posted by on Cell phone safety, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Facebook safety, Online image, Online Safety, Oversharing, Social media, Social Networking, Uncategorized

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SelfieNationNo one is in the dark about the selfie generation. It seems everywhere we go people have their phones in place taking photos of themselves — and posting them on various social platforms.

We’ve read that some forms of selfie love can be about building a teen’s self esteem, however in many situations it goes far past that. From the competitive LIKE’s count, to re-doing their photo until perfection, the selfie world can drive teens to a new level of stress and sadness.

It’s not only teenagers.

With technology and social media – it comes down to a healthy balance. When is too much – too much?

In a recent survey by OfficeTeam, 62% of Human Resource Managers said posting negative or inappropriate comments influenced their decision in hiring that applicant. In their top five list of social media faux pas,  number two was:

  • The Superfluous Selfie Poster has no shortage of social media photos, but they’re not exactly always office-appropriate, and there are enough of them to suggest an inflated ego. Advice: Remove or untag yourself from any images that may raise eyebrows. Use a polished profile photograph.

This recent infographic, courtesy of Rawhide, offers some insights of how a selfie obsession can be unhealthy if not addressed.

It’s important to take note of the 3-R’s they’ve listed to help you and your teenager to start to get control of a selfie obsession.

Before you snap your next selfie – consider the following.

Selfie obsession: Rise of the Social Media Narcissist

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Online harassment, Online Safety, Online Scams, Oversharing, Parenting, Parenting books, Parenting Teens

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Order on Amazon today!

YA author and Boston Globe journalist Melissa Schorr talks about her new catfishing novel IDENTITY CRISIS.

I recently read this riveting book. It took me less than two days to finish – it’s a page turner you simply can’t put down!

This fiction novel that parents and tweens and teens should read, can not only open up a dialogue about online life but can also open up conversations about offline issues that our youth silently struggle with.

I recently asked the author, Melissa Schorr a few questions about writing Identity Crisis:

What is your new book for teens, IDENTITY CRISIS, about?

Identity Crisis is a modern-day look at cyberbullying, false online identities, but also timeless friendship in the high-tech age. The story revolves a “catfishing” scheme when a high school girl named Annalise falls for an online romance with a mysterious guy — only to discover that three female classmates are behind the ruse. The story is also told from the perspective of Noelle, one of the girls who regrets her part in the scam as she increasingly grows close to Annalise.

What motivated you to write it?

Sheer terror. I have two daughters heading towards tweendom, and the pitfalls for girls in today’s social media landscape seem so immense. My memories of being left out of parties and cliques in middle school are traumatic enough, but it all seems so much more potentially toxic today, with teens posting “online beauty pageants” and “ugly girl polls” online. I would never have made it out of middle school alive. The fact there is now a name for bullying a child online to the point of suicide — “bullicide” — just horrifies and saddens me.

What do you hope teens will glean?

I suspect many teens just tune out lectures about internet safety from teachers, parents, and cyber-experts, or think they know better. This is a more natural way to engage teens, get them to really imagine the risks, and feel the emotional ramifications of being duped online or hurting someone else. But I’m not a total technophobe! The story also spotlights the potential upside of technology; the power of social media being used for good.

Tell us some fun facts about the book.

Book clubs can be good for much more than wine and conversation — I was chatting about the challenges of publishing with a fellow member who happened to work in the industry. She ended up passing along my manuscript to my editor, and eight weeks later, the book was sold. I got that magical call when I was on vacation with my family in Disney World. I was literally checking my email in a bathroom on Tom Sawyers Island in the Magic Kingdom. So, yes, I tell my daughters, as the motto goes: dreams really do come true!

Thanks so much Melissa!!!

I encourage parents of teens and tweens to purchase and read this fantastic novel. What a great book to be able to have a discussion about!  Yes to book clubs all over!

You can read my review in the Huffington Post.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Online Life, Online Privacy, Online profile, Online reputation, Online resume, Social media, Social Networking

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JobOnlineAccording to the latest survey by Career Builders, 1 in 5 employees are determined to land a new job in 2016.

At the same time PEW Research released their survey entitled, Searching for Work in the Digital Era.

A majority of U.S. adults (54%) have gone online to look for job information, 45% have applied for a job online, and job-seeking Americans are just as likely to have turned to the internet during their most recent employment search as to their personal or professional networks.

The Internet can be your best friend while searching for you next employment or career move.

Roughly one-third of Americans have looked for a new job in the last two years, and 79% of these job seekers utilized online resources in their most recent search for employment. That is higher than the proportion who made use of close personal connections (66%) or professional contacts (63%) and more than twice the proportion who utilized employment agencies, print advertisements, or jobs fairs and other events.

Taken together, 80% of recent job seekers made use of professional contacts, close friends or family, and/or more distant personal connections in their most recent search for employment – nearly identical to the 79% who utilized resources and information they found online.

Roughly one-third of recent job seekers say the internet was the most important resource available to them during their most recent employment search

Now that we have determined the importance of the Internet, it’s imperative you understand the importance of  your digital resume and the use of social media.

According to PEW, social media is an asset when used effectively.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans now use social media platforms of some kind, and a substantial number of social media users are utilizing these platforms to look for work – and also to pass along employment tips to their own friend networks. Some 35% of social media users have utilized social media to look for or research jobs, while 21% have applied for a job they first found out about through social media, and 34% have used social media to inform their friends about available jobs at their own place of employment. In addition, 13% of social media users say information that they have posted on social media has helped them get a job.

Social media users from a range of age groups use these platforms for employment-related purposes

Going back to a Career Builders survey from this past spring of 2015, you will find that your lack of digital engagement is a hurdle you don’t want to find yourself in for two reasons:

There are adults that have refused to engage in social media, whether it’s setting up their LinkedIn profile or having a Facebook account — for various reasons. If you find yourself suddenly out of a job in your mid-40’s or 50’s and realize you don’t have a digital trail, you need to get typing. You might be out of a job longer than you can afford to be.

1 -35% of employers are less likely to interview  you if they can’t find you online according to a Career Builders survey. Why?

  • What are you hiding?
  • Maybe you don’t have any or lack digital skills.
  • Maybe you lack social media skills. Even if the job doesn’t call for it, some employers like to have people that are in touch with trends in technology.
  • Do you have an alias?

2- 52% of employers are using social media to screen their potential candidates. That is a significant increase from years prior according to the recent survey. Don’t risk     your digital resume not being part of today’s landscape.

Let’s keep in mind, content can help – and some content hurts.  Your social media behavior matters.

According to the 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.

No matter how old you are, you need to be conscience of your online behavior.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression – today more than ever, your first impression is likely your digital one. Your keystrokes count.

posted by on Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips

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Use the phone this holiday season

Use the phone this holiday season for out-of-town relatives!

It’s the holiday’s – and there’s no debate, tradition rules. You must learn to use your voice over your keypad.

With technology – a text just isn’t enough.

You aren’t going to get away with sending grandma and grandpa a text message. Great Aunt Holly and Uncle Jess need more than a emoji to know you are thinking of them.

We are living in a fast-paced society where we talk about unplugging yet rarely do it.

However it doesn’t mean we can’t connect with our voices if we aren’t able to visit our relatives or close friends over the holidays.

In a PEW Study this past summer, although texting is the most common form of communication for teens – when it comes to close relationships, especially their closest friends, they prefer to connect through the phone.

Call your family members – reach out and say hello.  Especially those that will send you a gift or a thoughtful card. Don’t text a message of gratitude – call them with message of thankfulness with meaning behind it.

Why do we need to call instead of text?

  1.  A phone call is in real-time. You show the person they matter – and are worth your time.  It’s not just a few keystrokes during something else you are doing.
  2. Hearing someone’s voice is always so much more special. I don’t think we can ever know what it means to an elderly person when they receive a call from their grandchild (young adult) from far away – or any relative that is lonely. Young people take for granted what it’s like to hear the voices of themselves to others. This isn’t only for elderly – everyone likes to hear the voice of a friend or relative at the holiday time, knowing they are being thought of.
  3. Old-school matters. There’s nothing wrong with putting tradition back into our lives. Just because texting is the new form of communication, it doesn’t mean it’s the best form to show your loved ones you care – especially at the holidays. Let’s keep some things the same.
  4. No room for misunderstanding. Let’s face it, with today’s text-talk, many people don’t understand the lingo and sometimes conversations can go astray. When you literally talk, there is less likely any room for miscommunication. Chat for real – it matters.

Gram99As someone that lost my last grandparent this year, I can share with you that I wish I could make that call. At 99 years old, she never texted. It was always a call and although she was hard of hearing, even with those hearing aids, she looked forward to all her calls from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Never, ever put off a phone call to that special person. Especially the elderly. They enjoy your voice.

For some reason your text messages and emoji’s just don’t sound the same.

Facts about texting.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet profile, Online profile, Online reputation, Online resume, Sexting, Social media, Social Networking

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What is sexting?

Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages via cell phone or instant messenger. As technology has advanced and cell phones have the capability to record and send photos and video, the practice of sending suggestive and explicit pictures has increased, especially among teens however adults are active participants too.

SextingBoysThere are several studies that will give us a variety of results about teens and sexting. Recently released in the journal of Sexual Health, was a study of 2100 high school students.

  • 42% have received a sexually explicit image
  • 43% have received a written sext message
  • 54% have sent a written sext message

No matter what the studies reveal (there are many reports out there), the fact is, there can be serious consequences for sexting.

I understand it’s today’s version of flirting, however this type of flirtation can be risky – not only from a legal standpoint, but with your future as it pertains to employment or college admission.


Because your future matters – it’s time to discuss the legal ramifications – parents have a responsibility too.

Your digital footprint is your other concern. You don’t want to risk your name tagged or connected with questionable images or content.

According to a 2015 Career Builders Survey, 46% of job applicants were passed over due to their provocative or inappropriate photographs.

Having knowledge is power.

Last month I reviewed a report that shared that teens were not aware of the severity of sexting:

  • 61% were not aware that sending texts could be considered child pornography.
  • In the study, 59% of respondents reported that knowledge of legal consequences “would have” or “probably would have” deterred them from sexting.

It’s a parent’s responsibility to empower their children with the knowledge to make good choices about how to use all forms of technology and social media. But how can parents approach “sext education”?

Start talking: When your kids hear news of sext crime cases, initiate a conversation. Talk about how sexting leads to negative consequences even for adults.

Just do it: You may not get a perfect time to break the ice, but don’t wait for an incident to happen. Be proactive and use the APA study to open the lines of communication.

Make it real: Kids don’t always realize that what they do online is “real-life.” Ask them to consider how they would feel if their teacher or grandparent saw a provocative comment or picture. Remind them there’s no rewind online and no true delete button in the digital world. Comments and photos are not retrievable. Especially with teenagers – talk about colleges and employers.

Address peer pressure: Teach your kids to be self-confident and take pride in their individuality. ‘Am I pretty enough?’ is a burning question for many young girls today. It takes just a few keystrokes to help them feel good about themselves — or exponentially worse. Acknowledge that social pressure to participate in sexting can be strong. But remind kids that public humiliation stemming from it can be a million times worse.

Give them control: If kids receive unwanted sexually-charged messages or pictures, they should know what to do next: Be the solution. They should tell you or another trusted adult, and never forward or share those messages with friends.

In closing – we don’t need studies, statistics or more sexting crimes to understand that this behavior is not acceptable – at any age. Just because people want to say it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Internet Predators, Internet Safety, Online activity, Online Safety, Parenting Blogs, Sexual Predators, Social media, Social Networking

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As we enter the holiday season, kids, tween and teens will be spending more time online.

Recent studies from Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) that 81% of parents believe they know what their kids are doing online.  87% in this same study say they do have rules in place for technology use.

Talk with your teen face-to-face.

Talk with your teen face-to-face.

In my opinion, we can read these stats all day long, however unless we are conversing with our child offline and working with them online, it’s difficult to gauge exactly what’s going on with them in their virtual lives.

Parenting in today’s digi-life is completely different yet almost the same as it was a generation ago. 


Because we still need to be able to keep our lines of communication open – and no matter what generation we are in, chatting with a teen or tween can be a struggle, yet it’s imperative to our child’s health and well-being (online and offline).

If they’re not talking to you — who will they take up a conversation with?

You don

Infographic is courtesy of


posted by on Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Online image, Online profile, Online reputation, Reputation Management, Social media, Social Networking

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giftofsocialmediI wrote an article for Huffington Post, Your Online Reputation Doesn’t Take the Holidays Off.  Why?  Because I was browsing Facebook one day and stunned at what people will share – or should we say – overshare.

It isn’t only photos – there are videos that can be questionable too.

Since it is the holidays and it can be a time of gift giving, there are some people that are difficult to buy for.

With teens especially it can a struggle – besides all those tech gadgets, the list can be limited – unless your budget includes a new car.

Giving the gift of digital presence is priceless.  Helping to give your teen a digital lift into their virtual life is a great way to showcase their talents, hobbies, interests and other attributes. By the way, it’s great for their college admissions too.

Have you considered giving a friend or relative a gift of digital presence?

Do you have a friend or relative that is unemployed and could maybe use a digital lift?

As a victim of online defamation, I know firsthand what it is like to struggle with a tarnished virtual image.  Fortunately many people haven’t gone through the malicious attacks I have been through – but today the slightest scarring on your virtual resume can potentially eliminate you as a job candidate.

Don’t be fooled – not having a digital footprint can be just as risky.

It’s simply part of today’s world:  Surveys are showing higher percentages of employers are performing Internet searches on a job applicants name and finding reasons not to hire people due to their social media behavior or hire them because of their social media presence.

In either situation, you need to be in control of your online image.

Learning how to manage your online reputation is not difficult, but can be time consuming.

The first step is simply setting up your Google Alerts – which many people know already, but have neglected to do.  This gives you an alert when information is posted about you.

Next you need to start building your online presence – your digital real estate.

Whether it is a website, free blogs (through WordPress or Blogger), and signing up for free social media networks – such as Facebook, LinkedIn,, Google+, etc…. you need to be proactive in building your digital image.

Most important is keeping it truthful, consistent, and current.  Be active – be engaged – be interested and interesting!  Remember be kind.  Your social media behavior is also being judged.

Does all this seem overwhelming?

Just add your name!

Just add your name!

This is where the gift of online reputation comes in.  Back in 2006 I was fortunate to meet one of the pioneers in online reputation management world. They literally saved my career and my online life. In 2006 we didn’t have the world of social media that we have today. It was built on blogs and websites – today, you have a smorgasbord of social platforms to build on!

In addition to all the social media that we know the kids have for free, consider buying your teen (or niece, nephew or friend) a URL of their name, it’s very cost effective. GoDaddy has them as little at $7.99. Building their own website can help them in creating their brand for who they are – including their interests, community service events, sports and more. Hosting is another reasonable fee to launch their site. The best part is each year thereafter – you can renew this gift as their holiday present!

It’s part of our life now. Your digital impression will most likely be the first impression someone knows about you – let’s make it a good one. Start ranking your website and virtual real estate this holiday season.

Keep in mind – your digital behavior is a priority on all platforms, from blogs to Twitter to Facebook or Instagram — even Snapchat which you believe vanishes….. always pause before you publish anything on any screen, including zipping a text message off – just stop, before you hit send. Read it. Read it again. It’s listed under my 5-E’s of Social Etiquette…. Exhibits… could it ever come back to haunt you as an exhibit in court?

Sure, sounds extreme, but it won’t if you’re ever a victim of a sexting scandal or anything that involves people taking your computers or devices for your messages or emails. It’s not about thinking anymore, it’s literally pausing and stopping before you press that send key.

EXTRA Special Holiday Gift from Cyberwise!

posted by on Cyber Safety, Identity theft, Online Privacy

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So far in 2015, there have been countless cases of mass identity theft. In the United States alone, millions have been victimized in data breaches and the year is not over yet.

While improvements to identity security, such as through Chip-and-Pin credit card technology, are making an impact — it’s not enough!

If you want to stay safe, avoid underestimating the value of each of these 10 great ways to prevent identity theft!

1) Consider a Credit Freeze IDTheft2

If you really stress over needing to avoid identity theft, the credit freeze is a more than the fraud alert when trying to avoid identity theft risks. This can help you prevent identity theft in many ways; with a credit freeze, a creditor will not be able to access your credit report without prior authorization from you.

The specific fees and laws for placing a freeze on your file will depend on where you live. So, make sure to find your state’s credit freeze laws before considering this option.

Pro tip: Placing a credit freeze typically costs $3 to $10, depending on your state.

2) Get Your Free Credit Report, 3x Annually

You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies, once per year. The easiest way to get your free credit report is by going to, which is also the only website authorized by the three major bureaus to give out your free annual report.

Do not request your three credit reports at once. You can request a free credit report from one of the three bureaus. That way, you are able to view your credit report information at no cost multiple times per year.

Pro tip: Save your money, credit reports are free even without credit monitoring!

FraudAlert3) Set Up Fraud Alerts

You can request a 90-day fraud alert from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It just takes an application at one of the three, and then that bureau notifies the others. The alert is typically set up when you have a reason to believe your identity might have been stolen. It lasts for 90 days, and then you can request that it gets renewed.

The 90-day fraud alert is free to request. It’s not a bulletproof way to prevent identity theft, as creditors are not legally required to contact you to confirm your identity.

4) Improve Online Account Security

To further prevent identity theft exposure, make sure to limit what you expose about yourself on your online accounts. This includes the information that only shows when you log-in, and details about you that only staff can see. You can always set up two-factor authentication on your sensitive accounts to further deter hackers; it’s often impossible to prevent identity theft once your information gets compromised in a data breach.

5) Educate Yourself on Identity Theft

Knowing is half the battle, and with identity thieves always finding new angles to take — you must take the time to learn how to protect yourself. This means more than just finding a list of random identity theft prevention tips. If you have the time, read through ‘The 100 Best Ways to Prevent Identity Theft’ by Elite Personal Finance to get a detailed list of the many ways you can secure your identity.

6) Monitor Your Social Security Number (SSN)

Hands down, your SSN is the most dangerous piece of information an identity thief could hold over your head. If a fraudster gets their hands on it, they could try to do much more than just open new credit lines in your name. Your identity might get used to avoid paying fines, to score free medical procedures, or even to work a legitimate job while living under ‘illegal alien’ status.

Pro tip: If you track your SSN statement online, you will be more likely to prevent identity theft attempts from affecting you.

7) Improve Your Mailbox Security

Many identity thieves steal mail right out of your mailbox to get information on you. This is even more common around tax return season, which is when the most financially-damaging identity fraud attacks happen. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), tax return identity theft was the most-reported type of identity crime in 2014.

The best way to improve your mailbox security is to invest in a post office (PO) box. If you are a student, and a PO box is not an option, you can consider redirecting your mail to your parents.

8) Be Careful Shopping Online

Shopping online can be dangerous, but it’s less so when you use a trusted third-party payment processor. For instance, you can pay through PayPal and limit yourself to trusting a single reputable corporation instead of various online shops.

Frequent shoppers should invest in prepaid, reloadable credit cards for their online shopping needs.

9) Secure Your Smartphone

You cannot prevent identity theft if your information is always accessible. Make sure you are cautious about the documents and images that are stored on your smartphone. This includes the contents in cloud-based storage.

While improving your phone’s security will not prevent identify theft, it could stop a phone thief from getting your sensitive information. For best results, you can also install a ‘phone locker’ that will disable (and even clear) your phone to keep your information safe.

10) Keep Your Cards Hidden

Whether it’s your credit card or your SSN card, you do not want anyone else to have access to it. This means you might not want to keep your cards in your purse or wallet — if someone steals it from you, all of a sudden all those cards are gone. Keep your SSN card at home, except for when it’s needed — at the very least, this is the one physical card you truly want to keep from others.

Conclusion: You Can Protect Yourself!

There is no need to spend money on credit monitoring or identity theft protection. Many of the preventative features these services offer are available to you at no cost. They are just protected by layers of marketing; if you take the time, you CAN protect yourself!

posted by on Adult Bullying, Adult Cyberbullying, Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Distractions, Digital Life, Digital Parenting

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This month several surveys and reports have been released on tech, parenting, teens and cyberbullying.

Starting with the simple one that came from iKeepSafe, which was funded by AT&T, it focused on Cyberbalance in the Digital Culture.

  • 44% of teens admit they do to not get enough sleep because of digital devices
  • 40% of teens don’t complete their homework because of time with devices
  • 37% of teens admit their devices interfere with day to day activities
  • 30% of adults report their devices interfere with normal, everyday activities
  • 25% of adults admit they don’t get enough sleep because of digital devices

There was nothing truly shocking here, as we know that having our gadgets can interrupt our daily lives. It’s not like reading a book that typically would make us drowsy. The electronic buzz or digital lights keeps our brain cells going, we have to learn to disconnect not only in the evening but when we are in the company of others.

CyberRules2So what will you do about it?

Sometimes to acquire cyber-balance you need cyber-rules.

  • All devices stay in the kitchen at night (including the parents gadgets too). Role models matter.
  • Practice looking up when speaking to other people, putting your device down or away when you are with friends or other people.
  • Schedule your hands-free time.  (For both parents and teens). It starts with you!

Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) released their latest report conducted by Hart Research Associates, Parents, Privacy and Technology Use.

Here are a few of the findings:

  • 78% of parents believe technology has a positive effect on their child’s future, career and life skills
  • 54% of parents say they have learned something about their device (smartphone or tablet) from their child
  • 39% of parents have learned more about social networking sites from their child
  • 36% of parents have used parent controls such as a tool, app or program to monitor or limit their child’s Internet use
  • 87% of parents say they have rules for their child’s technology use and consequences in place
  • 19% of parents say they have posted something a child has asked them to remove
Do 81% parents really know what their teen is doing online?

Do 81% parents really know what their teen is doing online?

None of these stats are too surprising, until I read the following statistics:

  • 59% of parents are highly confident in their ability to manage their child’s technology
  • 81% of parents think they know a lot or most of what their children are doing online

I’m never one to dispute research and I’m not going to start now. If this is what Hart Research discovered, I’m thrilled!

I work with many parents of teenagers on a daily and weekly basis and I’ve yet to hear of one parent that is able to keep up with their teen’s digital and device ability.  On the contrary, they’re at their wit’s end! The frustration of not being able to keep up can be stressful.

From texting to social networking, teens (from parents that I speak with) seem to be way ahead of parents. Which is why we consistently remind parents today to get engaged both offline and online with their teenagers.

What can you do?

  • Stay updated on the latest acronyms, apps and sites teens are using
  • Know your teen’s digital playgrounds and preferences, where do they virtually surf
  • Check their smartphone usage – what are their most visited sites
  • Continue to have your teen teach you more technology, you will learn more about them – digitally and otherwise
  • Offline parenting is key to online safety, and can help your teen make better cyber-choices – such as, when in doubt–click out

New research conducted by Telus Wise in partnership with Media Smarts and PREVNet, discusses Cyberbullying and youth.

  • 71% of youth that witnessed cyberbullying said they did something to intervene

That is the headline to this study and is extremely important especially since being an upstander is key to combating bullying.

In this study youth said they were more likely to stand up for a family member, which is understandable. It’s no different than generations earlier when someone would dish your mother or tease your sibling – you stood up for your family.

  • 90% of youth would  intervene if the target was a family member and 89% said they would intervene if it were a close friend — by comparison only 37% said they would intervene if it were someone they didn’t know personally
Open the lines of communication before an incident happens.

Open the lines of communication before an incident happens.

Parents and trusted adults matter.

Youth seek to talk to a trusted adult or friend first when asked about how to handle a cyberbullying situation.

However these same youth said they would intervene more if  trusted adults and parents did a better job of supporting them.

  • 33% of youth believe that adults don’t give advice that helps
  • 43% of youth believe that talking to adults or teachers will not change anything

From the research, it’s clear that educating parents and teachers is a piece that is necessary- but we need the parents to get engaged.  In reality there’s a lot of information online about cyberbullying prevention, however parents need to want to learn more about is. Parents need to take the time to find out more about cyberbullying resources and prevention to be able to help their child when they are faced with difficult situations.

It’s so much more than stop, block and tell…. it’s hey, we’re here for you and this is how I can help you.

Has your child ever been falsely accused of being a bully? Here’s 12 steps of what you need to know by Mary Kay Hoal. Be an educated parent when your child comes to you no matter what side of the fence they are on.

posted by on Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Civility, Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Online activity, Online bullying, Online Safety, Sexting, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Predators

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CellPhone77Everyone loves their cell phones and most can’t live without them.

PEW Fact Tank shares that 64% of adults in 2015 own a smartphone, but when it comes to cell phones in general, it jumps to 90% of adults.

In a PEW Research in 2013, 74% of youth between the age of 12-17 own a cell phone. Of course we can assume that is higher now, with their 2015 study of 88% of teens owning a mobile device.

Like with the sex talk that our parents had with us (well, most parents had with their kids), having a tech talk is just as imperative for this generation – but with a huge difference. The tech talk has to be a regular discussion, if not daily. It should be as common as asking your child how their day at school was.

We continually drive home the message with our teens not to text and drive. We show them how distracted driving kills the same as drunk driving. Now we also have to be sure we are discussing how the other ‘exting’ —- sexting that could potentially ruin your/their life too.

The concern over sexting for all ages is very serious and has serious consequences.

Let’s consider adults first. 

According to a study last spring by Primus/PrevNet, they reported that one in five parents admitted to digitally sharing intimate photos and/or sexually related messages. With a 41% divorce rate for a first marriage and 60% for a second marriage, parents (and everyone else, for that matter) need to pause before sending sex-related texts and/or pictures. You never know when you will be the next victim of eVenge or revenge porn.

No one, at any age, is immune to the consequences of sexting. If your significant other suddenly has turned into your foe, you need to be very cautious of what you may have sent them and how they will use it.

Now to our youth.

The recent sexting scandals in high schools among teenagers has become a wake-up call for many parents and students. Parents that don’t want to believe their child would engage in this behavior, and students that don’t understand that what they are doing could potentially land them in major trouble.

In a study by Drexel University in June 2014, the majority of teens were not aware of the severity of the consequences of sexting.

  • Over 54% of the students reported sexting as minors. However, only 28% sent photographic sexts.
  • 61% were not aware that sending texts could be considered child pornography.
  • In the study, 59% of respondents reported that knowledge of legal consequences “would have” or “probably would have” deterred them from sexting.

Having knowledge is power.

This goes back to our offline parenting skills helping your teen make better online decisions. Like the texting and driving lecture — sexting needs to be discussed frequently. With the current headlines of teens hiding nude phones in apps, the ghost apps and other ways that kids are finding ways to discretely send sexual notes, it’s imperative you step-up your digital parenting skills and become just as creative as these apps!

We have the knowledge of these apps now, you have read many articles about how to search your child’s smartphone for them.  One of the best was by Dan Tynan on Yahoo Parenting. Read it – and educate yourself on finding those sneaky apps.

Most importantly, does your teen understand what sexting is – and do they know the consequences?  Start the sext chat early.

Cyberbullying Research Center lists the sexting laws by state.  Find your state and become aware of the legal ramifications. However, keep in mind, if you don’t have any state law yet, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t change. Also, just because it isn’t law in your state – doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Especially if it crosses state lines electronically – and remember, your online reputation matters.

Now find new ways to chat with your teen about their digital lives — not only offline, but let’s go online too – together!

  • Ask them for tech lessons on your smartphone. Let’s face it, teens usually know more than us on these devices – engage in a digital conversation with them.
  • Time to clean out old apps and add new for the holidays – together. (Who’s paying for it?) Chances are the parents – on their cell service.
  • Find some new recipes for the holidays, maybe some cooking apps. Ask your teen for help. Get chatting about technology any way you can with your child.  Bring it back to their experiences online.
  • Always sprinkling your conversations with the reminders of sending questionable photos, comments, distracted driving and other important digital lessons that can affect their future.

Back to basics of cell phone manners.

Before texting (and the dangers of sexting), is your teen using cell phone etiquette?

TeenCellRudeTurn off your phone when you’re having a face to face conversation with someone. The increased use of cell phones, tablets and laptops has taken a toll on personal communication skills. Many teens have a hard time putting their phones down and engaging in a real and sustained conversation with another person. It’s become harder and harder for parents, teachers, coaches and others to connect with teens in meaningful ways, and when they are able to it’s often cut short by technology. While being able to answer the phone every time someone calls is convenient, interrupting a face to face conversation for a phone chat is disrespectful.

Teach your teen to turn off his phone or set it to vibrate (and then ignore it!) when he’s involved in a face to face conversation. Help him understand that by giving someone his full attention, he’s sending the message that he genuinely cares about what the other person is saying. Imagine how great it would be to enjoy dinner with your teen without his phone ringing, beeping or vibrating every few minutes.

Remember that basic phone rules still apply. Although your teen will know most of the people calling him, he will still need to know how to correctly answer a phone call meant for another. Remind him to speak clearly, ask if he can take a message, repeat the message back to the caller and use “please” and “thank you.” As a follow up, he should get the message to the intended party as soon as possible.

Keep the volume down when in a public place. There are few things more annoying than someone loudly chatting away on a cell phone right next to you. Remind your teen that when he’s in a public place like a restaurant or movie theater, he’s sharing that space with a bunch of people who aren’t interested in his conversation. He should keep his voice lowered and step away from the crowd to talk. Some may still be able to hear him, but his phone conversation will be much less intrusive to others.

Keep it G rated. Teens often try out a wide variety of curse words and crude statements as they find their “voice.” Although it’s a natural part of the teen years, that doesn’t mean others should have to endure it. Let him know it’s unacceptable to use that type of language in any public conversation, especially if children or young adults are around.