Steven Woda

Steve Woda is the co-founder and CEO of uKnow, and a leader in the Internet safety and security field for over 15 years. He frequently speaks on the topics of Internet and mobile security, ecommerce and information economics. You can follow Steve on Twitter or on his blog.
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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.

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 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

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.

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.

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. 

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

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.

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. 

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. 

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.  

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.