be empowering for parents – confirming we must lead by example with our devices and online behavior. The PEW Survey said that 90 percent of parents are confident in their ability to teach their teens’ about appropriate online behavior and 87 percent said they are able to keep up with their teens’ experiences online.

We have witnessed a lot of online hate by adults, it can be extremely disturbing. Frequently when we refer to cyberbullying, it has to do with kids, but when you point to social platforms such as Twitter or Instagram, we are watching adults attack each other in vicious ways — this is unacceptable behavior that parents should condemn to their children.

Cyberbullying and harassment

According to this PEW Survey, 59 percent of say parents are doing an excellent or good job at addressing cyberbullying – a notably positive assessment, considering how teens rate other groups measured in this survey. Teens are far less likely to rate the anti-bullying efforts of elected officials, social media companies and teachers positively.

Digital grounding

I speak with parents on a weekly basis, many that struggle with teens that are attached to their digital devices. Using digital grounding as a form of punishment can sometimes backfire on parents.

Many of these parents continue their story of how their teen was able to get a phone through a friend (less than a desirable peer) or other means that they usually don’t approve of.

Developing healthy and balanced screen-time as well as appropriate online behavior, from the start, for all (including parents) can help prevent potential disasters or issues.

Today vs your youth

When asked to compare the experiences of today’s teens to their own experiences when they were a teen, 48 percent of parents say today’s teens have to deal with a completely different set of issues. A similar share of parents of teens (51 percent) believe that despite some differences, the issues young people deal with today are not that different from when they themselves were teenagers.

I’m not so sure. We had peer pressure offline, today it’s compounded to both online and offline. We have the younger generation living for likes – both in reality and digitally. It’s not that easy.

The sad part is, so are the parents. As they continue to overshare their kid’s information on their social platforms. No longer are bragging rights dedicated to photo albums – they’re viral.

Be a respectful digital parent, ask permission of your tween or teen before you post or tag them on your social platform.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Uncategorized

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Know that everything you put online (or a device) has the possibility of becoming “Public and Permanent“® – and expression coined perfectly by Richard Guerry, founder of the Institute of Responsible Online and Phone Communication (IROC2).

Majority of colleges are reviewing your teen’s online behavior prior to offering them scholarships.

Until 2018, surveys said that colleges, schools and businesses were monitoring candidates and applicants social media posts and contents. As of 2018, they took it up a notch. It’s now about online behavior.

Your online behavior is never off-the-clock.

Schools and businesses consider you an extension of their brand both online and offline. In an age where the majority of people spend a lot of time on their devices — one wrong click can cost you an internship, scholarship or employment.

In the spring of 2017, we witnessed 10 students that lost their college acceptances at Harvard University after posting mean memes on a Facebook private group page. Harvard stated, they didn’t accept this type of online behavior.

Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.

In Shame Nation book as well as in his hundreds of workshops around the country, Richard Guerry reminds us:

“Far too many people with technology are not stopping to think about the long-term repercussions of their actions. Digital tools were never designed for privacy. We’re going against the grain for what these tools were intended. By no means is everything going to be Public and Permanent®, but you have to be prepared.

Critical thinking starts early

Whenever you digitally document anything — anywhere — you need to realize there is a distinct possibility of it becoming engraved online forever. Parents should discuss this with their children with the analogy that the keypad is like writing with a Sharpie® (which is permanent), not a pencil ( which can be erasable).

Privacy settings can help, but as many of us may have learned, they are not always reliable.

Today we read headlines of many adults, as well as teens, that lose jobs as well as scholarships due to tweet regrets or post remorse. Is what you’re about to post going to embarrass you or humiliate someone else? Are you posting for short-term gratification, that may result in immediate or long-term ramifications?

We also have to be aware of our cyber-friends. Are they tagging you in less than appropriate images or making comments that could jeopardize your future? The cliche, you are who you hang-out with, doesn’t only pertain to your offline friends, it has meaning online too. It’s probably more important in the cyber-world where we’re all a click away from digital disgrace.

Consequences of what you post

It’s not only what you share, but how you share it. With a mindset of rethinking how we share online – we can take precautions to be more thoughtful with our digital resume and landscape:

  1. Is it necessary. Being mindful with your sharing is one way to be a responsible digital leader. People who overshare are typically frowned upon, less likely to receive help or empathy if they are bullied or harassed (and more likely to be bullied or harassed). This is a reminder that not everything we do offline needs to be documented online.
  2. Emotional sharing. Are you in conflict with a friend, your parents, a teacher? Social media is not a venting machine. Your cyber-friends are not your cyber-therapists. Take it offline with a good session of whine and wine (water) with your real-life friends.
  3. Inappropriate sharing. There is never a good use for profanity, sexual content, drugs, or any substance abuse. These sorts of irresponsible posts or behavior could put your future (potential) job opportunities at risk.
  4. Constructive sharing. Are you about to leave a rude comment? We all can’t agree with everyone – and that’s okay. These can be good opportunities to showcase our wisdom in our areas of expertise or our opinions, but we must be constructive, not combative. The minute you feel your fingers getting snarky – click-out.
  5. Know your audience. Who are you about to share content with? Friends, family, colleagues, boss, etc… Part of critical thinking is knowing your audience before you share your content.

Also read 6 Ways you can keep your teen from posting something they’ll regret.

If you’re school hasn’t had an IROC2 LIVE workshop, contact Richard Guerry for more information. Every student needs to attend:
Develop Your Digital Consciousness With The Public and Permanent® Live Event.

Book by Richard Guerry. Must attend workshop for every student using a digital device & social media.
Order on Amazon.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety

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Digital resilience: Becoming a better online reporter.

The majority of teens have come across racist or sexist hate speech on social media. 

There are five-steps to building digital resilience.

  1. Prepare them for the ugly side of social media.
  2. Teach them to report, flag and block abusive content.
  3. Help them understand that online is not always reality.
  4. Critical thinking skills: The risks of what they post today and how it will impact their future.
  5. Encourage young people to unplug and socialize more offline – which helps develop empathy towards others.

I was attacked online in 2003, it’s been well over a decade and it seems online hate and trolling is not going away any time soon. Helping our kids become stronger digital leaders can prepare them for the less than fun times online.

Learning to become a stronger and better reporter starts with understanding the terms of service or code of conduct on the app or social media platform you are signed up for.

After I won my landmark case in 2006 for internet defamation and invasion of privacy, I gained a new set of trolls. People who believed I was trying to chill the first amendment right. I hired ReputationDefender to repair my online damage from my attackers in 2003, however now I felt like I had a new flurry of cyber-bullets.

What ReputationDefender taught me was to become educated on all the platforms where the abuse was written about me – in respect to their terms of service or code of conduct (another words – what do they tolerate). Then to start reporting in accordance to how the comments or content that were harassing and attacking me were violating their terms of service or code of conduct.

I would literally spend hours, on many days, writing my reports (emails) to the website’s (forums, bulletin boards, blog sites, newspapers, etc) support team. The majority of time I would successfully get the vile content removed. In some cases I even had users banned.

In teaching our kids to read the terms of service, as it pertains to harassment and abuse, they will not only learn what constitutes hate speech, cyber-stalking, cyberbullying and other forms of online abuse — they will be more in tune with their own online behavior.

In an age of trolling and incivility, we all must do our part to keep our cyber-place a kinder one. Being a better reporter helps all of us.

posted by on Internet Privacy, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Online Security, Parenting, Parenting Teens

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National Privacy Day: Securing online safety.

January 28th celebrates National Data Privacy Day; an event that recognizes the importance of Internet advocacy and data privacy. As a caring parent, nothing is more important than the safety and privacy of your child, both online and off.

In this article, we will be sharing information on digital identities, alongside helpful tips and defensive strategies that you can discuss and implement as a family.

What is a digital identity

Your digital identity is a sculpted profile that reveals a glimpse into your online activities. Each site that you visit begins collecting data to track and analyze your behaviors, interests, and geographic locations – known as your personally identifiable information.

The earlier you start using the Internet, the larger your profile will be. This is information is used by advertisers to give you ads for relevant items and search engines who will display the information they find most relevant to be the first items to appear when someone searches for you.

This is why it is important to defend both yours and your family’s digital identities and create positive reputations for yourselves.

Why is your digital identity important?

Every time you use the Internet, create a new account, comment on social media, or post a photo, you leave digital footprints behind. As mentioned in our past article covering online privacy, the sites you visit, search engines you access, and browsers you use are actively collecting your information and data.

Although much of the collected data is used to improve user experience, it’s possible your search history, interests, and geographic location could be used to give a clear picture of your online activity.

From a marketer looking to target a more qualified audience to a potential cyber-criminal looking to commit identity theft; it’s important you’re not creating vulnerabilities.

This is especially important for young children and teens with a relatively new digital identity. As they establish their online reputation, it’s important that they’re making a good impression, censoring what they share, and being selective with login credentials to avoid issues in the future.

Considering how easy it is for both college administrators and potential employers to google an applicant’s name, knowing what would appear in the search results for your name is invaluable.

Unfortunately, some cybercriminals target the digital identity and reputation of vulnerable users. After wrongfully gaining access to passwords or accounts, it’s possible they could post inappropriate content in your name, troll others, or leak your information across the web. If allowed to go unnoticed, each could have serious privacy consequences.

How to defend your families digital identity

Young Children

  1. Regularly discuss the dangers and risks associated with the Internet. Before handing over a digital device, it’s important you cover the basics of the Internet and device security. This could include the do’s and don’ts of browsing, communicating, and sharing personal information online. However, it’s just as important that you teach young children how to spot a potential scam, online predator, or child identity thief probing for personal information. 
  2. Designate a shared family device. Instead of giving each child their own device, consider setting up a shared computer or device complete with parental control software. Place it in a visible location, monitor their browser history, and limit usage.
  3. Make rules, reward successes, and enforce the consequences. The sooner you establishing screen-free rules and content restrictions with your children, the easier these rules will be to enforce when they become teenagers. However, it’s just as important to lead by example, and show your children that there is more to life than their screens and online presence. Furthermore, if someone breaks the rules, discuss the issue, and agree on a fitting punishment. Remember, the less they share online, the better.
  4. Create the accounts they’ll be using and enable parental control settings. From an email account to their gaming console, you should always be the individual that creates new accounts and login credentials. Beyond allowing you to keep tabs on their activity, this is also the perfect time to enable parental controls, content filters, and create an entirely new and unique password.


  1. Discuss the sensitive topics with your teen. Teens may act like they know everything, but chances are they’ve engaged in risky online behavior before. Everything from sexting and cyberbullying to oversharing while gaming online, teens frequently face potentially uncomfortable or dangerous scenarios.
  2. Devices require responsibility. Is your teen capable of handling the responsibility that comes with an Internet-connected device or smartphone? It’s an important question to ask, especially considering they’ll be using it to build upon their digital identity. A shared computer allows you to monitor activity, understand their habits, and make an informed choice whether or not they should be given a device.  
  3. Google their name. The most simple way to track and maintain your child’s digital identity is by performing a simple Google search of their name. Use middle initials and nicknames to get the most varied results. If you notice something alarming on your child’s profiles that appear in the search, delete the content and explain to your child what is wrong with it. If it is posted on another webpage, contact their site administrator to delete it.


  1. Lead by example. The best way to educate your children about the dangers of the internet is to set a decent example for them. Taking the proper steps necessary to secure your devices, creating a positive online reputation and avoiding dangerous online scenarios puts you ahead of the game as a parent. Your children have a higher chance of engaging in risky online behaviors if they notice that you are as well. Guide them by acting as their cyber mentor and showing them the way.
  2. Keep Internet-connected devices and security software up-to-date. Protect all of your families internet-connected devices from viruses, malware, and other threats by guarding them with comprehensive Antivirus software. It’s also important to make sure that you stay up to date on updating this software to actively avoid any current threats that evolve.
  3. Check Google. Perform a regular Google search on all members of your family for any unexpected posts or comments. To make this easier on yourself, you can set up alerts that will notify you when a new result appears for the name you have the alert set up on. This way you can regularly monitor and maintain everyone’s digital presence.
  4. Avoid oversharing potentially explicit or inappropriate content or comments. Being the adult in the situation you may feel safer to share things online more freely. Remember however that sensitive information shared online can still come back to haunt you later on. Though you may already be gainfully employed, know that it is likely that your employer still does regular checks on their employees’ online presence. Be careful what you post to set a good example for your children to follow.

Article written by Brent Scott

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Depression, Online bullying, Online harassment, Online Safety, Social media, Teen Depression

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The impact social media is having on young girls.

A study published by University of Essex and University College London, reveals that teenage girls increase their risk of showing symptoms of depression by 50% when they spend more than five hours a day on social media. In comparison, teenage boys increase their risks of showing symptoms by 35%.

Psychologist Dr. Alisa Duclos believes that this is because teenage girls on social media tend to compare their insides to the outsides of others.

“For women who are trying to get their sense of self, who are pressured to look a certain way, they are seeing images of young women looking not even real with filters,” she said.

Dr. Alisa Duclos

High social media use has been linked to symptoms of depression, including feelings of unhappiness, restlessness, and loneliness.

To understand the correlation between social media and symptoms of depression better, CNN looked at data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which studied the effects of lack of sleep, cyber harassment, poor body image, and low self-esteem. All four experiences have one thing in common—they are tied to frequent social media use.

Despite these alarming findings, The Washington Post reports that too many schools don’t have enough health professionals to help students manage symptoms of depression. In U.S. public schools, it’s estimated that there’s only one school psychologist for every 1,300 students. Ideally, one psychologist should be available for 500 to 700 students. And even that number is too large.

When it comes to school nurses, a 2017 survey by the National Association of School Nurses showed that less than 40% of private and public schools in the country have full-time nurses, let alone those trained to deal with mental health issues. Amanda Nickerson, director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education calls it a huge issue:

“We do not have enough mental health professionals to meet the increasingly complex needs of the students that are walking through the door”.

Amanda Nickerson, director of Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention

 In Maryville University’s overview of their psychology degree, they note how there is a growing “demand for professionals who understand the connections between psychology and education”. As more research points to the increase in mental health issues in teenagers, this demand will have to be met sooner rather than later. 

Here on the Sue Scheff Blog we talked about new research where two-thirds of teens surveyed had engaged in at least one risky behavior online. More than half of the teens surveyed knew how to hide content from their parents and one in five teen girls said they have sent sexually explicit photos. For teenage girls, this is often due to the pressure to conform that comes from social media.

You can make simple changes at home when it comes to protecting your kids online, and making sure their social media activities do not lead them to suffer from depression.

Going back to the CNN article, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Duke Health, Dr. Gary Maslow recommends setting up a charging station in a common room so that phones aren’t charged in the bedroom. This can help prevent distractions and sleep interruptions. It will also mean that your teens are not spending all their time in their bedroom on their phone.

Dr. Maslow also suggests you get an actual alarm clock so your teens do not use their phones as alarms. Limit their nighttime usage, too, because a good night’s sleep can help improve their mood.

“It’s a balance, there are so many ways in which social media is important and has positive features, but there are also ways in which social media can replace social support and connection from people you are actually living with,” he said.

Dr. Maslow

As well as controlling your child’s screen time, it’s also important that you start creating a balance between real-life interactions and social media interactions while your kids are still young. Modern parents have the tendency to take a lot of pictures of their kids and post them online. This can lead your child to think it’s normal and necessary to look “social media-ready” all the time.

Develop your child’s self-esteem, too, by highlighting their strengths in public and addressing their weaknesses in private. As your teens grow, you need to make sure that you take the time to explain how social media works. Let them know that it’s a curated platform that can be easily manipulated. Openly communicating these things to your kids can help minimize their chances of developing symptoms of depression while they’re on social media.

It’s important to ask if your teen girls have ever felt bad after they have spent some time on social media. You can then share your own experiences, so they don’t feel intimidated to share theirs. It’s important that you also make sure you pay attention to their emotional development. Reassure them that no one feels great all the time and how things look on the outside isn’t really how things are in reality.

Article written by Eloise Martin

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