posted by on Cyber Safety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Social media, Social Networking

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TweenSocialMediaMore than 70 percent of teens use more than one social network site, with Facebook being the most popular, reports Pew Research Center. Thanks to the advanced cameras on smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S6, Instagram and Snapchat are the next two most popular sites with teens. Parenting magazine explains that social media benefits teens by giving them access to more information and increasing their sense of self; however, social media channels also pose threats, such as the sharing of information about illegal substances and the spreading of illicit photos online.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should view the digital world as an environment that’s as meaningful as the physical world their children live in. This means you should talk with your children about social media to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable experience online.

Educate Early

Common Sense Media recommends that you start talking with your children about social media as soon as they go online, which could be as young as preschool age. While young kids aren’t old enough to be on social media sites according to age restrictions, it’s important to instill digital safety principles that they’ll follow once they are on these sites. Explain to your kids that they should not talk to strangers and to only interact with people they know in real life. Let them know that if they’re approached by a stranger online, they should alert you.

Create clear expectations about what information they can share online. Personal details such as their phone number and address should not be posted, but hobbies and interests are OK. Use the network’s privacy settings to ensure it displays the most limited amount of information to the public. Tell your child to avoid contests and giveaways where they need to input personal information to participate.

Once your teens have their own profiles, write a contract together that outlines how they can use the profile. Be sure to include consequences for not using the profile properly. You also may want to include limits on how much time they’re allowed to spend on sites and a limit on how many sites they’re allowed to have profiles on. By involving your children in the process, they’ll be more likely to follow the rules. Examples of what you can include in a contract are outlined by the Family Online Safety Institute.

Determine Your Involvement

For most teens, social networks provide a place where they can talk about their interests and chat with friends. Most teens want privacy online just like they do in real life. If you want to monitor your teens’ tech usage, services such as NetNanny and My Mobile Watchdog let you see all your children’s communications on their computer and smartphone. You can also stipulate in your social media contract that they’re only allowed to use social media if you have access to their passwords and will conduct random check-ins to ensure they’re complying.

Emphasize that what your child puts online, from negative rants to sexy photos, may live on the Internet forever even if they’re erased. According to the 2015 Social Recruiting Survey by Jobvite, 92 percent of recruiters examine social media sites when they’re considering candidates. What your teens post online now could have a detrimental effect on their career and affect their entire future.

Have regular conversations with your kids about their interactions online and how they’re feeling in those environments. Ask who they’re talking to, what they’re talking about and how their interactions are affecting their self-esteem. If cyberbulling occurs, emphasize you’re an advocate who will help fix the problem. Periodically review your contract, and keep evolving it based on new developments to ensure a strong parent-child social media partnership remains intact.

posted by on Cyberbullying, Depression, Digital Life, Digital Parenting, Online Life

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The recent study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has produced many headlines referencing the link between social media usage and depression.

“Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important for clinicians interacting with young adults to recognize the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use,” said senior author, Dr. Brian Primack and director of Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health.



It’s about balance, not about taking away our devices and gadgets. According to the research, the more time spent on social media, the more likely a person is to be depressed.

Lead author of this study, Lui yu Lin noted that some depressed people turn to social media to fill a void, however it can result negatively has it fuels more internet screen time as follows:

  • Exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.
  • Engaging in activities of little meaning on social media may give a feeling of “time wasted” that negatively influences mood.
  • Social media use could be fueling “Internet addiction,” a proposed psychiatric condition closely associated with depression.
  • Spending more time on social media may increase the risk of exposure to cyber-bullying or other similar negative interactions, which can cause feelings of depression.

Let’s remember, online cruelty is not limited to youth. As Mashable just reported, actor Wentworth Miller was subjected to cyberbullying/harassment while struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

What can we do to start disconnecting and having more free time with friends, family and even ourselves?

Having these studies helps give us an awareness — I’m sure many of you are nodding your heads and thinking, hey, I don’t need a researcher to tell me I get depressed when I see my friends “living the life” as I’m struggling here…. (and remember, it’s only social media – you really don’t know what’s going on behind the screen).

Some suggestions to get unplugged:

  • Find a cause.  Is there something you’re passionate about?  Get involved!  For example, I love The Monique Burr Foundation — Child Safety Matters. I try to give as much time as I have to them in helping them with projects. It unplugs me and gets me involved in my community. What’s your favorite organization offline?
  • iCanHelp StackIt.  During every meal make it a point to STACKit! What a great campaign iCanHelp presented in 2014. It’s the gift that keeps on giving – talk to each other at meals.
  • HandsFreeLifeBookSet limits for yourself to answer emails and social media connections. It’s important, even as an adult, just as you give your child guidelines – give them to yourself too. It’s so easy to get online and not get off! Read Hands Free Life and start living again by Rachel Macy Stafford. (Lead by example if you expect your child to disconnect – you must be doing the same thing).
  • Set your phone to silent in the car or when you are out visiting with friends. Distractions are rude. Distracted driving kills. There is no message that can’t wait until you arrive alive, or you are finished with visiting with who’s in front of you — face-to-face. BTW – silent and vibrate are different. You don’t need a buzz any type of movement to get your attention. Your friend or the road should be your only focus. Live your life!

I’m sure there’s many more ideas you have, feel free to leave them in the comments. Who knows — you may discover there’s more to real life than you realized and end up cutting your social media time in half.  Nah – but here’s hoping to everyone’s continued happiness both online and off…..

posted by on Civility, Cyberbullying, Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Online harassment, Online profile, Online reputation, Online Safety, Parenting Blogs

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InternetRuinedOn March 9, 2016 a new series started, The Internet Ruined My Life on the Syfy Network. Though the series is new, we know that keystrokes and cyber-wars have been destroying lives for a long time.

“I wish I had never hit send.”

“I never knew one Tweet would ruin my life.”

“Everyone wants to be Internet famous.”

Do they? Well, not in the way these stories happened. Have you ever considered what would happen if you become a #hashtag? And I don’t mean a positive one. We have seen many people become victims of viral vomit that have innocently posted something benign that was completely taken out of context.

We have seen others that have posted things on what they believed were private forums or groups, or  to their limited number of friends or followers — only to have them republished by that one friend that maybe wasn’t really a friend at all.

As a viewer, you watch these cyber-disasters and simply can’t believe they can actually ever happen to you. However as someone that has been through digital warfare, I know firsthand, no one is immune to online attacks.

No one is immune to suddenly becoming a victim of cyberbullying or stalking. You never know when a friend can turn on you — or if you have a disgruntled client or even an angry business partner. Maybe you have a competitor that is jealous of you. We are watching more and more people using their finger-tips for e-venge now.

The keyboard has now become a legal lethal weapon that is not only destroying and ruining lives, it’s also taking lives.

We have read the devastating headlines of youth that have committed suicide over cyberbullying. We have also read where teens and tweens can become so involved in the video games it’s hard to define reality from fantasy.

InternetRuinedDianaMost babies learn to crawl before they walk. With today’s tech world, we need to teach our children digital etiquette before we hand them a keypad of any sorts.

It seems children today are more cyber-savvy than most parents, yet aren’t mature enough (or have common sense) to understand the consequences of adult situations – such as sexting.

Sexting is considered today’s new flirting for youth. However what most are not comprehending is the seriousness of it.

Today revenge porn is rampant. Laws are slow to catch up and lives are being destroyed. Kids aren’t mature enough to understand that relationships are here today and gone within a click. However that image is there forever.

These are only a few of the topics that the great team of Cyberwise with special experts each week, will be discussing and offering takeaways.

Everyone is invited! Each week we will have new experts joining us. Diana Graber will host and I will be joining her most of the weeks.

Check out the first Aftershow LIVE (recorded) here. – March 17th, 2016 Show.

Starting March 17th the experts were:
Bradley Shear is a lawyer who focuses on Internet, Technology, and Privacy Law. His advocacy efforts have led to at least 23 states banning employers and/or schools from being able to ask for access to your personal social media accounts.  He blogs at


Dr. Pamela Rutledge  is a Media Psychologist who tries to answer those questions by combining an understanding of human behavior, cognition, and emotions with an equal understanding of media technologies.

Coming on March 24th:

Richard Guerry – is the founder of the non-profit organization the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication (IROC2). Public and Permanent is how you can prevent any digital issue beyond sexting and cyber bullying.

Emily Lindin – is the founder of The UnSlut Project, author of the newly released memoir, UnSlut and UnSlut Documentary.

Coming on March 31th:

Andrea Weckerle – is the Founder of CiviliNation and the author of Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph over Haters, Trolls, Bullies and Other Jerks (2013).

Coming on April 7th:

Dr. Michelle Drouin is a developmental psychologist. Dr. Drouin’s  research on sexting, social media, and mobile phone addiction has attracted international attention, and she regularly does interviews for television, radio, newspapers, and magazines.

Coming on April 14th:

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist for Intel Security. She is an author, speaker, and cyber safety expert.

Ross Ellis is the founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying.
















Can the Internet ruin your life? 5 tips to help you avoid online trouble. My latest post for Connect Safely.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips, Teen Help, Teens and Technology

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StopMedAbuseBoyOnlineIn today’s hyper-connected society, it’s rare to find a teenager that isn’t on at least one social network. Even more, with new applications and social media sites becoming popular among teens at such a rapid pace, keeping up with everything teens are doing online can be a challenge for parents. With this in mind, it’s important to be wary of the potential threats these sites can pose to our teens, like the promotion of dangerous activities, such as over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse.

Regardless of whether your teen is Snapchatting constantly or live tweeting his or her favorite TV show, use these five tips to make sure your teen is having a safe and positive digital experience.

  1. Do your research.

What social platforms does your teen use? How does he or she use them? What potential dangers do these platforms pose? These are all questions you need to explore to make sure that you are aware of the possible threats these sites may pose to your teen. For example, while Twitter and YouTube can offer a lot of fun and informative content, the platforms can also provide dangerous information about abusing over-the-counter medicine. If you search online for “DXM” or any of the slang terms for DXM abuse, you’ll find posts with instructions on how to abuse DXM to get high, users filming or tweeting about their experiences and more.

  1. Make your expectations clear.

This may mean drawing up a social media contract with your teen or setting ground rules about how, when and where your teen should use various social media platforms. Even if you don’t draw up a contract, be sure to set clear guidelines about how you expect your teen to use digital devices and behave online. These rules can be as simple as no cellphones at the dinner table or emphasizing the “golden rule” – that your teen should treat others in social networks the way they would like to be treated. 

  1. Trust, but verify.

Explain to your teen that you’ll be checking in to see what websites he or she is visiting as well as what he or she is posting online. By checking in, you can actively prevent risky behaviors before they start. For example, if you notice that your teen visited a site that promotes DXM abuse or made an unexplained OTC medicine purchase online, you can start a conversation with your teen about what may be going on.

  1. StopMedAbuseGirlDadJoin your teen online.

If you join your teen on the sites he or she is using, you’ll be able to stay plugged into your teen’s online life. However, make sure to give your teen enough space. This means letting your teen know that you’re keeping an eye on what he or she is posting, but not commenting on every picture uploaded to Facebook. This will also open up an opportunity for you to model good online behavior to you teen. 

  1. Communicate often and openly.

At the end of the day, let your teen know that you have his or her best interest at heart. Explain that you are trying to protect him or her from online threats and risky behaviors. If you’re hesitant about starting this conversation, here are some conversation starters. Even more, don’t make the chat about online safety a one-time conversation. Talk frequently and freely about the importance of privacy, good social media behavior and online threats. And finally, let your teen know that if he or she has questions about something online like the promotion of OTC medicine abuse, you are always around for a conversation.

Although it may not seem like it sometimes, your teen trusts you and looks to you for guidance. Use these guidelines to stress less about your teen’s online activities and possibly build a more open relationship with your teen in the process.

QUESTION: What advice have you given your teen about staying safe online?

CHALLENGE: Take the time this week to establish social media ground rules for your family!

 Contributor: Blaise Brooks

Blaise is a mother of one, caregiver of two, accountant and community advocate. Blaise is also a contributor to The Five Moms blog on, working to spread awareness about over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse with other parents. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cybersafety, Dating, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Internet profile, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Parenting, Parenting Teens

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ParentsTinderFinding a girlfriend or boyfriend is a powerful driving force for teenagers around the world. The need to connect intimately with others is a defining moment in the transition from child to adult. Now, think back to our own teen years. Typically, we met prospective dates at school functions, religious get togethers, or outings to the mall.

Fast forward a few years (or twenty some- but who’s counting?) our own teens want to meet a special someone. However, they no longer need to rely on cute meet greets like we did. Yes, our children’s dating rituals have evolved with the digital revolution leaving mall hallways for power walkers. Surprisingly, many of our kids are turning to Internet dating sites, like Tinder, to to connect with peers or possible dates.

Swiping To Like: Teens And Tinder

Tinder, a very adult dating app, is widely known for promoting relationships, romantic and sexual, between adults. Users sort through images that are known to be sexual and suggestive, swiping right or left to like or dismiss another person. If a person swipes right, they can exchange information with the intention to meet in real life.

A shocking 7 percent of Tinder’s registered users are teens between the ages of 13 and 17. The site admits that it sorts users based on their listed profile ages, trying to pair other teens with others in the same age category. However, many of our kids will lie about their ages on social media sites which can open their profiles up to older and more experienced users.

Trending: Teens And Online Dating Apps

To complicate the issue of teens and online dating, we need to consider that 70 percent of teens seek ways to hide their digital activity from us. They manage to do this by dimming their screens, shutting windows, hiding apps, and clearing their browser history. We need to realize that all this secrecy can inadvertently lead our children to frightening or dangerous situations they lack the maturity to handle on their own. This makes it vital that we monitor and know what our kids are really doing with their Smartphones and devices.

Realizing our teens are seeking help from the digital world to spark a little romance, or at least find a date to the school dance can be frightening. For a more indepth look at teens and Tinder, please read the following infographic:

Contributor: Hilary Smith

About Hilary Smith: Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics. @HilaryS33


posted by on Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Internet profile, Internet Safety, Online image, Online Life, Online Privacy, Online reputation, Online resume

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GoogleSearchOverall the internet is a wonderful place that allows us to learn so much at our fingertips. It’s like having the combination of encyclopedia’s, travel guides, exploring real estate as well as the potential of building relationships and finding your next job or career!

Of course we all know there are pros and cons to everything, and the internet isn’t any exception. Let’s keep in mind, there will always be glitches with technology and there will always be new apps and websites being introduced online. The main concern is our human behavior and conduct – digitally speaking.

The cliche, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is more meaningful today, as I have frequently said — “Today your first impression is likely your digital one.”  More and more studies are substantiating this.

In a recent study from Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 84% of organizations (businesses) are using social media to screen potential job candidates while 9% are planning to use it. With this, 36% of them have disqualified applicants due to what they have found online.

There can be a gray line between internet fact verses internet fiction. I know, I was a victim of cyber-defamation. When I was attacked online, my virtual landscape was a war-zone. The fact is a person looking to hire you typically doesn’t take the time to determine if what they are reading online is true or false. They will most likely move on to the next candidate/applicant.

Why do businesses take the time to use social media for background searches?

In the SHRM study, the majority of (61%) employers turned to the applicants social media activity to learn more about them and/or to verify their resume. (And more, read below).


I frequently discuss online reputation and social behavior online. We have witnessed many cyber-blunders which people have lost their jobs while some never made it to their first day due to stupid Tweets or posts.

What this study revealed is in line with what Career Builders survey showed as each year more and more job applicants were not invited for an interview due to their social media behavior. It’s more than content, it’s how they conduct themselves online.

As  a reminder, according to that survey, these were the following top five pieces of content that turned employers off:

  • 46% – Provocative or inappropriate photographs
  • 40% – Information about candidate drinking or using drugs
  • 34% – Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee
  • 30% – Poor communication skills
  • 29% – Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.

In a PEW Study, we know that most adults still favor Facebook (71%) as their social gathering place and second for them is LinkedIn.

According to the SHRM study, both Facebook and LinkedIn are the two top sites used for screening social behavior activity by organizations.  They note that Twitter and Google+ are also being recognized.

How the internet can change your life depends on many things. What can you do about it?

  • Have you set-up your Google alerts? Sure, we all talk about it, but have you done it? Being proactive about what search engines are saying about you is a good practice. It’s important to know how/or if your name is being used online so you can be proactive.
  • Do you pause before you post or send an email? Too many people can double or triple task while thinking. Take the time to actually stop/pause before you send something into cyber-space.
  • Do you make a practice of checking your privacy settings on a regular basis? They can change without notice.
  • Are you someone that overshares? Humble bragging is not a compliment or an attribute. Learn to make lists to share with those that are interested in your family  and personal photos. Share with those that really do care.
  • De-cluttering your contacts and friends lists. Whether it’s on your cell-phone,  Facebook or any social networking platform, make it a habit to regularly delete people you aren’t familiar with. How many of us have butt dialed someone we didn’t mean to (and really only have called a few times) or sent an email to the wrong “Mary” since we have 20 of them in our email address book!

The internet can change your life. You have the ability to make it happen. It’s literally at your fingertips. Let’s be sure the changes are in a positive direction.

posted by on Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Parenting, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Parenting Blogs, Social Networking

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TeenCellOnlineSSTechnology plays a huge role in everyday life. From social media and messaging to GPS location and reviews, you rely on tech more than ever before. And so do your kids. You know the risks that are online, and you want to protect your children from them.

This poses the question, is it OK to snoop on your kids?

Do: Follow Family Rules

If technology seems to be taking over your children’s lives, it might be time to create some family rules for everyone in the house to follow. Some examples include no phones at the dinner table, time limits on video game usage and a set time when all phones must be off at night. It’s easy to get sucked into the screens of tablets, smartphones and other devices, even for adults, so following family rules ensures that everyone is on the same page about acceptable tech use.

When the tech is away, you also have more time to talk to your kids about school, friends and life, so you don’t have to snoop on them via their computer or smartphone.

Don’t: Give In

Push back from your kids is inevitable. It’s not easy to deal with, but despite their cries for their tablet or accusations that “It’s not fair!” you must be firm in your tech policies and monitoring methods at home. After all, you’re the parent and you make the rules.

Do: Monitor Tech Use

According to a Harris poll in 2013, 43 percent of parents with kids under the age of 18 said that their children know that their tech use is being monitored. Think of it like this: it’s not spying, it’s parenting. Today’s tech-driven world puts kids and teens at risk more than ever before, and as a mom or dad it’s your responsibility to keep them safe.

When your children are old enough to have their own smartphones, whether it’s an iPhone or an LG mobile device, you can enable the parental controls to keep a watchful eye on their activity. Additionally, downloadable apps like Abeona for Android can be used to monitor usage, including website visits and call logs.

Do: Practice Open Communication

Having a conversation about tech use, texting, online threats, cyberbullying and other Internet-driven issues is key to ensuring that your children are safe online. Younger kids may be more understanding and teachable, but pre-teens and teens may give you more push back. Be sure to start these conversations early and practice open communication often, as tech will always be present in your children’s daily life. If your children can trust that you have their best interest in mind, it’s likely that they will be understanding.

Don’t: Assume the Worst

Not all kids are bullies or troublemakers. Your kids are not as mischievous as you might think. When you’re monitoring your children’s technology use, try not to assume the worst. If you’re constantly thinking that they are up to no good and you are hovering over them when they’re on their phone, you might break their trust.

Give your kids some space and remember to practice open communication. However, if you noticed red flags or a change in your children’s behavior, you might want to trust your suspicions and confront your child.

Should you read your teen’s text messages? Read more.

Think you don’t want to break that bond of trust? Take a few moments to watch Dateline’s, One Small Dose.

One small dose. That’s all it was.  She was an honor roll student, not into drugs, never in troubled or into partying. Tara Fitzgerald, only 17 years old, however, was curious to try LSD and on one night made one bad decision she never woke up from.

“We all feel immune to drugs because our kids are better than that – they know better, they’re going to be smarter and it’s not going to happen to us. Well, it can happen to anybody,” – said Tara’s father in the following video.

Click here.

posted by on Cyber Safety, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Online Safety, Oversharing, Parenting, Parenting Teens, Parenting tips

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TeensSmartLet’s take this a step further, when should parents read their child’s journal or diary?

Many are reading this and saying — NEVER!

However, if you are concerned about your teen’s behavior (or child) and something doesn’t seem right, he/she is not communicating with you, isn’t there a time when safety trumps privacy?

In reality, most parents are paying for their child’s smartphone. Most parents are paying for their wireless service. Respect is a two-way street – I completely understand that.

It’s a parent’s responsibility to keep their child safe, if they suspect their teen is struggling – do you figure it’s just adolescence and  hope they grow out of it? Some parents tell me – “teens will be teens or boys will be boys” but what happens when things go very bad?


I agree, breaking that bond of trust with your teen is extremely difficult and should be taken seriously. You have to remember, safety is always the priority – even over that bond of trust.

What are some of the warning signs that may prompt you to cross this line?

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? And this is not into a better one, however to one that is less than desirable? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
  • Is your teens eating habits 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?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?

It’s not always easy doing what’s right, but it’s necessary.

This may be an extreme example, but recently Diane Sawyer aired a powerful interview with Sue Klebold, the mother of the infamous shooter, Dylan Klebold, of Columbine.

“I felt that I was a good mom… That he would, he could talk to me about anything,” Klebold continued. “Part of the shock of this was that learning that what I believed and how I lived and how I parented was– an invention in my own mind. That it, it was a completely different world that he was living in.”

After 16 years she is speaking out. What can we learn from her. No one expects their teen to wake up and shoot-up a school. No one believes their teen is going through a darkness that brings them to a point of such destruction they not only take their life – they destroy the lives of hundreds of others.

As this mother tells Diane Sawyer, there came a time when she stopped prying into his stuff. She felt he deserved his privacy. She was also dealing with an older sibling that was using drugs. She wasn’t making excuses – however like many parents, people hope this is teen behavior that will pass.

Sadly — it didn’t.

Today, not only are teens dealing with offline peer pressure, they have the combination of online social peer LIKE-ng. Keeping up with the social status of where they belong and who is saying what about them. Teen cyberbullying is overwhelming today – 16 years ago, kids were mainly dealing with the schoolyard bullies (which are also bad) however today it’s compounded with going viral.

Let’s go back to the title of this blog post. Should you read your teen’s text messages?

Only you can answer that.

posted by on Cybersafety, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Internet Safety, Online image, Online Life, Online profile, Online resume, Oversharing, Social media

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SecondChanceWe’ve heard this mantra a hundred times;

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Today, as I have said a million times, your first impression today is usually your digital one.

A new study by Ghent University said that employers use Facebook profile photos to screen potential candidates.

Employers have limited information when they make their first selection of the candidates for their vacancies. A CV and short motivation letter are often not sufficient to gain insight in the personality of the candidates. At the same time, there’s a lot of information to further refine a first impression. A potential source of information is the social networking website Facebook.

Admittedly, whether this is ethical or appropriate, it’s not unlawful.

The fact that employers screen via Facebook, does not imply that this is ethically and economically justified. Regarding the ethical side, employers may not be blamed. Basically, it is the responsibility of the users of social networks to manage their privacy settings and keep track of what information they share.

What I want to address here is that sometimes your Facebook profile picture and cover photo are defaulted as public and you need to manually set it to private. This is why it’s imperative to be proactive with your privacy settings on a regular basis.

Remember, technology can make mistakes same as humans. You may believe your picture was private – only to realize it suddenly is now public.

It’s happened to me. Thankfully I haven’t ever posted any questionable photos however my privacy settings seem to have a mind of their own — especially on Facebook. I’m not faulting Facebook – or any other social media platform, I’m only encouraging you to take responsibility for your online lives.

Take the time to check-in with your privacy settings regularly. It only takes a few minutes to double check your settings to be sure you are properly protected.

Keeping it clean.

Why it matters when you select your social media profile image:

“The candidate with the most favorable Facebook profile picture received approximately 21% more positive responses to his application in comparison to the candidate with the least favorable profile picture. The difference in the chance to be immediately invited to a job interview even amounted to almost 40%. ” These important differences can only be driven by the view of the Facebook profile picture, so it is clear that a significant proportion of employers screens via Facebook.

I mentioned social media profile images in general – since I am referring to all platforms.


In a Jobvite survey, 93% of recruiters said they will review a potential candidates social media profile before making a final decision on hiring them. That’s a substantial percentage. Don’t risk not being hired for your dream job or even a first choice college because of a silly photo or questionable content.


Your online presence will usually be the first impression someone will learn about you before meeting you in person. What do you want your digital image to say?

posted by on Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Digital citizenship, Digital Life, Facebook, Facebook safety, Internet Privacy, Internet Safety, Online bullying, Online Safety, Online Security, Sexting

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TeenOnlineshutterStockNearly 92 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 use the Internet on a regular basis and 71 percent of these digital natives have at least one social media account, according to a recent study by Pew Research. It’s no secret that Facebook is one of the most widely-used social media sites, and it’s very likely that your kids will create an account for themselves soon if they haven’t already. Here are a few things to talk about with them to ensure they understand the real world implications of the choices they make online.

Nothing is Private Online

While most adults understand it’s unwise to give out personal information to strangers on the Internet, this can be a foreign concept for young people. When creating an account, Facebook has multiple fields in the “about” section that ask for the user’s phone number, email address, and birth date. While it may seem innocuous, It’s important that your kids understand not to post any unnecessary personal information. Since any small detail could aid potential cyber criminals in identity theft, you’ll want to be as guarded as possible when it comes to personal information.


Just because the computer leaves physical distance between your child and potential bullies doesn’t mean cyberbullying is any less harmful than bullying in person. According to Consumer Reports, over one million children experienced a form of bullying over the Internet in 2011, and 81 percent of young people believe that bullying online is easier to get away with than doing it face to face.

The best way to deal with cyberbullies is to be intimately aware of Facebook’s privacy settings and understand how to block other users. If any harassment comes your child’s way, they should know how to deal with it before it develops into a situation that negatively affects their social life and general well-being.


A recent study by the Telegraph found that four out of 10 teenagers were duped into giving sensitive financial information to cyber criminals. The best way to protect against these kinds of attacks is to have a strong password that cannot be easily guessed. It’s often recommended to use a passphrase, which is a sequence of words, instead of a single password, as it’s much more difficult to crack. You’ll also want to enable Facebook’s “login approvals” feature, which sends a code to your cell phone when you attempt to access your account from a new computer, phone, or browser. This ensures you’re always aware when someone tries to log in to your account, and it provides an extra layer of security against hackers.

Cybercrime techniques are always evolving. The best way to stay up to date on the latest security trends is to get information from a trusted industry leader on their company blog or social media pages. For example, LifeLock uses their Facebook page to post resources for the latest identity theft news as well as tips and best practices.

The Internet is “Real Life” Too

One of the most important things about social media sites that teenagers need to understand is that whatever they choose to post reflects on them personally and has real world consequences. Even if your child’s profile is set to private, any one of his Facebook friends has the ability to capture a screenshot that will eternalize anything from an offensive joke to pictures of underage drinking. A Facebook wall is a public space, and any posts that go on to it should be composed with that in mind.

It’s not only their social life you’ll be saving. Ninety-three percent of hiring managers say they review a potential candidates social profiles before making a decision, so good online reputation management skills can help your teen find a job once he enters the workforce.