Cyber Behavior Awareness Week Wrap-Up

From our town hall in Charlotte to the #BeCyberAware Twitter Chat with Josh Shipp, we learned valuable advice from experts and concerned parents throughout Cyber Behavior Awareness Week.  With 95% of today’s teens online, cyber safety is more important than ever.  During Cyber Behavior Awareness week, experts and parents agreed upon the importance of starting an open dialogue with teens about online boundaries and tackled tough questions on cyberbullying and social media monitoring.  We’ve recapped conversation highlights throughout the week below.

Town Hall Highlights

  • “It’s a lot easier if you can be proactive and mindful about what you expect from your teen and express that to them before trouble begins.”  –Dr. Tara Egan, Charlotte Parent Coaching
  • “The best thing that a parent can do is to set the stage ahead of time to demonstrate that they are approachable and that they are going to partner with their teen to help problem solve and to get through whatever comes up or whatever they were exposed to.”  – Dr. Sean Knuth, Psychologist
  •  “When you have that conversation, really focus on asking questions, versus lecturing… Help them arrive at the right information.”  –Josh Shipp, Lifetime Host & Author of “The Teen’s Guide to World Domination”
  • “I really think it is important for parents to role model appropriate online behavior themselves… I think it is important to have your child see you making mindful decisions.”  –Dr. Tara Egan, Charlotte Parent Coaching
  • “The key here with cyberbullying and even verbal bullying in school is that you’ve got to teach your kid to be resilient.”  –Josh Shipp, Lifetime Host & Author of “The Teen’s Guide to World Domination”
  • “It’s important for us to really get educated about all of the things that surround cyber behavior and learn how to guide your child on becoming a very good digital citizen and understanding what that means.”  –Paul Adkison, ZABRA Founder

#BeCyberAware Twitter Chat Highlights

  • “It is important that kids know what the parent expects from them. Having high expectations for your child will take them far. #BeCyberAware”   –Deborah Tillman, Host of Lifetime’s Supernanny
  • “As a parent it’s our job to provide “training wheels” and boundaries. Boundaries grow as trust is earned.  @JoshShipp #BeCyberAware”   –Angela Matney, Parent
  • “If you’re going to monitor…Be very up front about it. Want your kid to be honest? You be honest 🙂 #BeCyberAware”   –Josh Shipp, Lifetime Host & Author of “The Teen’s Guide to World Domination”
  • “Q5 Monitoring plays an important role but has to be combined with constant conversations #BeCyberAware @JoshShipp @ZABRAparenting”  –Wayne Denner, Youth Cyberbullying Speaker
  • “@JoshShipp Your Social Media profile is an online resume. Always position yourself for the next opportunity. @DreaRR #BeCyberAware”   –Fabian Ramirez, Bullying Speaker
  • “Parents need to keep up on what social sites kids are using. There’s more than Twitter, FB, G+ to monitor  #BeCyberAware” – Derek Baird, Teen & Social Media Expert
  • “Build self esteem by helping children to develop close friendships and a strong social support network. #BeCyberAware”  –Rhonda Pratt, Pediatrician & Mother

Thank you to everyone who participated in our #BeCyberAware conversation online and in Charlotte.  The cyber safety conversation doesn’t stop here!  Beyond Cyber Behavior Awareness Week, we encourage parents to share advice and ask lingering questions on our Facebook Page. Talk to your kids about cyber safety today and download our pledge here:

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Your Teen’s #1 Influence?

Guest post from Josh Shipp

It is nearly impossible for me to overemphasize the importance of good cyber behavior among teens. Actually, that is a lie.

It is easy for me to overemphasize the importance of good cyber behavior among teenagers.  For example, I could say, “The primary cause of World War II was a lack of good cyber behavior among teenagers.”  That, obviously, would not be true.

That being said, every parent of a teenager knows this instinctively: the internet and mobile devices have fundamentally changed the relationship between information, time and space, especially for teenagers.  And especially since the time when you and I were teenagers.  When I was in high school, I used to write notes to girls I liked. Using paper.  And a pen.  And then I had deliver that note to her.  In person. To most teenagers today, that’s the equivalent of using smoke signals.

If you’re a parent of a teenager, you know that their world is very, very social.  And one of the primary outlets of their communication and their lives is social media. For example, here are some fascinating/horrifying statistics:

  • The average teen sends 60 texts per day
  • 88 percent of American teenagers have a cell phone
  • 95 percent of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80 percent of those online teens are users of social media sites
  • 12 percent of the ENTIRE Internet is pornographic in nature
  • 19 percent of teenagers say that they have been bullied in the last 12 months either in person, online, by text or by phone
  • 24 percent of teenagers have participating in “sexting” – sending sexually explicit pictures or texts to someone else

And that’s just counting the stuff that’s fairly easily quantifiable.  Teenagers on social media also have to navigate through other issues that are complex, like friends who are engaging in dangerous behavior like drugs or alcohol or self-harm, cyberbullying and all sorts of other issues.

All pretty depressing, right?  Well, no.  Because this next bit of raw data is the one that you most need to read.

  • Teens rely most heavily on their parents for advice about online behavior and coping with challenging experiences.

That’s right.  Parents in the United States are still the primary gatekeepers and managers of their teens’ internet experience. Parents are the most often cited source of advice and the biggest influence on teens’ understanding of appropriate and inappropriate digital behavior.

Most parents I know truly want to help their teenager, but sometimes feel paralyzed.  “What exactly can I do,” they ask me. Here’s my answer.  It doesn’t really matter: just do something.

Here’s what we know: the most effective parents are the most hands-on.  The teenagers who said their interaction with social media was mostly positive, and who felt equipped and prepared to deal with challenges of the new internet age had parents who did many of the following:

  • Talked with their child about ways to use the internet and cell phones safely
  • Talked with their child about ways to behave toward other people online or on the phone
  • Talked with their child about what you/he or she does on the internet
  • Talked with their child about what kinds of things should and should not be shared online or on a cell phone
  • Checked to see what information was available online about their child
  • Checked their child’s social network site profile
  • Checked which websites their child visited
  • Friended their child on social media
  • Used parental controls or other means of blocking, filtering or monitoring their child’s online activities
  • Used parental controls to restrict their child’s use of his or her cell phone
  • Enacted a formal cell-phone contract

There are three things every kid needs to know:
1. You are loved unconditionally.
2. You are valued by your parents.
3. You are capable of accomplishing anything you put your mind to.

You can never over-communicate these three things. Being involved in your child’s life means being involved in the things that matter to them, and social interactions, no matter where they happen, truly matter.  Talking about those experiences shows that you value your teen.  And helping them successfully navigate through that gives them the tools to let them know that they agency in the world to accomplish positive things in their life.

So go out there.  Talk to your teen.

Good Cyber Citizen Pledge

Tonight’s panelists at the Cyber Behavior Awareness Week Town Hall highlighted the importance of having a contract, or pledge, with your child about his/her “privilege” of using the Internet and social networks. Download the ZABRA pledge for parents and children here:

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Happy Cyber Behavior Awareness Week!

Did you know 8 in 10 teens use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter? With a vast majority of the teen generation online, there’s no wonder these young cyber citizens constantly face new challenges in decision-making with nearly every button click.

As Paul shared before, ZABRA was created as an online service to help parents monitor their children’s cyber behavior. By offering a digital protection tool, ZABRA aims to equip parents with resources to promote good online behavior among their children and to act as a counterforce to cyberbullying—an issue that plagues over half of all adolescents and teens online today. While good online behavior should be an important part of every teen’s routine, we created Cyber Behavior Awareness Week as a milestone to raise awareness among parents and teens to celebrate and promote Good Cyber Citizenship.

As of 2013, 95% of teens are online and 81% of them are using social media websites. It’s evident teens are exploring the independence of the web at large volumes, so parental guidance is becoming more critical than ever. The latest reports, for example, show nearly half of teens online have experienced cyberbullying within the past year. This is the kind of issue we’re committed to solving and our hope is that Cyber Behavior Awareness Week will be another step in that direction.

During Cyber Behavior Awareness Week (October 21-25), we will be using Facebook and Twitter − in true digital-age fashion! − as platforms to engage with experts, parents and cyber citizens alike on how we can steward good online behavior.

We invite you to participate online throughout the week! In addition to our Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, October 23 at Providence Day School, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Join our Town Hall virtually via Facebook and on live. Participate in our Twitter Chat on Thursday, October 24 using #BeCyberAware and be entered to win a 6-month trial of ZABRA! In the meantime, spread the word by sharing our Good Cyber Citizen badge and show your support!

We look forward to hearing from you during Cyber Behavior Awareness Week!

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Introducing Cyber Behavior Awareness Week: October 21-25

Social media is an important part of connecting people with their communities, families and friends, but for young people, social media also presents dangers like oversharing, cyberbullying and online predators. Cyber Behavior Awareness Week is a time for parents of teens who use social media, as well as youth/parenting experts, to learn from each other and encourage children to behave in a healthy, responsible way online.

Throughout the week of October 21, ZABRA will be hosting online and in-person events to raise awareness of parenting responsible cyber citizens. Here’s how you can join us:

Join us for a Charlotte-area town hall meeting on Wednesday, October 23 at Providence Day School’s Fine Arts Center, featuring ZABRA founder, Paul Adkison, Lifetime’s Josh Shipp, and Charlotte’s own parenting coaches, Dr. Tara Egan and Dr. Theresa Payton. This is an opportunity for parents to ask questions about the dangers of social media sites and how to talk to their children about these dangers.

Not in the Charlotte area? Visit ZABRA on Facebook to participate via Ustream so you don’t miss anything!

Take part in our Twitter Chat on Thursday, October 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET and get involved in the conversation with @ZABRAParenting! Join our Cyber Behavior Awareness Twitter Chat using #BeCyberAware to ask questions and chat with experts and peers about cyber safety for children. Josh Shipp will join us once more to moderate the conversation.

Spread the word by sharing our badge on your website and social channels to encourage children and teens to be Good Cyber Citizens and remind them of the importance of responsible online behavior. Save the image below to use the badge on your website and social media profiles today!


We hope you’ll join us through the week and take part in the discussions! Don’t forget to check the blog throughout Cyber Behavior Awareness Week for more posts, including a special check-in from Josh Shipp.

Why I Created ZABRA for Parenting in the Digital Age

Parents, do you ever question what’s different about parenting today from when you were a kid? From my perspective, one of the biggest differences is that kids today have a wealth of access to information and each other at the tap of a button. If you’re like me, you remember the days of shared home phone lines, using libraries for school research and saving photos in albums, yearbooks and scrapbooks. But as technology and digital media advance at what feels like warp speed, our own coming-of-age experiences sometimes feel a little less relatable to those of our kids. So how do we bridge the gap when it comes to parenting?

I posed this question before developing ZABRA. So many good parents are busy with caring and providing for their families that it’s impossible to be with their kids every step of the way. It’s hard enough to be a parent in the offline world; we coach our kids not to talk to strangers when out in the neighborhood and we get to know their friends so that we know who’s influencing them. But that doesn’t seem to be enough now that kids are turning to the internet and social networks for just about everything – from school research to their social lives. How do you get to know your kids’ friends when they have hundreds of them virtually on Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat?

The digital world is putting your kids’ judgment to the test more than ever, and the consequences of bad decisions and harmful information could be instant, whether it’s sexting, online predators or cyber bullying.  So where are the digital chaperones in life?

These are the reasons I developed ZABRA − a solution to help parents be aware of harmful situations your kids could be exposed to, and with advice from experts to know how to approach them when it happens. Our team designed ZABRA specifically to give kids the independence they want to connect with friends on social networks, but with safety measures in place to flag potentially bad situations for parents.

So here’s how ZABRA works: ZABRA monitors for keywords, acronyms and images that signal dangers such as bullying, underage drinking, drug use or sexual activity. ZABRA doesn’t spy on your kids; we only show parents the conversations of concern. And when you get an alert, ZABRA gives you video resources, specific to the flagged issue, from dozens of experts and counselors from around the country. These resources are designed to help you have meaningful conversations with your child about the issues that really matter.

Because the digital space is ever-evolving and parents juggle busy family schedules, we made ZABRA as simple as possible for parents who want to be involved. If you’re curious about how ZABRA works, I invite you to watch this video to get to know what we do. Better yet, I’m inviting every parent to try ZABRA free for 30 days and commit to good digital parenting. Sign up here and share your feedback with us at

Come back to our blog each week for new posts from ZABRA and our community of experts! We’ll be discussing news, issues and resources relevant to parenting in the digital age and starting conversations about what matters to you and your kids. For daily updates from ZABRA, you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

-Paul Adkison, Founder/Chairman

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