New Stats on Parents Sharing Kids’ Pics Online

You have probably done this, perhaps a lot – sharing pictures of your kids online for friends and family to see. For parents who actively use social media, the temptation to post pictures of your pride and joy online can be irresistible. It can be done safely, but a lot of the time it isn’t.

There’s a new survey out this week by Knowthenet, a UK non-profit dedicated to helping families and businesses get the most out of the internet while doing so safely.

The survey polled 2,000 parents earlier this year asking about how they share pictures of their families online, and testing their knowledge of online safety best practices. We assume the survey focused mainly or exclusively on UK parents, but image that the results of a comparable survey here in the U.S. would be similar. The highlights:

  • 53% of parents have uploaded pictures of their kids to social media sites
  • On average, parents of kids under 16 post 208 kid pictures per year (this seems high to us)
  • 53% of child pics posted end up on Facebook, 14% on Instagram, 12% on Twitter
  • 17% of parents have never checked their Facebook privacy settings
  • 51% of parents are unaware that smartphone photos can store location data
  • 53% of parents have posted pictures of other people’s children

If you are currently posting pictures of your kids online, or a new parent who is planning to do so, here’s what you can do:

Check your phone’s “Location service”, or GPS settings. The best bet is to turn the phone’s location services off entirely for your phone, or at least the camera (see below for the iPhone examples), or you can turn location off for the social networks where you post pictures

iphone-location-settings

Check your privacy settings. In Facebook for example, in the privacy settings go to the “Who can see my stuff” section. It should be set to “friends only”

Get permission. If you are posting pictures of other people’s children, always get permission first

Know your rights. Networks like Facebook and Instagram have the right to use your photos to promote themselves or their advertisers. You can’t change this – it’s what you agreed to when you signed up

When parents share family photos without taking the right precautions the results can be annoying – your kids’ pictures showing up in online ads – or downright dangerous – a predator knowing your kids’ exact location. Most negative results can be quite easily avoided.

 

 

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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Cyberbullied By A Friend – What To Do

As part of their coverage of Safer Internet Day 2015, parental resource website Quibly was kind enough to request an interview with us to discuss what we are seeing on the front lines of teen cyberbullying.

quibly-logoIn the course of our doing audits and monitoring of teens, we see a lot of cyberbullying – some of it mild and some of it quite severe. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the children of clients who come to us are far more likely to be cyberbullying victims than perpetrators. That could be for one of two reasons. Perhaps most cyberbullying is being done by a small number of people with larger numbers of victims, so there are more victims than bullies out there. More likely, if a parent is concerned enough to come to us for help in digital monitoring, that parent either suspects that there is a problem or she is sufficiently proactive that she is already raising a good digital citizen. Either way, we see a lot of it.

You can see the full interview here:

Safer Internet Day: How to protect children from online threats

One answer that we gave deserves more discussion – what should a parent/teen reaction be if the cyberbully is a friend.

You might think this doesn’t happen, but it does. Research shows that most teens view some level of cyberbullying as normal, and choose to put up it rather than be distanced from their friends online.

As a parent, you may have to work hard to overcome this mindset. On social media and smartphones there are options, from unfollowing or blocking the bully to changing your teen’s cell phone number. Your teen may be reluctant to go that far. Here are our recommendations:

Ask your teen how she feels about it – Don’t take the situation at face value. If your teen views the bullying as harmless, or the digital equivalent of a schoolyard snowball fight, you can let it go but be sure to monitor the situation to make sure it doesn’t escalate.

Ask the bully to stop – If your teen feels bad, the simplest choice is often the best one. It may even be that the bully doesn’t know that she is doing harm.

If your teen feels bad, you have to act – Blocking or unfollowing a bully that is part of your teen’s group of friends is a tough step, but it can be reversed later. And it will send a strong message that cyberbullying will not be tolerated.

What if it’s anonymous – If the cyberbullying is happening on an anonymous, or semi-anonymous network such as Ask.fm or Yik Yak, your teen may suspect that the cyberbully is a friend, but not know for sure. If the bully falls into this category, and your teens is being made to feel bad by the actions, your two options are to report the bully to the network operator and hope that they take action, or to have your teen delete his account on the network entirely. The latter could be a drastic but necessary step.

While we don’t have proof of this, it is likely that most serious cyberbullying starts out as something mild, and escalates over time. By getting involved early, a parent can insulate against the chances of a harmful escalation ever happening.

 

 

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.

Why Teens Should Talk To Parents About What They Do Online

Here’s a novel idea for teens: talk to your parents – honestly – about what you do online.

We talk all the time about parents taking a genuine interest in what their teens are doing online. It’s essential for parents to get up to speed, or at least as close as they can get. Just yesterday we wrote about a recent FOSI study that revealed an interesting data point – the average parent of teens admits to knowing less about technology than their teens do.

teen-internet-talkAs a teen, much of your online activity is probably a mystery to your parents. They might have friended you on Facebook, or know that you like Instagram, but they probably have almost no idea about most of the apps and social media sites you use, and why. If you’re up to no good, you might think this is a good thing.

Well, you shouldn’t be up to no good, online or in person. By that we mean doing really bad things, like cyberbullying, making racist or homophobic comments, threats of physical injury and the like. The things that you put online can be permanent, and follow you around like a dark cloud for years in the future. Just because your parents don’t know that you’re doing bad things online doesn’t make it okay.

As for the not-quite-so-bad-things, your parents probably don’t have any idea about those either – the joking, needling and the stupid-funny things.

There is a third group of online activities – things that are harmless or positive. If your parents don’t know about those, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

It is a good idea to get them up to speed on what you do online. Here’s why:

They might get off your back – Even if they are not constantly badgering you about it, they probably think you spend way too much time online. If they have some idea of what you’re doing, and some of it is positive, they’ll be less likely to hound you about your online time.

A second opinion – Since what you’re posting online could be there forever, have you thought about how it looks to other people? A parent’s view about your online profiles and what you’re posting could be invaluable. You might not want the first adult who sees the online you to be a college admissions officer or a prospective employer.

They might be able to help – Your parents are ahead of you by 20 – 30 years in terms of life experience. There are times when you’re going to need help either doing something (any idea how I…?) or reacting to something (cyberbullying, identity theft). The help you need might be living under the same roof.

You might get new electronics – If you don’t think you need a new phone or laptop now, you will soon. Your parents have more money than you do. If they have a positive view of what you’re doing with your electronics, they’re more likely to agree to that upgrade when you need it.

Remember that your parents are not the enemy; they are in fact your most loyal supporters. By giving them a real window into what you do online, you can both put them at ease and in some cases make your life a little better.

 

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.

 

Effective Internet Monitoring of Teens Requires Trust

A quote from an unlikely source jumped off the page at me today:

“Developing trust with a child is a key step in helping to prevent online sexual exploitation, said Michael Ferjak, a senior criminal investigator with the Iowa attorney general’s office.”

The story in which it appears was written by the Des Moines Register, and details the case in which at least 9 Iowa men are accused of using social media to coerce a 13 year old girl to send nude photos via social media and apps.

parent-teen-laptopThe story is playing out all too often these days. Predators use social media to find potential targets, and the initial contact escalates to include sending inappropriate photos and in some cases in-person contact.

Clearly (to us, at least), in this case the parents of the 13-year-old girl didn’t know what was happening at the time. In an ideal word, the young girl would have alerted her parents the moment that the situation got uncomfortable, and well before she sent any pictures or acquiesced to any requests.

Trust is how you get to that point. We don’t mean you trusting your kids; we mean your kids trusting you.

We have written before that all too often when kids hide their internet activity from their parents, even in cases where they are being cyberbullied or otherwise feel unsafe, it is because they are fearful of what their parents’ reaction will be.

Does your child trust you, and what will your reaction be? If your child fears that you will rush to the police or school in the event that something bad may be happening online, you are unlikely to hear about anything until it is too late. If your kid thinks you may take away her phone (her lifeline to her social life) or force her to shut down her messaging and social media accounts, there is no way she is going to tell you in the early stages.

We often say that communication is the first step to effectively monitoring safe and responsible internet activity. From a high level, this is true because good communication engenders trust. If your child trusts that your response to unsafe internet situations will be measured and reasonable, you are much more likely to hear about issues as they occur, and be part of a safe solution.

 

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

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Teen and Tween Online Safety – What Are Parents Worried About?

We understand that every family is different, and every parent has different fears and concerns. A study conducted in 2011 by Microsoft and Northwestern University sheds some light on how parents actually think about their kids’ online safety, and what exactly they are worried about. The results are probably more relevant than ever now, as teen internet and social media adoption has risen steadily and we haven’t seen a similar study conducted since.

The study surveyed 1,007 parents of kids between 10 and 14, and results were sorted by age of the parent, demographics and education level. Parents employed in the computer software industry were excluded, presumably because they are far more tech savvy than the average parent.

Let’s take a look at some of the statistics and see whether they tell an interesting story.

In order, as follows are the things that concern parents when it comes to pre teen and teen internet behavior:

  1. Meeting a stranger
  2. Viewing pornography
  3. Viewing violent content
  4. Being a victim of cyberbullying
  5. Perpetrating cyberbullying

Given the prevalence of cyberbullying, it’s is interesting that relatively few parents (17% to be exact) are concerned that their kids are being cyberbullies.

In all the categories listed above, parents with higher income levels and more advanced education showed lower levels of concern than the rest of the sample group. Not surprisingly, parents were generally more concerned about daughters than sons.

When parents were asked whether they knew that their child had encountered any of the above risks, the answers were as follows:

  • Meeting a stranger – 2%
  • Viewing pornography – 17%
  • Viewing violent content – 14%
  • Being a victim of cyberbullying – 6%
  • Perpetrating cyberbully – 1%

If the study were to be done today, we’re not sure whether the results would be markedly different, but we are fairly confident that most of the above answers understate what is actually going on, especially with respect to cyberbullying.

Looking alone at the mismatch between known cases of cyberbullying victims vs. parents who know their child was a bully, it appears that many bullies go undiscovered.

What is your experience? Please let us know in the comments below.

 

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

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.

Is Your Facebook Use Impacting Your Kids?

Hey parents! How much time do you spend on Facebook? Actually, it doesn’t have to be Facebook we’re talking about. How much time do you spend at home in the evenings or on weekends, on your phone, laptop or tablet? While you play Candy Crush or catch up on work emails, someone is watching you – your kids.

kara-zidarIf you’ve read other things we’ve written, you probably know that we are big fans of children and teens using the internet and technology to learn, grow and expand horizons. The same goes for adults, so we’re not saying that you should strictly limit your internet use, either, but moderation and awareness of the situation at hand need to apply to parents as well as kids. Be aware that when you’re online, you are setting an example for those around you. Specifically:

It’s OK to be online – It is okay, but it may not be okay to be online all the time, or at the dinner table, or in bed. Think about whether the rules you set for your children are rules that you are following yourself. And don’t be so engrossed in what you’re dong online that you can’t stop and address a question or issue posed by your child. If you can’t log off on short notice, you can’t expect your kids to either.

Facebook, Pinterest, texting are good things – They are. Having said that, parents of pre teens will be asked by a child at some point if they can have a Facebook or Instagram account of their own. After all, all their friends have them. If you’re an active Facebook user, you need to be prepared to tell your 11-year-old daughter why she can’t have one.

If something online makes you angry/sad/frustrated, that’s a normal reaction – This is a difficult issue since emotional reactions are not easily controlled. If you find yourself reacting demonstrably to what you’re seeing online, you might want to wait until the kids are in bed to wade into forums where those situations are presenting themselves.

It doesn’t matter if there are other people in the room – Obviously, that is not true. If you’re online and your family is around, you need to be partly or mostly “there” for them, like you have proverbial eyes in the back of your head.

A tablet, phone or laptop in the bedroom is a great idea – Studies have show that teens who use a phone or tablet in bed immediately prior to bed time get less sleep, and what sleep they get is lower quality. We are not fans of kids taking their electronics to bed with them, and as a parent if you do this yourself, it is going to be more difficult to prevent your kids from doing it.

We’re not perfect, and we are probably guilty of being online too much during off hours, but we understand that the most effective rules are set by parents who lead by example. We have work to do too.

 

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