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Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

Recent Posts

Does Bullying Impact Your Child's Developing Brain?

By Tim Woda on January 16, 2015 at 12:00 PM

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

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Snapchat and Teens: Why Parents Should Be Concerned

By Tim Woda on January 15, 2015 at 5:41 PM

In 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.

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How Instagram's Recently Added Features Affect Your Teen's Safety

By Tim Woda on January 9, 2015 at 1:40 PM

Instagram, 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.

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Digital Parenting: The 24-Hour Battle

By Tim Woda on January 7, 2015 at 7:28 PM

Parenting 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.

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The Impact of Cyberbullying on Young Children

By Tim Woda on January 6, 2015 at 11:14 AM

There 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.

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3 Major Reasons to Act on Your Teen's Technology Addiction

By Tim Woda on January 5, 2015 at 2:54 PM

As 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. 

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The Risk of Facebook Depression in Teens and Tweens

By Tim Woda on December 31, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Providing 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 

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Parents Must Get Involved In Mobile and Internet Child Safety

By Tim Woda on December 30, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Even 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

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Redirecting Teens and Technology for a Better Body Image

By Tim Woda on December 29, 2014 at 9:42 PM

Technology 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.

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A Sweeping Look at 2014's Biggest Digital Trends for Teens

By Tim Woda on December 26, 2014 at 2:20 PM

YouTube 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.

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5 Essential Stocking Stuffers for Kids with Smartphones

By Tim Woda on December 23, 2014 at 11:23 AM

If 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 

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Protect Your Teens From These 3 Digital Dangers

By Tim Woda on December 19, 2014 at 2:44 PM

All 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.

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Making Your Teens Your "Friends"

By Tim Woda on December 17, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Social 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.

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Internet Security For Children In Chat Rooms

By Tim Woda on December 10, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Chat 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 

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5 Ways To Stay Secure on Public Wi-Fi Networks

By Tim Woda on December 8, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Free 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.

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Cyberbullying on Sports Teams: It Happens More Than You Think

By Tim Woda on December 8, 2014 at 12:58 PM

The 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

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Daughter of Police Sergeant Victim in Sexting Scandal

By Tim Woda on December 5, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Parents, 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.

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Teens Try Virtual Reality Texting and Driving Simulator

By Tim Woda on December 2, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Every 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.

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5 Essential Navigation Apps for Your New Driver

By Tim Woda on November 22, 2014 at 5:36 PM

It’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.

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4 Cardinal Twitter Safety Tips for Teens and Tweens

By Tim Woda on November 21, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Twitter 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.

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