posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Digital Life, Harassing, Online harassment, Parenting, Uncategorized

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Majority of teens own smartphones, new survey shares how parents are managing to become cyber-savvy.

65 percent of parents worry their teen spends too much screen-time, yet parents themselves admit they struggle with device distractions.

Interestingly, in a new PEW Survey, the majority of parents (65 percent) have concern over the amount of time their teen is online. They are worrying that they are losing the ability to communicate in person or possibly sharing too much personal information and of course, the fear of them being harassed or inadvertently sending/receiving explicit images.

Parents are challenged with this same attraction. In this survey the majority (59 percent) admitted they feel obligated to respond to their smartphone notifications immediately and find they lose time and focus at work due to their phone. Over a third (36 percent) say they spend too much time on their phones.

Knowledge is power

Since we know we are as engaged in our gadgets are the younger generation is, this can be empowering for parents – confirming we must lead by example with our devices and online behavior. The PEW Survey said that 90 percent of parents are confident in their ability to teach their teens’ about appropriate online behavior and 87 percent said they are able to keep up with their teens’ experiences online.

We have witnessed a lot of online hate by adults, it can be extremely disturbing. Frequently when we refer to cyberbullying, it has to do with kids, but when you point to social platforms such as Twitter or Instagram, we are watching adults attack each other in vicious ways — this is unacceptable behavior that parents should condemn to their children.

Cyberbullying and harassment

According to this PEW Survey, 59 percent of say parents are doing an excellent or good job at addressing cyberbullying – a notably positive assessment, considering how teens rate other groups measured in this survey. Teens are far less likely to rate the anti-bullying efforts of elected officials, social media companies and teachers positively.

Digital grounding

I speak with parents on a weekly basis, many that struggle with teens that are attached to their digital devices. Using digital grounding as a form of punishment can sometimes backfire on parents.

Many of these parents continue their story of how their teen was able to get a phone through a friend (less than a desirable peer) or other means that they usually don’t approve of.

Developing healthy and balanced screen-time as well as appropriate online behavior, from the start, for all (including parents) can help prevent potential disasters or issues.

Today vs your youth

When asked to compare the experiences of today’s teens to their own experiences when they were a teen, 48 percent of parents say today’s teens have to deal with a completely different set of issues. A similar share of parents of teens (51 percent) believe that despite some differences, the issues young people deal with today are not that different from when they themselves were teenagers.

I’m not so sure. We had peer pressure offline, today it’s compounded to both online and offline. We have the younger generation living for likes – both in reality and digitally. It’s not that easy.

The sad part is, so are the parents. As they continue to overshare their kid’s information on their social platforms. No longer are bragging rights dedicated to photo albums – they’re viral.

Be a respectful digital parent, ask permission of your tween or teen before you post or tag them on your social platform.

posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Uncategorized

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Know that everything you put online (or a device) has the possibility of becoming “Public and Permanent“® – and expression coined perfectly by Richard Guerry, founder of the Institute of Responsible Online and Phone Communication (IROC2).

Majority of colleges are reviewing your teen’s online behavior prior to offering them scholarships.

Until 2018, surveys said that colleges, schools and businesses were monitoring candidates and applicants social media posts and contents. As of 2018, they took it up a notch. It’s now about online behavior.

Your online behavior is never off-the-clock.

Schools and businesses consider you an extension of their brand both online and offline. In an age where the majority of people spend a lot of time on their devices — one wrong click can cost you an internship, scholarship or employment.

In the spring of 2017, we witnessed 10 students that lost their college acceptances at Harvard University after posting mean memes on a Facebook private group page. Harvard stated, they didn’t accept this type of online behavior.

Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.

In Shame Nation book as well as in his hundreds of workshops around the country, Richard Guerry reminds us:

“Far too many people with technology are not stopping to think about the long-term repercussions of their actions. 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.

Critical thinking starts early

Whenever you digitally document anything — anywhere — you need to realize there is a distinct possibility of it becoming engraved online forever. Parents should discuss this with their children with the analogy that the keypad is like writing with a Sharpie® (which is permanent), not a pencil ( which can be erasable).

Privacy settings can help, but as many of us may have learned, they are not always reliable.

Today we read headlines of many adults, as well as teens, that lose jobs as well as scholarships due to tweet regrets or post remorse. Is what you’re about to post going to embarrass you or humiliate someone else? Are you posting for short-term gratification, that may result in immediate or long-term ramifications?

We also have to be aware of our cyber-friends. Are they tagging you in less than appropriate images or making comments that could jeopardize your future? The cliche, you are who you hang-out with, doesn’t only pertain to your offline friends, it has meaning online too. It’s probably more important in the cyber-world where we’re all a click away from digital disgrace.

Consequences of what you post

It’s not only what you share, but how you share it. With a mindset of rethinking how we share online – we can take precautions to be more thoughtful with our digital resume and landscape:

  1. Is it necessary. Being mindful with your sharing is one way to be a responsible digital leader. People who overshare are typically frowned upon, less likely to receive help or empathy if they are bullied or harassed (and more likely to be bullied or harassed). This is a reminder that not everything we do offline needs to be documented online.
  2. Emotional sharing. Are you in conflict with a friend, your parents, a teacher? Social media is not a venting machine. Your cyber-friends are not your cyber-therapists. Take it offline with a good session of whine and wine (water) with your real-life friends.
  3. Inappropriate sharing. There is never a good use for profanity, sexual content, drugs, or any substance abuse. These sorts of irresponsible posts or behavior could put your future (potential) job opportunities at risk.
  4. Constructive sharing. Are you about to leave a rude comment? We all can’t agree with everyone – and that’s okay. These can be good opportunities to showcase our wisdom in our areas of expertise or our opinions, but we must be constructive, not combative. The minute you feel your fingers getting snarky – click-out.
  5. Know your audience. Who are you about to share content with? Friends, family, colleagues, boss, etc… Part of critical thinking is knowing your audience before you share your content.

Also read 6 Ways you can keep your teen from posting something they’ll regret.

If you’re school hasn’t had an IROC2 LIVE workshop, contact Richard Guerry for more information. Every student needs to attend:
Develop Your Digital Consciousness With The Public and Permanent® Live Event.

Book by Richard Guerry. Must attend workshop for every student using a digital device & social media.
Order on Amazon.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety

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Digital resilience: Becoming a better online reporter.

The majority of teens have come across racist or sexist hate speech on social media. 

There are five-steps to building digital resilience.

  1. Prepare them for the ugly side of social media.
  2. Teach them to report, flag and block abusive content.
  3. Help them understand that online is not always reality.
  4. Critical thinking skills: The risks of what they post today and how it will impact their future.
  5. Encourage young people to unplug and socialize more offline – which helps develop empathy towards others.

I was attacked online in 2003, it’s been well over a decade and it seems online hate and trolling is not going away any time soon. Helping our kids become stronger digital leaders can prepare them for the less than fun times online.

Learning to become a stronger and better reporter starts with understanding the terms of service or code of conduct on the app or social media platform you are signed up for.

After I won my landmark case in 2006 for internet defamation and invasion of privacy, I gained a new set of trolls. People who believed I was trying to chill the first amendment right. I hired ReputationDefender to repair my online damage from my attackers in 2003, however now I felt like I had a new flurry of cyber-bullets.

What ReputationDefender taught me was to become educated on all the platforms where the abuse was written about me – in respect to their terms of service or code of conduct (another words – what do they tolerate). Then to start reporting in accordance to how the comments or content that were harassing and attacking me were violating their terms of service or code of conduct.

I would literally spend hours, on many days, writing my reports (emails) to the website’s (forums, bulletin boards, blog sites, newspapers, etc) support team. The majority of time I would successfully get the vile content removed. In some cases I even had users banned.

In teaching our kids to read the terms of service, as it pertains to harassment and abuse, they will not only learn what constitutes hate speech, cyber-stalking, cyberbullying and other forms of online abuse — they will be more in tune with their own online behavior.

In an age of trolling and incivility, we all must do our part to keep our cyber-place a kinder one. Being a better reporter helps all of us.

posted by on Internet Privacy, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Online Security, Parenting, Parenting Teens

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National Privacy Day: Securing online safety.

January 28th celebrates National Data Privacy Day; an event that recognizes the importance of Internet advocacy and data privacy. As a caring parent, nothing is more important than the safety and privacy of your child, both online and off.

In this article, we will be sharing information on digital identities, alongside helpful tips and defensive strategies that you can discuss and implement as a family.

What is a digital identity

Your digital identity is a sculpted profile that reveals a glimpse into your online activities. Each site that you visit begins collecting data to track and analyze your behaviors, interests, and geographic locations – known as your personally identifiable information.

The earlier you start using the Internet, the larger your profile will be. This is information is used by advertisers to give you ads for relevant items and search engines who will display the information they find most relevant to be the first items to appear when someone searches for you.

This is why it is important to defend both yours and your family’s digital identities and create positive reputations for yourselves.

Why is your digital identity important?

Every time you use the Internet, create a new account, comment on social media, or post a photo, you leave digital footprints behind. As mentioned in our past article covering online privacy, the sites you visit, search engines you access, and browsers you use are actively collecting your information and data.

Although much of the collected data is used to improve user experience, it’s possible your search history, interests, and geographic location could be used to give a clear picture of your online activity.

From a marketer looking to target a more qualified audience to a potential cyber-criminal looking to commit identity theft; it’s important you’re not creating vulnerabilities.

This is especially important for young children and teens with a relatively new digital identity. As they establish their online reputation, it’s important that they’re making a good impression, censoring what they share, and being selective with login credentials to avoid issues in the future.

Considering how easy it is for both college administrators and potential employers to google an applicant’s name, knowing what would appear in the search results for your name is invaluable.

Unfortunately, some cybercriminals target the digital identity and reputation of vulnerable users. After wrongfully gaining access to passwords or accounts, it’s possible they could post inappropriate content in your name, troll others, or leak your information across the web. If allowed to go unnoticed, each could have serious privacy consequences.

How to defend your families digital identity

Young Children

  1. Regularly discuss the dangers and risks associated with the Internet. Before handing over a digital device, it’s important you cover the basics of the Internet and device security. This could include the do’s and don’ts of browsing, communicating, and sharing personal information online. However, it’s just as important that you teach young children how to spot a potential scam, online predator, or child identity thief probing for personal information. 
  2. Designate a shared family device. Instead of giving each child their own device, consider setting up a shared computer or device complete with parental control software. Place it in a visible location, monitor their browser history, and limit usage.
  3. Make rules, reward successes, and enforce the consequences. The sooner you establishing screen-free rules and content restrictions with your children, the easier these rules will be to enforce when they become teenagers. However, it’s just as important to lead by example, and show your children that there is more to life than their screens and online presence. Furthermore, if someone breaks the rules, discuss the issue, and agree on a fitting punishment. Remember, the less they share online, the better.
  4. Create the accounts they’ll be using and enable parental control settings. From an email account to their gaming console, you should always be the individual that creates new accounts and login credentials. Beyond allowing you to keep tabs on their activity, this is also the perfect time to enable parental controls, content filters, and create an entirely new and unique password.


  1. Discuss the sensitive topics with your teen. Teens may act like they know everything, but chances are they’ve engaged in risky online behavior before. Everything from sexting and cyberbullying to oversharing while gaming online, teens frequently face potentially uncomfortable or dangerous scenarios.
  2. Devices require responsibility. Is your teen capable of handling the responsibility that comes with an Internet-connected device or smartphone? It’s an important question to ask, especially considering they’ll be using it to build upon their digital identity. A shared computer allows you to monitor activity, understand their habits, and make an informed choice whether or not they should be given a device.  
  3. Google their name. The most simple way to track and maintain your child’s digital identity is by performing a simple Google search of their name. Use middle initials and nicknames to get the most varied results. If you notice something alarming on your child’s profiles that appear in the search, delete the content and explain to your child what is wrong with it. If it is posted on another webpage, contact their site administrator to delete it.


  1. Lead by example. The best way to educate your children about the dangers of the internet is to set a decent example for them. Taking the proper steps necessary to secure your devices, creating a positive online reputation and avoiding dangerous online scenarios puts you ahead of the game as a parent. Your children have a higher chance of engaging in risky online behaviors if they notice that you are as well. Guide them by acting as their cyber mentor and showing them the way.
  2. Keep Internet-connected devices and security software up-to-date. Protect all of your families internet-connected devices from viruses, malware, and other threats by guarding them with comprehensive Antivirus software. It’s also important to make sure that you stay up to date on updating this software to actively avoid any current threats that evolve.
  3. Check Google. Perform a regular Google search on all members of your family for any unexpected posts or comments. To make this easier on yourself, you can set up alerts that will notify you when a new result appears for the name you have the alert set up on. This way you can regularly monitor and maintain everyone’s digital presence.
  4. Avoid oversharing potentially explicit or inappropriate content or comments. Being the adult in the situation you may feel safer to share things online more freely. Remember however that sensitive information shared online can still come back to haunt you later on. Though you may already be gainfully employed, know that it is likely that your employer still does regular checks on their employees’ online presence. Be careful what you post to set a good example for your children to follow.

Article written by Brent Scott

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Depression, Online bullying, Online harassment, Online Safety, Social media, Teen Depression

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The impact social media is having on young girls.

A study published by University of Essex and University College London, reveals that teenage girls increase their risk of showing symptoms of depression by 50% when they spend more than five hours a day on social media. In comparison, teenage boys increase their risks of showing symptoms by 35%.

Psychologist Dr. Alisa Duclos believes that this is because teenage girls on social media tend to compare their insides to the outsides of others.

“For women who are trying to get their sense of self, who are pressured to look a certain way, they are seeing images of young women looking not even real with filters,” she said.

Dr. Alisa Duclos

High social media use has been linked to symptoms of depression, including feelings of unhappiness, restlessness, and loneliness.

To understand the correlation between social media and symptoms of depression better, CNN looked at data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which studied the effects of lack of sleep, cyber harassment, poor body image, and low self-esteem. All four experiences have one thing in common—they are tied to frequent social media use.

Despite these alarming findings, The Washington Post reports that too many schools don’t have enough health professionals to help students manage symptoms of depression. In U.S. public schools, it’s estimated that there’s only one school psychologist for every 1,300 students. Ideally, one psychologist should be available for 500 to 700 students. And even that number is too large.

When it comes to school nurses, a 2017 survey by the National Association of School Nurses showed that less than 40% of private and public schools in the country have full-time nurses, let alone those trained to deal with mental health issues. Amanda Nickerson, director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education calls it a huge issue:

“We do not have enough mental health professionals to meet the increasingly complex needs of the students that are walking through the door”.

Amanda Nickerson, director of Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention

 In Maryville University’s overview of their psychology degree, they note how there is a growing “demand for professionals who understand the connections between psychology and education”. As more research points to the increase in mental health issues in teenagers, this demand will have to be met sooner rather than later. 

Here on the Sue Scheff Blog we talked about new research where two-thirds of teens surveyed had engaged in at least one risky behavior online. More than half of the teens surveyed knew how to hide content from their parents and one in five teen girls said they have sent sexually explicit photos. For teenage girls, this is often due to the pressure to conform that comes from social media.

You can make simple changes at home when it comes to protecting your kids online, and making sure their social media activities do not lead them to suffer from depression.

Going back to the CNN article, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Duke Health, Dr. Gary Maslow recommends setting up a charging station in a common room so that phones aren’t charged in the bedroom. This can help prevent distractions and sleep interruptions. It will also mean that your teens are not spending all their time in their bedroom on their phone.

Dr. Maslow also suggests you get an actual alarm clock so your teens do not use their phones as alarms. Limit their nighttime usage, too, because a good night’s sleep can help improve their mood.

“It’s a balance, there are so many ways in which social media is important and has positive features, but there are also ways in which social media can replace social support and connection from people you are actually living with,” he said.

Dr. Maslow

As well as controlling your child’s screen time, it’s also important that you start creating a balance between real-life interactions and social media interactions while your kids are still young. Modern parents have the tendency to take a lot of pictures of their kids and post them online. This can lead your child to think it’s normal and necessary to look “social media-ready” all the time.

Develop your child’s self-esteem, too, by highlighting their strengths in public and addressing their weaknesses in private. As your teens grow, you need to make sure that you take the time to explain how social media works. Let them know that it’s a curated platform that can be easily manipulated. Openly communicating these things to your kids can help minimize their chances of developing symptoms of depression while they’re on social media.

It’s important to ask if your teen girls have ever felt bad after they have spent some time on social media. You can then share your own experiences, so they don’t feel intimidated to share theirs. It’s important that you also make sure you pay attention to their emotional development. Reassure them that no one feels great all the time and how things look on the outside isn’t really how things are in reality.

Article written by Eloise Martin

Exclusively for

posted by on Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Online Life, Online Safety

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By Diana Graber

In this age of algorithms and bots, learning how to be human is more challenging than ever. Text messages are curt, Siri doesn’t expect a thank you, and autoresponders can’t detect when the sender needs a kind word or a hug.

But parents can raise kids who will wield technology with empathy, understanding, thoughtfulness, compassion—and all the other age-old human capacities that make life worth living—and it’s easier than you think.

It is, in fact, like building a house.

Start With a Strong Foundation

While we don’t know much about the long-term impact of today’s devices upon young children, we do know what young children need most. They need face-to-face interaction with loving human beings. A screen—regardless of whether it’s a TV, tablet, smartphone, gaming console, computer, or even an internet-connected toy—simply can’t deliver the same experiences as the real world. The research on this is indisputable.

Rich experiences in a real, three-dimensional world help kids gain social skills, emotional self-control, creativity, resilience, and most of all, the ability to get along with other people and to see things from other perspectives. These are skills they will need in spades when they go online.

Build A Sturdy Structure

With a strong foundation in place, children will need a sturdy structure to help them withstand any digital storms that may blow their way. Imagine this structure being held up by these four pillars of knowledge:

Reputation Management: Your children must learn that anything, and everything, they post online will stay online forever. It will potentially be seen by anyone, and everyone. And people will judge them by this information. Be certain your children understand this fundamental aspect of online life.

Screen Time: Help your children learn how to balance their online and offline lives. They will need your help knowing how, why, and when to disconnect from powerful devices that are designed to hijack their attention.

Safe Relationships: Before your kids use technology to make and maintain relationships via online games, social media, and texting, be sure they know how important it is to treat others respectfully and kindly online. Tell them what to when they see others being treated cruelly too.

Privacy: Explain to your children what information is safe to share online, and what is not. Even more importantly, be sure they know the cost of joining a “free” social network or getting “free” results from Google. That cost is their personal information.

Join Vibrant Online Communities

With a strong foundation and sturdy structure in place, your children will be eager, and ready, to connect and engage with new communities and opportunities online. Now is the time to encourage them to use digital technologies to learn, to inspire, to be inspired, and to share their unique talents with the world.

Order on Amazon today.

No one builds a house overnight. Likewise, helping your child build a healthy, and safe, relationship with technology will take time too. Hopefully my new book—“Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology” (HarperCollins Leadership Jan. 19)—can help. It’s packed with advice from over 40 digital experts and includes simple activities that any family can slip into their busy day to help with this building project.

The time you put into building your child’s “digital house” will be worth the effort, I promise.

Created by Elizabeth Graber

posted by on Addiction, College admissions, Digital Life, Online profile, Online reputation, Social Drinking, Social media, Social Networking

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Study reveals binge drinkers ‘consequences’ of social media addiction.

Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, today your first impression is what a Google search says about you.

Critical thinking goes out the door when your drinking, no matter what age you are. In today’s digital world it’s especially unforgiving. One lapse of judgment on social media and you could end up on an unemployment line, lose a college acceptance (or worse – a scholarship) and this oops moment can linger for a longtime.

New research in the latest edition of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, surveyed 425 undergraduate students ages 18-25 about their alcohol use in combination with using their social media platforms.

Interestingly, college students who are binge drinkers were most at risk for drunk posting on social media without considering the consequences.

“During these times when young students are feeling disinhibited by alcohol, they may be even more likely than usual to post inappropriate material without considering the future impact,” said lead researcher Natalie A. Ceballos, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychology at Texas State University in San Marcos. “In some cases, these sorts of mistakes have even influenced college admission and later job applications.”

Natalie A. Ceballos, Ph.D.

The other concern is friends who view their buddies’ posts of heavy drinking may then be more likely to perceive intoxication as exciting and fun, Ceballos’s group notes.

It’s important to help our young people understand that being part of unflattering online behavior, by ‘liking it‘, commenting on it, or any other form of endorsing it – is equal to them approving it. It can also be a reflection of their character. Be mindful of the guilt-by-association trap. This was their lapse of judgement – not yours.

The hot spots

According to this recent study, college students most popular social hangouts are Snapchat and Instagram followed by Facebook and Twitter.

“Facebook is waning in popularity among younger users,” the researchers write, “whereas Snapchat is becoming more popular.”

Just before Twitter expanded their characters to 280, a football training coach reminded his students that their online behavior can cost them their offline scholarships.

It’s not only colleges, in 2018 a CareerBuilders survey revealed that 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring. More than half, (57 percent) have found content that caused them not to hire a candidate.

Social media mentoring

Maybe your teen is in need of a coach or mentoring? Not a sports coach, but someone to give them wisdom about how to use social wisely – to their benefit. Let’s face it – many parents are just as new to the cyber-place as their children.

There’s a coach for that.

Teens and young adults should use their social media accounts as an asset, creating LinkedIn profiles or Twitter feeds that will impress college admissions officers or future employers, says Alan Katzman, founder of Social Assurity, which has coached nearly a thousand high school and college students on this technique.

“You have to learn to post content that won’t generate likes or follows from your group of friends, but toward your future audience, who will [use it to] try to determine who you are,” he says, in reference to his clients’ potential employers and college recruiters.

Alan Katzman

For many young people, the problem is not necessarily wiping clean a social media profile littered with red Solo cups and bikini selfies, it’s simply a lack of anything impressive—like community service or academic accomplishments. “It’s void,” Katzman says when we interviewed him for Shame Nation book.

Peer-to-peer support

Especially if you know your friend has a tendency to drunk post, be there for them. Be an upstander offline – help guide them to understand that what they post in the moment will have lasting and serious ramifications for their future.

  1. Attempt to talk them off their device. We know when people are under the influence they can be unreasonable, however as a friend, we have to try.
  2. Try to contain the damage. If possible, see if they will at least tighten their privacy settings. We know we can’t always rely on them – but we must try. Maybe you can do this for them (?).
  3. When they put their phone down, if they are really out of control, will it hurt if you take the phone for the remainder of the event? When they miss it, you can pretend to be looking for it. Of course turn the volume off – since they will try to call it.

Reality is – drunk posting can and will impact your future. Whether it’s college admissions, potential internships or employment – or if you are already in school or started your career – the majority of workplaces and college campuses have social media policies in place.

We’re all a click away from life changing experiences – and they aren’t always positive.

posted by on Online Life, Online reputation, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Reputation Management, Uncategorized

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Have you checked your online reflection?

Be a role-model.

We are living in a time where some adults, of all walks of life; parents, teachers, professors, celebrities, athletes and especially politicians — are acting badly online today. This is sending the wrong message to our young people.

Lead by example is an expression we hear frequently, however how many people are actually walking this talk?

Many teens look to their parents, as well as their favorite celebrity or athlete as a role-model, not only offline — but online too. If you have that oops moment, which is possible, since everyone is human, it’s how they rebound that can be the teachable moment.

Today your online reputation is an extension of your online behavior which is a reflection of your offline character. 

-Sue Scheff, author of Shame Nation

What does that mean for you?

The majority of colleges and businesses today are using social media to screen their potential applicants and candidates prior their interviews. Being your child’s role-model online is imperative in helping them step into a bright future.

Schools and cooperation’s consider you an extension of their brand – both online and offline. 

-Sue Scheff, author of Shame Nation

They loved your GPA until they saw your tweets, is not only a clichè, it’s reality today.

Digital you.

What does your online behavior say about you? Take the time to reflect on your social media online behavior. You are what you post.

Re-examine your social feeds in these three easy steps:

  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 year 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.
  3. Kindness is contagious, it starts with us. What have you done for your cyber-friends lately? As a role-model online, your kids 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.

Our digital behavior is going to be our legacy, whether it’s for our young people or ourselves. It’s important we all think twice – post once and remember that there’s no rewind online.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Internet Scams, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Uncategorized

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In this current digital era, people rely on the internet for virtually everything. We find our answers online, make friends and share personal information online, and reveal our private financial information in online shopping platforms among other activities.

While the internet has made life a lot easier, it certainly raises serious issues regarding the privacy of the thousands of its users globally. All these activities we perform online are monitored and the information stored. In most cases, we don’t know how far that goes neither do we have control over which information can be stored or shared.

So before you check any boxes to have access to sites or online services, here are some things that you need to know about your online privacy.

1. What Your Digital Footprints Are Sharing

You’ve probably visited a site and seen ads related to some content you were browsing earlier. How does this happen though? Internet service providers (ISP) and carriers often track the activities of their users. Once you subscribe to a particular ISP,they allocate you a unique identity or the IP address.

They then monitor all the activity related to that IP address and even share it with advertisers online. Perhaps this calls for protecting your IP address with VPN’s.

Basically, all information regarding your online presence is often recorded without your knowledge. Monitoring this data constantly gives them a clear picture of your habits, likes, interests, and location, which are all termed as Personally Identifiable Information (PII). These might be shared with third parties,particularly advertisers, who can then manipulate the kind of content you see whenever you go online.

The carriers themselves can also use the information to either block your access to the internet if need be or limit your bandwidth when performing particular tasks online.

The same tracking is done by search engines such as Google. They monitor search data, visited sites, and location and save/archive them under the fallacy that they use the information to provide you with a better browsing experience.

At this particular point, you need to ask yourself whether a better online experience is more important than your personal privacy. And with the ever-growing numbers and strength of hackers, should such valuable information fall in the wrong hands what happens?

2. Social Media: What You Need to Know

Currently, there are quite a number of social media platforms where you can express yourself to your friends and the world. Common ones such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp,and Snapchat have built quite a portfolio mainly from ad sales.

Ever wondered what’s in it for them considering that these services are rendered free? Sadly enough collection of user information is not prohibited by law in most regions of the world as long as the collector anonymizes the data.

With advanced data analytics programs such as Facebook’s Atlas program, companies can easily put a face to the data that they have without the owner’s consent. In addition,cases of data breaches especially in social media platforms have become all too common. Talk of the Facebook data breach earlier in 2018.

WhatsApp isn’t that private either considering they are now a Facebook subsidiary following the purchase in February 2014. Therefore, it is critical that you be wary of the information you share on social media.

3. Importance of Reading Your Privacy Settings

One too many times do we click the “accept and continue” in the privacy settings prompts that we receive when using new apps or websites online. While it might feel easier to breeze through these settings maybe because they are too long or you are too anxious to access your new program, you risk losing far much more in the end.

Such settings often carry valuable information regarding what kind of information can be shared by the developer and the kind of apps the program has access to.

A scary fact is that nowadays, most programs come with default settings that allow sharing of your personal data. They make it your responsibility to opt out of these settings. This means that failure to scrutinize the terms and conditions available leaves you susceptible to privacy infringement.

So check the access privileges each app is demanding and decide whether it is relevant or the needed information is safe in the hands of a third party.

4. Be Careful When Using Wi-Fi Networks

Connecting to Wi-Fi networks especially public ones can cause a serious privacy breach.Anyone within an unencrypted public Wi-Fi can easily peek into your personal stuff and even steal valuable information. Information regarding apps on your phone, your location, and internet usage can all be gathered from a simple Wi-Fi connection.

A good solution to this problem is to consider VPN’s for better encryption of your data. VPN Geeks can help you find a great VPN to secure your privacy. For private networks, turn off your Wi-Fi settings when you don’t need it or in public places.

The above aspects might seem a little scary. You might even give up hope of privacy if it means limiting your social life in platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. However, internet privacy is crucial especially when it comes to activities such as emailing, online banking, shopping online, credit card info, and health-related data.

The information on this post gives you control over your privacy to help protect your identity, reputation, and financial details.

Contributor: Jack Foster

This site does not receive fees nor does it endorse any products or services.

posted by on Apps, AT&T, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Online bullying, Online Safety, Uncategorized

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New data shows that two-thirds of teens surveyed say they have engaged in at least one risky behavior online.

57% of teens say they know how to hide content from their parents.

The survey1, commissioned by AT&T, polled New York City teens, parents of teens and millennial parents of younger children to gauge how children are consuming media on mobile devices – and what their parents understand of their behaviors. It found 84% of children ages 3-7 and 96% of those 8-12 now have to their own internet connected devices (a phone, tablet, computer, or gaming system), representing a sharp increase since 2017.  

It also found that, 98% of teens have a device and 85% say they spend at least 3 hours a day online. And, although 80% of millennial parents are concerned that their children are spending too much time on a device, nearly 3/4 admit to giving them an internet device to keep them occupied while they focus on other tasks.

The data shows that two thirds of teens surveyed say they have engaged in at least one risky behavior online.

  • 57% of teens say they know how to hide content from their parents.
  • Half of teens say they have experienced some form of cyberbullying.
  • 1 in 5 teen girls surveyed said they have sent sexually explicit photos.
  • 15% said they have met strangers online.

Given this alarming data, any guidance from their parents about how to behave online seems to be having little impact.

  • 60% of millennial parents of young children and nearly half of parents of teens believe they have taken sufficient steps to monitor their behaviors. 

Other findings indicate there are significant differences between what parents think their kids are doing online – be it on their phones, tablets, computers, or gaming platforms – and the reality that their children experience. For more key insights and poll results, click here.

In response to these poll findings, beginning today, parents can bring their phones and tablets to company-owned AT&T stores in the New York metro area – regardless of their wireless carrier – to take advantage of a new program called ScreenReady℠.

ScreenReady will provide consumers with two services at no charge. First, AT&T’s retail-based device experts will provide hands-on guidance within the parental controls and content filter settings on the consumer’s phone and tablet (see video below). These settings, which are built into the operating systems of many devices already, can be hard to understand and navigate.

Second, parents and caregivers will be able to access customized tips, created in collaboration with Common Sense Media, to fit their family’s online safety needs on a newly created AT&T mobile website, accessible in stores on free-to-use display tablets.

In parallel with this NY effort, AT&T’s Later Haters program aims to promote positive dialogue in social media, while its’ Great Game campaign promotes kindness and good sportsmanship  within the online gaming world.

1AT&T and the bullying prevention non-profits No Bully and the Tyler Clementi Foundation completed a survey of 500 New York City teens, 500 parents of teens and 500 millennial parents of younger children from August 31 through October 1, 2018.  For additional information, see AT&T’s Report on Developing Safe and Successful Mobile Device and Online Media Habits

Offline discussions, online safety.

Our teens may always been an app ahead of us or even more cyber-savvy than us, but here is one thing that technology will never be able to provide them – wisdom.

Your children will always need your offline wisdom whispering in their ears as their facing challenging choices online. 

What our young people face online today:

  • Sexting scandals
  • Cyberbullying, harassment
  • Sextortion, revenge porn
  • Ugly poll contests
  • Racial slurs
  • Catfishing
  • Online predators
  • And much more.

Why teens don’t tell their parents about their troubles on social media:

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. If the incident gets reported to their school, will they be able to face their classmates/peers? Imagine the horror of a child hearing from peers after being bullied that they somehow deserved it, brought it on themselves or should have just toughened it out rather than be a snitch.

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 and more people knowing whereby they become a possible target in the future.

Having frequent offline chats about online life can help your child trust you are there for them –  you are their advocate – both offline and especially online. You don’t have to be a cyber-tech expert to be a digital parent. You only have to be interested in their cyber-life.