posted by on AT&T, Distracted driving, Parenting Teens, Safe Driving

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April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Help Put a Stop to Smartphone Distractions Behind the Wheel

Distracted driving is NEVER OK. You’re never alone on the road, even when you’re alone in your car. That’s the simple message behind AT&T’s IT CAN WAIT campaign against distracted driving. Research by AT&T shows smartphone distractions behind the wheel have grown beyond texting to social media, web surfing, selfies, and video chatting. With this being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, AT&T is urging drivers to take the IT CAN WAIT pledge — and research has shown the power of the pledge matters.

Here is what AT&T has learned through its research:

Power of a Pledge:

  • Research shows pledging matters and makes a difference.
  • According to the findings, almost half of people who pledged said they now don’t use their smartphones while driving.
  • Those who share their promise or pledge with others are even more likely to stop, and more likely to speak up to others.

o   4-in-10 asked a friend or family member to not use their smartphone while driving.

o   One-third asked a driver to not use their smartphone while driving when riding as a passenger.

o   4-in-10 asked a passenger to operate their smartphone while they are driving.

You’re Never Alone on the Road:

  • Research shows that only 36% of drivers look at their smartphone with passengers in the car, compared to more than 6-in-10 (64%) without a passenger.
  • People look at their phone even less when the passenger is a child.

Habit Stats:

  • For 1-in-3 drivers, distracted driving is a habit.
  • Habitual distracted drivers have a false sense of security in their actions. Only 58% feel that using their smartphone behind the wheel is “very dangerous,” compared to 78% of non-habitual distracted drivers. Ironically, they’re also twice as likely to have been involved in a near crash or a collision.

Smartphone Distracted Driving Stats:

  • 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving.
  • 62% keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving.
  • Nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net. And 1-in-10 video chat!
  • Facebook tops the social platform list — more than a quarter of those polled use the app while driving.
  • About 1-in-7 said they’re on Twitter behind the wheel. 30% of those who post to Twitter while driving do it “all the time.”
  • 22% who access social networks while driving cite addiction as a reason.
  • Of those who shoot videos behind the wheel, 27% think they can do it safely while driving.

Smartphone activities people do while driving:

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

 AT&T DriveMode:

  • AT&T DriveMode is free to customers of all wireless carriers for iPhone and Android users.
  • It is now available in Spanish.
  • It helps curb the urge to text and drive by silencing incoming text messages.
  • Its auto mode feature automatically turns on the app when you reach 15 MPH and turns it off after you stop.
  • AT&T DriveMode can help keep young drivers safe by sending a message to a parent if the app is turned off.
  • The campaign has resulted in more than 14 million downloads of the app.

AT&T launched IT CAN WAIT in 2010. Since then, more than 23 million people have taken the IT CAN WAIT pledge.

AT&T has also added a virtual reality experience component to the campaign to show the potentially deadly consequences of glancing at your smartphone while driving. You can download the free AT&T VR app and buy Google Cardboard at to use with your smartphone to experience the IT CAN WAIT driving simulation.


Don’t forget to Tweet this!  Use hashtags: #ItCanWait, #StopDD and #EndDD

You may be saving a life – including your own.

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, Online bullying, Social media, Social Networking

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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.

In the last 2017 PEW Researchsurvey, 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.

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

6 Ways to improve our digital responsibility as role-models:

  1. Become an up-stander when you witness cyber-hate.
  2. See something—say something. Discuss offline about online inappropriate behavior.
  3. Think twice, post once. 15 minutes of humor is never worth a lifetime of humiliation.
  4. Guidelines for safe sharing online.
  5. Be constructive with your comments, not combative. (Hate can perpetuates hate, click out if you can’t control yourself). Anger is temporary, the Internet is forever.
  6. Report, flag and talk about harassment. (Make sure your kids know these features).

Learn more about preventing, surviving and overcoming digital disasters, cyberbullying and other forms of incivility in Shame Nation book.

posted by on #iCANHELP, Bullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention

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Students and industry come together to celebrate student voice and digital leadership in social media.

(San Francisco, CA – March 12, 2018) – On Monday, September 17, 2018, #ICANHELP will host the second annual #Digital4Good event in San Francisco, CA and it will be live streamed to a global audience. #Digital4Good will be a major gathering of highly-engaged students, industry, and educators that are focused on empowering positive tech and media use–digital for good. This exciting event will celebrate student voice and digital leadership, featuring a fast-paced mix of presentations, panels, videos, and the first ever #Digital4Good awards. Unlike typical youth recognition, the #Digital4Good awards are nominated by students for students.

#Digital4Good is being spearheaded by #ICANHELP, a non-profit organization committed to empowering students to play an active role in improving the online environment. The event on September 17th is #ICANHELP’s second national event, and is meant to raise awareness of the power of student voice for social good in social media. Co-founder Kim Karr explains that, “#ICANHELP has worked with thousands of students to be the digital change they want to see. This is an unprecedented opportunity to honor students, showcase the power of student voice and empower even more students to be a positive influence online.”

Kicking off the campaign this year is the music video produced in collaboration with musician Lisa Heller. Serving as an #ICANHELP ambassador, Lisa worked with students to plan and film the music video at #Digital4Good in 2017. “I’m excited to partner with #ICANHELP in promoting positivity online,” said Lisa. “Hearing the student stories at Twitter this past fall was powerful. It was students inspiring students, and that is what ‘Light the Fire’ is all about.”

In addition to bringing students together to share their stories, #ICANHELP is thrilled to be offering the first #Digital4Good awards. “We are soliciting nominations for the awards, which we’ll present at the event,” says co-founder Matt Soeth. “Our goal is to recognize and grow awareness of the great work students and schools are doing, as well as show that there is so much good happening in social media and bring it to light. The focus is always too much on the negative, and we have some amazing youth out there making a difference. We want students to inspire students to be digital leaders.”

The form to nominate students for the first annual #Digital4Good awards can be found here. Nominations will be accepted till April 30, 2018.

More information can be found at

Press contact for #Digital4Good:
Matthew Soeth, co-founder of #ICANHELP
[email protected]

posted by on Cyberbullying, Online bullying, Online harassment, Online Shaming

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Celebrities—males and especially females—are perhaps the biggest targets for online shaming. Generations of stars have endured the sniping and scrutiny of gossip rags, from that of Louella Parsons (America’s first Hollywood gossip columnist) to modern versions like and TMZ. But today’s online epidemic of hate has left them directly exposed to their millions of fans—or rather, their anti-fans, whose comments can be fanatically brutal.

Women in Hollywood are routinely criticized for looking too old—or turning to extreme plastic surgery to stay young. They are shamed for being too heavy (think Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson), for being too thin (like Tara Reid and Keira Knightley), or even for having, allegedly, recently eaten a hamburger (like Selena Gomez, Kelly Clarkson, and Anne Hathaway). CNN’s website has featured a running slideshow tallying celebrities who have been body shamed, which as of this writing stands at twenty-nine and counting. Even across the pond, a British TV show dedicated to the genre, called Celeb Trolls: We’re Coming to Get You, hunts down those who harass celebrities online.

Although some would dismiss this bashing as the price of fame, many stars have revealed that these words do have the power to wound. “I’ve never been more verbally abused in my life than on Twitter, and specifically in the last few months, having come on this show,” observed actress Candace Cameron Bure, after she joined The View during the 2015 reboot of her sitcom Full House. “You don’t have to verbally abuse me and rape me. That’s what they do to me on Twitter.”

When Twitter comments were made about how the late Carrie Fisher’s body had aged between the original and current Star Wars films, she responded fiercely, revealing how she felt.

Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris vented her feelings in a video she posted to Instagram, blaming a past suicide attempt partially on Internet trolls. “I’ve tried sticking up for myself,” she said. “I’ve tried the whole ‘blocking the haters’ thing, not reading the comments…ignoring it. But it’s hard…when there’s so much of it.”

Even celebrity babies are not immune from coming under attack. After Beyoncé and her four-year old daughter, Blue Ivy, walked the red carpet at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, Twitter users trashed the child’s looks:

Those who once found social media a welcome place to connect with fans are increasingly turning sour on the experience. Singer Carrie Underwood has become accustomed to online trolls, who wrote “fake” and “drag queen,” beneath a selfie she posted (and later deleted) on Instagram, and tweeted that her look at the Country Music Awards was “satanic.” She told Redbook, “I used to feel like I could go through social media and talk to people, really have that communication. But you get to a point where there are too many mean people saying mean things—probably just to get a reaction from you—and eventually I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ You have to have a barrier
up, which is sad.”

During the 2016 holiday season, talk show host Wendy Williams shared a Christmastime “throwback” photo of herself on Instagram as an “awkward twelve-year-old,” and was likely disheartened to find herself slammed and the subject of mean memes. Some celebrities have taken to protecting themselves by outsourcing their social media accounts to their underlings.

“It truly wasn’t a safe space for me,” Girls creator Lena Dunham said in a podcast interview, reporting that she would no longer personally look at her Twitter account but have assistants handle that unpleasant task. “I think even if you think you can separate yourself from the kind of verbal violence that’s being directed at you, that it creates some really kind of cancerous stuff inside you.”

Refusing to be shamed

Another downside of being a female celebrity: you’re more likely to have your naked photos hacked and posted online, as stars from sportscaster Erin Andrews to actress Scarlett Johansson have discovered. In 2014, the infamous news broke that a ring of hackers was trading noods of female celebrities, including Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, and Jennifer Lawrence, stolen off of Apple computers using a “sophisticated phishing scheme.”

One Pennsylvania man was eventually caught and pled guilty to “unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.”  The scandal was called “The Fappening,” after its sub-reddit thread name. “For their victims, it is no laughing matter,” Edward Lucas wrote of the scandal in his book Cyberphobia. “Even the most energetic and expensive legal response cannot scrub the stolen photos from the Internet. As fast as you persuade or order one site to take them down, another puts them up. You can never be sure that they will not appear again—someone, somewhere, has them on his computer, and publishing them takes just a couple of mouse clicks.”

In a Vanity Fair interview, a defiant Jennifer Lawrence refused to carry the mantle of shame for taking the nude photos. “I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for,” she said. “I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.” She blamed the hackers, as well as those who looked at the photos, for what she rightly called a sex crime. “I can’t even describe to anybody what it feels like to have my naked body shoot across the world like a news flash against my will,” she said. “It just makes me feel like a piece of meat that’s being passed around for a profit… Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame.”

These are excerpts from Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017) with a featured foreword by Monica Lewinsky. Order today and learn more about how you can prevent, survive and overcome online shaming – no matter who you are.

Women may be the targets of the majority of cyber-abuse, online harassment and other forms of digital hate, but with the power of ‘togetherness’ and learning that we are not alone, slowly but surely, this cruelty will be part of history.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Social media, Social Networking

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In a recent PEW Research survey, Facebook and YouTube landed in the top spots as the most popular social media sites. The young people (18-24 years-old) are more likely to use Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter as well as make more frequent visits per day compared to older adults.

Facebook continues to grow with 68% of adults that are now users. Other than the video-sharing platform YouTube, none of the other sites or apps measured in this survey are used by more than 40% of Americans.

We’ve read a lot about smartphone addiction and social media obsession, yet according to this survey over half of Americans (59%) said it would not be difficult to give up social media.

Majority of users say it would not be hard to give up social media
By contrast, 40% say they would indeed find it hard to give up social media – although just 14% think it would be “very hard” to do this. At the same time, the share of social media users who would find it hard to give up these services has grown somewhat in recent years.

Other takeaways from this survey:

  • Pinterest remains substantially more popular with women (41% of whom say they use the site) than with men (16%).
  • LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households. Some 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9% of those with a high school diploma or less.
  • Some 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds indicate that they use any form of social media.

Social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are especially popular among those ages 18 to 24

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Uncategorized

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It’s a sea of sadness when we read headlines of peer cruelty, youth dying and the rise of incivility in our country today. Whether it’s offline, as in the school cafeteria or online, in the palm of your child’s hand, hate is hate and it’s killing our society.

Dr. Michele Borba is a leading bullying prevention expert as well as a best-selling author. In her most recent book, End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy (Free Spirit, February 2018) she gives us a road-map to bring back civility for our young people.

Let’s start with understanding cyberbullying terminology that parents and educators should know:

  • Sexting: electronically sending or posting a naked, sexualized, or compromising photo of a person
  • Flaming: posting angry, rude comments in an online forum
  • Harassment: repeatedly sending offensive messages to someone
  • Denigration: attacking someone online by spreading rumors or posting false information
  • Outing and trickery: electronically disseminating intimate private information about someone or tricking someone into disclosing private information, which is then disseminated
  • Impersonation: pretending to be someone else and posting material online to damage that person’s reputation
  • Exclusion: intentionally excluding someone from an online group
  • Cyberstalking: creating fear by sending frequent threatening messages to someone

Is your child a victim of bullying or cyberbullying?

Dr. Borba offers insights and warning signs in her new book as well as the 6R’s of prevention.


Most bullying signs go unreported or undetected. Many students are uncomfortable telling adults they were bullied for fear it will make matters worse, because the parent or educator will confront the bullying child. Fear of retaliation is a major concern of targets, and rightly so. Most bullying occurs in areas and times when adults are not present to protect targets. That’s why it’s crucial that educators learn specific warning signs of bullying so they can support potential targets. Every student can have an “off” day and display a sign or two, so look for a sudden unhealthy behavior that is not typical of the student and endures. Of course, the signs might also indicate other problems, but any signs warrant closer examination and discussing with other staff members and the child’s parents.


A perpetrator uses digital media (such as texts, emails, IMs, website posts, tweets, videos) to hurt, threaten, embarrass, annoy, blackmail, or otherwise target another child. Though it is most common during the middle school years, the problem is making its way into the younger set. It is not surprising that cyberbullying has the potential to cause severe psychological damage in targeted children. Though most electronic bullying happens off school grounds, many students carry cell phones or tablets to school, so the staff should be aware of these signs. In addition to many of the signs just listed, a child who is being cyberbullied may:

  • be hesitant to go online, or act nervous when an IM, text message, or email appears
  • act visibly upset after using a computer or cell phone, or suddenly avoid electronic devices
  • hide or clear the computer or cell phone screen when a peer or adult approaches
  • spend longer hours online in a more tense, pensive posture

End Cruelty, Build Empathy is a must-own for every parent and teacher. It offers step-by-step valuable and practical solutions — as well as information to help you navigate through a generation of “mean.” From elementary school to middle and high school, no one escapes the scars of bullying, but with education and awareness we are on the way to helping to combat it.

How will you help your community become a kinder one – offline and online?

posted by on Bullying, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention

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It’s been over a decade since I received my online Scarlet Letter that nearly destroyed my career and emotional well-being. Until you become a victim of online harassment or abuse, it’s difficult to understand the darkness, loneliness and fear that you can feel. Being humiliated to death is not a joke — it’s sadly a reality when we read the headlines of many youth today. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Finding Online Support

A decade ago, there were few resources for those suffering online harassment, but today, there are many groups providing help to victims of digital attacks, from harnessing simple messages of support to full-on legal aid. When Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas received hate tweets during the 2016 Olympics over her hair and even her lack of a smile, a Twitter campaign—started by Leslie Jones—sprung up with the hashtag #Love4GabbyUSA, to rally support from a herd of fellow celebs. Everyone from Shonda Rhimes to Monica Lewinsky jumped in to bolster the gold medalist.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a high-profile friend who could do the same for you?

Enter HeartMob. The online platform was started by Hollaback so that individuals being harassed online can create a report and, within an instant, rally teams of people who send messages like “Stay strong!,” “I’m with you,” “We have your back,” and “You are not alone!”

The Cybersmile Foundation , an anti-bullying nonprofit founded in 2010, offers Total Access Support, where trained advisers give guidance to those being cyber-harassed. “We help thousands of people each year,” says co-founder Dan Raisbeck. “Our trained advisor teams work around the clock answering inquiries from all over the world. Our advisors are mostly made up of volunteers who want to help others or offer their time in some way.”

Online SOS is a California start-up that provides free legal referrals and counseling services to people suffering online harassment. Co-founder Samantha Silverberg, a licensed clinician, began it in 2016 with a pilot program helping thirty victims, and she aims to have a therapist and a legal resource established in all fifty states.

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. Are you a victim of revenge porn? The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative has created an excellent “Online Removal Guide,” which offers step-by-step instructions for requesting unauthorized images or videos to be removed from sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,Reddit, Tumblr, Yahoo, Google, and Bing.

Crisis Text Line is a nonprofit that provides free, twenty-four-hour therapeutic assistance for victims in need of support, handling issues from depression to bullying (if you’re in crisis,text START to 741741). In March 2017, it was announced that Crisis Text Line was joining forces with Facebook. “We want to be wherever people are in crisis,” said Nancy Lublin, Crisis Text Line CEO, in a prepared statement. “And we’ll continue to be on the leading edge of technology, supporting people everywhere they are.”

The STOMP Out Bullying™ HelpChat Line is a free and confidential online chat that helps youth ages 13-24 ONLY with issues around bullying and cyberbullying; as well as providing support to youths who may be at risk of suicide.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

For more resources, advice and tips on surviving, preventing and overcoming cyberbullying, order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks 2017).

posted by on Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Online Safety

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Since 2004 we’ve been recognizing Safer Internet Day as an initiative of the European Union.

The 2018 theme, “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you” is a call to action for every stakeholder to play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, in particular the youngest users out there.

In my latest book, Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017) we interviewed contributors and experts from around the globe that shared their stories of digital disasters, some were victims of invasion of privacy and some fell prey to online hate.

One college student’s nightmare is a lesson we can all learn from (an excerpt from Shame Nation):

Around the time of the protests following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, one twenty-year-old criminal-justice student in New York discovered that several racist slurs had appeared on her Facebook page. The trouble was, she hadn’t posted them. Still, they had been reposted to a Tumblr page called “Racists Getting Fired,” devoted to exposing alleged racists to their employers, and the rest of the world. The AMC movie theater where she worked started getting calls from people branding her a racist and demanding that she be fired.

Eventually, the true story was revealed: her page had been hacked by her ex-boyfriend, a Miami man who wrote the slurs to set her up, most likely by logging into her account. “I said none of those horrible words of hatred and racism,” she hurriedly wrote on her Facebook page. “Anyone who knows me, knows I would never in my entire life say anything like that.”

Sadly, it’s not just virtual strangers who can come along and humiliate you. It can also be someone who knows you better than anyone else. Friends today may be foes tomorrow. It’s better to never share your passwords with others, no matter how much you want to trust them. Even your boyfriend? I’d say, especially your boyfriend. As many women have learned with revenge porn, betrayal by a former partner is not uncommon. Also, don’t leave a public computer logged in to a social media site, giving access to someone unsavory looking to make comments via your profile. Have you ever left your phone unattended? Near a friend who has your passcode and a twisted sense of humor? That’s an oops moment you don’t want to have. Lock ’em up, your phone and your other gadgets. Those few free minutes occupied by someone else’s keystrokes could create years of scrubbing your digital landscape.

The takeaway: Never share your passwords, and change them frequently.

Staying safe online start with making good decisions offline.

  1. Create strong passwords.
  2. Don’t share personal or sensitive information.
  3. If you wouldn’t say it offline, don’t type it online.
  4. Quality over quantity. (Surround yourself with people you respect).
  5. Lead by example.

posted by on Bullying, Bullying prevention, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention

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We’re barely into 2018 when we’ve already have had several headlines of youth taking their lives from cyber-humiliation – across the country and the globe:

Dolly Everett of Australia, Sarah Ullman of California and Gabriella Green of Florida.

Young girls that were bullied online and didn’t feel they had a way out. The term bullycide has now been defined to describe these young people that become so emotionally distressed by (online and offline) harassment/bullying that they commit suicide.

Are girls getting meaner?

One parent who knew Dolly Everett and her family shared how his daughter was also victim of online bullying. According to Daily Telegraph, this father said his 15-year-old daughter Katelyn had been bullied relentlessly via Snapchat for years.

He posted a photo on Facebook of one of the horrible messages he said Katelyn regularly receives.

“Why don’t you just go cut your wrist until you bleed out,” the message said.

“You’ll do everyone a favour. Go do what dolly did it should’ve been you not her”.

Katie Hurley, author of the new bestselling book, No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong Confident and Compassion Girls (Penguin, January 2018) encourages parents to talk to their daughter’s about relational aggression.

In No More Mean Girls, Katie Hurley stresses the importance of starting these conversations early:

“Define words like gossip, teasing, taunting, public humiliation, excluding, cliques or groups, and cyberbullying (yes, even if your child “never has screen time” and “has no chance of getting a phone anytime soon.”) Avoiding these topics will only keep your daughter in the dark and render her powerless when she does confront them. Educating her and talking about positive alternatives empowers her and prepares her.” – Katie Hurley, No More Mean Girls (Penguin, January 2018)

Short chats are better than long chats

As a family cyber-advocate for over a decade, I’ve encouraged parents to talk to their kids offline about online safety. This is not the sex talk, this is the tech chat. In reality, these are so much easier and can be fun. The one hiccup is — they have to be as regular as, how was your day at school.

We all know that communication is key to help keep our kids safe, both online and off — but at the same time, we understand that talking to our teens (especially) can be a struggle. Maybe we can only squeeze in five – ten minutes at a time, which is better than nothing, especially if it’s on a regular basis.

  • Driving to school, a sporting event, dropping them off at a friend’s house etc. Anytime your “side-by-side” with your child in a car is a great time to connect with them.
  • Coffee shops, ice cream parlors (or smoothies) – Enjoy a treat with them – and talk tech. Teens love their technology – and in reality, they do want you to be interested in their online life.
  • Family dinners – We know parents try, but even if you can do this once or twice a week, make it a habit to ask about everyone’s cyber-life. Any new apps? Websites or virtual friends? Most importantly – have they witnessed any online hate – and what do they do about it?

Yes – talk about what to do when they read people being hurt online. Recently a young teen won a contest for his video on helping bystanders become upstanders. In my interview with him, he shared how he was once a victim of bullying — and didn’t share it with with parents, but wished he had. His video, Leave A Message, is an empowering three minutes you need to share with your child.

Parents, you need to be more involved and interested in your teen’s cyber-life. It truly matters.

Learn more about how to help your child build digital resilience.

Understand why some kids aren’t talking to their parents when they are suffering with digital hate, and try to reassure your teen that no matter what, you are there for them without judgement.

Book chats with teens can truly open up dialogue. My recent book, Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, Oct 2017) offers a discussion guide that can help you start a conversation with your teenager. Shame Nation is for teens and parents alike to read.

Let’s not wait for your name or a friend or family to become a headline – start your chats today.


posted by on Books, Cyberbullying, cyberbullying prevention, Cybersafety, Online reputation, Online Safety

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In 2017 parents revealed that both cyberbullying/bullying and internet safety was their top health concern for their teens (and kids) according to a survey by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll.

Communication is key

Most parents know that starting a conversation with a teenager can sometimes be challenging, yet in every article we read and every expert that speaks about online safety will share with us, you must have open lines of communication with your child offline about their digital lives.

I’m not disputing any of this, only giving you another way to introduce your dialogue.

I always tell parents that we need to ask our teens, on daily basis, what’s new in their cyber-lives. It’s just as crucial as how their school day was. In reality, their virtual life is as real to them as their offline lives.

Finding common ground

I became a cyber-advocate because I was a victim of cyberbullying and online shame as an adult. I know the emotional pain of being taken down by vicious cyber-bullets.

While building myself back up not only virtually, through redefining my online reputation, I had to learn to regain trust in people and find my voice again. This isn’t easy, however during my darkest hours I read some of the most devastating headlines. People that don’t make it out.

Tyler Clementi, Amanda Todd, Rebecca Sedwick, Audrie Pott, Megan Meier and many others.

This empowered me. These young people didn’t understand that it would get better. As an adult, I had dark thoughts, but knew eventually there would be light at the end — there’s always hope. These kids, sadly, didn’t have that maturity yet.

After writing my second book, Google Bomb (HCI, 2009) which documented how I won my landmark court case for Internet defamation and invasion of privacy, I found myself years later still receiving emails from people being shamed and harassed online. The numbers were growing exponentially.

Shame Nation is born

By 2014 I knew it was time. Over a decade later, people were still asking for how I survived being nearly destroyed in 2003. Sadly, this disease of cruelty to others isn’t going away — it’s a human disaster, created by mankind and needs to be addressed by us.

All my journals, note pads combined with firsthand stories from people that have been victims of cyber-humiliation and digital debacles was where I would start. In addition, I was fortunate to have a team of esteemed colleagues that supported this venture and offered their expertise.

My goal was that Shame Nation include not only teens, but adults (parents) too. We needed a book that everyone could relate to. Proudly, that’s exactly what we have.

Let’s talk digital wisdom

Shame Nation has a special offer on Amazon. Isn’t it time for you and your teen to have a copy and discuss:

  • Preventing digital disasters •
  • Defending your online reputation •
  • Building digital resilience •
  • Reclaiming online civility

We also offer book discussion you can have with your teen or a book club:

1. From body shaming to baby shaming, we have all witnessed the rise of incivility in our country today. Do you agree where online shaming has become the norm?

2. One study said that 28% of Americans have engaged in posting malicious comments to people they didn’t know. Why do people believe they can hide behind a screen? Have you ever left a mean or unflattering comment about a stranger, or even created a fake account to post an anonymous comment?

3. Some 70% of employers say they now review social media feeds before interviewing candidates, and 35% of college recruiters check the online profile of student applicants. From the Harvard students having their acceptances being revoked to Juli Briskman losing her job due to violating social media policy, will you think twice before you post?

4. Many of the digital disasters covered in “Shame Nation” resulted from victims’ own ill-advised posts. What are some changes you will make to help prevent yourself from making a similar cyber-blunder?

5. Shaming is not just an online phenomenon. With 92% of Americans owning cell phones with cameras, the chance of an “oops” moment going viral is higher than ever. Will you change your behavior when out and about as a result? How likely are you to video a stranger that is acting out in a public place? Do you think it is acceptable to share that online without permission?

6. After reading about nonconsensual porn victims like Annmarie Chiarini and the Duxbury High School girls, would you consider sending a sext to your significant other? What would you tell your teenager if s/he brought it up? Is it different for adults and teens to do? Married couples vs. dating? Why?

7. According to studies, women tend to report online harassment more than men. How do you think gender plays into online shaming? What strategies could women use to avoid being victimized?

8. Celebrities from Lady Gaga to Kelly Clarkson tend to be high-profile targets for online shaming. Do you believe this is just the cost of fame, and they have no right to complain?

9. Chapter Seven covers several different possible responses to online trolls, from responding with empathy to flouncing. How do you think you would choose to react if you ever experienced online harassment? What are the pros and cons of the different methods?

10. “Sharenting,” sharing images of one’s children online, has become commonplace among this generation of parents. As these children come of age, should minors have some say over what their parents can post about them without their consent?

11. Digital literacy has been proven to reduce cyberbullying and online harassment and help with critical thinking skills. Should schools be more active in implementing or mandating digital literacy classes?

12. It’s proven: empathy combats cruelty, and “upstanders” can make a difference. What will you do the next time you witness online hate?

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