Bullying: 10 Ways Technology Has Made Cyberbullying and Bullying Worse

When we were growing up there were bullies.  Nobody liked to be bullied, but it was a fact of life that you had to deal with kids that weren’t very nice.  Now, schools are so anti-bullying that anything that even slightly seems like bullying is taken very seriously.  At least when we were growing up they didn’t have Facebook to upload embarrassing videos to that would ruin a person’s life.

Check out 10 ways technology makes bullying worse.

  1. Facebook: Embarrassing pictures and videos can be uploaded to Facebook in a matter of a few seconds and ruin someone’s life forever.  Kids do not understand the damage that something like that can do to a person.  People have actually committed suicide because of events like these.
  2. Cell phones: Growing up we did not have cell phones.  Kids these days have the ability to take pictures at a moment’s notice and sometimes not in the most appropriate places.  Nude pictures of students in the shower or in the locker room have also caused suicides.
  3. Texting: Kids can bully by texting now.  They can text everyone else at the same time something bad or embarrassing about someone else.  They can also send pictures over their phone to everyone on their contact list.  Bullying like this can make someone’s life miserable.
  4. Flip cameras: These cameras are used to shoot quick videos at close range and can be uploaded to the Internet.  Kids that want to bully just have to take embarrassing videos of a student and share them with everyone.  Or a video can be sent to a parent as well that would get them grounded or in trouble.
  5. You Tube: A lot of good things have happened to people by posting a video on You Tube, but a lot of bad stuff has happened too.  People love to be the first one to dish the dirt on someone else.  They witness a fight they grab their cell phone and upload it to You Tube.  Or they set someone up and post what they think is a funny video to You Tube, but it’s actually very embarrassing.  People don’t think they are bullying when they do this stuff, but they really are.
  6. Gaming systems: Many online gaming systems allow conversations between the players.  Teens have reported that someone pretending to be them said mean things or embarrassing things to another person.  This kind of bullying is hard to stop and hard to track.  It does however cause a lot of problems for today’s teens.
  7. Blogs: There are teens that create blogs that post the latest gossip about people and will say nasty things about people.  Teens feel that they are anonymous and that no one can tell who is doing the bullying, but there are ways to track down who’s doing it and there are some big consequences.  If the bullying leads to a suicide the teen who is behind the bullying can be brought up on charges and sent to jail.  Lesser sentences are losing privileges to use a computer for 2 years.  Try doing your homework without a computer these days.
  8. Chat sites: Other sites online have chat rooms where teens can go and chat with their friends online.  People can go into these chat rooms and make up a user name and start saying bad things about kids in that chat room.  Many times there is a chat room that the students frequent because all their friends go there so when someone bullies in a chat room a lot of that kid’s peer group could be reading it.
  9. E-mail: Bullies steal identities and will sign into an e-mail account and send damaging e-mails pretending to be that teen.  Inappropriate messages to a female teacher or a nasty message to the principal are all things that can really get that child in trouble and they didn’t do anything.  Remind your child to keep passwords absolutely private.
  10. Instant messaging: Bullies will try to send nasty instant messages threatening to do something to a teen when they see them next.  Or tell them that they are going to make sure that they don’t get something they want at school like a part in the play or a solo in choir.  Bullying can take many forms even if it’s just telling someone that they did a terrible job on their audition or they overheard someone important say that they did a terrible job.  Anything like that is going to put undue stress on that child.  Make sure that your child is aware and being safe.

Source:  Full Time Nanny

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Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Parenting 2010 – Squeaking into the New Year

It all comes back to parenting.  Teens will always be teens, but parenting is becoming more and more challenging.  We are not allowed to just “squeak by” when it comes to parenting.  We need to be proactive and keep up to date on all sorts of things.  Issues many parents didn’t even think about 20 years ago! 

Remember, with help/hindrance of technology, doors have opened that have never been entered before.  It is a new time, a new life, and a new road for parenting. The Internet is your new information highway, and all parents need this road map.

Here are a few subjects parents need to be fully aware of and educated about, you can’t just squeak by:

  • Bullying – Learn all you can about this topic. 
  • Cyberbullying – Take the time to become in tune with your child’s on-line-life.
  • Sexting – Talk to your teens about this and the how this can literally ruin lives with a simple click of a send button.
  • Chat rooms – One of the riskiest places in cyberspace.  Learn all you can and preach to your kids about it.  Never stop.
  • Social Networking – Yes, there are pros and cons to social networking.  Learn them all and teach your kids!  You need to get 10 steps ahead of them virtually.

There are more, but take the time to learn about these major issues.  You will have safer teens.  These are not subjects that you can breeze over, you need to become involved – hands on – and T.A.L.K. to your kids!

Don’t forget to order your FREE FTC Booklet  on cyber safety.  Have you read about Penguin Parenting?

Happy and safe 2010!

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Keeping Kids Safe in Cyberspace

resized_ys_logo_lrgDuring National Cyber Safety Awareness Month we need to take the time to find out more where our kids are surfing online as well as what services are available to help parents keep their children safe.

Mary Kay Hoal
is the founder of Yoursphere which has been featured on many media outlets including CNN, Fox and Friends, ABC News and more. If you haven’t seen or heard about Yoursphere, I am confident you will soon.

Take a moment to learn more Mary Kay Hoal and what she has created to help keep your kids safe online today.  She generously took time to answer questions and offers valuable and informative tips, advice and resources.

Why did you create Yoursphere?

The Internet and social media sites offer many benefits to our children. It’s an essential part of their culture. I created Yoursphere because I found out first hand, after immersing myself in a myriad of social media sites, (Myspace, Facebook, Hi5, Friendster, Sconex, Bebo, My Yearbook, Tagged, Teen Spot, etc.) that none of the social networking sites put the safety and well being of our kids first. That’s because these sites were created by adults, for adults. I found an extremely coarse culture with interaction, that if there wasn’t a computer and keyboard involved, the activity would be illegal, immoral, unethical or unacceptable.

Time to stack the positive benefits of social networking in kids and teens lives against the negatives.

Part I. The Truth Revealed: Internet and Social Networking Facts.
Part II. The Truth Revealed: Internet and Social Networking Facts.

How does Yoursphere work?

We simply apply common sense, and model the Yoursphere community like the real world for kids and teens. That means, unlike any other social networking site:

•We require parental consent
•We verify the identity of the parent providing consent
•We verify the parent providing consent is not a registered sex offender*
•We limit participation to kids and teens through age 18**
•We use technology and human oversight to proactively protect the kids from inappropriate content, or from digitally tattooing themselves***
•We leverage the expertise of our Chief Security Advisor who worked for the Department of Justice tracking online anonymous sexual predators as well our law enforcement team with expertise in internet crime
•Friending is modeled after the real world. Kids under 13 can friend those in the same age range, teens can friend teens. (A 12 year old girl typically would not be having a private conversation with a 17 or 18 year old unless a sibling so we don’t allow online. Siblings of course can be friends.)
•Parents of children 12 and under can access any content their child has posted. Text, video pictures through their “parent dashboard” where they can manage their family account. (i.e. add another child, suspend membership, review content.)
•Like the real world, kids connect based on shared interests: sports, music, fashion, academics, performing arts, travel, animals & pets, art and photography, etc.
•We engage kids and teens in positive and purposeful activities.

Yoursphere was developed with the help of kids and teens across the U.S., so once inside the community, it is centered around their interests.

-We allow kids to create their own “spheres” or web communities based on their unique interests.
-We have member only scholarships to support their aspirations
-We have weekly and monthly contests.
-We have a credit/rewards program, where all members are rewarded for their positive interaction within the community and then they can redeem their credits for real-world rewards (movie tickets, ipod, gift card, music, shopping spree)
-We feature a quarterly “young writers contest” and have a team of kid and teen paid contributing writers.

•We support on the positive in kids through the Yoursphere culture while encouraging good online citizenship
•We educate kids about online safety with daily site internet safety reminders
•We provide parents information about internet safety issues and provide them tools for discussing them with their kids through my blog.
Parents are kept in the loop about what’s going on in the community through our monthly parent newsletter. Because no child “snuck on” to become a Yoursphere member, I felt it was important that parents had something to talk about the site with their kids helping to make it a shared experience in some ways.

*(There were nearly 100K registered sex offenders on Myspace and reportedly nearly 40K on Facebook. The U.S. is the only country that does not protect the identity of its sex offenders.

The rest of the world does, so the “true number” of registered sex offenders trolling these sites is actually unknown. As a result, Yoursphere.com is exclusively for kids and teens from the United States.

Yoursphere.co.uk is for kids and teens in the UK and Ireland so that we can maintain the highest level of security.)

**(As in the real world, kids typically socially interact/hangout with kids their own age, and not adult strangers. Three of my five children will be 18 their senior year in high school, hence the age. Once on their way to college, we’ve done our best as parents to raise them, instill our values, and have given them adequate time to mature so they are prepared what “what awaits them.”)

***(Example: Technology is used to scan photo images. If a “can” for example comes up, that can is flagged. We determine that it’s soda vs. an alcoholic beverage. Or hand signals, we use human oversight to read the signal to determine if appropriate, or not.)

Why do you feel it is important for parents to consider Yoursphere?

Parents want the best for their children. They care about their children’s health, well-being and safety.

Parents are typically involved in every aspect of their children’s lives ranging from: where the family lives, to the school their child attends, the church or youth group they attend; to knowing their child’s friends and even parents; to the after school activities their kids participate in. Parents do their best to make sure all of these aspects of their child’s life are positive, safe, supportive, educational and reflect the values of their family.

Unfortunately, parents haven’t been able to make a positive choice for their kids/with their kids online. They’ve been left with no alternative. Frankly parents today for the most part are like me three years ago.

They just don’t know what’s going on in social media communities. And social media/social networking is really in its infancy. Checking the browser history, knowing your kids passwords, and installing protective software on the computer is all good. It just isn’t enough.

Parents need to protect their children from both from the people that intend their children harm and the culture that awaits them on these social networking communities. All of these sites were created by adults, for adults.

Until Yoursphere.com, there has been no solution. We can parallel what we’ve learned in other industries when it comes to children’s safety and the changes that have been made to correct the problem. Key to solving every problem includes education and an offered solution.

Education+Solution = Resolution to Problem*

-Automobiles: we learned people die in accidents; we educate and require seatbelts to be worn; require children in booster or car seats.
-Household fires: safety education; buy smoke alarms and replace the batteries.
-Bicycles: Educate on dangers, require kids to wear helmets.
-No weapons in schools: Educate re. dangers. Zero tolerance policy, alarm detectors.
-Swimming: teach your kids to swim.
-Teen Drivers: Pay for driver’s education; rules/restrictions have been set up for teens until they have enough experience to drive on their own.
-Movie rating system: Education about content. Requirement for rating . PG, PG 13, R, R17
-Music: Education of content. Parental Advisory
-Video Games: Education of content. Rating System
-TV content. Education about content. Limiting viewership.

*I recognize no solution is every 100% guaranteed. That’s specifically why we refer to Yousphere with the words safety-first. I would be remiss to say “safe”.

What makes Yoursphere unique?

Yoursphere was created on the inside (features, functionality, etc.) with the direct involvement of kids and teens across the U.S. and abroad. (I wanted this site to be one kids loved.) We have a teen advisory board. http://yoursphere.com/what-we-re-about
The site content is created by kids and teens, for kids and teens. (We even have a team of paid contributing young writers. http://yoursphere.com/what-we-re-about ) Membership is limited to kids and teens through age 18.

There is not another site that deploys all the same proactive safeguards that Yoursphere does. Yoursphere has arguably set the industry standards for kids and teens safety online as evidenced by the fact that we’re the sole-youth only site approved by The Privacy Vaults Online Safe Harbor of the Federal Trade Commission.

Are their fees involved?

Every membership to Yoursphere.com is free for the first 30 days. Because Yoursphere.com chose not to monetize itself by attempting to rely on advertising revenue (often age inappropriate), nor by deploying applications that exploit the privacy of minors, yes, we charge a nominal fee of $39.95 per year (.10 per day), or $4.95 a month (cancel at anytime) in order to afford the safeguards we have in place.

In addition, the fee allows us to further extend our support to those that also positively impact the lives of youth through our fundraising program for schools, youth groups and non profits. (We provide 40% or $16 of each membership back to those organizations.)

What motivates you?

•My children.
•My family.
•Parents like me. They love their children more than anything in the world; are concerned about the internet, but they haven’t known what to do and feel overwhelmed by technology.
•My faith. I believe in good and bad. Right and wrong. And while I may not have intended to be here, launching a business, educating others about the issues, providing a solution, I am here now. I have the professional background and skill set to do what I’m doing. I found it my obligation to change the status quo. These are our children! There’s nothing more important in the world then each and every one of them.

For more info: Visit Yoursphere.com and Follow Mary Kay Hoal on Twitter.

Parents Universal Resource Experts -Sue Scheff: Mothers Against Internet Predators

mad momOctober is National Cyber Safety Awareness Month. It is a time for parents to become educated on where their kids and teens surf online. Who are they chatting with? Who are they sending photo’s to? Where are they posting information?


During this month, I am going to bring you different valuable resources, websites, and tips to help you become more familiar with Cyber Safety and Cyber Protection.


In Broward County, Florida, we have an organization, Mothers Against Predators. This group is put in place to create an awareness of what lurks online as well as helping you protect your children. Internet Predators do not discriminate, any child is at risk if not properly taught about how to stay safe in cyberspace.


Learn more:
Mothers Against Predators is a non-profit corporation whose mandate is to promote legislation and education to facilitate the creation on an effective defense against Internet predators. Through outreach programs and advocacy groups, M.A.P. will educate children and parents on effective ways to be protected from Internet predators, and how to properly report inappropriate or illegal behavior. M.A.P. works in partnership with local and national elected officials and law enforcement to create effective legislation and laws to provide a defense against Internet predators.
Visit their website today and learn more: http://www.wearemap.org/index.html
To learn more about Internet Predators, please visit The Kristin Helms Foundation


Also on Examiner.com

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Internet Things Your Child Should Never Know

cybersafety_logoOctober is National Cyber Safety Awareness Month.

It is a perfect time to review some great tips for parents, teens, kids, small business owners and everyone. The Internet today is our new information highway.

It is important that we are educated on the power of the Internet as well as the pitfalls of it. The World Wide Web has been considered an educational tool, however like with many things in life; there can be a dark side.

Take the time to become aware of tips to keep you and your family safe in cyberspace.
I will be bringing tips through this month from different sources; all are targeted to helping you be more secure while online.
Here is some advice from Nurse Practitioner Schools:

Internet Things Your Child Should Never Know

Strangers online are okay. Remind them that a stranger on the internet should be treated like a stranger in real life. If ignoring them doesn’t work, they should tell a parent. Check out NetSmartz for more.
Posting a picture is okay in certain situations. Even an innocent looking picture, once it is out there, can be changed to do all sorts of damage. Encourage your child to post a picture of themselves as a favorite cartoon character as a safe and fun option.
It’s okay to chat with other children online. Because anyone can pose as anyone else on the internet, chatting and other activities still fall under the no stranger rules. If you’re child does chat, make sure you know who they are chatting to both online and in person.
What type of monitoring software you use. If they can Google it, chances are a savvy child will be able to find out how to disable it. Keep software boxes and receipts out of sight so the child cannot find out that way, either.
If they are being monitored. Children who know they are being monitored may wait until they have access to another computer to do the stuff they know they shouldn’t be doing. If you catch your child doing something you don’t approve of, talk with them instead of blowing up at them.
Your passwords. Because adults often use the same passwords for different sites, telling your child even one password can open the door to them accessing every online account you have. If you have a family account on a site such as Flickr, have the whole family come up with a password together.
More advice and tips will be coming soon. Don’t miss this month of Cyber Safety Awareness. Keep in mind, an educated parent is a prepared parent which leads to safer children.

Also on Examiner.com

Parents Univeral Resource Experts- Sue Scheff: Mothers Against Predators Online

mad momMothers Against Predators was featured on our local news and I feel it is important for all parents and people throughout our country to reach out and help promote legislation and education against Internet Predators.

Mothers Against Predators is a non-profit corporation whose mandate is to promote legislation and education to facilitate the creation on an effective defense against Internet predators. Through outreach programs and advocacy groups, M.A.P. will educate children and parents on effective ways to be protected from Internet predators, and how to properly report inappropriate or illegal behavior. M.A.P. works in partnership with local and national elected officials and law enforcement to create effective legislation and laws to provide a defense against Internet predators.
Mothers Against Predators inc. Is a group of Parents, Political Leaders, and Law enforcement who strive to protect our children online. It was formed to create a united front in response to the ever in creasing dangers our children face online. In 2004 my daughter had just turned 12; she became the victim of an online predator. Experience is the best teacher; in the past four years many have realized the need for a strong moveme nt to stem the tide of violence and exploitation of innocent children. We are gaining support, we are making a difference, please join us.
Visit http://www.wearemap.org/aboutus.htm to receive a copy of their flyer.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

forbesSource: Forbes.com

Author: Andy Greenberg

How To Keep Kids Safe Online

Every parent worries about the power of the Internet to expose kids to online predators. Less often discussed: tech’s power to expose kids to their own bad judgment.

Earlier this month, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Cosmogirl.com released a survey showing that two in five teens has sent sexually suggestive messages online. One in five has electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves. And more than a third of teens in the survey say that those pictures tend to be shared beyond the intended recipient.

teeninterkidsTeen exploitation online has long been a hot-button topic for tech-focused politics. Last year, popular teen social networks like MySpace and Facebook were the targets of investigations by several state attorneys generals seeking to purge sexual predators from the sites. MySpace responded by deleting the accounts of 29,000 users whose personal details match them with records of sex offenders, and Facebook is still undergoing a two-year investigation that will track incidents of pornography and sexual advances on the site.

But Larry Magid, a board member of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the founder of Safekids.com and Connectsafely.org, argues that the focus on sexual predators on social networking sites is largely political grandstanding. Much less sensational, and far more common, he contends, are cases where kids simply post too much sensitive or compromising information about themselves online, leading to incidents of cyberbullying and embarrassment.

Social networking sites make an easy scapegoat, he says. But even e-mail can be a source of trouble if kids aren’t careful. “Say a girl sends her boyfriend compromising photos. Two weeks later, he’s no longer her boyfriend, and two weeks after that, he’s angry at her and posts the photo online,” Magid says. “That’s not physically harmful, but it can be psychologically devastating to a young girl.

myspaceThe answer, then, isn’t to engage in witch hunts on MySpace and Facebook, says Magid, but to better educate kids about online privacy. On that front, says Adam Thierer of the Progress and Freedom Foundation, parents and schools aren’t keeping up with the pace of technological culture. “We’re doing a horrendous job in this country of educating our kid about how to behave online,” he argues. “We give them so many messages about drinking, sex, even fatty foods. But when it comes to online safety, we throw them into the deep end of the pool.”

Of course, the threat of sexual predators is real enough. Last year, 19-year-old Alicia Kozakiewicz testified to Congress’ judiciary committee about her experience as a victim of kidnapping and sexual abuse after being deceived online. Six years earlier, she had arranged a meeting with a friend she’d met online, who described “herself” as a 12-year-old redhead. Instead, she found Scott Tyree, a middle-aged man who kidnapped her, imprisoned her and abused her physically and sexually for days before she was rescued by FBI agents.

“I discovered that the boogeyman is real, and that he lives on the Web,” she told Congress at a judiciary committee hearing called to consider toughening online sexual predator laws.

But as nightmarish as Kozakiewicz story may be, it would be a mistake to focus only on these rare tragedies, says Magid. “I’m definitely not saying this didn’t happen, and that it’s not tragic. But we shouldn’t take this case and make this seem like a common occurrence,” Magid says. “This kind of thing is probably as rare as being molested by a member of Congress.”

Instead of living in fear of Internet boogeymen, Magid and Thierer offer a few simple tips for filling the education gap surrounding online privacy. Most importantly, they say, talk to your kids about what should and shouldn’t be publicly posted on the Internet. Be sure they understand that personal details like addresses and phone numbers, as well as private photos, should stay offline.

Also, consider placing any computers in the house in a “public” place, like the family room or living room, rather than a child’s bedroom. This tactic doesn’t just let parents keep Web browsing safe and open, it also helps parents limit the time kids spend online and encourages offline activities like sports or socializing.

One tool Magid advises parents to use with caution, however, is Web filtering software like Net Nanny or Cybersitter, which block objectionable content online. For teens, he says, such software inspires resentment and only leads to kids looking for other sources of Internet access, like a friend’s computer. As cellphones become smarter, they may also offer kids a surreptitious avenue to the Web.

For younger kids, an easier way to keep Web surfing safe may be an emerging group of social networking sites aimed at preteens. Disney’s (nyse: DIS – news – people )Club Penguin is a social network and virtual world for kids ages 6 to 14. On settings aimed at its youngest demographic, the game only allows players to communicate using pre-set phrases, making obscenities or other inappropriate content impossible. Even on its settings for older users, the site employs teams of moderators to identify and ban any user spouting less-than-innocent language.

Another site that mimics MySpace for young teens and ‘tweens is Imbee.com. Imbee’s late creator, Jeanette Symons, who passed away in February, told Forbes.com last year that the site is designed to bring real-world friendships onto the Web, not vice versa. Only a child’s direct friends can view his or her profile, and parents are alerted whenever a new friend is added.

facebook“Younger kids are seeing what older kids are doing with MySpace and Facebook, and of course, they want to mimic it. The problem is that they don’t have the concepts yet to be able to realistically protect themselves,” she told Forbes.com. “Imbee gives them social networking without the risks.”

Symons created the site about two years ago, after her 6-year-old daughter demanded she be allowed to join MySpace. Symons wisely refused that request, and instead built her own social network, hosted on a server in her closet. Soon, neighborhood kids had joined, and today, the site has more than 50,000 registered accounts.

Echoing Larry Magid, Symons believed that the rare threat of sexual predators had, in some ways, obscured the more common problem of kids’ indiscreetly publishing personal information on the Web.

“I don’t realistically think that predators are much worse online than they are in real life,” Symons says. “The thing I worry about is that whatever kids publish today can stick with them for the rest of their lives. Once you publish on the Internet, it’s there for all to see.”