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Girl Scout Cookie Sales Go Digital, Move Poses Internet Safety Risks

By Steven Woda on December 15, 2014 at 9:24 PM

In 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. 

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Why Sexting Through Apps Will Never Go Away

By Steven Woda on December 11, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Smartphones 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.

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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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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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Common Mobile and Internet Child Safety Dangers to Avoid

By Steven Woda on November 12, 2014 at 6:09 PM

The 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. 

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3 Crucial Internet Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids

By Steven Woda on November 12, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Now 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

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Recent Study Finds Sexting is the New "Norm" Among Teens

By Steven Woda on November 12, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Sexting 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:

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Cyberbullying and Tweens: What to Do When Your Child Is the Bully

By Tim Woda on October 28, 2014 at 2:17 PM

No 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

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Cyberbullying: What is it and What Can You Do About it?

By Steven Woda on October 28, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Cyberbullying 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. 

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Study Suggests More Family Dinners to Combat Cyberbullying

By Tim Woda on October 24, 2014 at 2:36 PM

The 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.

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Snapchat Breach: Sexting Through Apps Is Still a Risky Practice

By Steven Woda on October 20, 2014 at 6:57 PM

In 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. 

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Cyberbullying Laws Around the Globe: Where is Legislation Strongest?

By Tim Woda on October 16, 2014 at 7:56 PM

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.

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Roundup: This Week’s Top Digital Parenting News

By Tim Woda on October 10, 2014 at 1:58 PM

Get 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

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3 Must-Have Internet Security Apps For Teens

By Tim Woda on September 22, 2014 at 6:04 PM

As 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

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Sexting Facts and Statistics: Why Parents Should Be Concerned

By Tim Woda on September 19, 2014 at 6:11 PM

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.

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Public WiFi: a Threat to Internet and Mobile Safety?

By Steven Woda on September 17, 2014 at 12:23 PM

For 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. 

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Is My Child Watching Pornography Online?

By Steven Woda on September 11, 2014 at 6:21 PM

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.

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Teens Overshare & Chat With Strangers Online More Than You Think

By Tim Woda on June 20, 2014 at 1:12 PM

In case you missed it, McAfee released a Teens and Screens study earlier this month exposing shocking revelations about the depths of the extent and how often teens overshare and chat with strangers online. In McAfee's Teens' Online Behavior Can Get Them in Trouble, Robert Siciliano reports of the study that:

About 75% of tweens and teens friend people whom they know in the real world, however, 59% engage with strangers online. And one out of 12 meet the online stranger in real life. This could be because 33% of them say they feel more accepted online than in real life.

Additional facts to understand:

  • Our tweens and teens overshare personal information – 50% posted their email address,

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Sex Offender Monitoring Apps Every Parent Should Have

By Steven Woda on June 19, 2014 at 4:55 PM

We already know that there are a plethora of online resources available to inform parents about the residence of sex offenders. With the integration of these registeries and apps, parents can stay up-to-date on the sex offender registeries.

Here are some easy-to-use and effective sex offender monitoring apps:

Sex Offender Search AppThis App is great for families looking for a new home. You can use the App to put in the address of a house you're interested in and a map will pop up, showing you if there are any sex offenders in the area. The same goes for your child's school; virtually anywhere in the US

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