posted by on Apps, Cell phone safety, Cyber Safety, Cybersafety, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Online activity, Parenting

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POKEmonGoPokémon Go has taken over in the last couple of weeks, consuming the attention of children, teens and even adults. This game, which blends the virtual world with our real world, has made headlines not only because it broke download records but also because it has caused accidents, injuries and even robberies.

Using the GPS to determine your location, Pokémon Go challenges players to visit local spots by walking or biking, to capture Pokémons hiding in specific areas. There are some Pokémons that are easy to find and others which are rare and require players to use more Pokéballs to capture them, so they can train them later on in the game.

If you are the parent of a teenager, then you know that you are asking for trouble if you forbid your teen from doing something. Chances are, forbidding your teen from playing Pokémon Go will backfire on you, especially if your kid’s friends are all about this game at the moment.

As with many things, this game has its good and bad qualities. Knowing the good and the bad is the only way you can determine whether you should let your kid use this app. To help you decide, here are some advantages and dangers that come with playing Pokémon Go.

The good…

Getting everyone off the couch – This game’s best feature is that to find the Pokémon, players have to get out of the house and walk or bike to specific locations. This means your teen will spend more time moving about and getting some much needed exercise.

Exploring new locations – Pokémon Go uses local landmarks such as Cathedrals, museums and national parks to place its Pokémons. Through this feature, your teen is more likely to visit local landmarks that he might not have visited before and maybe learn a thing or two about the place along the way.

Meet peers in real life – We’re always telling our teens to have more real interactions rather than simply communicating with their peers through social media. With its Pokéstops and lure modules, this game helps in bringing more people together, as they gather in spots to hunt Pokémons and it is here that your teen can build new relationships without the use of a phone.

Fun time – With all of the angst, moods and insecurities that come with adolescence, having fun running around and hunting virtual creatures is far better and safer than going to parties.

POKEmonGo2The bad…

Arguing over Pokémons – A rare Pokémon in sight can quickly turn a friendly competition into a heated argument. Your kid should know that no Pokémon is worth getting into a fight over.

The dark side of the lure module – The lure module is a feature a player uses to lure rare Pokémon. The lure can also be seen by other players in the area who can choose to come closer to spot Pokémons. Robbers and sex offenders have taken advantage of this feature to lure people so your teen should be warned to be cautious of certain locations.

Eyes on the road – Players have to master a certain level of coordination when playing this game, as they have to spot the Pokémon on their screen while walking in the real world. Using the vibrate mode to alert your teen when a Pokémon is near is a way of keeping their eyes on the road. Moreover, you can “tell them to frequently look up from their phones to make sure there are no cars coming their directions.”

Money spent on in app purchases – This game is free to download and to play but there are in-app purchases such as Pokéballs to capture the Pokémon with. Ideally, your kid’s money should not be spent on in-app purchases so it’s good to monitor their app store purchases.

Respect boundaries and private property ­– Pokémons have appeared everywhere, even on private property. Your teen should know the rules of the world come before the rules of the game, no matter how rare that Pokémon is.

Once your teen is aware of the dangers that come with this game, then you can start to see how the advantages of Pokémon Go will benefit your kid. This game encourages live interaction and physical movement, as well as laughter, which is better than seeing our teens in a bad mood, locked up in their rooms with their phones and their angst.


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

You can follow Amy on Twitter.



posted by on AT&T, Cell phone safety, Cyber Safety, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety

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FamilyTechTipsIf your child is awake, chances are she’s online.

According to research, children are spending several hours a day using a smartphone, computer, or other electronic devices.

The risks associated with kids online include cyberbullying, accessing inappropriate chat rooms, sharing personal information with strangers, and the list goes on.

With students headed back to school soon, AT&T offers these tips to help you ensure your children use online technology and mobile devices safely and responsibly.

  • Take advantage of parental controls. Ask your wireless and Internet service providers about parental controls available to you. For example, AT&T Smart Limits for wireless allows parents to block unwanted calls and data use; set text and purchase limits; limit phone use during certain times of day; check on daily phone activity; and get customized alerts and weekly reports. Parental controls for Internet service include the ability to block access to specific services, view your child’s activities online, and receive tamper controls alerts.
  • Be aware of what your kids are doing online.  Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.
    • 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.
    • Tell your kids that as a responsible parent, you may review their online communications if you think there is a reason for concern.
    • Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency
    • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
    • 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.
  • FamilyTechTips2Establish rules about appropriate use of computers, cell phones and other technology.
    • 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.
    • Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Check privacy settings on social media. Make sure you set the privacy settings on whatever social media your child uses but emphasize that there is no privacy. The more private, the less likely inappropriate material will be received by your child, or sent to their circle of acquaintances. Make sure your child understands that everything sent over the Internet or a cellphone is public and can be shared with the entire world, so it is important that they use good judgment.
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of smartphone distracted driving.  Stress to your teen that no text, glance, post, or email is worth a life. It can wait. Get your teen to take the It Can Wait pledge ( to keep her eyes on the road, not on her phone. Also, take advantage of apps that help prevent smartphone distracted driving. For example, the free AT&T DriveMode app  silences incoming text message alerts so you can keep her eyes on the road and stay focused while driving. The app sends an auto-reply letting the sender know you’re behind the wheel. And parents with young drivers can receive a text message if the app is turned off.


Courtesy of Kelly Starling, AT&T

posted by on Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Online bullying, Online Safety, Parenting Teens

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70TeensDo you know what you’re teenager is up to when using their smart phone? Today, 70 percent of teens try to conceal their online behavior, and temporary and anonymous apps are gaining popularity, but there are significant dangers that lie within the apps.

Cyberbullying, sexting, exposure to adult content are just to name a few of the dangers. Teenagers should know the boundaries in which they can share details, but sadly, they still cross those boundaries.
Temporary and Anonymous Apps: What’s the Teen Appeal?
The infographic  was put together by Rawhide Boys Ranch that lists out the top nine temporary and anonymous apps, the dangers they impose and what parents can do.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Online Security, Oversharing

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SocialMediaSafetyMany parents think nothing of posting photos and stories about their kids on social media. Who doesn’t want to see photos of that gummy grin or read something funny that your little one said? Sharing your life on social media is the norm for many parents, who use Facebook to stay connected with far-flung relatives and connect with other parents.

But just because posting about your kids is “normal” and practically everyone is doing it, does that mean it’s safe? As it turns out, many parents are actually endangering their kids with their innocent social media posts without even realizing it.

Digital Identity Theft and More

Imagine you are online, checking out some blogs, and you suddenly come across a photo of your child — and someone else is claiming to be her parent. This person is posting photos, talking about activities and milestones, and even responding to comments pretending to be your child’s parent.

It seems unrealistic, but it has happened. Known as digital identity theft, criminals have been known to download photos from Facebook and other websites and use those photos for their own purposes. Some simply pretend to have children, but others use the photos for more nefarious purposes, like advertising, child pornography, or trafficking activities.

The possibility of digital identity theft is actually quite high. And worst of all? It’s technically not a crime. It’s definitely a violation of the terms of service, but so far, there are no laws on the book relating to stolen photos and videos. Usually, a parents’ only recourse is to report the violation to the site where it occurred, and contact the person using the photo and demand it be removed.

Digital identity theft isn’t only about stolen photos, though. Thanks to information posted on social media, hackers can often piece together enough information to steal your child’s identity, something that you might not even realize until they are old enough to apply for their own credit. Facts like full names, date of birth, where they were born, and where they go to school can all give hackers what they need to steal your child’s identity.

Location-based services can also endanger your child. Not too long ago, parents were advised to remove the geo-tagging feature from their phone cameras, since criminals could pinpoint the exact location where the photo was taken, potentially endangering your child.

There have even been reports of child predators using social media to find children who may be isolated, depressed, or have other issues that would make them more likely to respond to the advances of a “friend.” A major source of this information? Social media posts.

No parent wants to ever endanger their child, even by accident, so what can you do to keep them safe while still using social media?

SocialMediaSafety2Keeping Kids Safe and Social

Parents have a number of tools at their disposal for keeping their kids safe online. By combining them with caution, you can safely post about your kids.

  1. Use privacy settings. Set your privacy settings to the highest level, so that only your contacts can see what you post. Be sure that you’ve locked the settings so that others cannot share or download your photos.
  2. Use custom settings. When you post on Facebook, you can create custom settings so that only a specific audience is able to see your posts. Create a group specifically for posts related to your kids so that only people you trust can see them.
  3. Ignore requests. Unless you know someone well, do not accept their friend requests. If you post about your kids on Twitter or Instagram, set your privacy so that you can approve or deny follow requests.
  4. Use internet security software. All of the privacy settings in the world aren’t going to help if a hacker gains access to your computer. Install internet security protection to block hackers and viruses, and use strong passwords on all of your accounts.
  5. Discuss social media with others. If others take photos of your child, such as at a birthday party, ask them not to post the photos on their social media pages. Respect others’ preferences regarding photos of their kids online as well.
  6. Never post compromising or embarrassing photos. Yes, your baby is adorable in the bath. Save that photo to show Grandma in person. Don’t post anything with nudity online.
  7. Keep some things to yourself. Avoid sharing details about your kids that could be used by a predator.

Social media is a useful tool, but you have to be cautious when you bring your kids into it. You can still share those adorable baby snapshots, but be careful and consider the dangers before you do.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Internet Safety, Online bullying, Online Safety

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10CommandantsInternetThe Internet is a wild and wonderful place, and can be an excellent resource for kids – as well as an essential tool that has become necessary to be acquainted with. However, the freedom and accessibility that make it so useful can also be the source of hidden dangers. And just as we exercise caution with the ‘real world’ environments that we allow our children to visit, the Internet should be regarded with a healthy dose of vigilance and awareness. And prior to letting your kids go online, it’s your responsibility as a parent to teach them basics of digital safety.

Many of the dangers inherent with using the Internet are just as applicable to parents – from vulnerability to stalkers or fraudsters to maintaining our own levels of online etiquette. Openly discussing issues such as Internet safety problems, protecting their identity and reputation will help kids to develop their sense of responsibility.

Taking the time to go through tech safety steps such as setting privacy settings can help your young ones learn to look after themselves. Additionally, there are also a few tweaks you can make on your own to keep kids out of certain types of trouble: safety settings to restrict mature websites, permission restrictions to pay for apps, etc. Phishing is a form of online fraud that requires the unwitting participation of the victim, so the best defense is awareness: research the warning signs with your children, and don’t forget to memorize them for yourself!

Bullying on the Internet is one of the ugliest side-effects of the WWW age, with 35% of high school-age kids suffering from cyberbullying. It can be an embarrassing issue for a young one, so encourage them to talk to you, let them know what is the best way to respond to online taunts, and be sure to report any bullying to the appropriate authority. This information, along with nine other guiding principles to ensure your child is both safe and responsible online, is clearly detailed in this great new infographic. The Internet needn’t be a dangerous place if treated with caution and respect.

10 Internet Commandments for Kids Going Online

10 Internet Commandments for Kids Going Online [Infographic] by the team at Pumpic.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Online image, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Social media

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More and more today you are hearing about social media policies that are in place not only to protect businesses and government agencies, but to protect schools and colleges.
Workers whose employers have at-work social media policy are less likely to use social media for personal reasons while on the job

In the news, the headline of the Florida Assistant State Attorney being suspended following the tragedy in Orlando after he posted a controversial Facebook post that was deplorable. Not only was this inappropriate (when will adults grow-up), it violated social media policy in their office.

In a recent study by ScienceDirect it was revealed that most college students (almost 70%)  are unaware if their school has social media policy in place and their keystrokes could get them in trouble–even suspended or expelled.

  • Almost 70% of students don’t know if their university has a social media policy.
  • 78% of student are opposed to universities monitoring student social media.
  • Students are more tolerant of student athletes’ social media being monitored.

In June 2016 PEW Research released Social Media in the Workplace.

With the many studies showing that people are connected through social media a majority of the time, it stands to reason, some of that time is likely on an employer’s time/dime. So how are they dealing with this?

Let’s review why employees are checking in with social media during business hours – it’s not always personal:

Workers use social media at work for many reasons; taking a mental break is one of the most common

With 24% of them wanting to build stronger professional connections, 12% are using it for work related issues, and another 12% also noted questions related to their employment — social media is a way of expanding your knowledge and network, that can be an asset to the employer.

However – when it comes to the pitfalls of it, according to the study (like the headlines we’ve read), it’s when we have to find the right balance, like we do in all things tech.

WorkPlaceMany employers do have social media policies in place, and employees should be informed of them.

Many workers report that their employers have policies about social media use on the job, or about how employees may present themselves in various online spaces. Half of all full-time and part-time workers (51%) say their workplace has rules about using social media while at work (45% say their employer does not have these policies), while 32% report that their employer has policies about how employees may present themselves on the internet in general (63% say their employer does not have these policies).

Policies that regulate how employers present themselves online outside of work may be expected to influence whether these workers use social media at all. However, this does not seem to be the case: Fully 77% of workers report using social media regardless of whether their employer has such a policy in place.

At the same time, there is some evidence that workplace policies concerning social media use while on the job may have an effect. Workers whose companies have policies regulating social media use at work are less likely to use social media in certain ways:

  • 30% of workers whose companies have an at-work social media policy say they use social media while on the job to take a break from work, compared with 40% of workers whose employers that don’t.
  • 20% of workers whose employers have at-work social media policies say they use social media to stay connected to family and friends while on the job, compared with 35% of workers whose social media use is not regulated at work.
  • Only 16% of workers whose companies regulate social media at work say they use social media while working to get information that’s helpful to their job, compared with 25% of those whose workplaces have no such regulations.

Social media is a great way to stay connected to friends and family, however everyone needs to remember unless you do have a family emergency, checking in online should limited to your breaks.

It’s not any different than what we are expecting from our children in schools. It starts at the top — you must be the role model. If they see you are busy cyber-socializing during the day, when you are at work, what message does that send to your teenager or tween?

Lead by example mom and dad.

A relatively modest share of workers say they have incorporated specific social media platforms into their day-to-day work lives:

  • 19% of workers say they ever use Facebook for work-related purposes.
  • 14% ever use LinkedIn for work-related purposes.
  • 3% ever use Twitter for work-related purposes.
  • 9% use a social media tool provided by their employer for work-related purposes.
  • 5% use social media platforms other than the ones listed above for work-related purposes.

But among the group that answered yes to at least one of the items above – that is, the subset of workers who use at least one social media tool for job-related purposes – large shares see certain positive or beneficial impacts on their job performance:

  • 78% of workers who use social media platforms for work-related purposes say social media is useful for networking or finding new job opportunities.
  • 71% of these workers say social media is useful for staying in touch with others in their field.
  • 56% say it is useful for connecting with experts.
  • 51% say it is useful for getting to know their co-workers on a personal basis.
  • 46% say it is useful for finding information they need to do their job.

On the other hand, these workers are divided on the utility of social media in other respects, especially when it comes to the impact of social media use on their own job performance:

  • 56% of workers who use social media platforms for work-related purposes agree that social media distracts from the work they need to do, with 30% agreeing strongly.
  • 54% of these workers agree that social media breaks help them recharge at work. A statistically similar proportion (46%) disagree that social media breaks help them recharge while on the job.
  • 51% of these workers agree that social media use at work lets them see too much information about their coworkers; 47% disagree with this statement.

Social media can recharge, excite and amuse people — but what happens if you’re checking in and you find out bad news online (which is where we see 56% saying  social media is a distraction while 30% agreeing strongly)? Life is not always full of cheerful news feeds. Will your work for the day suffer? What about those that are on the job hunt? Keep in mind, public wi-fi’s are not secure. Wait until you get home. The stat of 51% of workers believe that social media usage allows them too see too much about each other…. Well — there’s a way to limit that — keep your sharing online to a minimum. There won’t be much to see — personally that is. Share with care, knowing you are likely working with curious co-workers. 

To read the full report – visit PEW Research Center.

In conclusion, a majority (56%) of these workers believe that using social media ultimately helps them with their job performance. Only 22% believe it hurts them while 16% feel that it doesn’t have much of an impact either way. 4% can see both the benefits and the drawbacks.

Moral of the study, find out if your workplace or school has a social media policy. It’s good to know.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety

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Parent or Warden

Familoop1This is a parenting confession. One of the more frustrating things about being a parent is navigating that fine line between offering reasonable, open-hearted, and generous advice with my kids versus playing jail warden. Regarding the latter, all of us parents have been there, right? You wish you could take a bit of time out of the day to calmly explain and provide a persuasive point-of-view to your kids why it’s in their best interest to eat their vegetables. But at the end of the day, the fabulous persuasive position you had planned falls by the wayside, and you end up just screaming at your kids to finish their freaking vegetables!

Of course, in the Digital Age there is a lot more to be concerned with than not getting the daily-recommended servings of veggies. These days us parents have to think about abusing online screen time, lack of exercise, bad digital influences, cyberbullying, and sexting; not to mention the really scary stuff out there like pornographic content, identity theft and online sexual predators. When it comes to the Internet, my instinct to play warden kicks into high-gear. Unfortunately, I find myself losing patience before I have a chance to explain the how’s and why’s of what it means to be a responsible digital citizen to my 2 daughters.

Then I Found a Reliable Parenting Solution

Gone are the days where I peer over my kids’ shoulders, making sure they aren’t on a suspicious website or watching a YouTube clip that is not suitable for children. Or all the other times – when I was distraught, wondering what my kids were exposed to online when I wasn’t in the same room to check-up on their online searches, app downloads, and text chats with who knows who.

With Familoop Safeguard, the monitoring and restrictions are automatically set, based on my kids’ age and can be easily customized to suit his level of maturity. Apps are blocked by age on Apple devices, and by age, name, or category on Android devices used by my children, giving me more control over what games and app content they download. Online websites may also be blocked based on age-appropriate content, and all browsing history is saved to a log I can review anytime. This is crucial, so I can take action at those pivotal moments before it’s too late. Because my daughters use Android devices, I can also monitor calls and text. I understand this feature will be available on iOS soon. Best of all, because my kids’ devices are controlled and monitored from a centralized Familoop parental account, I no longer have to wrestle the phone away from my kid, and instead she is in-training to establish good digital habits.

It’s Easy to Adjust Protection Settings

Familoop offers extensive flexibility. If my kid misbehave, I can easily adjust the settings in my Familoop Safeguard account and initiate tighter restrictions. Likewise, if my kids are particularly good, or have proven that their digital habits are improving, then I can give more digital freedom. I can even turn off monitoring for certain social media sites like Facebook to permit my responsible teen more privacy. Either way, it’s easy and straightforward with a just few buttons in my Familoop Safeguard account to adjust monitoring to suit my family’s needs.

One ongoing argument from the past that my daughters and I have since resolved, thanks to Familoop, is whether they can play apps or Facebook chat with friends before homework was completed. Familoop’s features include the ability to review how my children spend their time online. If my child has returned home from school and spent four hours texting on Facebook instead of completing online research for an assignment, I can easily tell from the screen log that it’s time for a talk. Until my child’s priorities are in order, I can disable the phone manually for “time out” mode.

Everything is Under One Umbrella

Because all of my family’s devices can be monitored via one single Familoop Safeguard account, the days of policing each phone, iPad, and computer are over. Thanks to Familoop’s default settings based on age-appropriate content, my children’ online permissions are set automatically. Making customized tweaks to the default settings is easy, and the modifications are adapted across all of my children’ devices. And on Familoop’s Insight page, I can monitor what my kids are up to – what they search for online, where they are, any new photos they’ve taken on their device before they are shared with others, and who they’re Facebook friends with.

Switch From Warden to Parent

Best of all, parental control software by Familoop provided the opportunity I was looking for to set aside the role playing position I adopted as jail warden in exchange for parent. Familoop’s “contract”, designed with both the child and parent in mind is a digital safety agreement that my children and I discussed and finally agreed to. It was more of a teaching guide, enabling me to share my opinions on safety and why it’s important, communicated to my children in a way I never thought possible. Likewise, I learned more about my children – not only in terms of their digital habits, but in terms of their life. Who their friends are, issues at school, and much more. Heck, I didn’t even realize that my kid’s teacher assigns homework to be completed on a smartphone. Imagine that!

You don’t have to take my word for it.

Familoop is offering a free trial so you can try out the software and see for yourself how your home life can improve. Less battles, less policing, and more parenting, on your terms. And because the folks at Familoop so often implement new updates (social media activity monitoring as well as time restrictions on apps are both in the works), I know that the software will grow as my family’s digital needs grow.

I feel like I’ve been given a great gift – more knowledge, tools, and faith that I can be a great parent and coach for my children as they learn the skills that will prove them well into adulthood. Most of all, I’ve been given the gift to discover who my children are both offline and online. 

Contributor: Kate Silmon is a tech-savvy mom of 2 girls and copywriter at Familoop, working hard to parent smartly and passionate about helping other moms do the same. She also posts and carries on communications on behalf of Familoop in social media. Follow Familoop at Twitter and Facebook



posted by on Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Cyber Safety, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Online Safety


TeenCellWith the sheer volume of shareable content available these days, our children are being introduced to the world of social media at a shockingly young age.

While the minimum age to register for a Facebook account is 13 years old, more than 5 million children under age 10 have a Facebook account.

Even more surprising? Only 69 percent of parents are friends with their kids on Facebook.

Many of today’s teens may not remember or know a world without social media and are, perhaps, more concerned with sharing their latest selfie than safeguarding private information.

Unfortunately, some seemingly harmless social media habits can be putting you, your home or family at risk. Below is a list of some of the more common social media practices that can inconspicuously put you at risk.

Sharing Vacation Plans

We all get excited about vacation — and your teen is no exception.

Whether they’re publicly counting down the days to your next family trip or posting selfies from the beach, your teen is broadcasting to would-be burglars of impending plans or that you aren’t home.

Instead of putting a ban on all vacation sharing, ask your child to stock up their favorite photos from the trip and post them upon your return.

This will allow them to capture moments and share them with friends (and, let’s be honest, count how many “likes” they can get) without broadcasting your vacant home.

If they MUST share their morning latte or outfit of the day, have them omit tagging a location or mentioning the out-of-town status in the caption.

Geotagging Your Exact Location

Did you know social media sites assign your current location to posts and photos unless you change your privacy settings?

By not disabling this feature on your teen’s (and your) social media accounts, any time they post from home, they are sharing your home’s location with anyone who cares to look.

Additionally, if they post frequently from routine places, like school, the gym, or a friend’s house, they are allowing criminals to establish not only their daily habits and routines, but also their exact location, making them a walking target to predators wherever they go.

Have your child go into their privacy settings on each social media site (and their smartphone) and disable geotagging from posts and photos to safeguard their location moving forward.

If you are worried about past posts that contain your location, consider installing a home security system for additional peace of mind.

Limit Public Posting

While there are certainly times and instances that a public post can be valuable on social media, your teen should not be posting the bulk of their social media activity for the world to see.

Become familiar with the privacy settings for each social media platform your kids utilize, and sit down with them to adjust and customize settings for each.

Additionally, create guidelines and expectations for your teen’s social media use — and monitor their accounts to ensure they are adhering to them.

Need help? Start with these five things you should never share online and customize from there.

Too Much Privacy

Parents walk a fine line with their teens when it comes to keeping them safe and giving them independence.

When it comes to social media, set some ground rules with your teen, like limiting daily access to their social media accounts.

You should always have the passwords to their accounts and access to view any public and private messages or posts.

Your teens should not be sharing or posting anything on social media that they would not say in front of you.

Whether you check it daily or somewhere in between, do periodic checks of their accounts for red flags, including:

  • Bullying (both received and given)
  • Suspicious friend activity/requests (your teen should personally know everyone on their friends list)
  • Inappropriate content (safeguard their future by not allowing photos they would not want future employers to see)

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Online bullying, Online harassment, Online Safety

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Unicef1UNICEF released their report Perils and Possibilities: Growing up online, based on an international opinion poll of more than 10,000 18-year-olds from 25 countries, revealed young people’s perspectives on the risks they face growing up in an increasingly connected world.

The new report  that shows online violence and exploitation is a reality in the lives of children worldwide, but many are not provided with resources and knowledge to protect themselves. Children from very poor communities, such as in the Philippines, Madagascar, El-Salvador and Brazil have been targeted by adult offenders through the internet.

There are a number of interesting findings;

  • Two-thirds of 18-year-olds in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean believe children and adolescents are in danger of being sexually abused or taken advantage of online. This compares to 33% polled in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Two-thirds of interviewees in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean either believe strongly, or somewhat, that friends put themselves at risk online, compared to 33% in the United States and United Kingdom.
  • Eighteen-year-olds in the United States and United Kingdom are most confident they can avoid online dangers with 94% strongly or somewhat agreeing they can protect themselves on social media. In the Middle East and North Africa only 41%  strongly agree and an additional 37% agree somewhat.
  • Adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa appear to value meeting new people online most, with 79% saying it is either very or somewhat important. In the United States and United Kingdom 63% say it is not very, or not at all important to meet new people online.
  • In Central European countries, 63% of interviewees strongly agree they would tell a friend if they felt threatened online, compared to 46% who would tell their parent. Only 9% would tell a teacher.

Let’s dig a bit more into this report.

More than half, (53%) of  the 10,000 18 year-olds that were polled around the world strongly agreed that online dangers exist.

With more than half believing there are online risks and dangers, 90% believe they know how to avoid these problems.

Despite recognition that dangers
exist online, nearly nine out of 10
adolescents think they have learned
how to protect themselves on
social media and know how to avoid
dangerous situations while using the

Whenever you are being harassed or bullied online, especially if virtual violence or otherwise is involved, being able to tell someone is imperative. With younger people we encourage them to tell their parents, however we know at times this can be difficult. They fear their will lose their online privileges or not be taken seriously.

In this report the majority of adolescents polled said the would turn to a friend, and that’s okay. As long as you tell someone.

  • 54% said they would tell a friend.
  • 48% said they would tell a parent.
  • 19% said they would tell a teacher.


Today sexting is considered the new flirting. So if you share flirty pictures with your boyfriend or girlfriend keep in mind, those images will typically have a life span longer than the relationship. If you simply look at the divorce rates today, 40% of first marriages end in divorce, while 60% of second ones end that way — the promise of a young relationship may not be long lasting. Don’t assume your sexy images will be kept private even if your friend makes a promise they will be — once there’s a break-up, all bets are off. It’s why we see the rise in revenge porn and sextortion.

  • 67% of girls agreed they would be worried if someone made sexual comments to them online.
  • 47% of boys said they had the same concern (a significant difference).

The fact that less than half the boys have the same concern shines the light on the fact that we often read so much about women being targets online when it comes to digital shaming, harassment, revenge porn and more. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen to men – but we do hear an overwhelming amount of stories that revolve around the female gender.

To engage children and adolescents in ending violence online, UNICEF is launching #ReplyforAll, which is part of its global End Violence Against Children initiative. #ReplyforAll puts adolescents’ front and centre as messengers and advocates to keep themselves safe online. Children and adolescents will be asked to give their advice on the best ways to respond to online violence or risks and to raise awareness among friends through social media. This work has been supported by the WePROTECT Global Alliance, which is dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children online through national and global action.

UNICEF, together with the WePROTECT Global Alliance, is calling on national governments to establish coordinated responses between criminal justice systems including law enforcement, and child welfare, education, health and the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sectors, as well as civil society, to better protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.

“When young people, governments, families, the ICT sector and communities work together, we are more likely to find the best ways to respond to online sexual abuse and exploitation, and send a strong message that confronting and ending violence against children online – indeed anywhere – is all of our business,” said Williams.

About the WePROTECT Global Alliance
The WePROTECT Global Alliance is dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children online through national and global action. Its vision is to identify and safeguard more victims, apprehend more perpetrators and create and internet free from this crime. The WeProtect Global Alliance is comprised of governments, companies and civil society organizations signed up to the commitments made at the WePROTECT Children Online summits in London (2014) and Abu Dhabi (2015) and the members of the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online. 


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

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posted by on Kindness Counts, Parenting, Parenting Blogs


KindnessBGBy Barbara Gruener

We’ve all undoubtedly read or heard about the importance of our carbon footprints and digital footprints, but I would submit that equally if not more important is our kindness footprint. As a veteran educator finishing up and reflecting upon my thirty-second school year, I can’t help but wonder, “Do my students know that one of my greatest desires for their future is that they treat one another with kindness? 

Because kindness matters, everywhere, all the time, in every interaction.

But beyond encouraging our future leaders to “Be kind,” how can we inspire them to walk the talk and live the kindness ideal as they leave their imprint on the hearts and minds of the people whose paths they cross?

We can mobilize kindness by our example.

Kindness is one size fits all. Kind acts don’t have to be great to be grand. Mother Teresa reiterated this reflection best when she said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Consider these simple but powerful ideas for people of all ages: Share a kind word or a smile, an affirmation or a compliment, a thoughtful text or a thinking-of-you email; hold the door opened for someone and welcome him or her with a friendly greeting; plug a few quarters into someone else’s parking meter; make smile cards and, with permission, leave them under windshield wipers on cars in a parking lot or inside books at your local library; let the car behind you have the closer parking spot; return that lost shopping cart back to its corral; donate a sick day to a colleague who is out with an illness or death in the family; leave a cup of coins to pay for a few loads of laundry at the Laundromat; buy the person behind you in line a cup of coffee or a Coke; send an uplifting song from YouTube or iTunes to cheer someone; make get-well cards and ask your pharmacist to put them with the prescriptions; donate your gently-used clothing and/or toys; tape a dollar to the Redbox so that the next person’s rental is on you.

Kindness is love with its work boots on. Some kindnesses require a little more time, a helping hand, and maybe even a little sweat.

Lace up your boots and try one or more of these ideas: Give someone the gift of time by doing some chores or duties in their stead; offer to take someone else’s children to the park to give them a quick break; make an extra large batch of something special in the kitchen and share a meal with someone; help clean up after a sporting event; donate some time stocking shelves at a food pantry or walking the dogs at an animal shelter; mentor someone; buy a case of water and deliver bottles to cool off the workers as a nearby construction site; donate some socks to a homeless shelter; offer to mow someone’s lawn, rake the leaves so they can mow, or sweep the sidewalk after they’ve mowed; shovel some snow; pull some weeds in the garden of an elderly neighbor; offer to drive someone to a doctor’s appointment; take a bouquet of flowers to brighten someone’s grave.

PenniesofTimeKindness is the real global warming. Sheila Sjolseth from the non-profit Pennies of Time suggests engaging in a kind act with your family (like she and her husband do with their two elementary-aged boys) every single day. Can you imagine the global warming that a familial practice like that could generate?

While she advises starting small, here are some ideas to do something a bit bigger when you’re ready: Go to City Hall and pay the utility bill of a family in need; help pay for a part of someone’s school tuition or for their school supplies; put together toiletry kits for the homeless; use a skill like knitting to help warm someone up with a hat, some mittens or a scarf; tip generously; buy a haircut gift card and donate it to the local food pantry to hand out with the food; support a favorite charity in honor or memory of someone; put up a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a cause dear to a neighbor’s heart; send a pizza to the police station, fire station, hospital or nursing home and treat those community helpers to dinner one night.

Kindness knows no calendar. Here’s amazing news; we don’t need to wait until a special occasion like the end-of-the-year holidays to shower people with kindness. Opportunities for random or planned acts of kindness are as limitless as there are people willing to concoct them and carry them out. If your school wants to join other students worldwide to feel the synergy of a kindness celebration, sign up now for the Great Kindness Challenge at the Kids For Peace website.

Kindness is the new cool. Kindness creates a win-win, and what could be cooler than that? Not only does it serve to help its recipient but it also creates a helper’s high in the hearts of those who serve. In that way, just like a boomerang, kindness always makes its way back to us. Now that’s a footprint that we can be proud about leaving behind.

About Barbara Gruener

BookUndertheCapeBarbara Gruener is a counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary, a National School of Character. She grew up on a family dairy farm in Wisconsin and credits life on the farm with helping build her strength of character and work ethic during her formative years. Though she’ll tell you that she informally started teaching when she was in kindergarten, Barbara has worked a s a teacher and counselor with students across all grades, pre-K through twelfth, for thirty years — sharing her message about the importance of shaping hearts and minds for the future with kindness, respect, and care.

Her book, which I highly recommend, What’s Under YOUR Cape? has received the highest praise from educators and parents alike! Order it on Amazon today!