posted by on Cell phone safety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Online Safety, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips

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TeensConnectedThe little boy who used to beg you to take him to the park every afternoon or the sweet young girl who used to love riding bikes with you around the neighborhood is now a teenager who is, for all practical purposes, addicted to technology.

As a parent, you probably feel like you see more of the top of your teen’s head than his or her face, and you worry that the only part of your child’s body that gets a regular workout are the thumbs.

Fortunately, with the right combination of encouragement, collaboration and solid role modeling, it is possible to get your teenager off the couch, off the phone, and back outside for some much-needed fresh air and exercise. For example, check out these tips:

Take Note of Your Own Phone Habits

Even if they seem like they are ignoring you most of the time, teenagers are definitely watching what you are doing. If you are constantly checking your emails or Facebook updates while sitting at a restaurant with your family, your son or daughter is more likely to follow suit. As Common Sense Media notes, as a parent, you have to model the manners and behaviors that you want to see in your teens. Before you start asking your teens to put their phones down and get outside, do the same. Stop texting during dinner, start making an effort to get regular exercise and see if you can go for a day or two without playing Candy Crush—your teens will be impressed, and more likely to do the same.

Brainstorm Fun Things to Do Together

When kids morph into independent teens, parents might feel like they no longer know what these quickly-growing young adults like to do—outside of texting their friends. Tell your teen that you’d like to spend more time together, and then ask your teen for ideas and also brainstorm some activities that you can try. For example, you could strap on your dusty old roller blades and see who can zip around the neighborhood the fastest, or you can go bowling one afternoon after school. Head to a paint ball facility and have a blast zapping each other with paint balls, or go to the local Go Kart track and race your budding driver for a few laps.

You can also set up old fashioned games in the backyard and encourage your teen to invite friends over for some fun games of badminton or lawn bowling. If you have a backyard pool, ask your teen to go online with you and pick out a new pool game; for example, In The Swim sells a great in-ground pool volleyball game that is perfect for friendly competitions among family and teen friends. By making your teen part of the decision making process, it will encourage him or her to be part of the action.

Encourage Exercise with Tech Rewards

If your teen is reluctant to swap text time for a brisk walk with the dog, you may have to play parental hardball. After all, you are the boss and you can determine just how much screen time your teen is getting on a daily basis. Up the ante a bit and tell your teen that in order to use his phone, he will have to earn it with some physical activity. Every minute that he spends doing something physical outdoors can be traded equally for phone time. Or, tell your daughter that she can get bonus screen time minutes by walking to the store with her friends for a snack, or taking her little brother to the park for an hour.

posted by on Internet Privacy, Internet profile, Internet Safety, Online reputation, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Parenting Teens

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OnlineSafety6It’s eight o’clock on a school night; do you know where your kids are?

In our constantly wired world, you not only need to know whose house your kids are visiting, but also where they’re hanging out on the Internet. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter,

Instagram and YouTube are great ways for kids to keep in touch and connect with the world around them, but they can also be ideal settings for inappropriate content, bullies, and even sexual predators.

Many parents are friends and followers on their children’s social media sites, but should you go a step further and have direct access to their accounts? 

Pros:

Having the login information for your kids’ social media profiles grants you access to their friends, their conversations, and their pictures. It allows you to see who your children are communicating with and what they’re saying, which can help hold them accountable. Even more importantly, you can control the privacy settings on your kids’ profile and block certain users from contacting them. This enables you to censor questionable subject matter and have meaningful conversations with your children about Internet safety. In the long run, paying more attention to your kids’ friends and interests could help you form a stronger bond with them. 

Cons:

On the other hand, being able to log in to your children’s Internet accounts can undermine any sense of trust that you’ve worked to establish with them. If your kids know that you can sign on to their social media sites, it might lead them to create alternate profiles (and engage in risky online behavior). Additionally, when you have unlimited access to your children’s information, it’s tempting to overstep your boundaries by posting embarrassing content or telling other parents what their kids are doing online. This can strain your parent-child relationship and alienate your children from their friends. Also, when you take total control of your kids’ accounts, it doesn’t help them learn how to responsibly manage social media.

Whether or not you choose to have access to your kids’ profiles, you should still be aware of their Internet activity. If possible, keep the family computer in a central location (not kids’ rooms), and check in on your children frequently when they’re on the Internet. Visit the websites that they’re talking about with their friends, and be on the lookout for increased Internet use or changes in mood, which could indicate that they’re getting into trouble online.

Before you allow your children to set up social media profiles, make sure you sit down to have a conversation about appropriate use, and set up rules for sharing information on the Internet. Remind them that it’s hard to control (and remove) content once it’s posted online and that there can be real world repercussions for their online behavior. Keep the line of communication open so that your children feel comfortable coming to you when they need advice or if they encounter a problem on social media websites.

Special Contributor: Stephanie Marbukh

In respect to the pros and cons, in my opinion, it probably depends on the age and maturity of your child.

Keep in mind, with all the monitoring, nothing replaces old-fashion parenting. Your offline frequent offline conversations about online life will help them make better choices when you’re not with them (offline and online).

posted by on Holiday gifts, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Parenting books, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Uncategorized

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Order today!

Order today!

No one said raising kids was easy, but when it comes to teenagers that’s a completely different animal.

On a weekly basis I am bombarded with calls and emails from parents that are at their wit’s end dealing with their teen — we hear this a lot:

“Our highly intelligent son used to bring home all A’s now he is barely making D’s!”

Our daughter used to be a cheerleader, she was the captain, now she just quit!

It’s not my son, it’s his friends.

My daughter is so beautiful, smart, always had so many friends — now she is failing and someone we don’t even recognize.

Generalizing this, they are good kids sometimes making bad choices.

Is it today’s society of technology? Peer pressure? Parenting?

Maybe it can be a combination of life as a teen with a sprinkle of each of the above, after-all, it’s just not easy being a teen in any generation — and it’s not easy being a parent either.

Every parent needs the priceless Gift of Failure.

When I read this book this summer, I couldn’t put it down – and I don’t have teens or children anymore! It’s a page-turner and it made me realize the many parenting mistakes I made as a parent. It also actually helps me to understand why my adult kids act the way they do. Yikes!

This book is priceless!!! 

Jessica Lahey

Jessica Lahey

Author, Jessica Lahey, was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Q.  For the many parents that have told their teenagers from a very young age just how very smart they are and now they are facing the consequences since their child is either failing or severely underachieving — is there a way to turn this around if they are in middle school or high school? 

JL:  When parents get emotional at my speaking events, it’s usually the parents of teens who have been overparented into a state of near-helplessness, or praised for being smart or talented or gifted solidly into a fixed mindset. These parents get upset because they are finally coming to terms with how VERY little time they have left to turn that ship around. They can do it, though. The first step is to get SERIOUSLY honest with their teens about the fact that mistakes have been made. Extreme honesty may be frightening, but the only way to get buy-in from teens is to admit to mistakes, announce your intentions to let go and give your teen more autonomy and opportunities to learn, and – here’s the most important part – mean it.

Next, set crystal clear expectations – for school, household duties, wherever you are backing off, and explain what the consequences will be if those expectations are not met. Try to keep the consequences as relevant to the task at hand as possible. For example, if homework is not getting handed in, it will be the teen’s responsibility to set up a meeting with their teacher and find out what needs to be done to remedy the situation. Inform your child’s teachers of this change in protocol if you have previously been over-involved in your child’s academic life, and let the teacher know that you won’t be checking in, or logging into the grading portal, and therefore, the teacher will need to inform you if things go deeply awry.

Once you’ve handed some autonomy back to your kid, tell them that you trust them to be able to handle it, and that you are still there for them if they need you. There will be a honeymoon period where everything goes beautifully, followed by a relapse and testing period where the teen feels out the limits of his or her new autonomy, but eventually, the pendulum will come to rest in a reasonable, healthy place.

Q. Parent’s frequently will say, “It’s not my teen, it’s their friends/peers that they are hanging with,” when it pertains to negative behavior. If this is true or not, should parents intervene with friendships?

JL: It’s important for parents to understand that the role of friendship changes as kids mature. Early on in life, friendships are more about proximity than anything else. Kids pick friends from whomever is nearby. As kids get older, they begin to choose friends based on identities and traits they’d like to try on for themselves. Those friends may not always be your cup of tea, but try to think of these kids as a safer way for your child to decide whether they want to be like that friend. Talk to your child about how that friend makes them feel. What do they admire in that friend? Why do they like to spend time with that friend? Talk about your own relationships – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Talk about the people you have left behind because they made you feel bad about yourself, inspired competition, or tried to change you. Your experience, offered in a supportive manner, is invaluable to your teen as they navigate these friendships and trial identities.

Q. As a teacher, please share with parents of teenagers (especially since they will be heading into adulthood shortly), why the Gift of Failure is such an important lesson to learn – and it’s better to start now, then never.

JL: If there’s one takeaway I hope parents of teens will take away from The Gift of Failure, it’s that our short term goal of making our children happy and making ourselves feel good about our parenting are sometimes incompatible with the more long-term goals of creating competent, capable adults. Think long term. Think about how you will feel about your parenting a year from now, rather than tomorrow. Parenting is a long-haul job.

Thanks so much Jess!

I rarely recommend parenting books – but this one is priceless!

Order The Gift of Failure on Amazon.

Visit Jessica Lahey’s website and follow her on Twitter.

Read an excerpt of The Gift of Failure.

posted by on Apps, AT&T, Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Parenting tips

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halloween_safetyWith most people carrying smartphones today, it’s become easier than ever for parents to keep tabs on their little goblins. Cell phones today provide more than just the ability to call and check in on your children’s location. AT&T wants parents to be aware of other ways they can use their wireless device, and their child’s, to have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.

  • First, pre-program ICE – In Case of Emergency – numbers into your child’s speed dial on their cell phone, such as your number, a neighbor, and the police station. Make sure your child knows how to use their device in case of an emergency, such as dialing 911 and providing their location, landmarks, etc. to the 911 operator.
  • Make sure your child’s cell phone is fully charged before they leave the house.
  • Use the alarm clock on your child’s device to give them periodic reminders to text or call home along their route or to remind them when it’s time to head home. Make sure the volume on the device is at its highest so the child can hear it in a crowd.
  • Create a wireless “Trick-or-Treat” patrol for your neighborhood. Have various parents stationed along your community’s trick-or-treat route and have them text one another when they kids have reached certain points and are heading home. The patrol is a great way for adults to monitor Halloween activities in their neighborhood as well.
  • Consider a wearable, such as the FiLIP, a wearable phone and locator for kids. The device allows the child to make and receive calls to up to 5 pre-set contacts, receives one-way text messages, has a built-in smart locator, and lets you create safety zones.

ATTPanicWith all the safety apps available at your fingertips today, peace-of-mind is just a download or click away. For example:

  • Download a free FLASHLIGHT app, like the iHandy Flashlight app so your child’s device can be used for easy navigation.
  • Download the RedPanic Button app to your child’s device for extra peace-of-mind. The free version of this app allows trick-or-treaters the option to press the Red Panic Button to automatically send out a text message with their exact coordinates on Google Maps to family members. Panic can also be shared on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Track your trick-or-treater with a location-based service, like FamilyMap, which lets you track the location of your child’s device on an interactive map from your smartphone, PC or tablet.
  • ATTFBIDThe free FBI Child ID app lets parents store their children’s photos plus other identification (height, weight, hair and eye color, age) for quick access if a child ever goes missing. The information is stored on wireless device only until parents need to send it to authorities. Notable features include safety tips, checklists for what to do if something happens to your child, and shortcuts to dial 911 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Parents also have the ability to email info immediately to law enforcement agencies if the unthinkable occurs.
  • The Sex Offender Search app which will show you if there are any registered sex offenders living along your child’s trick-or-treat route. Simply activate your smartphone’s GPS and connect to the National Sex Offender Registry to locate registered sex offenders and predators in the area. You can search by name, address, and zip code, and results will be displayed on an interactive map. Click on a location for more details, such as pictures, names, addresses, and a list of offenses. The app is free.

Courtesy of Kelly Starling, AT&T

posted by on Bullying, Civility, Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Girl Bullying, Online bullying, Parenting, Social media, Social Networking

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SocialMediaCellsAs social networking is growing not only with our youth, but with our adults too, it’s time we start talking about some bad habits that started early in the social media years and try to undo these unsafe social practices.

Social media shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, and likely will just continue to gain speed and momentum as it appeals to younger and younger audiences; however it can’t go unnoticed that the values it’s teaching our children sometimes can be less than ideal, especially in regards to unsafe internet habits. As social media becomes more prevalent, so do our kids apparent lack of regard to what is considered oversharing and what isn’t. Social media has made it completely acceptable to engage in the following less-than-safe behaviors:

1. Checking into places – It’s become commonplace to check into places once you get there; whether it’s the gym, a restaurant, or even a different city or state from the one you reside in, you’re now able to post onto your social media sites where you are, and are even rewarded with badges for checking into places regularly. However while the badges and upgrades to “mayor of the city” may make kids feel cool, it’s also alerting anyone and everyone that they’re not at home and where you can find them, something that seems less than stellar from a safety standpoint. Learn how to turn-off your geo-tagging.

2.     Posting provocative and risqué photos – Scantily clad pictures, pictures showing drug and alcohol use, and pictures of people in risqué circumstances routinely grace Facebook walls, get uploaded to Instagram, and find their way onto Twitter. All this does, however, is encourage risky behavior, prompting teens to engage in it and even challenging them to outdo their friends,as well as appealing to predators with questionable motives, making it easy for them to identify easy targets. Your online reputation will affect your future.

3.     Putting your address, phone number, and email address online – While this type of information may be posted innocently for friends and family to easily find, kids tend to forget that the internet is not a private forum, it’s very public. Posting this information makes it easy for scammers, spammers, and predators to prey on unsuspecting victims, which is why this information should never be made publicon the various social media websites.

Cyberbullying774.     Demeaning others – Bullying others online has become the new social norm. This kind of cyberbullying has had an overwhelming effect on kids, leaving them feeling depressed and hopeless. When kids are unable to achieve any respite from the constant demeaning of their peers the effects can be monumental, with self-mutilation, uncontrollable anger or depression, and even suicide or harming their peers being the fallout.

5.     Encouraging hazardous games – Remember the choking game that encouraged kids to hang themselves to get high? These types of dangerous games are a result of social media allowing them to spread like wildfire, and the results are often tragic because kids don’t realize how dangerous they really are until it’s too late.

Social media, while it is many wonderful things, has its drawbacks as well. The younger the audience allowed to interact on it, the more unsafe it becomes, especially because they don’t yet understand that for every action there can also be a tragic reaction. This is why it’s imperative for parents to be vigilant in teaching their kids safe internet habits and to monitor what their kids are doing online.

posted by on Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Internet Safety, Online bullying, Online Safety, Parenting Teens, Sexting

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cybergirl55Can you guess what crisis is affecting 25 percent of our children today?

It’s not ebola or drug addiction. We can rule out measles and depression, because the answer is not a disease at all. The answer might come as a surprise to many, but cyberbullying is hurting one quarter of our children. Unfortunately, cyberbullying might actually be more prevalent than previous studies have shown.

In fact, recent data shows that the rates of cyberbullying have actually tripled within the last year! The newer study estimates that 87 percent of our youth have experienced or been affected by cyberbullying. This is devastating for parents to realize, because all the education and awareness about this issue is not making a huge difference for our tween and teen populations.

Tragic Consequences: Cyberbullying Matters

October is National Cyberbullying Prevention Month and provides the perfect opportunity to make sure we are helping our families to delete this trend.

Technology has allowed bullying to jump the playground fence and enter all aspects of a child’s life leaving no safe haven for a child to retreat. The problem with cyberbullying is the unlimited access bullies have to their targets over social media, cell phones, and other digital devices.

Cruel and harassing remarks are terrible in their own right, but often other peers join in and gang up on a victim by liking or sharing demeaning posts. This pile up mentality can isolate victims and lead to low self esteem and depression. Cyberbullying has been linked to  increasing a child’s risk for depression or thoughts of suicide.

Kids suffering from depression are more than 12 times as likely to attempt suicide, which is the third leading cause of death among teens. Thankfully, 80 percent of teens suffering from depression are able to make a full recovery. While this is great news, it is imperative that parents and educators learn ways to prevent cyber abuse from starting.

Eight Ways To Prevent Cyberbullying

Parents can play an important role in reducing cyberbullying rates and protecting our children. By teaching children how to use technology safely, we can reduce the risk of numerous threats lurking online. While the statistics and facts are bleak, parents can take a deep breathe and focus on combatting cyberbullying.

Listed below are eight practical tips to stop cyberbullying:

Help a child set up their privacy settings. It’s important for children and teens to understand how privacy can be compromised. Sites are constantly updating and making changes to the information shared on their profiles. Double check and make sure a child’s privacy protected and stress never to share passwords- even with best friends or love interests.

Encourage kids to only “friend” people they know in reality. Many cyberbullies create fake profiles to gain access to their victims. By limiting their online circles, our sons and daughters are eliminating the threat of “catfishing” and predators.

Follow your child online. Teens and tweens are notorious for balking at the idea of mom and dad being their friend online. However, it allows a chance to see what is happening in real time and also provides you a great opportunity to communicate in a less threatening environment.

Stress the importance of telling an adult if they notice or receive bullying messages online. Research has found that only one out of ten kids will seek help if they witness cyberbullying. It has also been found that bullying stops within ten seconds if an adult intervenes!

If there is a cyberbullying issue, open and read all messages together. Don’t allow your child to go through this alone. Document any negative messages in case you need to seek outside intervention.

Create a family contract for technology. Sit down as a group and discuss the house rules and what is expected, and the consequences. This will get everyone on the same page and help prevent future disagreements.

Teach social media etiquette when a child is young and add topics as a child ages. A good rule of thumb is to only send or share items that you would feel comfortable with grandma seeing! However, as children begin puberty you will want to include a sexting talk or address oversharing.

FatherSonCyberRemind children that things will get better! Adolescence is tough and sometimes children just need reassurance that things will improve. Be there to listen and help them understand that this will pass.

 

 

Contributor:  Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education.

amywilliams

Amy K. Williams

 

You can follow Amy on Twitter.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Online Safety, Parenting Teens, Social Networking

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Being 13 in the 70's with no devices.

Being 13 in the 70’s with no devices.

#Being13 in the 70’s could be described as awkward, scary, shy, weird, strange, lonely, nerdy and other adjectives that thankfully were not being judged by “LIKEs” on a social media platform – going viral through our schools and communities.

Sure, some of us may have been teased or even bullied – it was limited to our play area, but we didn’t have to be concerned about it going from town to town, gaining momentum by LIKE’s and nasty comments from people we don’t even know.

(I am not trying to diminish the pain that kids felt in the earlier generation.)

The fact is in today’s generation of being a teenager, as reported in CNN’s report on #Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens, the average teen checks their social media over 100 times a day to be sure there is nothing mean being said about them, as well as keeping up with social statuses.

Being13100selfiesIs this excessive? Absolutely! But in their mind, it’s necessary. The fear of being digitally shamed, cyberbullied and especially – removed from a social-clique can be devastating to a teen.

According to the recent study, teens need to monitor their popularity status:

  • 61% of teens said they wanted to see if their online posts are getting likes and comments.
  • 36% of teens said they wanted to see if their friends are doing things without them.
  • 21% of teens said they wanted to make sure no one was saying mean things about them.

Let’s think back to the 70’s.

Someone has a birthday party over the weekend, you get to school on Monday, only to find out you were the only one not invited. It hurts, it feels horrible. You may go home and talk to your mother about it – you may tell your best friend, or a relative or someone you confide in with your feelings — and maybe that’s the end of it.

Today that same party is a different story.

From the moment the invite is viral, people are tagged, you know who is going, you know you are the one not invited, and then the pictures are splashed all over social media and you are not in them.

Does your parent really understand the scope of this type of digital social emotional pain? The fact you feel like a social failure? You don’t want to hear that it’s only technology – it doesn’t matter, to teens – it’s all that matters!

Teens will take anywhere from 100-200 selfies a day to get the right one to post online!

Yes, it’s a social popularity contest and our kids are buying into it.

According to a PEW Study, 40%  of teens feel pressured to post only content that makes them look good and 39% of teens on social media say they feel pressure to post content that will be popular and get lots of comments or likes.

PEWPopularStudy

What can parents do to help this downward spiral?

In the CNN study, 94% of parents admitted they underestimate the amount of social combat that is going on with their teens cyber-lives.

This is a huge wake-up call. I have discussed this for such a long time. We aren’t having just “a” sex talk here, we are having a continuous cyber-conversation that needs to be on a regular basis, if not a daily basis.

It’s as common as — “How was your day at school…. anything new in your digital life? Have you discovered any new apps? Any new friends online? New sites?”  GET INVOLVED digitally — offline!

What parents need to understand is, yes, teens may always be technically advanced – but that isn’t an excuse — ask your teenager to TEACH YOU about what they know. There is nothing wrong with that. You will learn from them and get more insights about what they are doing online.

VineSnapInstaParents, it’s time to embrace new social media. We know mom and dad are on Facebook – learn more about (and sign up with) Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine – and any other site your teen is on – get out of your comfort zone. Remember, you are still their parent, monitor their activity, but it never replaces old-fashion offline parenting – what was good in the 70’s is still good today.  Communication – face-to-face.

We know those LIKE’s have no meaning in real-life, but to your teen, they mean LIFE.

Be there for them – online and offline.

94% of you need to get on board. Being in social combat is not easy, but knowing your have you parent on your side, can help you make better choices.

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Internet Safety

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CyberbullyingTeensIn order to better understand what the consequences should be, first a parent should fully understand what cyberbullying is:

The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

In a recent survey by Motts Children’s Hospital, it revealed that parents were conflicted about how to label and punish cyberbullying.

In response to hypothetical situations at their teens’ schools, parents vary in whether they label certain actions as cyberbullying:

  • Social media campaign to elect a certain student for homecoming court, as mean joke – 63% say definitely cyberbullying
  • Sharing a photo altered to make a classmate appear fatter – 45% say definitely cyberbullying
  • Posting online rumors that a student was caught cheating on a test – 43% say definitely cyberbullying
  • Posting online rumors that a student had sex at school – 65% say definitely cyberbullying

Between 30% and 50% of parents are unsure whether these actions are cyberbullying.

Where the conflict comes in is with the punishment.  Parents recommended the most severe punishment for posting online rumors about students having sex in school, for which 1 in 5 parents would refer the students to law enforcement.  In my opinion – depending on the circumstances – this may be a bit harsh.  Most schools have teen-courts now.

CyberbullyingOnCampusWhen compared to parents being less concerned that an online rumor is being spread about a student cheating – which could be more serious for their academic future (college admission), they were less likely to refer them to law enforcement.

Parents are concerned about cyberbullying, but it seems they have mixed opinions on what constitutes online abuse and what the consequences should be.

Less than half of the parents surveyed said that sharing an altered photo to make a classmate appear fatter or posting online rumors that a student was cheating was definitely cyberbullying. Although it may appear to be cyberbullying, it could also be described has a mean digital prank – which is just as bad – and should be punished the same. However it’s a clear insight that our society is quick to label when they are not fully informed on the issue.

This survey reflects the challenges that schools face in developing clear policies around cyberbullying.

We have too many people over-using the word bullying and now cyberbullying. When in reality it might a digital prank, online joke, or otherwise — but make no mistake – it is all virtual shaming – which leads to someone being emotionally harmed and hurt for a very long time. Digital cruelty by any definition is wrong.

What are the consequences? It seems we are all still trying to figure that out. It is likely it depends on the situation.MottsSurvey

posted by on Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting

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vodaphonesurveyIn a recent survey released by Vodafone, 43% of teens believe that cyberbullying is a bigger problem than drug abuse.

So when we hear phrases such as, death by humiliation, it’s not a joke.

According to this latest research:

  • 41% of teens said cyberbullying made them feel sad, helpless and depressed
  • 26% felt completely alone
  • 18% experienced suicidal thoughts
  • 21% stay home from school due to cyberbullying
  • 38% don’t tell their parents they are being harassed online

Not telling their parents or an adult is an issue that has concerned experts and advocates for a long time. The reasons why kids don’t tell can range from fear of having their life-line removed (being shut-down from the Internet), to being ashamed of what is happening online – to retaliation from the bully (being called a snitch by friends). This is why offline parenting is so crucial to online life.

TeensOnline555Research has shown that friend to friend support is one of the successful ways of preventing and addressing cyberbullying.

October is Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month. Although we take this month to focus on this topic, including cyberbullying, it’s an issue we need to discuss on a regular basis with our children as well as learning ourselves how to combat cruelty online.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that digital harassment is limited to kids. On the contrary, according to PEW Research 73% of adults have witnessed online abuse, while 40% have been victims.

This is particularly disturbing because as an adult or especially as a parent, we should know better.

Everyone needs a friend no matter what age you are. You also have to be an example to your teens and tweens online – use your keystrokes for kindness. Stop before you comment rudely on someone’s post or publish a picture that may not be that flattering to someone. Especially pause for 24 hours before sending a sensitive email.

If someone is having a bad day, or recently lost a loved one — take a moment to send them a cyber-hug. It can make all the difference in the world. Social media is about connecting, networking, and most of all — reaching out to each other when we need each other most. Don’t just be there for the good times — give us some virtual strength during the difficult ones too.

It’s not about a thumbs down, it’s about a wrap-around….. reach-out those keystrokes for kindness and find an emoji that says – hey, I got your back.  Isn’t that what friends are for?

#BeStrong announces new emoji’s to help send cyber-support to those that are being digitally abused online.

BeStrong

posted by on Adult Cyberbullying, Civility, Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Facebook, Facebook safety, Social media, Social Networking

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LovetoLikeFB2We officially live in a generation Facebook society. No matter what age you are, from 13 (and I dare say younger) to 80 (and even older) everyone loves to LIKE Facebook.

You may be watching the news on television, listening to a talk show on the radio or even walking into a store – and you will hear or see an ad to LIKE them on Facebook.

It’s a Facebook generation. 

We will hear that teens are leaving Facebook. It may not be their number one platform, but they are certainly still there. We have to remember, it is the grownups number one social media platform according to the latest studies by PEW Research.

Facebook has so many benefits. From connecting old friends to meeting new ones. It keeps families connected that may live far apart, or even if they are across the street! It’s a great place to form support groups of common issues and create events that people of the same interests can join.

Social media has a way of making you feel special on your birthday, lifting you up when you are feeling down, and giving you support if you are heading out to a challenging day.

There has been times when I have seen posts and I would think, “I wish there was a dislike button” – since no one feels comfortable “LIKE-ng” tragedy. Or if you really think about it – when you lose a loved one, you get  a LIKE, does that mean they are happy you lost that person?  Of course not….

However now that Facebook has announced they are working on the ‘Dislike‘ button, red flags are flying.

When I discuss disliking an article posted, it’s simply that – an article. Usually someone would post a sad news article of maybe a youth taking their life or how cyber-criminals have found a new way to scam the elderly – it doesn’t feel right “LIKE-ng” these posts, but I want to acknowledge to the person that posted it that I read it.

I usually comment too – which obviously is the best alternative to LIKE-ng these types of articles.

However with the latest plans for the DISLIKE button many advocates and experts are worried about how teens will handle this type of emotion.  My concern is not only for the teens, but adults too.

It’s obvious, the ‘dislike’ button will most likely provoke online bullying especially among youth. We know they can live and die for the number of “LIKEs” they are receiving – we can only imagine how their self-esteem will be deflated when the ‘dislike’ button becomes engaged – or enraged.

Again, grownups can be mean, and they also have feelings too.

Dislike2Digital shaming is not a fad, it’s a trend today. When (if) this dislike button is implemented, it will become another tool for teens and adults to use. They both need reminders to be properly educated on digital citizenship, and the first rule of thumb is – being kind online (as you would be offline).

According to the most recent PEW Study, 73% of adults have witnessed online abuse, while 40% have been victims of cyber-abuse. On Facebook, this was witnessed firsthand when a parent formed a group to intentional bash (what she considered) ugly toddlers.

We can all preach about online abuse until the cows come home – we don’t need a ‘dislike’ button to remind us that ugliness exists online.

October is Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month. Let’s try to make a conscience effort to discuss, on a regular basis, the basics of online safety, cyberbullying and kindness.

Let’s remember, cyberbullying isn’t only about kids – we must include grownups too.

Keep it simple, but constant.

Safety: Never share passwords. (Ever – except with your parents). If you’re a parent – leave it in your living trust – you never know!

Sharing: Pause. Before you are about to share a post, photo, send an email or comment – literally ‘pause’ before hitting send. If it’s something sensitive, wait 24 hours.

Cyberbullying: Tell a parent or adult immediately. Parents, understand the number one reason kids/teens don’t tell a parent is fear they will lose their life-line. That is their Internet. Re-assure them you are there for them, it’s not their fault.  Grownups, never-ever engage. Don’t respond. Save evidence. Block. Report.

Kindness: Keep in mind, there is a human on the other-side of the screen when you do hit send. Be sure it’s someone you wouldn’t mind receiving. Every keystroke matters.

As with these topics, there is much more, however this gets the communication flowing. Ask your kids what new apps they have, learn about them, show them what you have learned too. Do you need help on your tablet or cell phone? Who better to show you than your child. You can learn a lot from them – and again, it opens up your dialogue.

What is most important is helping them keep their digital lives on track with their offline life. Once the “DISLIKE” button comes into play, we want to be sure that your child is emotionally strong enough to know it is only a button and has no real sense of value on their real life.

Your offline parenting skills need to start now to prepare your child to understand that online sometimes is not always the nicest place.

Learn from one of the best. Diana Graber, a Digital Citizenship teacher in California and co-founder of Cyberwise, recently wrote an excellent article about your choices for preparing yourself for the ‘dislike’ button of Facebook.

Remember, being a cyber-role-model for others is always a priority!