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

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TeensDigitalFrom the time they are babies, your kids see you checking Facebook from your phone, posting photos to Instagram on your tablet and finding great recipes on Pinterest from your laptop. It’s only natural that they want to be part of the great online world of social media. But to make sure your kids are properly prepared for the digital world, check out the following tips:

Start Talking to Them Early

You don’t have to wait until your kids are opinionated tweens to discuss what to do and not to do online. OnGuardOnline.gov advises that as soon as your kiddo starts to use a tablet or computer to play games or text grandma is the time to start talking about online safety and appropriate behavior.

Communicate Your Values Often

Online safety is not a topic that can be covered in a quick chat over ice cream cones. Instead, plan on talking about your rules, values and concerns over the course of many talks. Let your kids know that you will listen to them and their feelings about online activity without judging them. Look for opportunities to bring up the topic naturally, too. For example, if you are watching a show together where one of the young characters opens up a social media account without her parents knowing, you can talk to your children about the character’s online safety.

Over the course of several conversations, discuss important and heavy issues, including inappropriate contact, cyber bullying and identity theft. Explain that the sad reality is that not everyone online is nice. You also should mention what is appropriate for them to see and do online as well as what they need to avoid. For instance, if they are watching a video that contains foul language, they should exit out of it immediately.

Teach Them About Malware

In addition to talking about unsavory people who lurk online, it’s important to go over digital attackers, such as viruses, worms, spyware and Trojan Horses. LifeLock explains that a great way to combat malware is by installing antivirus software and frequently updating applications and operating system software.

Because kids are are more prone to opening attachments from unknown sources that promise a free game upgrade or funny video, you need to explain that doing so may result in a virus attacking their computer. Tell them that they should never open any attachment without asking you first and that they need to exit out of all pop-up ads. Show them what the antivirus software alerts look like, and ask them to tell you when they show up, so you can check them out together.

Discuss Appropriate Behavior

Before you let your child open his or her first social media account, have a serious talk about kind and appropriate behavior. The Guardian suggests telling your kids that if they wouldn’t do something in person, they shouldn’t do it online, such as saying something mean to an acquaintance from school. Tell your tweens that they should imagine their beloved grandma is standing right behind them watching what they are doing on social media, and if she is happy with what they are posting or watching, then it’s okay. Also, it’s important to teach your kids about the permanence of the Internet and how all posts (even if they are deleted) remain in the digital world forever.

posted by on Adult Bullying, Adult Cyberbullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Digital citizenship

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keyboard_and_mouse-625x1000Whenever I see these headlines I want to cringe.

The fact is, it’s sad we need headlines to remind us to continue to be kind to others, to continue to discuss with our children as well as our friends and colleagues about the importance of being an upstander when you see someone being shamed online and most importantly — it’s a reminder that this digital cruelty is not going away anytime soon.

The fact is – there is a live person on the other-side of the screen. Whether it is a smartphone, a laptop, a tablet or a PC – you have the potential to destroy someone’s life with your keypad.  Yes, keystrokes (with a click of a mouse) have become a deadly weapon at all ages – and in many cases – it’s completely legal.

Just as many schools are opening in August, I read that exact headline with  a study of more than 16,000 Boston-area high school students suggests cyberbullying is on the rise.  You can read more of the details in the article, which says that girls in particular are targets for online harassment.

We now live in a society where the majority of people live their lives online.  This includes grownups too.  I am firm believer that we can’t exclude parents from the way they are behaving online as well as their lack of understanding their role in educating their kids and teens on empathy, cyberbullying awareness and online safety and security.

Cyberbullying is a concern for everyone and if you believe it can’t happen to  you, you are sorely mistaken.  No one is immune to cyber-bullets – and the worse part about cyberbullying is it can happen when you least expect it and from a person that you thought was a friend.

We can focus on cyberbullying rising or we can empower ourselves to be upstanders for not only our family, but for others we see that are struggling online.

Parents need to make time, maybe weekly to learn something new as it pertains to online safety, security and digital citizenship (this includes cyberbullying prevention and awareness).  This doesn’t replace your regular chats with your kids on cyber-life.  It can enhance it.  Some great sites to get resources from:

We turn to kids, tweens and teens who spend the majority of their time connected.  Sure I could repeat all those PEW stats, but you already know – our kids have their smartphones sewn into the palm of their hand!  This is the first thing parents need to address.

Boundaries — and this goes for parents too.  Un-stitch that phone from the palm of their hand, especially during meals and at bedtime. I shouldn’t have to mention – while driving!  The catch… that means “parents” too!

Parents have to lead by example.  It’s that simple.  (Well, not really), but it should be.

CyberMentor2So what can kids do?  Lead by example too! 

Reminding your child that someone is watching their posts, keystrokes and their comments – they are potentially someone’s mentor whether they realize it or not. It could be their younger sibling, it could be their cousin or a neighbor that looks up to them.

In a recent post for Gaggle, I wrote about being a Cyber-Mentor.  This is a role for all ages, and one that can benefit each party.  It can help reduce cyberbullying and help give your child a support online when they feel hopeless – they have a peer that understands them.

Yes, cyberbullying might be rising, but let’s start talking about how upstanders and kindnes online is growing too.  Talking is great, but let’s start doing something.

It’s more than wearing t-shirts, wristbands or even singing songs – it’s about literally reaching out online when you see that cyber-bullet strike.  It’s about sending a message of support to that person when you see that the are being humiliated or embarrassed.  It’s about publicly saying to others – “that is wrong.”  It’s about standing up against online shaming – not only talking to others about it, but doing something about it.

Parents that assume their kids would never do that – or that their kids could never be a victim of cyberbullies, please don’t be that naive.  No one is immune.  No one.

KindnessWinsDoing more than talking about it:

In conclusion:  Cyberbullying is on the rise.  We will combat it through empathy and kindness.   Parents and their children need to start engaging in more conversations and role playing about this important topic as well as other digital trends.  Turning the talk into action!

Eventually we will see headlines saying:  Upstanders on the Rise!

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

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If you haven’t seen the social media experiment video that has gone viral by now, it’s about time you view it and share it.

(Kudos to Colby Persin for addressing an important topic.)

Let’s take some facts.  92% of teens visit the Internet on a daily basis, as a matter of fact, 24% of them said they are go on constantly (according to PEW Research).  Parents – this is a reality check – the digital world is not going away.

Another study from PEW Research reveals that 57% of teens have made friends online and 20% have meet their new online friends offline. We can’t fault them for that, social media has been proven, even for parents to be a wealth of support and information for each other.  PEW substantiated it in their study Parents and Social Media as 79% of parents agreed they turn to social media to look for support from each other – even if they only know the person virtually.

What has to be a priority and improve, is our communication with our family offline.  

The Internet and social media is a wonderful gift, educational tool and a phenomenal way to find support when you need it.  However like with all great things, there will always be the dark-side or downside.  There will always be those that want to ruin it for others or are simply cruel and evil people.  From online trolls to Internet predators to cyber-hackers – they won’t discriminate who they harm.

Let’s discuss the video.

The parents, in my opinion, are a bit aggressive although I understand they are so upset and were scared to death.  I don’t believe in fear-based teaching – and sometimes the scared-straight tactics are only short term.  (I actually have experience with this in my other life profession).

You can show your emotion calmly, with tears of genuine concern and discuss this horrific incident with compassion and love – and immediately start your digital conversations (that they were probably sorely missing) on a regular basis.

Yes, every parent (hopefully) has that discussion about stranger danger offline and online – but how many times?  Today it is about repetition, and hopefully even role playing.  It is about have it regularly, because on a daily basis new predators and new cyber-scams are popping up!

Just as common as you ask your child how their day of school was, you need to be asking them how their day online is!  After-all – go back to that statistic…. they spend a lot of time in cyber-land!

(BTW – so do parents) and there is nothing wrong with it, but let’s be safe.

What is disturbing is when tweens and teens will lie about their age on social media.  This is something parents need to seriously discuss with their children.  In a recent McAfee study, 42% of teens create alias profiles.  This doesn’t mean all are changing their ages, however it is a high percentage changing their identity.  Be an educated parent – learn more about this.

Conversations and thoughts to consider with your teen to increase their social wisdom:

  • Never stop your daily/regular conversations about digital life.
  • Share your new finds on social media, and ask them what they have to share with you.
  • Empower your teen with the understanding it’s okay to click-out of a website or chat-room if they are feeling uncomfortable.
  • Have an understanding with your teen, that if they make new friends online, you will always be made aware if you they are taking it offline.  Build a strong bond of trust with your teenager.
  • Let your teen know that no matter what, you are there for them whenever they are in a difficult situation online.  You will never judge them.  Drop this comment regularly.  They tend to forget.
  • Remind them of sexting consequences, this is important since predators will encourage youth to send sexual content before meeting.

I want to re-post conversation starters from Common Sense and Family Dinner Project.  You never want to run out of topics to talk about!  Remember, whether you are in the car, eating a meal or watching a ball game – there is always time to find out what’s going on in your teen’s digital life.

Common-Sense-FDP-and-Waring

 

 

 

 

posted by on Cell Phone, Cell phone safety, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Parental Controls, Parenting, Parenting Blogs

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CellSecurityDevice security is incredibly important in today’s world. This is evident when you hear about major companies and celebrities being hacked. Securing your device is necessary if you want to be sure your contacts, texts and data are all safe from unauthorized users should your phone be lost or stolen. Especially if you’re considering buying a phone for your teenager, you need to make sure he or she knows how to be safe. According to Intel’s 2015 security report, 79 percent of children learn about online safety from their parents, while 59 percent learn in school and 33 percent learn from friends. This means you play an important role in keeping your teen’s information safe.

Samsung Galaxy

Teens can be careless and forgetful. You don’t want anyone to have access to your child’s private information if he or she forgets his or her smartphone at school or loses it on the bus. Fortunately, the Galaxy offers several different screen lock options to defend against unauthorized access to the phone. You can use a conventional PIN or the Face Unlock feature, which uses the smartphone’s front-facing camera to compare your child’s face to a stored picture of him or her. While it is a quick way to make sure only your teenager has access to the phone, it is still somewhat unreliable, so be sure to set up a PIN as a backup. As a parent, you also may want access to your teen’s phone, which is another time the PIN comes in handy.

The Galaxy also offers encryption, which keeps the contents of your child’s phone and SIM card safe. Before you encrypt any data, make sure the phone is fully charged as it can take over an hour to secure your data. To start the encryption process, simply head to the Settings menu, then the Security sub-menu and select Encrypt. Don’t interrupt this process while it is encrypting, or you risk losing data.

If your teen’s phone is lost or stolen, the Galaxy’s Remote Control feature helps you track it down, remotely lock it or erase its data. To track a lost phone, you first need to create an account on your provider’s page. Afterward, simply head to the Security menu and configure the Remote Control Options. Again, this option is helpful if your teenager tends to lose his or her belongings.

iPhone 6

The iPhone 6 has many built-in security features that are easy to configure. Just like with the Galaxy, you should start by setting a passcode for your teen’s device by entering the Settings menu and turning the feature on. That security passcode will then be required to change any security features in the future to prevent an unauthorized user from accessing the phone. Be sure to write the passcode down in case your teenager forgets it or you need to get into his or her phone.

From here, you can configure a Touch ID to secure the device. A Touch ID reads your child’s fingerprint from the Home button to unlock his or her phone. It is considered to be one of the most reliable security features on the iPhone 6. To set up a Touch ID, make sure the Home button is clean, and open the Touch ID and Passcode feature in the Settings menu. Enroll your teenager’s fingerprint by having him or her touch the Home button and hold his or her finger there.

Finally, be sure to set up the Find My iPhone feature on the official Apple site to track your teen’s device if it is stolen or lost. The easiest way to compromise your device is to simply misplace it, so be sure to set up this feature before you regret it.

Security is of the utmost important when it comes to your child’s personal information. He or she may not understand how to set up of these features, so be sure to do your research on whatever device you decide to purchase and make it as secure as possible. Make sure your teenager learns the correct ways to protect him or herself online by setting a good example.

posted by on Facebook, Online Safety, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Social media, Social Networking

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Teenager-with-Laptop

You’re never alone when you have friends online.

I am someone that truly knows the gift of social media.  The support it can give you when you are feeling down.  The friends you can make and the groups you can join that have common interests.

PEW Research just released their latest study on Social Media, Teens and Friendship.  Like adults, teenagers can find support through their online friends.

  • 70% of social media-using teens feel better connected to their friends’ feelings through social media.
  • 68% of teen social media users have had people on the platforms supporting them through tough or challenging times.
  • 83% of teen social media users say social media makes them feel more connected to information about their friends’ lives.

As a reminder, in last month’s PEW Research, Parents and Social Media, they discovered that 79% of parents found support from other parents on social media.  Human nature it to help each other, only today we have it through digital lives – at all ages.

In a recent CNN article, Teen Depression and how social media can help or hurt, Dr. Melinda Ring shared how one tween used Instagram as a platform for support and positive messaging to help him and others through adolescent depression.

Oversharing is still an issue that teens struggle with, however it is when friends posted about events or activities that they were not invited to.  As expected, this can cause hurt feelings (being left out).  The other issue, as with adults, is when teens’ exaggerate (humble braggers) about their lives online,  this leads them to make negative comparison to their own life.

  • 88% of teen social media users believe people share too much information about themselves on social media.
  • 53% of social media-using teens have seen people posting to social media about events to which they were not invited.
  • 42% of social media-using teens have had someone post things on social media about them that they cannot change or control.
  • 21% of teen social media users report feeling worse about their own life because of what they see from other friends on social media.

PEWSupport

Communication is key to all relationships.

It isn’t any different from when we were young and burning up our parent’s phone lines and people would get that dreaded busy signal. Or you were waiting for a call, you would constantly pick up the phone to be sure there was a dial tone.  We wanted to stay connected to our friends.  It’s no different today.

Teens are fortunate today, there are many ways to stay connected to their friends, but texting is the leader. Honestly, it is definitely a great form of communication especially if you only need a quick question answered.

Teens still love chatting with their close friends.

Teens still love chatting with their close friends.

Don’t be fooled though, according to the PEW Research, 85% of teen still talk to their closest friends on the phone and 19% said they chat with them on a daily basis.

Yes, we can hear a lot of negativity about online activity such as cyberbullying or Internet predators – but as I continue to write about the many positive aspects that the web offers – and the good things people are doing, what kids are doing, teens are doingwhat teachers are doing,  hopefully someday this will outweigh those trolls and all the Internet hate that continues.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Internet profile, Internet Safety, Internet Scams, Online Safety, Online Scams, Uncategorized

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Two blue birds with FAQ balloonsGuest post by Janita Docherty

How do you view your social media world?

The first thing that springs to mind is communication.

Communication with your friends, family and other users in groups and forums that share a common interest.

The second is sharing.  Sharing of our photos, sharing of our life’s moments and sharing of information about us, how we feel, what we think, where we are going.

The social media world as brilliant as it is, has a darker side.  Most know of the trolls, the haters, the cybercreeps and the scammers, but in my business of speaking with victims targeted by these individuals.. one thing is similar in each case, they never thought it would happen to them.

But lets face it .. if you are online, you are a potential target.  The world can see you, there is no privacy and the permanent record of your online life, can reproduce itself with every google search.

One of these instances takes the form of fraudulent accounts – phony social media profiles being made in your name, representing you in an exact or very similar format.  Same name, same profile pictures and likes.  The accounts display personal information about you, causing anxiety, unrest and stress.

In most cases they are information stealing ‘revenge accounts’.  Usually made by people you know, who wish to attack at the very jugular of your confidence.  For the victims who endure this, it is initial shock and worry, followed by a sense of helplessness and feelings of humiliation.. they can’t control the situation and know full well it may take time for the social media company or other organisation to assist in removing the counterfeit profile.

During this time victims try to comprehend the situation, with fear and emotional destruction weighing in as their mind spins with proposals. What can be done? How do I fix it?  What else will they post? Where are they getting the information from? Who would do this to me and why?

Who would do this?  The majority of fake accounts are made by those who are known to you.  Friends that have had a falling out, adults who wish to make another feel uncomfortable and cause undue worry. There are a small number of users who are simply out to troll for nothing more than to cause anxiety, so yes on occasions it can be someone you do not know.  But mostly fake profiles are made up are someone you do know.

It was recently published that fake accounts are being made as a new trend to use for cyberbullying.

This is not a new trend, it has been going on for some years. Teens make fake accounts to target individuals who they may be annoyed with over a social situation, or to cause a stir or anxiety to the original account holder….because they simply don’t like each other. At times there is no thought process, it is simply a case of jealousy.

Some accounts are nothing more than an annoyance, a copycat of the original profile, with no harmful posts or damaging content.  Others are more aggressively targeted with more than one profile being made and placed on dozens of social media sites and unsavory websites.

It’s not new it’s been the way things are managed by teens (and some adults), when they wish to cause upset and distress to another. In their minds they feel this is a better way of attack, because of their thoughts on anonymity and a selfish component of wanting to control the targets reactions, usually close enough to watch the emotional roller coaster unravel.

How do we fix it – here is my advice:

  1. Change your Password!   This is why sharing of passwords needs to be taken seriously.  The consequences that come from giving away the key to your social media personal life.. can be devastating.  I know a number of teens are getting the message and are not sharing passwords, however with access to social accounts being easily accessible on mobile devices, do ensure you have a passcode and try to cover the log in to better secure your device.  If you think someone has hacked your Facebook account this link may be of assistance.
  2. Lock down your account settings and Log Out– it may be a hassle to keep logging into your account but this is one of the safe options to securing it.If the fake account is using your same cover photo or profile picture, change yours so friends can decipher between the two. All Facebook cover photos and profile pictures are public, so where possible use an avatar photo that does not identify you.  Clean up your friends list.  If you believe your settings are all in place, then information is likely to have been gleaned from someone in your friend list.
  3. Just breathe.Your mindset will be spinning, your emotions will be chaotic. So immediately you are aware… seek help. Talk to someone you trust that can help you and get you the appropriate assistance.  It is wise to see a medical practitioner, or call a Help Line if you are not coping in these circumstances. It is also a good idea to alert those around you – especially trusted family, friends, school teachers or work colleagues, as they can offer emotional support and are mindful of your situation.  Although difficult try not to ponder and manifest the situation in your thoughts. Incidents like this unfortunately happen on a daily basis around the world, but one thing is for sure, this time will pass… Just breathe.
  4. Report them.  A lot stems from the account being able to ‘get ground’, meaning it can’t fly if it has no wings and is best ignored.  Any mutual friends who are asked to connect with the account, should always check with their real friend via alternative means, to verify the accountability.Friends who connect with fake Facebook profiles can place their account in jeopardy too.

Check when the account was created and although some of these accounts will attempt to gain or buy fake followers to boost the account status, social media algorithms are now in a better position to flag these accounts and close them.

Report them and block.

FBTwitterInstaThese links can be of assistance to report fake social media accounts.

This link may be of assistance for Friends to report a fake Facebook account.
Report an imposter Facebook account, or if you do not own a Facebook account.
Report imposter Twitter Accounts.
Report imposter Instagram Accounts.

A recent report mentioned that children as young as 10 are victims of fake accounts. If this is your situation – the following links may assist parents.

Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Ensure the child is reassured that it is not their fault and monitor their emotional wellbeing. Take time offline to do fun things and make special moments.  Follow steps above in getting medical assistance and help from sympathetic and supportive friends if needed, both for yourself as a parent/guardian and for your child. 

  1. If emotionally able – take ownership. Although not easy at this time, but be brave.  Nothing is more dis-empowering to the creators of the phony account if they do not get a reaction.  This is what they are seeking.. so shut them down.. give them nothing.. take away their strength… and show them up as the cowards they are.  If you involve authority agencies to deal with this situation- take screenshots and note the date, time, the URL, fake account name, who you involved and what has occurred, as this can be helpful to an investigation.

All the best and stay safe online – Janita.

Janita Docherty

Janita Docherty

Janita Docherty is the founder and Director of – CyberActive Services.  A recently retired police officer of 21 years’ service, Janita conducts internet safety presentations in Australia and the United States, assisting with proactive measures to protect users and their children online.  Janita is a specialist in Facebook for personal use and safety and has conducted training for law enforcement personnel both in Australia and the United States on social media investigation.   Follow her on Twitter and join her on Facebook.

*Disclaimer:

This article is an advisory piece for information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice, legal opinion, or in lieu of gaining consultation from relevant organisations or authorities for assistance with an online incident.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Parenting, Parenting Blogs, Parenting Teens, Social media, Social Networking, Uncategorized

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Mom on social media.

Mom on social media.

It’s not only youth that love the Internet, earlier this year PEW Research shared that 52% of adults online are engaged in social media with Facebook as the most popular.

We have heard the rumors that teens are finding other social media outlets, such as Snapchat or Instagram, since parents are in love with Facebook, however the youth are still mingling on Facebook too since there are functionalities that Facebook still offers that the others simply don’t.

Social media as a whole sometimes can get get a bad rap.  Whether we are talking about cyberbullying, using Twitter to disparage someone, posting an unflattering photo of a person as a joke (which isn’t funny) on Instagram, using forums as venting machines that get out of control with vile language and cyber-bullets that harm others, revenge porn, online shaming, and more – but let’s look at how parents are using social media for learning from each other!

According to the latest PEW Research, Parents and Social Media,  parents are turning to social media for information on parenting and social support on raising their family.

As I recently wrote in my Huffington Post article, How Social Media Transcends Grief, I was simply amazed at the social support I had received after the death of not only my grandmother, but of my pet.  Let’s keep in mind, digital friends are people (usually) you haven’t meet in real life, you are trusting through a screen.  It’s your gut that give you the intuition to trust their advice – their support – their virtual friendship.  As I pointed in my article, sometimes these people are closer to you than your own blood relatives.

In the research, parents – as well as non-parents, like many platforms of social media, but Facebook leads the pack by a fairly large percentage.  81% of moms  and 66% of dads prefer Facebook, while 70% of non-parents overall use this platform.

Sharing and over-sharing

Most parents have not felt uneasy about the content posted about their children by other family members or caregivers on social media.

Digital citizenship.  We frequently speak about over-sharing and pausing before we post, especially if we are about to post a picture or content of someone else.  I am assuming that the people that were surveyed for this study must have trusting friends/relatives that have posted images of their children or family members to have such low percentages.

  • 12% of all parents of children under 18 say they have ever felt uncomfortable about something posted about their child on social media by a spouse, family member or friend. Fully 88% say they have not felt this way.
  • 11% of all parents have ever asked for content about their child posted by a family member, caregiver or friend to be removed from social media.

Social Media: The Mom and Dad Community

I relate this part of the survery to the same cliché of women will ask for directions, as men will continue to drive in circles.   However let’s give dad some credit, they are definitely here and making a strong effort to be good parents.  Keep in mind, this is not all parents – it’s only this study.

Social media is broadly viewed as a source of useful information and as one parenting tool among a collection of options. Mothers use it as a parenting resource slightly more often than fathers.

  • 79% of parents who use social media agree that they get useful information via their networks.
  • 59% of social-media-using parents indicate that they have come across useful information specifically about parenting in the last 30 days while looking at other social media content.
  • 42% of these parents have received social or emotional support from their online networks about a parenting issue in the last 30 days.
  • 31% of parents who use social media have posed parenting questions to their online networks in the last 30 days. Mothers and fathers are equally likely to do so.

SocialMediaPEWMothers

The nurturing social media keystrokes: The Mother’s Touch

Mothers are heavily engaged on social media, both giving and receiving a high level of support via their networks.

PEWSocialMediaMother

Maybe mom is more nurturing, maybe she has more time to be on social media, she knows how to respond to difficult news better than a dad – either way, mothers ranked higher when it came to giving and receiving good news on social media.

Overall, the results show that parents do care about other parents and support each other.

  • 81% of parents who use social media try to respond to good news others share in their networks.
  • 74% of parents who use social media get support from their friends there.
  • 71% of all parents on social media try to respond if they know the answer to a question posed by someone in their online network.
  • 58% of parents who use social media try to respond when a friend or acquaintance shares bad news online.

It’s not all negative news for fathers.  They are engaging too, just not as frequently as mom. We often speak about people spending a lot of time online, maybe men choose to spend their time in other cyberspaces.  It is not right or wrong, it is about choices.  We can’t judge people on what or where they like to spend their time online (with the exception of illegal spaces).

Not everyone is looking on social media for parenting support or advice.  It seems that many are – and I believe that is a great thing!  It doesn’t replace medical doctors or therapists, but it certainly gives parents a sense of not being alone or a feeling of helplessness.

There is nothing like having a mom or a dad or any guardian say to you – “hey, I have been there – when my child did that, this is what I did to help resolve it….”  It’s truly not any different than when you go on to a DIY site and ask how to get a stain of a shirt – and you get a hundred responses.

Social media support

Social media support

Social media has so many ways to support each other, it’s a shame that trolls and others find ways to use for hurtful ways.  As long as we keep the positive moving forward – and rolling over top of the negative, hopefully someday those trolls will get tired (though I sort of doubt it).  There is always hope.

Keep that parenting advice coming on social media.  You never know when you will be helping someone.  Especially with digital parenting too.  Everyone today can use help keeping up with their kids online.  Parents today don’t have it easy – so you need everyone to help each other.

posted by on Cybersafety, Depression, Digital citizenship, Facebook, Facebook addiction, Internet Safety, Social media, Social Networking

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SocialMediaGameToday almost everyone, not only teenagers, are connected to social media.

A Pew Research Center study found that 92 percent of U.S. teenagers use social networks at least once a day, with 24 percent reporting that they are online “almost constantly.”

Adults love their social media too.  According to PEW Research Center study, 74 percent of adults online use social media with Facebook leading by 71 percent.

What is all this social media doing to our health?

Depending on your personality everyone handles their cyber-stress differently. Don’t kid yourself, there is cyber-stress especially when teens start depending on LIKEs for their self-image (esteem) and adults start comparing their lives to their friends lives (or what they are posting online).

Let’s keep in mind this is social media.  There will always be those humble-braggers.  Yes, people that believe they need to one-up others digitally or lead others to believe that their life is more than it actually is.  It’s frustrating since those photo’s can be deceiving, and it makes you reflect on your own life — wondering where you missed the boat.  Chances are you didn’t, they are only a perception through what they want you to believe.

It can be more of a struggle for teens.  They aren’t mature enough to understand that it’s only social media and it’s not the end of the world.

The number of LIKEs today won’t determine their future.  

Limiting social media use can cause FOMO (fear of missing out), however it is important to find the healthy balance and talking with them about their self-worth outside of the cyber-world.

A new study published earlier this month, Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, found that teens using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more than two hours per day are more likely to report suicidal thoughts, psychological distress and rate their mental health as poor.

This study also found that teenagers using social media for excessive periods were more likely to say their mental health needs were going unmet and called for public health organizations to do more to engage with young people via such platforms.

The study acknowledged that social media can be a way to combat loneliness and depression, as well as increase self-esteem and social support, like I have witnessed with social media therapy. Chances are this is with more mature teens or people with a better understanding of how we need to use social media.

There was a second recent study, How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms, found that people feel depressed after excessive use of Facebook because they tend to make negative social comparisons with friends who crop up in their timelines.  Again, you need to remember, things are not always what they seem.

There is nothing wrong with social media, it is all about finding the healthy balance and learning that there is fact and fiction.  Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s true.

Offline parenting is what helps your child/teenager with their online health and wellness. It’s not about one chat, it’s your daily discussions.  Check-in with them about how they are feeling about different posts, or if they are struggling with cyber-stress or anxiety.  Keep a pulse on their cyber-health offline.

posted by on Cell Phone, Cell phone safety

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people-on-cell-phonesWhat’s your ringtone?  Maybe you have your phone set to silent but you have your notifications popping up so you can see them from the corner of your eye.

Distractions.  Many people today live connected to their device (and I am speaking about all ages) not only the youth.

Whether you are having a meal with a friend or sometimes even talking on your phone – you receive a notification of any kind and you are suddenly distracted from your friend, and now focusing on that “bubble alert.”

Is it a text, an email, a voicemail, an email? Have you been waiting all day for it — or is it spam?

Until you find out, you will — for a second that will drive into minutes, most likely suffer from anxiety of needing to know.

Florida State University released a study recently that said:

Just receiving a notification on your cell phone can cause enough of a distraction to impair your ability to focus on a given task. The distraction is comparable to the effects seen when actually using a cell phone to make calls or send text messages.

Now we are speaking about cell phone distractions generally.  In reality these distractions are there for a reason, we need to have our alerts to know when we have a call, email, text or otherwise.

However when you are engaged with another person or especially (and this is critical) when you are driving, distractions should be limited if at all.  (Ahem, another words – turn-it-off or to silent when you are driving).  The fact is it is very easy to be distracted by the bubbles and the flashing lights – never mind the beeps, ding dongs and trendy songs.

Digital distractions can be not only rude to people you are with, they can be potential dangerous.

Recently AT&T released their latest campaign for #ItCanWait.  Picture your life. Picture how quickly it can change.  

Take 3-minutes to watch this video and share it with ones you love. It’s not only about texting and driving.  It’s about your digital distractions.  Remember – #ItCanWait.

Thanks to AT&T for sharing this important message.

posted by on Civility, Digital citizenship, Facebook, Social media, Social Networking

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My colleague and good friend Chris Duque has a phrase I love, #TechnologyDoneRight.  He refers to  it when we see the kindness and good things that social media and tech has done for many people and kids.

Recently I wrote about how teens reached out with their digital wisdom in helping others.  Then we have the organization #iCanHelp Delete Negativity on Social Media which is constantly lifting people up online with simple words of kindness.

There isn’t a shortage of good people in our cyber-world, but we know it can get tainted when they are interrupted by Internet trolls and cyberbullies.

On July 8th, 2015 my day went dark.  I lost my best friend.  The old cliché, dogs are a man’s best friend, is absolutely true.  Anyone with a pet will most likely concur.

TybeeBeach55Tybee, my golden retriever of 13 years, left this earth last Wednesday.  It was one of the saddest days I have faced in a long time.

Every time I saw someone post on Facebook about a loss of a pet or a person, I would always send my condolences. My thought is,  it only takes five-seconds to let someone know you are thinking of them in their time of grief.

But it wasn’t until I had to actually post my own status update that I realized just how important that note of sympathy is.

Facebook has a way of making you feel like a rock-star on your birthday and when you face difficult times, it can the best form of therapy by lifting you up through cyber-friendships of genuine heartfelt messages.

The fact is many of us have virtual friends on Facebook we have never meet, and probably never will meet (unless you are Tanja Hollander) however feel we probably know better than most of our blood relatives.

Facebook notifies us on a daily basis when everyone’s birthday is.  We drop them a quick note…. “Happy Birthday… Have a fabulous day!”  They LIKE the comment and sometimes even respond back with a big THANK YOU!

Let me share with you how important a caring comment on a status update is when you lose a pet (or I would imagine a person).

I was simply overwhelmed with the out pour of support, cyber-hugs, hearts, love, prayers, several copies of the Rainbow Bridge poem, private messages of beautiful notes, people shared with me how they looked forward to pictures and videos I would post of  Tybee’s beach days (which I had no idea what an impact he had made on so many digital lives) and more….. I have been sent cards, flowers and one person is even making me a memory box….. These are Facebook friends….. THANK YOU — everyone… It is #TechnologyDoneRight.

TybeeScottJune2015_2

Tybee and my son on one of his final day’s.

The beach was Tybee’s favorite spot and never without a tennis ball.