posted by on Cyber Safety, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Internet Safety

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TwitterChat_CyberParentingEarlier this month Intel Security released their latest study, The Reality of CyberParenting: What Pre-Teens and Teens Are Up To Online.

The month of June is Internet Safety Month.  It’s a month that we take extra time to learn more about cyber-skills, apps, security and all things digitally driven especially as it pertains to our youth.

Family Online Safety Institute and Intel Security are going to join together to offer more insights for advocates, parents, teachers and everyone that wants to join for a TweetChat on Wednesday, June 24th at 3:00pm EST.

Using hashtag #CyberParenting, to be able to hear (digitally speaking) from the experts at @FOSI and @IntelSecurity as well as ask questions.

What is the topic?

Digital Parenting

The focus will be on the research Intel Security shared earlier this month.

  • What is most important to you when it comes to Internet Safety?
  • How you do you limit screen time in your household?  How do you set boundaries?
  • Do you employ a monitoring system on your child devices or do you simply trust them?   The research is interesting.
  • What do you discuss with your kids about social media?  Do you talk about their online reputation?  Do you discuss engaging with strangers online?
  • What type of parental controls do you find helpful?
  • Do you have any ideas for parenting safety tips that others should know?  Sharing information is priceless.
  • What area of Internet Safety do you wish you knew more about and there isn’t enough resources out there?  For example, you can find a lot of information on cyberbullying and identity theft – is there a topic you feel that is lacking on resources?
  • How do you start your digital conversations?  Last month I wrote about conversation starters by Common Sense and Family Dinner Project, they offered great tips.  Keep in mind, it’s not about one chat – it’s many of them, as frequently as possibly.  Keeping it going all year round…. speaking of…
  • What is your suggestion to keep Internet Safety as a priority in your home?

Think about these and other Internet Safety questions or comments you have and join the pros on Wednesday, June 24th at 3pm EST.

Everyone is invited!

posted by on Internet Addiction, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Parenting Teens

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DisconnectWe have heard about abstinence when it comes to sex, now it is about disconnecting from your digitally devices and social media.  It’s not easy.

However a parent that was determined to get her family’s offline back gathered some volunteers (with the same mission) and created the Disconnect project.

According to a recent Slate cover story about Disconnect:

“It’s cheered me up for some reason, I don’t know why,” one boy explained in the video. “I feel different. I can concentrate more.”

They read books, talked more with their friends face to face, and did their homework with time to spare.

This project has been very successful in the United Kingdom, maybe it will reach the U.S. eventually…. can our society really turn-off technology for a weekend?

DarkForDinner1Let’s try for one-day!

#DarkForDinner is Sunday, June 14th, but you can designate it for any day or every Sunday.  Make it a time to unplug and get to know your friends and family offline.

It’s about getting to know what they did last week or in general – getting to know more about your family.  Did they meet anyone new, find a new shade of lipstick they liked, maybe a new teacher or substitute that was cool — most importantly, you can talk about how their digitally lives are — offline.

I wrote a couple weeks ago about conversation starters for family meals about social media and digital lives.  Common Sense Media and Family Dinner Project offered a great chart on that blog post, refer back to it for tips.

DarkForDinner2Let’s say you are single and have friends you join on Sundays.  Chances are good your smartphone is attached to you – well, both of you!

Put your devices away – turn it off – and enjoy your friend’s company.  Have  a conversation with them about their week, their life, their family  – whatever…. Take a tech-time-out for your friends.  They will appreciate it as much as you will when they start really listening and hearing what you are saying rather than scrolling down their screen.  Maybe they do have a secret to share – but really want your full attention!

Isn’t it time to really disconnect and connect in real life – at least for one day?

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cybersafety, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Blogs

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parenting-in-a-digital-worl__largeNew Intel Security recently released their latest study, “Realities of Cyber Parenting: What Pre-teens and Teens are Up To Online” which gave us some insights of what parents are most concerned about when it comes to Internet Safety.

June is Internet Safety Month, but as I have always said, practicing online safety is something we implement 12-months a year.  This month is the time we officially recognize it, and hopefully make extra time to learn something new.

Realities of Cyber Parenting Study examined the online behavior of pre-teens and teens ages 8-16 and also surveyed the concerns of parents.

The study revealed that although cyberbullying seems to be most prevalent in the headlines, parents are most concerned about their children interacting with strangers online.

The 2015 research revealed that when it comes to online activity, parents are most concerned (28%) about their children unknowingly interacting with predators/pedophiles, while 21% fear them interacting with strangers in general. This concern could be warranted as 27% of teen/pre-teen respondents said they would meet or have met someone in person they first met online.

One of the highlights of this study was about sharing selfies.

  • 56% of youth share photos of themselves.

PauseHave you spoken to your child about oversharing lately?  As parents are concerned about predators, we need to remember to caution our children and ourselves about what we are posting online.  Parents can be guilty of oversharing too.

This is the perfect time to chat with your child about pausing before posting.

The good news is that 94% of the parents surveyed believe they know what their children are doing online.

Hopefully they are implementing the offline parenting chats.  Offline parenting does help your child make better online choices.

Dare to go dark starting June 14th, 2015.  Really get to know your family.  It will probably be better than a reality show.

Use hashtag #DarkForDinner
Make family your priority for #InternetSafety Month!

Read more about this latest study from Intel Security – click here.

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

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Keeping busy, motivated and involved this summer!

Guest Post by Blaise Brooks

With summer vacation quickly approaching, teens can look forward to a lot of free time to relax, hang out with friends and spend time with family.

However, this newfound free time includes a lot of potential opportunities to engage in dangerous activities like alcohol consumption or drug abuse. What can you do as a parent to prevent your teen from partaking in such behaviors?

The answer is to help your teen stay busy and motivated over the summer. By limiting the amount of idle time teens have, you can directly decrease the likelihood of them taking risks that are detrimental to their health.

Here are some ways that you can encourage your teen to stay busy – and out of trouble:

  • Set goals: At the beginning of summer or as soon as school lets out, ask your teen what he or she would like to accomplish by the end of summer break. Encourage your teen to set daily, weekly or monthly goals that he or she can work towards. It can be something as simple as learning how to make a favorite family recipe, reading a book series or completing a personal project that he or she wasn’t able to pursue during the school year. Have your teen write down the goal(s), then display it in a high-traffic area in the home (refrigerator door, bedroom door, etc.). This way, your teen will be reminded of that goal every day. Whatever the goal is, make sure to check in every so often and see how your teen is making progress throughout the summer.
  • Summer job, internship or volunteer experience: A summer job or internship allows a teenager to build a solid work ethic, improve communication and develop leadership skills (not to mention a summer job or internship looks great on a resume and college application). Alternatively, you could encourage your teen to volunteer for something he or she is passionate about. Whether it’s with a local animal shelter, youth sports team or non-profit organization, there are plenty of opportunities for teens who are looking to be part of something over the summer months.
  • Travel: Summer presents the perfect opportunity for fun getaways that the whole family can enjoy. Spending time in a new environment may allow you to bond and connect with your teen in a different way than if you were at home. If your budget is tight, be a tourist in your own city and visit the fun and unique places your hometown is known for. Museums, parks, restaurants – there are a lot of options!

Do you have any other ideas to keep teens busy this summer? Be sure to share your ideas with other parents!

StopMedAbuse1Blaise is a mother of one, caregiver of two, accountant and community advocate. Blaise is also a contributor to The Five Moms blog on, working to spread the word about cough medicine abuse with other parents. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital citizenship, Internet Safety, Online education, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Parenting Blogs, Social media

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InternetSafetyWordleJune is Internet Safety Month.

It’s great that we designate a month for Internet Safety Awareness, as we do for Bullying and Cyberbullying Awareness in October, but this doesn’t mean that we ignore it the other eleven months of the year.

I think it is great we will see many articles and resources through this month on apps, social media, parenting tips and advice as well as insights from experts that we can all learn from.

What is most important to you?  What’s your priority?

If you’re a parent, your child’s online safety is probably on the top of your list.

    • Do they know when to click out if they feel uncomfortable?
    • Will they tell you if they are being harassed online?
    • Do they know not to share personal information online?
    • Are they careful with the photo’s the publish?
    • Do they check their privacy settings frequently?
    • Do they exercise good digital citizenship?

InternetSafetySeniorsIf you have a parent (a senior person) that is online, safety is a major concern for them.

  • Be sure they don’t get involved in online scams.
  • Click on suspicious links that can steal their identity.
  • Get involved with online strangers pretending to be their friends for unsavory reasons.
  • Giving out too much information – again, potential fraud.

For yourself.

  • Privacy.  Almost everyone I talk to is concerned about their privacy which is almost becoming extinct.
  • Passwords.  Keep them private.
  • Oversharing.  It’s not only the kids.  Everyone needs to pause before sharing online.  Pause before you post or send that email.
  • Digital Citizenship. You’re never too old to remember who you are online reflects who you are offline.  Use your keystrokes with respect.
  • Online Reputation. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In today’s digital society, chances are very good your first impression will be your virtual one.  Are you Google worthy?

Takeaway tip:  Your offline conversations will help online safety for all ages! 

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

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Everyone is ready for summer and we know people of all ages love to share or sometimes overshare their summer activities with their online friends.

I have recently discovered a great way to define and archive your memories to better protect and re-visit what you did summer of 2015 (or other events you want to archive).

Guest post from GeckoLife, a platform created by parents with you in mind.

geckolifeA Gecko Summer: Social 2.0

We live in a world in which we have access to whomever and whatever we want, wherever and whenever we want it. We want reach, availability, speed and interactivity.

Fortunately (or not), we have a good dozen online tools that meet some of our needs, but not one tool that brings them all together into a single experience. Chat on some, share pics on others, store on others. Why can’t a tool live up to the adage “Less is More?” An app that combines postcards, albums and even a diary. Sure this sounds old school, but why isn’t there an online platform that does it easily in the advanced technological world of today?

After waiting for someone to give us what we need, we decided to build this platform tool ourselves, and it’s called GeckoLife.

Let me set the stage for what GeckoLife does. Social media platforms become addictive like chocolate. You desperately want it. When you are lazing around, you chomp at it. However, after bouts of it, it gets tiring and less delicious. In fact, it becomes harmful. Just like all things, too much of anything will have negative ramifications.

I remember I used to roll over in the morning before my alarm at 5:30am. I would grab my smartphone and browse through my social media feed. Who uploaded a pic of their holiday. Who shared what they ate for dinner the night before.

Who liked a picture I uploaded yesterday of my birthday dinner. Most importantly, how many people actually wished me happy birthday. This was back in 2012. I then realised, why did I care? Wasn’t the extra sleep more beneficial? Why do I care about whether a person from 10th grade whom I haven’t seen in 20 years was wishing me a “have a great day on your birthday!”

Let’s face it, social has been around in some shape or form since the early 90s with chat on our old Compaq computers. Accelerate 25 years and social communication is now entrenched in our lives with 3G/4G/WiFi coupled with (smarter) smartphones.

However, there is just too much frivolous social – where has the meaning gone? Why is sharing a picture of a bowl of spaghetti with 700 friends so important? Why does a selfie of me need to go to those 700 people? You get my point. Social is often adding no value. It is often pointless and a waste of time (but addictive).

This summer 2015, we hope people begin to change their behavior about their use of social media. Why not create social communication around more meaningful and defined events? Are you headed to Camp, Disney in Florida, a basketball tournament in Chicago or to see the Great Wall of China? Perhaps you are doing all of this these upcoming holidays. Instead of posting in one co-mingled timeline on the likes of Facebook or Instagram, or sharing pics on Dropbox or reverting to gold old email, why not create each of these as a defined event? Everything you do will not appeal to everyone, so define the audience you share it as well. Now, accelerate 5 years into the future.

Rather than see your atypical social feed where co-mingled content makes it difficult to easily find those wonderful 2015 defined events, wouldn’t you like a Life Library of Summer 2015? Today, everything is instant, in the now. On GeckoLife you create “Canvases” which are defined by subject &/or audience. This way you share what you want, with whom you want. Further, existing social media is not built for recall or archive if you want to revisit the pics/ video and comments around what you did during summer of 2015.

This is at the core of GeckoLife – filed, defined, archived.

Download the GeckoLife App today, and see what Social 2.0 is all about.

By Rajeev Gupta
Founder, GeckoLife

posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Social media

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FamilyDinner3One of my constant mantra’s is offline parenting will help your kids, and especially teen’s, make better online choices.  The fact is when your children are in their digital world’s you are not there to protect there.  With all the parental controls, filters and monitoring, your teen is in that moment and will make that decision to click-out 0r possibly continue in a risky situation.

Studies have proven that family meals can help reduce risky behavior with adolescents. Back in 2011 when these studies were released, they were speaking more about offline behavior such as smoking, drug use, drinking and risky sexual behavior.

It seems (let’s hope) parents were listening.

A recent study sponsored by Pearson revealed that families are gathering around the dinner table together more often than in previous years with nearly four in five parents surveyed (79 percent) reporting that they have dinner with their families most days of the week.

This is fantastic news!  

Discussing offline behavior is just as important as talking about your child’s digital lives. Today studies show that our youth spend a majority of their time connected to their devices – which means the majority of their life today is spent online.

The Family Dinner Project joined Common Sense Media to offer some great suggestions to start your mealtime conversations about cyber-life with parents and kids.

I am saying mealtime, since you can be at a coffee shop or Sunday brunch – mealtime doesn’t necessarily mean you are cooking dinner five nights a week.  Find time to unplug and eat with your kids (have a smoothie or coffee) – even if it is at a restaurant.  It’s about spending time together and chatting.

Here is an excellent chart I hope you will either print it out or to take notes to help your kids make better online choices.



posted by on Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Social media, Teens and Technology

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SocialMediaGlobalResearch was just released by GlobalWebIndex that shows adults love social media almost as much as the kids do.

The average adult spends one in four online minutes on social media according to the recent research.

What is the most popular social media platform for adults?  Facebook – by far it revealed, as did the PEW Research study released in January of 2015.

So what are grownups doing on social media/networking?

Connecting with family, friends and making new friends!  Joining groups, creating conversations, learning about new things and simply exploring places they may or may not ever visit as well as many other virtual ventures.

The fact is with social media you can connect to so many people across the globe that would have never been possible prior these platforms.

However with all brightness comes some dark-side.

We always talk to our kids sharing too much of themselves online, especially on social media, but what are their parents doing?

sharentingI recently read an article by a colleague that I found very interesting.  Sharenting? Kids Are Beginning To Notice by Marti Weston.  Yes, kids and teenagers can become embarrassed and uncomfortable when parents over-post photos or other personal family issues that they feel shouldn’t be for the world to see.  Maybe they don’t want naked baby pictures of them up there.

If mom or dad are doing this, what type of role model is this for the teen?  If the teen turns around and starts posting about his/her parent’s argument about an affair or they can’t pay the mortgage — both of very personal nature, although way different from an embarrassing photo.  In a child’s mind, it is the same by comparison.  It’s humiliating.

Are parents behavior online paving the way to condone their child to act the same way online?

Back to the heart of the issue – oversharing online, whether it’s on social media or any other form of the Internet is something everyone of all ages needs to be careful with.

posted by on AT&T, Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Distracted driving, mobile phone safety, Parenting, Social media

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NoEmailSo you are driving down the road – you have an impulse to take a selfie?  Seriously?

Yes, I have seen teens and young adults that insist on telling us their mood while driving down a highway with a selfie – exactly what are they thinking?

Oh – seriously – they aren’t thinking!

I see these images on Facebook threads or Instagram and it simply infuriates me.  I sometimes wonder why don’t any of their friends mention in the comments that snapping that selfie is not only putting them at risk – but putting the others around them in danger.

Instead – I see comments like – oh, you look greatlove your smile — great hair day — etc….  with youth, it is usually all about them.

Okay – so I am being a bit harsh here – but when it comes to behavior that can potentially put others at risk, this is serious stuff and we should reach out and say something.

I haven’t even mentioned taking photo’s, sending an email (which I am sure now we are getting into some adults that send that last minute work email from a red light or stop sign) or people that want to snap that video that think it might be the next YouTube sensation without thinking the safety of cars around them…..

So I have set up the preface for AT&T’s latest survey.

AT&T today announced the findings of a survey which have prompted the company to expand the It Can Wait® campaign from a focus on texting while driving to include other smartphone driving distractions.

New research from AT&T shows 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving. Texting and emailing are still the most prevalent. But other smartphone activity use behind the wheel is now common. Nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net. And surprisingly, 1-in-10 video chat.

Smartphone activities people say they do while driving include:

  • Text (61%)
  • Email (33%)
  • Surf the net (28%)
  • Facebook (27%)
  • Snap a selfie/photo (17%)
  • Twitter (14%)
  • Instagram (14%)
  • Shoot a video (12%)
  • Snapchat (11%)
  • Video chat (10%)

AT&T will use the survey findings to help drive awareness of the dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel, and to encourage life-saving behavior change. The company will launch a nationwide virtual reality tour this summer to help people understand that it’s not possible to drive safely while using a smartphone.

Other unsettling findings include:

· 62% keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving.4

· 30% of people who post to Twitter while driving do it “all the time.”

· 22% who access social networks while driving cite addiction as a reason.

· Of those who shoot videos behind the wheel, 27% think they can do it safely while driving.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Internet Privacy, Internet profile, Internet Safety, Online image, Online Life, Online profile, Parenting, Social media

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Building Your Social Media Presence.

Building Your Social Media Presence.

I’ve heard from some parents that say they won’t allow their tweens or teens on social media sites or ban them from certain apps or other digital platforms that today’s teenagers are engaging in.  Of course many know that kids have way to defy parents – whether it is sneaking to a friend’s house or a library, however parents will try as long as possible to keep their child free from what they fear will take over their lives – Social Media Networking.

Is this a smart idea? 

We all want to keep our children safe, that is a natural instinct, however there has to come a time when they will face the Internet to be involved in social networking and most of all — they need a digital presence.

Maybe giving our kids a smartphone at six years old is not the brightest idea, which we haven’t truly confirmed this survey, however finding that balance for our tweens and teens is important.

Building your online image in a positive way will not only impress your college recruiters, according to a recent Career Builders survey, you will gain the attention of your potential employer.

Over one-third of employers are likely to ignore job candidates that don’t have an online presence.

PauseWe must encourage our tweens and teens to engage in social media wisely.  Posting and publishing on the fly is not smart — we have drilled into our minds to THINK before posting or sending, when I speak to large and small audiences, I encourage them to PAUSE – I want you to truly stop – before clicking that send button.

Whether it is on your mobile device or a mouse,  PAUSE for 30-60 seconds – it could literally change the direction of your future.

Especially when it comes to sending emails.  How many times have you sent an email to the wrong recipient since we all know there are several “Sue’s or Mary’s or Joe’s” in your contact list?  Did you take time to be sure it is your friend and not your landlord?

Instead of banning social media, start to learn to embrace it.  It’s not going away – it is only growing and evolving.  The studies, even for adults, show that social media is on the rise!  According the most recent PEW Study released in January 2015,  over half of adults online are engaged in at least two social media accounts with Facebook leading by seventy-one percent!

Yes, we are in the evolution of social media – and that includes the parents – as well as our teenagers.  Let’s use our keystrokes wisely, with a nice PAUSE before that click.