How to Delete Your Facebook Search History, And Why You Should

Facebook activity logDo you trust Facebook? Some people do and many people don’t, and that’s fine. A bigger issue in our minds is that many people have not given any thought to whether or not they trust Facebook. They just go about treating Facebook as a harmless platform that will not come back to bite them as long as they don’t post anything bad, join an unsavory “Group” or “Like” something similar. Most certainly that group includes teenagers.

Your Facebook search history is currently private unless someone else accesses your account. But who owns your Facebook search history? Facebook does.

Consider the following situations:

  • You have in the past searched for something on Facebook that you wouldn’t want others to see, such as looking up an ex or searching for something embarassing, and
  • Someone else accesses you computer or cell phone and your Facebook account is logged in, or
  • You account gets hacked, or
  • Facebook decides to sell your search history to advertisers or another third party

Facebook is working harder than ever to improve the user experience, but also to use the information it has about you to their benefit. Even if you or your child has a “clean” Facebook account, it makes sense to keep what you’ve been up to out of the purview of others, including potentially aggressive or intrusive advertisers. We recommend clearing your Facebook Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 8.56.35 AMsearch history now, and getting in the habit of deleting it on a regular basis. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on “your name” in the upper left hand corner of your home screen.
  2. Near the top right of the next page, click on “Activity Log”.
  3. On the left hand side under Photos, Likes, Comments, click “More”.
  4. Click on “Search”.
  5. In the upper right, click on “Clear Searches”.

That’s it! Now your search history is gone.

 

 

 

 

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

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Social Media and Internet Use Can Impact Athletic Scholarships

Looking for an athletic scholarship? You might want to consider what your digital footprint looks like. Is it possible that you ever had an online lapse in judgment that you can’t recall? Ever have an e-fight that escalated into a heated exchange? Can’t remember whether you even had a MySpace account back in the day? Social media and internet use can have a negative impact on your athletic scholarship prospects.

Things posted by or about you tend to have a very long shelf life online, even if everyone involved has long since forgotten. Someone with power to make decisions about your future may not view such things as being harmless should they find them online.

high-school-football-2You may not be aware that some college athletic programs require current student athletes to friend the coach or another member of the administration as a requirement for playing. While the laws in this area are evolving, and the idea of only checking Facebook in an age where Instagram, Twitter and other platforms are rapidly gaining momentum is a little antiquated, it stands to reason that at the same time that schools are getting more adept at keeping tabs on current athletes, they are also going to greater lengths to background check new recruits. That’s right, it is a fact that college recruiters are checking online backgrounds before offering scholarships.

What are they looking for? Evidence that you’re a bad risk to them. By offering you a scholarship (that they could as easily offer to someone else), they are making an investment in you. Are you worth it? In our opinion, they are not only looking for evidence of illegal behavior, but also evidence of bad judgment. What you have done in the past may not be a great indicator of what’s you’ll do in the future but people do use that kind of info to make decisions. Even the frequency of how often you post is taken into consideration. According to a Big Ten recruiting coordinator:

“It’s really honestly as disturbing seeing how often a kid will post/tweet out messages than [sic] the actual content. Some kids, I swear never put their phones down. I know you have different programs where you can load up posts, but we know the difference right away.

 

“Does this kid ever study?”

What to do?

If you’re a parent reading this, the possibility of a full ride scholarship for your teen is not only very satisfying payoff for the years of hard work that child has spent training, but also a financial windfall for you and/or your child. It is worth it to do a preemptive background check.

If you are a student athlete reading this, the last thing you probably want your parents doing is asking a company to look into your internet background. If that is the case, you might want to reconsider. Losing a scholarship opportunity because of prior bad decisions is not the outcome you want.

At ThirdParent, we have a solution. We offer programs addressing student athlete internet usage, and can help you put your best foot forward in the recruiting process. Our core product is a full parent-directed audit of a teen’s public-domain internet activity, with a view to taking corrective action. In addition, we can accommodate high school varsity coaches who wish to conduct a seminar with athletes discussing internet best practices for student athletes.

Contact us today to hear how we can help maximize your chances at the scholarship you are seeking.

Schools Can Use Facebook Confession Pages as a Teaching Tool

Examples abound these days of high school students getting into trouble over their misuse of social media. Surprisingly, there’s a great example this week of putting the power of social media to good use in education. The Billings Montana school system is using high school Facebook Confession pages to teach students the right way to use social media, and the risks and negatives of using it improperly. It is worth noting that nowhere in the article does it say that Facebook is bad, or that Facebook group pages or anonymous posts should be banned.

bulliesAs an educator, what can you do? Obviously, you don’t want any social media platform to be a forum for bullying of students, particularly the anonymous kind, which is more difficult to track and therefore the behavior harder to correct. Bullying examples in plain sight on a public Facebook page can be a good example of what not to do. The Billings school district doesn’t stop there, though.

What are the messages that can be delivered to students using Facebook as an example?

  • Be a good person – This remains the most important lesson
  • Crowd source a better definition of bullying – Some kids don’t have an accurate view of what is bullying, or how the person on the receiving end feels
  • How to report social media bullying or abuse
  • Privacy settings are vey important
  • “Private” still may not really be private online

Not surprisingly, even the FBI has an opinion:

“Even though they think that they’re posting anonymously, their activity can truly be tracked,” explained FBI Special Agent Earl Campbell. “They can be identified for what they are posting and … saying if they’re illegal or break the law.”

Just talking to kids about the risks of doing something tends to not have a huge impact. Kids often think they know everything or that they’re invincible. Actually showing them real examples of the risks can be much more effective.

 

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

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Facebook and High School Students

You might have read this year that Facebook is losing its cool status with teenagers in general, and specifically high school students. Judging by the headlines I’m reading this week, not only are plenty of high schoolers still on Facebook, but they are busy finding new and innovative ways to make bad decisions and humiliate their peers.  If only there were a way to channel some of the creativity that high school students are showing on Facebook into actual schoolwork.

thirdparent facebook logoOver the last few months, the trend of high school Facebook confession pages has gained more attention. The trend is older than that, really, but has been getting more press recently. The way it works is a student or group can put together a Facebook page designed to air student dirty laundry, and initially use word of mouth to get students to go there and post confessions, which are sometimes anonymous and sometimes not. While most confessions may be harmless, some can lead to more serious consequences, especially when the posting student’s real name is used. All the while, it is easy for the page’s creator and administrators to remain anonymous.

This week we’re hearing more about racy or hurtful Facebook pages such as the one in Fort Collins, CO where users posted unflattering pictures of girls to Facebook and called them whores. The desired result was clearly to insult or humiliate the girls in the pictures.

Yesterday, Bridgewater-Raritan NJ high school officials revealed that they are bound and determined to find out who created and posted the videos on the “BRHS Fights” Facebook page. Some of the students in the fights have reportedly been suspended, but parents are upset and the page has not been taken down yet.

Why is there so much bad teen behavior on Facebook?

The Atlantic has an article this week – The Internet “Narcissism Epidemic”” – in which the author writes:

“among a group of 37,000 college students, narcissistic personality traits rose just as quickly as obesity from the 1980s to the present. Fortunately for narcissists, the continued explosion of social networking has provided them with productivity tools to continually expand their reach — the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, and occasionally Google Plus.”

It appears that high school students are not much different. Narcissism, while not the worst quality in the world, can get very nasty when it extends to making oneself feel superior by using a public forum to ridicule others.

Overall, this caustic Facebook behavior produces a lot of negative outcomes that ultimately (a) have to be dealt with by teachers or parents, (b) might land some kids in hot water, and (c) will inevitably leave some kids feeling very bad about themselves.

From a student quoted in the Bridgewater-Raritan article:

“I can see it as a bullying page, because I can see the next day someone walking into school saying, ‘I saw you on Facebook. I saw you got beat up on Facebook. You suck at fighting,’ and if that happened to me I would get hurt,” Brothers said. “I would feel you could never show your face again at school.”

Don’t look to Facebook for all the answers. They won’t or can’t act to remove content in many cases, unless it very obviously violates their community standards.

What can school admins do? In the Bridgewater NJ case, parents are calling out school officials for not having informed them about he “BRHS Fights” page earlier. Schools’ policies and procedures around student internet activity, whether it happens on school grounds or not, is evolving and needs a lot of work.

What can parents do? The typical answer might be that parent involvement should begin with making sure your teen understands how to correctly implement Facebook privacy settings. Second, explain to your kid that a picture posted as “private” can be reposted as “public” by one of their friends.

Please don’t stop there. It is really up to the parents to work harder at teaching right and wrong. Bad internet behavior is in fact just bad behavior. Try to convince your teen that just because something seems anonymous on the internet, it may not really be anonymous, doesn’t mean that it is any less hurtful, or that the negative consequences will be somehow diminished.

 

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

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Don’t Let Your Kids Talk to Strangers – Online

Let’s say that you are a parent of a 13 year old. Congrats on making it this far. You’re 2/3 of the way to getting them off to college, or wherever they are going.

facebook word logoMany of the important lessons have already been learned – look both ways before crossing the street, maintain a healthy diet, get some exercise, be nice to others. Oh, and be very careful when talking to strangers.

I’m sure your child spends some time online – maybe a lot. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to consider some guidelines for who your child interacts with on the social media, not just what she does there.  The age requirement for signing up for Facebook and Instagram is 13. Twitter has no age requirement. In practice, there are no real age limits if a child really wants to get on Facebook or Instagram; the age limitation is almost impossible for the networks to enforce.  And while you’re at it, don’t forget the online gaming networks. They have a very active chat community and almost nobody uses their real identity, so the possibility of encountering an impostor is real.

instagram logoIf the idea of a middle-aged person walking up to your 13 year old in a park and starting a personal conversation has you a little uneasy, consider what happens on the internet. Even if you are checking your kid’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram activity with a keen eye to whether what they are saying or posting is age-appropriate, you need to be vigilant in evaluating who they are interacting with.

twitter bird logoYour daughter telling a classmate that she is going to a movie at 3:00 in Princeton can have far different ramifications depending on who she’s telling, and things on the internet aren’t always as they appear.

It’s good idea to have a very serious talk with your teen about understanding that there may be imposters with ulterior motives on the internet, and given that uncertainty, that it’s important to set rules as to which “friend requests” one will accept. Unfortunately, scaring kids into being overly wary of predators online might be a necessary evil.

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for keeping teens safe online.

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Poll: NJ Voters Think Students Should be Prosecuted for Lewd Photos

Local New Jersey news outlets are buzzing today in the aftermath of yesterday’s Ridgewood High School student nudity scandal.

In case you missed it, at least two girls sent sexually explicit photos of themselves to their boyfriends via the popular cell phone app Snapchat. At least one male student got hold of the photos and posted them to Instagram, and they spread like wildfire.

TP-Poll-News12NJPhotos sent via Snapchat are “supposed to be private”, but when captured by a screen shot or photographed by another device during the viewing period, they can be reported elsewhere, which is reportedly what happened in this case.

It was my impression that popular opinion would not choose to come down too hard on the girls who elected to send photos that they deemed to be private to their significant other, but rather only to someone who distributed or posted the photos without permission

News 12 New Jersey has a poll out today and I was shocked by the results. 45% of respondents feel that the girls in a case such as this deserve to be criminally charged for sending the photos.

Because of the child pornography laws at play here, the penalties could be quite steep for an action that probably seemed harmless to the teen at the time.  It’s getting tougher every day for parents to stay on top of these type of incidents. The solution begins with education, but monitoring what teens are actually doing can also help keep kids out of harm’s way.

 

Parents and school officials can contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.

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Ridgewood New Jersey High School Battling Student Online Nudity

NJ.com today reported that Ridgewood High School and the local police are battling numerous incidents of students possessing, distributing and posting illicit photos or video to the internet.

According to a PDF sent to parents by Superintendent Daniel Fishbein:

ridgewood-nj-hsThe Ridgewood Police and Board of Education are requesting that parents promptly speak to their children about this behavior and to ensure that if their children are in possession of this type of material that it be deleted from their phones and other electronic devices immediately.

Needless to say, even the most conscientious parents in this case are in a tricky situation. Let’s assume that all of the Ridgewood parents take the time to talk to their teens about deleting inappropriate material and how to conduct themselves in the future. Consider any of the following possibilities:

  • A teen forgets that she posted something somewhere in the past and fails to delete it
  • A student does not delete something that he thinks is harmless, but might be viewed as damning by a college admissions officer or future employer
  • A student posted something thinking that it was private, but her privacy settings were incorrect leaving it in the public domain
  • A teen posts something that is private, but one of her “friends” reposts it somewhere else or otherwise obviates the privacy setting

For parents wanting the best solution for eradicating inappropriate internet content posted by or about their child, ThirdParent has an answer. Our confidential internet audit offers parents the most complete solution for protecting teens’ privacy and ensuring that future prospects are not diminished due to harmful internet content.

School Admins Struggle to Monitor Students’ Social Media

There is a great article on TribLive today that outlines the challenges school officials face in trying to reasonably and diligently supervise and discipline students’ inappropriate use of social media.

Perhaps the most significant quote comes from Brownsville school board President R.W. “Rocky” Brashear, who was forced to suspend 13 students last week over an extremely inappropriate Harlem Shake video:

 90 percent of the fights that happen in school start on Facebook

The article cites the need to update policies every year or even every few months, as circumstances warrant. With the web becoming the new school bulletin board, schools will continue to struggle to keep up, let alone get ahead of the curve.

How Can Schools Deal With Social Media Threats

Two separate, troubling social media incidents in North Carolina schools this week have parents and officials calling for a more deliberate response to dealing with incidents that spread quickly on social media.

social-media-wordcloudIn one incident, a 16-year-old student threatened on social media to bring a gun to school to kill other people and herself. In the other incident, a group of students stayed home from school when a rumor of an impending violent attack spread quickly on social media. The rumor turned out to be unfounded.

According to Ken Trump, a school-safety expert:

“The reality is that rumors that used to spread in hours and days now spread in minutes and seconds, Schools are never going to be 100 percent ahead of social media, but the challenge for them is how to narrow the gap.”

It is doubtful that anyone has all the answers yet. The keys to narrow the gap will probably be learned over the next few years. Parents working with their children to teach and reinforce good behavior is at least as important in the short term as the response from school administrators.