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How Social Media Can Help Your Teen or Tween Flourish

By Tim Woda on September 5, 2014 at 2:38 PM

When parents think about social media in the hands of their teens and tweens, it is easy to automatically jump to the negative. While there are some negative aspects of social media, there are plenty of very positive aspects about it as well. Recent research suggests that social media, when used appropriately and responsibly by tweens and teens, may actually be incredibly positive. 

Social Media Can Increase Confidence 

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Facebook Terms of Service: What Are We All "Agreeing" To?

By Tim Woda on July 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

My husband Matt and I traveled to Orange County, California during this year’s terrible East coast “Snowmageddon” season.  It was sunny, warm and wonderful. When we returned to the threat of another potential snow storm (in April!), we had a text message conversation, discussing how great it would be to move to Orange County. Later that day, Matt logged into his professional social media app on his phone and noticed he had gotten job postings for Orange County. Strangely enough, when I logged into my own personal social media app, I was surprised to discover that I had received ads for real estate in Orange County.

Social media and mobile apps are moving toward predictive advertising and behavior to make our lives more convenient by alerting you about traffic congestion or items that you might want to purchase. The amount of personal data required to power these types of applications is staggering.  Companies go to great lengths and expense to create and employ the technology that powers the analytics necessary to perform this complex predictive modeling based on your data.

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What is Geotagging and Is It Safe for My Teens To Be Doing It?

By Steven Woda on July 11, 2014 at 11:13 AM

You would never post your home address online or tell the world that your kids were home alone at that address, would you? Yet many of us are innocently and unknowingly doing just that, by geotagging.

Geotagging is a relatively new phenomenon in that age of smartphones and many teens and parents are unaware of exactly what it is and why it's dangerous. True privacy and safety are becoming ever more elusive and complex in the information age. Here's what you need to know about geotagging to protect your teen's privacy and safety online. 

What is Geotagging?

Geotagging is a way of embedding location information into photos or posts made through social media sites, providing the exact coordinates of where a photo was snapped or a post was made (within 10 to 15 feet depending on the accuracy of your GPS chip). Ultimately, geotagging is not a safe practice for anyone for a myriad of reasons.

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6 Positive Social Media Activities for Tweens & Teens

By Steven Woda on July 9, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Teens and tweens are on social media in their millions. In fact, that’s no longer the question; the question is which social media platforms are they on and what exactly are they doing there. The first part of that question is also easy to answer. You probably know that Facebook is the social networker’s favorite platform and that other websites such as Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter will also weigh in heavily. Other social websites frequented by this group of users include Vine, WhatsApp, Wanelo, Snapchat, 4Chan, and Kik Messager.

So, what do they do on social media?

Well, the truth is that some aspects of these social websites can be destructive for our teens and tweens. Vine for example is rated 17+ for a reason.

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Android Apps That Your Teens and Tweens are Probably Using

By Tim Woda on July 4, 2014 at 3:14 PM

In this day and age, just about everyone (adults, teens and tweens alike) has smartphones! With the prevalence of smartphone use comes prevalence of app use. Check out and get to know which Android apps your tweens and teens are most likely using.

Facebook and Facebook Messenger. Facebook continues to be one of the most popular social media platforms out there and many young teens are on it. Facebook is one of the fastest ways to stay updated with friends and family. It allows users to chat, upload photos and videos, share common interests, and so much more. The Facebook Messenger app allows users to get personal messages instantly, a lot like texting, but without the standard text fees. Facebook Messenger users can create group chats and send videos and photos. Also, a fun and popular part of this app are the stickers and Emoji (icons that express emotions).

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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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Does Social Media Use Impact My Kid's Self-Esteem?

By Steven Woda on May 21, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Yesterday we posted an article about how kids, teens, and young adults typically have high numbers of Facebook friends, yet most don't have actual, one-on-one interactions with more than 3% of their "friends". Do follower and friend counts among social media profiles serve more as a self-esteem boost and status symbol than as an actual indication of one's popularity? What do social media sites actually do for teens' and kids' self-esteem?

In the past few years, you may have heard one or two conflicting studies reported on the subject of social media's impact on self-esteem. A variety of research centers and psychologists have come to a multitude of conclusions on the matter. Since social media is still relatively new, it is difficult to find a concise answer about the direct implications of social media. Here is a brief synopsis of released studies on the subject:

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Dangers of the New Location-Sharing Facebook Feature: Nearby Friends

By Tim Woda on May 20, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Facebook has recently launched a new location sharing feature called Nearby Friends. Naturally, the introduction of the new feature (and the general popularity of location-sharing within social media) is a bit disconcerting for parents of tweens and teens. Sharing locations can increase the dangers of cyberbullying and stalking by strangers and "friends" alike. 

What is Nearby Friends?

The basic idea of the Nearby Friends feature is to further connect people within the network.  Similar to other apps with location tracking systems like FourSquare, Connect, and SocialRadar, Nearby Friends pulls information about the locations of other Facebook friends who have enabled the feature and displays where users are on a map. If there are a certain number of friends located in a user's surrounding area, they will receive a notification about which friends are in the area and are encouraged to view their locations. 

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Audrie's Law Moving Through California State Legislature

By Tim Woda on May 19, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Legislation has been introduced in the California state legislature that would make it a felony to share sexually explicit images of young people or images of their body parts on social media or smart phones for the purpose of bullying them. It is part of a package of legal changes that would close a legal loophole that makes it a less serious crime to rape someone who is physically or mentally incapacitated than to rape someone who is of clear mind.

The cyberbullying part of the bill is called ”Audrie’s Law” after a young woman named Audrie Pott who died as result of a sexually inspired act of cyberbullying.

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Two Teen Sexting Incidences Reported in New Jersey This Week

By Tim Woda on May 18, 2014 at 11:54 AM

New Jersey is one of the few states that has a somewhat "lenient" sexting law, which punishes most minors caught sexting with mandatory educational programs. The state is having quite a trying week, with the recent news of two sexting incidences reported in separate New Jersey schools. 

According to ABC7 Eyewitness News, nude photos of several students were discovered on multiple students' phones in Somerset County's Basking Ridge Middle School. Superintendent Nick Markarian sent out a letter about the incident to parents, informing them on the events and providing them a chance to "clean things up" before criminal charges are soon filed. Markarian is encouraging parents to have their kids delete and cease distribution of the viral nude photos.

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Rihanna Joins Cyberbullies in Mocking Fan on Twitter

By Steven Woda on May 15, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Many celebrities and public figures have experienced cyberbullying in the past. Ciara once wrote an angry letter to her cyberbullies, Minnie Driver recently quit Twitter after being taunted about her vacation photos, and even Olympic athletes have been ridiculed online. A story we don't hear about often: a celebrity participating in cyberbullying.

Sixteen-year-old Alexis Carter was excited to dress up as one of her favorite celebrities Rihanna for a Hollywood-themed prom. Before the event, she posted photos of her dress, which mirrored a previous dress worn by Rihanna. She had a great time taking the pictures and was complimented throughout the night.

However, since prom other kids have been making fun of her outfit relentlessly through social media site Twitter. The hashtag #PromBat began trending and, before she knew it, Rihanna herself had commented negatively about the teen's outfit.

Fox Baltimore reports,

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Is My Tween Completely Ready to Use Twitter?

By Steven Woda on May 13, 2014 at 12:59 PM

In the scope of teens and social media, Twitter is one of the most popular social network sites. Just as you may have wondered if your tween was ready to get their first cell phone or Facebook account, you may be asking yourself if they are ready for the mature world of Twitter. Read on to discover if your child is fully ready to use Twitter.

Public Information

When something is posted on Twitter, it becomes public information. Tweens and teens often don't quite accept the idea that everything on the Internet can be permanent. Many believe that simply deleting tweets, posts, or social network accounts rids the existence of content. However, anything posted online, whether it is sent privately or publically, has potential to be exploited. Even if your teen fixes their profile to the

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What Parents Need to Know About the Secret-Sharing App Whisper

By Tim Woda on May 12, 2014 at 12:13 PM

We all know that sharing and social media come hand in hand. People share everything online, whether it is a birth of their child or a new kitchen upgrade. Today, a new trend is gaining popularity quicker than ever in the sharing universe: anonymous secrets-sharing mobile apps.

Apps like Truth and Whisper make it easier than ever to anonymously post secrets online without the fear of being judged or having direct consequences. Users can simply write a secret, pick an image to go with it, and share it for millions to see.

Since its release two years ago, the anonymous, secret-sharing app Whisper has become hugely popular. Today, it reaches 3.5 billion page views per month. Although Whisper’s main demographic is comprised of 18-24-year-olds, there are still a number of teens using the application. Given its steady increase in

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8 Facebook Rules That Teens Need to Know

By Tim Woda on May 11, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites used by teens. It is a platform that can be utilized as an amazing tool to help people stay in touch and cultivate relationships and interests. However, teens can get themselves into some sitcky situations through the site, like oversharing, cyberbullying, or befriending strangers. Make sure your teenagers know these 8 Facebook rules to prevent these risks. These rules originated in Common Sense Media and are written by their Digital Media Director Shira Lee Katz. 

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In Case You Missed It: Man Charged in Amanda Todd Bullycide Case

By Tim Woda on May 9, 2014 at 2:12 PM

One of the more pernicious aspects of cyberbullying is that, due to the nature of the Internet, it can cross international lines. Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old living in British Columbia who committed suicide in 2012 after being extorted online by a stranger. Before Amanda committed suicide, she left behind a heart-wrenching YouTube video describing the horrors she suffered as a result of her cyberbully. 

For many months, it was unsure if the cyberbully behind her suicide would be charged, or even identified. At one point Anonymous, an anarchist hacker group, got involved and fingered a Vancouver man as the culprit. The man turned out to be innocent and ended up accusing another man living in New York.

Now, 35-year-old Aydin Coban, who was living in Holland, has been arrested and charged with child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment and Internet luring.

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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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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: Sexting Incidents Up Among Teens and Tweens

By Tim Woda on May 1, 2014 at 6:01 PM

It seems juvenile that sexting incidents are making news headlines more and more often these days. Just recently, a teen Instagram "sexting ring" with an account containing more than 1,000 explicit photos of minors was discovered in Virginia; the next day, school officials at a Chicago-area middle school found sixth graders were trading explicit photos. Also this week comes news of an eighth-grade sexting ring in Barrington, Illinois.

According to a 2012 study completed by the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 28% of teens have sent a "sext" message. Experts predict that number will only go up as more and more teens own smartphones, which make photo taking, sharing, and accessing the internet easier and faster than ever.

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Digital Parenting: Fighting Back Against ‘Revenge Porn’

By Tim Woda on May 1, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Just another reason to ensure that your teens aren't participating in sexting: exes posting revenge porn. This article was originally published on the Washington Post by Lindsey Bever.

Many of their stories start the same.

She Googles her own name. A Web site pops up, claiming to have nude photos or videos of her posted online for all to see. And, just out of curiosity, she clicks on it.

That’s when she realizes the ex she broke up with forever ago, uploaded the private pictures she once intended for only him. And there’s nothing she can do about it.

Often, her name, address and links to social media profiles are provided as well. And, in some cases, sites created for this reason will charge her a fee to remove it.

It happens to men, too.

This kind of cyber extortion or, at the very least, cyber humiliation, called “revenge porn” has grabbed the attention of lawmakers increasingly seeking to criminalize it.

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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.

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