posted by on Cyberbullying, Online reputation, Online Safety, Online Shaming, Parenting, Revenge Porn

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Power Pervs, When Troll Armies Attack, A$$holes in Charge, Swipe Right for Stalking… are some of the chapter titles in this empowering and brilliantly written book, Nobody’s Victim by Carrie Goldberg.

As a victim (and survivor) of internet defamation, cyberbullying and online shaming, I consider myself very fortunate.

Nobody’s Victim outlines some of the darkest and cruelest ways people use their keypad to inflict pain on others and destroy lives. The author herself shares her most intimate story of sexual assault and humiliation, her tenacity to fight back – not only for herself, but for literally thousands of others like her, is absolutely captivating.

Every chapter has a story of a victim that has not only impacted Carrie’s life, but she has changed their’s in a positive direction. When you read this book, you will learn just how prevalent revenge porn, non-consensual pornography, sextortion, swatting, doxing and other outrageous behavior of human scum exists in this world.

Carrie Goldberg writes a book that everyone can understand – one that is a page-turner (I literally finished it in two-days) since I couldn’t put it down. She doesn’t write above the average person, as a lawyer, some people tend to write in legalese that will bore you or you will find yourself searching the meaning of too many of the words – and it’s not an enjoyable read. That’s not the case with this book.

Nobody’s Victim is quite the opposite. She is talking to all of us. She is relating to your daughter, to your neighbor, a family member, maybe a teacher or even your own parent. This can happen to anyone – no one is immune to bad things happening to good people.

Carrie Goldberg speaks with Soledad O’Brien

One of my favorite sections is how she addresses young people (teens especially) being pressured into sending nudes or other sexual images. As many of us know, this is a major concern for parents and schools as we have witnessed many headlines of sexting scandals and slut pages.

However Carrie makes it clear when it comes to being pressured to send sexual content, this is coercion. Let’ me quote her from page 61 in her book:

Let’s be clear: Coercing someone into sending an intimate picture and then distributing that image without consent isn’t “sexting.” It’s a violation and a crime. And the first step to protecting young people from this kind of abuse is to teach them about consent.

Carrie Goldberg continues with an excellent explanation that every parent and adult need to understand:

Yes, asking a girl over and over again to send you a nude is PRESSURE. And, Someone threatening to dump you if you don’t send a pic is COERCION. And, Sharing threatening someone else’s naked pics with your friends without their consent in many states is a f–king crime.

Thank you Carrie. Your book is must read for all parents with teens with smartphones. According to the latest PEW survey – that’s about 95 percent.

Order on Amazon today.

posted by on Internet profile, Online Life, Online Privacy, Online profile, Online reputation, Online resume, Uncategorized

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Your online reputation can determine your future

Are you Google ready?

There’s no denying it, there will be a time when your name is put through a Google rinse cycle. Someone will be searching you on the internet. Here are some facts that survey’s have uncovered:

  • 70 percent of employers use social media to screen potential job candidates before hiring or even interviewing them – CareerBuilders
  • 75 percent of colleges consider a students’ social media behavior when reviewing applicants for admission – AACRAO
  • 56 percent of Americans will search a person online before they date them – YouGov

Recently I contributed to Social Graces for the Chicago Tribune, when I was asked if parents should look up their child’s teachers’ online.

Without hesitation, my answer is absolutely!

It’s back to school time, your child just found out who their teacher(s) are going to be. In my generation my mother would call her friends and ask about the teacher’s name (that we just received by mail), to get as much background as possible on him or her. Especially if she never heard of them. As the oldest, I always seemed to have teachers my parents were unfamiliar with.

Let’s remember in those days the type of background we would get on a teacher would be is how strict (or easy) they were, or if they gave out a lot homework etc.

Today, we now live in a world where practically everything is searchable with a click – and that’s why we all need to be Google-ready if (or when) someone decides to put our name through the Internet rinse cycle. You can literally find out where the teacher vacations, their children’s names, siblings and more with enough cyber-digging.

Isn’t it human nature, especially as a parent, to want to know who your child will be spending their school year with? Who will be responsible for educating them? Who will they be with them for more than 5 hours daily?

Teacher’s are probably one of the most vulnerable since I would imagine most parents do take the time to search them online. As someone that is an advocate to maintain your online presence and behavior, it’s especially critical for teachers to be mindful of their social media feeds, tweets as well as secure their privacy settings. At the same time, keep in mind, we can’t always rely on them so post with care and consideration.

Your online behavior is never off-the-clock.

Parents also have to be smart digital citizens, understanding that teachers are humans too. Know how to separate the cyber-fact from what seems to be cyber-fiction. Or if your teacher has a common name, be sure you have the correct Mary Smith before jumping to conclusions. If in doubt, go straight to the source. Ask the teacher. I’m sure they would appreciate it rather than you assuming the worse.

Should you look up your kid’s teacher on social media? In my opinion, yes. 

It’s not only teachers at risk, we all need to maintain our online presence. If you’re applying to schools, interviewing for jobs, own a business or simply online dating – the chances of your name being sifted through an internet search is very high. Many people don’t take the time to decipher fact from fiction and will simply move on to another candidate, applicant or date.

Going off grid isn’t an option

For those that believe having zero online image is the answer, think again. Studies have shown that business will actually pass over potential candidates they can’t find online because of the following reasons:

  1. Are they hiding something.
  2. Do they have an alias.
  3. Maybe they aren’t that tech savvy. Even if it’s not a tech job, everyone should be able to use email.

When it comes to colleges, it’s also been proven that if admissions can see where applicants have built up their digital landscape to showcase their interests, sportsmanship, community service, etc – it helps them have an edge over other students that have no online presence.

How will you be proactive in building your digital resume? Keep in mind, your online reputation is an extension of your online behavior which is a reflection of your offline character… it all matters.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying

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Online hate, sexting scandals, ugly poll contests, cyberbullying… we can turn it around!

The majority of people, including teens, own smartphones today. This means that most of us are digitally connected and likely to have witnessed some form of online hate or cyber-combat. I probably could give you the stats (over 50 percent of young people have experienced some type of online harassment, while 41 percent of adults have faced it), but I’m sure most of you reading this know it already.

It can be an ugly world in cyberspace, but it can also be a place where we are meeting so many great friends, advocates and people that genuinely care about each other.

We often hear the word upstander as it pertains to bullying or cyberbullying. It’s time to take this word and turn it around. Let’s all start to stand-up for our cyber-place and reclaim civility. Of course, that means being an upstander, but maybe by re-phrasing it – people will realize it has to do with all of us, not only students or children.

Stand-up: Be your digital best

If you are tired, or feel you’re not at your best (maybe you’re emotionally stressed out), it might be better to unplug. Take a digital break. We all make blunders when we’re exhausted or not thinking clearly. Waking up to a post regret could be costly.

5 Ways to reclaim your civility online:

  1. Your words and tone matters. Let’s remember, things online can be taken out of context and don’t always translate as we intend them to, especially your words and tone. Re-evaluate what you posted and be sure what you post is not offensive to people reading them. Hint: Review the post as if you were a 20 – 40 – or 60 years old reading them. If all three age groups won’t be offended, you’re good.
  2. Be interested in people and friends. Social media is a two-way highway. It’s important to be engaged with others online. Don’t be one-sided where you’re constantly talking about yourself and never asking about others. Interact with friends, comment on their posts and pictures. Hint: If you notice a friend promoting a service or product, ask how you can help, or be there to wish them the best. You never know when you will need them for the same. Being kind starts with us.
  3. 3 C’s of Online Behavior starts with civility.  1) Conduct: Be more self-aware of what what you’re about to post. Never put a temporary emotion on the permanent internet. Anger is temporary, online is forever. 2) Content: Is what you’re about to post going to embarrass you or humiliate someone else? You don’t want a tweet regret or post remorse moment haunting you or hurting someone. 3) Caring: Care enough about yourself to know when it’s time to click-out. Are you about to leave a snarky comment? Turn-it-off. Think twice – post once.
  4. Re-think how you share online. Social media is not a diary or a venting machine. Not everything offline needs to be shared online. Know when it’s time to go and have a session of whine and wine with your real-life friends – offline. Do you disagree with someone online? Don’t be combative, be constructive. You can have healthy debates – but when if it turns nasty, know when to politely step away. Keep in mind, this is always a reflection of your character. Be careful not to share inappropriate content such as nudity, drugs, profanity or other irresponsible posts.
  5. Kindness is contagious, it starts with us. What have you done for your cyber-friends lately? As a role-model online, your kids or others are watching. Did someone lose a pet? A loved one? Maybe you were an upstander when you saw someone struggling with harassment. Did you reach-out to someone when they posted about a bad day? Hint: While scrolling through your social feeds, you may see some missed opportunities, however it’s never too late for kindness.

This starts with us, we are responsible for our own cyberplace and space. We are also role-models for others. Never doubt, people are watching you online – from potential employers, relationships, careers, if you’re a teenager – it could be colleges and more. Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character. It’s a part of your online reputation.

Shame Nation

As we head into another contentious political year, don’t forget to pick up Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate for more insights on preventing, overcoming and surviving digital warfare.

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Depression, Digital Parenting, Online bullying, Online Safety, Parenting, Uncategorized

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For teens, online bullying worsens sleep and depression according to a 2019 study.

As long as there are smartphones and digital devices, sadly we will probably always be dealing with online hate and harassment. The fact is, this is human behavior – it’s not something that we can raise money for, find a cure and finally eradicate, like we are about to witness with polio.

New research is showing a rise in cyberbullying and this is causing emotional and physical concerns for young people. Nearly one third of teens have experienced symptoms of depression, which, in addition to changes in sleep pattern, include persistent irritability, anger and social withdrawal, according to the U.S. Office of Adolescent Health.

In a recent University of Buffalo study, nearly 15 percent of US high school students report being bullied electronically. At severe levels, depression may lead to disrupted school performance, harmed relationships or suicide.

Misol Kwon, the first author of this recent research said:

“Cyber victimization on the internet and social media is a unique form of peer victimization and emerging mental health concern among teens who are digital natives.” said Kwon. “Understanding these associations supports the need to provide sleep hygiene education and risk prevention and interventions to mistreated kids who show signs and symptoms of depression.”

Being an educated digital parent

How would you know if your child is being harassed online? Here are a few signs parent’s need to be aware of:

  • He/she suddenly stops using the computer or phone, even though he’s always enjoyed it before.
  • He/she doesn’t want to use the computer/phone in a place where you can see it.
  • He/she turns off the computer monitor or changes screens every time you walk by.
  • He/she seems nervous or jumpy when he gets an instant message, text or email.
  • He/she alludes to bullying indirectly by saying something like “there’s a lot of drama at school” or “I have no friends.”
  • He/she doesn’t want to go to school or appears uneasy about going.
  • He/she becomes withdrawn.
  • He/she changes eating habits.

It helps to understand why some tweens and teens don’t tell parents when bad things happen:

1)  Fear of consequences: Your child’s online existence is a critical part of their social life. With all their friends online, being excluded would be devastating them. They don’t want to risk you banning them from their friends and their digital lives.

2)  Humiliation and embarrassment: Our kids are human and have feelings. Although some kids portray a tough persona and believe they are invincible, deep down everyone feels hurt by cruel keystrokes. Your child may fear looking stupid or weak.

3)  Fear of making it worse: We have taught our children well so they understand that bullies are looking for attention. By reporting the incident of cyberbullying to a parent, your child may fear it could anger the bully and make matters worse for them online. In some cases bullies will enlist more online trolls to cyber-mob your child. Of course the child’s dreaded fear is his or her parent reporting it to their school or camp and more people knowing whereby they become a possible target in the future.

Developing digital resilience

Today our kids consider their digital life as important as their lives offline, so it’s important to give them as much knowledge and encouragement to know they are not alone when they are faced with cyber-hate.

  1. Prepare them for the ugly side of the Internet or possibly being upset by what people say. Remind them it could be inappropriate content that slips through filters. Being forewarned is being forearmed.
  2. Show them how to block individuals, flag and report abusive content, and when to report incidents. Emphasize the importance of telling someone “in real life.”
  3. Show your teen how easily digital pictures can be manipulated. The realization that not everything is what it seems is a useful first step – understanding that life is not as perfect as it may seem virtually. Teens may be familiar with the digital world but less familiar with the motivations for creating ‘fake’ images.
  4. Help them to think through the possible consequences of what they post online. Remind them that there is no rewind online, once it’s posted it’s nearly impossible to take back. Fifteen minutes of humor is not worth a lifetime of humiliation.
  5. Encourage your teen to socialize in person with their friends. Communicating solely behind a screen can be isolating. Socializing in person builds more face-to-face contact in helping your child have empathy and compassion towards people.

Never doubt, your kids might be an app ahead of you, but they will always need your offline parenting wisdom.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Online Safety, Parenting Teens

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Parenting on the tech-battle field as teens spend more time online.

The technology is becoming more acceptable among the masses. Billions of people use smartphones and have internet access. Those who were not digitally connected are now getting connections for internet. Various companies are providing free internet to the people living in far off and impoverished areas. This has led to the digital revolution which has affected every connected person’s life.

However, this phenomenon has created serious challenges for the people. But for the parents, it has many issues which are actually troublesome. There are a number of issues for the parents. Smartphones, internet, social media and dating sites are the major sources for the teens who spend their time. This led to the addiction of screens among the teens.

Talk to kids

In order to deal with the kids and beat their screen addiction, the parents should talk to their kids. Parents know their children better than anyone else. This method can be actually fruitful to help the teens get rid of screen time and spend their time on more productive stuff.  

If parents ignore this thing, it will lead to many serious issues which will harm the kids and destroy their upbringing. Such teens will perform worse in their studies and their mental health will also be damaged.

Set Rules at home

Experts believe that rules can be helpful for the kids when it comes to dealing with their screen addiction. We know that governments create rules to handle the public. Due to the rules and laws, people behave within their limits. This should be the case with the kids at home.

Even every person at home should follow the rules so that kids don’t get bad impressions of the rules. Parents should set examples for the kids so that they can follow them easily. Rules should be regarding the use of smartphones and internet to deal with screen addiction.

Get Psychological Help

In many cases, the parents are unable to handle their kids and prevent screen use in the teens. This is seriously challenging. Such parents should get psychological help from the experts. Kids need help at this age because they don’t know how harmful this can be for their health and future. That is why parents should provide them support in every possible way.

The psychological assistance will help understand the kids and their issues. Then, parents can take robust measure to ensure their kids don’t spend more than a certain limit of time on their devices.

Educate the Teens

Apart from this, education can also be helpful for the parents as well as kids. In this option, the parents will be educating their kids and teens. Guidance regarding the use of smartphones, internet and social media will be provided. Examples should be shared in order to help teens understand.

Furthermore, parents should tell the kids about the possible dangers of technology and screen addiction. Kids should understand how it can affect their mental health and brain development. This way, they will be more conscious about the harms and dangers of screen addiction which can be then controlled.

Limit Screen Time

Limiting screen time is a great option that many parents don’t know about. It is the best possible idea to deal with screen addiction. Most of the new smartphones and gadgets have this feature. According to this option, the kids can use phones and devices to some time. After that, the device will be locked.

This way, the parents can have better control over their kids and deal with the screen addiction. Limiting screen time has become a popular feature among the parents. Less tech-savvy guardians should also use this feature if they want to handle the screen addiction in their kids.

Use Latest Tools to Handle it

Lastly, technology has provided us with a good number of options and tools to help ourselves against the screen addiction. Such apps can be of great help for the parents who are worried about their teens and kids. It will provide parents with a tool to manage the screen time, set parental control options and reduce screen addiction. This way parents will feel more relaxed and satisfied about their kids.

Author Bio:
Lina Jackie is a Web Content Writer at BlurSPY. She’s relationship adviser and parental control experts. Most recently her focus has shifted towards the cell phone tracker app which is making waves in the technology world today.

posted by on Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting, Parenting books, Parenting Teens, Uncategorized

Our kids and teens may always be an app ahead of us, but make no doubt about it, they will always need our parenting wisdom.

As technology has taken over our lives (almost literally), we have witnessed a rise in online hate, a dip in empathy and compassion and most of all — parents struggling to keep up.

Let’s review three of the best parenting books that have been helping navigate these digital times, both online and off.

Teens want boundaries. Help them unplug and get connected offline with friends.

Socializing in real-life helps kids and teens develop empathy.

UnSelfie: Why Emphatic Kids Succeed In Our All-About-Me World by Dr. Michele Borba

Teens today are forty percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—which goes hand-in-hand with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, a lack of empathy hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate, and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy.

Order on Amazon.

In UnSelfie Dr. Borba pinpoints the forces causing the empathy crisis and shares a revolutionary, researched-based, nine-step plan for reversing it.

The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. Dr. Borba offers a framework for parenting that yields the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want to kids shift their focus from I, me, and mine…to we, us, and ours.

What goes online, stays online.

Public and Permanent: Creating a Mindset Through Our Digital Actions Are Public and Permanent® by Richard Guerry

Public and Permanent is a life changing philosophical guide providing the knowledge that all users of digital technology must know as citizens of a rapidly evolving digital village. 

This information will help to protect you and your family from making life and legacy altering mistakes online or with any digital technology. 

Order on Amazon.

Students, parents and teachers across the globe are using this book to learn and reinforce a powerful and effective method for reducing: 

-Poor Social Media behavior

And many other cyber issues many are not yet aware of!

If your school or community hasn’t booked one of Richard’s workshops (Institute for Responsible Online & Cell Phone Communication), they are super-engaging and educational. Sign-up today. You won’t be disappointed! Building and developing consiousness™.

Raising the device generation starts with a sturdy foundation.

Raising Digital Humans In A Digital World by Diana Graber

Sexting, cyberbullying, revenge porn, online predators… all of these potential threats can tempt parents to snatch the smartphone or tablet right out of their children’s hands. While avoidance might eliminate the dangers, that approach also means your child misses out on technology’s many benefits and opportunities.

Order on Amazon.

Raising Humans in a Digital World shows how digital kids must learn to navigate this environment, through

  • developing social-emotional skills
  • balancing virtual and real life
  • building safe and healthy relationships
  • avoiding cyberbullies and online predators
  • protecting personal information
  • identifying and avoiding fake news and questionable content
  • becoming positive role models and leaders.

This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine. Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for—a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

Pick these books up online and be sure to share with them your family and friends. Being an educated parent helps us all to have safer communities.

Find these authors online and follow them! You will be forever learning as technology and kids continue to grow in ways we may never understand but will definitely be able to parent.

posted by on Uncategorized

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Colleges and businesses are watching you – digitally speaking.

Majority of schools & businesses will screen your online behavior before interviewing you.

Many teens are tired of hearing parents and teachers reminding them to pause before you post or think before you send a text.

They may be tired of hearing it, but that doesn’t mean we are going to stop preaching it, since it is imperative that not only youth pause before publishing anything in cyberspace — grown-ups need to start heeding this same advice.

Majority of schools and businesses search you online

There was a survey in 2017 by Career Builders that said employers eliminated fifty-four percent of potential applicants due to their social media behavior. And we’ve seen that the risks of a careless post or reckless tweet can be costly: some 75 percent of colleges preview a student’s online conduct prior to considering them for acceptance.

Some of these people already graduated college. These applicants can be young adults to possibly parents. No one is immune to being disqualified from a job interview for their actions on social media.

This is why it is important that teens know and understand that every click and post they do has meaning and potential consequences connected to them.

At this point, teens are also aware that college admissions are screening social media behavior, it’s not strictly about what they are posting online.

A New York Times article put this in perspective with the headline alone, They Loved Your GPA Until They Saw Your Tweets.

Be proactive

Let’s keep in mind that we can never give up on the mantra of think before you send a text and pause before you post, however we need to also review our overall conduct online:

  • Be mindful of what you post on others social media sites, as well as your own.

Keep private and personal matters offline, or use private messages, however never assume they will stay private.

  • Be careful of your tone. Never use all caps – NEVER. Typing in all caps is considered yelling or screaming digitally – and there is no reason for this to be done online. If you feel the need to do this, it is probably time for you to take a 24-hour reprieve from all digital devices.
  • Be emphatic to others on social media, especially if you notice someone that is being harassed online. Be the person that is the upstander.
  • Be interactive in positive ways and engaging in social networking groups that interest you. Especially if you are applying for scholarships, recruiters will admire your passion in your interests. For example Facebook has a variety of groups that people join with similar interests.

A final thought that some teens may not like, there is an old cliché, you are who you surround yourself with. Have you thought about de-cluttering your virtual friends list?

Keep in mind, especially on social media, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. Your social media matters, not only today – but it will continue to matter for a long time.

Social Assurity

Does your teen need a social media coach? Social Assurity has been helping students and their parents understand the importance of using social media for their future. Learn more – visit their site today.

Video by Social Assurity

posted by on Digital citizenship, Online activity, Online reputation, Parenting Blogs, Parenting Teens, Social media, Social Networking

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Summertime is a time to develop a digital landscape.

Teens Building Their Digital Trail During the Summer: Summertime Blogs

Digital citizenship is a phrase we hear a lot, especially as it pertains to young people.

Today your online reputation can and will dictate your future, so it’s important to start early in creating a digital platform.

Some 75 percent of colleges will preview a student’s online behavior prior considering them for acceptance, while 70 percent of employers will screen your social media before inviting you for an interview.

Creating a positive digital image will affect their future. It is a fact, there will come a time when your child’s name will be put through the Internet wash-cycle and how it spins out will depend on how they have maintained it through the years.

Most know that although we should disconnect frequently over the summer and spend more face-to-face time with our families, there will still be more screen time during the summer months.

Let’s be sure your teen’s digital resume is ready for their future.

Have they started their blog yet? If they have it is important to keep it updated and if they haven’t it is a perfect time to get started.

Keep in mind professionalism is always a priority, you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Your blog is not to impress your friends — it is to help maintain your teen’s online reputation and give insights for others to learn more about your teen’s goals, interests and personality.

Where to start:

1) Select a blogging site. These are the most frequently used and are free.

  • WordPress
  • Blogger (You will need a gmail account).

2) What to blog about and update frequently:

  • Your interests (sports, animals, health, etc)
  • Travel reviews
  • Restaurant and movie reviews
  • Summer camp reviews
  • Community events
  • Local clubs you are a member of
  • School events you attended
  • Current events
  • Anything that is relevant to you

3) What to avoid:

  • Profanity, nudity
  • Uploading provocative photos
  • Writing negative or slanderous content
  • Never lie
  • Don’t over-share your personal information or others

4) Blogging tips:

  • Use your name in the URL when creating your blog. For example
  • Take the time to review your blog settings, including the comments moderation. Are you comfortable with open comments or would you rather moderate them before they are posted?
  • Select a template that is easy to read for potential college recruiters and future employers. Remember this is not about your friends.
  • The Internet is permanent, you should have zero expectation of privacy online. Publish with care.
  • Use photos and images! It keeps people engaged and coming back. Remember to be sure you have permission to use the images.
  • Keep it positive. If you are having a bad day, simply don’t post.

The most important tip is to get started creating your digital footprint. A blog can be a step into your teen’s future that can help them your land their college of first choice and a job that they dreamed of.

Your teen’s name will be searched online. Their social media networking behavior will be analyzed and their blogs of their interests will also be read.

Social media is not always in our control, especially when you have unknown virtual friends commenting, copying, pasting and posting with your teen’s name — however your teen’s personal blog is in their total control. Encourage them to start one today.

Digital citizenship is today’s future.

posted by on Cybersafety, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Privacy, Reputation Management

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Social media wasn’t created for privacy.

What goes online, stays online.

Why are people always shocked when they find out their private information has been exposed online?

We read about teachers, school coaches, firefighters, police officers, youth pastors and other (so-called) responsible adults being caught sexting minors — we have to wonder, did they really believe they wouldn’t get caught?

The internet and social media was created for networking and communication. Privacy rarely is part of this equation, and for people to assume their information is not going to be shared or forwarded, is naive.

Terms of Service

Many of us rarely read terms of service when we sign-up for a new social media platform. As a matter of fact a Deloitte survey in the U.S found that 91% of people consent to legal terms and services conditions without reading them. For younger people, ages 18-34 the rate is even higher with 97% agreeing to conditions before reading.

This means we’re usually not aware of our privacy rights or terms on these platforms – until we are in crisis mode. Maybe you’re scouring to find those old photos you posted when you were drunk or the less than kind comments you decided to blurt-out when you pissed off at your colleague or worse, your boss. You thought that platform was only for a private group, who knew it would go viral — until it did!

Public and Permanent®

The Internet is public domain. Did you know that the Library of Congress is documenting every single public tweet that has ever been made? Sites like allow you to search old tweets going back much further than the Twitter search engine currently allows. Even old versions of websites that you redesigned ages ago are still viewable, thanks to the Wayback Machine, an Internet archive that crawls the web and preserves blasts from the past. Take a moment and search your own website (if you have one) to see what information lingers online.

Know that everything you put out there has the possibility of becoming “Public and Permanent®,” an expression perfectly coined by Richard Guerry, founder of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication. Far too many people with technology are not stopping to think about the long-term repercussions of their actions,” he says. Guerry advocates for digital consciousness—always posting with the awareness that anything you’ve documented could be disseminated.

There is no way to control what is going to happen, none,” he says. “Digital tools were never designed for privacy. We’re going against the grain for what these tools were intended. By no means is everything going to be Public and Permanent®, but you have to be prepared. Think about your legacy. It’s not just imagining [that] your ninety-year-old grandma will see your naughty text—but [that] your own grandkids will too.”

Social sharing with boundaries

We all enjoy our social media friends and family. In some ways our friends on social know more about our lives today than our own family — why? Because people like to overshare so much about their lives, from what they have for breakfast to where they are shopping to when they are giving their child a bath. So when people complain about privacy, sometimes we really need to chuckle.

Privacy starts with us. We all must begin by being mindful in our own social homes. If you don’t want to risk it going viral, it should never be on a digital device – ever!

Let me ask you, how many times have you read those confidentiality clauses on an email, yet you have forwarded it to a friend? Maybe you needed to help you understand what was in the email or just wanted to share that note with them. We all have. There is nothing confidential about anything electronic. There’s no rewind online.

How can we take control our of need to share too much?

  • Be mindful of what you share. Never assume your words can’t get twisted and posts can’t come back to surprise you.
  • Learn patience. Pause before you post. Write as if the world is watching. (In many situations, they are).
  • Never assume your among friends. Make it a habit to de-clutter your friends on social platforms. Eliminate those you don’t know and create lists when sharing your family pictures or other information that cyber-acquaintances may use out of context.
  • Never air workplace woes. If you’re upset for any reason, take it offline with a friend for some wine and whine.
  • When in doubt, you can click-out. The best thing about technology, you can turn it off.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Digital Life, Online harassment, Oversharing

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How cyber-gossip quickly transforms to online bullying.

An innocent post can often lead to hurtful comments.

Gossip can be mean, especially when it’s online. Bullies can build on gossip and create stories and ugliness about a student that can go viral in seconds.

In today’s internet age, gossip can be spread at lightning speed to hundreds, thousands or millions of people. The new party line is cyberspace where millions of people can all access the same information instantaneously. Just get on your computer, iPhone, iPad or smartphone and let the rumors fly.

Here are 10 ways people (including kids) can use new technology to rapidly spread gossip (in no particular order).

  1. Email – One way to spread a rumor quickly is to send an email to all the contacts in your account, except the one the rumor is about, of course. Then they can forward it to all their contacts and on it goes from there. You better hope they delete your name when they forward it, or you might get blamed for starting it.
  2. Facebook – Post your gossip on facebook and all your friends will know about it instantly. If they “like” it, comment on it or repost it, all their friends will see it too. Pretty soon you’ve got the rumor spreading quickly.
  3. Instagram – Another social networking sight great for gossiping is Instagram. Post an innocent picture and watch a rumor start and spread like wildfire.
  4. Twitter – You can tweet a rumor and all your Twitter followers will know your juicy gossip in 280 characters or less. They can re-tweet it to all their followers and in no time the gossip is flying through cyberspace.
  5. Blogs – Some people love to spread gossip through their blogs. Even unintentional rumors are sometimes started by bloggers.
  6. Website – You won’t believe some of the stuff you find posted on websites, and you shouldn’t either. There are whole websites put on the web just for the purpose of spreading misinformation. Always remember to check their sources.
  7. YouTube – If you have a registered YouTube account you can upload an unlimited number of videos. If you have a video of someone doing something dubious, this is the best way to spread that rumor to millions of viewers.
  8. Comments – A great way to anonymously spread gossip is to post a comment on a website, blog, YouTube video or any social platform. You can log in under an assumed username and say all kinds of outrageous things without revealing your identity.
  9. Chat rooms – Another anonymous way to spread rumors are internet chat rooms. You can start with an offhand comment and embellish it as you go.
  10. Texting – If you see or hear something juicy to gossip about, you can send a text message to all your friends. That will get the thumbs flying as the rumor gets spread.

The new social media available has taken gossiping to a whole new level. Unfortunately this can lead to cyberbullying and be very traumatizing to vulnerable people. Celebrities and politicians are easy targets for internet gossip and careers are ruined by unintended tweets.

Everyone should use the new technology responsibly, but many abuse their new found privileges. Be careful what you put out into cyberspace or it may come back to haunt you and always check the sources of what you see or read. Chances are it’s just more cyber-gossip.

The consequences of what you post. Take the time to consider what you’re about to publish online – and remember, it can and will impact your future.