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10 Ways to Protect Your Kids from Catfishing

By Steven Woda on April 25, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Catfishing, or faking the identity of another person online in order to create a relationship, is not that hard for a teenager to fall for. Predators are adept at exploiting a teen or tween’s tendency to take people at their word. Ten rules for using the Internet can help them avoid falling victim to catfishing:

  1. No screen names that suggest your name or age (tyler14), gender (sk8r_gurrl), or are suggestive (longlegs in CA).

  2. Only friend people you know and have met in real life.

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3 Ways to Restore Self-Esteem & Sense of Privacy to Digital Teens

By Tim Woda on April 24, 2014 at 11:33 AM

This article was originally published on McAfee Blog Central by Toni Birdsong.

While kids today are the beneficiaries of amazing technology, there are casualties to growing up digital we can’t deny. We know the hit that education, relationships, and even a child’s very health can take when we don’t help kids balance their tech. But what about the more subtle losses our kids are incurring that are harder to spot? What about the slow forfeit of precious things such as self-esteem, privacy, and a sense of personal safety? These are just a few of the many “losses” I’ve been noticing in my own teens as they live digital.

Often I file much of my kids’ peer fallouts online as teen “drama” but I’m realizing more and more, it’s not drama at all—it’s pain, real pain caused by real loss. It’s loss in the form of emotional staples that, ironically, most kids don’t even realize—or can’t pinpoint—that they have lost.

Think about it. The digital self-management required by teens today is absolutely mind-boggling. They aren’t just kids stumbling through adolescence toward adulthood, they’ve become virtual plate spinners. These plate spinners must: edit photos, respond promptly (either out of habit or pressure), out-post and out-funny others, inventory friend feeds, collect likes and followers, and calculate the social risk of various peer interactions. This list goes on and on . . . and on.

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The Pros and Cons of Xbox: Is Xbox Good for Kids?

By Steven Woda on April 14, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Many parents today are wondering if Xbox is good for kids, and while there is much debate about this topic, the findings tend to show there may be more cons than pros when it comes to kids playing the popular video game system. With complaints that this kind of gaming leaves kids too isolated from others to concerns over damaged vision from staring at the screen, parents and educators everywhere are very wary of the potential negative effects.

Yet, there are positive effects that can come from playing Xbox and Xbox Live. Xbox Live is a feature of Xbox which enables the player to game online against their friends or other people. Both Xbox and Xbox Live can have plenty of positive and negative impacts on kids.

Pros

Some of the most common positive effects of playing video games include that Xbox:

  • Increases self-confidence

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6 Video Chatting Safety Rules for Teens and Tweens

By Steven Woda on April 5, 2014 at 12:25 PM

The advent of video chatting tools like Skype, ooVoo, Omegle, and Chatroulette have caused parents some concern about their teens' safety. Many video chatting sites encourage anonymous chatting among strangers, which can further elevate these concerns. Here are some ways to ensure that your teen is safely video chatting.

1.) Most experts will recommend that your teenager does not have free access to the Internet at all times. You may want to collect their laptops and phones at night, permitting video chatting only during specific times. 

2.) It is important to instruct your children never to say anything on video chat that they would not want made public. Any conversation can be saved and published elsewhere. Tweens and teens need to know early on that any interaction made on the Internet can impact their futures.

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How Is Technology Affecting Your Family?

By Tim Woda on March 18, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Read this great article by Jan Cloninger and Rosemary Strembicki from "A place to turn." It was original posted on The Huffington Post.

My son is entering his last year of graduate school. When he was a freshman in college, Facebook was brand new. You could only get an account if you had a college address as a way to connect to others in your classes and campus. 

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Could Screens be Affecting Your Child's Sleep?

By Tim Woda on February 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM

When it comes to your children every parent wants the best for their health and well being. An important aspect of this is a healthy sleep pattern since proper rest aids their overall development. Sleeping is an absolutely essential part of your child's life, but with technology on the rise it's becoming apparent that too much screen time can lead to detrimental effects that could be avoided.

Cell phones, TV's, computers and other gadgets that are used on a daily basis are often linked to over stimulation especially in the evening hours. Finding a happy medium is crucial in order to ensure that today's modern connected kids can develop a healthy and regular sleeping pattern.

Why Too Much Screen Time Is Unhealthy

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The Dangers of Online Predators and How to Protect Your Family

By Tim Woda on January 31, 2014 at 3:42 PM

With so many ways to access the Internet, including mobile phones, game consoles, music players and tablet devices, people have unprecedented access to information and computing capabilities. Unfortunately, email, social networking, chat rooms and instant messaging expose kids to online relationships that may be harmful and can turn dangerous when online predators are involved. Families need to be vigilant and understand the dangers and how to protect against them.

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Guest Post: Simple Ways To Make Sure Your Child Is Safe Online

By Steven Woda on January 29, 2014 at 10:53 AM

The endless advancement of Internet technology has put complacent parents on notice. These days, it's not only possible, but actually quite easy, to invite strangers into our homes thanks to the power of social media. Knowing when, how, and with whom our children are interacting during the time they spend online is going to be even more important in the coming years.

It might seem harmless enough to allow children onto their favorite social media sites, but there are a number of important safety measures to take before you allow them access. Here are some cyber security fundamentals to keep in mind.

Social Media Is Only as Private As You Make It

There's good news for parents: social media sites like Facebook have a number of built-in settings to help your child maintain a low profile while they're online. Sit with your child and guide them through the process of setting their profiles to private, including their online photo collection. This is arguably the first and most important step toward ensuring that their personal information stays personal.

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Instagram: Scoping Out Whether Predators Are Looking In

By Tim Woda on January 13, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Deciding whether your child is ready for Instagram has to be determined on how much knowledge you give them in navigating Instagram's security. When someone posts pictures on Instagram, security features are there, but they can be misleading in how many ways a predator can work around them. Take a look at some of the methods predators can use to look in on your child's photos and how you may have to take individual action to make sure this doesn't happen.

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10 New Year's Resolutions for Digital Families

By Tim Woda on January 2, 2014 at 12:11 PM

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uKnow in Bisnow: Protecting Kids Just Got Easier

By Steven Woda on November 22, 2013 at 9:46 AM

uknowkids-group

The thought of teens and technology makes most parents cringe. But one DC-area tech startup is making it so teens and parents can live in cyber harmony. (We're still not going to "friend" you on Facebook, grandma.) 

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Digital Parenting- Best Pinterest Boards to Follow

By Tim Woda on November 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

As a parent, how often do you wish that your child had come with an instruction book? Parenting isn’t an easy job. It can involve challenges at any age and leave parents looking for advice and answers for many questions about raising their children.  In the past, many parents relied on their parents, friends and family to help them. However, in the age of digital parenting, parents face many issues that their parents never had to cope with. One of the best resources available to parents today is Pinterest. With an ever growing compilation of boards with information for parents on such topics as bullying, education, digital safety, and more, Pinterest can be a priceless source for digital parenting.  To get you started, here are ten awesome boards for parents on Pinterest. 

  1. Parenting Advice - PTPA – with over 75 pins on topics ranging from self-esteem to bullying, this board has advice for parents with kids from birth to teens. They have collected pins from around the web to help parents deal with topics such as divorce, temper-tantrums, and discipline. They also have some interesting pins for dads as well as moms from experts in many fields. 

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Best Blogs for Digital Parents

By Tim Woda on November 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM

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How Teens' 'Sexting' Photos End Up On Pedophile Websites

By Steven Woda on October 17, 2013 at 5:17 PM

This article was originally published in The Daily Mail by Daniel Martin.

Tens of thousands of explicit self-portraits taken by teenagers are ending up on websites viewed by pedophiles.

The naked or sexual pictures are often taken by girls at the request of boys in their classes and sent by mobile phone, in a practice known as ‘sexting’.

But unbeknown to the girls, these photographs may end up being passed around the school and even shared on social networking sites such as Facebook – then stolen and published on websites used by paedophiles.

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Digital Parenting: There Is No Delete Key On The Internet

By Tim Woda on October 12, 2013 at 3:22 PM

As your children grow into their tween and teen years, they begin expanding their social circles beyond your immediate neighborhood and their classrooms. They grow curious about the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Ask, Reddit and other social networking sites popular with teens and young adults. it’s inevitable – your daughter comes up to you and asks for your permission to set up a social networking profile. Whether she’s legally allowed by networking sites or not, you’re not sure you want her venturing into that world yet.

“I Met This Boy...”

After getting your permission and that of your partner, your daughter created a Facebook account with your supervision. As her mother, you have been conscientious about monitoring her time online, not allowing her to spend time in her room while she’s interacting with her friends. You and your partner had her hand over her Facebook password and you log into her account regularly to supervise what she has been doing. She accepted your friend requests, however reluctantly. Up until now, everything has been going smoothly and she has been following your rules, even though she’s rolled her eyes on occasion.

You and your partner learn that she has met a boy at school. You refuse her request to send a friend request to him – neither you nor your partner feel this is a good idea, since you don’t know him. Your daughter tries arguing with you and you remind her about your ground rules. You remind her that, if she tries to get you to change your mind, or if she tries defying you, you will temporarily revoke her Facebook privileges. You learn, as you browse her account, that she did send a Facebook request to this boy. He accepted it. In response, you take her Facebook

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Digital Parenting: How to Handle Your Child's Social Media Disaster

By Steven Woda on September 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Let's hope nothing like what is described below ever happens to your child, but if it does, here is some advice and tips from author, Jason P. Stadtlander. This article was orginally published on The Huffington Post.

In my last article, "Your Child: A Sheep Among the Wolves," I discussed the dangers today's parents are facing with the Internet and child predators. Today, I would like to focus on some of the more daunting questions dealing with what a parent can do when preventive measures are too late.

The case with Hannah Anderson and the Irish 17-year-old that was cyber-bullied after an Eminem concert are prime examples of children and social media run amuck. Anderson should never have had access to electronic devices until she and her family had time to grieve together and the Irish teen... well, I don't even know where to start there.

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New Research: Online Predators Not Distinctly Dangerous Sex Offenders

By Steven Woda on September 5, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Check out this very interesting study done by the University of New Hampshire on the dangerousness of online predators. What are your thoughts?

Original article taken from Fosters.com.

A new University of New Hampshire study challenges the view that online predators are a distinctly dangerous variety of sex offender, requiring special programs to protect youth.

The study from the UNH Crimes against Children Research Center finds that sex offenders who target teens increasingly use Internet and cell phone communications to lure teens into sexual relationships. In crimes that involve such communications, offenders who meet and recruit youth online operate in much the same way as offenders who meet and know youth in ordinary offline environments.

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Smart Surfing: A Student's Guide to Online Etiquette

By Tim Woda on September 4, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Check out this helpful article of online etiquette for teens and tips for parents from the Sooke News Mirror.

Fact: The Internet is here to stay.

Fact: So is cyberbullying.

Ironically (and most helpfully), the Internet is a great source on how to deal with cyberbullying.

 StopABully.ca offers up the following statistics on cyberbullying:

  • Ninety per cent of parents are familiar with cyberbullying.

  • Seventy-three per cent of parents are concerned about it.

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Is Your Child Ready for Facebook? Some Factors to Consider

By Tim Woda on August 17, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Parents hear a lot of conflicting things about Facebook these days.  First of all, it looks like children have stopped communicating in person and started communicating more over the internet.  There is a certain safety in this kind of communication.  If you say something the other person doesn’t like, at least you don’t have to deal with the consequences right away.  It gives you more courage to express what you feel.  However, people do say hurtful things over the internet as well, and cyberbullying is as real a problem as in-person bullying.  If you're wondering, "Is my child ready for Facebook?" then keep the following factors in mind:

1. Age: Is your child over the age of 13?  If not, you will be in direct violation of Facebook’s policy.  You’ll be lying about your child’s age and setting a bad example for him/her.  So take your time and wait until your child is the official age.  You’ll have less to worry about, and s/he will also be more mature by the time s/he starts social networking.

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Ask.fm: Little-Known Social Site is Host to Kidnap Victim

By Steven Woda on August 16, 2013 at 1:06 PM

The following piece from NBC's Helen A.S.Popkin is a great article on Ask.fm and the recent media storm around it. 

Popular with kids, and — until recently — obscure to many adults, Ask.fm is a Latvia-based social networking site where members interact by inviting others to ask anonymous questions.

Though the site has more than 65 million members who interact in more than 30 languages, it wasn’t until Monday that Ask.fm made headlines in the United States. That’s when kidnapping victim Hannah Anderson, barely 48 hours after her rescue, logged on using the name “Hannahbanana722." Her identity later confirmed by her grandparents, Anderson openly answered personal questions about her ordeal, posted by anonymous strangers. She also posted several smiling selfies — cellphone self-portraits — as well.   

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