posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Digital citizenship, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Social media, Social Networking

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Who is your teen's digital influences?

Who is your teen’s digital influences?

Common Sense Media recently released their latest report  regarding today’s media consumption and our youth.

Tweens and teens spend about 9-hours a day on media.

This includes a variety of media entertainment such as– music, television, tablets, computers and of course mobile devices.

According to Common Sense, here are a few key findings:

  • Youth love media in all forms! Teens use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day, and tweens use an average of six hours, not including time spent using media for school or homework. Of that, tweens average more than four and a half hours of screen media use a day and teens more than six and a half hours.
  • The differences between how girls and boys view media vary. Teen boys average 56 minutes a day playing video games, compared to girls’ seven minutes; and teen girls spend 40 minutes more a day than boys on social media (1:32 vs. 52 minutes).
  • Social media is in play, but not always fun. Social media is an integral part of most teens’ lives (45 percent use it “every day”), but only 36 percent say they enjoy using social media “a lot,” compared with 73 percent who enjoy listening to music and 45 percent who enjoy watching TV “a lot.”

What’s important to understand is no matter what form of media your child is interacting with, are you familiar with what it is?

Who or what is influencing them?

It may not be a video game that determines their employment future, but do you know if it is age appropriate for your child?

What music is your child listening to? Of course, it’s difficult to control all this, however with your offline discussions, ask them about the artists and music they like. Find out and learn more about who is influencing your child.

Interestingly is how the study relates to social media. It’s not always fun anymore. Why? For those that watched #Being13 The Secret Lives of Teenagers, you will see the stress of what some teens go through to be sure their pictures are perfect, or the struggles of online harassment, compounded with FOMO (fear of missing out).

Isn’t it time we find out who your child’s media and digital influences are?

It’s impossible to be with our kids all the time, but having frequent and consistent offline conversations about their media and digital lives will help them not only make better choices when you aren’t around, it also gives you an opportunity to learn more about their media lives.

Be an involved parent – you will have safer digital kids.

posted by on Civility, Digital citizenship, Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens

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just-be-nice (1)We are heading into the holiday season. This means more interaction with store clerks, more time online, and most likely more time with customer service people on the phone. Our words and reaction will to others in all these spaces and places will matter. It’s a time for patience, understanding – and most importantly, simply being nice when we know it can be an extremely stressful time for some people.

Back in 2013 I wrote this blog post. I want to re-publish it as a reminder. Everyone, at every age has the ability to spread kindness with their words. Let’s not forget this as we head into what is supposed to be a season of joy.


It is such a simple word, kindness.  To be kind to one another seems like such a simple task, yet on almost a daily basis we hear about peer cruelty online (both adults and kids) that will use keystrokes as their weapon of choice to hurt others.

Recently I was at the movies waiting in line.  There was young girl, she couldn’t have been more than 12 years-old.  She complimented me on my necklace.  I thanked her.  It was so genuine and nice of her.  I thought, wow, this is strange, since tweenagers usually are not so cordial to older people (umm, not that I am “that old”).  Then she was at the window buying her ticket and she complimented the ticket attendant on their shirt and how she really liked the color.  Kind words.

These are all small words of kindness that can really change the day a person is having and put a smile on someone’s face.  The girl’s mother was with her and I wanted to go up and commend her for raising  such a thoughtful child, but I didn’t. I wish I had.

Instead, I am writing about this event in hopes all parents will remind their kids that words can be used to lift people up as much as they can be used to break people down.

This goes for adults too.  I am now going to make it a mission to compliment others on  daily basis, from our grocery check-out person, to you bank teller and your neighbors.

Let’s be real.  Most people are on social networking most of the time.  Take the time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever you are cyber-surfing to spread kindness.

Be kind online and remember parents, your children are watching you.  If you are gossiping (even in your kitchen) your kids will be mimicking your behavior.

The biggest secret to kindness is that it also makes you feel so good!

Go ahead, pay it forward ~~ be kind online and in person, you will be amazed at your attitude change!

Let’s spread kindness today and everyday.

posted by on Adult Cyberbullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Digital Parenting, Online bullying, Online harassment

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ParentTeen2We have constantly said that although October was Bullying Prevention Month, we also consider it Cyberbullying Prevention Month, we have to continuously discuss awareness and educate our communities on curbing this type of cruelty – both offline and online 365 days a year.

The fact is bullying is no longer limited to our playgrounds, school hallways, bathrooms or even the cafeterias – these bullies follow your kids home electronically through their devices.

This is why it is imperative to continue to learn as much as you can about online abuse as well as offline.

This past October we had some great experts, advocates and educators that contributed to helping parents, students and others learn more.

I want to share some of my favorites here, as well as some that I have written for this month… there are many others, be sure to continue to share them on Twitter with me at @SueScheff or on Facebook.

How Empathy, Kindness and Compassion Can Build Belongingness and Reduce Bullying – Cyberbullying Research Center

Want to Know About Cyberbullying? Ask A 6th Grader – by Diana Graber

10 Strategies for Stopping Cyberbullying – by Signe Whitson

10 Ways to Help Kids Deal With Digital Friction – by Toni Birdsong

31 Difference Makers for School Bullying Prevention Offline and Online – Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI Training)

Keep Your Child Cyber-Safe, There Is No Rewind Online – CPI Training

Cyberbullying Fact and Other Student Safety Concerns That Will Astound You – Gaggle

11 Possible Signs of Cyberbullying – Dr. Michele Borba

Practice What You Preach: Stop Bullying for Kids AND Adults – CPI Training

Bystander Revolution #MonthOfAction was extremely inspiring! Check out their site, and challenges. If you can instill some of their ideas in your life, you will be making a difference – both online and offline.

Your Daughter’s Safety On YouTube – Bright Girls Company

Upstanders On the Rise –

Cyberbullying: It’s Not Just for Kids – Connect Safely

#Kindness Wins Challenge#SeeTheGood – by Galit Breen, These Little Waves (Galit is the author of Kindness Wins. In the month of October she shared the most amazing stories of people that gives you faith in humanity today. Take the time to read her website and her posts – they are so inspiring).

Your Child’s Online Behavior Is A Reflection of Offline Parenting – Education Nation








Facing Reality: Cyberbullying Is Not A Fad, It’s A Trend

What It’s Like to Become A Halloween Costume – by Monica Lewinsky

As October came to a close, I read an article that Monica Lewinsky wrote.  She writes, “..there’s a fine line between clever and cruel.

Isn’t that what online harassment sums up to be in many situations? Sometimes people think they are being funny – it’s only a joke, but do they forget that there is a human, breathing person connected to the other side of the screen. We all matter – and we all have feelings – it hurts.

CyberMentor2Let’s all try to curb cruelty with a touch of kindness. Cyberbullying is not going away, we can slow it down, we can take accountability for our own actions and most importantly, we can start off by becoming a cyber-advocate and/or cyber-mentor for someone you care about. A sibling, friend, family member – maybe even your grandparent. Be there for them not only offline – but be their extra eyes online too.

PS: Be sure to put ‘cyberbullying‘ in the search box on this site, and you will find many recent articles I wrote here too this month!


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

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

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

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

Take Note of Your Own Phone Habits

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

Brainstorm Fun Things to Do Together

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

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

Encourage Exercise with Tech Rewards

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Special Contributor: Stephanie Marbukh

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

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

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

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Order today!

Order today!

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

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

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

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

It’s not my son, it’s his friends.

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

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

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

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

Every parent needs the priceless Gift of Failure.

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

This book is priceless!!! 

Jessica Lahey

Jessica Lahey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks so much Jess!

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

Order The Gift of Failure on Amazon.

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

Read an excerpt of The Gift of Failure.

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of Kelly Starling, AT&T

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tragic Consequences: Cyberbullying Matters

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

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

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

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

Eight Ways To Prevent Cyberbullying

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

Listed below are eight practical tips to stop cyberbullying:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Amy K. Williams


You can follow Amy on Twitter.

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

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Being 13 in the 70's with no devices.

Being 13 in the 70’s with no devices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s think back to the 70’s.

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

Today that same party is a different story.

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

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

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

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

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


What can parents do to help this downward spiral?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be there for them – online and offline.

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