Thursday, March 17, 2016

Protecting Our Children Online

I recently attended a lecture titled: Innocence Stolen: Protecting Our Children Online by Vince DeVivo, the community outreach specialist for the US Attorney's Office in Maryland. 

It was well done, and a little terrifying. 

The point was how to protect teens/tweens from negative and criminal influences online, including but not limited to: social networks, cyber bullying, sexting, and internet predators (shudder).


Which means we have to teach our children to be their own first line of defense/advocate/champion. If we successfully teach them now, then hopefully they'll avoid many Internet pitfalls.

I took notes and you'll also see pictures of the handouts in this blog post. Use the information to protect your children. Don't trust anyone, including schools, to protect them as well as you will. Feel free to go ALL MAMA BEAR, without freaking out your child.

Fun Facts: 
94% of teens 12-19 use the Internet
84% have a social media profile
84% of teens access a cell phone
88% text
It only takes 20 minutes to track down an individual and their location on the Internet. Less if there's a pic.
Colleges check social media for digital footprints. Employers too. 1/3 of employers throw out applications once they check.

Internet Predators:
They are like hunters: they look for those on the fringe of the pack, the weak, the slow, etc. They use social media to attract your child. They shower them with attention, kindness, even gifts. They are sympathetic and good listeners who are up on the trends. This all takes place silently between them and your child on a screen. They eventually introduce sexual content. Their goal: Face to Face interaction!

About Gen Y & Gen Z
Unfortunately the GEN Y kids have a sense of entitlement and need a constant source of feedback for positive reinforcement and confidence. Their attitudes and values are shaped by the Internet.

The GEN Z kids are the most tech savvy generation ever. (Ever seen that two year old with mom's Iphone? That's what we're talking about.) No patience and are always on tech. They are at greatest risk for cyber bullying, ID theft, gang influence, and illegal activity. They also have no time to sort out the truth! They also link self esteem to "likes" and "followers."

They need to know what a REAL friend is!

Privacy Policies are a joke. They are there to protect the company when it sells your "digital footprint" info to third parties.

How to control:
Ask your Internet carrier what tools are available and how much they cost?
You can put on hidden protection
GPS function/mapping your kids phone
Remember, when you take a picture all the metadata goes with it
Kids don't like privacy settings. They see them as a restriction rather than a protection. (Much like family rules/God's commandments.)

To the RIGHT is a list of major phone carriers and how to restrict/protect your kids.

Fun facts:posting % of teens
Real names: 92%
Interests: 84%
DOB: 82%
Relationship status: 62%
Video: 24%
Only 9% are worried about 3rd party access.

Social Media in use:
Facebook: declining
Instagram: selfie central, trending middle school teens posting nude pics can ask anonymous questions they don't want to ask anyone else (60 million users, 12 teen suicides linked to usage so far)
Vine: 6 sec video loops
Tinder: online dating for hooking up/one night stands. Use GPS location.
Tumblr: access porn
Whisper: share secrets, express yourself, meet others
Snap Chat: photos and videos that "disappear." Sued by FTC and on 20 year monitoring (but nothing has really changed). I've already seen teens use this one with disastrous results!
Kik: anonymous scrolling text
YikYak: social media + GPS location w/in 1/2 mile radius
Cydia: "jailbroken" phone. A hack system to allow download of 3rd party apps so user can hide inappropriate content. Bonus: Google can teach you how to do it. (AHH!)
Meerkat & Periscope: turns phone into live broadcast TV with location. is a human trafficking/prostitution site. BEWARE!

Below is a screen shot of the social media kids are using.

Do your kids use these? Do you monitor their use?
I don't even recognize half of them! My personal rule for my kids is, when they get old enough, they can only have social media I'm on.

Text abbreviations you should be worried about if you see them on your kid's phone:

ASL    F2F     RU18     LMZRU     GNOC     420     AMEZFU

Some of these relate that an adult is listening/seeing what they text, others are codes for drug use, or sex invites.

Defined as willful repeated harm inflicted through media. 24/7. Groups of kids work together to target an individual or group using e-mail or IM. Bullies show little to no remorse. They think they have to bully to be popular.

Signs of Bullying:
Visits to the nurse
Lots of bathroom trips or No bathroom trips
Avoids school
Suicide ideas/attempts

Sadly, our family has already been subject to this one and there are far too many media examples of teen/tween deaths tied to this behavior.

20-40% nude/seminude
22% girls, 18% boys
3x greater than in the past

If caught, kids lose: education, sports opportunities, etc. Inflicts emotional damage.
If you get one, don't delete it. Report it to a trusted adult so it can be taken care of. Then DELETE!

Golden Rules:
If you don't want everyone to see it, DON'T post it!!!
Once you send it you can't take it back!
Real life applies online.
Don't talk to strangers.
Don't give out private info.
Permission should be required to be online.
There is no such thing as PERMANENT DELETION!
Postings are FOREVER!!!
Nothing is FREE!
Find the GOOD online. 

Below are more tips.

Discuss the following with your kids:
What is inappropriate on the Internet?
What happens when you hit inappropriate content?
What do you do?
Can you talk to me (parent) about anything inappropriate you happen to see? Why or Why not?

The Internet can be used for both bad and good. Help protect your children from the bad. Show them how it can be used for making the world a better place.

What have you done to teach your kids Internet safety?


  1. Excellent! Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  2. I'm sending this link on for my grands. Thanks!

  3. This is a great post. Thanks for putting it up! It is very sobering to read, and extremely important to know, for both adults and children. Thank you again!