Tim Woda

Tim Woda
Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.
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Recent Posts

You're Invited: The Internet & Mobile Safety Workshop for Parents

Today’s children represent the first generation to grow up entirely in a digital world. They have spent their entire lives using computers, video games, webcams, digital music players, mobile phones, instant messaging apps and everything else the digital world has to offer. In a sense, our kids are all “native speakers” of a digital language.

They are "Digital Natives". So what does that make this generation of parents?

Those of us who were not born into a digital world are, and always will be, "Digital Immigrants" and we are now in the process of learning a new language while also trying to raise our kids and keep them safe.

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Internet Security for Children in the Digital Age

The most important segment of society to keep safe on the Internet is obviously our children. Children are the most vulnerable to being preyed online. They are not as experienced in using the Internet and may not understand the dangers that lurk there. Thus, Internet security is an important topic of conversation to have with your children.

In an article about Internet security and children, Microsoft.com recommends preventing the download of free material online that may contain spyware or viruses: 

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The Need for New Policies Regarding Internet Security

When it comes to laws regarding Internet security and bullying, there is still a lot of work to be done. Parents are urged to educate their children about Internet security, but there is still a need for real objective policy.

One institution that fights Internet bullying is the Family Online Safety Institute, an international non-profit organization that works towards a safer Internet environment. The CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, Stephen Balkam, recently wrote an article in The Guarding expressing the need for new policy:

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

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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Better Understanding Digital Parenting Obstacles

In a Huffington Post article, uKnow’s Co-founder Tim Woda asks a simple question – “Do you know who your child made friends with on Facebook yesterday?". Mr. Woda speaks of a very personal experience involving his son’s abduction after accepting a friend-request from an unknown Internet sexual predator.  

He goes on to say that parenting skills have just not been able to keep up with advancing technology and even though it isn’t our fault, it’s certainly our problem. Let’s take a look at some situations that may give us a better understanding of obstacles that make digital parenting more challenging:

Understanding The Generation Gap

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Internet Security: Protecting Children Online

Undoubtedly, children need to be kept safe when they are online. We also know that they need to use the Internet at this point in time. There is too much going on within the Internet for children to be shielded from it. What needs to happen is safe usage of the Internet by children. 

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Why It's Important to Monitor Which Apps Your Children Use

Monitoring your child's activity on the Internet can be complicated and even frustrating. Your child may demand a certain level of privacy and not be completely upfront with his or her actions. In addition, if you think monitoring your child's Facebook and Twitter accounts is satisfactory, you're sadly mistaken.

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Protecting Your Child's Identity With Mobile and Internet Safety

Parents do their best in teaching their children to not go anywhere with a stranger, but how many actually teach them to not share personal information with strangers?

Research shows that more than 500,000 children become victims of identity theft every year.  The most amazing fact is that almost half of these children are under the age of six. Practicing internet and cell phone safety can protect children from potential predators, but parents must also have a clear understanding of how mobile and internet child safety can also protect a child’s identity.

There is an alarming story on MSN.com about a teenage girl who was a victim of identity theft at age three. As a teenager, she now owed $750,000 for homes and automobiles an identity thief had purchased in her name.

An estimated one in every 40 households with young children has been impacted by identity theft. All a thief needs is a child’s full name and date of birth. As technology advances with smartphones and an increasing number of apps are available, we can do almost anything on our phones that we can do on our laptops or home computer. As people go to replace their old phones with smartphones, thieves are stealing the personal data left on them.

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Teens And Smartphones: Reasons To Consider Waiting

You may be contemplating whether or not teens and smartphones are a good combination. Perhaps you have seen other teenagers that have smartphones and wonder if you too should get one for your teenager. There are at least a few reasons that you should perhaps hold off on that. 

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Digital Parenting: Being A Good Parent For Your Child Online

It is undoubtedly true that most all parents want to be good to their children. They want to protect them and watch them grow up and flourish. If possible, they will keep them away from anything or anyone that might do them harm. As such, digital parenting is a part of their duties.

Online Threats

Online threats come in a variety of forms from bullying by peers all the way up to sexual harassment, intimidation, and more. Taking a look at some of the figures from bullyingstatistics.org can be a real eye opener:

  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying

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Snapchat and Teens: Why Parents Should Be Concerned

In case you have been out of the loop on the latest and most popular apps for smartphones, one of the hottest apps for tweens and teens is Snapchat. This is an app that allows users can send pictures and videos to other people that disappear within a span of 10 seconds.

Theoretically, this sounds terrific. However, it is possible for other people to capture your Snapchat pictures permanently by simply taking a screenshot of your message. 

Concerns For Parents

An important component of mobile and Internet child safety is knowing what the concerns are for any given technology that your children may be using. There is a pretty long list that one could include when it comes to Snapchat. Lets take a look at some of the security concerns:

    • Anonymous Users - Users are allowed to remain anonymous under whatever screenname they choose to use.

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How Instagram's Recently Added Features Affect Your Teen's Safety

Instagram, one of the fastest growing social media platforms is a lot of fun for kids. It allows them to share photos of things they find interesting, and add filters and captions to those photos. Like a micro-blogging site, with pictures, Instagram's popularity with teens has exploded in the last three years. With that being said, Instagram is also constantly evolving, and while it can be 'good clean fun', there are some dangers that lurk on the social media app.

Throughout the past few years, Instagram has experienced some major changes that you might not be aware of. We've collected a few of these more recent changes and feature additions, and have assessed how they may affect your child's Instagram safety.

Picture Map

In 2012, Instagram rolled out their “photo map” feature. The photo map, which is now being used by millions of Instagram users, tracks were pictures have been taken, and, in some cases uploaded. This location sharing feature, which is meant to help individuals keep track of their travels, can be dangerous especially for young children.

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Digital Parenting: The 24-Hour Battle

Parenting your children is something that takes skill and grace. It is sometimes a struggle when they want to resist you and your expectations of them. This is made even harder for some parents in the area of digital parenting.

When asked to set rules for their children and monitor those rules in the online realm, some parents feel helpless. However, there are a few things you can do to keep your children safe.

1. Have A Frank Conversation With Them

It all starts with talking. Many parents believe that the things that they say go in one ear and out the other with their children, but this is really not true. Your child does hear and understand what you are saying. If they choose to listen to you or not largely has to do with what enforcement tactics you use to make them obey.

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The Impact of Cyberbullying on Young Children

There have been extensive efforts in the 21st century to limit bullying, particularly in schools. Parents now understand how detrimental bullying can be for young children and are trying to put an end to it.

Unfortunately, the emergence of the Internet and social media makes this task quite difficult. The anonymity and speed of the Internet makes bullying too convenient. Parents have to constantly be on the lookout as to what their children are doing online and practice mobile and Internet child safety. Simple conversations can quickly turn into inappropriate behavior that can have long-lasting effects on a child's mental health.

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3 Major Reasons to Act on Your Teen's Technology Addiction

As a parent of a teen, you already have to deal with teens testing limits, staying out past curfew or maybe even experimenting with sex and drugs. Some parents turn a blind eye when their teens are always on their phone- texting or on social media. After all, there are many worse things to worry about, right?

Wrong. Technology addiction in teens can create the same consequences as drug experimentation or getting in with the wrong crowd. It could prevent a teen from developing into a mature, well-rounded adult. It could mean that you’ll have your teen around for much longer than expected because he can’t concentrate enough to stay in college or have enough patience or will to keep a job.

Turns out, teenage tech addiction has become so damaging that some parents are having to send their kids to technology addiction rehabilitation centers for a good helping of support groups and cognitive behavioral therapy.

What could be so bad about my teen playing video games and texting for hours if he’s already done his homework for the night, you may ask? Here are three major reasons to act on your teen's technology addiction. 

1. Attention deficits. Teens, these days, have three forms of technology in front of them sometimes while doing homework- a smart phone, a laptop or computer and a TV buzzing in the background. Many teens, tweens and millennials take pride in constant multitasking. Over time, their brains have been rewired to create easily distracted people who have a hard time focusing. 

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The Risk of Facebook Depression in Teens and Tweens

Providing children with Internet security does not only entail keeping them safe from obvious dangerous such as sexual predators and scams. It is also important to note that there are side effects of the Internet which children should be protected from as well. Sadly, some of the things that children may need to be protected from are self-inflicted. 

Facebook Depression

Facebook depression is a phenomenon that has sprung up as a result of Facebook and other social networks. Since Facebook is the most popular social network, it was the one on which the term is coined. A good explanation on why this is a worry comes from parenting.com,

Teen development is, in large part, about separating from parents and gaining peer acceptance, and social networking sites allow them to do both. But if online harassment or rejection occurs, such as “de-friending,” symptoms of depression may be the result.

Why Facebook Depression Exists 

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Parents Must Get Involved In Mobile and Internet Child Safety

Even though many parents understand that they should use parental controls on their home computer, many never establish a means for getting the job done.  According to a McAfee survey, most parents left their kids alone while surfing the internet and over half the parents surveyed didn’t know if their kids had a social networking account, like Facebook. Another study indicated that approximately 72 percent of teens do have social networking profiles and almost half of them are public profiles viewable by anyone.

Parents must realize that Internet security is needed across multiple devices. With the advancements in technology, children have Internet access on smartphones, iPads, tablets and other mobile devices. Mobile technology can expose children to not only the good, but also all of the bad on the Internet.

Personal monitoring of mobile devices isn’t always possible since kids use them on the way to school and even while school is in session.  Many school systems around the country are experimenting with pilot programs using mobile learning with the goal of replacing textbooks and other coursework with technology. Both parents and school administrators will need to make sure they use the technologies available to make these mobile devices safer and more child-friendly both at home and at school.

Turning the Tide

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Redirecting Teens and Technology for a Better Body Image

Technology is great, isn’t it? We can scroll through Facebook and see what our family and friends are doing. We can start a conversation on our desktop and continue on our phone in the woods while we mushroom hunt. Then we can send a picture when we find the biggest one. Technology can help us learn and help keep us entertained.

But can too much technology be a bad thing?

Parents are trying to maintain a respectful distance and still keep an eye on their kids’ interactions and relationships, contending with Snapchat, Face-time, Facebook, Skype, texting and endless selfies. A teen or tween can base their entire reputation on their online social life, wanting to look as good as or better than the images they see.

Even games and movies are filled with unrealistic images of sleek men and women, with size 2 avatars and beautiful, slim princesses dancing with barrel-chested princes. A steady diet can skew a child’s reality of how “normal” people look.

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A Sweeping Look at 2014's Biggest Digital Trends for Teens

YouTube challenges, hashtags and other digital trends spread like wildfire among the group of children who are in that magic, impressionable age between grade school and high school. Most digital trends are harmless and quickly forgotten; some can be positive, and some are downright bad news. 

As 2014 winds down, now is a great time for parents to reflect on the year's top digital trends. Here is a glimpse of some of the biggest online fads from the past year.

Social Media is Still King. But Which Networks?

Facebook has long lost its groove among those younger than thirty. A social media network where Grandma might leave a sweet message for everyone in school to see isn’t where kids want to hang out. Newer networks like InstagramSnapchatKik, and Vine have blossomed in teen popularity towards the middle and second half of 2014.

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