posted by on Cyber Safety, Cybersafety, Internet Safety, Online activity

Young people spend much of their lives in front of a screen, and with the pandemic, that time has increased substantially.

Yet, few young people are taught how to be good citizens online, let alone how to balance the time they spend online with all the other parts of life—like sleeping, mealtimes, exercise, and face-to-face time with family and friends.

Learning how to be a citizen of the digital world may be the most important thing for a young person to learn today.

What is Digital Citizenship?

We live in an age when we are as much a citizen of the online world as we are of our town, state, or country. In a captivating TED Talk, the CEO of Citizen University, Eric Lui, describes civics as “the art of being a pro-social, problem solving contributor in a self-governing community.”

I love this definition and can’t think of any communities more “self-governing” than those online. Can you?

Consider the social media communities where youth hang out, share information, and spend the bulk of their time—like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and so forth.

These communities are largely devoid of parents, internet police, crossing guards, or even rules to keep their users in line or safe. Kids are left to their own devices to figure out how to be a good citizen in places like these.

Lui further explains civics by quoting Microsoft founder Bill Gates’s father, Bill Gates Sr., who says civics is “simply showing up for life.”

I love that descriptor, too, and especially the three things Lui says it encompasses:

  • A foundation of values
  • An understanding of the systems that make the world go round
  • A set of skills that allow you to pursue goals, and have others join in that pursuit.

These are three capacities we aim to equip students with through a comprehensive curriculum called “Cyber Civics.”  By guiding kids through a series of discussions and activities surrounding a range of technology-related topics, they become digitally literate.

This holistic approach to possibly the most important skill kids needs today, given the time they spend with tech, achieves an important end. It arms them with the superpowers they’ll need to keep themselves safe and be, well, super–online and off.

What is Digital Literacy?

Digital literacy “is more than technological know-how. It includes a wide variety of ethical, social, and reflective practices that are embedded in work, learning, leisure, and daily life,” according to Canada’s MediaSmarts.

Cyber Civics teaches students to be digitally-literate through a three-year series of weekly activities that cover the entire spectrum of digital literacy. It includes lessons in:

  • Digital Citizenship (the safe and responsible use of digital tools).
  • Information Literacy (how to find, retrieve, analyze, and use online information).
  • Media Literacy for Positive Participation (using critical thinking to analyze media messages, including “fake news”).

The entire curriculum is available online, so teachers can easily download lessons that they deliver in the classroom. All lessons include interactive activities, hands-on projects, problem solving scenarios, and role-play.

As of this writing, schools in 48 U.S. states (and seven other countries) teach Cyber Civics to their students, and the program continues to grow. Today there is even a book–Raising Humans in the Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship With Technology (HarperCollins Leadership) that tells the Cyber Civics story.

Too Important To Ignore

No matter what a child’s future brings, you can be sure it will include using digital tools.

Given all the things they need to know in order to use them well (online reputation management, learning balance, privacy protection, fake news, cyberbullying, sexting, porn, online predators, media misrepresentation.... need I go on?), it is imperative that every child receives an education in digital literacy.

Please contact us if we can help you help your kids learn how to become digitally literate.

Post contributed by Diana Graber, founder of CyberCivics and author of Raising Humans In A Digital World.

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Summer Camps to Help Digital Addiction

Will a therapeutic summer camp help your teen’s digital addiction?

Many teens today have been experiencing depression, anxiety, under-performing in school if not completely failing classes — we’ve even witnessed a rise in truancy and youth that were once excelling that are now barely passing.

Internet and cellphone addiction has been a major contributing factor to young people’s decline in mental wellness.

This can lead to extreme defiance, rage and explosive behavior.

How can summer options help & what are the benefits:

There are therapeutic summer programs that are designed to give families a good foundation of what they are facing with their child’s behavior. It can offer immediate support and typically continues with a Psychiatric Evaluation with medication recommendations (if needed); an Educational Plan with specific goals and course recommendations (residents will have the option to recover essential grade credits, prepare for the SAT’s, gain organizational skills, as well); and a wellness plan, with goals for health and fitness, in addition to nutritional recommendations.

This is a time for digital detox as well as developing a healthy relationship with technology and building social skills with people in real life.

Some of the benefits can be the following:

  • Grade recovery
  • Learning coping skills
  • Anger and stress management
  • Peer relationships offline
  • SAT prep classes
  • Self-esteem building (helps them make better choices)
  • Overall healthy relationship with their devices

Why use a therapeutic summer program?

In some situations, maybe your teen only needs a summer boost, depending on the issues they are facing.

Some parents feel more comfortable committing to a shorter version of a therapeutic program rather than jumping into a full 6-9-12 month school. It can give them an opportunity to evaluate the program, therapists and staff. They are unsure if their teen needs a full therapeutic boarding school just yet.

The positive side of therapeutic summer programs are that they are part of long-term programs so your child doesn’t have to switch facilities if you determine they need longer care. This can also be helpful if your child successfully completes the summer session, however months later starts to stumble. Therapeutic schools offer open enrollment all year round so they would be able to be there to assist you.

Why are therapeutic summer programs rarely the answer but can be helpful?

Again this depends on the teenager. If your teen is only struggling academically, the summer grade recovery could be the perfect answer for you. However if you’ve been battling defiance, anger, rage, depression and other mental health concerns you might have a longer road in front of you.

It didn’t take 4-6 weeks for your child to get to where they are today, it’s not going to take 4-6 weeks for them to change this behavior.

Since 2001 we have been helping and educating families from all over the country. We rarely hear from families where a summer program has been successful for long-lasting results in behavioral changes but it can definitely be a strong starting place.

However, in some situations a solid 60-90-day program has been exactly what a student needed to get them back on the right path academically or at least give the family a sense of direction and a balanced home life.

What do therapeutic summer programs typically cost?

Therapeutic summer programs that have quality credential therapists, accredited educational team and enrichment programs will start at about $7000 a month and up. In some cases, PPO insurance may cover a portion of your clinical component of the program.

This tuition is competitive if not less than wilderness programs that rarely offer an educational component or enrichment programs.

In conclusion, if you’ve been struggling with your teen for over a year and have exhausted your local resources (therapy, out-patient, in-patient, maybe sent them to live with a relative) – and feel like you’re living like a hostage in your own home – or possibly fear for your child’s life, it might be time to consider residential therapy.

Each child and family are different. For many teens, in order to have long-lasting changes, it usually will take 6-9-12 months. However, we completely understand some families want to start with a summer option to ‘dip their toes in the water.’

Learn more about a therapeutic boarding school and residential treatment center.

Contact us for more information.

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How the Cancel Culture Can Impact Your Online Reputation

The Cancel Culture (formerly referred to as the “call-out” culture) is now how people are using social media to publicly shame (usually celebrities or brands) due to what they deem is a controversial issue or act.

Whether it’s politics or the car you drive, it seems everyone has an opinion.

However if something is against their beliefs or morals, instead of having a diplomatic conversation – or seeking the truth, it’s easier to use their keystrokes to jump to conclusions — and assume it’s true since it’s on the Internet.

There’s no rewind online

The Internet is unforgiving, even if Chris Pratt or any celebrity that makes a mistake (thinking back to Kevin Hart) true or false — the gang-like mentality of social media can be overwhelming.

The fact is the digital population doesn’t take a moment to determine cyber-fact from cyber-fiction. They will quickly destroy a career and reputation within a few clicks and taps of their keypad.

The Cancel Culture is very troubling, since many of these people are adults acting like children; they are all quick to react without taking the time to consider all sides of a story.

No one is perfect, many of us have made stupid comments or even posts years ago and what we’re witnessing is the corrosion of humanity. People using the power at their fingertips to ruin and hurt others — and they don’t think twice about it.

Online reputation and being cancelled

Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character. If you are the shamer or the person being shamed, your online reputation can be affected. We are all a click away from digital disgrace, including being canceled!

It’s an aim and shame society online – and sadly, celebrities or major brands typically take the hit, since they are public figures or easy targets.

What we learn from this is no one is immune to online hate (even celebrities); Bad things happen to good people online, this doesn’t have to define you.

We are living in very contentious times, especially for those that have strong viewpoints and believe that others are wrong or bad people for not having their same belief system.

Right or wrong, in these heated times anyone can easily become a target for almost anything. Especially if it pertains to politics, religion or race — if you have ever made any comments (whether in jest or not) – you never know how they can come back to haunt you or be taken out of context.

Young people especially need to think twice before engaging in this type of behavior, it can literally define your future. Whether it’s applying to colleges or interviewing for jobs, your online behavior is available to anyone that puts your name through an Internet rinse cycle. 

People today are quick to judge and slow to consider all the facts behind these posts or images. It’s really sad – since you can ruin an innocent person’s life, especially regarding their online reputation – which is just about everything today. 

Like online shaming, there are very few instances that the Cancel Culture has a place in our society.

3 Ways to avoid being cancelled

Personally, I’m not convinced that the cancel culture will be gone anytime soon. For now, here are 3 ways you can navigate online safer.

Avoiding Being Cancelled:

  1. Share with care: If you can’t contribute constructively, consider not sharing your thoughts at all.

    The truth is, if you have a strong viewpoint you might be better off telling them to your friend offline. You will be less likely to risk online controversy or shaming at all.

  2. Politics and religion: This is a very slippery slope and you want to be very careful on how you share your comments.

    Your online behavior is always a reflection of your offline character. You might be strong in your convictions, but could it cost you a job, relationship or career.

    It’s also important to remember your words don’t always translate the way you want them to online. So much can be taken out of context.

  3. Humor: Everyone loves a laugh, but keep in mind that online context (tone especially) can translate very differently.

    What may seem harmless and humorous to you – could be construed as sarcasm and cruelty to others.

Maybe cancelling has some good intentions such as people wanting to bring awareness to social justice causes. People don’t get cancelled for having bad hair or preferring pineapple on their pizza, but because they’ve done or said something problematic.

If you use common sense and keep it friendly, you shouldn’t fear being cancelled or shamed (though it’s never a guaranty online). If you do make a mistake (we’re all human), be accountable, apologize swiftly. Remember, even if you do remove it – chances are good someone already copied it to another place in cyberspace.

It might be time to take a digital detox.

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We’re all a click away from digital disgrace

Reality is, we’re a tweet or post away from losing an interview, a job or for many young people — a spot for their first choice college.

The percentage of college admissions officers who believe that incorporating applicants’ social media pages into their decisions is “fair game” continues to trend upward, reaching 65% in the 2020 survey of over 300 of them from Kaplan, up from 59% in 2019 and 57% in 2018.

The study says, among other things, that college admissions staffs are continuing to review applicants’ social media activity and online reputations.

Digital Reputation and COVID

In the age of Covid-19, when we are spending more time on social platforms, it’s important for students (teens) to be extremely careful about their online behavior.

For example, how might an admissions officer react to seeing a photo of you in a large group of friends, with local social distancing and safety precautions not being followed? These are things applicants didn’t have to think about years prior, but may have to do so now.

Life Before Tech

Do you remember when we were kids and the biggest threat a teacher had was putting a grade on our permanent record? We lived in fear of the idea of someone, years down the line, reading about the time when we poured our milk over a bully’s head in the cafeteria.

Then we grew up and learned that employers would never read that permanent record and would never care about the time in tenth grade when we called a teacher a “jerk” before that teacher was out of earshot.

Those were simpler times – times when employers didn’t check credit reports, when college admissions (for the most part) staff only cared about the grades you earned in high school, and earning a bachelor’s degree was optional.

Pause Before You Post

This isn’t the case for our kids. They live in a world where college degrees are now viewed the same way we once saw a high school diploma. The chances of getting even a minimum wage job without one are tiny. They live in a world where they share everything via public and social mediums. Their permanent records start when they’re born and their parents put their baby pictures up on Facebook.

In some ways, this makes them more web savvy than their adult counterparts. They have a seemingly inherent understanding that everything they put online can be accessed by pretty much anybody. The idea that their internet activity is private is foreign to them.

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t still teenagers, and teenagers, as much as we love them, aren’t so great at impulse control. They are also still figuring out who they are, and that means trying out all sorts of different things…things that might be embarrassing later on and things they definitely wouldn’t want to be held accountable for when they grow up and out of a particular phase.

Online Actions, Offline Consequences

The Kaplan study presents a number of problems for kids who are applying to college. While admissions staff have gone on record in a number of publications saying things like awkward selfies probably won’t negatively influence their decisions, they also say that reading things like disparaging comments about teachers and peers as well as proven association with alcohol or other illicit substances could cause them to refuse a student’s entrance into their school.

What makes this even more stressful is that most online reputations are only given a cursory glance. This means that someone in your kid’s chosen school could be inadvertently looking at a profile for someone else with the same name as your child or, worse, looking at a fake profile one of your kid’s rivals set up to be mean.

Being Proactive

So what can you do? As a parent, how much of this is within your control?
Talk to your kids about the importance of their online reputations. Remind them that everything they post online has the potential to go public (and viral). Encourage them to only post those things that they wouldn’t mind being grilled about by their highly prudish great great aunts and uncles over Thanksgiving dinner.

This is not the look you want to see on someone's face when they search for your teen!

Connect with your kids online as well as at home. Make sure that your kids have friended you on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and that you can follow their Twitter and other social media accounts.

This way you can see what they post the same way their friends can.

Work with them to set their privacy settings to the strictest levels possible. This way, even if someone searches for their profiles, they won’t see anything you and your kids don’t want them to see.

Why not cut them off at the chase? Include links to social media profiles with applications to ensure that admissions officers are looking at the correct profiles. Plus, knowing that those links are included in applications should hopefully encourage your kids to practice some social media decorum.

It pays to be proactive!

Guest post

posted by on Digital Parenting

Are you a parent of a teen that is using a dating app?

In most cases, online dating is unsafe for teens. This is because, as you probably already know, there are a lot of predators online who try to prey on teens.

That cute 16-year-old lacrosse player who lives a few hours away that your daughter is talking to online could really be a 40-year-old dude who lives with his parents a few blocks away from you. It’s easy to stretch the truth online, and people do it all the time.

Although most reputable dating sites don’t allow teens to sign up for their services, there are a few online dating sites and dating chat rooms geared toward teens. If you discover that your teen has starting dating someone online, you should definitely be concerned. Here are a few tips to help you deal with this type of situation:

1. Have a serious discussion about the risks

Your teen probably already knows that meeting people online isn’t the safest choice. However, he or she decided to do it anyway. As a parent, it’s your job to communicate the risks of online dating to your son or daughter without seeming too much like an overprotective, overbearing parent. So, sit down together and have an adult conversation about online predators.

Try not to get angry with your teen, and calmly ask your teen to stop visiting online dating sites. This discussion may not be enough to convince your teen to stop meeting people online. It will, however, get your teen to start thinking more about how dangerous online dating can be.

2. Monitor your teen’s online behavior

Install some software on your computer that will let you monitor your teen’s online habits. You can choose whether or not you let your teen know you’re doing this. After the software is installed, check to see what sites your teen is visiting regularly, but avoid invading your child’s privacy too much.

There’s no need to go through all of his or her SMS messages, unless there’s good reason to suspect something is up. If you notice your teen is regularly visiting sites that appear to be online dating sites, you may want to get some software to block those sites from your family computer.

3. Do a background check on online suitors

If your teen still finds a way to online date, despite your efforts to curtail this activity, find out who he or she is talking to. Find out the name of the person, where he or she lives, and where he or she supposedly goes to school. Then conduct a background check on the online suitor to see if he or she is telling the truth to your teen.

Call the school the suitor allegedly attends and try to see if he or she is actually enrolled there. Try to find the phone number of the parents of the suitor, call them, and let them know their child is dating your child.

If it turns out that the person your teen is communicating with is actually another, normal teen, you’ll have to decide whether or not you’ll allow your child to continue communicating with him or her. If you discover that the online dater isn’t actually a teen, it’s best to report him or her to the authorities.

Online dating is a real risk in your teen’s life. So, make sure you have an open, honest conversation about meeting people online with your son or daughter. And keep tabs on your child’s online behavior. It’s critical that you take the necessary steps to protect your teen from online predators.

posted by on Uncategorized

When Safety Trumps Privacy

This has been a debate for years and the answer comes back to when safety trumps privacy.

Especially now as technology is in the hands of every teens and many tweens, as well as COVID has locked us online more than ever — parents need to be in tune with how are teens are dealing with peer pressure, friendships and most of all, digital school life.

Teenagers earn their trust with their parents. Respecting each others privacy should always be priority, however if you fear your teenager is heading down a dark path, and is not willing to talk to you or a third party (therapist, guidance counselor, relative or adult friend), you may have to cross the line of trust.

Warning signs that monitoring may turn to snooping:

  • Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a “gut feeling” something is deeper than a secret, you may have to cross that line. There is nothing stronger than a parents intuition.
  • Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Again, teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however when it becomes extreme, it may be time to cross that line. The pandemic has caused a rise in stress, anxiety and defiance in many teenagers. Parents are struggling to keep up with the challenging behavioral changes.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? Are they hanging with a less than desirable group of friends, even virtually? Have they started joining risky chatrooms? Possibly meeting strangers? Sneaking out?
  • Is your teens eating habits changing? Eating more or less? Binging? Especially during this pandemic, families need to try to have meal times several times a week.
  • Is their sleeping patterns changing? Is your teen sleeping a lot? Bloodshot eyes? Do you suspect drug use?
  • Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries or house rules?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?

Are you snooping or are you legitimately monitoring your teens?

Should you read your teen’s diary? Scroll through their text messages or even befriend them on their social networking sites? That is a personal question only you can answer.

Remember writing can be very healthy for teens (and adults for that matter), so if your teen isn’t giving you any valid reasons to “invade their privacy” – respect it.

When safety trumps privacy – may be time to pry – but every day you should be monitoring your child’s online activity – it’s called parenting.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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Cyberbullying, Online Shaming and COVID

It’s been an extremely challenging year for many people. The pandemic has everyone on edge and many are retreating to their devices as a distraction of reality. Sadly social media and the internet can be a sea of negativity as well as hateful content.

Rise in online usage

From school lessons and office work to physical exercise and doctors’ appointments – more aspects of people’s daily social and professional lives are moving online as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to the L1ght, an organization that tracks online harassment, there has been a 70% increase in cyberbullying in just a few months. Aside from the increase in technology use, there are other factors contributing to the rise in online hate

  • Increased stress: The pandemic has been highly stressful and confusing for everyone. Oftentimes when kids feel stressed or confused, it leads to acting or lashing out at others, arguing among friends and risk-taking behaviors in response. 
  • Isolation: Mandatory stay-at-home orders can cause feelings of loneliness, which can lead to fragmented relationships. Some kids may have limited access to the internet, which can make them feel further isolated. In return, they may make mean or cruel comments in frustration, especially if they feel like they are out of the loop within their friend groups. 
  • Decreased supervision online: With many parents trying to balance working from home, helping with schoolwork and managing this new world, they aren’t available to pay close attention to what their kids are doing online. 
  • Boredom: Kids sometimes engage in cyberbullying because they are bored, lonely or want attention. Because the pandemic worsens these issues, it can lead to mean behavior online. Some kids bully to relieve stress, but also because they are bored. 

Adults acting like children

Whether it’s neighbors policing neighbors, mask shaming or our heated political election, this past year we have seen grown-ups acting worst than most kids online. Parents (especially) need to pause before they react to comments or post questionable content online. Believe it or not, you are your child’s biggest influence — by you behaving inappropriately on social media, it gives them the greenlight to act the same way.

Unfortunately mean-people, such as bullies and cyberbullies, don’t take holidays or vacations.  On the contrary, they are the type of individuals that are on the clock 24/7 – 365 days a year.

Since we know this, it is imperative we also know how to equip not only our children, but ourselves to better handle situations when they happen – especially online.

First there has to be a clear understanding that no-one is immune to cyberbullying or online shaming.  Anyone can be a target of another person’s cruelty.

  1. Never engage with the bully or the person that is harassing you.  Never have any of your friends retaliate in your defense.
  2. Save, copy, print out — any evidence.  Print screen can be the easiest way.
  3. Block and report the person to the social media site you are using.
  4. Never meet anyone in person.
  5. Tell someone you trust.  Hopefully a parent or a trusted adult. If you are an adult, talk to a friend. Being insulted or harmed online is painful at all ages.

3 Steps for building digital resilience

As someone that has been completely humiliated, shamed and bullied online (and survived), I know that if I was prepared with the knowledge I know today, I still would have struggled with the emotional pain and distress. I don’t believe anyone wants to be berated or harassed especially on the world-wide-web.

With that – it’s about learning what I know today and that’s to build your digital resilience to protect you from the toxicity of the internet and give you the tools and coping skills to better handle the hate.

  1. Prepare yourself for the ugly-side of social media and the internet. You can’t control how people act, but you can control how you respond to them (or not respond to them).
  2. Know how to block, mute and report abusive content and users on all the social platforms you are using. Take a few minutes to read the terms of service about what constitutes online hateful behavior. You will be a stronger reporter.
  3. Understand that online is not reality! That’s according to  research looking at online honesty, which found that “online deception is the rule, not the exception.” Use your critical thinking skills. Never forward or repeat misinformation.

Finally never forget that like you, cruel and mean people won’t be taking the holidays off. They will be online too. Do your best to be an upstander especially during this trying time. If you see your friend struggling or being harassed, reach out to them. If you are reading hateful or harmful content — flag it as abusive. Do your part as a responsible and respectful digital citizen.

For more resources and wisdom for dealing with online hate order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate. It makes the perfect gift, especially during this time.

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying

3 C’s of Digital Civility Online

Never doubt, our keyboards can be used as a tool or a weapon. It’s completely up to the user. I often hear, parents especially, that like to blame the apps or social platforms for cyberbullying, however we have to keep in mind that it’s human behavior that is using a keypad to inflict cruel content.

We can use our keystrokes 4-ways:

  1. Help
  2. Hurt
  3. Heal
  4. Harm

It improve our online behavior, it starts with civility.

3 C’s of Responsibility Online Behavior

  1. Conduct

Self-awareness: Before you use your device or keyboard, check-in with yourself. How are you feeling? Are you happy, sad, emotional?

Anger is temporary, online is forever.

Think twice, post once.

2. Content

Is what you’re about to post going to embarrass you or humiliate someone else? You don’t want to wake up a day, month or year(s) later to a tweet regret or post remorse moment that could cost you a job or relationship.

What goes online, stays online. There’s no rewind online.

3. Caring

It should be natural to care about others, however it’s just as important to care enough about yourself to know when you should click-out. Are you about to leave a snarky comment? Send an emoji that may not translate well to others?

When in doubt, click-out. You will survive by taking time offline.

Read more about how to share smarter online and ways to stop online hate.

posted by on Cyberbullying

Oversharing contributes to cyberbullying

We live in a time where many people (of all ages) have become comfortable documenting their offline life — online. This has caused problems for some, especially if you’re in the job market or applying to colleges.

As most of us know, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, today that first impression is what an internet search will say about you. Right or wrong, in most cases people won’t take the time to decipher cyber-fact from cyber-fiction and will move on to the next candidate.

What is oversharing?

Oversharing is when people share too much personal information to the public or a stranger. It can happen both on and offline. However, it is a big problem on social media sites, which make “putting yourself online” easy.

I want to cite 2 interesting studies that help us to understand there is truly no benefit to oversharing online.

  1. A  report from UCLA confirmed what I have been saying for a long time – oversharing on social media is putting you at potential risk for becoming a victim of cyberbullying or digitally shamed.

People have less sympathy and empathy for those that over-expose (overshare) themselves and end up being ridiculed or harassed than those that are innocently minding their own business or have fallen victim to an online prank.

2. According to a Harvard study, humblebragging (such as oversharing too much about yourself) can get you in trouble – they are perceived as less than credible or genuine people, not well liked and viewed as insincere.  Some were even considered frauds. Not everything needs to be digitally documented.

5 Ways to Share Smarter Online

  1. Is it necessary?

Are you social sharing for your platform or oversharing for your ego? Not everything you do offline needs to be on display down your feeds.

One way to prevent this is avoid sharing in haste. Don’t be so impulsive about sharing in the moment – enjoy your moment and reconsider later if the world really needs to see it.

2. Emotional sharing.

Are you having a bad day? Arguing with your partner or friend, maybe your boss? Your cyber-friends are not cyber-therapists. Take it offline.

Avoid using your social platforms as venting machines.

3. Inappropriate content.

Although this should be self-explanatory, there is never a place for profanity, nudity, drugs or any other irresponsible posts.

I understand that some may believe that sexting is normal, however never believe that anything is private online – especially with technology. What goes on in the dark – can and will come out in the light. Post at your own risk.

4. Constructive sharing.

Especially during this year of COVID and politics, we are all struggling with stress, anxiety and angst. There has never been a time that we need to be more careful with our tone online. We all have differences of opinions on social responsibility as well as politics. If you can’t share constructively, do yourself a favor — take some time offline.

There’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree, however when you turn to cyber-combat online, no one wins. No one listens and it’s a reflection of your character offline. Be contructive, not combative.

When in doubt – click-out.

5. Know your audience.

Before you share a comment, post or image — who are you sharing it with? Is it friends, family, teachers, colleagues, co-workers, etc…. Is it a public post for the entire world to view?

What we need to understand, as we remember the infamous tweet of Justine Sacco, that cost her public shaming and her job, even sharing with your small number of friends doesn’t guaranty you safety.

It only takes one person to copy, paste and post – and one of your personal images or content will then become viral. Again confirming – there’s really no such thing as privacy in the digital world.

Share with care.

posted by on Cyberbullying

3 Ways to Combat Online Hate

Preparing young people to prevent online bullying

There’s no question, 2020 has been a difficult year. Teens and tweens are spending even more time online as they are adapting to distancing learning virtually. It’s been a struggle both emotionally and socially for everyone.

Different studies and surveys conclude that cyberbullying is on the rise, which is understandable with more screen-time combined with stress and anxiety that most are feeling. People are acting out of fear and frustration without consideration of how their comments, posts or other online behavior will impact their peers.

3 Ways to stop online hate

  1. Teach them how to report, block and flag abusive content

Apps will come and go, however bad online behavior is human behavior. Whatever app your teen or tween has, they must take the time to read and understand the terms of service as it pertains to abuse and harassment.

This helps them to become stronger reporters of online hate and what constitutes abusive content.

2. Don’t perpetrate hate

What would you do if you saw hateful or harmful content?

Our young people need to understand by engaging in cyber-combat, it’s a reflection of your character. Your online reputation is everything today – and it will impact your future.

1. Report and flag abusive content.

2. Don’t forward, share or retweet cruel content.

3. Liking a harmful post is equal to endorsing it.

4. Don’t engage in cyber-combat.

Energizing hate gives it life or credence.

3. Critical thinking: Stop spreading misinformation, gossip and fake news

When people spread wrongful information it can lead to cyberbullying, shaming and harassment. It’s important to help our young people to develop critical thinking skills to decipher posts that they may believe is not truthful before forwarding them or sharing them.

The C.R.A.P. Detection Test, by Howard Rheingold, is one way that can help us determine fact from fiction (or at least) give us some guidance:

  • Currency: How recent or up-to-date is the information.
  • Reliability: Is the content opinion based or balanced? Does it provide references or sources for data?
  • Authority: Who is the author or source, and are they reputable?
  • Point of view: Does the poster have an agenda or are they trying to sell something?