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.

amywilliams

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.

PEWPopularStudy

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.

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Internet Safety

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CyberbullyingTeensIn order to better understand what the consequences should be, first a parent should fully understand what cyberbullying is:

The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

In a recent survey by Motts Children’s Hospital, it revealed that parents were conflicted about how to label and punish cyberbullying.

In response to hypothetical situations at their teens’ schools, parents vary in whether they label certain actions as cyberbullying:

  • Social media campaign to elect a certain student for homecoming court, as mean joke – 63% say definitely cyberbullying
  • Sharing a photo altered to make a classmate appear fatter – 45% say definitely cyberbullying
  • Posting online rumors that a student was caught cheating on a test – 43% say definitely cyberbullying
  • Posting online rumors that a student had sex at school – 65% say definitely cyberbullying

Between 30% and 50% of parents are unsure whether these actions are cyberbullying.

Where the conflict comes in is with the punishment.  Parents recommended the most severe punishment for posting online rumors about students having sex in school, for which 1 in 5 parents would refer the students to law enforcement.  In my opinion – depending on the circumstances – this may be a bit harsh.  Most schools have teen-courts now.

CyberbullyingOnCampusWhen compared to parents being less concerned that an online rumor is being spread about a student cheating – which could be more serious for their academic future (college admission), they were less likely to refer them to law enforcement.

Parents are concerned about cyberbullying, but it seems they have mixed opinions on what constitutes online abuse and what the consequences should be.

Less than half of the parents surveyed said that sharing an altered photo to make a classmate appear fatter or posting online rumors that a student was cheating was definitely cyberbullying. Although it may appear to be cyberbullying, it could also be described has a mean digital prank – which is just as bad – and should be punished the same. However it’s a clear insight that our society is quick to label when they are not fully informed on the issue.

This survey reflects the challenges that schools face in developing clear policies around cyberbullying.

We have too many people over-using the word bullying and now cyberbullying. When in reality it might a digital prank, online joke, or otherwise — but make no mistake – it is all virtual shaming – which leads to someone being emotionally harmed and hurt for a very long time. Digital cruelty by any definition is wrong.

What are the consequences? It seems we are all still trying to figure that out. It is likely it depends on the situation.MottsSurvey

posted by on Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting

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vodaphonesurveyIn a recent survey released by Vodafone, 43% of teens believe that cyberbullying is a bigger problem than drug abuse.

So when we hear phrases such as, death by humiliation, it’s not a joke.

According to this latest research:

  • 41% of teens said cyberbullying made them feel sad, helpless and depressed
  • 26% felt completely alone
  • 18% experienced suicidal thoughts
  • 21% stay home from school due to cyberbullying
  • 38% don’t tell their parents they are being harassed online

Not telling their parents or an adult is an issue that has concerned experts and advocates for a long time. The reasons why kids don’t tell can range from fear of having their life-line removed (being shut-down from the Internet), to being ashamed of what is happening online – to retaliation from the bully (being called a snitch by friends). This is why offline parenting is so crucial to online life.

TeensOnline555Research has shown that friend to friend support is one of the successful ways of preventing and addressing cyberbullying.

October is Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month. Although we take this month to focus on this topic, including cyberbullying, it’s an issue we need to discuss on a regular basis with our children as well as learning ourselves how to combat cruelty online.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that digital harassment is limited to kids. On the contrary, according to PEW Research 73% of adults have witnessed online abuse, while 40% have been victims.

This is particularly disturbing because as an adult or especially as a parent, we should know better.

Everyone needs a friend no matter what age you are. You also have to be an example to your teens and tweens online – use your keystrokes for kindness. Stop before you comment rudely on someone’s post or publish a picture that may not be that flattering to someone. Especially pause for 24 hours before sending a sensitive email.

If someone is having a bad day, or recently lost a loved one — take a moment to send them a cyber-hug. It can make all the difference in the world. Social media is about connecting, networking, and most of all — reaching out to each other when we need each other most. Don’t just be there for the good times — give us some virtual strength during the difficult ones too.

It’s not about a thumbs down, it’s about a wrap-around….. reach-out those keystrokes for kindness and find an emoji that says – hey, I got your back.  Isn’t that what friends are for?

#BeStrong announces new emoji’s to help send cyber-support to those that are being digitally abused online.

BeStrong

posted by on Adult Cyberbullying, Civility, Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Facebook, Facebook safety, Social media, Social Networking

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LovetoLikeFB2We officially live in a generation Facebook society. No matter what age you are, from 13 (and I dare say younger) to 80 (and even older) everyone loves to LIKE Facebook.

You may be watching the news on television, listening to a talk show on the radio or even walking into a store – and you will hear or see an ad to LIKE them on Facebook.

It’s a Facebook generation. 

We will hear that teens are leaving Facebook. It may not be their number one platform, but they are certainly still there. We have to remember, it is the grownups number one social media platform according to the latest studies by PEW Research.

Facebook has so many benefits. From connecting old friends to meeting new ones. It keeps families connected that may live far apart, or even if they are across the street! It’s a great place to form support groups of common issues and create events that people of the same interests can join.

Social media has a way of making you feel special on your birthday, lifting you up when you are feeling down, and giving you support if you are heading out to a challenging day.

There has been times when I have seen posts and I would think, “I wish there was a dislike button” – since no one feels comfortable “LIKE-ng” tragedy. Or if you really think about it – when you lose a loved one, you get  a LIKE, does that mean they are happy you lost that person?  Of course not….

However now that Facebook has announced they are working on the ‘Dislike‘ button, red flags are flying.

When I discuss disliking an article posted, it’s simply that – an article. Usually someone would post a sad news article of maybe a youth taking their life or how cyber-criminals have found a new way to scam the elderly – it doesn’t feel right “LIKE-ng” these posts, but I want to acknowledge to the person that posted it that I read it.

I usually comment too – which obviously is the best alternative to LIKE-ng these types of articles.

However with the latest plans for the DISLIKE button many advocates and experts are worried about how teens will handle this type of emotion.  My concern is not only for the teens, but adults too.

It’s obvious, the ‘dislike’ button will most likely provoke online bullying especially among youth. We know they can live and die for the number of “LIKEs” they are receiving – we can only imagine how their self-esteem will be deflated when the ‘dislike’ button becomes engaged – or enraged.

Again, grownups can be mean, and they also have feelings too.

Dislike2Digital shaming is not a fad, it’s a trend today. When (if) this dislike button is implemented, it will become another tool for teens and adults to use. They both need reminders to be properly educated on digital citizenship, and the first rule of thumb is – being kind online (as you would be offline).

According to the most recent PEW Study, 73% of adults have witnessed online abuse, while 40% have been victims of cyber-abuse. On Facebook, this was witnessed firsthand when a parent formed a group to intentional bash (what she considered) ugly toddlers.

We can all preach about online abuse until the cows come home – we don’t need a ‘dislike’ button to remind us that ugliness exists online.

October is Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month. Let’s try to make a conscience effort to discuss, on a regular basis, the basics of online safety, cyberbullying and kindness.

Let’s remember, cyberbullying isn’t only about kids – we must include grownups too.

Keep it simple, but constant.

Safety: Never share passwords. (Ever – except with your parents). If you’re a parent – leave it in your living trust – you never know!

Sharing: Pause. Before you are about to share a post, photo, send an email or comment – literally ‘pause’ before hitting send. If it’s something sensitive, wait 24 hours.

Cyberbullying: Tell a parent or adult immediately. Parents, understand the number one reason kids/teens don’t tell a parent is fear they will lose their life-line. That is their Internet. Re-assure them you are there for them, it’s not their fault.  Grownups, never-ever engage. Don’t respond. Save evidence. Block. Report.

Kindness: Keep in mind, there is a human on the other-side of the screen when you do hit send. Be sure it’s someone you wouldn’t mind receiving. Every keystroke matters.

As with these topics, there is much more, however this gets the communication flowing. Ask your kids what new apps they have, learn about them, show them what you have learned too. Do you need help on your tablet or cell phone? Who better to show you than your child. You can learn a lot from them – and again, it opens up your dialogue.

What is most important is helping them keep their digital lives on track with their offline life. Once the “DISLIKE” button comes into play, we want to be sure that your child is emotionally strong enough to know it is only a button and has no real sense of value on their real life.

Your offline parenting skills need to start now to prepare your child to understand that online sometimes is not always the nicest place.

Learn from one of the best. Diana Graber, a Digital Citizenship teacher in California and co-founder of Cyberwise, recently wrote an excellent article about your choices for preparing yourself for the ‘dislike’ button of Facebook.

Remember, being a cyber-role-model for others is always a priority!

 

posted by on #iCANHELP, AT&T, Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Digital Parenting, Distracted driving, Parenting Blogs

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Be a positive role model to your friends.

Be a positive role model to your friends.

I have written several articles on becoming a Cyber-Mentor, creating cyber-shields  and simply being there for someone when they are struggling – online or offline. Peer-to-peer mentoring is being a positive influence on them and being there when they need you.

We have also read the studies that say that parents are the leading influence for their teens.  Although they don’t like admitting it through their trying times, parents need to understand, they are the role models for their children.

It’s no different with teens and their BFF’s! Take the time to #Tag5toSave5.

What if the next few seconds you spend on social media could save a life? New research from AT&T released today shows how we can influence our closest contacts. And tagging these people on social may be the perfect way to get their attention. That’s why today, AT&T launched the #Tag5toSave5 social campaign.

The new AT&T research shows that while many of us have hundreds of smartphone contacts, 2-in-3 people have almost all or most of their smartphone communications with just 5 people. The research also showed that people and their “top 5” have a lot of influence over each other:

  • More than 8-in-10 said they would likely stop or reduce their smartphone use while driving if one or more of their “top 5” contacts asked them to;
  • More than 7-in-10 said they would likely download an app to reduce their smartphone use behind the wheel if one or more of their “top 5” asked;
  • Nearly 85% of people would be likely to stop sending smartphone communications to their “top 5” when they know they’re driving … if only their “top 5” would ask!

Earlier this year AT&T reported that nearly 4-in-10 use social media when they’re driving. AT&T is asking you to tag your “top 5,” whether it’s a best friend or co-worker, in a social post encouraging them to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phone.

Remember:  No post, glance, email, search or text is worth a life … It Can Wait.

posted by on Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Civility, Digital citizenship, Digital Distractions, Digital Life, Digital Parenting

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Isn't it time to be 'Hands-Free' for your family?

Isn’t it time to be ‘Hands-Free’ for your family?

With every beep, ding, buzz and fancy ringtone there is out there – silence is the most precious one that people are in need of.

We live in a society where it’s not only about our teens and youth that have their smartphones sewn into the palm of their hands – so do their parents.

A question I frequently ask to my audiences is, “What is the very first thing you do when you wake up? Go to the bathroom? Brush your teeth?  Or check your cell phone for messages, emails, texts – etc….” I think you all know the answer to that one.

Digital distractions have literally taken over the majority of many peoples lives. Again, we have to stop labeling this as a teen thing because adults are equally as guilty. Go to a restaurant, mall, airport, or any other area — including walking on a sidewalk, and chances are people are glancing at their devices – if not texting and walking.

Order today! Get your life back!

Order today! Get your life back!

New York Times best selling author, Rachel Macy Stafford just released her latest book, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better and Loving Life.

No is telling you to get rid of your gadgets, it’s about finding that digital balance in your life.  Small adjustments — can change you a lot!

Washington Post spoke with Rachel about her latest book.  In the article she said:

“When I was starting to scale back on all the commitments and distractions in my life, I realized there was internal distraction that was really preventing me from living in the moment and finding joy.” See? Less = more.

In a recent interview she gave to Huffington Post, Rachel says:

We are so tied to our devices and our need to be “busy” that we have forgotten how to be still, how to be alone with our thoughts, what to do if our hands are empty. But the hands-free approach to life provides practical, doable ways to overcome it.

It’s the simple facts of life, there is a life outside of your digital connections.  It’s your real-life.  Until you take the time to seriously want to be part of it, you will be missing so many important moments that you can never get back.

One thing about the teens and kids, they aren’t mature enough to really grasp that life is short. These moments in time you don’t get back. Adults should know better and be the role models for our youth.

Rachel’s book is such a great reminder for all adults and teens alike.

Isn’t it time you get present in your life?

Just a thought, holidays are around the corner, what a perfect gift for someone you feel may need it…. a gentle reminder never hurts.  Life is short.

Sunday, September 13, 2015 is Grandparents Day.  If you are blessed to still have them, reach out to them personally.  Don’t text, email or voicemail – call them or visit them (if you can). Be present, literally. It matters.

Visit Rachel’s website, Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Facebook, Online Life, Social media, Social Networking

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We know we live in a digitally connected society, with 92% of adults attached to their cell phones, 52% of them are fully engaged in social media (Facebook being their favorite by 71%) and now research has revealed that it’s not only women (which has been leading the social media force) men have arrived!

In the latest survey from PEW Research, men are catching up with women on social media.

In 2010 53% of men compared to 68% of women were engaged on social media.

Today in 2015, 73% of men compared to 80% of women!  The gap has narrowed quite significantly.

Although the overall percentage of men and women who report using social media is now comparable, there are still some gender differences on specific platforms. Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram have a larger female user base, while online discussion forums like Reddit, Digg or Slashdot attract a greater share of male users.

It’s interesting that men and women are both engaging in social media, maybe in different platforms however spending time connected.

Overall this analysis reported that men were more engaging in forums rather than Facebook or Instagram platforms.  Personally I do see more women than men posting on Facebook and especially Pinterest (which I still haven’t figured out). This isn’t to say men aren’t on Facebook, since I also see many. Especially men that are advocates in something they are passionate about, they will engage in Facebook groups.  Huh, interesting, I just said – they mostly engage in groups, which are like online forums.

On the other hand, online discussion forums are especially popular among men. One-in-five male internet users say they read or comment on sites such as Reddit, Digg or Slashdot, compared with only 11% of online women.

PEWGenderSTudy
My hope is that these men and women are also parents that are now engaging on social media and learning about their children’s new playgrounds.  We know the moms are there – and with the increase of men, it’s a good sign that they are now on board with becoming involved too.

Forums can be a place to find out more about parenting issues, asking questions and getting support if you are going through rough patch in life.

It’s great that men (possibly dad’s) are reaching out to others and possibly helping others too. We need to created a cyber-society of compassion and support for each other whether it is on Facebook, Tumblr or any forum. No matter what gender you are – chances are very good you have something you can offer another person.  A simple kind word or maybe a referral or recommendation to a local restaurant!  Civility and good manners start at home.

Most importantly, you are a digital role model for your child. Mind your cyber-etiquette in any social media platform you are mingling in.

posted by on Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, mobile phone safety

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Parents must lead by example.

Parents must lead by example.

We often read reports and studies about youth and their constant connection to the Internet or especially their cellphones.

PEW Research recently released Americans’ Views on Mobile Phone Etiquette and it revealed some very interesting statistics for grownups.

  • 92% of U.S. adults have a cellphone, and 90% of them say they have it with them frequently
  • 31% of them say they never turn-off their phone, while 45% say they rarely turn it off.

These stats alone are enough to start a conversation about leading by example for parents. We expect our children, especially teens to find a healthy digital balance in life, yet adults seem to be having the same struggle with unplugging – or should we say – un-stitching the cellphone from their physical body.  Whether it’s the palm of their hand or a fancy carrying case, it is never far from their fingers.

When I speak around the country on social media and my story of digital cruelty, I often ask the audience….. “What’s the very first thing you do when you wake-up? Brush your teeth? Use the bathroom? Or check your cellphone for text messages, emails or voice mails?” I think we all know the answer the audience gives. Yes, technology rules at all ages.

Benefit of the doubt:  More families are cutting back costs and removing a landline and only using mobile lines, however like with landlines, you can put that mobile phone on a charger and walk away.

Most adults can agree that using cellphones can be distracting in a social settings, yet a full 89% admitted to using their smartphone during a social gathering while 86% said they witnessed others using their gadgets during an event.

I go back to role modeling for our youth.  We are constantly discussing and reading about how rude and disrespectful our younger generation is today, however when we read about statististics of 89% and 86% — grownups really need to start thinking about their own social behavior.

PEW89MobileStudy
Let’s review this graph.

How many times have you asked your child or teen to put their cellphone down while you are talking to them or during mealtime and especially at bedtime? They just want to send that one last text message – or finish up a photo – maybe downloading an app.

In reality, it seems that parents and youth have a lot in common when it comes to their mobile phones.  They enjoy them.  Let’s face it – we have become a society that relies on our smartphone for many valuable resources – from directions (GPS), ratings for  restaurants, apps for games and more, movies, books, Amazon, music and so much more.  I haven’t even touched on social media which connects us to our friends and family instantly.

Read the entire study here.

PS:  I love my smartphone and couldn’t live without it now! I am fairly a newbie too, it was only about 3 years ago that I graduated to one. I will admit, it’s hard putting them down – and turning them off. It’s a habit you need to do, which I have learned. I also learned not to give out my cell number frequently anymore. It really cut down on texts and calls. Keep in mind, your phone can be put in the silence mode for a reason, use it when you are with others. Vibrate is still distracting.