posted by on Cyber Safety, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Teen Help, Teens and Technology

No comments

StopMedAbuseBoyOnlineIn today’s hyper-connected society, it’s rare to find a teenager that isn’t on at least one social network. Even more, with new applications and social media sites becoming popular among teens at such a rapid pace, keeping up with everything teens are doing online can be a challenge for parents. With this in mind, it’s important to be wary of the potential threats these sites can pose to our teens, like the promotion of dangerous activities, such as over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse.

Regardless of whether your teen is Snapchatting constantly or live tweeting his or her favorite TV show, use these five tips to make sure your teen is having a safe and positive digital experience.

  1. Do your research.

What social platforms does your teen use? How does he or she use them? What potential dangers do these platforms pose? These are all questions you need to explore to make sure that you are aware of the possible threats these sites may pose to your teen. For example, while Twitter and YouTube can offer a lot of fun and informative content, the platforms can also provide dangerous information about abusing over-the-counter medicine. If you search online for “DXM” or any of the slang terms for DXM abuse, you’ll find posts with instructions on how to abuse DXM to get high, users filming or tweeting about their experiences and more.

  1. Make your expectations clear.

This may mean drawing up a social media contract with your teen or setting ground rules about how, when and where your teen should use various social media platforms. Even if you don’t draw up a contract, be sure to set clear guidelines about how you expect your teen to use digital devices and behave online. These rules can be as simple as no cellphones at the dinner table or emphasizing the “golden rule” – that your teen should treat others in social networks the way they would like to be treated. 

  1. Trust, but verify.

Explain to your teen that you’ll be checking in to see what websites he or she is visiting as well as what he or she is posting online. By checking in, you can actively prevent risky behaviors before they start. For example, if you notice that your teen visited a site that promotes DXM abuse or made an unexplained OTC medicine purchase online, you can start a conversation with your teen about what may be going on.

  1. StopMedAbuseGirlDadJoin your teen online.

If you join your teen on the sites he or she is using, you’ll be able to stay plugged into your teen’s online life. However, make sure to give your teen enough space. This means letting your teen know that you’re keeping an eye on what he or she is posting, but not commenting on every picture uploaded to Facebook. This will also open up an opportunity for you to model good online behavior to you teen. 

  1. Communicate often and openly.

At the end of the day, let your teen know that you have his or her best interest at heart. Explain that you are trying to protect him or her from online threats and risky behaviors. If you’re hesitant about starting this conversation, here are some conversation starters. Even more, don’t make the chat about online safety a one-time conversation. Talk frequently and freely about the importance of privacy, good social media behavior and online threats. And finally, let your teen know that if he or she has questions about something online like the promotion of OTC medicine abuse, you are always around for a conversation.

Although it may not seem like it sometimes, your teen trusts you and looks to you for guidance. Use these guidelines to stress less about your teen’s online activities and possibly build a more open relationship with your teen in the process.

QUESTION: What advice have you given your teen about staying safe online?

CHALLENGE: Take the time this week to establish social media ground rules for your family!

 Contributor: Blaise Brooks

Blaise is a mother of one, caregiver of two, accountant and community advocate. Blaise is also a contributor to The Five Moms blog on, working to spread awareness about over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse with other parents. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cybersafety, Dating, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Internet profile, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Parenting, Parenting Teens

No comments

ParentsTinderFinding a girlfriend or boyfriend is a powerful driving force for teenagers around the world. The need to connect intimately with others is a defining moment in the transition from child to adult. Now, think back to our own teen years. Typically, we met prospective dates at school functions, religious get togethers, or outings to the mall.

Fast forward a few years (or twenty some- but who’s counting?) our own teens want to meet a special someone. However, they no longer need to rely on cute meet greets like we did. Yes, our children’s dating rituals have evolved with the digital revolution leaving mall hallways for power walkers. Surprisingly, many of our kids are turning to Internet dating sites, like Tinder, to to connect with peers or possible dates.

Swiping To Like: Teens And Tinder

Tinder, a very adult dating app, is widely known for promoting relationships, romantic and sexual, between adults. Users sort through images that are known to be sexual and suggestive, swiping right or left to like or dismiss another person. If a person swipes right, they can exchange information with the intention to meet in real life.

A shocking 7 percent of Tinder’s registered users are teens between the ages of 13 and 17. The site admits that it sorts users based on their listed profile ages, trying to pair other teens with others in the same age category. However, many of our kids will lie about their ages on social media sites which can open their profiles up to older and more experienced users.

Trending: Teens And Online Dating Apps

To complicate the issue of teens and online dating, we need to consider that 70 percent of teens seek ways to hide their digital activity from us. They manage to do this by dimming their screens, shutting windows, hiding apps, and clearing their browser history. We need to realize that all this secrecy can inadvertently lead our children to frightening or dangerous situations they lack the maturity to handle on their own. This makes it vital that we monitor and know what our kids are really doing with their Smartphones and devices.

Realizing our teens are seeking help from the digital world to spark a little romance, or at least find a date to the school dance can be frightening. For a more indepth look at teens and Tinder, please read the following infographic:

Contributor: Hilary Smith

About Hilary Smith: Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics. @HilaryS33


posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Internet profile, Internet Safety, Online image, Online Life, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Online resume

No comments

GoogleSearchOverall the internet is a wonderful place that allows us to learn so much at our fingertips. It’s like having the combination of encyclopedia’s, travel guides, exploring real estate as well as the potential of building relationships and finding your next job or career!

Of course we all know there are pros and cons to everything, and the internet isn’t any exception. Let’s keep in mind, there will always be glitches with technology and there will always be new apps and websites being introduced online. The main concern is our human behavior and conduct – digitally speaking.

The cliche, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is more meaningful today, as I have frequently said — “Today your first impression is likely your digital one.”  More and more studies are substantiating this.

In a recent study from Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 84% of organizations (businesses) are using social media to screen potential job candidates while 9% are planning to use it. With this, 36% of them have disqualified applicants due to what they have found online.

There can be a gray line between internet fact verses internet fiction. I know, I was a victim of cyber-defamation. When I was attacked online, my virtual landscape was a war-zone. The fact is a person looking to hire you typically doesn’t take the time to determine if what they are reading online is true or false. They will most likely move on to the next candidate/applicant.

Why do businesses take the time to use social media for background searches?

In the SHRM study, the majority of (61%) employers turned to the applicants social media activity to learn more about them and/or to verify their resume. (And more, read below).


I frequently discuss online reputation and social behavior online. We have witnessed many cyber-blunders which people have lost their jobs while some never made it to their first day due to stupid Tweets or posts.

What this study revealed is in line with what Career Builders survey showed as each year more and more job applicants were not invited for an interview due to their social media behavior. It’s more than content, it’s how they conduct themselves online.

As  a reminder, according to that survey, these were the following top five pieces of content that turned employers off:

  • 46% – Provocative or inappropriate photographs
  • 40% – Information about candidate drinking or using drugs
  • 34% – Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee
  • 30% – Poor communication skills
  • 29% – Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.

In a PEW Study, we know that most adults still favor Facebook (71%) as their social gathering place and second for them is LinkedIn.

According to the SHRM study, both Facebook and LinkedIn are the two top sites used for screening social behavior activity by organizations.  They note that Twitter and Google+ are also being recognized.

How the internet can change your life depends on many things. What can you do about it?

  • Have you set-up your Google alerts? Sure, we all talk about it, but have you done it? Being proactive about what search engines are saying about you is a good practice. It’s important to know how/or if your name is being used online so you can be proactive.
  • Do you pause before you post or send an email? Too many people can double or triple task while thinking. Take the time to actually stop/pause before you send something into cyber-space.
  • Do you make a practice of checking your privacy settings on a regular basis? They can change without notice.
  • Are you someone that overshares? Humble bragging is not a compliment or an attribute. Learn to make lists to share with those that are interested in your family  and personal photos. Share with those that really do care.
  • De-cluttering your contacts and friends lists. Whether it’s on your cell-phone,  Facebook or any social networking platform, make it a habit to regularly delete people you aren’t familiar with. How many of us have butt dialed someone we didn’t mean to (and really only have called a few times) or sent an email to the wrong “Mary” since we have 20 of them in our email address book!

The internet can change your life. You have the ability to make it happen. It’s literally at your fingertips. Let’s be sure the changes are in a positive direction.

posted by on Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Parenting Blogs, Social Networking

No comments

TeenCellOnlineSSTechnology plays a huge role in everyday life. From social media and messaging to GPS location and reviews, you rely on tech more than ever before. And so do your kids. You know the risks that are online, and you want to protect your children from them.

This poses the question, is it OK to snoop on your kids?

Do: Follow Family Rules

If technology seems to be taking over your children’s lives, it might be time to create some family rules for everyone in the house to follow. Some examples include no phones at the dinner table, time limits on video game usage and a set time when all phones must be off at night. It’s easy to get sucked into the screens of tablets, smartphones and other devices, even for adults, so following family rules ensures that everyone is on the same page about acceptable tech use.

When the tech is away, you also have more time to talk to your kids about school, friends and life, so you don’t have to snoop on them via their computer or smartphone.

Don’t: Give In

Push back from your kids is inevitable. It’s not easy to deal with, but despite their cries for their tablet or accusations that “It’s not fair!” you must be firm in your tech policies and monitoring methods at home. After all, you’re the parent and you make the rules.

Do: Monitor Tech Use

According to a Harris poll in 2013, 43 percent of parents with kids under the age of 18 said that their children know that their tech use is being monitored. Think of it like this: it’s not spying, it’s parenting. Today’s tech-driven world puts kids and teens at risk more than ever before, and as a mom or dad it’s your responsibility to keep them safe.

When your children are old enough to have their own smartphones, whether it’s an iPhone or an LG mobile device, you can enable the parental controls to keep a watchful eye on their activity. Additionally, downloadable apps like Abeona for Android can be used to monitor usage, including website visits and call logs.

Do: Practice Open Communication

Having a conversation about tech use, texting, online threats, cyberbullying and other Internet-driven issues is key to ensuring that your children are safe online. Younger kids may be more understanding and teachable, but pre-teens and teens may give you more push back. Be sure to start these conversations early and practice open communication often, as tech will always be present in your children’s daily life. If your children can trust that you have their best interest in mind, it’s likely that they will be understanding.

Don’t: Assume the Worst

Not all kids are bullies or troublemakers. Your kids are not as mischievous as you might think. When you’re monitoring your children’s technology use, try not to assume the worst. If you’re constantly thinking that they are up to no good and you are hovering over them when they’re on their phone, you might break their trust.

Give your kids some space and remember to practice open communication. However, if you noticed red flags or a change in your children’s behavior, you might want to trust your suspicions and confront your child.

Should you read your teen’s text messages? Read more.

Think you don’t want to break that bond of trust? Take a few moments to watch Dateline’s, One Small Dose.

One small dose. That’s all it was.  She was an honor roll student, not into drugs, never in troubled or into partying. Tara Fitzgerald, only 17 years old, however, was curious to try LSD and on one night made one bad decision she never woke up from.

“We all feel immune to drugs because our kids are better than that – they know better, they’re going to be smarter and it’s not going to happen to us. Well, it can happen to anybody,” – said Tara’s father in the following video.

Click here.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Oversharing, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips

No comments

TeensSmartLet’s take this a step further, when should parents read their child’s journal or diary?

Many are reading this and saying — NEVER!

However, if you are concerned about your teen’s behavior (or child) and something doesn’t seem right, he/she is not communicating with you, isn’t there a time when safety trumps privacy?

In reality, most parents are paying for their child’s smartphone. Most parents are paying for their wireless service. Respect is a two-way street – I completely understand that.

It’s a parent’s responsibility to keep their child safe, if they suspect their teen is struggling – do you figure it’s just adolescence and  hope they grow out of it? Some parents tell me – “teens will be teens or boys will be boys” but what happens when things go very bad?


I agree, breaking that bond of trust with your teen is extremely difficult and should be taken seriously. You have to remember, safety is always the priority – even over that bond of trust.

What are some of the warning signs that may prompt you to cross this line?

  • Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a “gut feeling” something is deeper than a secret, you may have to cross that line.
  • Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Again, teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however when it becomes extreme, it may be time to cross that line.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? And this is not into a better one, however to one that is less than desirable? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
  • Is your teens eating habits changing?
  • Is your teen sleeping a lot? Bloodshot eyes? Do you suspect drug use?
  • Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?

It’s not always easy doing what’s right, but it’s necessary.

This may be an extreme example, but recently Diane Sawyer aired a powerful interview with Sue Klebold, the mother of the infamous shooter, Dylan Klebold, of Columbine.

“I felt that I was a good mom… That he would, he could talk to me about anything,” Klebold continued. “Part of the shock of this was that learning that what I believed and how I lived and how I parented was– an invention in my own mind. That it, it was a completely different world that he was living in.”

After 16 years she is speaking out. What can we learn from her. No one expects their teen to wake up and shoot-up a school. No one believes their teen is going through a darkness that brings them to a point of such destruction they not only take their life – they destroy the lives of hundreds of others.

As this mother tells Diane Sawyer, there came a time when she stopped prying into his stuff. She felt he deserved his privacy. She was also dealing with an older sibling that was using drugs. She wasn’t making excuses – however like many parents, people hope this is teen behavior that will pass.

Sadly — it didn’t.

Today, not only are teens dealing with offline peer pressure, they have the combination of online social peer LIKE-ng. Keeping up with the social status of where they belong and who is saying what about them. Teen cyberbullying is overwhelming today – 16 years ago, kids were mainly dealing with the schoolyard bullies (which are also bad) however today it’s compounded with going viral.

Let’s go back to the title of this blog post. Should you read your teen’s text messages?

Only you can answer that.

posted by on Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Internet Safety, Online image, Online Life, Online profile, Online resume, Oversharing, Social media

No comments

SecondChanceWe’ve heard this mantra a hundred times;

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Today, as I have said a million times, your first impression today is usually your digital one.

A new study by Ghent University said that employers use Facebook profile photos to screen potential candidates.

Employers have limited information when they make their first selection of the candidates for their vacancies. A CV and short motivation letter are often not sufficient to gain insight in the personality of the candidates. At the same time, there’s a lot of information to further refine a first impression. A potential source of information is the social networking website Facebook.

Admittedly, whether this is ethical or appropriate, it’s not unlawful.

The fact that employers screen via Facebook, does not imply that this is ethically and economically justified. Regarding the ethical side, employers may not be blamed. Basically, it is the responsibility of the users of social networks to manage their privacy settings and keep track of what information they share.

What I want to address here is that sometimes your Facebook profile picture and cover photo are defaulted as public and you need to manually set it to private. This is why it’s imperative to be proactive with your privacy settings on a regular basis.

Remember, technology can make mistakes same as humans. You may believe your picture was private – only to realize it suddenly is now public.

It’s happened to me. Thankfully I haven’t ever posted any questionable photos however my privacy settings seem to have a mind of their own — especially on Facebook. I’m not faulting Facebook – or any other social media platform, I’m only encouraging you to take responsibility for your online lives.

Take the time to check-in with your privacy settings regularly. It only takes a few minutes to double check your settings to be sure you are properly protected.

Keeping it clean.

Why it matters when you select your social media profile image:

“The candidate with the most favorable Facebook profile picture received approximately 21% more positive responses to his application in comparison to the candidate with the least favorable profile picture. The difference in the chance to be immediately invited to a job interview even amounted to almost 40%. ” These important differences can only be driven by the view of the Facebook profile picture, so it is clear that a significant proportion of employers screens via Facebook.

I mentioned social media profile images in general – since I am referring to all platforms.


In a Jobvite survey, 93% of recruiters said they will review a potential candidates social media profile before making a final decision on hiring them. That’s a substantial percentage. Don’t risk not being hired for your dream job or even a first choice college because of a silly photo or questionable content.


Your online presence will usually be the first impression someone will learn about you before meeting you in person. What do you want your digital image to say?

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Facebook, Facebook safety, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online bullying, Online Safety, Online Security, Sexting

No comments

TeenOnlineshutterStockNearly 92 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 use the Internet on a regular basis and 71 percent of these digital natives have at least one social media account, according to a recent study by Pew Research. It’s no secret that Facebook is one of the most widely-used social media sites, and it’s very likely that your kids will create an account for themselves soon if they haven’t already. Here are a few things to talk about with them to ensure they understand the real world implications of the choices they make online.

Nothing is Private Online

While most adults understand it’s unwise to give out personal information to strangers on the Internet, this can be a foreign concept for young people. When creating an account, Facebook has multiple fields in the “about” section that ask for the user’s phone number, email address, and birth date. While it may seem innocuous, It’s important that your kids understand not to post any unnecessary personal information. Since any small detail could aid potential cyber criminals in identity theft, you’ll want to be as guarded as possible when it comes to personal information.


Just because the computer leaves physical distance between your child and potential bullies doesn’t mean cyberbullying is any less harmful than bullying in person. According to Consumer Reports, over one million children experienced a form of bullying over the Internet in 2011, and 81 percent of young people believe that bullying online is easier to get away with than doing it face to face.

The best way to deal with cyberbullies is to be intimately aware of Facebook’s privacy settings and understand how to block other users. If any harassment comes your child’s way, they should know how to deal with it before it develops into a situation that negatively affects their social life and general well-being.


A recent study by the Telegraph found that four out of 10 teenagers were duped into giving sensitive financial information to cyber criminals. The best way to protect against these kinds of attacks is to have a strong password that cannot be easily guessed. It’s often recommended to use a passphrase, which is a sequence of words, instead of a single password, as it’s much more difficult to crack. You’ll also want to enable Facebook’s “login approvals” feature, which sends a code to your cell phone when you attempt to access your account from a new computer, phone, or browser. This ensures you’re always aware when someone tries to log in to your account, and it provides an extra layer of security against hackers.

Cybercrime techniques are always evolving. The best way to stay up to date on the latest security trends is to get information from a trusted industry leader on their company blog or social media pages. For example, LifeLock uses their Facebook page to post resources for the latest identity theft news as well as tips and best practices.

The Internet is “Real Life” Too

One of the most important things about social media sites that teenagers need to understand is that whatever they choose to post reflects on them personally and has real world consequences. Even if your child’s profile is set to private, any one of his Facebook friends has the ability to capture a screenshot that will eternalize anything from an offensive joke to pictures of underage drinking. A Facebook wall is a public space, and any posts that go on to it should be composed with that in mind.

It’s not only their social life you’ll be saving. Ninety-three percent of hiring managers say they review a potential candidates social profiles before making a decision, so good online reputation management skills can help your teen find a job once he enters the workforce.

posted by on Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Safer Online, Security Online, Uncategorized

No comments

DPDay1Data Privacy Day is Thursday, January 28th, 2016.

For people who are very cautious about their personal information and money, online shopping seems like not such a good idea at all. But if you choose not to shop online, you are missing many great things it can offer for you.

Better relax and read the following safety tips that might be pretty handy if one day you decide to surf the internet retailing world. If you use these tips, you will avoid all cyber criminals for sure and get a chance to enjoy excellent online service as much as you want without any doubt.

Search for the little lock

One of the easiest and quickest ways to ensure yourself that you are shopping at a safe e-store is to find a small lock icon near the website’s address. This lock indicates that the site is safe, and you can bravely shop there using your credit card.

HTTSTo make things more certain, look for the letter “S” at the end of site URL address too. So if you see that website’s address starts with HTTP instead of HTTPS, better reconsider if you really want to shop there. But if the site has both letter “S” and lock icon – you can be confident that you are safe to shop here.

Shop only at stores you know well and trust

Sometimes small websites might seem like a perfect place to shop because it can offer something unique and at modest pricing. But if you want to protect yourself from online fraud, I would strongly recommend you to skip shopping at unknown small stores in general.

Creating a fake website is a piece of cake for cyber criminals, and they can make it look really real in some cases as well. So better shop at brands you know well and trust. For example, e-bay, Amazon, or Target and JCPenney have pretty great websites, and brands are pretty big to protect their domain as well.

Also, be aware of misspelling as well. One wrong letter can take you to a fake e-store even if that looks exactly like a store you intended to shop at. Furthermore, beware sites using a different top-level domain, for example, .net instead of .com and so on. These sites can turn out to be fake too.

Never buy online coupons

Another thing you should keep in mind is about coupons and discounts they gift. You should never purchase a coupon online! Since coupons are in some way similar to money, copying and selling them is illegal in many States. And if you see a website that offers you to buy a coupon – never do it.

Always update your antivirus program

Sometimes you can be very aware of everything, but still lose your personal data and even ruin your personal computer! So avoid that, and prevent cyber criminals from getting into your computer by always updating your antivirus program. It is just essential if you want to shop safe and sound online from the beginning to the end.

Take notice that good and professional antivirus programs might cost a bit, so if you want to protect your computer the best, you might going to open your wallet a bit. On the other hand, there are some free programs as well, which protect your personal data pretty well and help your computer work efficiently.

CyberCriminalShop at home

You should always remember that any kind of public network is always less safe than your personal one at home. Public networks at your work, or even worse – at a café, are very easy to hack for cyber criminals since they usually are protected very weakly.

On the other hand, it is necessary to remind you that shopping with a public computer is even worse than shopping via a public network. All computers collect and save information about you, and a public computer is not and exception. For instance, if someone sits down after you at a computer in internet café, he can steal your information in a second.

And finally, you can’t really trust everyone in this case. Even at work, there might be some people who will use your lack of self-protection. In fact, it is pretty easy to spot your credit card numbers in public and some people even manage to guess the password you use just by looking at letters you type on your keyboard. So the logical solution to all that is to shop at home with your personal computer and with your home network protected with a strong password.

Guest post by Amber Smith, Digital Creative

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

No comments

Social-Media-Overshare-blogA  report from UCLA actually is confirming what I have been saying for a long time – oversharing on social media is putting you at potential risk for becoming a victim of cyberbullying or digitally shamed.

Recent evidence suggests that bystanders are even less likely to intervene with online compared to offline bullying. Given that receiving social support following bullying can buffer victims from maladjustment, it is important to consider specific factors influencing bystanders’ intention to intervene and help the victim in online contexts. The current experiment examined how cybervictims’ disclosures (i.e., sharing personal information) on Facebook influence bystanders’ attributions of blame, empathy, and intention to intervene on behalf of a victim following a cyberbullying incident.

What does this mean?

People have less sympathy and empathy for those that over-expose (overshare) themselves and end up being ridiculed or harassed than those that are innocently minding their own business or have fallen victim to an online prank.

When you constantly are seeking self-approval through your cyber-“friends“, have you de-cluttered your friends list lately?  Are they your real friends or possibly people that don’t have your best interest at heart?

FBFriendsListWe have mentioned this many times – you can create lists on Facebook of your closest friends and families for your  pictures or questions.  Don’t share them with your collection of 2000 virtual friends you barely know! Since you must realize by now — that can multiply off their friends lists too….. Before you know it – your photo, that may be questionable or simply private, has now gone viral.

Think Lindsey Stone.

She initially was clueless that her photo on Facebook would set-off such a firestorm and was quickly shared multiply times until she became a headline.  (If you don’t know the story, read the details – it’s very sad).

How can we stop sharing too much?

Let’s start by considering what we’re about to post.

  • Why is it important to broadcast it to your audience?
  • Who truly cares about this post (especially if you want to post that you’re eating a banana). Do we want to wait to see what friend will make some type of unsavory comment about that?
  • Why is this post important to your timeline?
  • How will it affect your social media footprint?
  • If it is something about family or vacationing (maybe fun in the sun with your latest bikini. Is there a jealous friend that could add a slamming comment?) Have you considered creating a list to those that do care or would be interested in viewing these comments or photos?
  • Bad day at work? Is it important to share that with your timeline? Consider who’s on your friends list. Maybe gather your closest friends over for a “whine and wine” session. Or simply call your best friend. Social media is not a good venting place for this type of laundry.
  • It’s not what you say — it’s how you say it. Keep in mind, opinions are what makes us all unique. We can all agree to disagree in a constructive and nice way.

Remember, yes free speech is our first amendment right, and so is free will for college recruiters and employers to use search engines to determine if you’re a good fit for their campus, business or organization.

Free will also is the right of those cyber-friends to make comments on your pictures, or even tag you in comment and images that may not be flattering to you. People can be mean – it’s that simple. No one is immune to digital cruelty, the more you expose yourself in a way that is less than respectful, the less likely people will empathize with you and want to help you when you are virtually drowning.

Oversharing, over-exposing yourself on social media, according to the recent study, not only puts you at risk for cyber-shaming, it can potentially set you up for scarring your online resume.

As Jaana Juvonen, a UCLA professor of psychology and senior author of this research stated:

“Young people need to understand that by revealing personal issues publicly online, they may make themselves more vulnerable to attacks from those seeking to harm others.” 

Video courtesy of Microsoft Safer Online.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital citizenship, Online Life, Online reputation, Social media, Social Networking

No comments

With two surveys recently released, it’s time to check-in with how we’re doing as a digital society.

As far as parents are concerned, they are doing better, according to a recent PEW Survey. They are becoming more engaged in their teen’s activity online including knowing their teen’s passwords (see graph below).

Not to be a Debby Downer, but what about the other 52% – 57% – and the other social media accounts? However this is much better than when parents weren’t involved in their child’s cyber-life. We are beginning to see progress.

Nearly half of parents know their teen’s email password; roughly a third know the password to at least one of their teen’s social media accounts

What I was excited to see was the conversations that are now taking place. I frequently write about discussing online life – offline.

When it comes to guiding their teen about making the right decisions, parents discuss “real life” behaviors somewhat more often than online behavior. Virtually all parents – 98% – report ever speaking with their teen about what is appropriate or inappropriate conduct in school, at home and in their social lives, with 56% saying they have these conversations frequently.

Similarly, nearly all parents say they talk with their teen about appropriate behavior in various online platforms. For example, 94% of parents say they ever talk with their teen about what they should share online, while 92% say they talk with their teen about what constitutes appropriate online behavior towards others.

What’s interesting is that parents of younger teens (13-14) talk more frequently with their child than parents whose teen is 15-17. This is concerning since the older teen is getting ready for their college admission or employment.  They especially need to be conscience of their digital resume (however I’m not saying to neglect the conversation with your younger teen), since all digital discussions are imperative. Your cyber-impression is usually the first one your college recruiter or potential employer will know about you.
Parents of younger teens especially likely to have frequent conversations about acceptable online and media content
Another reason why staying in touch with your younger child is so important brings me to the second report by ChildLine.

Of the total number of counseling sessions ChildLine conducted from 2014 to 2015, 35,244 of them involved children experiencing pressures from social media and cyber-bullying, worries that were considered to be non-existent among young people 30 years ago.

It went on to say that previously the biggest concerns of children at the time were family problems, pregnancy, physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Loneliness and low self-esteem have replaced sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy as the most common reasons youngsters call ChildLine, a study marking the 30th anniversary of the helpline found.

These are all reasons for parents of all age teenagers and tweens to continue to open their lines of communication offline about their online lives. In combination with going online with them.

Back to the PEW Survey, most parents said they check-in with what their teens do online and on their social media accounts and will implement consequences if they see their teen has crossed boundaries.  65% of parents have removed their cellphone or Internet privileges, while 55% have limited the amount of time their teen can spend online.

Interestingly, parents of 13-17 monitor their teen’s digital usage in a variety of ways (review the graph). What is more important is the frequency that parents chat with their teens about their online behavior (review the bottom graph).
Most parents check what their teen does online and on social media and talk with them about acceptable online behavior
Considering we are making strides in general about offline discussions about online life, it’s good to know that parents are realizing that digital dialogue is important to your teen’s future.

I’m going to wrap this up with a final survey that came out recently by OfficeTeam.

No matter who you are, from tweens to teens to adults (including parents) — your social media mistakes matter.

This is why starting early, learning young and being proactive now can prevent you from making cyber-blunders for your future.

Eventually your teen will be searching for employment (maybe you will be or are). According to this recent survey,  62% of Human Resource Managers cited that posting negative or inappropriate comments on social media reduced their chance of being hired.

Digital Blunders

Digital Blunders








Especially for the older generation that believes that not being on social media means your free from digital blunders, think again.

According to statistics, not having a any virtual history is just as risky as having a spotty one.


  • What are you hiding?
  • Do you have an alias?
  • Maybe you’re not tech or digi-savy. Even if the job isn’t in IT, most employer’s want someone that can at least use a computer.

So we go back to why our offline conversations are so important about online social behavior. Discuss these reports – it’s important to understand that it’s not only teachers, mom and dad telling your teens to behave online — it’s literally their future.

We have come to a point in life that keystrokes and clicks will determine your college, your job and in some cases — maybe you’re next relationship.

PS: I know older teens aren’t the easiest to chat with, tips to open the lines of communication.