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Is Snapchat Actually Safe for Teens & Tweens?

By Tim Woda on May 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM

In the past two years, the Snapchat app has garnered impressive popularity among teens. The nature of the app and the January 2014 Snapchat security breach have caused parents some concern over the safety of the app.  Not only should parents be concerned with these factors, but they should also be privy to Snapchat’s alarming privacy policy and unsettling origins.

For those who are unfamiliar with the app’s features, Snapchat allows users to send and receive pictures or short videos with a set number of seconds to view the videos and photos. After those seconds are completed, the data is erased. Snapchat is notoriously wary of providing the exact number of users of their app, but as of October 28th, 2013 they had roughly 26 million US users. 32% of teens ages 13-17 currently use Snapchat, and 70% of Snapchat’s users are female.

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Digital Parents Are Asking: Is the Video-Chat Site Skype Safe?

By Steven Woda on May 2, 2014 at 11:43 AM

What is Skype?

Skype is one of the most popular video chatting and multiple communications platforms in the world. Microsoft owns the program, and it is a company that has brought many innovative technologies to the world over the years. Skype allows people to talk to each other from other ends of the world through video chat.

Users can download the Skype program to their desktop computers, laptops, tablets or smartphones to enjoy the benefits. The program is free to download, and users have access to some great features upon registration. Additional features such as voice calls and texting are available for a small fee.

How is Skype Beneficial?

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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.

Learn How uKnowKids Can Act as Digital Training Wheels

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The Ins and Outs of LinkedIn for Parents and Teens

By Tim Woda on April 30, 2014 at 4:49 PM

LinkedIn is the world's largest free professional network. Students and career men and women are encouraged to join, create a profile, and build their network of professional contacts. LinkedIn can be used to make introductions, ask questions, find or post job openings, and establish a professional web presence.

What is LinkedIn and how do you use it?

Users build the network of professionals they know by importing their address books or entering individual email addresses. They can also join groups of their colleagues and classmates, where they can ask relevant questions, make comments, “like” discussions, and get answers.

LinkedIn contacts are listed by their name and the company or school they belong to. Users can send direct mail to their LinkedIn contacts, or they can send “inmails” to contacts of contacts through the LinkedIn platform without disclosing their email address. People can make introductions between two of their contacts who don't yet know each other.

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3 Things to Know About the Original Social Network MySpace

By Tim Woda on April 30, 2014 at 4:39 PM

In 2010 MySpace coined itself a “social entertainment destination,” marking the shift in focus from helping people connect with other people to helping them connect with their favorite music, videos, and celebrities.

1. What is MySpace?

Once they sign up with MySpace, users get a profile with their first and last name, age, and gender. They can also add a photo. MySpace profiles are highly customizable, allowing users to add or create their own background image (called a theme.) The average teen just needs a standard profile, but for musicians and band members there are special artist profiles to promote their music.

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How to Navigate the Internet Radio Service Pandora

By Tim Woda on April 30, 2014 at 4:26 PM

What is Pandora?

Pandora is a free, personalized Internet radio service. Through the Music Genome Project, Pandora identifies what users like and streams similar content so they can create up to 100 personalized “stations” to share and comment with friends.

Is Pandora "social" Radio?

Comments and discussion are encouraged on song pages, artist pages, albums pages, and Pandora's genre station pages. 

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How to Use the Interactive Radio Player Last.fm

By Steven Woda on April 30, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Last.fm Quick Facts:

  • Last.fm has over 47.2 million users

  • It recognizes 45 million unique tracks (songs)

  • Last.fm boasts over 12 million tracks available via their streaming service

  • Last.fm is available on over 600 devices

What is Last.fm?

Last.fm is a personalized, interactive radio player, but it's also full of social networking features designed to connect users with each other to enhance the listening experience. Last.fm recommends new music based on a user's taste and helps them communicate with friends about music and share songs.

Who Uses Last.fm?

Registered users add new music to their playlist by “scrobbling” songs. Their personal music collection is called their Library. All activity in their Library isn't visible to anyone for the first two weeks, but after that point it is open to everyone to see unless a user designates privacy settings – from “everyone” to “nobody.”

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How to Navigate Formspring, the Question-Asking Site

By Steven Woda on April 28, 2014 at 4:44 PM

What is Formspring?

Formspring is a social network for asking and answering questions. Questions and responses range from funny to insightful to thought-provoking. It can help friends get to know each other in a new way, but it can also enable cyberbullying through its anonymous question feature.

How do you sign up?

People sign in with their Facebook account or register with an email and birth date. Formspring is open to users 13 and over, but any minor's account will be removed if requested by their parent.

Who can ask/answer questions?

Questions might be asked of only one person, a group of friends, or the entire Formspring community. People who ask questions can choose to include their identity or hide it. Both questions and responses can include photos, videos, and links.

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Introducing Tagged: the "Social Discovery Site"

By Steven Woda on April 28, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Tagged is a free way for users to meet and socialize, play games, and share photos. While other social networks are primarily for keeping in touch with current friends, Tagged is a “social discovery site,” organized mostly around meeting new people and expanding online social circles.

What is it used for?

Because of its emphasis on meeting new people, Tagged for a lot of users essentially amounts to a free online dating service or “hookup site.”

Through the MeetMe feature, Tagged users are encouraged to randomly browse other user profiles and send messages to the people they find. People who play MeetMe select their sexual orientation and a personal tagline, then use filters to specify what kind of person they're looking for (gender, age, location, etc).

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Instagram or Snapseed-What's Your Child's Favorite Photo Sharing App?

By Tim Woda on September 10, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Kids are always collecting text messages, images, contacts, downloaded applications, check-ins and location histories. An Android device allows a parent to understand what the child is doing with their smart phone in just minutes. With an iPhone, parents review contacts and mobile images while also utilizing suites of family locator tools. But what about checking on the photo downloads and the issues that arise when kids visit photo sharing sites.

Parents Automatically Work to Protect Their Children

Almost like a knee-jerk reaction - parents have a heightened sense of protection of their kids. Its is natural for the emergent technologies to raise concerns, if not eyebrows.

The explosion of social media has led to the prevalent misuse of innocent social tools by predators. Today it seems almost inevitable that however small the chance might be -  your children or teenagers may have photos that will fall into the wrong hands.

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Teens Flock to Tinder - The Social Hookup App

By Tim Woda on August 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

There are so many ways for teens to communicate today - email, texting, facebook and now Tinder. Tinder is a new dating app that creates a collection of Facebook photos that it shows to other interested parties in the area. One of the best parts of Tinder is the local feature which means all the people who are interested in you are in your area.

Teens love Tinder for a number of reasons. First, is the instant gratification that it gives. How the apps works: a picture of someone pops up and the user has the option of clicking on a green button and if they don't like what they see they hit an X. The average teen is thrilled to find out who thinks they are hot. Tinder only gives the good news. If people see the pictures and hit the X the teen never knows about it. 

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Why Pheed will Replace Your Child's Facebook and Instagram

By Tim Woda on May 13, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Pheed is the latest in social media and is positioned to replace Facebook and Instagram in the near future. Why? Because it offers so much more sharing options than Facebook, Youtube and Instagram combined and some of its features will make your online parenting harder. 

What is Pheed?

Pheed is a social media app that is available only on iPhones and online. Soon, it will also be available on Android phones, as well. If your child accesses Pheed using only their phone, any online parenting software that you use to track your child's social media usage will be useless. This could be a major draw for kids who have their own phones. 

Each user gets what is called a "channel" which is much like Facebook's wall. Users can post their information for everyone to see, or they can close their channel. If a user closes their channel so that only certain people can see it, they have the option of charging other users to view the channel. This can be a highly attractive feature for younger users who may let the wrong users see their channels all in the name of making a profit. 

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Digital Parenting: All About The Video-Sharing App Keek

By Steven Woda on May 8, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Digital media is now a mundane part of our lives and our children's lives. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are all part of a completely personalized social media experience. In the digital landscape however, if there is any certainty, it is change. With the proliferation of devices that include cameras in their architecture -- smartphones, tablets, even the upcoming Google Glass -- it was only a matter of time before social media evolved from the use of such archaic means of communication as text, to the immediate, more entertaining and more communicative format of personalized videos. Of course, Youtube first popularized videos, but for the most part it has not streamlined in a manner consistent with social media. Why take the time to say in a paragraph that takes five minutes to write, what you feel, when you can utilize the full nuance of human expression to say exactly what you feel exactly when you feel it? 

This is the concept behind Keek which aspires to be the twitter of video social media. Rather than a text message format such as Twitter or a picture-based message board like Facebook, Keek offers users the ability to record and post microvideos up to 36 seconds in length at any time and from anywhere that is internet connected.  Just as with other social media services, you can subscribe to other users, post video updates and even respond to other users either via text or via video responses otherwise known as “Keekbacks”.  Keek also offers hash tagging similar to Twitters format which the site calls “Klusters”. Just as with Twitter, Klusters allow Keekers to find Keeks and other Keekers which apply to their interests.

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Guest Post--How Skype Got Me Through My Husband's Deployment

By Steven Woda on December 10, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Here is another guest blog post from one of our favorite military mommy bloggers, Samantha, from Hooah and Hiccups as part of our Military Appreciation Month. Throughout the month, look for more guest posts on our blog, our eBook becoming available Dec. 12th and our TroopSwap deal going live in the next couple of days. 

How Skype got me through my husband's deployment

When my husband deployed to Afghanistan, I didn’t know how I was going to cope with not seeing him everyday, let alone for weeks and months at a time.

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Facebook Safety: How to Talk to Your Kids About Social Networks

By Tim Woda on November 27, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Parents looking to protect their kids online know that there are no easy solutions. uKnowKids has worked closely with parents, educators and professionals to design a product that can be a helpful tool for parents as they put together their larger strategy for keeping kids safe. One of the most valuable parts of any stategy on how to keep kids safe with social media has to include that age-old tool of parents everywhere: The conversation.

So how do you bring up conversations about your child's online life?

1. Treat social networks as a natural part of your child's life. For today's generation of kids, there is little difference between online and offline. Relationships with friends and classmates flow seamlessly between chats in the lunchroom and chats online. So while you think you're discussing facebook safety for teens, your child will think you're just discussing life

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Keeping Your Kids Safe and Protecting Them on Formspring

By Tim Woda on June 20, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Has Formspring become a topic of daily conversation in your house? Or, more likely, you may have heard your teen saying “Formspring” and had no clue what they were talking about.

The idea of Formspring is simple enough. It's a fun, social forum where people ask and answer questions. You can ask one person, a group, or everyone on Formspring.

Questions you might see can be silly (“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?”) or thought-provoking (“Do you think you can love someone who is fundamentally different from you?”) Teens  also use Formspring to take the temperature of what's normal with their peers (“Do you get along with your parents?”)

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Using FourSquare as a Location Parental Monitoring Tool

By Steven Woda on March 5, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Everyone these days belongs to some kind of social network - teens in  particular are enamored with social media and facebook for kids. They love having the ability to know everything that their friends are doing at all times, all the time. One of those social networks is called FourSquare, and many of you know what it is, or at least heard it mentioned.

For those of you who don't know what FourSquare is; its a social network, most commonly used through an "App" on a mobile phone. Users are encouraged to "Check-in" when they arrive at any number of locations. Restaurants, bars, schools, offices and even homes and apartments have the ability to create a location where any user can "Check-in" and receive points for doing so. Companies most often use the service to promote deals and encourage visitors, but kids and teens most often use the social network as a game to see who can get the most points.

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Proposed CA Law on Social Networking Privacy and Facebook for Kids

By Tim Woda on July 19, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Every parent knows that Facebook for kids and children on social networking sites need to vigilantly safeguard their privacy.  Apparently lawmakers know that too, and legislators in California are proposing a new bill aimed at protecting the privacy of social networking users.

Initially, the proposed bill only applied to users under 18, but that provision has since been struck and the bill would now apply to users across the board regardless of age. It would require social networking websites to:

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Evolution of Social Networks and What it Means for Your Kids Safety

By Tim Woda on July 1, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Every site has a brand in the collective opinion of your teen's peers – ask and your kids can most likely tell you which social network is for professionals, older people, or younger teens. What has your kids safety to do with that? (They can probably also name the social networks where they are most likely to be approached by shady characters, scam artists, and pedophiles.) And when it comes to what's hot or what's popular, social networks are constantly evolving.

When social networking seriously appeared on the market in 2003, Friendster was the emergent king. It was one of the first of its kind to really take root, and became extremely popular. Everyone who was anyone was on Friendster.

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Rising Number of Tween Online Gamers: Kids Safety

By Tim Woda on February 16, 2011 at 2:47 PM

online gamesOlder studies reported that the age of the average online gamer was somewhere in the 40s. But now, the age of the average gamer is 32. What does this mean? It means that tweens are entering the mix – and they’re most likely yours.

The overwhelming majority of tweens are online, navigating their ways through virtual worlds. 91% of boys and 93% of girls ages 8 to 11 report playing online games, up dramatically from just five years ago.

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