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Keys to Online Safety for Your Kids

instagram monitoring toolThink about how wide the gap is between your Internet savvy and your kids’. Now think about the likely gap between your Internet skills and the skills of your grandchildren. When the time comes to educate that next generation on Internet safety, you’ll be left in the dust. You have to do everything you can right now to make sure your children know the dangers, and can safely navigate the murky waters of the online world enough to pass on that knowledge to their kids, whatever that world may look like.

There are many ways you can monitor Internet activity on your children’s devices, as well as many levels of involvement. Some parents exhibit very little (if any) control on their kids’ Internet habits, reasoning that it’s just a “virtual” world, and therefore nothing bad can really happen.

And other parents have a much better grasp of what’s really at stake.

Over 90% of teenagers (ages 12-17) spend time online. Over 70% of them have social networking profiles. Over 45% regularly upload photos online. And almost 15% upload videos. The simple fact is, the information your children are putting out on the Internet will be there forever. It does not go away. And even if the photos or videos they upload are seemingly harmless, deviant predators and mentally unbalanced sociopaths can pick out a whole host of details from that information — even without a geo-tag.

Programs such as iPhone monitoring software and Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram monitoring tools can help parents keep track of their kids’ Internet activity, in order to ensure that the information they’re providing, however unwittingly, isn’t falling into unsavory hands. It can also be used to make sure that your kids aren’t seeing things that they shouldn’t be, such as gratuitous violence or pornography.

But an Instagram monitoring tool can never take the place of good old-fashioned communication with your children. Talk to them about the Internet, and the things they might see there. Be upfront with them about the dangers they could face online. Should you terrify them into never going online again? No! In today’s world, that’s not even an option. But being straightforward with them could mean the difference between a life filled with well-dodged bullets and a sobering experience that could have been avoided.

Do you have any handy tips for Internet safety? Please share them in the comments below.

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The Silver Bullet to Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

how to protect kids onlineIt would be nice to say that the Internet is not always a willfully malicious place. But the simple truth is, some sites on the Web really are out to get you. As an adult in the Age of Information, you’ve probably developed a few precautions and habits that keep you relatively safe from the less-than-savory aspects of the Internet.
But what about your kids?

While you may know how to monitor Internet activity to avoid threats, knowing how to protect kids online — and teaching them how to protect themselves — might not be as easy.

For very young children, it’s always best to surf the Web right alongside them. Not only does it provide bonding time (which we can always use more of), but it also gives your kids a hands-on example of what and what not to do. And it will keep your computer free from malware, viruses, and the like, any of which could easily be downloaded by an errant click from little hands.

But the teenage years are where knowing how to protect kids online becomes crucial — because you can’t be with them all the time as they go online. Among teens ages 12 to 17, 93% of them spend time online, 73% already have social networking profiles, nearly half have uploaded photos of themselves, and almost 15% have uploaded videos. And the things that go onto the Internet stay on the Internet.

Just as you teach your kids not to run with scissors and to look both ways before crossing the street, you can teach your teens basic tips for Internet safety that they can use the rest of their lives. The trick, however, is to get them to understand the importance of it all (after all, scissors and crosswalks are pretty self-explanatory).

Making the task even more difficult is the fact that many of the online things you want to protect your kids from are not overtly aimed at your kids — they can simply be things you don’t want them to stumble across. Sexually explicit material and violent videos and images are all over the Web. To cross your fingers and hope that your kids will never encounter them is both naive and negligent.

So what’s the solution? Social media monitoring services? Iphone monitoring software? These can help, yes. But the silver bullet of how to protect kids online is the same silver bullet of how to protect them in the real world — communication. Talk to your teens about what’s out there. Have the discussion. You’ll not only prepare them for what they might encounter (and contextualize it as you do), but you’ll further strengthen the bridge of trust, and let your kids know that you’re where they can go if they have questions.

Parents Beware! Facebook is Full of Creepy, Catfishing Predators

protect your kids onlineThere is more reason for you to be concerned about your child entering the world of social media than ever before. If you have teenagers who have smartphones, you will need to up your ante to protect your kids online. You may have innocently thought that cell phones are a great way to keep tabs on your children (which may be true), but this also subjects them to the dangers of predators and bullies on social media. In fact, about 68% of today’s youth identify cyberbullying as a major problem. Furthermore, about 95% of teens who have seen cruel behavior on social media sites notice that others have completely ignored it.

You also may not realize that most teens between the ages of 12 and 17 go online on a regular basis, leaving them vulnerable to these risks.

Here are some other real dangers your children face online.

  • Catfishing
    This practice is when someone creates a false identity on Facebook or other social media sites in order to facilitate an online relationship. This is one of the main reasons to protect kids on social media. An older man or woman can easily create a younger persona, adding in a Photoshopped picture, fabricating contact information, and chronicling a bogus life story. An social media neophyte could be swept up by one of these dangerous predators at any time.
  • Irreversible Posts
    A night out with friends or family can make its way onto Facebook or Instagram instantaneously, without a second thought. While this can be a great way to commemorate a fun event, it is also something that cannot be taken down. Once the picture has been loaded onto the web, whether it is favorable or not, it is permanently part of the internet. Racy pictures with a significant other, or of underage drinking, may be entertaining to post at first, but when a teen is trying to find a job, these pictures could come back to haunt him or her.
  • Unrestricted Profile
    On sites like Facebook, there are a number of settings that help protect your kids online. These settings restrict access to information on a user’s profile, such as email address, phone number, or home address. Many users are much smarter about the personal information they post on the internet, but do not realize that since Facebook went public, anyone can search for any user and find at least a minimal amount of information on the person. Without placing several safety restrictions on a profile, any user can be traced and found by another user anywhere in the world.

These dangers may make it seem like it is impossible to protect your kids online, but this is not the case. There are several tools in place for parents to monitor internet activity, such as social media monitoring software and iPhone remote monitoring.

Along with these measures, you could always talk to your children about the dangers of social media — they are more receptive and often much more aware than you think.

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Fighting Back Against the Online Predators That Prey on Children

protect kids on social mediaDelaware is the latest of many states to pass a law enhancing protections for children against online sexual predators, according to News Works. This Tuesday, Gov. Jack Markell signed House Bill 256. The bill amends Delaware’s child sexual solicitation law, and ensures that a predator is guilty whether they solicit an actual child, or an undercover investigator. If the predator travels to meet the the underage child, the felony classification is elevated.

“The safety of our children is our top priority,” said Markell. The Bill was originally proposed by Attorney General Beau Biden, who said that, “This new law gives the Task Force and law enforcement across our state more powerful tools to put predators behind bars where they belong.”

Online Predators are Not a Myth
Unfortunately, online predation is not just a myth used to scare kids into being safe and smart when it comes to using the internet; the statistics regarding the likelihood of a teenager being contacted by a predator can be quite jarring. There are currently over 740,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S., and over 100,000 of them are effectively lost in the system, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In past years, chat rooms have typically been the meeting point where victims and predators cross paths. With the advent of social media, however, the danger is coming to new stages. Not only is social media often removed from the eyes of parents, but it also helps predators to gain better access to potential victims.

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, in 82% of online sex crime cases, the offender used one or more social networking sites in order to understand the victim’s habits, likes and dislikes. This helps predators to better “groom” their victim and convince them that they are “on their side,” or even “in love” with the offender.

How to Protect Kids on Social Media and Online in General
How can parents fight back against a threat that is largely invisible? An important way to protect kids on social media against predators is initiating communication. Study after study shows that many adolescents and teens do not understand the potential consequence of many online activities, including posting personal information, adding strangers to friend lists, and using apps to “sext.”

Kids can also be protected by turning technology into a tool itself. Rather than forbidding teens from using the internet, or asking for passwords, parents can use internet activity monitors and internet content filtering software so that kids can engage and be social, while also having a protective technological net between them and the rest of the world. It’s worth noting that, while 73% of teens have social networking sites, there’s a high likelihood that they’re not posting everything just to Facebook. An Instagram monitoring tool can be an important asset, considering it is one of the most popular websites among youth.

How do you protect kids on social media? Let us know in the comments.

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Dear Parents: Don't Ignore the Dangers of Social Media

protect kids on social mediaDid you know that almost three quarters of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have created a profile on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites? This may not come as a surprise to you, as social media has exploded in recent years, but what is shocking is that there are an increasing number of young children making their way onto these sites.

In some cases, children under 12 illegally create a Facebook account by lying about their age. One study from the British Broadcasting Corporation shows that one in five under-aged children have create a profile.

The problem with this is that cyberbullying is becoming a serious problem, according to about 68% of teens. With older, more experienced users on these sites, young children may not know who to ignore, and who to accept as friends. Consequently, they could also be placing themselves in danger by sharing information with complete strangers. Almost half of these children upload photos, and many also post videos.

For this reason, many parents elicit the help of social media monitoring services and social media monitoring software. These programs help protect kids on social media sites, as they allow parents to see what their children post, who they are friends with, and how many times a day they log into their account.

Here are a few other ways to protect kids on social media sites.

  1. Set Rules
    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 75% of teens own a cell phone. With many of these being smartphones, teens have unlimited access to their social media accounts. But most children get their iPhones and smartphones from their parents, and since parents are the ones paying the bill, they can set usage rules. Talking to your child about how much data they are allowed to use in a day will help keep them off of social media to a certain degree, and also, giving them a time limit for this activity at home would also be beneficial.
  2. Change Phone Settings
    In some cases, you can work with your cell phone provider on data allowance for each of your phone lines. The ones that you or your spouse use can be set to “unlimited,” but you can restrict data for any additional lines. This will help reduce the amount of time your child spends on social media since you can’t always monitor internet activity while he or she is away at school during the day.
  3. Open Communication
    Sometimes, just a simple conversation with your child can be enough, and you won’t need to invest in iPhone monitoring software. You can talk to your child about the dangers of online predators, how cyberbullying is rampant, and also about keeping interactions on these sites to a minimum. This will at least open the line of communication between you and your child, and if anything does happen, he or she will likely tell you about it.

There is no way to completely protect kids on social media from stalkers, bullies, and other predators, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. The little effort you make could save them from unnecessary danger.

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