When your teenager gets behind the wheel, you can't always go along with them. That means that you can't perfectly prevent distracted driving behavior—and unfortunately, teenagers are guilty of distracted behavior behind the wheel all too often. Up to a quarter of teenagers admit to receiving and responding to text messages every time they're behind the wheel. More than 10% of drivers under the age of twenty who were involved in fatal crashes were driving distracted when the accident occurred.

I want to share an update regarding what we have learned over the last few days about the database vulnerability that was discovered last week and that we publicly reported on Monday February 21, 2016.

It is with significant personal regret that I share with you the news that uKnow had a private database repeatedly breached by a hacker using two different IP addresses on February 16, 2016 and February 17, 2016.

digital parentingDigital parenting is one of those topics that can make families uncomfortable. No teenager wants to feel like Mom and Dad are sticking their noses into his or her personal business, and no parent wants to keep their kids from making the most of the advantages the internet can provide.  

It’s important to know what your kids are doing on the internet: it can be a tremendous tool for school and for social interaction. It also opens them up to a whole range of possible dangers including cyberbullying, child predators, and inappropriate content. How do parents keep their kids from undue risk without stifling their independence?

online predatorProtecting their child is the number one objective of any parent. This is the primary role and responsibility. Unfortunately, it is becoming a role that is more difficult with the Internet around. Although the vast majority of people use the Internet for harmless everyday tasks, there are some who use this medium to commit crimes.

Worse yet, many of these crimes are committed against children. Take this headline from the Calgary Herald for example:

kids in schoolEducating children is the role of any school, public or private. They are supposed to teach them about the ways of the world and make them more prepared to join the workforce when they have completed their education.

There is always a question of exactly what the schools are responsible for teaching children and what should be left to their parents. Mobile and Internet child safety is becoming more and more on the shoulders of the schools to help out with teaching. 

Mobile Phones At An Early Age

WebcamYou're a 21st-century parent who embraces the wonders of the Internet. This is why you allow your kid to roam the web in search of homework answers, to play online games, and to video chat with grandma.

But you're also aware of the online dangers. That's why you allow use of the desktop or laptop only in the living room where everyone can see. And the built-in camera is only available when you're watching.

InstagramThe photo-sharing social media site, Instagram, has been treading more on the innocent side since its launch and rise in popularity. Recently though, a new disturbing trend has risen on Instagram that should have all parents concerned.

Instagram and Teen Body Image

More and more young girls are making their profiles and pictures public and posting a picture for others to assess their attractiveness. Many of these young girls are in provocative poses and are dressed in revealing clothing. The young girls post their pictures using hash tags such as #amipretty or #beautycontest, looking for the most positive comments to boost their self-esteem.

digital familyThere once was a time—you may be old enough to remember—where kids actually had to go to the TV and turn the knob to change the channel or adjust the volume, play a game out in the backyard or take turns on a landline phone to call their friends. But nowadays, in this technological world, kids are presented with all kinds of gadgets as parents strain to keep up with everything.

teens texting outsideThanks to evolving technology, teens have a lot more access to the outside world than in previous years. Today, almost every teen has a smartphone or iPhone. Teens use their phones to talk and text but they also use their smartphones and iPhones to download apps to keep in touch with their friends. Sometimes, teens abuse these apps and use them for things the app is not created for.

Video chatting apps, social messenger apps, and messaging apps all offer different styles of chatting with different features. These apps are designed with the purpose of helping users keep in touch with friends, relatives, and even co-workers, but a lot of teens abuse these apps or some of these apps' features. They're often used for things they are not meant for, such as sexting. Simply put: abusing the rules of these apps can put them in serious danger.

Video Chatting Apps

digital teens laughingThe trend of using dating apps seems to become more and more mainstream each year. People of all ages are exploring their romantic options on sites like eHarmony and Match.com. The surge in the popularity of dating apps has certainly trickled down into the teen demographic. 

As you can imagine, most dating sites, including the ones specifically intended for teenagers, have their risks. Dating apps require personal information in order to generate matches, and while users are virtually searching for their soulmates, they are also unwittingly allowing access to information that anyone can use to find them.

The threats of identity theft, iCloud hacking, stalking and harassment are very real in the digital age. Thus, safeguarding your children from the perils posed by new technology has become part and parcel of modern day parenting.

The troubling aspect of this necessity is that the technologies are constantly evolving, making it imperative to stay up-to-date and knowledgeable on digital defense. Luckily, Apple is consistently making iPhone monitoring for parents much more accessible and easier to accomplish.

Enabling Restrictions

selfieCellphones have created a few dilemmas in digital parenting. Particularly with smartphones, parents have to be sure what their children are doing on social media and other apps.

Let's look at the first dilemma that parents will come across: deciding when their child should have a cellphone. In this discussion, your child is sure to bring up the argument that every other kid in their class already has one.

This is a time when you have to make a personal decision for your child and ignore the pressure from other parents.WebMD covered this topic and provided a few statistics on the matter. Here is some of the background information:

  • 85% of teens aged 14 to 17 have cell phones

Internet safetyAny sensible parent is going to keep their child safe from dangers that present themselves in the real world. This same sense of concern should extend to dangers that present themselves in the online world. Digital parenting is as important as parenting against dangers in the real world. 

teenager video gameBeing a digital parent is an assignment that is not easy to handle. It is certainly something that is not always all that easy. However, digital parenting is a part of the expectations for parents these days. Without proper supervision, teens can make huge mistakes online as well as they can anywhere else. 

PromProm is a very exciting event for most teens who have finally reached the age of being able to attend this important milestone. While in the past students and their guests were limited in communicating about prom, present day social media has created a whole new form of communication for them to let others know about their plans and activities in real time. This, of course, has its pros and cons.

While sending texts to friends to coordinate meeting times or showing pictures can be reasonably safe, using social media can be problematic when it comes to safety and security.

texting and drivingTexting is responsible for more teen deaths behind the wheel than alcohol, making it a serious concern for parents everywhere. Stopping the problem requires a multi-faceted approach, along with clear expectations and firm consequences. These tips can help keep your teen safe when they are on the road.

#1: Take Advantage of the Technology

Teenagers don't always tell the whole truth, which means you may have to use their own technology to keep them safe. A text monitoring app can log all their texts, including the time they were sent, for you to view on your phone or computer.

Teens using phonesChildren now spend more time with the media via Internet and mobile technology than they do with their family, in school, or sleeping.A 2012 a nationwide survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that in just five years, media use has increased from 6 ½ to nearly 7 ½ hours a day in children between the ages of 8 and 18. As if this weren’t frightening enough, children also tend to be master multitaskers, using as many as three technological tools at once to browse through their digital lives.

parent teaching Internet safetyThere is never a time too early in the life of a child to start thinking about Internet security. Children of younger and younger ages are starting to get a glimpse into the world of the Internet, and many are potentially at risk if they are not informed of what they should and should not do. 

SmartphoneSnapchat started as a college course project, but has grown exponentially in the last year. Now available, for free, through app stores, the application allows people to send and receive pictures and videos directly to their phone.

The "Snap" is only available for a set period of time (about 10 seconds), then it is deleted from the phone and the server. Snapchat seems like a fun enough venture, but for those trying to parent in the digital age, it can be problematic. 

Potential for Sexting

Because Snapchat only keeps photos for 10 seconds or less, parents have no way of really knowing what content their child is swapping. For many years, Snapchat has been dubbed the "sexting app". Although not every person using Snapchat is sexting away, the app didn't get their nickname for no reason.

Teen on phoneWhen considering mobile and internet child safety as parents, it may cause you to reminisce. "Well, back in my day this was never a concern."

Don't feel old, we're all working through it. Technology has changed and will continue to. Due to this, considering a child's safety hasn't changed - instead, there's now more to be cautious of. 

digital parentingSomething that parents need to establish with their children early is that using the Internet is a privilege, not a right. This is important because if kids get too accustomed to and reliant on the Internet, it will be harder to end their privilege to it if they go against the rules.

In order to practice digital parenting, there has to be set rules that children understand and abide by. These rules vary on a case-by-case basis, but they should require open conversation between children and their parents concerning their activity on the Internet. When the rules are set, parents have to be ready to remove the Internet privilege if their child breaks the rules. It's not just to keep children safe from cyber threats, but also a life-long lesson that they can't take shortcuts and cheat the system.

Internet and Mobile Safety Workshop for ParentsToday’s children represent the first generation to grow up entirely in a digital world. They have spent their entire lives using computers, video games, webcams, digital music players, mobile phones, instant messaging apps and everything else the digital world has to offer. In a sense, our kids are all “native speakers” of a digital language.

They are "Digital Natives". So what does that make this generation of parents?

Those of us who were not born into a digital world are, and always will be, "Digital Immigrants" and we are now in the process of learning a new language while also trying to raise our kids and keep them safe.

textingThe most important segment of society to keep safe on the Internet is obviously our children. Children are the most vulnerable to being preyed online. They are not as experienced in using the Internet and may not understand the dangers that lurk there. Thus, Internet security is an important topic of conversation to have with your children.

In an article about Internet security and children, Microsoft.com recommends preventing the download of free material online that may contain spyware or viruses: 

apple_devices_600x400In the past few years, iPhone and iPad usage with kids has expanded tenfold. In order to keep up with these changes, uKnowKids is launching a new product specifically designed to help parents whose kids are using iPhone, iPads, iTouches and Macs. It is called the uKnowKids for Apple, and we plan to launch it into public beta in April. 

Big iPhone and iPad News

You can pre-order to get early access to the uKnowKids for Apple today!

Pre-Order Today for $164 $99 lifetime

Note... We are still working on a final name the product, so "uKnowKids for Apple" may go through a name change in the next few weeks or months, but you get the idea :)

With the uKnowKids for Apple, parents can gain dramatically better transparency into your child's iPhone activities than any other solution on the market today. Let's take a look at some of the new features.

View iMessages (Text Messages & Picture Messages):

We all know that keeping tabs on text and picture messages is helpful for parents who are trying to educate and coach their kids on how to use technology safely and responsibly. With the uKnowKids for Apple, parents are able to view their teen's incoming and outgoing iOS text messages (SMS) and picture messages (MMS)... iMessages... via their iPhones, iPads, iTouches, and Mac computers. Additionally, the feature enables uKnowKids customers to review stored photos. Keeping an eye on these interactions can help parents ensure that new phone users aren't getting involved in peer pressure, sexting or other digital dangers.

digital familyThe Internet, possibly, the most used form of communication (if not now, it soon will be!) has become a fun and exciting place to play and talk with friends and family. However, it has also become a place where bad things can and do happen.

With all of the digital dangers like identity theft, online predators and cyberbullying around the corner for Internet users, even adults have to leery about what we are doing. Nevertheless, when it comes to our children, we have to practice foresight, patience, and the knowledge of how and what technology your children use and have.

school technologyFor some parents, it’s a scary thought: My child will be using the Internet today.

Will her teacher be watching closely?

Will he become too absorbed with technology?

Will she stumble upon something she shouldn’t see?

Luckily, most teachers will quickly remind you: technology in the classroom does not lead to complete anarchy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be involved in how the technology is being used or have apprehensions about what effect that has on your child.

Mitigate your concerns with these five tips, which will help you become more comfortable and familiar with your child’s use of technology in the classroom.

1. Talk About Safety

library wifiWhen it comes to laws regarding Internet security and bullying, there is still a lot of work to be done. Parents are urged to educate their children about Internet security, but there is still a need for real objective policy.

One institution that fights Internet bullying is the Family Online Safety Institute, an international non-profit organization that works towards a safer Internet environment. The CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, Stephen Balkam, recently wrote an article in The Guarding expressing the need for new policy:

Family using computerYou’ve heard countless news stories highlighting instances of kids and social media gone wrong. Headlines about young teens getting involved in cyberbullying, sexting, identity theft and online predator catastrophes practically populate the Internet. Whether you have only heard the buzz about these dangers from afar or personally know a victim, it’s clear that there is a lot going on in the social media world that can wreak havoc on a child’s life.

By all accounts, social media will continue to be a risk to inexperienced tweens, especially since kids are jumping on the social network bandwagon at younger and younger ages every year. It’s about time that safety precautions catch up with this digital danger!

The solution is for parents to become proactive instead of being reactive when it comes to their kids and social media.

digital parentingIn a Huffington Post article, uKnow’s Co-founder Tim Woda asks a simple question – “Do you know who your child made friends with on Facebook yesterday?". Mr. Woda speaks of a very personal experience involving his son’s abduction after accepting a friend-request from an unknown Internet sexual predator.  

He goes on to say that parenting skills have just not been able to keep up with advancing technology and even though it isn’t our fault, it’s certainly our problem. Let’s take a look at some situations that may give us a better understanding of obstacles that make digital parenting more challenging:

Understanding The Generation Gap

smartphoneUndoubtedly, children need to be kept safe when they are online. We also know that they need to use the Internet at this point in time. There is too much going on within the Internet for children to be shielded from it. What needs to happen is safe usage of the Internet by children. 

AppsMonitoring your child's activity on the Internet can be complicated and even frustrating. Your child may demand a certain level of privacy and not be completely upfront with his or her actions. In addition, if you think monitoring your child's Facebook and Twitter accounts is satisfactory, you're sadly mistaken.

TeacherIt’s not every day that you hear of a law being passed in favor of promoting social media usage in schools. Usually, it is a constant struggle between teachers and their students to get them to unplug from these networks. However, New Jersey is now taking steps that may enhance mobile and Internet safety via required social media classes.

When Children Will Be Learning About Social Media

appsNowadays, young people spend a good chunk of their free time staring into their screens. Whether it's a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop, the screen gets their nearly undivided attention. Most kids make use of apps on their multitude of screens for entertainment, learning and socialization purposes.

With digital trends going in and out of the door contantly, it's tough to keep of track of what your teens are up to. Let's take a look at some of the apps that are currently in or out of favor with middle school tweens and high school teens.

These Apps are "Out":

  • Facebook: Facebook has lost its luster with youngsters. Only 45 percent of teens use Facebook for social networking. About 72 percent used the social networking service in 2013. That's an alarming drop off. While kids haven't totally ditched Facebook Messenger, it is clear that the decline in use is prominent.

identity theftParents do their best in teaching their children to not go anywhere with a stranger, but how many actually teach them to not share personal information with strangers?

Research shows that more than 500,000 children become victims of identity theft every year.  The most amazing fact is that almost half of these children are under the age of six. Practicing internet and cell phone safety can protect children from potential predators, but parents must also have a clear understanding of how mobile and internet child safety can also protect a child’s identity.

There is an alarming story on MSN.com about a teenage girl who was a victim of identity theft at age three. As a teenager, she now owed $750,000 for homes and automobiles an identity thief had purchased in her name.

An estimated one in every 40 households with young children has been impacted by identity theft. All a thief needs is a child’s full name and date of birth. As technology advances with smartphones and an increasing number of apps are available, we can do almost anything on our phones that we can do on our laptops or home computer. As people go to replace their old phones with smartphones, thieves are stealing the personal data left on them.

textingYou may be contemplating whether or not teens and smartphones are a good combination. Perhaps you have seen other teenagers that have smartphones and wonder if you too should get one for your teenager. There are at least a few reasons that you should perhaps hold off on that. 

appsIf you think that your child is absolutely safe on the Internet at all times, you are probably fooling yourself. This is particularly true if you have not taken the time to have a conversation with your child about the potential dangers of the Internet. It is important to consider both mobile and Internet child safety these days. 

Why Mobile Matters Just As Much

Pew Research conducted a poll asking teens what kind of phone they have. They found that 37% of teens ages 12 to 17 indicate that they own a smartphone. This means that almost half of teens can chat, meet people, buy things, and get involved in other situations online that could be potentially dangerous to them. 

digital parentingIt is undoubtedly true that most all parents want to be good to their children. They want to protect them and watch them grow up and flourish. If possible, they will keep them away from anything or anyone that might do them harm. As such, digital parenting is a part of their duties.

Online Threats

Online threats come in a variety of forms from bullying by peers all the way up to sexual harassment, intimidation, and more. Taking a look at some of the figures from bullyingstatistics.org can be a real eye opener:

  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying

kids roomWhile there are many valid concerns regarding disassociation parenting, facilitated by the influx of digital tools into our lives, there is one area where advances in technology can be incredibly beneficial to families: the smart home, and in particular, smart lighting.

Our family was fortunate enough to receive a Philips Hue starter kit around Christmas time, and to say that it has been a life changer is no exaggeration. 

To many, bullying is still considered a “soft” form of abuse because there are no visible injuries. After all, only our feelings are hurt. 

Instagram selfieIn case you have been out of the loop on the latest and most popular apps for smartphones, one of the hottest apps for tweens and teens is Snapchat. This is an app that allows users can send pictures and videos to other people that disappear within a span of 10 seconds.

Theoretically, this sounds terrific. However, it is possible for other people to capture your Snapchat pictures permanently by simply taking a screenshot of your message. 

Concerns For Parents

An important component of mobile and Internet child safety is knowing what the concerns are for any given technology that your children may be using. There is a pretty long list that one could include when it comes to Snapchat. Lets take a look at some of the security concerns:

    • Anonymous Users - Users are allowed to remain anonymous under whatever screenname they choose to use.

InstagramInstagram, one of the fastest growing social media platforms is a lot of fun for kids. It allows them to share photos of things they find interesting, and add filters and captions to those photos. Like a micro-blogging site, with pictures, Instagram's popularity with teens has exploded in the last three years. With that being said, Instagram is also constantly evolving, and while it can be 'good clean fun', there are some dangers that lurk on the social media app.

Throughout the past few years, Instagram has experienced some major changes that you might not be aware of. We've collected a few of these more recent changes and feature additions, and have assessed how they may affect your child's Instagram safety.

Picture Map

In 2012, Instagram rolled out their “photo map” feature. The photo map, which is now being used by millions of Instagram users, tracks were pictures have been taken, and, in some cases uploaded. This location sharing feature, which is meant to help individuals keep track of their travels, can be dangerous especially for young children.

flirting teensAs if being a child in this world is not stressful enough, there is now pressure on many young teens to download and use hookup apps. There are many free, available apps to choose from, with no parental consent required. While most are made out to be geared towards adults, the horrible truth is that the creators know that kids are using them, and apparently do not care much. Either that, or they just don't moderate their applications the way that we feel like they should.  

Remember AOL dial up chat rooms? You would get kicked out so fast if you even made the slightest remark that was off base. The ninety's had it right. There was someone moderating every word that was spoken in those days. Unfortunately, this is a totally new era with a totally new set of rules and expectations.  

With all of that being said, the fact of the matter is that there are no moderators. No one is watching to make sure that kids are not downloading these apps onto their smartphones or other devices. That is just not the way that it goes anymore. It is the job of us, the parents, to ensure the safety of our children.  

kids on iPadsParenting your children is something that takes skill and grace. It is sometimes a struggle when they want to resist you and your expectations of them. This is made even harder for some parents in the area of digital parenting.

When asked to set rules for their children and monitor those rules in the online realm, some parents feel helpless. However, there are a few things you can do to keep your children safe.

1. Have A Frank Conversation With Them

It all starts with talking. Many parents believe that the things that they say go in one ear and out the other with their children, but this is really not true. Your child does hear and understand what you are saying. If they choose to listen to you or not largely has to do with what enforcement tactics you use to make them obey.

internet safety talkThere is no question children are interested in cell phones and social media sites. From a very young age they see their parents on smart phones, and they watch them get online to update their status and post new photos. More and more often parents give their young children phones and tablets to entertain them on airplanes or at restaurants. It's not surprising then, that most kids begin asking for their own cell phone or tablet well before their teen years.

Many parents see the obvious advantage of giving their children access to technology that can help keep them safe and let them check in with parents more easily. The big question remains: how do parents balance the desire to give their children more independence with the need to prioritize mobile and internet child safety?

New articles come out every week warning parents of dangerous apps online. Sadly, predatory apps do exist, and corrupt people will use these apps to try to take advantage of children. However, most teenagers do not intend to use their phones or the Internet to get in trouble. They want to connect with their friends, and often they just don't see how using the latest trendy app could put them at risk.

cordsAfter the holidays, it's fairly likely that you have new gadgets and devices to play with and to keep charged. In our plugged-in culture (we're still not quite there on wireless charging!), it's easy to feel buried in electrical cords for the bazillion different types of technology we own.

From cell phones to tablets and everything in between, it can be overwhelming. When you (or your child) needs to charge your phone or the latest e-reader, where's the charger? They all look the same, but unfortunately, they're not all universal. It can be a headache and cause a great deal of frustration (not to mention that when you find the correct charger, it's in a knot with the other hundred cords).

To help reduce the stress of searching for power cords, chargers and cables this holiday season and beyond, there are a few simple solutions. Once a system is in place, you'll find that sought-after power cord in seconds, and you won't have to enlist an army of helpers to untangle or look under sofa cushions.

Tame the Cord Dragon

To begin, sort your cords into categories. Round up the family and have everyone collect all the cords for each gadget. You'll be surprised at the pile that you find! Popular ones for most homes include: iPhone, Android, HTML, e-reader, tablets, cameras, etc.

bullied childThere have been extensive efforts in the 21st century to limit bullying, particularly in schools. Parents now understand how detrimental bullying can be for young children and are trying to put an end to it.

Unfortunately, the emergence of the Internet and social media makes this task quite difficult. The anonymity and speed of the Internet makes bullying too convenient. Parents have to constantly be on the lookout as to what their children are doing online and practice mobile and Internet child safety. Simple conversations can quickly turn into inappropriate behavior that can have long-lasting effects on a child's mental health.

technology addictionAs a parent of a teen, you already have to deal with teens testing limits, staying out past curfew or maybe even experimenting with sex and drugs. Some parents turn a blind eye when their teens are always on their phone- texting or on social media. After all, there are many worse things to worry about, right?

Wrong. Technology addiction in teens can create the same consequences as drug experimentation or getting in with the wrong crowd. It could prevent a teen from developing into a mature, well-rounded adult. It could mean that you’ll have your teen around for much longer than expected because he can’t concentrate enough to stay in college or have enough patience or will to keep a job.

Turns out, teenage tech addiction has become so damaging that some parents are having to send their kids to technology addiction rehabilitation centers for a good helping of support groups and cognitive behavioral therapy.

What could be so bad about my teen playing video games and texting for hours if he’s already done his homework for the night, you may ask? Here are three major reasons to act on your teen's technology addiction. 

1. Attention deficits. Teens, these days, have three forms of technology in front of them sometimes while doing homework- a smart phone, a laptop or computer and a TV buzzing in the background. Many teens, tweens and millennials take pride in constant multitasking. Over time, their brains have been rewired to create easily distracted people who have a hard time focusing. 

teens on phoneToday, news stories about teens getting caught up in sexting and resulting photo leak scandals are a dime a dozen. As parents, we usually say to ourselves “that could never happen to my child” when we see stories like these, but the truth is that a digital slip-up like a photo leak can happen to anyone.

Just a few years ago, advancements in video, photos and messaging technology all seemed so harmless. Now, sexting seems to be all the rage as teenagers experiment with these advances in technology. Disturbingly, sexting photo leaks appear to be becoming somewhat a trend among teens and, as sexting continues to be prevalent, the images are imprinted on technology forever.

Here are a few synopses of photo leaks that have happened in towns across the US. An especially disconcerting facet about these photo leaks is that each case has occurred in just the past six months:

  • In November, two students from McLean High School in Virginia acquired and organized folders containing compromising photos of 56 female classmates. They passed around the folders to other students in a carefully concealed Dropbox page. The 16 and 17-year-old teens plead guilty to three misdemeanor charges each for distributing obscene material.

child ipadYoung children can get into just as much trouble online as their parents. In fact, young children may be more in danger because they do not necessarily know the boundaries of what they should and should not do. Therefore, Internet security should be a primary concern for any parent with a young child. 

Keeping Children Away From Sensitive Information 

Vodaphone.com recommends the following for children under the age of 5: 

KEEP devices like your mobile out of reach and make sure you have passwords/PINs set up on them for the times you might lend them to your child... or for when they simply get hold of them themselves!

It is too easy for a child to start crawling through your personal information and data if they are able to access your phone without having to enter a pin. It is simply the safest to keep those devices locked up and out of reach. 

Curbing Child Identity Theft

Quick facts about the prevalence of identity theft:

Boy on FacebookProviding children with Internet security does not only entail keeping them safe from obvious dangerous such as sexual predators and scams. It is also important to note that there are side effects of the Internet which children should be protected from as well. Sadly, some of the things that children may need to be protected from are self-inflicted. 

Facebook Depression

Facebook depression is a phenomenon that has sprung up as a result of Facebook and other social networks. Since Facebook is the most popular social network, it was the one on which the term is coined. A good explanation on why this is a worry comes from parenting.com,

Teen development is, in large part, about separating from parents and gaining peer acceptance, and social networking sites allow them to do both. But if online harassment or rejection occurs, such as “de-friending,” symptoms of depression may be the result.

Why Facebook Depression Exists 

teens on laptopAre you the parent of a teenager? If so, chances are that you know the struggle of trying to keep them safe while also letting them live their life. That is what so many parents have to worry about these days. It is even harder when it comes to broaching Internet security and knowing how to approach disciplining them in the age of information.

Here are some easy digital parenting mantras that will make your job a little easier:

1. You Are The Parent

The bottom line when it comes to keeping children safe online is to remember that you are the parent and are in control. You get to set the rules for your children, and they are to obey those rules. You can make sure that the rules are fair to them while at the same time maintaining their safety. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is what you are supposed to be doing as the parent.

2. The Internet is a Privilege, Not a Right

In the same vein, kids and teens might need to periodically be reminded that their Internet use is a privilege granted to them, not a right. From their persepctive, widespread Internet access has been available to them for as long as they can remember. For this reason, it can be easy for teens, tweens and even young kids to feel entitled to have continuous Internet access from their phones or other digital devices.

teen on phoneEven though many parents understand that they should use parental controls on their home computer, many never establish a means for getting the job done.  According to a McAfee survey, most parents left their kids alone while surfing the internet and over half the parents surveyed didn’t know if their kids had a social networking account, like Facebook. Another study indicated that approximately 72 percent of teens do have social networking profiles and almost half of them are public profiles viewable by anyone.

Parents must realize that Internet security is needed across multiple devices. With the advancements in technology, children have Internet access on smartphones, iPads, tablets and other mobile devices. Mobile technology can expose children to not only the good, but also all of the bad on the Internet.

Personal monitoring of mobile devices isn’t always possible since kids use them on the way to school and even while school is in session.  Many school systems around the country are experimenting with pilot programs using mobile learning with the goal of replacing textbooks and other coursework with technology. Both parents and school administrators will need to make sure they use the technologies available to make these mobile devices safer and more child-friendly both at home and at school.

Turning the Tide

body imageTechnology is great, isn’t it? We can scroll through Facebook and see what our family and friends are doing. We can start a conversation on our desktop and continue on our phone in the woods while we mushroom hunt. Then we can send a picture when we find the biggest one. Technology can help us learn and help keep us entertained.

But can too much technology be a bad thing?

Parents are trying to maintain a respectful distance and still keep an eye on their kids’ interactions and relationships, contending with Snapchat, Face-time, Facebook, Skype, texting and endless selfies. A teen or tween can base their entire reputation on their online social life, wanting to look as good as or better than the images they see.

Even games and movies are filled with unrealistic images of sleek men and women, with size 2 avatars and beautiful, slim princesses dancing with barrel-chested princes. A steady diet can skew a child’s reality of how “normal” people look.

teensYouTube challenges, hashtags and other digital trends spread like wildfire among the group of children who are in that magic, impressionable age between grade school and high school. Most digital trends are harmless and quickly forgotten; some can be positive, and some are downright bad news. 

As 2014 winds down, now is a great time for parents to reflect on the year's top digital trends. Here is a glimpse of some of the biggest online fads from the past year.

Social Media is Still King. But Which Networks?

Facebook has long lost its groove among those younger than thirty. A social media network where Grandma might leave a sweet message for everyone in school to see isn’t where kids want to hang out. Newer networks like InstagramSnapchatKik, and Vine have blossomed in teen popularity towards the middle and second half of 2014.

digital parentThere is no use in trying to jump into digital parenting all at one time. Rather, a step-by-step approach is preferred and more successful over time. Following a set of steps allows your child and you to have a good understand with one another and hopefully work together to have a safe time on the Internet.

1. Have a Conversation With Your Child 

Showing an interest in what your child is doing online is a great basic first step. You want to show them that you care about whatever the latest app is or perhaps what websites they like to visit. You may be surprised by how much your child is actually willing to share with you on this topic. It opens the door to deeper conversations about Internet safety

Christmas familyIf your teen or tween is expecting a smartphone from Santa this year, make sure he has all the gear he needs so you both get the most out of this life-changing and bank-balance-draining purchase. From keeping the phone powered so you can always stay in touch to protecting it from damage, these five essential smartphone accessories will not only make great stocking stuffers, but they'll help with parental peace of mind.

1. A Durable Phone Case 
As soon as the phone is out of the box, it needs to go straight into a durable, drop-proof case such as the Otterbox Defender. Offering three layers of protection, including a plastic interior shell that cushions the device and a built-in screen shield to prevent scratches and scrapes, this case is practically indestructible, making it the perfect accompaniment to a smartphone this season.

2. Back-up Power 

sextortionA Florida child porn case is making headlines because of its sheer magnitude. Lucas Chansler, 31, was sentenced to 105 years in prison for his coast to coast sextortion of young girls. Authorities found around 80,000 child porn pictures and videos on his computer and amongst his possessions.

Chansler used video chat to convince 350 girls between the ages of 13 and 18 to send him explicit pictures and videos. The images were sent between 2007 and 2010. Chansler admitted that he extorted the young girls to send nude pictures by threatening them. He pleaded guilty on 9 counts of producing child pornography. He'll likely spend between 15 and 30 years in prison and he'll be forced to pay a quarter of a million dollars in fines for each of the 9 counts.

Chansler didn't target girls in his home state of Florida or any other specific region. He went for anyone and everyone he could ensnare. His victims were spread out across 26 states. Chansler used video chats to weasel his way into conversations with the girls by pretending to be an acquaintance. He used multiple screen names to alter his identity with his victims.

mom and daughterAll good parents have a parental instinct to protect their children. This instinct no longer extends only to the real world, but to the online world as well. Mobile and Internet child safety has become as important if not more important than typical safety measures. Here are a few common Internet safety dangers that parents and teens should approach with caution.

1. Chat Rooms 

One of the areas where children can be targeted is on chat rooms. The ability to remain anonymous makes these rooms a prime area to attack for predators. This is not to say that everyone who uses a chat room is a predatory, but it does mean that this is one area where they are often attracted.

digital familySocial media is a little bit like driving a car. If used properly it is a wonderful tool to accomplish good or add enjoyment to your life. If used improperly however, it can not only be dangerous, it can be a weapon. Parents need to be aware of the impact their influence can have not only on their children's day to day lives but on their future as well.

In this day and age, with few exceptions, there is no keeping teens and social media apart from one another. The lessons parents can teach their children through their interactions on sites like Facebook and Instagram is invaluable. The lessons are not only as to how they use these sites, but why and when.

girl scout cookiesIn the new "Information Age," it seems that everything eventually ends up on the Internet. Up until the beginning of December 2014, however, Girl Scout cookies were an exception. Most Girl Scouts would begin by selling a few cookies to close friends and relatives, then move on to canvassing their local neighborhoods door-to-door, and finally expand to other nearby towns. 

The recent announcement by the Girl Scouts of the USA that members will soon be allowed to set up their own personalized websites to market Girl Scout cookies to a wider audience has been met with mixed reactions by parents.

The Promise of Online Sales

By enabling Girl Scouts to contact far-off relatives, parents' co-workers, friends of friends, and even outright strangers, overall sales are sure to boom. Valuable experience will likely be gained in running these "miniature online businesses," which will serve them well in years to come. Scouts will be able to post their photos as well as a short "cookie commercial" video online. They will also be able to send eCards to potential customers. 

sextingSmartphones are amazing devices which have opened up so many opportunities for people ages three to 100, unfortunately they have also brought their own challenges. One such challenge is the issue of teens and tweens sexting through apps

We would like to think this is a phase, but the safe bet is that this type of behavior will never disappear. The good news is that there are ways to inform your kids about the dangers of sexting and hopefully they will make the smart decision to abstain from such actions. 

First of all, it is important to understand that sexting will always continue to be a smartphone risk, and waging a war on it will just be a waste of time and resources. When a child receives a smartphone they are given more power than they know what to do with and unfortunately teenagers can be very persuasive (especially when hormones are involved).

While there are surely measures parents can take to keep track of what their kids are texting, sexting can occur through so many devices and apps that it's difficult to monitor. A mixture between raging hormones, at-hand technology, and the perception that this behavior is cool guarantees that sexting will remain as common place in our society as make out spots were in the 1950s.

chatroomsChat rooms are one place on the Internet that can cause a lot of fear and worry in parents. With a multitude of stories coming out about terrible things that have happened to children and others as a result of chat rooms, the concern is understandable.

Ultimately, chat rooms are not recommended for children. There is endless potential for online predators and identity thieves to be lurking around chat rooms and disguising themselves as being young and friendly. If you choose to allow your child to visit them, here are a few chat room tips that can help put your fears at ease: 

Moderators Of The Service 

teen girlAsk the average parent about what their child did on the social networking sites just last night, and they are probably going to have no idea. The problem is not that they are bad parents, but merely that technology has made the job of parenting that much harder. Digital parenting is now a full time job, but there are some measures parents can take to make the job a little easier.  

Getting Into The Lives Of Your Children 

It may sound like exactly the wrong tactic to use, but just getting into the online lives of your child or children is actually the first step to take to make a difference. Many parents are hesitant to do so fearing the backlash from their child.

wifiFree public Wi-Fi can be compared to free public restrooms. While a wireless hot spot may be very appealing, particularly when you are out and about without a data connection, you must remember to use caution just as you would no matter how desperately you might need to access a public restroom. 

It might be a good idea to review some important tips with your family members, including children who are heading off to school or doing any sort of traveling. Anyone using a laptop, smart phone or tablet needs to be aware of some of the dangers lurking out there, so it is important to use some safety tips in order to choose a network wisely.

Make certain that the network you connect to is legitimate, not just a facade for someone who wants to intercept your data. How can you be sure it's legit? 

  1. If you are out in public, such as in a restaurant, coffee shop or even at the public library, verify the name of the network they are offering for free.

footballThe threat of cyberbullying isn't limited to any one group of kids. Students in the chess club are just as likely to be a victim of cyberbullying as students on the football team. If you don't believe that, then take a look at the story below. 

KTTC News reported a case of cyberbullying at a local high school in Minnesota. In this case, members of the football team were caught engaging in cyberbullying. Here are some points from the case:

  • Football coaches at Southwest High School heard about instances of cyberbullying

  • Several players who engaged in cyberbullying were benched for a must-win game

  • The principal of the high school said cyberbullying can be more damaging than traditional bullying

girl textingParents, teens and tweens across the world can learn a lesson from Michaela Snyder's story. Michaela, 15, is the daughter of a police sergeant and she is making her story known in an effort to make a positive impact on teens who are tempted by peer pressure.

When Michaela was 12 years old, she grew interested in a boy in her same grade. This crush turned out to be a tragedy that all parents and youngsters should know about. Michaela admits that she was so infatuated with her new boyfriend that she would do just about anything to maintain the relationship.

Oftentimes, tweens and teens lack self confidence and will do unhealthy things for the affection of others. Michaela's boyfriend asked her to send semi-nude pictures from her cell phone. At first, Michaela refused but then felt pressured into sending the pictures as the boy gave her an ultimatum. She had to either send him the salacious shots or he would leave her.

youtubeThe digital age has moved peer pressure from classrooms and neighborhood blocks onto the Internet. Teens follow the pack on social media websites and apps like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. The main difference between the old form of offline peer pressure and today's online peer pressure is public. When peer pressure is applied on a medium that more than a handful of people can see, teens are often tempted to succumb to it even if they'd rather not.

Before the Internet exploded in popularity, teens were often lured into shenanigans by their friends while hanging around in public parks, school parking lots and backyards. Since these situations were limited to a small group of people, fewer knew about the social pressure. Now that peer pressure is online, it is viral. If someone is hazed, taunted or challenged on the web, just about everyone will know about it.

As a result, youngsters feel an extraordinary amount of pressure to respond to social persuasions to avoid hurtful criticism, teasing and social ostracism. It is very difficult for teens to buck the trend and take the road less traveled. Many succumb to peer pressure simply because their refusal to do so will be made public through social media.

Of particular note are the viral YouTube challenges. Most of these are absurdly gross but their proponents have lured in numerous teens.

digital parentThere is absolutely no reason why digital parenting has to be something that your children despise. When used correctly, digital parenting techniques enable you to set rules and boundaries for your children that they will respect. It takes time, but learning the right principles to use greatly improves outcomes. 

It Is Not About Outsmarting Your Children 

First things first: good luck trying to stay one step ahead of your children, particularly when technology is involved! Thecybersafetylady.com.au has a better definition of what parents should be doing to better

driving testEvery generation of teens tends to think that they are invincible. It is part of the exuberance of youth we have all enjoyed. That care-free attitude is much to be envied, unless it leads any young people to assume that the dangers of risky behavior don't apply to them. However, simulation technology gives this generation of teenagers the chance to see how vulnerable they are to the dangers associated with texting and driving.

If you asked most teenagers if they knew that texting and driving was dangerous, they would probably tell you that they did. However, teens texting and driving remains a major problem. The knowledge that they have about the dangers of texting and driving has not influenced their behavior as much as we might hope. Until they experience the consequences first hand, it may be hard to convince them that they should change, but no one wants teenagers to have to get an accident before they make a commitment to keep themselves safe.

eating disorderThe parents of young people invested in digital social media need to keep out front of technology the best they can. Issues with eleven-year old children viewing pornography for free online, tweens trying to acts grown up by sexting, kids developing negative attitudes about themselves and their body images are in strong competition with the widespread issues of bullying peers in school environments.

Teen Body Image

What is body image? Do you know the term "thigh space"? Where do teens begin to get distorted ideas and negative feeling about their young, growing, healthy bodies? 

In today's social focus on outer beauty, no kids are insulated from feelings of inadequacy and despair. Parents concerned about their child's body image must become educated regarding the realities of what kids are faced with on the internet relating to teen body image.

navigation appIt’s a nerve-racking experience to have kids on the road. And if your teen has just started driving, you want to do everything that you can to keep them safe. One useful technological advancement that can help? GPS and other navigation applications.

While GPS technology has been around for a while, GPS apps make it even easier for young drivers to get where they’re going – without relying on anything but their smartphone. Below are five of the best navigation apps for new driver. All of these apps are designed to keep drivers safe and precise on the road.

    1. MotionX GPS Drive. MotionX GPS Drive was one of the first GPS entries into the market.

TwitterTwitter is now the second largest social networking website on the planet. Still, there remains a lot of room to grow for this social network. Internet security and how it relates to Twitter continues to be a hot topic. 

Follow these steps to optimize your account security when using Twitter:

Change Passwords Regularly

As with almost any other website, frequently changing the password is a good way of staying safe. Sometimes, passwords are stolen by computer hackers. In other cases, someone may simply figure out what your password is if they see you type it in or if it is just too obvious. Thus, changing the password on a regular basis can help minimize the chances of the account being compromised.

Here are some other best practices teens can use for optimal password security:

  • Avoid anything on a list of most common user passwords - sequences of numbers like 123456, names of family members or pets, or the word "password" itself should all be avoided.

  • Don't make a password too short. Generally eight characters is considered the minimum for security.

Listen to any conversations involving parents and you are likely to hear a complaint about their teens and social media. Often heard is “Johnny never puts that phone down; always on Facebook or Snapchat or something!”

One study reported by Common Sense Media states that most teenagers are involved in some form of social media, the vast majority using social media daily. “Two-thirds (68%) of teens text every day, half (51%) visit social networking sites daily, and 11% send or receive tweets at least once every day”. USA Today expects, “As more generations are born into the social age, social media will continue to be the favored communication form among young people.”

And what of the face-to-face social skills that seem to be lacking when the phone is the eternal attraction? Teens are reported to have accidents both on foot and in vehicles, too concerned with what is coming across the screen. People have even died after being distracted when taking selfies.

location monitoringThe launch of Facebook's Messenger App came with a whole lot of concern. Everyone seemed immediately worried about its safety as it has the ability to send your location along with every new message.

Questions and concerns about Facebook's location sharing feature and the safety of the feature have made waves across the media. The social media powerhouse even required that its mobile users either install the Messenger App, or give up using the Facebook private messaging feature altogether. The result: (even with clear evidence that it did indeed include your location in messenger by default) over 500 MILLION people downloaded it. Million.  

texting and drivingEvery day, car accidents that involve texting and driving make the news. Texting and driving is arguably just as dangerous as drunk driving, and is certainly the most prevalent form of distracted driving. There is no question that texting while driving contributes to way too many automobile accidents and considerably decreases the safety of all drivers and pedestrians.

All over the country, people are trying to solve the problem of texting and driving, particularly focusing their efforts on convincing teens to avoid texting and driving. Curbing the impulse for teenagers to text and drive is particularly important because they are less experienced drivers to begin with, they are more prevalent texters in their daily lives, and because if their generation understands the implicit dangers involved with texting and driving, perhaps the practice can be thwarted.

The South Carolina Press Association was tired of reporting on texting and driving accidents and decided to be proactive in bringing awareness to the safety risks texting and driving creates. They recently held a statewide contest for high school students to create essays and videos promoting AT&Ts "It Can Wait" campaign.

appsIn this technologically advanced world, we understand that almost everyone has a cell phone by now. It isn't uncommon in our era for children that haven't even made it into middle school yet to be seen thumbing it up on their iPhones.  

But, with all of the apps available to kids, with little to no parental consent required, what, exactly, are our children downloading?  We have compiled a list of what we have found to be the top scariest applications available (for free) out in the digital world today. 

SNAPCHAT

Although the app's website states that "Snapchat is intended for use by people who are 18 years of age or older, and persons under the age of 18 are prohibited from creating Snapchat accounts", a whopping 50% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13-17. 

lingoText messaging is a fairly recent invention. As parents, it's often easy to get confused about how in the world you're supposed to hit those tiny buttons with your fingers, or what exactly "LOL TTYL" means. (Hint: it doesn't stand for "lots of love.")

Teens especially love to use trendy text lingo to get their point across. All of those acronyms and shortened words are easier than typing everything out and they still get the same point across if the person who receives the message understands them.

As a parent, you're probably annoyed with the turn that language has taken. But, in fact, language is constantly evolving, and has been for hundreds of years, ever since it was created. That's part of what's so great about it. This move toward text-speak is just the latest evolution of the way we speak.

texting and drivingThe moment that a child logs on to the Internet is the moment that they are exposed to a number of risks. While the Internet is designed to help us all accomplish tasks, learn new information, and even do business, there are potential threats that lurk as well, particularly for children. Mobile and Internet child safety is an important topic to learn about. 

teens textingOversharing on social media can be a serious problem for your kids, as we've posted before. One of the problems with teaching your kids about oversharing online (or for that matter, recognizing if you're doing it yourself) is that sometimes it's hard to recognize that you're doing it.

Posting Without Thinking

Part of the reason kids and adults alike share so many things on social media is that it's so easy. Pulling out your phone to snap a picture, write a post, or click a few "likes" is such a simple action that it quickly becomes habit.

Habits are actions we do without thinking about them, and sometimes even without noticing them. This is great when a habit helps you do something positive, like developing routines to carry you efficiently through the day. It's not good when habits lead you to oversharing and obsessive social media use, because you don't even realize how often you're checking in.

How can you become aware of phone habits, and help your kids learn about theirs? Try the empty case challenge.

How It Works

digital familyNow that we live in the digital age, chances are that your children will use the Internet throughout their lives both for work and play. Here are a few things you should teach them early to ensure good Internet security.

1. Keep Personal Details Secret Online

It’s important for children to learn the need for secrecy when browsing the web. Younger children especially tend to be automatically trusting of anyone they meet, especially in cyberspace. They need to understand to never give out their real name, their phone number, their address, or any other personal information on the Internet.

2. Never Meet Up With Strangers

sextingSexting is the transmission of sexually explicit images through smartphones or other Internet connected or cellular devices like tablets and laptops. Until recently, it was considered a behavior that was limited to "at-risk" teens and a sign of potentially problematic behavior. New research, however, suggests that it may actually be a part of normal sexual development in teens.

Like virtually any controversial subject, however, there are two sides to this argument. Here is the first one:

In the journal Pediatrics, research found that thus far there is a total failure for anyone to prove a link between sexting and any sort of risky sexual behavior. There is also no link yet between sexting and diminished mental health. This was all part of a study that polled over one thousand high school students, and was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas.

Now that you have the "sexting is normal" side of the argument. Here is the counter-debate:

girl textingTexting has quickly become one of the primary forms of communication in the world today. There is a lot of focus on the negative forms of texting like texting while driving, texting at the dinner table or texting while a parent is trying to have a conversation with their child. Even though there are a lot of negatives associated with texting there are several positive things that texting can be used for. 

Interacting With the Community

Schools have started embracing text messages to notify parents of certain events happening at the school. Parents are also able to quickly exchange texts with other parents, sports coaches, and other community leaders easily and efficiently.

Speedy Communication During Emergencies 

Digital FamilyWe've got great news! uKnow is growing fast, and so we are raising a new round of investment capital to support that growth.

uKnow is dedicated to making our digital world a safer place for families including both adults and kids.

To that end, I am excited to share with you the news that uKnow has decided to raise a new round of investment capital in order to support the company's rapid growth.

This is significant milestone for our uKnow team, community, and supporters. Since many of you have previously asked about investing in uKnow, I thought you would want to know about our new capital raise.

uKnow is growing into a terrific company. We’ve helped tens of thousands of digital families, acquired 40,000+ subscribers, received significant media attention, and developed premier partnerships with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Identity Theft 911, Reunion Group, Synacor (NASDAQ: SYNC), Intersections (NASDAQ: INTX) and others.

iCloudIt's likely that you have heard about the recent celebrity photograph hack incident, where the private photographs of numerous celebrities were stolen and leaked on the Internet. It is reported that the photo hack stemmed from a criminal either breaching the iCloud system or hacking stars' personal account usernames and passwords.

Although the attacker responsible for this crime was clearly targeting celebrities, it is important for parents to know that these kinds of breaches can happen to anyone. Learn about how to secure both account usernames/passwords and the iCloud service.

The Cause of the Celebrity Photo Breach

There is a dispute regarding the source of the hack and this, in itself, is an indicator of how tricky security can be. The photos were obtained from Apple's iCloud service, but the exact nature of the iCloud breach remains in question - Apple maintains that the pictures were obtained through targeting usernames and passwords, but others suggest there was a more fundamental breach of the iCloud.

In reality, for the purposes of many people, the source of the hack is a secondary consideration - both methods are entirely plausible and whichever was used here, either could be used in the future. In consequence, to ensure security of things such as pictures, both factors should be given consideration. Parents seeking to ensure their children's privacy should take steps to ensure both that usernames and passwords are secure and robust, and that a future iCloud breach has only limited information to steal anyway.

It Can Happen to Anyone

crime sceneYou would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t become privy to the selfie epidemic that has seized pop culture. Everyone from President Obama to Pope Francis has participated in the trend. The self-portrait photograph has become a staple of social media. With 91% of teens estimated to have posted a photo of themselves online, it's likely that your own teen or tween has contributed to the craze!

While the selfie trend is innocent enough for the most part, there are a few potential risks associated with taking selfies. Although it may seem surprising, there have been various world-wide reports of selfie-related accidents that have resulted in serious injuries or, in some cases, deaths. 

Here’s a list of people who have tragically died from accidents and events involving selfies.

    1. A couple visiting Portugal sadly fell to their deaths while trying to take a selfie with their kids on the edge of the Cabo da Roca beachside cliff. Authorities are continuing to investigate the incident, but suspect that the deaths happened directly resulting from the couple taking the selfie.

child with phoneIt's often a struggle for kids and parents to strike a nice balance between screen time and learning time. Okay, a struggle is putting it lightly. It's more like a battle, war, or holy crusade even! Regardless of personality, disposition, or intelligence level, kids want their screen time. Conversely, parents want their kids to be active, independent, and spend time reading or learning

Our advice: Stop the insanity, declare peace, and integrate screen time with learning instead. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones can actually be used for far more than just Angry Birds, YouTube, and Facebook. In fact, you can make excellent use of any of these devices to help your child cultivate a potentially lifelong love of reading.

These devices are actually great tools in this learning endeavor. Apple's App Store and the Google Marketplace are loaded with opportunities to encourage this task. Here are three of the best reading apps available for kids:

  • Learn with Homer: Reading and Educational GamesD'oh! No, not that Homer. It's actually an app from a company called HomerLearning, Inc., and it's drawn rave reviews from such noteworthy critics as the New York Times as well as many parents. The website boasts that just ten minutes a day can result in increased confidence and academic success. It's designed for kids from pre-k to first grade, and contains literally (pardon the pun) hundreds of hours of lessons designed specifically by literacy experts.

parent and child on computerTimes are quickly changing. Kids are facing a world with more access to global information and communication thanks to a number of technological advances and the development of various social networking sites and app connections. Cyberspace has afforded today's youth with the availability of digital communication and sharing, among other activities.

There are obviously many pros and cons concerning these advances, but the facts speak for themselves; youth use computers and mobile phones more today than they have ever done and at increasingly younger age ranges. Discussions on mobile and Internet safety are important in ensuring a safe and positive experience for your child and others.  

Check out these 7 simple things you can do as a parent to teach and enforce Internet and mobile safety:

  1. Set tech time limits. By setting limits to the amount of time your child spends on the phone or computer, you are also setting boundaries. Multiple studies show that too much time spent with technology can lead to poor social, physical, and mental health. Limiting cyber time keeps a child from becoming too involved online and can also enable them to develop a more balanced relationship with technology in the future. You may consider implementing tech-free zones in your house, which establish clear times and places where tech is permitted to be used.

Peer pressure is something that is increasingly commonplace among young people and often it can have a major bearing on how they live their lives. Thanks to social media and improved communication networks, tweens and teens are in constant contact with peers. From updating statuses, looking at photos and instant messaging, children are linked to friends on a 24-hour basis, which has its advantages as well as its dangers.

Peer pressure is a problem that affects most youth to a degree. It can impact the way they dress, the choices they make, the music they listen to or the way they spend their time; but what happens when peer pressure takes its toll and how you can spot the signs of your child suffering under pressure from their friends? Here are 7 signs to look out for:

  1. Behavior changes. Look out for changes in your child’s behavior, especially when they are around certain groups of friends. Watch for the things they say, the way they act and the things they do; if they seem to change around certain people, this is a sign that they may feel under pressure to behave in a certain way.

cyberbullyNo parent wants to imagine their child as a bully but the sad fact is that it happens sometimes. When you first find out it’s your tween doing the bullying, it can be a bit devastating. Upon learning something like this, parents must take a few minutes to gather their thoughts and create a plan of action to help the offender see the error of their ways. 

It’s important to realize that being a bully doesn’t make your child a bad person or you a bad parent. However, cyberbullying is serious and something that you must deal with immediately. Don’t ignore the problem and hope it will go away on its own because things normally get worse without intervention.

Talk to your child about the situation but be calm when you do and don't let your emotions get the better of you. It's important to focus all of your attention on your child, not on your own anger or disappointment. It's imperative to to learn what is going on in youd kid's mind and determine what is motivating them to be a bully. Understanding why it’s happening will help you find ways to deal with the problem.

What to Do When Your Tween Is a Cyberbully

bullied boyCyberbullying is more than just the latest negative trend to sweep through our communities. It has not only caught on like wildfire, but it seems to be here to stay. Current statistics state that approximately 43% of kids report being bullied online at some point in their adolescence, 1 in 4 report it occurring more than once. Studies also say that 68% of teens agree that it is has become a serious problem. 

So, what is cyberbullying? Cyberbullying has been defined as 'bullying that takes place using electronic technology.' But what does this actually entail? Cyberbullying can come in many different forms and use many different methods. Cyberbullying occurs through the use of a cell phone, computer, or tablet. Methods can vary from a cyberbully using social media sites (such as Facebook or Twitter), text messages (whether group or individual), chat programs, or websites.  

The internet never sleeps, which means cyberbullying can occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can reach a child during school breaks, at night, or even when they are alone. As with all things on the internet, it can spread quickly and can be extremely complicated to track down the original offender. Deleting the offensive materials can also prove to be especially difficult once they have been posted.

As a parent, cyberbullying can be a daunting issue, especially if you're not tech-savvy. How do you, as a parent, go about handling such a problem? Here are some tips to help you wade through the topic at hand.

Make your child feel safe and secure. Sure, this sounds easy enough but it is the first step to getting the situation under control. Your child needs to know that you fully support them and are dedicated to the same end result - getting the bullying to stop. 

family dinnerThe Huffington Post reported on a recent study on cyberbullying that was conducted by the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. One of the conclusions of the study was that regular family dinners, where children can communicate with their parents, is a key to raising awareness of instances of cyberbullying. By being able to be open about how they are being cyberbullied, children can help their parents take action to shield them from the harmful consequences.

The study was based on survey data that was garnered from 18,000 students in 49 schools in Wisconsin. It found that one in five of the respondents had been cyberbullied at least once during the past year.

Family dinners were singled out in the report because they are the most common occasion when children and parents have face to face communication with one another. But the communication can happen in other situations, such as car trips.

texting while drivingNone of us mean to get into situations where we are texting and driving. We want to set a good example for our kids and keep the roads safe for drivers and pedestrians by making driving the top priority. When splitting the focus between driving and carrying out a conversation through text messaging, safety for everyone on the road decreases drastically.

Distracted driving, the umbrella category for texting and driving, is a behavior that is particularly prevalent among the teen demographic. In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in distracted-related crashes. 11% of those killed were under the age of 20. Additionally, one out of five young drivers thinks that texting makes no difference to their driving.

That's why AT&T, one of the leading cellular carriers, has started a campaign to try to curb the urge to text and drive. Their campaign is called, "It Can Wait" and it tries to teach the general public that no text conversation is more important than keeping yourself and others safe while you are driving.

boy textingIn some instances, cell phones offer parents a lot of peace of mind. When your teenager has a cell phone, you know you can get ahold of them and that they have a resource to turn to if danger arises. In this regard, cell phones offer security to today's parents that previous generations of parents would have loved.

However, teenagers can also use their phones to get into trouble, embarrass themselves or even put themselves at risk. As a parent, you have probably already talked to your children about the kind of information they should and shouldn't put online, but sexting through apps has become such a trend in youth, as many believe that these apps are guarding their privacy.  

We have all heard about the dangers of the popular teen app Snapchat, which is an app that allows users to send a picture of short video that allegedly automatically disappears within seconds. With Snapchat, recipients of photos or videos can still screen shot and save images from a Snap. The app is widely believed to be used as an app for sexting, even amongst younger users. 

child on phoneThe show "Dora the Explorer" has been a fan favorite for many children throughout the past decade. Dora has embarked on exciting and exotic adventures with kids everywhere and she has taught them some Spanish along the way. Now, our favorite Latina adventurer is back with a brand new adventure: "Dora the Explorer: Into the City." 

On this show, Dora is older (10-years-old to be exact) and has some brand new pals to join in on her adventures in the city. Dora now uses some high-tech gadgets, including a smartphone, during her adventures. While she used to turn to her trusty map when going out and about, she now relies on a map app to help her with her travels.

Perhaps these new changes to our beloved Dora and the additions of plenty of other shows with tween characters sporting phones are simply a means of keeping up with the times. Although these shows might encourage more kids to ask parents for their first cell phones, the question ultimately becomes: is this a bad thing? Let's take a look at some of the risks and benefits that accompany giving a child their first phone and discuss how you can get the best of both worlds.

First, here are some statistics displaying how many kids and tweens have cell phones currently:

  • About six out of ten parents in the United States have provided their "tweenager (child between the ages of 9 and 12)" with a cell phone.

Cyberbullying has become a major problem in this world. Over the past decade, this type of bullying has claimed the lives of many children and adolescents across the globe. It is estimated that half of adolescents have been the victims of cyberbullying. An astonishing one in three children and teens have been victims of online cyberthreats.

The statistics are startling, but not all hope is lost. Because cyberbullying has become such a damaging and deadly issue, lawmakers have created cyberbullying laws to help protect victims from online bullies and to bring these bullies to justice. 

There are several states, countries, and territories across the globe that have implemented strong and seemingly effective cyberbullying laws. Although some locations are prepared to crack down on cyberharassment, others are still catching up with the times. View our list displaying countries and states with strong, average, and loose cyberbullying laws.

The strongest cyberbullying laws in the world:

  • Canada- Under the Education Act, individuals who engage in cyberbullying face suspension from school. Repeat bullies may also face expulsion and possible jail time.

Teen selfieYou can hardly go onto Facebook, Instagram or any other social media site without being inundated with selfies. A recent PEW study found that a whopping 91% of teens have reportedly posted a photo of themselves online. With this kind of statistic, odds are that your teen has already taken and posted at least one of these instant self-portraits. 

For most teens, selfies are a harmless bit of adolescent fun, no more dangerous than other passing fads. Actual damage by selfie is rare, but it does happen. As a parent, you need to be aware of these risks and become equipped to discuss them with your teen.

Selfies and Self-Esteem

One risk factor for selfies is that the act and obsession with taking them can lead teens to the development of poor self-esteem. There has been some speculation about whether self-portraits help or hurt self-esteem. Out of the few studies that have been conducted on the matter, the verdict on the effects of selfies on teen self-esteem is somewhat conflicting.

mom on computerGet the latest and greatest on the top digital parenting news and stories of the week!

This week: cyberbullying escalates during the transition from elementary to middle school (shocker!), parents are encouraging kids to pursue careers in digital fields, and a texting-while-driving tracking device is in production. Check out the news roundup and join the conversation in the comment section below.

Students Experience Increase in Cyberbullying During Elementary to Middle School Transition

A study that was recently published in School Psychology Quarterly found that students increasingly become targets of cyberbullying during the transition from elementary school to middle school. The study took place in the Midwest and examined three semesters of data following 1,180 students.

The study categorized students who were bullied into 4 groups:

  • 29% were occasional victims of traditional bullying (verbal or physical bullying)

  • 10% were occasional victims of traditional bullying and cyberbullying

  • Half of bullied students were infrequent victims

  • 11% of bullied students were frequent victims

Facebook PrivacyIn September 2014, Facebook began rolling out a privacy checkup tool for users. It's an attempt to by the network to encourage privacy among its millions of users. 

It's a bit of a strange move coming from Facebook for a number of reasons. First of all, in regards to online privacy, Facebook is practically the antithesis of that. While other social media sites like Twitter allow members to create a username and never display their full names if they prefer, Facebook requires such personal information as a full name (of course, inputting your true name is optional), city and town of residence, and encourages users to include even their school and workplace. It's become a quick way to look up old friends, lost family members, and anyone you've just met.

kidsLong gone are the days when bullying solely consisted of having your lunch money swiped, receiving "swirlies" in the bathroom, having a "kick me" sign taped to your back, and being tripped in the hallway. With the big part that social media now plays in our daily lives, bullying continues past the ringing of the 3:00pm school bell. Though many instances of bullying are no longer face-to-face, it is becoming more severe and parents need to become aware of this. 

With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, now is the perfect time to talk to your children about bullying. Some parents may think that with better security systems being implemented in schools across the nation, bullying is becoming less of a concern. However, that is far from reality.

According to Harrison Daily, "An estimated 13 million students are bullied annually."

smartphone appsAs parents of a generation of teens and tweens that have easy access to the Internet, it's natural to be concerned about what kind of things they could be getting into online. Internet security should be thought of as being just as important as any other type of security that a parent provides their child.

Here are a few smartphone apps that can help parents in their quest to keep children safe online:

K9 Browser 

This app can be used in place of something like Internet Explorer or Sfari. The purpose of it is to give parents the ability to have the app block out things like adult content. Anything that should not be seen by a teenager's eyes can easily be blocked out by just using this application. Most parents are quite grateful to have a tool established that can help them filter what their child sees online.

Available: iOS and Android

From all of the news we hear about the span and scope of digital dangers available to youth, it's clear that parents have every right to be worried about the types of activities teens are engaging in online and through phones. It's natural for any parent to be concerned about what their child could be getting into. Although teens may be disgruntled by it, parents have a responsibility to be aware of what is going on and prevent mistakes from being made in kids' digital lives. 

The Rise Of Sexting

If you haven't heard of sexting already, you probably will in the near future. Sexting is sending or receiving a sexually graphic or descriptive text message. Studies show that teen sexting is on the rise and many parents are wholly unaware of it.

Quick facts about sexting:

  • 11% of teens admit they’ve sent pictures to strangers (Cox Communications)

  • 80% of teens who have sexted are under the age of 18 (Cox Communications)

  • Over half (57%) of teens from a 2012 survey reported that they had been asked to send a sext (JAMA)

  • 12% of teen girls feel pressured to sext (The National Campaign)

  • 38% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys say they have had sexually suggestive text messages or emails—originally meant for someone else—shared with them (The National Campaign)

Plus, according to research, those teens who are sexting or propositioned to send a sext are more likely than their peers to have sexual intercourse.

teens in libraryFor parents, the concept of protecting children has changed drastically even over the past couple of years. The popularity of smartphones has skyrocketed, making mobile and Internet safety more difficult to keep track of than ever before.

Who hasn't heard about cyberbullying, child pornography, or malware that takes control of a computer's web camera? Just a few years ago, all a parent had to do was keep track of their child's use of the family computer (or, for the lucky kids, their own computers) and possible threats were relatively easy to contain. 

mom and teen on computerWe’ve all heard it by now: the Internet is forever. A bad social media presence can follow anyone of any demographic down the road. Think of how many times you’ve heard on the news that a teen was expelled, cyberbullied, or rejected from colleges based on one digital mistake. Countless adults have been fired from jobs and penalized by the law based on poor social media choices.

The beginning of a new school year is as good a time as any to make sure that you and your kids are in control of your digital reputations. Use these tips to ensure that you are maintaining reputable social media accounts:

1. Be selective about who you're friends with on social media.

When we think of people who are consumers of online porn, we automatically picture grown adults. However, with access to pornographic sites becoming increasingly widespread, a large number of tweens and teens are believed to have viewed some kind of online porn.  

How Many Children Are Watching Porn?

Today, it's reported that at least 90 percent of kids between the ages of 8 and 16 have watched pornography online at least once. Not only have most tweens and teens seen porn, but boys ages 12 to 17 are actually the largest consumers of online pornography. With this statistic, pornography has even been compared to being the drug of choice for youth.

Physical activity for kids is extremely important to overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest children (and adults) get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day; but this is easier said than done. The problem is that kids today are not the same as kids were 20 or 30 years ago.

Times Have Changed

Older generations of children spent most of their time outside playing, while kids today, no matter how old they are, have access to smart phones, tablets, video games, computer games, and other electronics. Technology has a widely-known correlation with childhood obesity and this correlation is especially present in the US. Although this concern is not 100% off-base, technology is not completely to blame.

girls smilingWhen parents think about social media in the hands of their teens and tweens, it is easy to automatically jump to the negative. While there are some negative aspects of social media, there are plenty of very positive aspects about it as well. Recent research suggests that social media, when used appropriately and responsibly by tweens and teens, may actually be incredibly positive. 

Social Media Can Increase Confidence 

kids on phonesIf you've ever had to persuade your child to put down the game controller and go outside -- or if you have to coax them away from their smartphones to eat a well-balanced meal -- you already understand the impact that technology can have on physical activity and diet. While modern innovations make academic research easier than ever, they also come with a whole host of health risks, and teenagers face a bigger threat than anyone else. 

It's no coincidence that obesity rates have skyrocketed in the United States right alongside innovation. While great thinkers can harness new technology to make the world a better place, there are downsides to modernization too.

girls laughingThe Internet has been revolutionary in our abilities to connect with people all over the world. We now have access to photos and videos at the click of a button, can talk to someone without seeing their face, and exchange our most personal details with strangers. This world, though diverse and often useful, can be a nightmare for parents. Especially parents of children that are just coming into their teens, discovering this big wide world of the internet all on their own.

You want to protect your child from the big scary world until they’re at least 30.

There are a couple of things you may consider doing:

  1. Ban all Internet devices in the home and outside. That means also banning your laptop and phone in case they get a hold of it.

summer car rideChildren naturally have wild imaginations and a thirst for adventure. As the primary authority figure in their lives, it's your job to strike a balance between nurturing and being supportive of their curious minds while also monitoring their behavior and social interactions to keep them out of harm's way. This can be a difficult task, especially during the summertime when your little ones are free from the confines of school walls and homework. 

If your kids have a growing interest in technology, your duty as regulator can be twice as challenging. Digital parenting definitely has its setbacks, but you can easily overcome them and encourage fun activities for your children without worrying about their welfare. As you plan that next summer vacation, take into consideration these kid-tested and parent-approved digital apps that can hold your juvenile's attention while you're on the road. 

digital familyWith summer coming to an end and a new school year beginning, now is the perfect time for families to embark on a digital cleanse! It's pretty easy for physical devices and software to pile up throughout the school year and summer time. Get you and your family refreshed and ready for the new school year!

Cleaning Out the Digital Closet

friends textingAs parents, it's only natural for you to worry about where your children are, who they are with, and what they are doing. However, it is just as important to respect their limitations and privacy. So how do you do both?

Nowadays, there are so many ways to use location monitoring that it could be overwhelming. It could be used to share your location on social media, find directions, book travel, and more. It's no wonder than many find location monitoring creepy! On the upside, since most people use location services nowadays, monitoring children can be easier and less-intrusive than it was before. 

Recently, we wrote about why location monitoring your teens and tweens is not creepy. Put the idea into practice with these steps:

1. Have a discussion with your child.

boy textingOversharing online - the act of posting sensitive personal information - is one of the leading dangers affecting teenagers. In fact, independent studies have suggested that most teenagers are oversharing online. How bad is it for your teenager?

The Facts

As noted in the McAfee Teens and Screens study, 52% of teens have gotten into a fight because of things they either shared themselves or saw someone else share. And if you don't think your teens are seeing things, think again - 87% of teens have at least witnessed some form of cyberbullying. Here are some other facts to consider:

  • 39% of teens have never changed their privacy settings on social media - whose baseline usually

girls textingWith the advent of the digital age, the evolution of language is happening more quickly, especially among teens. They come up with their own language to express themselves, and often, it's nearly impossible for parents to understand what their kids are saying. Internet slang and lingo cycles so rapidly that it's hard to stay on top of figuring it out, especially when you aren't quite as plugged in as your son or daughter.

To help you understand the latest lingo, we've compiled a list of 10 current slang terms that your son or daughter might be using:

  1. FOMO: This acronym stands for Fear Of Missing Out. This is a form of social anxiety where someone is compulsively concerned about missing out on an event or interaction.