This Week in Social Media News For Parents

Stories for the week ending 12/9/2016

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Two companies are being sued in the U.S. and Europe over new internet-connected toys that are collecting an alarming amount of kids’ personal information. That data collection looks to us like a clear violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Privacy groups urge investigation of ‘internet of toys’

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More toy problems, just in time for Christmas – Motherboard is reporting that the parental controls on one tablet designed for kids just don’t work.

It’s Trivially Easy to Watch Porn On a Restricted Tablet Made For Kids

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A Russian startup has developed facial recognition technology that promises to allow anyone with a picture of you to find you on social media. It doesn’t exactly work that way, but makes for some juicy, clickbaity headlines.

The Russian App That Has Destroyed Privacy Forever

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A petition on Change.org to ban the use of the Yik Yak app on U. Conn. campus has gotten a whopping total of 9 signatures. The petitioner claims that “The majority of our herd’s community has proven time and time again that they cannot use this app in a positive/non-abusive way.” Sigh.

Petition to disable U. Conn’s Yik Yak receives lukewarm reception

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Meanwhile, Yik Yak has laid off more than half of its staff. It’s probably dying all on its own.

Anonymous social app Yik Yak slashes workforce

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As many as 5% of American gamer kids may be addicted to video games, and some of their stories are a horror show for parents.

Video games are more addictive than ever. This is what happens when kids can’t turn them off.

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Never content with its already massive piece of the online activity pie, Facebook has launched its own handheld gaming suite via Facebook Messenger Instant Games.

Facebook Messenger launches Instant Games

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Locations filters (thanks Snapchat!) may be coming to Facebook.

Another Snapchat feature is coming to Facebook

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Did we miss an interesting story? Please let us know.

 

 

NEW: For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. 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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Infographic: How To Keep An Eye on Your Kids’ Social Media Accounts

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 1.05.27 PMThe infographic below does a great job showing not only that most of today’s kids have internet access, but also how much internet access they have.

Most of the advice for parents in the graphic is on point, but one recommendation is a little bit outdated – they recommend putting computers in a central location in the house so at least some supervision can happen. That is outdated because, as the research shows, 91% of teens go online from their mobile devices. That advice worked better when each household had only one computer with internet access.


Source: Fix.com Blog

Keeping the family computer in a central location is a good first step, but it is not going to capture a lot of social media activity. Most kids have their own phone with internet access, and most kids have either their own tablet, laptop or desktop. Another point that many parents miss is that almost anything “adults” can do on their computer, a teen can do on a smartphone. And, from the infographic, 67% of teens say that they know how to hide their interest activity from their parents.

We aren’t saying that parents shouldn’t monitor computer activity – they should. Our point is that if parents are only seeing what their teen is doing online while looking over her shoulder, they aren’t getting the whole picture.

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, or doing something she shouldn’t be doing, 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.

 

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Sextortion Cases Are On the Rise

Bad news for parents: according to New Jersey law enforcement officials and the FBI, sextortion cases are on the rise, and far too many of then go unreported.

sextortionSextortion is the act of coercing or blackmailing a victim – often a minor – to obtain compromising or nude photos or video using the threat of exposing the victim to family and friends, usually by sharing previously taken images.

The sinister set up is fairly simple. The perpetrator, usually an older man, sets up a fake social media or messaging app profile and pretends to be a teen around the age of his intended victims. He then sends friend requests and messages until he has established a “relationship” with a victim. After an initial exchange of images, he will ask for more that are increasingly intimate. Once the victim has sent one that is scandalous enough that the victim would be mortified if her friends or family found out, the perp threatens to do just that unless more media is delivered. This can go on for a long time and usually ends badly.

If your child has a smartphone, laptop or computer and at least occasional unrestricted access, he or she is potentially at risk. What are parents to do?

Communicate – Begin talking to your child about the risks of both meeting strangers online and sending risqué images before they are given their first connected device. If they already have one, start talking now, even if the child is young.

Monitor – You don’t need to track every keystroke, but you should be generally aware of what you child or doing online, and who she in talking to.

Be available – Your child should know, without any doubt, that any time she feels uncomfortable or at risk because of something happening online she can come to you. Even if what she has done to get into the situation was stupid, put off sending that message until you’ve rectified the problem. Use difficult situations as learning opportunities.

It’s tempting to think that since you’ve raised a “good kid”, this could never happen to him or her. It does, so try to stay on top of things.

 

 

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.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Kik’s Guide for Parents

You probably read last week about the tragic murder of Nicole Lovell, the 13-year old Virginia girl who was found murdered miles from her home. Speculation currently is that Lovell met a college student via the Kik messenger app and the two were engaged in an inappropriate relationship. Authorities appear to believe that she was murdered because she threatened to go public with the relationship.

kik-logoKik has responded quickly to the situation, and last week published an update to Kik’s Guide For Parents.

We’ve written before about some issues we have with Kik, including pornographic spam. To Kik’s credit (a) at the time they had a spokesman get back to us and explain the situation, and (b) the problem appears to be fixed, because we haven’t seen any such spam in over a year. Kudos to them.

kik-parents-guideKik’s Parent’s Guide does a good job for parents explaining how Kik works and how to solve user issues, including how to deal with cyberbullies. If your child is using Kik, you should check it out. What Kik’s Guide doesn’t do is tell parents whether their kids are using Kik, and who they are talking to. For that, parents need to roll their sleeves up.

There’s one entry in the guide that we found particularly interesting: Kik claims that they will help parents delete accounts of minors if the parents so request.

“If you would like to deactivate your teen’s Kik account, but aren’t able to get access to your teen’s email account, you can submit a deactivation request to Kik by emailing support@kik.com with the subject line ‘Parent Inquiry’. A member of the Kik Support Team will send you a deactivation request form, which can be returned to Kik for processing.”

That is a big deal. We’ve written a number of times about how Instagram, for example, will not respond to parents’ requests or delete underage accounts, which we believe is horrible for parents are a true injustice. If Kik has a user friendly way to ensure that parents’ have the control that they should, they could be a model for the rest of the social media community.

We are going to try it out. More to follow.

 

 

NEW: For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. 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.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Pew Internet Research: The State of Digital Parenting Part II

In Part I of this series, we talked about Pew Internet’s latest research on the state of digital parenting. In that post we focused on the gap between what parents are doing about monitoring teen internet activity and what may actually be happening. In short, we think in some families, a lot may be slipping between the cracks.

Let’s focus now on what parents of 13 – 17 year old internet and social media users admit that they parent-teen-laptoparen’t doing. The percentage of parents who rarely or never talk about:

  • What is appropriate to be shared online – 19%
  • Age-appropriate internet content – 20%
  • Age-appropriate traditional media (books, magazines, TV and movies) – 20%
  • Online behavior towards others – 22%

By contrast, only 11% of parents rarely or never discuss how to behave at school or at home. Consider a couple of factors:

  • What your teen says or does can have a much wider reach online than in the real world. The average teen Facebook or Instagram user has hundreds of online friends, who in turn have hundreds of connections. Cyberbullying and other inappropriate content can spread like wildfire.
  • Online communications and posts can be anonymous. Yik Yak, Ask.fm, Whisper, Reddit, 4chan…there are numerous social platforms with million of users where your real name is either not used or is strictly optional.

On the age-appropriate content front, we’d argue that since all kinds of inappropriate content is widely available online, for free, it’s more important to warn about setting limits online than offline. For the most part, you know your teen’s physical location. It is almost impossible to know where he is online, at all times.

In summary, if your teen is online a lot (she is), you should be talking about appropriate online behavior and content a lot.

 

 

 

 

NEW: For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. 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.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

This Week in Social Media News For Parents

Stories for the week ending 1/8/2016

Happy New Year!

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child-online-surveyThink you’re an average digital parent? Take this 5-question, age-based quiz from the Birmingham Mail and see the answers from other parents immediately. It’s worth the clicks!

Do you know what your child is doing online?

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My guess is that we haven’t heard the last of this story. This week, a New Jersey teen was called to the principal’s office after making a series of posts on Twitter that were critical of Israel. Did she back down? Nope. Delete the offending tweets from her account? No. The school district is investigating it as a bullying complaint (an exchange between the accused and another student took place). The student is calling it free speech. The media are watching.

Anti-Israel tweets send N.J. high school student to principal’s office

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It’s not just the kids getting into hot water over internet posts. A teacher in Georgia resigned after bad mouthing a student with a disability on Facebook. Apparently the teacher was forced to stay late (hours late) so that the student could have extra time to complete a test. Bad move, and bad choice putting it on Facebook.

Teacher badmouths student with learning disability in Facebook posts

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“Stupid is as stupid does” is a pretty good Forrest Gump quote. It isn’t such a good quote when posted by a police officer to Facebook, about a Rhode Island teen after arresting him for allegedly vandalizing a police car. Department Facebook policies are reported to be under review.

Police department to review their Facebook policy after including Forrest Gump quote when announcing arrest of teen 

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Good read on the state of Yik Yak on college campuses from the New York Times. The pressure is mounting it seems.

Putting the Heat on Yik Yak After a Killing on Campus
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In Michigan, a massive teen sexting ring was uncovered after police recovered more than 200 photos from a deleted Dropbox account. After it had been deleted. Be careful out there.

Teen sexting scandal uncovered by Michigan State Police

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Did we miss a big story? Please let us know.

 

NEW: For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. 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.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

ThirdParent Announces Free Audits for a Limited Time

Good news parents: We are very pleased to announce that for a limited time getting a ThirdParent Social Score is FREE (normally a $49 value).

If a college admissions officer of future employer looked for your child online, what would she find?ThirdParent-social-score

ThirdParent’s Social Score is the latest tool to enable better digital parenting, a critical task that most parents find daunting and some, downright impossible. We all know that our teens and tweens are spending hours per day online and on their phones, and that it’s impossible to stay on top of everything. We also know that you value your teen’s privacy. We do as well.

Our Social Score provides parents with a full summary of who and where your teen is online – publicly that is. We scour the internet and social media to locate accounts and social media sites, and flag any public activity that may be unsafe or inappropriate. Each flagged item includes a recommendation for how to handle the situation.

The initial audit gives you the basic outline of what has been happening with your child over the last 12 months. After the initial audit, our ongoing monitoring ($15/month, you can cancel ay time) provides you with daily alerts that flag unsafe or inappropriate activity.

We do not ask for user names or passwords, and private information stays private.

A free version of our service has been a goal of ours since the beginning. We are pleased to announce our free trial for a limited time. Sign up today. There’s nothing to lose.

 

 

 

 

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.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

Digiwishes – Guest Post at Cyberwise

Our friends at Cyberwise.org are running a campaign this week digiwishescalled #Digiwishes – short for digital wishes. For the campaign they are collecting posts and articles from friends in the digital parenting community (that’s all of us) in which parents and digital parenting pros alike are giving their thoughts on making the online world safer and more hospitable for our young ones.

Our submission is titled “No Parents Who Just Say No”, and you can read the post here. The idea is that each parent will come to the point when their child wants to join the social media crowd. Our hope is that rather than just say “yes” or “no”, parents should say “not yet”, and leave time for both parents and kids to get up to speed before taking the plunge.

We’re big believers in the positive power of social media, but parents need to understand the risks. A little education goes a long way.

 

NEW: For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. 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.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

This Week in Social Media For Parents

Stories for the week ending 11/13/2015

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Protests and racial tension disrupted life at the University of Missouri this week. The protests havetalk-to-your-teenended with the resignation of the school President and Chancellor; the racial tension not so much. In what has become all too common, in the aftermath two students were arrested for making anonymous racial threats on Yik Yak.

Two arrested for making threats to University of Missouri students on Yik Yak

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Apple and Google both removed a malicious Instagram third party app, InstaAgent, from their app stores after it was revealed that the app was being used to steal usernames and passwords. Be careful which apps your teens are downloading.

Instagram app may have stolen over 500,000 usernames and passwords

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Six Ohio teens aged 13 – 15 have been implicated in a sexting scandal that is likely to result in serious charges. One teen’s phone was hacked and photos were disseminated via an anonymous Instagram account.

Teen sexting scandal at local high school should be wake-up call for all parents, children

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Following Snapchat’s lead, Facebook is testing a feature that will allow users to send disappearing messages via the Messenger app. No word yet on whether the pictures and messages will actually disappear. Probably not.

Facebook Messenger Is Experimenting With Disappearing Messages

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Study: Facebook makes users sad. Our take – watching TV or YouTube videos and interacting with no one might also make you sad.

Facebook Makes People Unhappy, Study Says

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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.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

A Look Inside Twitter’s New Safety Center

Some more good news this week: Twitter has announced a new Safety Center, with resources for Twitter users (and parents of Twitter users – there’s a section specifically for families) to learn about online safety in general, and the tools that Twitter has to offer to make online activity less perilous.

Twitter-safety-centerIn the “Tools” section, the guidelines spell out how to keep your account secure, control what others see about you, control what you see and report violations.

In terms of what others see about you, the Twitter experience allows you to:

  • Keep your tweets private (only friends can see them)
  • Control who can tag you in photos
  • Manage who can find your account by email address or phone number
  • Manage who can see your location
  • Control who can send you direct messages

Some of the above are obvious to most Twitter users, but having the “how to” guides in one place is helpful, especially for parents who might not be Twitter users themselves.

The “Policies” section lays our exactly what is and is not permitted on Twitter. This is a good step – if you’ve ever tried to navigate the average social network’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, you know it’s very hard to get a clear understanding of the rules – written by lawyers for lawyers in most cases. That’s not the case here.

The “Enforcement” section spells out how Twitter responds to reports of inappropriate activity and what they do about it. In their words, they “use both automated and manual tools to contact the people involved, conduct an investigation and take action.” Penalties can include temporary or permanent suspension of user accounts.

The “Tips for Families” section has a reminder for parents of a message they should share with their kids before they are active on social media:

“Most of the communication taking place on Twitter is viewable by everyone. Since the information posted is public, it can be Retweeted (or reposted) on the site by anyone who sees it. While Tweets can be protected so only approved followers can see them, most users share their Tweets with everyone.”

What they don’t say is that even if your account is private, anyone who follows you can retweet what you’ve posted. After that happens, the tweet is out of your control.

Parents can use the Twitter guide to encourage kids new to social media or already active online to be wary of their privacy and threats, and to act appropriately at all times.

 

 

 

 

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.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.