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Digital Parenting: The Dark Side of Instagram

By Steven Woda on May 5, 2015 at 9:30 AM

The 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.

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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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4 Foolproof Ways to Protect Your Reputation on Social Media

By Steven Woda on September 12, 2014 at 1:03 PM

We’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.

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Top Pros and Cons of Using the Photo Sharing App Instagram

By Steven Woda on June 14, 2014 at 12:13 PM

As the popularity of the photo sharing app Instagram continues to grow, so does its user base. Children watch their older siblings and peers using the smartphone application and begin using it in order to fit in and feel trendy. Although there is nothing wrong with young children trying to keep up with the latest technology, it is important to weigh the Instagram pros and cons before letting your young children start using the app.

Pros

One of the greatest features of Instagram is its privacy settings. This ensures that outside users--people who are not following you--have to request your permission to see your photos. This helps ward off strangers and potential offenders who could possibly cause harm through their comments.

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Are Your Kids Exposed to the Celeb Sexy Selfie Craze?

By Steven Woda on May 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM

The other week we posted about a new Justin Bieber-funded selfie app that may make "selfies" a more positive online practice. However, Mr.Bieber is also part of a group of celebrities who often post a barrage of "sexy" selfies online. Find out what him and other young celebrities are posting and learn about what you can do to make sure that your tweens aren't mimicking them. This article was originally published on McAfee by Toni Birdsong.

Almost weekly I read that yet another young celebrity I once considered a safe role model for my teen is posting risqué selfies online. And, it seems the bizarre surge in stars sharing photos of themselves showering, making out, sunbathing, or just hanging around naked is on the rise. No doubt some of the child stars our kids grew up loving on television are now digitally off limits.

To be fair most of these celebrities are now in their 20s and simply echoing the impulsive behavior of their Hollywood peers. But that doesn’t change the fact that their young fan base still includes our kids.

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Digital Parenting: How to Operate Your Google+ Profile

By Steven Woda on April 30, 2014 at 4:59 PM

What is Google +?

Google+ is a free social network where users “circle” people of interest, chat, comment, and share photos with others.

Is it public?

Google+ profiles can be public, private, or anywhere in between. By default, profiles publicly display all people in a user's circles and the people whose circles they belong to, but they can manually change these settings.

Pictures?

There is free unlimited photo storage on Google+. People in a user's circles can tag them in photos, but users can remove tags or “lock” their albums so no one but them can add tags or comments. On the other extreme, users can utilize Google's “find my face” facial recognition feature to help others tag them in photos.

Find my Face is turned off by default. Google+ users can always see photos in which they are tagged, regardless of privacy setting.

The Instant Upload feature allows users to post pictures directly from their phones, but it requires that the location feature of the phone be turned on. Posts made from a location-enabled phone automatically include GPS coordinates, but the user can change this setting.

What are the privacy settings?

Google+ users can ignore someone they don't really care to speak with, or they can take it a step further and block them altogether. Blocking people on Google+ can be a little confusing, and a person can be blocked from one area (chat, for example) but not across the board (still appearing in their circles and viewing their photos.)

What else can you do on Google+?

People can also play games, chat, and hang out. Chats are one-on-one and can be either recorded or “off the record.” Hangouts are video chats between up to 9 participants. Screenshare lets them see the same photos and videos on their computer without downloading anything, and minors in a hangout have to approve 18+ users who want to join.

Get Started with uKnowKids! Risk-free 1 Week FREE Trial

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Everything You Need to Know About Flickr

By Steven Woda on April 30, 2014 at 4:10 PM

What is Flickr?

Flickr is an image sharing site and online community. Users upload and manage photos, comment on others' pictures, subscribe to image feeds, and communicate with up to 3,000 contacts on Flickr.

How do you sign up?

Only a Yahoo email address is required for sign up, which is by default hidden from users who aren't designated as “friends and family.” A person's real name and current city, if provided, are public by default.

Who can add photos on Flikr?

Registered users can geotag their uploaded photos, tag and add notes, organize albums, and join groups of similar pictures taken by other people.

What sort of privacy settings are there?

Users set a privacy level for each photo and designate who can download it. They also assign the photo license (“all rights reserved” is the default) and the safety level of the photos.

  • “Safe” means appropriate for everyone

  • “Moderate” is mature (Flickr specifies that “bare breasts and bottoms” fall into this category)

  • “Restricted” means definitely not for minors

It's important to note that users themselves are responsible for designating safety levels, not Flickr. Users can flag inappropriate or incorrectly rated photos they view.

What can a parent do?

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Facebook and the College Admission Process

By Tim Woda on April 25, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Have you and your kids talked about how their social networks will impact the college application process? Nowadays, college admissions officials routinely review applicants’ social network pages.

 

It is important for your teen to consider their Facebook page as one of the components of their college application, just like the SATs, the academic recommendations and the application essay. Your son or daughter’s Facebook page tells a very important part of their story.

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Adult Bullying: Harassment By People You Respect

By Steven Woda on April 21, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Social media etiquette starts at home. Read on to learn about how cyberbullying is not conducted just by kids and teens. This article was originally published on The Huffington Post by writer, author, and blogger Sue Scheff. Check out her blog here.

Adult bullying is more prevalent than many want to admit. If you're old enough to pay a mortgage or raise a family, shouldn't you be able to handle anything that comes your way? But bullying doesn't come to a standstill after graduating from the playground, and giving grown-ups a pass on aggressive behavior only sets a bad example for our children still on the playground.

A while back, I discussed the case of a parent who felt the need to air her laundry (dirty and clean) all over her Facebook timeline. Her thoughts were broadcasted publicly, even for her children to see. Additionally, a group of mothers recently took to Facebook to bash pictures of toddlers. These behaviors make kids think: if my own mother can bully, then why can't I?

In case we needed another reminder that no one -- not even 300-pound offensive linemen -- is immune to being victimized look no further than the Jonathan Martin case earlier this month. Bullying is entrenched in the NFL, as is the idea that what goes on in the locker room, should stay in the locker room -- including hazing. The incessant tormenting from Martin's teammate, Richie Incognito, forced him to take leave from the team and admit himself to a hospital for emotional distress.

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Teaching Kids and Teens Media Smarts During Breaking News

By Tim Woda on April 16, 2014 at 3:45 PM

With constant breaking news streaming in through media outlets and social networks, kids and teens need to know how to digest and decipher news reports. Teach them the basics of how to filter out what is accurate and important in the news world. This article was originally published on Common Sense Media and is written by Sierra Filucci.

When big news breaks, it's easy to get caught up in following the news online. But while the Internet -- from major news sites to Twitter -- can be a valuable place to find useful information, it can also be the source of misinformation. Helping kids and teens understand the news and how to separate fact from fiction is an important job for parents and educators.

Here's some advice parents can offer kids and teens who consume the news:

Remember, breaking news is often wrong. In the rush to cover stories, reporters make mistakes, officials don't always have correct information, and tidbits that sound plausible often get passed around before anyone can check for accuracy. One Texas TV station reported through closed captioning that Zooey Deschanel was one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers!

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How to Use Media to Raise Resilient Kids

By Tim Woda on April 9, 2014 at 9:25 PM

This article was originally published on Common Sense Media by blogger Deborah Gilboa.

You've heard of helicopter parenting. But how about those parents who don't only hover -- they're out there in front of their kids clearing every obstacle? I call them "snow blower" or "lawnmower" parents, and although their efforts to protect their kids come from a good place, they're not allowing them to develop the skills they need to recover from setbacks -- to be resilient, in other words.

I'm part of a growing movement of what I call "Resilience Parents." We're doing our best to raise kids who can clear most of their own obstacles -- and get back up when they run full speed into one they didn't see.

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Cyberbullying Facts and Resources for Parents

By Steven Woda on April 8, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Cyberbullying has become a hot-button issue in the past decade. As children and teens of all ages use the Internet in larger numbers, it has become a tool that can be used to harass and intimidate other children even when they are not in the classroom. What should parents know about cyberbullying and where can parents find cyberbullying facts and resources?

Go Online

There are many resources that you can use to gather cyberbullying facts to equip youtself into becoming more educated about the issue. When you educate yourself on the true scope of cyberbullying, it makes it easier to deal with the problem as a parent. If you discover that your child has been bullied online or is bullying others online, you can discuss cyberbullying facts that you have learned to help your child escape the abuse or stop abusing others.

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'Eraser Challenge' Game Has Students Harming Themselves

By Tim Woda on April 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM

See what measures that middle school administrators are taking to exterminate a dangerous new trend that is circulating among students. This article was originally published on the Huffington Post and is written by Rebecca Klein.

Students at one Connecticut middle school aren't using pencils solely for taking notes. Some are rubbing their arms with pencil erasers until their skin is mutilated.

School administrators at Bethel Middle School recently sent a letter home to parents and guardians asking they talk to their children about a dangerous game called the "Eraser Challenge."

The game, the letter explains, involves kids “'erasing’ their skin while saying the alphabet and coming up with a word for each letter. Once they get to the letter Z, they stop and then compare the injury to their [friends'],” according to the Bethel Patch.

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‘#SELFIE’ Is the Song of the Instagram Generation

By Tim Woda on March 28, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Have you heard the "Selfie Song" that's sweeping the Internet? Many people believe that the Selfie song captures Generation Y. Read on to learn about it and watch the music video below to judge for yourself! This article was originally published on Yahoo Tech by Jason O. Gilbert.

Every once in a great while, a song emerges to capture an era, a scene, a way of life. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” defined grunge music in Seattle in the 1990s; “Stayin’ Alive,” and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack from the Bee Gees, crystallized disco in the ’70s. 

Now, the self-centered, social network-centric Internet era has its own defining jam: It’s called “#SELFIE,” and, yes, the hashtag is part of the title. The song, from New York City DJ duo The Chainsmokers, perfectly encapsulates the Instagram-obsessed, nightclub-hopping, selfie-posing twentysomethings who take over large swaths of New York, Los Angeles and other lounge-friendly metropolises on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Lack of Digital Parenting Could Cost You Money

By Tim Woda on March 27, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Cyberbullying and sexting aren't the only things that parents need to worry about when a child begins to use Facebook, Instagram or other social media sites. There can be monetary consequences if appropriate Digital Parenting techniques are not put to use.

Take for instance the case of Patrick Snay, he won an age discrimination suit against an employer, or so he thought. His daughter posted an announcement to Facebook about the victory before the deal was completed. This violated the terms of the settlement and a court agreement. It cost Mr. Snay the settlement of $80,000 and caused emotional distress for his entire family.

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Is My Child Ready for Facebook? 4 Questions To Find Out For Sure

By Tim Woda on March 18, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Facebook is a pervasive social media tool and, whether you like it or not, sooner or later, your children will be begging to join. Like most social networks and social media sites, there is a serious need to determine if your child is ready to sign up or not. Often less about reaching a certain age or specific goal, here are some basic digital parenting questions to discuss with your teen or tween before you help them to create an account.

1. Do you trust them? A core question in every major parenting decision. In the past, when you have given your child more freedom or resposiblity, how has it gone? Is lying, or skating the truth been an issue in your household? If your child has always be forthright and honest with you, reciprocate! Open a dialogue about your expectations, but allow them to participate if they have earned your trust.

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Should Teachers and Students Be “Friends” Online?

By Tim Woda on February 27, 2014 at 3:00 PM

A new social network-related issue that has come up in recent years is the debate about student-teacher friendships within online networks.  Find out what happened in this particular instance and learn more about how student-teacher social profile friendships can affect each party.  This article was originally published on Psychology Today.

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Digital Parenting: Is My Child Ready for Instagram?

By Tim Woda on February 10, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Instagram is a social networking site that allows children to share their pictures with friends and family.  As a parent you might be wondering if your child is ready for Instagram. There are positive and negative things about letting your child on such a site. One thing is that they can share fun photos with everyone on their friends list.  Maturity and age are always a factor in your choice to allow your child on Instagram or not. There is an age restriction where you have to be at least 13 years of age but there are plenty of children younger than this on the site.

Make sure your child keeps their page private. This makes it so that only people on their friends list can view their pictures.  You want this because there are people out there who are looking on a site like this to look at young children’s photos.  There can even be a problem with their own classmates being on their page. Some children are known to put crude comments about people’s pictures which can affect your child’s self-esteem. Instagram can unfortunately be a breeding ground for cyberbullying. 

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Digital Parenting: 3 Ways to Protect Your Teen from Her Selfie

By Steven Woda on February 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM

We love this article written by Melissa Maypole from the Huffington Post. It is informative and has a great message for parents of teens and tweens! Check it out.

OK, first off, let's bridge the learning gap here. Not to insult anyone's intelligence, but if you're like me, you're probably struggling to keep up with your teen's vocabulary, which is likely growing at an exponential rate and not exactly in a way that might help her ace her SATs. Thus, you may not know exactly what a "selfie" is. Lucky for us (I think), the term was Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year for 2013. 
Here's their definition:

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Digital Parenting: What Is Your Teen's Online Reputation?

By Tim Woda on January 28, 2014 at 10:42 AM

If you have a high school student who is interested in attending college, you need to check out this article from Psychology Today about digital parenting and your teen's online reputation. 

Soon it'll be that time of year when college bound seniors start gearing up to submit their college applications in anticipation to get that awaited message, "ACCEPTED".Just like many college bound students, Jake couldn't wait to hear back from his number one college pick.  Finally, the day came.  He logged on to his account and saw that he had notbeen admitted to the college of his dreams.  Shock and disappointment set in.  He knew his grades and test scores were border line, but he was very active in athletics and even held leadership roles in a couple of clubs at school.  Could there be another reason he didn't get accepted?

As the admission committee reviewed applications Jake was right on the fence.  What kept him from getting

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