Teaching Your Teen How To Be A Cyber-Smart Citizen

By | August 28th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Guest blog_082814This guest blog post is a part of our cyberSAFE blog series focusing on back-to-school security, privacy and identity topics. It comes to us from Sue Scheff, author and family internet safety advocate. She is the founder and president of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts Inc. (P.U.R.E.) and has been helping to educate parents on cyberbullying awareness and safe online practices for teens since 2001.

Making smart cyber choices today is as important as your GPA.

As children are online now more than ever, it’s important to realize that your child’s digital image is their future. Your child’s online reputation determines what college they get into and where they’ll work in the future. Today, 98 percent of employers run an Internet search on applicants and if they find a negative online presence, 77 percent of those employers will not invite the applicant in for an interview.

College recruiters are reporting nearly the same statistics. They are putting your child’s name through an Internet wash-cycle, and how it spins out will determine if your child secures a spot at a college of their choice. As we start the new school year, we have to remember that every keystroke and photo posted in cyberspace is public and permanent – there is no rewind online.

Becoming a Cyber-Smart Citizen
Digital citizenship restarts every day as you power-up your smartphone or connected device. To help your teen better navigate the rough waters of social media, here’s a look at some of the golden rules of cyber-smart citizens:

  • Over-sharing is a common mistake that many people of all ages make on social media. Be selective and smart about what you share.
  • Prior to posting a comment, photo or video – you need to consider the following: is what you’re posting helpful, kind or necessary? Or is it something you may regret later?
  • Check your privacy settings on all social media sites. Make this a weekly habit.
  • Who is in the comments/photos/videos? If you are posting a picture of other people, did you get their permission?
  • Tag and share with care. Treat others as you want to be treated online.
  • Social media is not a scrapbook. Don’t use it as a diary.

Friending and Unfriending Guidelines
In addition to these golden rules, it’s important for teens to evaluate who they are connecting with online. You are judged by who you hang with, online and offline. Here are some steadfast rules when it comes to “friending” and “un-friending” online:

  • If you have a friend that is posting questionable comments or pictures on your social media sites, don’t be afraid to unfriend them.
  • Just because someone is friends of friends of someone you know, it doesn’t mean you have to be friends with them virtually. Cyber criminals can use this tactic to steal your identity.
  • Keep this in mind: quality beats quantity on social media.

Cyberbullying and Online Harassment
There are lines that should never be crossed on social media. Empower your teen to know how to report digital abuse. Here’s how:

  • Do learn where how to report abuse on each social media platform.
  • Do tell a parent or an adult if you are a victim of online abuse.
  • Don’t engage with a cyberbully.
  • Don’t stay in chat rooms or on websites that make you feel uncomfortable.

Your child’s digital trail is the path to their future. It is our job as parents to help them protect and maintain their good name. A great reminder to all students is a New York Times article that ran last year: They Loved Your GPA Until They Saw Your Tweets. One of the most important things about social media that teens should never forget is that social media is not a diary, scrapbook or venting machine.If you are having a bad day, stay off of technology.

In addition to securing your teen’s online reputation by encouraging positive, smart actions, you can also inform your teen of the cyber security issues at stake. They can secure their identity by never giving out their account password or smartphone passcode to anyone. A best friend today could easily become a frenemy tomorrow. Only parents should have passwords.

Keep in mind: you never get a second chance to make a first impression – especially online.

For more information and tips on raising digital citizens at NCSA’s website.


Kids and Their “Digital Footprints”

By | August 20th, 2014|Uncategorized|

backtoschool_082014This guest blog post is a part of our cyberSAFE blog series focusing on back-to-school security, privacy and identity topics. It comes to us from Diana Graber, co-founder of CyberWise, the go-to-to source for busy adults who want to learn how to embrace digital media fearlessly, and the CyberWise Certified online learning program (check out the course on “Online Reputation Management”). She developed and teaches middle school “Cyber Civics” at Journey School in Aliso Viejo, CA. Diana has an M.A. in Media Psychology and Social Change and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

My daughter, who is busy preparing to go off to college, burst into my office yesterday with a question, “Why in the world did you ever let me get a Facebook page in 8th grade?”

The reason for her outburst was that she’d just received an email from her university telling her the names of her future roommates… you can imagine what every student does the moment they receive this information—they look each other up on Facebook. She anguished over silly and embarrassing posts on her page from 8th grade. She felt that the mistakes she made as a tween were tarnishing her online reputation as a young adult.

Understanding the impact of one’s online reputation—or, “digital footprint”— is challenging, even for those of us who have been online for a long time. We see examples of adults being digitally disastrous every day and we certainly can think of someone who has shared too much information or posted a photo that makes us cringe. So, imagine the difficulty of trying to introduce the concept of a “digital footprint,” and its future ramifications, to kids who are just starting to make their online reputations take shape.

That’s what I do in 6th grade Cyber Civics™ classes at Journey School in Aliso Viejo, CA. To teach this concept I use a lesson from Common Sense Media and adapt it to make it particularly relevant to my students. For example, one class had just completed a very successful pie-making/selling fundraiser called “Sweetie Pies,” so I told these students that as “owners” they were going to hire a national spokesperson for their thriving venture. In this engaging experience, the children consider two applicants, Jason and Linda, by reviewing their “digital footprints.”

After conducting this digital background check, the students were asked to consider which candidate they should hire based on the following criteria: Who was more honest and who worked well with others? They broke into small groups to ponder this decision and after considering all the online evidence (not so good), most groups decided not to hire either candidate.

The best part of this lesson, however, is the follow-up activity: students were given a blank footprint and told that it represented their “digital footprint.” Their task was to think about what they wanted it to say in 10 years by filling it in with words and images that described their future selves.

These students designed footprints that said they’d be professional soccer players, artists, scientists, musicians, gamers, fashion stylists and more. Some footprints indicated that these kids were going to win the Nobel Peace prize, the Heisman trophy, feed the homeless and perform hundreds of pet rescues.

Of course only a fraction of these digital dreams will come true, but the point is this: it gives kids the idea that they can, and should, shape their own online reputations, or “digital footprints” and be proud of the online self they show to the world.

Back-To-School Online Safety Tips for Families

By | August 19th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Back to SchoolThis guest blog post is a part of our cyberSAFE blog series focusing on back-to-school security, privacy and identity topics. It comes to us from Kara Wright, the Digital Media Coordinator for the National Cyber Security Alliance. She assists the operation and development of the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. and National Cyber Security Awareness Month campaigns and works with other NCSA staff to increase the campaigns’ footprint and reach and social and digital properties.

As the new school year approaches, it is important for families to brush up on online safety and ensure they are staying safe online. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself and your family this school year.

Be Safe When Doing Your Back-To-School Shopping
Buying school supplies online? Check out these tips first:

  • Connect with care, and when shopping, be sure the site you are using is security-enabled. Look for a web address with https:// or “shttps://” instead of https:// (or a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar) to know the site takes extra measures to help secure your information.
  • If you are considering buying from a seller you have never used before, collect your own research on the seller first to make sure the site is legitimate. Some attackers try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear legitimate, so you should verify the site before supplying information. Do this by searching for customer reviews and noting the company’s phone number and physical address.
  • Protect your personal information and be alert to the kinds of information being collected when you are making a purchase online. Check the website’s privacy policy before providing personal or financial information, and make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used. Remember that you only need to fill out required fields on a checkout form, and make sure that the information requested seems necessary.
  • Turn off your computer when you’re finished shopping and using your computer. Leaving your computer connected to the Internet when it’s not in use gives scammers 24/7 access to install malware and commit cyber crimes. To be safe, turn off your computer when it’s not in use.

Protect Your Family from Cyberbullying Once School Starts
Every age group is vulnerable to cyberbullying, but teenagers and young adults are common victims. Cyberbullying is a growing problem in schools thanks to the Internet’s fairly anonymous nature, but these steps can help you protect your family members from cyberbullying:

  • Limit where you and your family members post personal information. Be careful who can access your family members’ contact information and details about interests, habits or employment to reduce exposure to bullies; this may limit the risk of you or one of your family members becoming a victim and may make it easier to identify the bully if someone is victimized.
  • Own your online presence. When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing; it’s OK to limit how you share information.
  • Safer for me, more secure for all. What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
  • Post only about others as you would have them post about you.

Raise Good Digital Citizens
The Internet is a great place to learn and get entertainment, but it can pose dangers if precautions are not taken. Allowing free access puts your family members, your computer and your personal data at risk. It is important for parents to remain positively engaged, paying attention to the online environments their children use and showing interest in their friends. Additionally, parents are encouraged to support their children’s good choices online and expand their autonomy when developmentally appropriate. Keep a clean machine by protecting all family computers with security anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall programs that are set to update automatically, keeping operating systems, web browsers and other software current and backing up computer files on a regular basis.

For more information and tips mentioned above, visit NCSA’s website. As always, let us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to check out our Tumblr for the latest industry news stories.

#cyberSAFEChat: Child ID Theft and Privacy

By | April 10th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Last year we polled parents on their feelings and actions towards child identity theft. The results? Most were not taking measures to protect their children against identity theft risks. Recently, we heard from parents and businesses with more questions and interest surrounding this topic. To address these questions, we hosted a #cyberSAFEchat Twitter chat coupled with a replay of our 2013 webinar on child identity theft and privacy. The onslaught of interest and information shared during the Twitter chat showed just how relevant the topic still is in today’s digital world.

Clay Nichols from LookOut Social and Anne Livingston from KidsPrivacy co-hosted our #cyberSAFEchat this week, answering questions and providing expert advice on child identity theft prevention. We had a wonderful group of participants, including the National Cyber Security Alliance, Ginger Hill from Security Today Magazine, Social Assurity and Data Privacy Day. This brilliant group of security and child privacy experts shared tips, resources and facts about the realities and risks parents face when it comes to protecting their child’s identity. Below are some key highlights from our #cyberSAFEchat or you can read the entire chat transcript on our Storify.


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