Connect With Respect
Connect with Respect
A "Pledge for Good"
In the U.S., A Platform for Good - a project of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) - is recognizing Safer Internet Day by launching a "Pledge for Good." On their site, you have the opportunity to make a simple pledge: "I will use my power for good." The purpose of the pledge is not to change behavior, but to highlight what great things people are already doing with technology. In celebration of Safer Internet Day, I encourage you and your family to join in and take the pledge. Let the world know that online technology is a platform for good. You can also check out their online safety resources in their Resource Center.
Amanda began her story in 7th grade at age 12 when she flashed an unknown man via a webcam chat. She goes on to explain how this one action lead to a series of events that included the unknown man sending the snagged photo to everyone she knew. Amanda recounts the relentless stalking and harassment she faced as she tried to move on. She ended her story by asking for help – in her own words, "I have nobody. I need someone." Amanda ended her life on October 10, 2012 at age 15.
Amanda's story is tragic. It's crucial for kids to understand that growing up online – taking risks and pushing boundaries – could bring unforeseen consequences if someone records and reveals those actions to others. In Amanda's case, she was stalked and exploited; and the online stalker's actions were exacerbated by the bullying behaviors of some of her peers. If Amanda felt as though she had a friend – someone - her story may have ended differently. It's a clear message that we can no longer be bystanders. If we witness bullying, we need to offer help whether we take action ourselves or seek out someone who can.
As Amanda's video spreads, take a moment to talk to your children about her story. Here are some talking points that may help your discussion:
• Friends of friends are actually strangers. Social networking enables you to share large amounts of information which could pose risks when shared with someone you don't really know.
• Be cautious of what you post and share with others. Once you share content - pictures, videos, stories, artwork or any other originally created work - with just one person online, you relinquish control over its potential distribution and use.
• Webcams are a window into your world so be careful of who you let in. Dress and behave as you would when having a friend over. Always remember images can be snagged and shared.
• Remember to have respect for each other - online or offline. It's not okay to say hurtful things to someone just because they can't see you and you can't see them. Every user ID or avatar represents a person so think before you post. Ask yourself how you would feel on the other side.
• Don't be a bystander. If you see someone who is being bullied, take action. And, if you don't feel as though you can intervene directly for fear of retribution or simply not knowing what to do, go seek the help of a trusted adult so that they can step in.
• If you are being bullied:
1) Keep the digital evidence (you may need it if the behavior escalates).
2) Block the bully (privacy preferences typically allow users to block others in chat, e-mail, instant messaging and even on social networks).
3) Tell a trusted adult.
4) Report it to the service provider (most have policies against harassment).
5) Report it to the school if it carries over into that environment.
6) If the bullying escalates to threats of physical harm, report it to law enforcement.
Learn more about bullying at: StopBullying.gov
A photo of little Etan, taken by his father, circulated worldwide in the search that ensued. It was Etan's photo - the image of an innocent little boy – that caught the attention of the nation and helped raise awareness of the issue of missing children. His disappearance, along with a number of other high-profile cases of missing children in the late 70's and early 80's, including Adam Walsh, showed us how ill-prepared we were as a nation to quickly identify and assemble resources in an effort to locate a missing child. These cases became a catalyst for change that brought about a national commitment to help locate and recover missing children. This commitment can be seen most notably today through the work of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
National Missing Children's Day serves as a reminder of our continued commitment, including our role in making child safety a priority.
A Time to Take 25
In honor of National Missing Children's Day, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recognizes Take 25, an annual campaign designed to raise awareness of of children's personal safety issues. Take 25 encourages parents, guardians, caregivers and others to spend time talking to kids about their personal safety at home, school, online or when they are just out and about.
–How to parent Facebook users,
–Managing reputation in the digital age,
–Actual risks in social media
–Managing your privacy on Facebook,
The Parents Guide can be found at: http://www.ikeepsafe.org/parents/parents-guide-to-facebook/.
Safer Internet Day enters its 9th year with the theme "Connecting generations and educating each other", where users young and old are encouraged to "discover the digital world together...safely"! Never has it been more important for parents and other care givers to play a role in the lives of young people and their use of technology as it is today. Being online, or being connected, has become so intricately woven through the daily lives of our children that the distinction between online and offline is nil – we need to parent in that world.
'Parents' and Carers' Guide to the Internet'
In contributing to Safer Internet Day and to help get you started , the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre today launched the 'Parents' and Carers' Guide to the Internet' - a short, entertaining TV-style program looking at what it's like to bring up children in the online world. You can watch this program online to help you:
• stay up-to-date with the technology your children are using;
• understand steps you can take to keep your children safe online; and
• know what action to take and where to seek further support if things go wrong.
Visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents to watch the program and access information on how to keep your family safe online.
Most parents worry about their children social networking via personal computers, smartphones, and iPod devices. Most schools also worry about children social networking during English, Biology, and History. As a result, many schools have banned Facebook and social networking websites on school computers. However, children have found multiple ways to sidestep this ban and access Facebook through the use of proxy servers.
Tech savvy students have found websites that contain step by step instructions to unblocking Facebook and MySpace on school computers. A few such websites include unblock.biz and proxypimp.com. Through the use of these websites, students can mystify teachers and parents alike.
Although school administrators and teachers cannot always ensure that students use school computers for educational purposes, parents can encourage them to do so. Talk to your middle schooler and designate limits on computer usage at home, under parental supervision. Some schools have also taken the initiative to educate students about social networking safely, instead of placing bans and blocks.
Social networking is a concerning issue for many parents. Ease your concerns by educating your child regularly about cyber safety.
Like many parents, my biggest fear is of something awful happening to my child. It was heartening to me when I first heard that MapQuest and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) recently announced the availability of a new widget on MapQuest Local that includes valuable missing child alerts and information from NCMEC.
The new widget features pictures and information about children who are missing from the geographic area for which the MapQuest Local page is set. Also included is the ability to search for missing children by name and link directly to NCMEC's homepage and other missing children resources from NCMEC. The new widget can be found at http://local.mapquest.com
NetSmartzKids is a great resource for younger kids. There are games, videos and trivia that are made for the younger users.
Related to NetSmartz, NSTeens.org. This is made for the teens in the house and includes comics, videos and games.
Parents are invited to read past entries on SafetyClicks, learn about the internet safety program from Enough.org and simply talk to your kids about what they do online.
Internet Safety Month may not be the most glamorous celebration this summer, but I think it is one worth celebrating. What do you think you can do to mark the occasion?
I don't know what makes people be so cruel to each other. I wish I knew how to stop it. What has been shown to us stories such as this, by the time teens are telling adults about the torment they are feeling, it has gone too far. We, as the parents, the educators and the "trusted adults" need to listen to them when they tell us that they are being picked on. 34% of teens say that it helps to just tell an adult who will listen.
The Prince family is in my thoughts.
If you could go back in time and Phoebe came to you, what would you do to try and help?
All of the online safety experts have the same advice about how to keep our families safe online. There are a few variations, but the basics are always the same: Keep your personal information private, block people who aren't nice and don't open unknown files, and finally, report anything that upsets you.
It is not always easy for parents and teachers to clearly express these messages to kids and teens, especially when you either are upset. Click Clever Click Safe, from the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, has come up with a clear message we can all follow.
Zip It: Keep your personal stuff private and think about what you say and do online.
Block It: Block people who send you nasty messages and don't open unknown links and attachments.
Flag It: Report anything upsets you or if someone asks to meet you offline.
If you can remember to Zip It, Block It, Flag It, you can advise your teen to report the behavior to the provider, block the person who said the mean things. As a bonus, this takes only a matter of seconds and you have empowered your teen to stand up for herself without retaliating with more hurtful words.
Hopefully your teen will never encounter this type of harassment. But it is a good idea to talk to the kids and teens in your house. If they are old enough to go online, they should learn these simple things to help keep their time online enjoyable. What ways would you suggest to open the conversation with your kids and teens about online safety?
While the Walsh family has my highest respect, the worst part about his story is that the services are needed. I hope that you will never have a need for these services. If I am wishing for things, I would wish that there was not a need for their services. Since there is a need – I am proud that AOL has been partnering with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in many ways for more than 10 years.
Two services available on AOL that can help locate missing kids are:
Alerts: You can sign up to be alerted when an AMBER Alert is sent in the zip code of your choosing. These alerts notify you of a missing child in the area, so you can watch for them. As you know, the missing piece of information can come from anywhere. Alerts can come via e-mail, text message to your cell phone or via Instant Message.
Updated Notifications: You can include a widget for local missing children in your area by going to your local MapQuest page. If you can provide any information about any missing child, you can call the toll-free number 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
The National Center's web site is full of information about protecting kids. I encourage you to check it out.
Of the top 100, I was not at all surprised by what was searched, but I have to admit that I was quite surprised how highly ranked some of the search terms were - especially 'sex' and 'porn'.
There are things you can do to help mitigate your child getting to search results that are not age appropriate. The article mentions several and AOL Parental Controls can also help.
This article made me think. Thankfully, my daughter isn't old enough for the computer, but I am not sure how I would react if I discovered she was searching on these terms. Now that you read their article - what (if anything) will you change about your online habits at home?
For example, there were people from the Girl Scouts, Attorneys General, the Chief Technology Officer from the White House, a Member of U.K.'s Parliament, representatives from all the major Internet companies, the non profit groups working toward online safety in many ways, child psychologists and pediatricians, and so many more.
I will be posting a lot about what I learned there, but one thing struck me and I had to share it. During one of the presentations, we were introduced to YouTube's Safety Center, including this video. I love the simple message and how it was done using keyboard characters.
Which safety campaigns have you loved in the past?
When I read this article saying that 1/3 of students in the UK aged 12 – 15 years old have a web cam in their bedrooms – this made sense to me. Assuming the technology is basically the same in the US vs. the UK, parents are getting their school aged students a laptop to do their homework and it is very likely going to include a web cam.
I am a long time supporter of having the computer in a common area of the home, not in a bedroom where the door can be closed. Admittedly, most teens are not going to do anything too terrible or talk to people they shouldn't using a web cam, but even fewer will if they have to do it with parents or siblings around (even if the family is just in sight and not close to the computer).
Now that our family has this new web cam, we got one for Grandma and Grandpa too. Every couple of weeks they can see their grandchild as she is growing up. I guess this forced technology isn't all bad – just unplanned.