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Digital Parenting

Digital Parenting Challenges

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 30, 2017  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

“Everything has a time and place.” This familiar saying is a popular motto for juggling life’s demands and pleasures. We can also apply this mantra to managing the abundance of today’s technology with our children. Somewhere among the love and hate relationship with social media and homework searches, we must find a healthy balance in regards to our children’s technology use. To help us on this journey, we need to consider what teens are doing online, if we should be monitoring our children’s Internet activity, and ways we can curb overuse.

What Are Teens Doing Online?

It’s no secret that our kids rely heavily on their devices, but as parents, we often find ourselves wondering what is so compelling to keep their attention fixated on glowing screens for hours and hours on end. We know they enjoy scrolling through social media, taking selfies, posting funny DubSmash videos, or streaming videos. Afterall, these features have made digital devices an indispensable luxury for our kids.

However, lurking behind all of the merriment is a dark side to our daughters’ and sons’ digital activity. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to recognize all the scary situations awaiting our children just by glancing at their screens. No, these scenarios can range anywhere from oversharing personal information to cyberbullying to interacting with online predators. Up until a few years ago, these topics were foreign and completely left out of parenting guidebooks.

Consider how a recent study found that 87 percent of our kids have encountered cyberbullying as witnesses or victims. These numbers are up from around 28 percent just a little over a year ago, which means rates of cyberbullying have basically tripled. This is disheartening on many levels, because cyberbullying has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts in our children.

In addition to cyberbullying, sexting is so commonplace that experts see these behaviors as normal and many teens view sexting as a safe alternative to sex. This might be true when it comes to pregnancy and disease, but if kids are underage, the simple act of snapping a provocative selfie is considered child pornography. Sexting, even if it is consensual, will be prosecuted as distributing or possessing child pornography. In addition to legal battles, this can open kids up to digital exploitation, bullying, and harassment.

Should You Monitor Or Not?

Realizing our children might be participating in risky online behaviors is frightening, but we need to realize that 70 percent of our kids actively seek ways to hide their online activities from us. This is only compounded when our sons and daughters are plugged in an average of six or more hours every day. Which can lead many of us to contemplate spying or using monitoring to stay on top of our children’s digital presence. Afterall, anything posted online has the potential to be made public.

Typically, experts warn spying should be avoided, because these behaviors have the potential to ruin parent and child relationships. Monitoring, however, doesn’t rely on sneaking around or hacking devices. This technique can range from simply following a teen’s social media accounts or openly installing software to compile a complete picture of a child’s texts, social media apps, contacts, and locations. If done correctly, this method offers opportunities for open dialogue while protecting a teen’s privacy.

How Should We Handle Constant Device Use?

To help parents overcome modern digital parenting challenges, please check out the following seven tips:

Begin an ongoing conversation about developing a healthy balance of technology in our lives. 

Teach social media etiquette early and build on topics as a child ages. 

Institute a “blackout policy”. An example of this could be powering down all devices from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. to allow a break from technology.

Limit the amount of data a child has access to on their Smartphones or tablets. 

Provide opportunities for children to log off for a few minutes daily. Reclaim family meals, sign up for extracurricular activities, or dust off the old board games for an alternative to pixels and selfies.

Reinforce a child’s good choices. Give them feedback to show that you notice their good choices.

Create a technology contract for the family that clearly lays out all expectations and consequences.

How does your family manage digital parenting challenges?

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Preventing Distracted Driving: 5 Tips for Parents of Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 27, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

pixabaydrivingDistraction is one of the biggest problems with driving for people of any age. For teenagers, however, it’s especially dangerous since they may not have the driving skills and reaction time to quickly recover from near-accidents. Stress the importance of minimizing distractions while driving with your teens. The following five tips can help to achieve this.

  1. Educating your teen about the dangers of distracted driving is essential, and one of the first things they need to learn. Talk with them about the dangers of texting, talking, eating, and doing other such tasks while driving a vehicle. Sharing stories with them about tragedies that have occurred due to distracted driving can emphasize the point. There are also commercials and videos that demonstrate these dangers that can be used as educational tools.
  2. Teens love driving around with their friends, but teenage passengers can often cause distractions. One tip to help control that is to limit the number of passengers allowed in the car at one time while your teenager is driving. Your child probably won’t be thrilled about the restriction, but it’s better to annoy them than to cope with the devastating aftermath of an accident.
  3. While it may not seem like an obvious factor, closed-toed shoes are important when it comes to safe driving. Although they’re a favourite, flip-flops are not the best footwear to wear when driving, since they can easily slip off while using the brake pedals. This can easily cause a distraction, so it’s best to suggest your child wear closed-toed shoes while getting used to driving.
  4. One of the worst distractions in a car today is mobile phones. This holds true for both teens and adults. How can you be absolutely sure your teen is not texting, talking, or using an app while they’re driving? Downloading a safety app can help. There are several apps available that can give you, the parent, control over your child’s phone, like disabling it when they take the car out for a drive. Some apps also offer auto-power off features that disable the phone when the vehicle reaches a certain speed.
  5. It is important for parents to lead by example. If you say one thing but do another, your teen will pick up on that and not take you seriously. As a parent you need to be sure to always buckle your seatbelt, do not text, and do not talk on your phone while driving. If you need to make a call, text, or change the GPS, pull over to do so.

Safety is All That Matters

You child may not be happy with some of these ideas being enforced, but at least they’ll be safe while out on the roads. You can always suggest that they get a job within walking distance if they take issue with your rules.  Once all is said and done, all that really matters is the safety of your teen and everyone sharing the road with them.

Contributor: Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor. Vee is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her blog MyNewWell.com.

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Teens Are Live Streaming More Than Ever: The Security Risks

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 14, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens

teenlivestream

Livestreaming allows the world to be everyone’s stage. Events can be watched in real-time as the action unfolds. From a baby’s first crawl to a violent police arrest, the world watches and waits for more.

The danger, however, is that once an event is streamed live for the public, there is no going back. Adults understand the boundaries, but teens—with their brains still developing—struggle to always understand the harmful repercussions of the live stream.

Teens and tweens live online. Their world is posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…all the social media forums. Today’s generation of e-centric kids don’t know the meaning of true privacy. They share. Too much and too often.

The harm of livestreaming is numerous. Not only are kids and teens putting their image out for the world to see, but they also document moments that should remain private. Secrets that friends disclose might find a way online. Fights at school, also are popular via livestream.

The cell phone is Pandora’s Box. Capable of shooting pictures, capturing video and posting everything online. The boundaries blur. Teens don’t know when not to hit send.

teenlivestream2In June 2015, two teens from Utah were arrested for burglary and theft. They decided to break into an ice-cream truck and steal the ice-cream. Of course, they taped their shenanigans and livestreamed the whole crime.

A few months ago, three teens allegedly live streamed intimate acts on Facebook. In another twisted case, a girl was accused of livestreaming her friend’s rape. Both cases resulted in police investigations.

For parents, the trouble with technology and live streaming lies in the naivete of kids. Teens, tweens and younger kids do not have the capacity to always make great decisions. Their minds are in the midst of developing…they are in a mental war about right and wrong. Impulse, unfortunately, usually wins out in the fight.

Parents must talk to their kids about personal boundaries, private information and what can and should be shared online. A teen might think that a fight is cool, and because it seems cool then it should be shared. Parents need to be prepared for their kids to be in these situations…with their cell phones.

Fights, abuse and crazy things have always happened. Today, the issue is that these things are easily documented, and teens are often the ones documenting them. Fifteen years ago, teens were not all armed with individual recording devices. Now they are, and parents must prepare them for the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with technology.

Role playing is a great way to teach kids responsibility and help them understand how to respond in a tough situation. Parents should make up cards with scenarios on them depicting scenes that a teen might see at school or in the world. Have the teen choose a card and then act it out.

When role playing, discuss how technology plays a unique role and how the consequences of an action can magnify online. Discuss with teens what is the right and wrong action according to laws in the state. Always educate teens on the laws; they must abide by them, and they can absolutely be prosecuted under them.

Use the controversy and the popularity of live streaming to also discuss personal and private information. Set boundaries as a family about what information can and cannot be shared online. Talk about oversharing. Discuss respect and what it means in friendships and families.

Teens and tweens are very much guided by their peers. However, they look to their parents for support and security. Many teens have found legal troubles from live streaming. Be open with kids about the dangers and harm of sharing too much and using the world as a stage.

Once a video live streams online, it can never be taken back. The internet is forever, and the results can be life changing in the worst ways.

*****

amywilliamsContributor:  Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education.

Follow her on Twitter.

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Tips on Setting up a Smartphone Contract With Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 20, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

You already have a number of rules for your teen. From keeping his room reasonably clean to helping feed the pets and doing homework before watching television at night, your teen is used to living with certain boundaries. So why shouldn’t this extend to his cellphone usage?

Now that you have bought your teen his first smartphone, you should create a cellphone contract to make sure he knows the boundaries. Here are a few reasons why:

Why a Contract

SmartphoneContractUnfortunately, smartphones can be used in ways that are less than wise. Your teen may be tempted to text and drive or post messages or photos that are inappropriate. After all, they are young and will probably try to bend the rules. But when you take the time to write out and sign a list of expected behaviors, everything is clearly set up in black and white. Your teen might try to say he forgot a certain cellphone rule, but when you can bring out the contract as a reminder, it will take a bit of the wind out of your child’s sails.

Include What Type of Phone is OK

Your teen may have visions of the latest and greatest smartphone, but you and your wallet will have the final say. In the contract, spell out what types of cellphones your teen is allowed to have, including any information you wish to add about acceptable price ranges, payment and data plans, and other features. You may not want to get the newest version of a smartphone, but rather go a step down to save a little money without sacrificing the quality. For example, instead of buying your teen the new Galaxy Note7, go for the Galaxy Note5 that still has many of the same features. If your son is contributing some allowance money to the payment, add that to the contract, too.

Decide if You Approve of Internet Access

Your teen might not need a phone that can access every last website on the internet. If you feel like he should be able to text his friends and call you for rides but not be tempted to buy things from online retailers, that is totally fine. But if you think he might need it for school research or for checking email, you might allow Wi-Fi access when necessary. No matter what you choose, write it down in the contract so there are no misunderstandings later.

Make a List of Rules and Consequences

As for how to fill out the rest of the cellphone contract, sit down with your teen and go over whatever rules you feel strongly about. These may include things like “No texting friends after 9 p.m.,” “No loaning your smartphone to friends” and “No texting or driving, period.”

The consequences should also be very clear. Some examples may include “If my grades drop to a C or lower, I will lose my phone until they are back up” or “I will lose smartphone privileges for a day if I play games on my phone before finishing my homework.”

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The Link Between Bullying and Teen Suicide

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 03, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

TeenBullyingSuicideExamining the Link Between Bullying and Suicide (and What to Do if Someone You Know is in Danger)

Bullying is a significant and complex problem in our society. We used to worry about in-person bullying — physical injuries, theft, and even vandalism. Today, in addition to bullying we also must be concerned about cyberbullying, which can be just as harmful. In 2013 the Urban Institute’s study on bullying revealed that “17% [of] students reported being victims of cyberbullying, 41% reported being victims of physical bullying, and 45% reported being victims of psychological bullying.”

In 2014 JAMA Pediatrics reported that “cyberbullying was strongly related [to] suicidal ideation in comparison with traditional bullying.” Most kids spend a lot of time online, talking to friends, but also gossiping at times. Because they see the Internet as anonymous, kids feel as though they can pretend to be someone else online (known as catfishing), and bully people in this way. This can be immensely harmful to others, as well as themselves, and can have devastating consequences.

Who, Where, Why?

Like other forms of bullying, cyberbullying can occur anywhere, by anyone. All that’s required is a device with Internet access, which is incredibly common anymore.

People from all different backgrounds are bullied. Some groups are unfortunately more likely to be bullied, such as LGBTQ youth, young people with disabilities, and individuals who tend to isolate themselves from others. Basically anyone who is different from the accepted norm in their respective community or peer group is at a higher risk of being bullied.

A bully can pick on anyone about anything. They can target those they deem to be too “weird” or different from themselves, or even someone they’re secretly jealous of. Children and young adults have been bullied for myriad reasons, from weight, to wearing the “wrong” clothing, to merely being outside a clique. Some of the warning signs that may indicate that someone is being bullied include:

  • Unexplained physical injuries
  • Items missing that the victim states are “lost”
  • Feeling or faking illnesses, often headaches or stomach problems
  • Different eating habits, whether overeating or undereating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of interest in school and having trouble with schoolwork
  • Not wanting to be in social situations or a loss of friends
  • Low self-esteem and hopelessness
  • Hurting themselves, speaking of suicide, and leaving home without notice

The Link Between Bullying and Suicide

Children who are bullied may be at an increased risk of suicide. However, most bullying victims do not think about suicide. Bullying itself is seldom the single cause of suicide; it’s typically a combination of issues, illnesses, or situations in the individual’s history combined with bullying that leads to suicidal thoughts. Some issues of concern include mental illness, traumas, and bad home situations. In addition, there are different groups who may have an increased risk of suicide including:

  • American Indian and Alaskan Native
  • Asian American
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth
  • Kids [who] are not supported by parents, peers, and schools

How to Help With Bullying

There are many ways to help someone you know if they’re being bullied, including:

  • Really listen to the individual, show that you care by paying attention.
  • Let the child know that being targeted by bullies is not their fault.
  • Realize that bullied children might have trouble talking about it with you. You may want to have them talk with a psychologist, psychiatrist or even a counselor at their school.
  • Give them some good advice as to what to do. You may want to partake in role-playing in this situation.
  • Work together with the victim, the victim’s parent(s), school, or an organization to come up with a fair solution. The child being bullied should not have to have their schedules or routines changed; they are not at fault.

How to Help With Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is new to our society and is becoming more and more common. Some children have taken their lives as a result. There are some ways you can help your child or friend prevent cyberbullying, such as cutting off communication with the bully, blocking the bully on social media sites (so they do not have any access to your postings or phone number), or complaining anonymously to the social media sites where cyberbullying is taking place — they have strict rules and will keep evidence of bullying interactions.

If you’re a parent, ways to help your child include supporting them mentally and emotionally and not forcing them to end online communications with others. When a child is the victim, being banned from participating on social media may be perceived as punishment. It’s not their fault, though, that they are being victimized. Consider speaking with the other child’s parent(s) or even the police (if the situation is serious enough). Bullying is a serious problem and can lead to many terrible events, including violence and suicide. Remember that there is always someone out there to listen and support you.

*****

Contributor: Steve Johnson co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow pre-med student.The availability of accurate health facts, advice, and general answers is something Steve wants for all people, not just those in the health and medical field. He continues to spread trustworthy information and resources through the website, but also enjoys tennis and adding to his record collection in his spare time.

(Image via Pixabay by Jedidja)

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Teen Online Dating: Digital Love

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 05, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

Should teens be looking for love online? Should they be on sites such as Tinder or Match?

Age restrictions on these sites are in place for a reason, however we know that many teenagers will find a way around them if they want to bad enough. It’s not any different then tweens joining social media platforms designed strictly for ages 13 and older.

LoveisRespectLove Is Respect offers advice, resources and tips for parents, teachers and teens.

Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship, both in person or online. If your partner is digitally abusive, know their behavior is not acceptable and could be illegal. Check out the tips below for staying safe on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others.

  • Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control.
  • Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly, and things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school.
  • Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
  • You can keep your passwords private — sharing passwords is not a requirement of being in a relationship.
  • Don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t in person. It may seem easier to express yourself when you are not face-to-face, but online communication can have real-life negative consequences.

Abuse or Harassment

  • Don’t respond to harassing, abusive or inappropriate comments. It won’t make the person stop and it could get you in trouble or even put you in danger.
  • Keep a record of all harassing messages, posts and comments in case you decide to tell the police or get a restraining order.
  • Always report inappropriate behavior to the site administrators.

HeartbrokeLeaving an Abusive Relationship

  • If you are leaving an unhealthy relationship, start by blocking your ex on Facebook and other social networking pages. We recommend you don’t check-in on foursquare or other location-based sites or apps — you don’t want your ex or their friends tracking your movements.
  • Adjust your privacy settings to reduce the amount of information that particular people can see on your page. Privacy settings on sites like Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. Remember, registering for some apps require you to change your privacy settings.
  • Avoid posting private details on your friend’s pages. They may not have appropriate settings and doing so may allow someone to see your movements and location. The same goes for tagging yourself in pictures.
  • Consider what is called a “super-logoff” — deactivating your Facebook account every time you log off and reactivating it every time you log back on. This way, no one can post on your wall, tag you or see your content when you’re offline, but you still have all of your friends, wall posts, photos, etc. when you log back on.
  • While it is inconvenient and may seem extreme, disabling you social networking page entirely may be your best option to stop continued abuse or harassment.

Your Friends’ Safety

If your friend is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, be careful what you post about them. Pictures, locations, check-ins and even simple statements can be used to control or hurt them. If you’re unsure of what’s ok to post, get your friend’s permission before you click “Share.”

Source: Love Is Respect

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Teens Ordering Drugs Online: Don’t Be A Parent In Denial

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 24, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

onlinepharmacyThe Internet is today’s new playground for today’s youth. From Club Penguin to Instagram to Snapchat to our teen’s looking for more ways to have excitement offline.

Prescription drug use isn’t just in your medicine cabinet or street drugs…. teens are ordering drugs online.

Researchers from Columbia University spent five years searching the Internet for websites that advertise and sell prescription drugs. They found 365. Eighty-five percent of them did not require a doctor’s prescription or proof of age, even though people were buying powerful narcotics. (CRC Health)

Psychology Today reported that kids as young as sixth graders were ordering drugs online.

What can parents do to help prevent this behavior?

  • Talk to your kids. Explain what’s wrong with buying medications illegally, in terms they can understand. Tell them in no uncertain terms that you strictly forbid them to buy drugs on the Internet. Be specific about the consequences (your choice here), and make it clear that disciplinary actions will be enforced on the very first violation.
  •  If you suspect or find out that option 1 isn’t working, move the computer out of the kids’ bedrooms and into common spaces (living room, kitchen, etc.). Tell them that the computer will remain in a common area for a set period of time, so that you can monitor their Web use.
  • If options 1 and 2 aren’t working, check the computer’s browser history. Yes, this is spying. But if you believe your child is really involved in an illegal activity, you have an obligation to investigate.  (Keep in mind, safety trumps privacy. This is about your child’s welfare). This shouldn’t be used because you are simply snooping for no reason – you are rising losing your child’s trust.

(Source – Psychology Today)

If you find that you have exhausted your local resources, including therapy, or your teen is simply out-of-control, you may want to consider residential therapy. Contact us for a free consultation to determine if this is an option for your family.

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5 Ways to Protect Your Teenager Online

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 14, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

TeenOnlineSafetyAn astonishing 75 percent of teenagers have access to smartphones and 24 percent of teens go online “almost constantly.” As a parent of a teenager in this constantly evolving cyber world, it’s overwhelming and frightening thinking of all the potential threats compromising your teens digital and physical security. A Pew Research study found that 90 percent of children have witnessed or experienced cyber bullying within the last year and a study by Drexel University found that 54 percent of minors have reported sexting.

Here are five ways to protect your teenager online:

Take Advantage of Smartphone Applications

There are a variety of free and paid applications that provide parents with a wide range of access to their teenager’s mobile phone activity.

If you’re concerned about your teen stumbling upon adult content, K9 Browser is a free application that blocks adult content and is available for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. For more thorough access to your teen’s activity, the Norton Family Parental Control application’s paid version allows parents to see the sites their teen is visiting from the computer or mobile device but also allows you to block sites and see text messages.

Create a Contract

Before your teenager receives their first mobile device or personal computer, create a contract spelling out each of your expectations. According to the Family Online Safety Institute, almost 50 percent of teenagers are not concerned that their online reputation today will hurt future goals and 58 percent feel it is safe to post photos or intimate details online. A written and signed contract makes it very clear to your teenager what your expectations are in regard to online activity.

Stay Informed & Up-to-date

Setting up guidelines, boundaries and privacy software is not enough. The Internet and cyber criminals are changing so fast that as soon as you have a grasp on the newest social media or application and its potential threats or privacy terms, it has already evolved. To stay up-to-date on the latest cyber security news and tips, bookmark LifeLock Unlocked.

Mark All Profiles as Private

The most important takeaway for your teenager, is that nothing is temporary online. Even if they delete a post, a photo or an account, it can be easily retrieved and anyone can copy or save it. Besides filtering what he or she posts, ensure your teenager’s online profiles are private. Do not rely on the site’s default settings and adjust settings accordingly. Stress to your teen that this does not mean what he or she posts is now “safe” but it does make it more difficult for individuals to access.

Safeguards Passwords & Change Them Frequently

Identity theft is just as much of a threat for your teenager as it is for adults. Teach your teen how to choose safe and secure passwords that are changed every three to six months to ensure maximum security. Advise your teen not to share passwords with anyone besides parents or guardians.

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Teens and Cyber Safety and Online Privacy

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 01, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens

TeensonlinefriendsParents know the things to do keep their kids safe around home, like keeping an eye on them outside, teaching them stranger danger and to travel in groups. But what about in the virtual world? It’s shown to be just as dangerous, and if certain information gets in the wrong hands, your child, your family, and your identity could all be at risk.

The Web offers a plethora of fun and educational things for kids to do, plus all the social networking that is huge for tweens and teens. But along with that comes plenty of places for danger. Just as parents need to talk to their kids about safety in the everyday real world, they also must discuss safety precautions related to the Internet, and make sure their kids get it.

What can parents do? How do they start the conversation? It is important to cover the dangers – all of them – in age-appropriate language to help kids understand the dangers of giving away information online.

Talk, Talk, Talk

The most important thing parents can do is talk to their kids, tweens, and teens. Make sure they know the dangers that are prevalent online, whether sexual predators, those that want to steal identities and financial information, and any other type of cybercriminal. Make sure to keep lines of communication open so kids feel comfortable talking about anything relating to the Internet that bothers them.

Set Clear Internet Rules

Depending on the kids’ ages, parents may have different rules. Young children should never even give out their name. Once kids get older and more into social media, reinforce the importance of careful posting and sharing – what goes on the Internet is there forever! Nothing personal should be posted or shared, like address, phone number, or credit card information.

Identity Theft

When it comes to personal information, it’s easier than most think to get other’s information. If a site looks fishy, it probably is. Parents need to make sure their kids understand to never give out personal information like credit card numbers, bank accounts, or social security numbers without parental permission, even if they are buying something.

If a child sees something like “accepts credit cards” or “enter information here,” he needs to let a parent know and stop what he’s doing. Once credit card information or other personal numbers are in the hands of others, it’s tough to reverse the damage. The best rule is never give it out.

ParentTeen2How to Start This Conversation

Start talking about Internet safety when kids are young. Keep the computer in family areas so activity can be monitored. As kids get older, reinforce these topics. Let them know age-appropriate instances of what can happen if things like cyberbullying or credit card theft happen. Parents need to let children know that they are always available, even if mistakes are made, so they can solve things together.

The bottom line is: Don’t give out information! Whether it’s social, personal, or financial, kids need to keep this to themselves. Parents should stay tuned in to not only what goes in the world of online security, but also what their kids are doing online. Awareness is key. And, parents, keep reinforcing how important it is to your kids!

Your constant and consistent offline conversations helps keep your teen safer online.

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Talking Sexting With Your Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 28, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

SextingDid you know that according to research, one out of five parents send sexual and/or intimate images of each other (considered sexting)?

Of course we aren’t judging parents, we only need to understand that teens are experiencing and experimenting with their sexuality, however at their age, there could be potential legal consequences. It’s never too late to start your sext chat offline to be safer online.

Tito de Morais, The Internet Safety Guy, recently said in a forum, “Kids that are at risk offline will be at risk online, as questionable conduct in the physical and digital world is not mutually exclusive.” After collaborating on several other articles, including the “Cyber-Shield” series, I was thrilled to be a part of Sue Scheff’s most recent contribution to the Huffington Post, Sext Education: Sexting = Cyberbullying. Together, we believe in making a difference by educating students, teachers, parents, and communities about cyberbullying prevention.

In the recent article, we discuss the implications of sexting among teens, and how sexting and cyberbullying = are essentially one and the same. Because of the evolving nature of the online realm, sexting isn’t just confined to text messages: teens are able to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social networks to spread sexually illicit messages.

SextingAlertParents and other adults can make a difference when it comes to building awareness of sexting’s dangers, and it all starts with having the “sext chat” with your children. Here are five tips to get this conversation started:

  1. Start talking: Use current news stories to spark conversation with your kids. Make it relevant to their lives. A recent journal Pediatrics study on teens that sext is a good tool to review.
  2. Just do it: There might never be an optimal time to get the gears moving on the sext talk, so it’s crucial to hunker down, move past any embarrassment, and bring up the topic.
  3. Make it real: Pose the question, “How would you feel if your grandma or grandpa saw that picture message?” We’re all accountable for our actions online and off, even though that notion slips by many teenagers these days.
  4. Address peer pressure: Emphasize that it’s OK for your child to be their own person and not worry about what their peers are doing, especially in regards to sexting.
  5. Give them control: Encourage your children to make the right decisions when they receive a sext. They have the ability to stop the communication right in its tracks.

Now that sexting has extended its bounds from cell phones to social networks, take the time to check out MySecuritySign’s excellent #TakeNoBullies digital responsibility and anti-cyberbullying resources that tie-in directly to sexting.

Contributor: Mike Miles formerly managed social media at SmartSign, a New York City based ecommerce sign retailer and creator of #TakeNoBullies, an anti-cyberbullying and digital responsibility campaign, through its site MySecuritySign. Mike is passionate about writing, digital citizenship, and advocating for a safer internet.

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