Saturday, June 29, 2013

Teenagers Online: The Challenge of Keeping Them Safe

What can parents do to keep their teens safe online?

 Parenting has been a frightening proposition since the beginning of time, but parents today are faced with challenges no generation has ever faced: raising children who have spent their entire lives immersed in the Internet and social media. Here we take a look at the threats and the safeguards that make a virtually impossible task manageable. The big bad Internet can be tamed, and your kids can  be kept safe. The Teenage Online Landmine

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Cyberbullying - 88% of teens say they have seen someone be mean or cruel to another person on a social network.1
- 26% of teens and young adults say someone has written something about them on an Internet page that wasn’t true.
- 16% say someone has put up embarrassing pictures or videos of them on an Internet page without their permission.
Take Action:
- Teach kids: don’t respond to online bullying; report it to an adult.
- Change passwords if suspicious activity is suspected.
- Teach kids how to block bullies on various social sites.
- Report harassment to website admins.
- 82% of children claim to be gamers
- 51% of kid gamers play online
- 47%: teens who play online games with people they know in real life
- Fighting Games: middle school boys’ favorite style of game (and girls’ least favorite)
- 13%: percentage of underage teens to successfully buy mature-rated games
- Take action:
- Treat game consoles with the same Internet caution as a computer.
- Limit gaming features: No webcams!
- Avoid using real names in gamertags or screen names.
- Keep the game console out of the bedroom and in an openly observable location in the home.
- Beware of free downloadable games online, which can be packaged with viruses and spyware
- 93% of boys are exposed to porn online before the age of 18.
- 62% of girls
- 70%: percentage of boys who have looked at online porn for at least 30 minutes straight
- HALF of those boys have done so at least 10 times.
- (Compared to 23% for girls, 14% more than once)
- 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen online sex acts involving bondage.
- 32: percentage of boys who have seen acts of bestiality online (girls, 18%)
- Rape or sexual violence: witnessed online by 18% of boys and 10% of girls
- 1 in 7 boys and 1 in 10 girls have seen child pornography online
- 13% of web searches are for erotic content
- Take Action:
- Teach kids never to click on unfamiliar links or search results
- Purchase blocking software and use parental controls for browsers
- Keep computers and mobile device use in readily observable locations in the home
- BE OPEN to discussing anything with your children. Let them know and see it’s safe to talk to you.
- Use Internet accountability services to get reports of online use
- Beware anonymizers, sites that conceal your child’s Internet activity. A good Internet accountability service will recognize them.
Online Predators
- “The offenders lure teens after weeks of conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance, adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to encounters that the teens know are sexual in nature.” Dr. David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes against Children research center
- Most victims of online predators are teens.
- Most victims know they are talking to an adult.
- 50%: percentage of victims who claim to be in love with their predators
- Most teens ignore or delete messages from strangers
- Most sexual predation occurs with someone not considered a total stranger when the relationship begins.
The victims:
- 76 % are between the ages of 13 and 15
- 75% are female
- The predators:
- 99% are male
- 76% are 26+ years in age
- 20 years: almost half of predators are two decades older than their victims
- Chat rooms: the leading initial meeting place (76%)
- Only 5% pretend to be close to the same age as their victims
- Take action:
- Don’t be overly protective to the point of paranoia. Most online activity is fine, and paranoid parents can increase the risk of alienating their children.
- Let your children know what is and isn’t okay to talk about online.
- Look for red flags: increased secrecy and emotional obsession with internet use, withdrawal from friends and family
- Talk openly (not threateningly) with your kids about their online relationships.
- 20%: teens who have transmitted nude or seminude images of themselves
- 39%: teens who have transmitted sexually suggestive messages
Take Action:
- Talk to teens about their definition of privacy: reality TV has completely altered that concept.
- Talk about sexual values and morals
Social Networks
- 55% of kids have a facebook account by the time they’re 12
- 40% of teens have observed illegal or underage drug abuse by their peers on social networks
- More than 1 in 10 teens use social media over three hours a day
- Those teens are almost twice as likely as their peers to binge drink, experiment with drugs, and be sexually promiscuous.
- Take Action:
- Be the decision maker on which social networks your children use and when they’re old enough to join.
- Always be a member of the sites your children join.
- Check browser history for social network use
- Google your child’s name periodically to check for online presence
- Employ Internet Accountability software
- Learn about and adjust the privacy settings on your child’s social networks
- Be clear with your child about what is acceptable to post-make sure they’re sticking to the rules.
- Source:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Clubs: Tips to Start One This Summer

For people who love to read and be social, a book club can be the perfect outlet. Book clubs are a chance to kick back and unwind with friends over a shared interest. If you’re just starting a book club, pick one evening a month to sit back with a group of friends and discuss a book the group previously decided to read. Dissect the characters, the plot and the writing while enjoying food, drinks and good company. Need to occupy the kids for the night? Have them form a kids book club! Can’t commit to a regular monthly meeting? Start or join an online book club forum.

Take a look at these 21 blog posts for plenty of helpful information on starting a book club for adults, kids or online.

Before you start a book club, you need to consider how many people you want to include and if it’s an open club or one that’s by invite only. You’ll also want to decide if you’re going to focus on one particular genre or if you’re going to read books from all walks of life. These seven blog entries will help you work through the details and figure out where to begin.  
Starting a book club for kids can help kids improve their reading comprehension, as well as expose them to the idea that people can have different viewpoints on the same thing. While the focus of a book club for children should be about having fun, kids will still learn a lot from taking part in a book club.  These seven blog articles will help you get started.
Sometimes life is too hectic for regular book club gatherings, and the only way you can engage in a book club is if it’s online. With the integration of social media and the internet, starting a virtual book club is easier than ever. Read through these seven blog posts to learn how others have done it and what they considered before getting started.
Source:  Nanny Websites

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tweens and Facebook: Should They Be Allowed on Facebook?

This is a question that has been lingering for the past couple of years.  We know that kids under 13 are joining, but should they be?

The brave new world of technology has expanded so far that even your grandmother may have an account on the social networking clearinghouse that is Facebook. The fact that your elderly relatives have adopted Facebook, however, doesn’t mean that your child is ready to tackle the social media giant.

When your tween is pleading with you for permission to start a Facebook account and swearing that all of their friends have them, these are 10 of the reasons why you might want to stick to your guns and continue to ban the site for a few more years.
  1. Bullying – Being bullied is a devastating situation, even for teenagers and young adults, but tweens are even more likely to be overwhelmed by bullies online. Kids who aren’t victims of bullying may also find themselves joining in with the crowd picking on another youngster in the no-holds-barred world of the Internet.
  2. Exposure to Questionable Content – Even if your preteen is never approached by a sexual predator, she’s still likely to come across photos or status updates that simply aren’t age appropriate. A child who doesn’t have a Facebook account may be protected from that objectionable content for a bit longer, though.
  3. Online Predators – Sexual predators lurking online are such a problem that entire television series have been dedicated to sting operations designed to catch them. Preteens simply aren’t equipped to properly fend off approaches from predators, and may be more susceptible to their techniques than older kids.
  4. They’re Not Technically Allowed to Have Accounts – If you don’t prohibit Facebook use for your preteen for any other reason, you should consider the fact that allowing them to start an account is tantamount to telling them that it’s okay to lie. Facebook doesn’t allow users younger than 13, so your child will have to falsify her age in order to sign up. Doing so with your permission is effectively sending a message that lying is acceptable behavior if you’re lying to get something you really want.
  5. Reducing Screen Time – Between television, video games and time spent online for homework purposes, kids spend enough of their day planted in front of an electronic screen. Facebook is just another way for your child to while away the hours in sedentary activity, rather than getting outside and being active.
  6. Preserving Academic Performance – When your child is supposed to be online researching homework methods or studying for a big test, his shiny new Facebook account can be a very serious distraction. Kids so young may have difficulty controlling their impulses, and may spend far more time on the social media site than they do actually working.
  7. Protecting Your Computer from Malware – You and your teenagers may have a basic idea of how to avoid malware and spyware sent out by unscrupulous Facebook users, but your tween probably doesn’t. Keeping your child off of social media for a few more years can also be your computer’s saving grace.
  8. Because Kids Lack Adult Judgment – The fact that college students post photographs of binge drinking parties and incriminating status updates at an alarming rate is proof that young people don’t always have the best judgment when it comes to social networking. For a young child, not understanding acceptable Facebook use could lead to them sharing very sensitive personal information that later proves to be dangerous.
  9. Friends Lists Can Be Difficult to Manage – When the friend requests start rolling in, your tween will probably accept each and every one of them because it makes her feel well-liked and cool. That can give some shady characters access to her profile, something she may have trouble understanding when she’s still so young.
  10. Tech-Savvy Tweens Can Block Your Monitoring Efforts – Some preteens may have trouble avoiding malware and managing a friends list, but others will be tech-savvy enough to filter their updates and change security settings that affect what you’re able to see. Even if you think you’re monitoring your child, you may only be seeing a fraction of the things she does online.
Yoursphere1If you still think that your preteen is mature and trustworthy enough to have a Facebook account without getting into trouble, the decision is up to you. Be warned, however, that your child could find all of her hard work tossed to the wayside if Facebook administrators discover that she’s maintaining an account before she’s reached the age limit set in the terms of use and decide to delete the account.

Source:  Babysitting Jobs

Need a great alternative to Facebook for tweens?  Check out Yoursphere!  It is designed for that age group where safety for your child is their priority!

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

What's Your Brave? Lessons from Teen Girls on Everyday Courage

The What’s Your Brave?™ project shares the insights and acts of everyday courage of teenage girls from across the United States and eventually the world. What makes us different is that we are going to the real adolescent experts — that is, the teenage girls themselves. We are asking teen girls one “simple” question, “What’s Your Brave?”. In sharing their answers and the reoccurring themes we observe, our hope is to inspire parents to support their own daughters in finding their “brave” — the courage to be themselves even during their tumultuous adolescent years.

Learn more at