Steven Woda

Steven Woda
Steve Woda is the co-founder and CEO of uKnow, and a leader in the Internet safety and security field for over 15 years. He frequently speaks on the topics of Internet and mobile security, ecommerce and information economics. You can follow Steve on Twitter or on his blog.
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Recent Posts

Digital Parenting: The Dark Side of Instagram

The photo-sharing social media site, Instagram, has been treading more on the innocent side since its launch and rise in popularity. Recently though, a new disturbing trend has risen on Instagram that should have all parents concerned.

Instagram and Teen Body Image

More and more young girls are making their profiles and pictures public and posting a picture for others to assess their attractiveness. Many of these young girls are in provocative poses and are dressed in revealing clothing. The young girls post their pictures using hash tags such as #amipretty or #beautycontest, looking for the most positive comments to boost their self-esteem.

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Teen Dating Apps That Are Bad News

The trend of using dating apps seems to become more and more mainstream each year. People of all ages are exploring their romantic options on sites like eHarmony and Match.com. The surge in the popularity of dating apps has certainly trickled down into the teen demographic. 

As you can imagine, most dating sites, including the ones specifically intended for teenagers, have their risks. Dating apps require personal information in order to generate matches, and while users are virtually searching for their soulmates, they are also unwittingly allowing access to information that anyone can use to find them.

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iPhone Monitoring Your Teens: the Very Basics

The threats of identity theft, iCloud hacking, stalking and harassment are very real in the digital age. Thus, safeguarding your children from the perils posed by new technology has become part and parcel of modern day parenting.

The troubling aspect of this necessity is that the technologies are constantly evolving, making it imperative to stay up-to-date and knowledgeable on digital defense. Luckily, Apple is consistently making iPhone monitoring for parents much more accessible and easier to accomplish.

Enabling Restrictions

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Setting Digital Rules for Your Teens and Tweens

Being a digital parent is an assignment that is not easy to handle. It is certainly something that is not always all that easy. However, digital parenting is a part of the expectations for parents these days. Without proper supervision, teens can make huge mistakes online as well as they can anywhere else. 

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Prom Night Digital Decorum: Preventing Teens From Oversharing

Prom is a very exciting event for most teens who have finally reached the age of being able to attend this important milestone. While in the past students and their guests were limited in communicating about prom, present day social media has created a whole new form of communication for them to let others know about their plans and activities in real time. This, of course, has its pros and cons.

While sending texts to friends to coordinate meeting times or showing pictures can be reasonably safe, using social media can be problematic when it comes to safety and security.

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Mobile and Internet Child Safety: Comparing The Old With The New

When considering mobile and internet child safety as parents, it may cause you to reminisce. "Well, back in my day this was never a concern."

Don't feel old, we're all working through it. Technology has changed and will continue to. Due to this, considering a child's safety hasn't changed - instead, there's now more to be cautious of. 

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If Your Kids Use iPhones or iPads, Help Has Arrived: uKnowKids for Apple

In the past few years, iPhone and iPad usage with kids has expanded tenfold. In order to keep up with these changes, uKnowKids is launching a new product specifically designed to help parents whose kids are using iPhone, iPads, iTouches and Macs. It is called the uKnowKids for Apple, and we plan to launch it into public beta in April. 

Big iPhone and iPad News

You can pre-order to get early access to the uKnowKids for Apple today!

Pre-Order Today for $164 $99 lifetime

Note... We are still working on a final name the product, so "uKnowKids for Apple" may go through a name change in the next few weeks or months, but you get the idea :)

With the uKnowKids for Apple, parents can gain dramatically better transparency into your child's iPhone activities than any other solution on the market today. Let's take a look at some of the new features.

View iMessages (Text Messages & Picture Messages):

We all know that keeping tabs on text and picture messages is helpful for parents who are trying to educate and coach their kids on how to use technology safely and responsibly. With the uKnowKids for Apple, parents are able to view their teen's incoming and outgoing iOS text messages (SMS) and picture messages (MMS)... iMessages... via their iPhones, iPads, iTouches, and Mac computers. Additionally, the feature enables uKnowKids customers to review stored photos. Keeping an eye on these interactions can help parents ensure that new phone users aren't getting involved in peer pressure, sexting or other digital dangers.

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Methods for Mobile and Internet Child Safety

The Internet, possibly, the most used form of communication (if not now, it soon will be!) has become a fun and exciting place to play and talk with friends and family. However, it has also become a place where bad things can and do happen.

With all of the digital dangers like identity theft, online predators and cyberbullying around the corner for Internet users, even adults have to leery about what we are doing. Nevertheless, when it comes to our children, we have to practice foresight, patience, and the knowledge of how and what technology your children use and have.

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How to Handle Technology in Your Child’s Classroom

For some parents, it’s a scary thought: My child will be using the Internet today.

Will her teacher be watching closely?

Will he become too absorbed with technology?

Will she stumble upon something she shouldn’t see?

Luckily, most teachers will quickly remind you: technology in the classroom does not lead to complete anarchy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be involved in how the technology is being used or have apprehensions about what effect that has on your child.

Mitigate your concerns with these five tips, which will help you become more comfortable and familiar with your child’s use of technology in the classroom.

1. Talk About Safety

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New Jersey School to Educate Kids on Social Media

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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App Trends for Teens & Tweens: What's In and What's Out

Nowadays, young people spend a good chunk of their free time staring into their screens. Whether it's a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop, the screen gets their nearly undivided attention. Most kids make use of apps on their multitude of screens for entertainment, learning and socialization purposes.

With digital trends going in and out of the door contantly, it's tough to keep of track of what your teens are up to. Let's take a look at some of the apps that are currently in or out of favor with middle school tweens and high school teens.

These Apps are "Out":

  • Facebook: Facebook has lost its luster with youngsters. Only 45 percent of teens use Facebook for social networking. About 72 percent used the social networking service in 2013. That's an alarming drop off. While kids haven't totally ditched Facebook Messenger, it is clear that the decline in use is prominent.

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Mobile And Internet Child Safety: They Are One In The Same

If you think that your child is absolutely safe on the Internet at all times, you are probably fooling yourself. This is particularly true if you have not taken the time to have a conversation with your child about the potential dangers of the Internet. It is important to consider both mobile and Internet child safety these days. 

Why Mobile Matters Just As Much

Pew Research conducted a poll asking teens what kind of phone they have. They found that 37% of teens ages 12 to 17 indicate that they own a smartphone. This means that almost half of teens can chat, meet people, buy things, and get involved in other situations online that could be potentially dangerous to them. 

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Keep Your Family on Schedule with Smart Lighting

While there are many valid concerns regarding disassociation parenting, facilitated by the influx of digital tools into our lives, there is one area where advances in technology can be incredibly beneficial to families: the smart home, and in particular, smart lighting.

Our family was fortunate enough to receive a Philips Hue starter kit around Christmas time, and to say that it has been a life changer is no exaggeration. 

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Hookup Apps and Teen Users: Should We Be Worried?

As if being a child in this world is not stressful enough, there is now pressure on many young teens to download and use hookup apps. There are many free, available apps to choose from, with no parental consent required. While most are made out to be geared towards adults, the horrible truth is that the creators know that kids are using them, and apparently do not care much. Either that, or they just don't moderate their applications the way that we feel like they should.  

Remember AOL dial up chat rooms? You would get kicked out so fast if you even made the slightest remark that was off base. The ninety's had it right. There was someone moderating every word that was spoken in those days. Unfortunately, this is a totally new era with a totally new set of rules and expectations.  

With all of that being said, the fact of the matter is that there are no moderators. No one is watching to make sure that kids are not downloading these apps onto their smartphones or other devices. That is just not the way that it goes anymore. It is the job of us, the parents, to ensure the safety of our children.  

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Talking to Your Child About Mobile and Internet Safety

There is no question children are interested in cell phones and social media sites. From a very young age they see their parents on smart phones, and they watch them get online to update their status and post new photos. More and more often parents give their young children phones and tablets to entertain them on airplanes or at restaurants. It's not surprising then, that most kids begin asking for their own cell phone or tablet well before their teen years.

Many parents see the obvious advantage of giving their children access to technology that can help keep them safe and let them check in with parents more easily. The big question remains: how do parents balance the desire to give their children more independence with the need to prioritize mobile and internet child safety?

New articles come out every week warning parents of dangerous apps online. Sadly, predatory apps do exist, and corrupt people will use these apps to try to take advantage of children. However, most teenagers do not intend to use their phones or the Internet to get in trouble. They want to connect with their friends, and often they just don't see how using the latest trendy app could put them at risk.

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How to Organize Your Family's Tech Cords and Accessories

After the holidays, it's fairly likely that you have new gadgets and devices to play with and to keep charged. In our plugged-in culture (we're still not quite there on wireless charging!), it's easy to feel buried in electrical cords for the bazillion different types of technology we own.

From cell phones to tablets and everything in between, it can be overwhelming. When you (or your child) needs to charge your phone or the latest e-reader, where's the charger? They all look the same, but unfortunately, they're not all universal. It can be a headache and cause a great deal of frustration (not to mention that when you find the correct charger, it's in a knot with the other hundred cords).

To help reduce the stress of searching for power cords, chargers and cables this holiday season and beyond, there are a few simple solutions. Once a system is in place, you'll find that sought-after power cord in seconds, and you won't have to enlist an army of helpers to untangle or look under sofa cushions.

Tame the Cord Dragon

To begin, sort your cords into categories. Round up the family and have everyone collect all the cords for each gadget. You'll be surprised at the pile that you find! Popular ones for most homes include: iPhone, Android, HTML, e-reader, tablets, cameras, etc.

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Photo Leaks: The Latest Scary Digital Trend

Today, news stories about teens getting caught up in sexting and resulting photo leak scandals are a dime a dozen. As parents, we usually say to ourselves “that could never happen to my child” when we see stories like these, but the truth is that a digital slip-up like a photo leak can happen to anyone.

Just a few years ago, advancements in video, photos and messaging technology all seemed so harmless. Now, sexting seems to be all the rage as teenagers experiment with these advances in technology. Disturbingly, sexting photo leaks appear to be becoming somewhat a trend among teens and, as sexting continues to be prevalent, the images are imprinted on technology forever.

Here are a few synopses of photo leaks that have happened in towns across the US. An especially disconcerting facet about these photo leaks is that each case has occurred in just the past six months:

  • In November, two students from McLean High School in Virginia acquired and organized folders containing compromising photos of 56 female classmates. They passed around the folders to other students in a carefully concealed Dropbox page. The 16 and 17-year-old teens plead guilty to three misdemeanor charges each for distributing obscene material.

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Internet Security For Parents With Young Children

Young children can get into just as much trouble online as their parents. In fact, young children may be more in danger because they do not necessarily know the boundaries of what they should and should not do. Therefore, Internet security should be a primary concern for any parent with a young child. 

Keeping Children Away From Sensitive Information 

Vodaphone.com recommends the following for children under the age of 5: 

KEEP devices like your mobile out of reach and make sure you have passwords/PINs set up on them for the times you might lend them to your child... or for when they simply get hold of them themselves!

It is too easy for a child to start crawling through your personal information and data if they are able to access your phone without having to enter a pin. It is simply the safest to keep those devices locked up and out of reach. 

Curbing Child Identity Theft

Quick facts about the prevalence of identity theft:

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3 Effective Digital Parenting Mantras to Live By

Are you the parent of a teenager? If so, chances are that you know the struggle of trying to keep them safe while also letting them live their life. That is what so many parents have to worry about these days. It is even harder when it comes to broaching Internet security and knowing how to approach disciplining them in the age of information.

Here are some easy digital parenting mantras that will make your job a little easier:

1. You Are The Parent

The bottom line when it comes to keeping children safe online is to remember that you are the parent and are in control. You get to set the rules for your children, and they are to obey those rules. You can make sure that the rules are fair to them while at the same time maintaining their safety. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is what you are supposed to be doing as the parent.

2. The Internet is a Privilege, Not a Right

In the same vein, kids and teens might need to periodically be reminded that their Internet use is a privilege granted to them, not a right. From their persepctive, widespread Internet access has been available to them for as long as they can remember. For this reason, it can be easy for teens, tweens and even young kids to feel entitled to have continuous Internet access from their phones or other digital devices.

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3 Fundamental Steps to Take in Digital Parenting

There is no use in trying to jump into digital parenting all at one time. Rather, a step-by-step approach is preferred and more successful over time. Following a set of steps allows your child and you to have a good understand with one another and hopefully work together to have a safe time on the Internet.

1. Have a Conversation With Your Child 

Showing an interest in what your child is doing online is a great basic first step. You want to show them that you care about whatever the latest app is or perhaps what websites they like to visit. You may be surprised by how much your child is actually willing to share with you on this topic. It opens the door to deeper conversations about Internet safety

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