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Don't Be Naive. Take the Initiative With Your Kids and Social Media

By Tim Woda on March 4, 2015 at 9:16 PM

You’ve heard countless news stories highlighting instances of kids and social media gone wrong. Headlines about young teens getting involved in cyberbullying, sexting, identity theft and online predator catastrophes practically populate the Internet. Whether you have only heard the buzz about these dangers from afar or personally know a victim, it’s clear that there is a lot going on in the social media world that can wreak havoc on a child’s life.

By all accounts, social media will continue to be a risk to inexperienced tweens, especially since kids are jumping on the social network bandwagon at younger and younger ages every year. It’s about time that safety precautions catch up with this digital danger!

The solution is for parents to become proactive instead of being reactive when it comes to their kids and social media.

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New Jersey School to Educate Kids on Social Media

By Steven Woda on February 16, 2015 at 6:49 PM

It’s not every day that you hear of a law being passed in favor of promoting social media usage in schools. Usually, it is a constant struggle between teachers and their students to get them to unplug from these networks. However, New Jersey is now taking steps that may enhance mobile and Internet safety via required social media classes.

When Children Will Be Learning About Social Media

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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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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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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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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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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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Guidebook for the Social Networking Site Twitter

By Steven Woda on April 28, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Twitter Quick Facts:

  • Twitter's original code name was twttr

  • The idea of short online updates derived from text messaging

  • “The definition [of “twitter”] was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds'. That’s what the product was."

  • Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) is the most popular person on Twitter with about 12 million followers as of mid-2011

  • 51% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands or products on social networks

  • Four of the five most popular Twitter feeds belong to pop stars; President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) holds down the third slot

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a real-time information network where people get the latest news, ideas, and opinions about what interests them. Twitter is organized around Tweets, which are small bites of information up to 140 characters long.

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8 Online Etiquette Rules Every Tween Should Know

By Steven Woda on April 22, 2014 at 11:28 AM

With college administrators and employers often checking candidates’ social network profiles and tweens and teens online more than ever before, it’s extremely important to ensure that your tweens and teens are representing themselves online appropriately. Social Media “Netiquette” consists of a variety of factors including language used, tones emitted through word choice and sentence structure, and the manners in which people conduct themselves when posting behind screens (especially when done anonymously).

Luckily, teenagers admit that social media etiquette is an important factor in their lives. A recent Teen Trend Report from a Stage of Life survey found that 91% of teens indicate that civility, manners and etiquette are either “important” or “very important” to them. 69.3% (the majority) of teens say that they learn “bad manners” from the media, whereas 97% of teens expressed that they learn their “good manners” at home.

With uKnow’s Social Media Etiquette Twitter Party around the corner, we asked social media bloggers, consultants, and authors about their top concerns and rules for teens' and tweens’ social media ‘netiquette’. More than anything, the contributors emphasize how easy it is to be offensive online, whether someone is intending to offend or not. See what they believe are the most important facets of social media etiquette.

1. Post for Your Future

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Superintendent Viciously Cyberbullied By Students

By Steven Woda on April 19, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Clearly, the negative effects of cyberbullying are not limited to just teens and kids. Find out what happened when students cyberbullied their Superintendent following his decision about having a snow day. This article was originally published on the Washington Post and is written by Donna St. George and Jennifer Jenkins.

Forecasts for snow in Montgomery County often means a bit of “cyberpleading” — e-mails or tweets that vigorously urge officials to close schools for the day.

That happened during last week’s winter-like weather, but a number of messages to Superintendent Joshua P. Starr did more to offend than persuade. Some used racial epithets. Some used curse words. One threatened to slash Starr’s tires. A few messages mentioned Starr’s family in inappropriate ways, he said.

In all, Starr said, perhaps 10 tweets left him thinking: “Whoa, this is going too far.”

Hoping to spark a conversation across Maryland’s largest school system, Starr e-mailed a letter Friday to the parents of Montgomery’s 151,300 students.

“We need to talk about ‘cybercivility’: how we can help our children grow into responsible and caring adults who interact with one another in a civil, respectful way,” Starr wrote in his letter, which schools officials tweeted, e-mailed to newsletter subscribers and posted online.

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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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Social Media Etiquette Tips for Teenagers

By Steven Woda on April 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

This article was originally published on Psychology Today by Raychelle Cassanda Lohmann.

Computers and modern technology are taking up a lot of teens' time. While there are some perks to technology, there are also some negative things associated with it. A national survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids between the ages of 8 to 18 are spending an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day using entertainment media (e.g., phones, computer, television, mp3 players or other electronic devices). That's more than 53 hours a week! And because our teens are so good at watching TV while working on the computer or texting a friend, they have used their time-management skills to fit about 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7 hours and 38 minutes.

With teens spending so much time working on-line via social networking sites, emailing, texting, visiting chat rooms, or just surfing the net, it's important that parents review the following Cyber Etiquette tips with their teen.

Top 10 Cyber Etiquette Tips:

1. Exercise the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you wouldn't speak to the person that way face to face, then don't do it online.

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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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20 High Schoolers Suspended for Retweeting Gossip, Cyberbullying

By Tim Woda on March 18, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Is your teen active on Twitter? If so, it's probably a great idea to show this blog post to your high school teen or tween. 

20 students at an Oregon High School were suspended earlier this month for retweeting allegations about a female teacher flirting with students. According to the Huffington Post article below, administrators at the school say retweeting the post amounted to a form of cyberbullying, and that the students’ behavior violated the district student handbook, which defines cyberbullying as the "use of any electronic communication device to harass, intimidate or bully."

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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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Even Olympic Athletes Aren't Immune from Cyberbullying

By Tim Woda on February 19, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Check out this piece about how olympic athlete Elise Christie overcame Twitter cyberbullying and fall in 500-meter final to win 1,000-meter heat. It was originally published on Yahoo! Sports.

The past week has been a whirlwind for British speedskater Elise Christie. In the 500-meter short track final, Christie crashed and took out Park Seung-hi, a Korean star in the sport.

As a result of her fall, Christie told Sports Illustrated that she received “a couple of thousand messages that were negative” on social media, many of which came from Korea. These messages were tough for Christie.

“I spent the last few days feeling quite down and struggling psychologically,” Christie said. “I came in yesterday and was quite emotional.”

Not only did she lose her chance at gold in the 500 by crashing, she also was disqualified in the 1500 for “a technicality” that her coach called a “s--- thing.”

To avoid the ongoing ugliness directed at her on Twitter, Christie suspended her own account, but then the story of the negative tweets directed toward her circulated in Britain, and thousands of Brits tweeted their support her boyfriend, fellow speedskater Jack Whelbourne. On top of that turnaround, the speedskating communities in Britain and Korea both showed their support for her.

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They Loved Your G.P.A.,Then They Saw Your Tweets

By Steven Woda on February 12, 2014 at 11:51 AM

The following is a great article from the New York Times about social media and the impact it can have on your child's academic future. If you are interested in this topic, please join us for a Twitter party at 1pm EDT today to discuss this important issue. Learn more here.

At Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., admissions officers are still talking about the high school senior who attended a campus information session last year for prospective students. Throughout the presentation, she apparently posted disparaging tweets about her fellow attendees, repeatedly using a common expletive.

Perhaps she hadn’t realized that colleges keep track of their social media mentions.

“It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that,” Scott A. Meiklejohn, Bowdoin’s dean of admissions and financial aid, told me last week. The college ultimately denied the student admission, he said, because her academic record wasn’t competitive. But had her credentials been better, those indiscreet posts could have scuttled her chances.

“We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,” Mr. Meiklejohn said.

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Cyberbullying: The Face Behind the Screen

By Tim Woda on February 2, 2014 at 2:14 PM

This article was originally published on Psychology Today by Raychelle Cassandra Lohmann.

Laura sat at her laptop still steaming mad from the incident that had happened earlier with Michelle.  "I'll show her!" she thought.  Just then, Laura had an idea...  "I can set up a bogus email account and create a fake Facebook page.  I'll put Michelle in her place without her even knowing who did it."  After a setting up her new identity, Laura became "Julie".  Pleased with herself Julie launched a full blown cyber attack on her once friend Michelle.  "See if she ever messes with me again", Julie laughed.  On the other end of the computer, Michelle sat with her mouth gaping open.  She couldn't believe what she was reading.  "Who's Julie?" she thought.  "What did I do to her?"  Michelle's heart was beating fast and tears began to stream down her face. 

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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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