posted by on AT&T, Bullying, Cell phone safety, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention

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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 1 in 3 students say they have been bullied at school. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey found that nationwide, 19 percent of students had been bullied on school property during the 12 months before the survey, while nearly 15 percent had been bullied electronically in that same time period.

While face-to-face bullying is still common, cyber-bullying – bullying via email, text messages, instant messaging, chat rooms, social media sites, videos, and pictures – is on the rise, according to With most kids today carrying a mobile device, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior because:

  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
  • Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

In light of Pink Shirt Day (Feb. 22), a national observance to encourage people to take a stand against bullying, AT&T has compiled a list of apps, tips and tools that can help parents protect their children from bullying and create awareness around the problem.

Anti-Bullying Apps

  • BullyBlock – (Android – FREE) – This app captures and block bullies that are causing you and your family harm. The Bully Block app allows users to covertly record verbal threats and harassment, block inappropriate texts and pictures (e.g. sexting), and utilize auto respond features. Bully Block blocks bullies that utilize private or unknown numbers to engage in cyberbullying. Bully Block also has instant reporting features that allow the user to email or text abusive behavior to parents, teachers, HR departments, and law enforcement. All audio, messages, and calls are stored on the phone SD card.
  • TipSubmitMobile – ( Apple iOS, Android – FREE) – TipSubmit Mobile allows tipsters to submit secure and anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers, law enforcement agencies or school safety officers and administrators. Thousands of communities, schools and government agencies are covered by this application since it connects directly with TipSoft, the world’s largest and North America’s only, truly anonymous tip reporting system. Tipsters could receive rewards of up to $1,000 in the U.S. and up to $2,000 in Canada for information submitted to Crime Stoppers and nobody will ever know your identity.
  • Bully Stop (Android – FREE) – This app helps protect your children from bully calls, texts and picture messages. The app gives your children the ability to block calls and messages from people they don’t want to hear from. Bully Stop uses a Block List to block unwanted callers and texters. The app maintains a password-protected call log of all attempted contact with your child so you can approach the relevant people, parents, teachers or police and show proof of the bullying communication.
  • Bully Free Zone – (Android – FREE) – An app for younger kids, the Bully Free Zone app features Captain McFinn and encourages kids to join him in helping to put an end to bullying. The app includes a bully free pledge, a cartoon that shows how Captain McFinn stopped his bullying ways, a kindness calendar that tracks the child’s kind actions.
  • Bully Button – (Apple iOS – $0.99) – This application is for helping when the user is in trouble. It lets them record and send an email with audio attachment with text by tapping “Record and Send” button. Children can call a parent, friend or school by selecting appropriate options.

Anti-Bullying Tips and Tools

  • Take advantage of parental controls. Ask your provider about parental controls available to you. For example, AT&T has Smart Limits which allows parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers and restrict texting and data usage during specified times of the day.
  • Be aware of what your kids are doing online.  Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.

o    Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.

o    Tell your kids that as a responsible parent, you may review their online communications if you think there is a reason for concern.

o    Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency

o    Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.

o    Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Let them know you will not take away their device if they confide in you about a problem.

  • Establish rules about appropriate use of computers, cell phones and other technology.

o   Be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they’re online. Show them how to be safe online.

o   Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others.

o   Encourage kids to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online. Think about how people who aren’t friends could use the information.

o   Remind them to keep their passwords safe and not to share them with friends because sharing that information could compromise their control over their online identities and activities.

Courtesy of AT&T.

Follow #PinkShirtDay on Twitter and Facebook.

posted by on AT&T, Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Dating, Digital Distractions

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Opening doors, holding hands, going steady. When it comes to love, tech isn’t a replacement for in-person chemistry. But sometimes it can help move the relationship along. This Valentine’s Day, AT&T conducted a survey to learn more about technology and relationships and found:

  • 36% of respondents agree long-term relationships can start on dating apps.
  • Only 7% of respondents are most likely to ask someone on a date via text compared to 27% who are more likely to ask in person.
  • 64% of respondents first said “I love you” to their current or most recent significant other in person vs. only about 3% through text or social media.
  • 77% of respondents have never broken up with someone via text.

To help you use your smartphone to keep romance in the day and potential pitfalls out, AT&T is offering these Valentine’s Day tech dos and don’ts:

  • DO text sweet nothings.  Nothing can put a smile on your Valentine’s face quicker than an unexpected, romantic text from out of the blue. A short text like “I LUV U” or “MISS U” can  make your significant other suddenly  happier to see you when you get home. But remember, don’t over-abbreviate and stick with terms and symbols that most people know and use.
  • DO share love notes.  Rekindle memories of the ‘old-fashioned’ paper love notes once exchanged in school by sending your Valentine a love quote or saying through one of the free apps in your smartphone’s app store, like Love Quotes and Sayings or Love Notes.
  • DO take advantage of free apps to plan your romantic evening.  Want to find the perfect bottle of wine, order flowers, buy chocolates or make dinner reservations quickly and on-the-go? There are lots of apps for that, and many are free! For example, 1800Flowers features a selection of best-selling flowers. Find Chocolate helps you locate the nearest chocolate shops, and OpenTable allows you to book a table at more than 20,000 restaurants, browse menus and search by cuisine, price or location.
  • DON’T check your texts and emails at the table.  You’ve gone to the trouble of planning a romatic dinner for your sweetheart, so why risk ruining it by checking your device for messages while at the dinner table? Give your Valentine the gift she likely values the most:  your undivided attention.
  • DON’T text it if it’s better said face-to-face. Plan to pop the question on the most romantic day of the year? Think through your approach before you do. You know your Valentine better than anyone else. Would a face-to-face proposal have greater meaning for her or would she find a proposal via text more romantic?  On the flip side, if something doesn’t go as planned on the special day, avoid texting while frustrated or angry. Instead, pick up the phone to hash things out.

Courtesy of AT&T.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cybersafety, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Online Safety

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Guest Post by Brenda Barron

Year after year, we watch as media consumption rises — in our homes, our professional workspaces, and even while we’re out and about. According to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report from the first quarter of 2016, our consumption of media has increased by a whole hour since the same time period in 2015.

The reason for this is obvious. With greater technology adoption comes more avenues through which we have access to media.

It’s not surprising then that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) compiled a thorough analysis this October on the effects of media on children. In addition, they included a revision to their recommended usage guidelines along with the report.

In sum, the AAP expects parents, educators, and physicians to work with children in maintaining a “healthy media diet” based on the following breakdown:

  • 18 months and younger: no screen time except video-chatting.
  • 18 to 24 months: parents should guide children through their interactions with high-quality media programming.
  • 2 to 5 years: parents should allow up to an hour each day of supervised high-quality media viewing.
  • 6 years and older: parents should establish limits on media consumption each day, including when, where, and how much.

The AAP’s recommended healthy media diet isn’t groundbreaking news. As children become exposed to more media and have greater access to technology, this question “Should there be limitations?” comes up frequently. What’s interesting to note, however, is the correlation between what the AAP now recommends with what the tech elite already do with their own children.

In the following infographic, we discuss what your children’s current media “diet” looks like, how tech leaders weigh the risk and reward of technology in their own children’s lives, and the major lessons high-tech parents have to offer about striking a balance between media consumption and unplugged time.
High-Tech Parents and Their Low-Tech Kids - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog


High-Tech Parents and Their Low-Tech Kids

New technologies present parents with unique challenges. Smartphones and tablets have become an easy babysitter for many stressed out parents. But that’s not usually the best thing for the children. Here we will look at how the world’s leading tech execs — people whose lives revolve around these gadgets — deal with these problems.

Tech and Today’s American Children

  • Even very young children are using technology
    • Children use the internet daily
      • 25% of children by age 3
      • 50% of children by age 5
    • 27% of digital media is screen-based for children age 8 and under
    • 30% of apps on parents’ devices are due to their children downloading them
  • Very early online presence
    • 33% of US children have an online presence before birth
      • Ultrasound images
    • 92% of US children have an online presence by age 2
      • Photos uploaded by parents
      • Full online profile
  • A large part of the digital world is geared toward children
    • 72% of children have a computer accessible at home
    • 22% of children ages 6-9 own a cell phone
    • 61% of digital users are between ages 3-11
  • It’s not just computers
    • 67% of children have a video gaming system
    • 42% of children have a TV in their bedrooms

How the Tech Elite Do It

  • Bill Gates
    • Co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft
      • “None of these new technologies come without some real issues that have to be thought through.”
      • Supervises kids’ Facebook accounts
      • Limited his young children’s screen time
        • 45 minutes daily during the week
        • 1 hour daily on weekends
        • Not including homework time
  • Chris Anderson
    • Former editor of Wired and CEO of 3D Robotics
      • Time limits for using devices
      • Sets parental controls on devices
  • Dick Costolo
    • CEO of Twitter
      • No time constraints on devices
      • Children must use devices in the living room for supervision
  • Ali Partovi
    • Founder of iLike and advisor for Facebook, Zappos, and Dropbox
      • Makes distinction between “consuming” and “creating”
        • Watching videos is very different from creating them
      • No time limits set for creative tech use
  • Steve Jobs
    • Co-founder and former CEO of Apple
      • Kids didn’t use the iPad
      • Family focused on real-world activities
        • Cooking
        • Face-to-face conversation
    • Family ate dinner together
      • No tech at the table
      • Talk of books, history, and other topics
  • Waldorf School of the Peninsula
    • Serves students in Silicon Valley
      • One of 160 Waldorf schools nationwide
      • Children of execs from Apple, Google, Yahoo, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard
      • ¾ of students are connected to high-tech parents
    • Bans screens from use in classrooms
      • Frowns on tech use at home
    • Uses pen and paper, knitting, and mud to teach lessons instead of electronics
    • Focuses on physical, creative tasks rather than technological competency
    • Alan Eagle, a Google exec, has a 5th grader at Waldorf who doesn’t know how to use Google

Tech Limit Guidelines for Kids

Every parent needs to decide what works for their children, here are some options:

  • There are two things that unite all these techie parents:
    • Setting tech usage boundaries
    • Supervising tech use
  • Usage Boundaries
    • Setting tech usage limits is important
      • This is similar to limiting television watching
    • Common reasonings for tech boundaries
      • Promotes
        • Hands-on creativity in areas outside of tech
        • Interpersonal interaction
        • Expressive movement
      • Limits protect children from dangers of tech
        • Harmful online content
          • Pornography
          • Violence
          • Bullying
        • Addiction to devices
        • Cognitive and physical issues
          • Interacting with devices near bedtime can cause:
            • Poor sleep
              • Interacting with digital screens ignite hormones in the brain that keep people from sleeping
            • Poor mental functioning
            • Lower overall health
  • Supervision
    • Another thing that unites most tech elites is their supervision of tech usage — both by the parents themselves and via software
    • Direct parental supervision
      • A family computer in a common room in the house where others can see the screen at all times
        • Devices only allowed to be used when and where parents are present
        • Living room or dining room, for example
        • No devices in the bedroom
        • Monitoring software
        • Software is available to help parents track their children’s activity online, even if they are not able to be present all the time

Though high tech is marketed as a boon for the world, the tech elites who create it also have a good understanding of its dangers. It might be convenient to hand an iPad to a squirming toddler. But it is usually better to follow the lead of these tech elites and manage the situation in a more old fashioned way. Sources:,,,,,,,,


posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital Life, Online harassment

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I don’t have to tell anyone how online abuse has become part of the landscape of social media. Whether it’s a child being told to drink bleach and die, or a celebrity hearing their movie is so bad that “it’s not rape worthy,” or the former First Lady being called an ape in heels, the current culture of online cruelty seems to know no bounds.

Actress and activist Ashley Judd brilliantly articulated what it’s like to be a celebrity, an activist, and a woman on the Internet today in her TEDTalk last October, “How Online Abuse of Women Has Spiraled Out of Control.

In an interview with, Judd shared that her abuse started the minute she went online. She joined Twitter six years ago, in 2011, and was subjected to unrelenting harassment and abuse on a daily basis. But it wasn’t until 2015 that she discovered just how sadistic the dark-web could be.

An avid sports fan, she tweeted out a comment about her feelings when a rival basketball team was playing dirty.

This tweet invoked a malicious cyber-mob attack that took a on a life of its own. From hate speech, to rape and death threats, Judd became the victim of the kind of cyber-violence that no one deserves.

Let’s pretend for a moment that Judd wasn’t a celebrity, or that she wasn’t even a woman. Would that have made a difference? Being a sports enthusiast isn’t, and shouldn’t be, reserved only for those who fit a narrow stereotype.

Thankfully There Are Good Guys Online Too

Last summer after reading an article in the Charlotte Observer about online trolls and fighting back, I met (virtually) @SupportiveDude. He loves his sports and will go to bat for anyoe being abused online! (No pun intended).

He happened to check Twitter during a Hornet’s game and had had enough of the bashing a sports media star was getting. As he told Cristina Bolling of the Observer, “I saw someone I follow dealing with an Internet troll. This person was just coming at him with this angry and unprovoked vitriol,” he said. “I wondered to myself what the counterpoint to this kind of online behavior would be. I started the account in that moment on a whim.… I like simplicity, so I just named it “Supportive Guy.” (The handle @supportiveguy was already taken, he said, so he went with @supportivedude.)

I’ve been following @SupportiveDude, and fortunately for him, he’s never been subjected to the blow-back that Judd has had to contend with. I would venture to say that he would be one of the first to come to her digital rescue or anyone else who might be in need.

Online Gender Violence

When it comes to cyber-thrashing, women have largely been the receivers. When Judd talks about her experience, she ignites the stage with her colorful description of the foul language she is confronted with online on a regular basis—four-letter words that should be banned from our vocabulary and that no one should have to be subjected to.

Sadly, as we have learned in Judd’s case, one tweet can set off the cyber-mob. But we have see this gang-like mentality get sparked by other digital interchanges too. Remember when Suey Park tweeted #CancelColbert? Like Judd, she found herself on the receiving end of volatile comments, including death threats, and she eventually became a victim of doxxing. Park’s world was turned upside down from just one tweet that was taken out-of-context.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The fact is, hate is hate, online or off. Whether it’s targeted at women or men, it’s never okay. The reality that a simple tweet can spark an explosion of vicious and contemptuous comments online or threats towards a person’s life is unacceptable.

As Judd reminds us in her TEDTalk, “there are solutions.”

“Number one: we have to start with digital media literacy, and clearly it must have a gendered lens. Kids, schools, caregivers, parents: it’s essential. Two… shall we talk about our friends in tech? Said with dignity and respect, the sexism in your workplaces must end.”

Digital media literacy is to the key to curbing online abuse — no matter what your age, you are never too young or old to learn about cyber civics.

Many schools are now incorporating this into their curriculum and I believe should be mandated (so do some states, with new media literacy legislation being introduced every year). Cyber Civics is the three-year comprehensive curriculum that teaches all aspects digital literacy to middle schoolers—from digital citizenship, to information literacy, to how to spot fake news. This educational program was created by Diana Graber, co-founder of Cyberwise, and it is now being taught in 24 U.S. states and internationally.

When kids get these classes in school, the lessons trickle up to their parents. These are life skills that we all need today.

Being a Voice.

Judd also recognizes she has the ability and platform with her celebrity, to make a difference in this violent cyber-world.

“So, I have all these resources that I’m keenly aware so many people in the world do not.”

But this doesn’t meant that the average person can’t speak-up too! I applaud Judd as she discusses that she will be meeting with tech giants to continue this dialogue to end online abuse, but we must all do our part too.

Takeaway Tips:

· Meet with your school board and PTA: Be sure digital literacy is taught in your district.

· Organize Kindness and Upstander Clubs in schools and communities.

· Demand digital Literacy for all ages: Encourage your local school or college to give classes for young adults and seniors too.

Article was originally posted on Huffington Post by Sue Scheff.

posted by on Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online bullying, Online Safety, Parenting

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At first glance it appears not much. However, one thing we can all agree on is that our kids and technology both grow and evolve at incredibly fast rates.Take for example, the perplexity of how one day our kids are playing contently with Legos or dolls on the living room floor, but overnight it feels as if they have morphed into teenagers obsessed with technology, cars, clothes, the opposite sex, and more. Suddenly, the little kids we used to know have been replaced with adolescents trying to find their way in the world.

Granted, technology doesn’t rely on biology or hormones to spur changes, but our devices and gadgets can evolve quickly. Often these changes, upgrades, and updates leave us wondering where we got left behind or straining to play catch-up with our kids’ digital know-how. Especially, in a world that often seems driven by social media and smart technology. It’s inevitable that our children and devices will change, but this revolving process makes it vital for us, as parents, to stay up-to-date on the trending and dangerous apps our kids frequently download and use.

It’s no secret that we already have a lot on our plates as we help our children navigate their way to adulthood. For those reasons alone, it can feel like we are waging in an uphill battle when we add the valuable amount of time and effort we spend worrying if our boys or girls are victims of sexting, cyberbullying, extorting, or oversharing via technology. So, as we exchange the old year for a fresh beginning, we should make it a point to spend a few minutes educating ourselves on the apps our sons and daughters might be utilizing.

Afterall, knowledge is power.

To help us sift through the unending lists of apps and make sense of this daunting quest, the creators at TeenSafe have compiled the following infographic to help us keep our kids safe this new year:

posted by on Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy

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January 28th is Data Privacy Day.

The Internet gives everyone a voice, but we need people to protect those voices.

Online harassment and cyber bullying are real. And, some groups, such as women, are targeted more than others. Sadly, who you are affects how you are treated by others online, as well as offline.

The Internet Society offers 10 tips to keep you safer online.

A powerful way to counter online abuse, threats and violence is to share knowledge with each other. So, to mark this year’s International Data Privacy Day, the Internet Society would like to share with you 10 tips to protect yourself and others online:

Know the terrain. The Internet is a powerful tool for communication. Learn how to use the Internet, keep your eyes open for good and bad actors, and make the most of what the Internet offers.

Keep your private life private. Keep your personal information separate from your professional role. Use different personas for different roles.

Protect communications. Use end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication for confidential communications.

Obscure your location. Remove location data from images and videos before posting. Turn off application access to location. Don’t disclose your location in public posts.

Guard your devices. They’re more precious than any jewels. Protect them from both physical and digital tampering. Use encryption and strong access credentials.

Prepare for an attack. Find allies and prepare a plan for dealing with online harassment, doxing and other forms of abuse. Don’t feed the trolls! They don’t deserve your attention.

Stand firm. Don’t let cyber bullies undermine what you are doing. Show them you are not afraid. Others will stand with you. Be willing to ask for help.

Beware of Trojan horses. Look out for spear-phishers. Check before connecting with someone new. If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t!

Lead. Share your experience with others. Let people know that you are there to help.

Protect others. If you host user-generated content, prevent users from posting derogatory or other abusive messages. Help remove personal information that has been exposed to hurt someone. Report offenders

Share these tips with someone close to you!

And don’t sit by when you see abuse on social media. Offer a helping hand.



posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital citizenship, Digital Parenting, Online Safety

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The internet is a modern marvel. This simple invention has revolutionized our lives in ways we never could have expected. We can order food and products straight to our door. We can video chat with people on the other side of the globe. We can talk to almost anyone in a matter of seconds. We can play games, watch movies and TV, and keep ourselves entertained for hours on end. We can learn new things and explore new places without ever leaving the comfort of our homes.

But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Children of the modern age are inundated with data. They’re growing up in a world where tablets, smartphones, and smart watches are readily available. In fact, kids between eight and eighteen years old spend an average of almost eight hours per day using the internet.

The internet can also be a scary place, particularly for young kids. For teens, the internet can be even more intimidating. Many people on the internet feel as though they are anonymous, which means that bullying has become rampant on social platforms. People may feel as though their keyboard is a separate entity, which makes them think they can say whatever they want without consequence. In reality, hurtful comments and messages can have long-lasting, real-life consequences.

Parental restriction locks can help protect your kids from accessing the darker corners of the web, but children should also bear personal responsibility for their internet use. Kids and teens should be taught from an early age how to use these technologies safely and responsibly.

Credit: FreeImages

Basic Tips for Internet Safety

These tips may seem like common sense, but a little review never hurt anyone.

  • Never give out any personal information. This includes full names, home addresses, work addresses, school addresses, phone numbers, credit and debit card information, and other security details. You never know who’s on the other side of the screen, and giving out personal information can put your child and your family in danger. Teach your kids the importance of keeping their personal information private.
  • Never send or respond to messages that are mean or hurtful. Your kids should know to come to you right away if they receive a message that is meant to bully or insult them. Responding to messages like these can only make matters worse, and puts your child on the same level as the person who sent them in the first place.
  • Never give out passwords to anyone. Not even to their best friend. All a hacker needs is your password to access your accounts and use your personal information for nefarious purposes. In addition, passwords should always be strong and difficult to guess easily.

Credit: FreeImages

How to Teach Your Child or Teen to Stay Safe Online 

Everyone’s parenting style is different, and every parent will have different ways of teaching their children internet safety. All too often, those basic safety tips you try to instill in your child can go in one ear and out the other. Here are some approaches to teaching your kids internet safety lessons that will stick. 

  1. Communication is key. Your child should feel comfortable coming to you with any concerns they have regarding their internet use. Establishing an open line of communication can help resolve problems and prevent them from encountering dangerous sites or people.
  2. Your kids should consult you if they have any doubts. The internet can be unpredictable. Even with parental locks and thorough education on the dangers of the internet, there’s still a chance your child can encounter something potentially dangerous. Encourage your child to consult you if they come across something that’s unsafe or makes them uncomfortable.
  3. Supervise your kids’ internet use. Internet use, particularly for younger kids, should always be supervised. Not supervising your kids’ internet use may lead to them accessing inappropriate material, or may result in them breaking an expensive device.
  4. Educate your children on the dangers of becoming addicted to the Internet. Children under five should not exceed one hour of internet usage per day. Older children and teens should have a maximum of two hours of screen time per day. Excess internet usage can have negative effects on mental health, sleep, educational development, and eyesight. Your kids should know this information and heed it when using the internet.
  5. Let your kids know that using the Internet is a privilege, not a right. If your child or teen breaks any of your internet safety rules, there should be consequences in place for dealing with it. The least of these should include restricted or no internet access for a predetermined period of time. In the event that this does happen, you should keep all devices secured safely so your child can’t access them.
  6. Talk to them about malware and phishing scams. Kids may not know what malware looks like. You should teach them to recognize phishing scams and to avoid them when they pop up. All your devices should have antivirus software installed, and your child should know how to use these programs in case they accidentally download malware.
  7. Teach them how to use privacy settings on social networking sites. This tip may be more useful for older children or teens who have social media profiles like Facebook or Twitter. Your children’s profiles should never be accessible to the public until they are 18 or older. Make sure your child or teen knows how to enable privacy settings so their updates and photos aren’t accessed by anyone they don’t want to see them.
  8. Be honest. Tell your kids exactly what they may encounter while surfing the internet. What you choose to disclose may vary based on their age and maturity level as well as your parenting preferences. Either way, honesty is important when teaching your kids internet safety.
  9. Address online sexual encounters. This one is especially important for teens. In the past year alone, 25% of teenagers younger than seventeen encountered unwanted sexual content. You should teach them what to do in case this happens to them.

Teaching your children about internet use is a relatively new realm for parents, and it can be scary no matter what age your kids are. The most important thing is to be open and honest, and to teach your kids and teens accountability for their internet use.

Contributor: Jim Shaw

posted by on Digital Parenting, Distracted driving, Parenting Teens, Safe Driving

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So, your teenager is about to earn their driver’s license. How do you feel? Worried? Confused? Relieved? On one hand, a driver’s license means freedom from your duties as a chauffeur. On the other, teenage drivers can be a tremendous source of anxiety. In fact, one survey of 638 parents lists “driving without supervision,” as more worrisome than “using drugs/alcohol” or “having sex.”  The worry, it turns out, is not completely unwarranted as automobile accidents kill more people each year on average than alcohol, AIDS, drug use, murder, suicide, airplanes, and even sharks. As if these facts weren’t enough, driving is even more dangerous for teenagers than it is for adults. In 2015, teen drivers were involved in 4,689 fatal accidents, up from 4,272 in the previous year.

Teenage drivers are also more vulnerable than adults when it comes to drinking and driving. According to the CDC, teenagers are 17 times more likely to die from an accident when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% (the legal limit for adults). And, while the number of teens who admit to drinking and driving has decreased by 51% since 1991, the number of teens who admit to texting and driving is on the rise.

If drinking and driving doesn’t worry you, distracted driving should. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, drivers under the age of 25 are three times more likely than older drivers to text while driving. This is likely due to the fact that only 60% of drivers under the age of 25 consider texting and driving to be “highly dangerous.” In contrast, 95% of drivers over the age of 45 consider texting and driving to be highly dangerous.

Knowing this, parents should prepare their child for the road as best they can. Begin by communicating with him or her, sharing experiences and research to show the importance of staying off their device while behind the wheel.  While I understand that it may not align with every family’s parenting method, appealing to your child’s desire for digital media and showing them this terrifying video about texting and driving could really help hammer the message home. He or she may hate every minute of it, but the lasting impact could end up being a decisive factor down the road.

Getting your child behind the wheel of a “safe car” does not mean what it did when you went through the same process with your parents.  There are plenty of resources at your disposal when it comes to researching the safest cars for teenagers or budgeting for a used car, but try not to deprive your child of high-tech options just because they may not have been around when you were getting your license.  Providing your new driver with a vehicle equipped with features like Bluetooth connectivity will teach them how to safely interact with available technologies while keeping their hands on the steering wheel.  Honda Accords, for example, have been widely considered among the most dependable vehicles for young adults for years, but now many come wired for Bluetooth.

If you are wary of your driver using any technology that may distract him or her from the road initially, you could practice by separating the two experiences altogether.  Enact a new family rule by teaching your child that before the key enters the ignition, the driver’s phone must be locked in the glove compartment (that includes parent drivers). This exercise might also teach experienced drivers to improve our habits as well as our kids.

When ready, hand over the keys and let your new driver experience all the wonderful benefits of freedom that driving has to offer.  It’s ok to worry, that’s what parents do. But by taking the necessary steps in making sure your child is well-prepared you will help ease the transition into this next phase of your family dynamic.

Contributor: Jayson Goetz is a young writer whose work primarily focuses on educating readers about the effects of science and technology on today’s society.


posted by on Career Builders, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Internet Privacy, Internet profile

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What does the internet say about you?

Today your online image is usually the first impression any employer or possible a college recruiter will review about you.  Your name will eventually be put through an internet wash-cycle and how it spins depends on how you have been maintaining it.

Keep in mind you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Multiply studies have shown an average of 75% of employees will Google an applicant and 70% will not hire them for what they found online.

According to an April 2016 CareerBuilders Survey, the following is an idea of what will turn employers off:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information – 46 percent
  • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs – 43 percent
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 33 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee – 31 percent
  • Poor communication skills – 29 percent

It isn’t any different when it comes to colleges and students which is why parents stress to their teens to keep it clean – always online.  If you won’t say it to your grandmother, don’t say it online.

Managing your social personality – it may time time, but it’s worth it.

Keep in mind your friends on social networking sites also reflect who you are.  Take time to remove those that you really don’t know or those that like to make comments that they think are funny – but really aren’t.  Or friends that post questionable photos that could reflect badly for you.

Your online reputation is your future.  It is really that simple – or that serious.  We live in an age that people will search the name of a plumber, a date they meet online, restaurant reviews, hotel reviews, just about everything before you purchase it – use it or meet  them! The internet has changed our lives – mostly for the better. Be positive!

Are you Google-ready?
Courtesy of Microsoft

posted by on Digital Distractions, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Facebook addiction, Internet Privacy, Oversharing

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Maybe I’m being polite when I said, coming to terms with online embellishment, when I actual meant — social media fakes. People who post to social media about their wonderful lives when behind the screens, it is anything but roses and cherries.

It’s always nice to see people posting about their new puppy or kitty they saved from the pound or bought. Maybe you just got engaged or the birth of a child or you are starting a new job you really wanted. You just started dating a great person and you can’t help but share (overshare) ever moment of joy — but what happens when that flame burns out?

Okay, so you don’t want to not post your exciting moments, but can we be a bit more selective and maybe keep some of our private times to ourselves? We all know that scrolling through Facebook posts or other platforms with comments can be a bit over-the-top. If you don’t want to brag or be considered a humble bragger, than why post-it at all?

People say, it you have it flaunt it. Okay, that’s great — except do you know your audience? It’s not bragging when you have it – but what happens when you have personal friends or family on there that know it’s not exactly truthful — or know that maybe you are embellishing. I guess it’s all part of being online – and learning decipher cyber-fact from fiction.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has seen this over and over on news-feeds, however what is troubling is the studies about social media depression.

How these posts do have the potential to mentally harm people. 

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they have reflection. Years ago, prior social media, we only had our thoughts and memory to rely on. Today we have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and other various forms of social living that we use to take us down memory lane.

With this we are also noticing an increase in depression with the vast amount of online social life. University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, have found out that those who have been using between 7 to 11 social media platforms are three times more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.

I can fully understand this. There was a short film, A Social Life (see below) that takes you through a young woman’s day who’s living the life she dreamed of…

A Social Life is a short film about a career driven woman named Meredith who’s living the life she’s always dreamed of… online. Meredith strives to live a balanced life: staying fit, working hard and connecting with her friends; she is creating her “image” within her broader social media friend base. But she awakes one day and realizes that her reflection is merely the collection of photos that she has shared with others. Is this her life? Or just a carefully curated brand?

Sadly, I would venture to say many people will be able to relate to this short film. Waiting and counting their LIKEs on their images, creating the perfect pictures, posing and writing the that snappy content to attract more followers and hoping people believe you are living your life — your dream – when in reality, you are only posing/pretending and faking what you want to be real.

Have you considered how we survived without all these social platforms? We did. Believe it or not, there’s still people that refuse to give into the social-life craze.

As we roll into another New Year, I know it’s impossible to put down your gadgets, as I know I won’t, but what about trimming down your usage?

Let’s try commit to selective sharing and living more for you and your family in real-time rather than for social.

It’s a thought — since you only get one life to live, being social is great, but don’t forget the people in real life too. They were there for you before social media.