Online Safety Tips
Since its inception, this feature has caused much hype in IT magazines and online forums. Many ardently claim that this feature compromises privacy and endangers safety, while also presenting opportunities for stalking and other malicious activities. Also, friends can check into a certain location and broadcast who they are with, thus sacrificing the privacy of others. In contrast, other blogs state that while some may view it as privacy infringement, Facebook allows one to alter his or her privacy settings so that Places does not apply to them. It is a service for only those who wish to use it and Facebook works perfectly fine without it.
It is critical to explore this feature and make an informed decision before using it. To its credit, Facebook has implemented certain in built privacy settings for those who choose to avoid Places. First, this is an opt-in instead of an opt-out option. This means that Facebook users must manually choose to enable it; it is not a default setting. Secondly, even if friends have tagged you while "checking in," you can choose to reject the tag. This allows your friends to remain checked in and you to remain incognito simultaneously. The simplest way to disable this feature altogether is to uncheck a box in the privacy settings, under "Applications and Websites." This way, users don't have to worry about instantly untagging themselves.
Although Facebook Places does provide added entertainment and some convenience, it is a feature that must be used with complete awareness and prudence. As with all social networking websites, it is extremely important to steer clear of unsafe online behavior.
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?
3 Simple Rules to Keep in Mind
- Stick with your friends. Have your teens limit their privacy settings to Only Friends. That'll restrict who sees your kids' information, including pictures, videos, and applications they use.
- Keep private information private. When filling out their bios, teens can leave fields blank. There is no need for your teens to post their phone numbers or addresses. These features are optional and aren't required to create a Facebook account.
- Don't let your information get away from you. If your teens haven't restricted who can share their information, their personal data can end up in the hands of marketers. Also, advise your teens to be on the lookout for personal information requests -- like their birthday or music playlist -- from third parties. And make sure your teens uncheck the public search results box so people can't find their Facebook page through a Google search.
What are some simple tips you have to keep yourself and family safe while online?
You Are Here is a campaign showing kids and teens how to be smarter consumers. Questions such as how to comparison shop, how to tell if a deal is too good to be true, and even how to protect your identity.
I love that the information is clear and age appropriate, but still covers everything you'd need to know. Although the site isn't 100% specific to online safety, it does cover identity protection, how to identify a scam and how to protect your privacy. Take a look at the site and share it with kids. Come back here and tell us what you think about it.
"My child wouldn't do that"
These are things people say about the youth in America. The first is what people say when someone takes something small and makes a huge deal about it. The second is what people say when they hear of a teen doing something that they never thought would happen. The third is what parents might say when they are asked if their teen has ever done anything they wouldn't approve of.
We've been writing about Sexting for a while. As an attempt to stop it, some have been very heavy handed with penalties for sexting including being charged for trading child pornography. Some don't see it as that big of a deal.
As a part of MTV's 'A Thin Line' campaign to stop digital abuse, they are showing a documentary called "Sexting in America: When Privates Go Public". In their research, they site that 3 out of 10 young people have either sent or received nude "sext" messages and only 51% of them believe that their digital actions could come back to haunt them later.
It is being aired on MTV this Sunday. When I checked my local listings it is being shown again a few more times this week. I think it would be a great thing to watch the young people in your life. Do you think you will watch this?
One of the disconnects between kids and adults is that kids are being raised with the technology, so it is simply part of their world. Many adults have begun to use technology regularly, but in many cases there is a definitive line between online and offline. The youth are flowing easily between on and offline and in many ways, there is no difference. They are just two sides of the same coin.
The Door That's Not Locked campaign addresses the incorrect perception of some adults that the door is closed to knowing how to protect their kids because they need to know more about the tool than their kids to keep them safe. This comprehensive site is designed to educate teachers and parents with age specific tips and information, regardless of where the starting point is.
Do you feel like you know how to protect your kids and teens online?
The Internet has introduced a myriad of new words, phrases and even acronyms into the lexicon; LOL, OMG, social network, tweet. I am not surprised that this year's word references social networking and the act of removing someone from your list of friends on your social networking profile. I am constantly surprised at how much the Internet has infiltrated society.
The act of unfriending is one way you can help prevent cyberbullying. If your social networking profile is private (only visible to friends), taking away the ability to be taunted via your social network certainly aids in the removal of the bullying online. You can also block communications by blocking email from either that user or from all unknown users. You can block Instant Messages from a single, multiple or all unknown users. If the cyberbully doesn't have a way to communicate with you, it is pretty hard to be abused.
Have you ever unfriended someone? Why? What other methods have you used to curtail cyberbullying?
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?
Schools spend a lot of time, money and effort keeping the students from freely searching the Internet. One common way to prevent kids from accessing unapproved sites at school is to use a firewall. A firewall allows or blocks certain sites from being accessed within the school's network. This article from the Washington Post suggests that the firewalls used in schools are like the Great Wall of China; much effort is put into blocking loopholes while students are busy searching for ways around them. To quote a colleague, it's like playing 'wack-a-mole'. As soon as you knock one down, another loophole is already found.
What are your thoughts about using filters in schools? Is it worth the game of 'wack-a-mole' to have the filters in place on school computers? Do you have another idea?
Not surprising: Social networking is a big part of teens' lives. Surprising: 22% of teens say they check social networking sites over 10 times per day.
Not surprising: Parents and children agree the Internet is helping their academic career. Surprising: 16% of teens admit to posting false information or lies about other people and 24% of teens signed into someone else's social networking site without the owner knowing about it.
They also have several suggestions on how parents can help, including:
• Talk often about life in the digital world and what it means to be a safe, smart digital citizen: remind kids that online posts can last forever, and that potentially anyone can see them. If they wouldn't put something up in the hallway in school, they shouldn't post it on their pages.
• Get yourself an account: see for yourself how your kids' online world works – it'll be easier for you to understand what they're talking about.
• Make sure your kids set privacy settings: they aren't foolproof, but they're important
• Set rules for what they can and can't say, post, and play online: the bottom line – posts with drugs, drinking, sexual posing or activity will come back to haunt them. If they wouldn't say it to someone's face, they shouldn't post it.
What tips do you have about social networking?
Just my own memories of being picked on gives a whole new perspective for those growing up with the Internet. When I went home, my friends in the neighborhood were not cruel, my parents were supportive and I had a sanctuary. There are a lot of teens who are being picked on now, come home and sign on to find that the harassment continues in their "sanctuary" (a.k.a. online).
According to this Forbes article, one in 10 students is affected by cyber bullying.
Since that is 10% of students, I have 10 tips that may help:
Many parents don't really "get" this whole social networking thing. Some parents simply don't want to know. Others really want to know so they can understand what their kids are doing online.
One of the challenges that some adults find in social networks is that they aren't comfortable with the netiquette on a given site. They are perfectly functional adults in every other social situation, but when they get online, the rules are different. Until someone tells them the etiquette, they don't know what "normal" is. If they want to sign up for a profile on one or more of the same sites as their kid, they will most likely want to link to your, i.e. their child's, profile.
Here are some things to keep in mind when introducing parents to the world of social networking:
Be your own person. Don't let friends or strangers pressure you to be someone you aren't. And know your limits. You may be Net-savvy, but people and relationships change, and unexpected stuff can happen on the Internet.
Be nice online. Or at least treat people the way you'd want to be treated. People who are nasty and aggressive online are at greater risk of being bullied or harassed themselves. It's a vicious cycle you really don't want to get into.
Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends.
In the real world, my children need my permission anytime they want to have friends over. I know when they arrive, when they leave, and all the activities that go on in between (usually because they're so loud that I can't help from knowing, or they are so bored that I am expected to help them 'find something to do').
In the virtual world, though, we don't always have the same ability to monitor our kids' online activities, and this is especially true in the case of webcams. Webcams pose a significant threat to online safety because they can allow virtual strangers to peek inside your home, almost as if they were looking through a window. If children aren't taking the right precautions, outsiders can potentially see how they are dressed, what they look like, what they're doing and, just as with pictures, they can learn a lot about your kids from what is within view in the background.
Does your child have a webcam? Before you answer take a good look at your computer monitor or laptop because they are now being built-in and are so inconspicuous you could look right over them (especially with the newer Mac laptops). And, if they do, do you know how the camera being used?