posted by on Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Online bullying, Online Safety

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Say goodbye to selfies and hello to more meaningful relationships.
Social media is where the majority of teens reside today.

According to a new PEW survey, Teens’ Social Media Habits and Experiences, the majority of teens (81 percent) feel more connected to their friends because of social media and 68 percent feel as if they have people that will support them if they are going through a difficult time.

Although online-hate is still a concern, 45 percent of teens said they are sometimes overwhelmed by the digital drama – while 13 percent say they feel this way a lot. Interestingly, teens’ resilience is kicking in – as 44 percent reported either unfriending or unfollowing people that harass, bully or are cruel online.

When asked why they’ve digitally disconnected from others, 78 percent of this group report doing so because people created too much drama, while 52 percent cite the bullying of them or others.

Could it be the end of the selfie nation?

Selfies may be popular on social media, but around half of teens say they rarely or never post these images.

Girls are much more likely than boys to post selfies: Six-in-ten girls say they often or sometimes do this, compared with 30 percent of boys.

Living for ‘likes’ and primping for perfection.

Part of building digital resilience is learning that not everything online is reality. Especially with the frequent use of filters.

Sharing their life online, sometimes, can come with added social burdens  — the pressure of perfection. Teens will scroll through their feeds with a compare and despair attitude…. soon it will feel overwhelming.

Around four-in-ten say they feel pressure to only post content on social media that makes them look good to others (43 percent) or share things that will get a lot of likes or comments (37 percent).

Parents still worry about tweens, teens and tech.

The American Family Survey just released their latest report over half of parents of teenagers ranked overuse of technology as a top issue facing today’s teenagers. Only a third said drugs and alcohol.

It might be a valid concern since the majority of kids spend most of their time connected, but it’s also more reason for parents to get more involved in their child’s online life – offline.

Learn more – Parenting in the Age of Social Media.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Digital citizenship, Digital Parenting

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Ways you can be a cyber-mentor to your teenager.

Teens may always be an app ahead of us, or even more cyber-savvy than most parents, but there is one thing that technology will never be able to give them — our parenting wisdom.

Being a cyber-mentor is not only leading by example and being their role-model online, but it’s being their digital parent with your own behavior on social media.

More and more we are watching adults, of all walks of life, (parents, teachers, celebrities, athletes, and especially politicians) acting badly online – and this is sending the wrong message to our young people.

As a cyber-mentor, we must become more self aware of our digital conduct and content.

Becoming an upstander.

An upstander is someone that recognizes that something is wrong online and acts to make it right.

Especially has a cyber-mentor, we must be socially responsible online to reach-out to people that are hurting or struggling.

1) Stop the hate.

What would you do if you witness cruelty online?

  • Report and flag abusive content.
  • Don’t forward or retweet cruel comments or mean memes.
  • Liking a distasteful or harmful post is equal to endorsing it.
  • Don’t engage in hate – it will only perpetuate, energize and bring credibility to it.
2)  Reach out to people struggling.

What would you do if you saw someone being harassed online?

  • Private message them or if you are comfortable, publicly let them know you are in their corner.
  • Text them.
  • Call them.
  • Email them.
  • Let them know they are not alone.
3) Lead by example.

How would you want your teen to treat others? It’s time to reflect on your own social behavior.

  • Your words and tone matters. Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.
  • Be interested in your teen’s online life. (Help them understand that social media is a two-way highway. Be interested in others).
  • You are the greatest influence in your child’s life. Remind your teen, that they never know when someone is looking up to them online. Being a cyber-mentor is an honor and privilege.
  • Kindness is contagious – it starts with us.

Order Shame Nation book for more insights for becoming a cyber-mentor to the next generation.

Also read developing digital resilience.

posted by on Adult Bullying, Adult Cyberbullying, Bullying, Civility, Online bullying, Online harassment

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Adults Acting Badly: When Bullying Behavior No Longer Is Child’s Play

In a recent survey by Anti-Bullying Alliance, children aged 11 to 16 believe that adults are setting a poor example by behaving badly to each other face-to-face, online or in the media.

The majority, 97 percent said they would like to see more respect shown between grown-ups.

Who are the role-models?

This same month Ireland released a study entitled The Cyberbullying of Post-Primary Teachers by Pupils.  

Parents, who are supposed to be the role-models to their children, as well as pupils (their children) are engaged in cyberbullying of school teachers according to the above referenced study.

It starts at the top.

With these two recent reports, isn’t it about time adults check-in with their behavior? Many people like to blame it on the political climate or the rise of incivility, however we all need to start taking accountability for our own online and offline behavior.

When our children are now asking us to take control of ourselves, and we are witnessing parents and students harassing professionals (teachers), it’s time to stop this insanity.

Implementing digital wisdom.

At all ages using digital wisdom grounded in civility is where we need to start.

The 3-C’s of online behavior starts with your keypad.

  1. Conduct: We’re living in contentious times. The fact is, your keypad can be used as a tool or a weapon, it depends on how you use it. Your keystrokes can be used 4 ways – to help, heal, hurt, or harm. Be sure before you pick up your keypad – you check-in with yourself, become self-aware of your emotions before you post your comments.
  2. Content: We’re living in a world of post remorse and tweet regrets. Everyone is quick to post for short-term gratification and may suffer with long-term ramifications. Is what you’re about to post going to embarrass you or humiliate someone? Take the time to consider your content before putting it on the permanent Internet.
  3. Caring: Most of us know to treat people online as you would offline, but many tend to forget this when you have a screen between you. I like to tell people to “care enough about yourself” to know when it times to click-out if you feel  you’re about to say something nasty or snarky.  You are the role-model, this is your online presence – and it’s likely you will regret it later.

Want more insights for digital wisdom? Read my latest book Shame Nation.

posted by on Adult Bullying, Adult Cyberbullying, Bullying, Civility

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Can we bring civility back to this shame nation?

We are living in such divisive times now that we are witnessing adults treating each other with the utmost disrespect, and many times their own children are watching this outrageous behavior. 

Since we now live in a world where the majority of Americans are armed with smartphones, there’s no doubt when someone wants to act inappropriately (and they are proud of their actions) someone will be videoing it. Quickly it’s viral for the world to see.

From politicians to celebrities to athletes — no matter who you are, being publicly harassed or humiliated, especially in front of your family on your private time, is unacceptable.

Many of us were taught when we were little that if we were playing in a public park and saw a child you didn’t like, you shouldn’t go up to them and call them names or berate them. You simply walk away and don’t engage. So why are adults behaving the opposite when they see a person they dislike immensely in public? What message is this sending to their children?

These are definitely contentious times we are living in, many of us realize it starts at the top. We have a leader that seems to enjoy this conflict and divide, but does that mean we have to be part of this hostility?

Bullying verses activism.

In a culture of rising incivility, combined with many that are both sensitive and passionate about their beliefs, people are using bullying or harassing behavior and labeling it as activism.

People on both sides of the political aisles are feeling the incivility of adults as they attend their normal lives. It’s so disheartening to watch grown-ups treat each other like bullies on a playground with no self-control.

As Nancy Pelosi was leaving an event in Florida she was not only heckled, she was confronted with, “You don’t belong here you f–king communist f–k,” a voice is also heard saying on the video. “You and your f—ing Democrats.”

Over in Kentucky, diners confronted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife as they tried to have dinner at a local restaurant.

When activism turns into digital or civil warfare, the message will likely get lost and all people will remember is static noise. Change can’t and won’t happen through this type of behavior.

We have choices.

As we watch people in authority behave inappropriately as well as adults, business owners and others, it’s up to us to lead by example.

Being an activist is admirable. You don’t have to be a bully—be constructive and respectful with your behavior (comments), not combative. There is never a reason to use profanity, mock people or especially wish death to others.

One lasting thought, you are your online presence. Your immediate gratification to insult someone for what you may believe is activism, will be attached to your digital resume forever. Short-term vindication is rarely worth the long-term ramifications.

Having a bad day? Give yourself permission to sign-off.

Compassion and empathy.

Perhaps the first place to start is a renewed emphasis on empathy and compassion to each other online and offline. Remember you are the role model to the next generation, and we can’t afford for this shame nation to continue.

Order Shame Nation book today.


posted by on AT&T, Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention

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National [Cyber]Bullying Prevention Month

According to, 1 in 4 kids in the U.S. are bullied on a regular basis. While face-to-face bullying is still common at school, cyberbullying – bullying via email, text messages, social media, chat rooms, pictures, instant messaging, and videos – has become one of the most prevalent types of bullying among teens. In fact, about 80% of high school students have encountered bullying in some fashion online.

With this being National Bullying Prevention Month, AT&T is sharing tips and resources to help parents protect their children from what some are calling an epidemic.

Know Bullying (Free, Android & iOS) – Research shows that spending at least 15 minutes a day talking with your kids can build the foundation for a strong relationship, develop their resilience to peer pressure, and help prevent bullying.

The Know Bullying app provides conversation starters to talk with your child, tips about bullying for specific age groups,  warning signs to watch for, access to online resources, reminders to talk with your child when the time feels right, and even a section for educators to help them prevent bullying in the classroom. The Know Bullying app is a free resource providd by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Bully Button for Parents and Kids (Free, Android & iOS) – With this free app, kids who are victims of bullying or witness it can easily record the incident and send the recording to their parents.

The app has 2 modules: one for the parent, the other for the child. The dashboard of the parent’s app will display all the bullying incidents recorded by the child. Parents can add in emergency contact information in the child’s module of the app, so the child will have quick access to help.

Red Panic Button (Free, Android & iOS) – This is a great app to download to your child’s device. If a child finds herself in an emergency situation, like bullying, she simply presses the red panic button on the app, and her current position and address, in the form of a Google Maps link, will be sent to all the numbers stored in the Red Panic Button contact list via text and email.

The child can even post in real-time a panic Tweet to her entire list of friends and followers, sharing her current address and a Google Maps link.

#LaterHaters – #LaterHaters is a campaign AT&T started to empower teens to rise above online negativity. The Later Haters campaign is focused on getting young people to use their devices to spread online love vs. engaging with haters.

The Later Haters web site also provides links to numerous resources for both parents and teens, such as a parent guide for discussing online behavior with your child and links to Facebook’s Bullying Prevention Hub, Common Sense Media, and more.

Digital You – The AT&T Digital You web site provides parents with tips to help stop cyberbullying and help your kids stay safe online. The site includes a powerful short film, titled “There’s a Soul Behind That Screen,” about online bullying that was created by high school students for a national contest.

The film combines some of the winning submissions and tells an important story for parents and educators. It’s a must-see for parents of teens.

Courtesy of AT&T.

posted by on Adult Cyberbullying, Cyberbullying, Digital Life, Online reputation, Online Shaming

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Dealing with Digital Disaster and Combating Cyberbullying

(Excerpt from Shame Nation book)

If your attackers are coming after you hard, it might be time for a more forceful response. Has your online reputation suffered irreparable damage? Has it gotten so bad that you are fearful for your safety? Should you consult an attorney or file a police report?

It’s certainly possible that you could be facing some of the mentally unstable people on the Internet who take trolling to the extreme. One woman, “Sarah,” first got sucked into an online flame war with one of these people years ago, when she was in grad school and brushed with an anonymous poster on Lena Chen’s Sex and the Ivy blog. “At that point, I’d never engaged with anyone online,” she recalled when I spoke to her. “I made a couple of comments. It didn’t even occur to me anyone would care; I was nobody.”

But her harasser, in retaliation, targeted her for years, creating rambling posts calling her a fat-ass, questioning her professional work, and even claiming that she had rape fantasies.

In fact, she says, this deranged stranger ultimately went after a dozen women who posted comments supporting her, trashing their reputations and getting at least one fired from her job as a teacher. “I’ve never encountered a situation quite like this one,” Sarah admits. “I was being called a fat, ugly slut who wants to be raped.

He spent eight years, on and off, trying to make me unemployable, undateable, trying to make me a target for crime—he’s accused me of having STDs, publicly claimed I was fired from jobs for sexual misconduct. That level of effort into trying to hurt someone… It is hard to understand. All I can think is this is someone deeply unhappy, and probably a sociopath. There are people out there who will think nothing of trying to hurt other people.”

“This is not trolling,” states researcher Lindsay Blackwell, in her talk titled “Trolls, Trouble, and Telling the Difference.” “This is harassment. It is violence, and it is very, very difficult to control.”

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center report, 18 percent, or nearly one in five, of Internet users surveyed were the victims of “severe” online abuse, such as stalking or physical threats.

Advising victims to get off the Internet doesn’t work either, Blackwell adds. “The Internet is real life. For many of us, it’s where we make a living, it’s where we make friends, it’s where we live our lives, it’s an extension of where we live our lives… Telling victims of online harassment to log off…[isn’t] helpful… It’s so, so important that we stop telling victims of harassment to not feed the trolls.”

Sarah’s experience has impacted her life in so many ways. When it came to dating, she would only give out her first name, then field comments from suitors who came across what was posted about her online. “I had someone tell me I shouldn’t mention it to men, [that] they would think I invited drama into my life,” she recalls.

Now an MBA student seeking employment, Sarah has needed to discuss her situation with career counselors, add explanations to her cover letters, and warn potential roommates.

She has filed police reports and consulted with two pro bono attorneys, but to date, has been unsuccessful in unmask­ing the identity of the perpetrator, leaving her understandably bitter. “You can’t sue someone if you don’t know who they are,” she explains. She hesitates, then adds flatly, “This sounds awful, [but] I would love to destroy his life in the way he’s tried to destroy mine.”

Controlling a Disaster

Reading comments online, especially twisted truths or outright lies about yourself, can be horrifying—I know this firsthand. The emotional toll that it can take on a person is enormous. Know that you don’t have to go through this alone. There are many outlets to help you through this cyber-torture.

What options are available for the average Joe, who doesn’t have an entourage, a high-powered publicist, or the star power of a celebrity to mobilize support or fund a legal battle?

To take control of a digital disaster, begin with these basic steps:
  • Document the attacks. Take screenshots of all the evidence. You might want to just push delete, delete, delete. But if things escalate, you’ll need to have some documentation. Print it out, keep it in an online folder, put it on a thumb drive, download any videos to an exter­nal hard drive—but do save it.Some even advise using a web-archiving service, such as Page Vault, which officially documents the date, time, and web address, allowing it to be legally permissible in court. This is an area where your friends and family can help you.Ask them to monitor the abusive content for you, so you don’t have to read it over and over again. “There was a point where I started to have an anxiety attack every time I thought about Googling my name; I felt like I needed to see if anything new was posted,” recalls Sarah, who had her father take over that unpleasant task. “Mitigating how much I was exposed [to] was really important.”


  • Block the offenders. Blocking functionality is available on social media platforms, as well as phone calls, texts, apps, and email. One tool offered by Twitter, under the guise of protecting your well-being, is quality filtering, which prevents you from seeing anything that a specified poster has posted about you.


    In November 2016, Twitter also expanded this mute feature to include specific words or users you choose to block.But some experts are not fans of this “ignorance is bliss” credo. Blackwell points out that if you enable this feature, there is no way to be aware of—and stop—what is being said behind your back.


  • Report the offenders. Review the website’s or platform’s Terms of Service (TOS) or Code of Conduct, to identify what actions are considered violations, then politely ask the service to remove offensive comments, in accordance with its guidelines, and to ban the violator from the platform.
    Beware—some sites, especially those that seem to foster harassment and revenge porn, have been known to thumb their noses at victims and reprint emotional takedown requests, so don’t get overwrought in your tone. Stick to boilerplate legalese.


  • Try to identify the attackers. Are you being harassed or stalked, and it’s escalating? Maybe you are fed up with the cyber-slime an anonymous user is posting about you. To identify that person’s IP address, you will need to file a crime report with law enforcement, says California Senior Officer Mike Bires. “After reviewing the facts of the case, the detectives can obtain a warrant, which can be served upon the social media platform in question, requesting all of the information relevant to the case and the suspect.”But if you don’t want to contact the authorities, there are other ways to find out who’s behind the IP, suggests security expert Theresa Payton, CEO of Fortalice Solutions and coauthor of the bookProtecting Your Internet Identity: Are You Naked Online?. “When you are in the digital world, you can feel powerless,” she says. “Consider hiring a cybersecurity company to unmask the aggressor, if the case is more serious.Unfortunately, my company has been increasingly hired to do this. It’s not a sure thing that you can unmask them, but often you can, if [you have] suspicions [about] who is harassing [you]. Everyone has a digital pattern, so watching the harasser’s patterns [may lead] you to the real-life person.”


  • Cut the criminals off. If you ever find yourself being extorted for money over explicit materials, treat it like you would any other form of blackmail, recommends ReputationDefender’s Rich Matta. “Cut off all ties with the extortionists. Block their email addresses and social accounts. Realize that a payoff is unlikely to change their behavior or resolve the issue. If videos or materials have been posted ‘privately’ along with a threat to go public, fill out the appropriate online forms to request removal from YouTube, Vimeo, Google, GoDaddy, or whichever hosts or service providers are hosting the explicit material.If appropriate, contact the authorities.”Officer Bires says, “Agencies throughout America are receiving information, tips, bulletins, and training every single day on social media and cybercrimes.” He recom­mends that if you become a victim of sextortion, report the crime to your local law enforcement. Bires continues, “ Granted, not every police department has the expertise to investigate such technical crimes, [but] these same agencies know there are law enforcement professionals who can assist them in completing an investigation.”


Order Shame Nation book – learn more about combating digital disasters, maintaining your online reputation and reclaiming civility.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying, Online bullying, Online Safety, Parenting Teens, Smartphone Addiction, Social media, Social Networking

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The evolution of social media and how teens and parents fit in.

Two very telling surveys were released this month that can give us insights on how both teens and parents are adapting to the world of technology.

As the new school year started, Microsoft shared a new study that was encouraging. Teens around the world are finally turning to their parents or a trusted adult for online issues.

Common Sense Media conducted a national survey to find out exactly how teens are using their phones and how they feel about social media in a report, Social Media, Social Life.

In 2012, Common Sense Media had released the original survey.

Since the first Common Sense survey, smartphone ownership among teens has more than doubled from 41 percent to 89 percent.

Although almost half of teens (47 percent) believe they are addicted to their phone, only 24 percent believe they are addicted to social media. It’s more likely they are attached to their texting since that is considered their first line of communication today. Eighty percent text on a daily basis which is up from 68 percent from the 2012 survey.

What social playground is popular now?

We know that parents still are very active on Facebook according to the latest PEW Research survey, but when it comes to the young people (Common Sense 2018 survey), it has fallen off a cliff! In the 2012 survey 68 percent of teens claimed Facebook as their go-to social platform, today it’s fallen to only 15 percent with Snapchat being their favorite at 41 percent followed by Instagram by 22 percent.

Online hate and upstanders

Incivility online overall is on the rise over the past six years. Nearly two-thirds of teens (64 percent) say they have seen raciest, sexist, homophobic or religious-based hate content on social media platforms (Common Sense survey 2018).

We frequently hear about cyberbullying, according to the Common Sense survey, 13 percent of the teens have been bullied online. The good news is 23 percent of teens have tried to help someone online when they witness digital harassment.

Civility, Safety and Interaction Online

Almost half of teens (42 percent) when faced with online issues are finally turning to their parents, while 28 percent said they sought advice from another trusted adult such as a teacher, coach or counselor according to the new Microsoft survey.

Like the Common Sense survey, Microsoft was able to compare their results to their earlier one.

It’s very impressive that from a year earlier, only 10 percent of teens would turn to their parents and today it’s increased by 32 percent. The same is true for a trusted adult. It was only 9 percent a year ago and now it’s 28 percent, a 19 percent increase.

Are parents and communities finally realizing the urgency of talking about online safety and civility? The fact that the majority of our young people’s lives evolve around both their smartphones and social media? Is it the headlines of cyberbullying or bullycide that has parents concerned?

Awareness is key – and is just as important as these lines of communication.

In addition, adults and teens across the globe say parents are by far the best placed of any group to keep young people and families safe online. Results show parents have both the greatest potential — and were deemed the most effective — at promoting online safety among young people, teens and families.

The gender factor

Online life is generally harder for girls, in the latest Microsoft survey it revealed that teen girls were likely to ask for help from parents more than boys by a small margin ( 44 percent of girls vs. 37 percent of boys).

Back to school with Microsoft’s Digital Civility Challenge

Take the Digital Civility Challenge – four basic tenets for life online, namely:

  • Live the “Golden Rule” and treat others as you would like to be treated by leading with empathy, compassion and kindness, and affording everyone respect and dignity both online and off.
  • Respect differences by honoring diverse perspectives and, when disagreements surface, engage thoughtfully and avoid name-calling and abusive language.
  • Pause before replying to comments or posts you disagree with and refrain from posting or sending anything that could hurt someone, damage a reputation or threaten someone’s safety.
  • Stand up for yourself and others if it’s safe and prudent to do so; also, report illegal and abusive content and behavior and preserve evidence.

Take the time to review both the surveys. Being an educated parent and community member can help you help the next generation have a safer online experience.

Keep in mind, our kids will always be an app ahead of us, but they will always need your parenting wisdom.

posted by on Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Internet Safety, Online harassment

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Cyberbullying, Online Harassment and Digital Abuse

Don’t feed the trolls.

We’ve heard this over and over again.  It is a phrase that tells us not to engage with people online that are intentionally inflicting harm and cruelty towards others.

In today’s culture of digital cruelty and online shaming, no one is immune to online harassment.  For years we have read about the research of youth and cyberbullying –  in 2017 PEW Research Center revealed that 66% of adults have witnessed online harassment and 41% have been a victim of it.  These are not small numbers considering adults should know better.

Help at all ages

Whether you are young or mature, if you’re being attacked online it can be emotionally debilitating. While you are dealing with the hurt, it’s important to preserve the evidence or ask a friend to help you.

  1. Document the attacks. Take screenshots of all the evidence. You might want to just push delete, delete, delete. But if things escalate, you’ll need to have some documentation. Print it out, keep it in an online folder, put it on a thumb drive, download any videos to an external hard drive—but do save it.
  2. Block the offenders. Blocking functionality is available on social media  platforms, as well as phone calls, texts, apps, and email. Once you block them, be sure you have a friend monitoring them for you.
  3. Report the offenders. Review the website’s or platform’s Terms of Service (TOS) or Code of Conduct, to identify what actions are considered violations, then politely ask the service to remove offensive comments, in accordance with its guidelines, and to ban the violator from the platform. Beware—some sites, especially those that seem to foster harassment and revenge porn, have been known to thumb their noses at victims and reprint emotional take down requests, so don’t get overwrought in your tone. Stick to boilerplate legalese.
  4. Try to identify the attackers. Are you being harassed or stalked, and it’s escalating? Maybe you are fed up with the cyberslime an anonymous user is posting about you. To identify that person’s IP address, you will need to file
    a crime report with law enforcement, says California Senior Officer Mike Bires.
  5. Cut the criminals off. If you ever find yourself being extorted for money over explicit materials, treat it like you would any other form of blackmail. Report it to the appropriate authorities.
Talk, talk, talk

If you are a target of cyberbullying, one of the most important things you can do is tell someone. You need to know you are never alone. There are a vast amount of resources both online and offline to help you.

As someone that experienced online shame and abuse, I know the feeling of isolation and powerlessness over the internet. It’s not that way anymore. The floodgates are now open – many, many people are now stepping up and here to help.

The fact that many children do not tell their parents  about the cyberbullying is an issue that continues to concern experts and advocates. Telling a parent is not only about reporting the bully so that steps can be taken, but it also helps preserve the child’s emotional health. We also need to be aware that the person that is the bully likely needs emotional help too.

The reason kids don’t tell their parents about online bullying may range from fear of having their lifeline removed (being shut off from the internet) and being ashamed of what is happening to retaliation from the bully or teasing by other kids. This is why offline parenting is so crucial to a child’s online life. Only parents can turn this statistic around.

Parenting tips
  • Communication is key.
  • Offline chats are imperative to online safety.
  • Go online with your child, be as interested in their cyber-life as you are in their school life.
  • Remember, short chats are better than no chats at all.
  • Your child will always be an app ahead of you, but will always need your parenting wisdom.
  • Continue to remind your kids you are there for them – but it’s also okay for them to talk to any trusted adult. If someone is being harassed online, they have to tell someone. Don’t be hurt – but grateful they are sharing it with someone.

posted by on Adult Bullying, Adult Cyberbullying, Bullying, Cyberbullying, Online bullying

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Upstanders: We all need to step-up

In an age of cruelty and trolling, it’s important to equip young people to stand up to online hate and cyberbullying.

We often hear about being an upstander, however do you actually know what it means to be one?

An UPSTANDER is someone who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right. When we stand up for what is right, and do our best to help support and protect someone who is being hurt, we are being socially responsible.

There are no age requirements to be an upstander, anyone can participate (and should).

Why do we need upstanders?

Almost half of 1,089 11 to 25-year-olds questioned for the Safety Net report had experienced threatening or nasty social media messages, emails or texts.

Two-thirds said they would not tell their parents if they experienced something upsetting online.

It’s not only the young people

In the last 2017 PEW Research survey, 66 percent of adults witnessed online harassment, while 41 percent of us have been victims. Almost two-thirds, 67 percent of young people in this same survey, said they have experienced some form of online abuse.

There are no boundaries

From parents to teachers to doctors to celebrities to politicians — no is immune from being the target of online abuse.

When adults are the targets, but they are also the ones throwing the insults, how do untangle this web of digital hate to viewers, especially children? Aren’t the grownups supposed to be the role models? In some cases, aren’t they supposed to be people we respect?

In today’s world, your online reputation can dictate your future. Whether you’re applying to colleges or interviewing for jobs — your name will likely be put through the Google rinse cycle.

It’s not only your social media content that will be reviewed, more importantly is your online behavior. How do you interact with others in cyberspace? Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.

Your online behavior is an extension of your online reputation.

Never doubt you don’t a second chance to make a first impression — today that first impression is likely your digital one.

If you see someone struggling online, how can you help?

5 Ways you can be an upstander:

1. Never perpetuate hate or fake news. Don’t forward, like, or retweet distasteful comments or images.

2. Report and flag abusive, mean, hateful content to the social platform.

3. Reach out to someone that is struggling. Private message them, even if it’s only a virtual hug. Let them know you are there for them.

4. Kindness is contagious. Talk about it with your kids. Read headlines of people doing good things for other people — then get involved.

5. Lead by example not only for your children, but for your colleagues, friends, and family.

Be proactive, forward this to a friend. Everyone needs to be part of an upstander revolution.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Online harassment, Online Shaming, Social media

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Avoiding public shaming in a rise of incivility.

We’re living in a era where the majority of people are armed with smartphones and cameras are on every corner. You are no longer afforded the luxury of having a meltdown at an airport or being rude to a cashier (not that you should be), maybe you are angered by a the way someone is driving and decide to slip them your wonder finger……are your kids driving you mad or disturbed by how someone else is parenting their child? Public shaming has now become a way to handle unsettling situations.

In a culture of ‘aim and shame’ you are literally seconds away from becoming Internet infamy and making the evening news. What’s worse is the financial ruin that could follow.

Yes — we have witnessed these moments of indiscretions where people have lost their jobs.

There’s no denying how digital life has changed the way we live (and behave) today.

With all this power at our finger-tips, we have slowly witnessed the corrosion of both online and offline civility among humanity.

Using public shaming to shift our beliefs rather than having constructive conversations has become the new normal.

Many people remember the public shaming of Justine Sacco or maybe Lindsey Stone that went viral and cost both women years of online reputational damage. People from all walks of life participated in vilifying these women—the majority never meet them or knew them, however with the click of a keypad, were able to ruin their lives.

We shame to pressure outliers to conform to our norms—even if no one can agree anymore what those standards should be.

Now we are facing offline shaming that is taking a new life online. People that are now in striking distance of a smartphone or camera have become targets of viral humiliation.

Whether it was Permit Patty, BBQ Becky or Pool Patrol Paula, these are all nicknames for average people that made public spectacles of themselves forgetting there is always someone ready to aim and shame your most embarrassing moments.

Short-term gratification, long term ramification.

Alison Kettel, aka Permit Patty, although this incident also was considered a racial issue, it was also something many people that work at home fully understood. When your on a call and there’s a child yelling out your window it can be extremely disturbing.  This is not saying what Alison did was correct – by all means, she was wrong. There were so many better ways to handle this situation and she didn’t. She chose the absolute worst way and likely regrets it.

Is Alison a bad person?  Will this one oops moment define her entire life?  Let’s hope not – because none of us are perfect.

How can we avoid public shaming today? Here’s a good start:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Be self-aware of your actions.
  3. Anger is temporary, online is forever. If you find yourself getting steamed, walk away.
  4. Have zero expectancy of privacy — wherever you are.
  5. Treat people the way want to be treated, always.

Learn more about avoiding, preventing and overcoming online and public shaming – order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks, October 2017).