Egg Harbor Twp. High School Vs. Social Media

A story in the news this week from our home state of New Jersey is yet another example of the uneasy relationship between high school administrators and their students over the inappropriate use of social media.

Students at Egg Harbor Township High School posted a profanity-laced video on YouTube over the weekend and the video reportedly went viral and was reported to school officials. It’s impossible to say how viral the original post went because it was subsequently taken down, but it was reposted yesterday and has over 16,000 views. Warning: video and comments are NSFW due to the language used.

The high school posted the following comment on Facebook on Monday afternoon, and confirmed that they had reported the video to the police and prosecutor’s office:

ehths youtube video

As is normally the case, school officials declined to state what the exact punishment levied on the video creators was, but local press reports indicate that the students were suspended for 10 days.

A very vocal portion of the student body is not pleased. More than 100, and perhaps as many as 200 students staged a walkout at the high school yesterday, and a petition posted on the Change.org site decrying the harsh punishment has 762 signatures as of this morning. You can find social media posts showing support on various sites under the hashtag #FreeTonyBeatz.

What should have happened? We don’t have all the details, but here’s our take.

It appears that the video was shot on school grounds on the weekend, so likely without permission. The profane video and scenes of fake fighting, guns and gang signs do cast the school in a bad light. The students shouldn’t have posted the video in the first place.

With that being said, 10 days’ suspension is far too harsh, especially for high school seniors looking to get into college. They will miss time from school and this incident could show up on their permanent record.

Finally, we have no idea why the police and prosecutor’s office were called in, unless it was for the act of trespassing.

In summary, we’d love to see the school admins find a way to set things right in cases such as this one without suspending students or involving the police. It seems that it would have been easily doable in this case.

If you have details to add to the story, you can contact us here.

 

 

 

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This Week in Social Media News For Parents

Stories for the week ending 11/18/2016

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Facebook has expanded its definition of hate speech to include pretty much any attack on anybody for anything, but excludes things that it deems to be jokes, even if they are in bad taste. They haven’t, however, given any additional details about how they are going to enforce those rules, or how they are going to train staff to support users who are victims.

What does Facebook consider to be hate speech?

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Twitter is also getting more serious about abuse, again. It has expanded its mute function and promises that employees will be retrained to recognize and deal with trolls. Let’s hope for some results.

Twitter announces more tools for dealing with abuse

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Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.27.22 AMYik Yak’s best days appear to be behind it. Could the reason for the decline be that they recently stopped allowing anonymous accounts and posts? Probably not, but they are bringing optional full anonymity anyway.

We messed up. Here’s why we’re making handles optional again and bringing back the Hot feed.

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We assume that teen depression has been a thing for as long as there have been teens. The transition from being a child to being an adult can be a difficult one – a lot of changes are crammed into a seven-year period. Since 2005, cases of teen depression have risen 17%, and researchers are pointing to the rise of social media as the culprit.

More U.S. teenagers are battling major depression in cyber bullying era, study finds

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Thanks to a new law passed in the UK this week, your browsing history is fair game to law enforcement, and any other branch of the government that wants it under some circumstances. ISPs will now be required to store your browsing history for the last 12 months, and make it available to the authorities in any investigation. Seems like bad policy to us.

Britain has passed the ‘most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy’

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When it comes to social media, it’s not just teens behaving badly. An assistant professor at Oberlin College has been fired after her anti Semitic social media posts were reported to school officials – posts that claimed that Jews were responsible for the 9/11 and the Paris terrorist attacks.

Oberlin College Fires Professor Over Anti-Semitic Social-Media Posts

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If your daughter sees a post like this on Snapchat – an account looking to hire young models – she should be very wary:

“We are offering between £450 and £55,000 a shoot depending on who we put you forward for. In terms of different types of modeling we literally do every single type you could think of. Obviously the more you are interested in the better chance you have of getting jobs. This is a one-off opportunity and we are looking for 30 new models. This is purely based on a first come, first served basis. If you are interested, then please give me a message asap. Bear in mind the reason why we have added you to our company Snapchat account is because we are interested in you as well.”

Sinister social media account posing as Irish modelling agency targeting teen girls

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This Week in Social Media News For Parents

Stories for the week ending 11/4/2016

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If you’ve spent much time thinking about the facial recognition technology being used by Facebook and Google, you might have concluded that it is either fascinating or an incredible invasion of privacy. The latter could be true depending on how they are planning to use it, which is unknown right now. Whether it is an illegal invasion of privacy will be decided by the courts, maybe soon.

Facebook says users can’t stop it from using biometric data

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Prince William wants tech and social media companies to get tougher on cyberbullying. He’s thinking about flying to Silicon Valley to take his message to the bigwigs in person.

Prince William is expected to hold talks with Facebook and Apple about online trolling

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Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.27.22 AMA UK insurance company wants to access your Facebook account to determine whether you’re likely to be a safe driver, and therefore eligible to receive discounts. Not so fast, says Facebook. That sort of screening is against their developer rules.

Facebook blocks UK insurer Admiral from profiling users for discounts

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Prediction: Instagram shopping is going to be a big hit.

Instagram Wants to Ease Its Users into Shopping

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Good news, of sorts. Ryan Collins, one of the hackers behind the brutally widespread celebrity hacking incident of 2014 has been sentenced to 18 months in jail. The married father of two worked tirelessly over a two-year period to hack into more than 100 celebrity Gmail and Apple iCloud accounts. Now he’s going to pay.

Celeb nude photo thief Ryan Collins sentenced to 18 months in jail

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A young woman from Maryland has gone viral on Facebook after she aggressively called out a stranger threatening to post nude videos of her that he obtained illegally. Maryland police and the FBI are investigating.

Her response to ‘cyber bully’ who threatened to release naked video? Go public

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Prediction 2: This will end quickly. Facebook allows advertisers to profile which users they target with ads based on “ethnic affinity.” And Facebook decides which race you’re aligned with.

Facebook draws criticism for ‘ethnic affinity’ ad targeting

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This Week in Social Media News For Parents

Stories for the week ending 10/21/2016

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Facebook reads your messages – even the private messages sent via FB Messenger – in order to decide which ads to serve you. Who knows what else they’re doing with your info. Despite that, Amnesty International gives Facebook Messenger the highest grades for messaging privacy.

Which messaging apps best protect your privacy?

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Google also uses almost everything it knows about you to target ads to you. They are happy to share with advertisers that you drive a Toyota, like Diet Coke and the NY Giants and went to Jamaica last winter. So far they have stopped short of attaching your name (or other info that they glean from your Gmail account) to your advertising profile, but it looks like they are going to start. In the words of one tech critic:

“Why is Google doing this? To make even more money? Or because they need to do this to keep making the same amount of money? Either way it’s gross.”

Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking

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Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.27.22 AMIt appears that Twitter thinks that their lack of user growth is their biggest problem They have been looking to sell the company, and reports are circulating this week that interested buyers have passed because they’re turned off by Twitter’s problem with harassment and abuse. Maybe Twitter’s inability to silence the trolls is the bigger problem.

Disney Dropped Twitter Pursuit Partly Over Image

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Doctors told a Michigan man that it might take 5 years for him to get the kidney transplant he sorely needed. His daughter started a Facebook page for the cause and found a donor in weeks.

Daughter Finds Kidney for Her Dad Through Facebook Page

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100 million users, most of them teen and tween girls, are already using the Musical.ly app. My daughter is one of them. That’s a good start, but the app now faces the very tall task of transforming from a one trick pony (lip sync GIFs) to a full-fledged social network. GLWT

The Chinese Music App That Wants to Be the Next Facebook

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If at any point in the future your plans might include being a fugitive from the police, you might want to curtail your selfie activity. The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown U. thinks that the FBI already has a database of over 117 million Americans’ faces, and that number is only going higher from here.

Facial recognition technology is taking over US, says privacy group

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4chan, widely regarded as one of the worst places on the internet, is rumored to be for sale. That’s a tough one. Does anyone want to be responsible for that cesspool? Maybe not, because now they’re asking for donations.

Donate to 4chan

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Some UK students were suspended after taking upskirt photos of their teacher and circulating them on Snapchat. The teacher, 23 years old, is understandably worried about keeping control of her classroom.

“My a$$ is all over Snapchat” Pupils take upskirt photos as teacher leans over

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This month’s Pokémon GO update is aimed squarely at users who are inclined to play while driving. Don’t do that.

‘POKÉMON GO’ JUST BECAME EVEN HARDER TO PLAY WHILE DRIVING

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This Week in Social Media News For Parents

Stories for the week ending 10/14/2016

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The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service has introduced new guidelines around how they are planning to prosecute cyberbullies and trolls. Sounds like they’re going to get tough.

UK’s chief troll hunter targets doxxing, virtual mobbing, and nasty images

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A Colorado group of teen Antisemites formed a private Facebook group to share their thoughts, which is bad from the get go. Police this week revealed that the “leader” of the group committed suicide to show solidarity. Five of the students were expelled.

Teenage ‘Fuhrer’ of neo-Nazi Facebook page where high school students talked about ‘hanging Jews on trees’ commits suicide ‘to show allegiance to the group’
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Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.27.22 AMRelated – Fusion takes a look at what may be behind the surge of racist social media posts by students.

Squad of high school students under investigation for racist, viral Instagram photo

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Snapchat continues to shake things up, making it difficult for old people to figure out how to use it and keeping competitors from catching up. Now they’re giving users more control to watch their friends’ stories first.

Snapchat launches post-roll ads, Story Playlist that loads favorites in bulk

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Messaging app Kik has been a fruitful hunting ground for predators and cyberbullies. As 60% of Kik’s 300 million users are teens, the app needs to take serious steps to protect its users. This week they announced that they are rolling out a host of measures to keep users safe – physically and mentally. One new feature is an AI-powered bot that will keep watch for users who might be hurting.

Kik steps up efforts to keep teen users safe

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Did you watch the second Presidential debate? 63 million people watched it on live TV. You might be surprised to hear that almost twice as many, 124 million, watched at least part of the debate on YouTube.

YouTube challenged TV in the second presidential debate

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An Aussie man caught his stepdaughter sexting and wanted to put a stop to it. He confiscated the girl’s phone, saved the offending images on a USB stick and went to the police. When the police searched his home later, they found the USB stick with the images and charged him with possession of child porn. He has been placed on the sex offender registry. Really.

Victorian man convicted after reporting stepdaughter’s sexting

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Why Teens Are Drawn to Social Media Challenges and Dares

Today’s children are digital natives, with nine in ten teens admitting openly that they regularly use social media to stay in touch with their friends and peers. With all of this clicking and liking comes a hidden danger often overlooked by parents, educators, and adults. This surprising pitfall is the prevalence of online social media challenges and the potential health and mental pitfalls they harbor.

Take for instance the wildly popular cinnamon challenge that encouraged viewers to attempt to swallow a spoonful of the dry spice without any liquid. Even though it appears harmless, within just a few months of 2012 nationwide poison centers had received 178 calls concerning cinnamon overdoses and over the years children have suffered asphyxiation or serious burns to the lungs that require medical attention.

Unfortunately, the cinnamon challenge is not unique. Whether it’s the Kylie Jenner lip challenge or the choking game, unknowingly, many of our kids are attempting to recreate challenges or dares they find online. These desires often outweigh good sense, compelling teens to try their hand at some very obvious dangers and risky behaviors.

Just a Sample: 3 Popular Challenges on Social Media

Listed below are a few current challenges making the rounds on social media:

dare-social.mediaThe Duct Tape Challenge. There’s not much that duct tape won’t fix, but boredom shouldn’t be one of them. In this challenge, children duct tape a willing participant to a pole and watch them break free. Unfortunately, there are documented cases of falls resulting in serious head injuries.

Butt Chugging or Eyeballing. Instead of traditional underage drinking antics, children funnel alcohol into their rectums or eyes to get drunk fast. For an added twist, some girls have begun inserting alcohol soaked tampons to achieve similar effects. These behaviors can lead to alcohol poisoning, damage of body tissue, blindness (eyeballing), and even death.

Smoking Alcohol. This challenge involves vaporizing and inhaling gases from alcohol to reduce calories. However, unfiltered vapors bee-line straight to the brain and lungs which elevates the chances for alcohol poisoning.

Risks Associated with Social Media Challenges

Besides the physical dangers, early high-risk behaviors can be powerful factors in brain development. A child’s environment and activities are hardwiring the brain, influencing which genes will be activated within a person’s genome. Research has demonstrated how adolescent brains undergo a dramatic growth surge that relies on genetics, environment, and experiences. Participating in social media challenges fulfills part of this equation.

The neural patterns and released hormones have the potential to cause patterns that trigger addiction, repeated high-risk behaviors, and more. Today’s children are making uninformed choices based on challenges that could physically or mentally affect them for years merely for a few “likes” or cool status update.

Understanding The Appeal of Social Media Challenges

It is no secret that the awkward stage of adolescence is greatly impacted by hormones- mainly estrogen and testosterone. Research has recently proven that there are receptors for these hormones in different parts of the body, including the organs and brain. These receptors allow other hormones and neurotransmitters like oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine, and serotonin to influence brain development.

Dopamine, widely known for feelings of joy and pleasure, plays a powerful part in the development of the prefrontal cortex which leads adolescents to embrace greater risks to achieve happiness. In the beginning of maturation, dopamine circulates in the prefrontal cortex, but deep inside the reward center of the brain, dopamine levels are constantly evolving. These changing levels lead to needing increased levels of stimulation or excitement to reach similar levels of pleasure as their adult counterparts do. As a nasty side effect to this process, addictions easily form in teenagers.

teen-sextingAnother factor influencing the popularity of social media challenges, is how teens often overestimate risk. Teens often get lost in the details about specific risks, focusing heavily on the rewards involved. The reward at the end of the challenge is what matters. Whether it is the satisfaction of completing a goal, garnering more likes, or comparing oneself to their peers, the reward is only magnified when social media is the primary mode of communication.

Looking Ahead

Social media challenges prey and thrive on the driving forces of peer pressure, underdeveloped prefrontal cortexes, and the compulsion to fit in with their peers. It’s easy to say that only high-risk youth or thrill seeking youngsters are the only kids attempting these challenges. However, this study attributes these behaviors to a child’s limited self-regulation and development. It explains that these challenges have potential appeal to all children, boys and girls from every demographic. Granted, this thought can be frightening, leading many of us to imagine the worst-case scenario featuring our children experimenting with online challenges. Thankfully, awareness and education are powerful first deterrents when it comes to halting the lure online media challenges have toward our children.

 

This guest post was contributed by Amy Williams.

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

You can find Amy on Twitter @AmyKWilliams1

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

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This Week in Social Media News For Parents

Stories for the week ending 10/7/2016

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It’s 2016, the easiest time in history to make something go viral. Even clowns. They’re all over social media and have been spotted (or at least reported) in 28 states. We’ve been among the many people asking, “Why now? Why so many?” Vice has an explainer.

5 Questions You Were Too Embarrassed To Ask About America’s Clown Hysteria

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Singer Demi Lovato, who has suffered through an eating disorder, took issue with an image of her posted on Instagram. She sounds like she’s doing fine.

People Are Calling Out This Edited Picture Of Demi Lovato For Body-Shaming Her

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Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.27.22 AMWhen you’re browsing the web or using an app, do you ever get the feeling that someone is watching you. Well, someone is, and that someone is software running behind the scenes. Here’s how it works.

How web apps can watch your every move

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Yahoo has its eye on Reddit’s millions of users. In an effort that we are confident will be unsuccessful, they have launched Newsroom to tackle the same news and conversation space.

Yahoo’s new Newsroom social app is ‘Reddit for the masses,’ exec says
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Facebook this week launched person-to-person commerce functionality called Marketplace to take on Craigslist. And maybe Amazon. They tend to aim high.

Facebook launches Marketplace to let you buy and sell items with nearby users

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4chan is in financial trouble. The site has a lot of bad actors, and lots of people will be happy to see it go if it does. Unfortunately the bad actors will go somewhere else.

4chan Is On Death’s Door & That’s A Win For Feminism

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An Alabama teen suffered a broken skull after being attacked at a high school football game. A social media post related to Black Lives Matter is being reported as the cause of the attackers’ anger. It’s a dangerous time that we live in.

Teen allegedly beaten up over Black Lives Matter post

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Does your teen Google her symptoms to try to self-diagnose? In addition to whatever ailment she’s searching, she may be suffering from cyberchondria.

5 Ways to Tell if You Have Cyberchondria

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This Week in Social Media News For Parents

Stories for the week ending 9/30/2016

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Snapchat is growing up fast, and competitors are rushing to copy its features. They might never catch up to this moving target. This week Snapchat changed its name to Snap, and will soon begin selling a line of video glasses.

Snapchat’s Wild New Specs Won’t Share Google Glass’ Fate

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Musical.ly, the lip synching app/social networkish thing, is a big hit with teens. If your teen or tween is into singing, she is probably on it, and that may be a good thing. It turns out that the record companies are fans too, as they are using it to surface new, young talent.

Teen-Focused App Musical.ly Is the Music Industry’s New Secret Weapon

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pepePepe the Frog is an internet meme that has been around since 2005. Pepe is harmless if sometimes snarky, and largely minds his own business or gets in to others’ on 4chan and less frequently Reddit. Pepe was recently co-opted as the mascot of some alt right supporters of Donald Trump, and now the Anti-Defamation League has added Pepe to its list of hate symbols. What a strange election this has been. Feels bad man.

Pepe the Frog Meme Listed as a Hate Symbol

Added bonus: There’s a man with a Pepe tattoo on his hand, and he’s not loving this.

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Since its beginning, messaging app WhatsApp has been known for protecting the privacy of its users. Last month, they tried to quietly announce that they will begin sharing user data with parent company Facebook. Permission creep continues, and German regulators have a real problem with that.

Germany orders Facebook to stop collecting data on WhatsApp users

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A rookie cop in Pennsylvania set some kind of record this week – she lost two jobs with one Snapchat post.

Cop loses 2 jobs for Snapchat pic with racial slur

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“One-third of all kids appear on social media within the first twenty four hours of their lives.” That might not be a great idea for all kids.
The Darker Side of Posting Your Baby’s Pics on Social Media
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Are Your Social Media Posts Admissible in Court?

We came across the infographic below this week, and thought it was interesting in part because we hadn’t seen a similar analysis laid out before. It addresses whether social media posts – even private messages – are admissible in court.

The things teens post online sometimes go bad in a big way – cyberbullying, school threats, child porn or revenge porn – even if the original post/content was a joke or shared between to consenting parties.

courtroomWe aren’t fans of using scare tactics with our kids, but believe that we need to clearly explain the risks when we are talking to our kids about posting appropriately on social media. One of the risks in a worst-case scenario is that the police and the court system become involved, and then communications that were assumed to be private could become public in the courts.

If you’re under suspicion of a crime or are arrested and questioned, what you say may be used against you, but you have the right to remain silent after you’re arrested. What about information or ideas you’ve posted on social media? What does the law say about using that against you or in court cases? The short answer is—it depends.

From one court to another, from one case to another, social media information is treated very differently. Time will determine how that changes—how what law enforcement discovers in social media can be used in cases. Broad requests may not be approved, but specific copies of information may be required.

The folks at Vound Software looked into how court cases in New York State have played out. To understand the changing nature of the law and social media, use the details in this graphic below for help.

The bottom line is that even a post from a private social media account or a private message on Facebook could end up in court. All social media users, teens included, should act accordingly.

The Irony of Privacy Settings: Can Lawyers Use Social Media Posts in a Court of Law?

The Irony of Privacy Settings: Can Lawyers Use Social Media Posts in a Court of Law?
Source: Vound Software: https://www.vound-software.com/blog/the-irony-of-privacy-settings

 

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Infographic: Keeping Up With Generation App

The National Cyber Security Alliance conducted two surveys this summer that looked at how teens use technology and their parents’ attitude toward it. The survey results reinforce some themes that occur frequently in our research:

  1. Almost 40% of teens surveyed report being the victim of cyberbullying in the last 12 months
  2. The number of parents who say they have rules for how their kids use technology is far higher than the number of teens who acknowledge or follow those rules
  3. Parents are confident that their kids will report online incidents that make them scared or uncomfortable, whereas only 32% of teens say that they will go to parents if scared
  4. 87% of parents feel very or somewhat confident that they can help teens effectively if problems arise

The survey covered teens aged 12 – 17. Regarding number 2 above, we think that what is happening is that early on when kids start using the internet, parents do set some ground rules. A few years later (or sooner), teens know how to use the internet and the rules set by parents are ancient history. Updates and frequent conversations are needed.

You can see the full infographic below. For more information go to StaySafeOnline.org.

infographic-9-26Source: National Cyber Security Alliance

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

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