avoiding the digital drama
Watch out! Sometimes social media accounts are created anonymously (or falsely) and feature negative posts, comments and pictures about other individuals/students. School-age children may get invited to follow the anonymous accounts and some do so--- or allow the anonymous account holders to follow them. The accounts might be related/themed with their school, peers, or groups of students that they know. Some may tend to keep their accounts public rather than private so that anything they post can be viewed and “liked” by any and all. To help avoid negative consequences or hurt feelings, make a practice of only following online accounts in which you know the person who created and uses the account. Keep accounts settings at private and never share password information with anyone (except with your parents).
Notes on Privacy and Internet Safety from Common Sense Media
How can I make sure my kid isn't sharing too much on Facebook or Instagram?
Take a two-pronged approach. First, probe a bit to find out if your kids might be at risk for over sharing. Reserve judgment until you've heard your kids out; a heavy-handed approach can lead to them shutting you out. Ask about what types of things they and their friends share. Make sure they're not feeling pressured to post things they're uncomfortable with.
Discuss the risks of over-sharing, which include damage to one's reputation and regrets about sharing personal information.
Second, check in about privacy settings. Kids don't always think through the consequences of their actions. That's when privacy settings really matter. Even if kids do think before they post, if their privacy settings aren't enabled (or aren't strict) they may be sharing more than they mean to.
How do I protect my child's privacy online?
First, there are two kinds of online privacy. Personal privacy refers to your kid's online reputation, and consumer privacy (also known as customer privacy) refers to the data companies can collect about your kid during an online interaction or transaction. Both are important, and a few simple steps can help parents and kids keep their private information private.
The first step is using strict privacy settings in apps and on websites. When you or your kid gets a new device or signs up for a new website or app, establish your privacy preferences. Follow the directions during initial set-up, or go to the section marked "privacy" or "settings" and opt out of things such as location sharing and the ability for the app or website to post to social media sites such as Facebook on your behalf. Encourage kids to read the fine print before checking a box or entering an email address.
Although it might not be practical to read through every Terms of Service contract, it's good to remind kids to be aware of what information they're agreeing to share before they start using an app, a website, or a device.
Next, teach your kids always to consider the information they're potentially giving away when engaging online. For younger kids, define that information as address, phone number, and birth date.
What are the best privacy settings for my computer and smartphone?
The place to go to protect your computer against privacy invasion is your web browser. When you go online, websites install cookies on your computer that track your movements. Some cookies can be beneficial, such as those that remember your login names or items in your online shopping cart. But some cookies are designed to remember everything you do online, build a profile of your personal information and habits, and sell that information to advertisers and other companies. (Check out these kid Web browsers.)
Take a look at the privacy settings offered in your browser (usually found in the Tools menu) to see whether you can fine-tune them to keep the good and block the bad.
Privacy settings on smartphones vary, but you can tighten up privacy with these precautions:
Turn off location services. That prevents apps from tracking your location.
Don't let apps share data. Some apps want to use information stored on your phone (your contact list, for example). Say no.
Enable privacy settings on apps you download. Make sure your teens are using strict privacy settings on services such as Instagram and Facebook.
Be careful with social logins. When you log onto a site with your Facebook or Google username and password, you may be allowing that app to access certain information from your profile. Read the fine print to know what you're sharing.
Consider requiring your child to give you their username and passwords in order to download certain apps on their device. Considering not giving your child the password required to download and purchase apps to better ensure that they will need to come to you before downloading new social media platforms. Encourage your child to not friend or follow any account of an anonymous person(s). Encourage your child to NOT share their password with anyone (except parent).
Dialogue Tips about Cyber-Safety
Imagine you get an inappropriate text message after school...
• Tell and show a trusted adult. Do not forward. If it’s repeated, you can block that person – or de-friend them.
• Think before you click.
• Consequences – lose friends, create harm for others, hurt feeling, kids don’t want to come to school, discipline, legal.
• Treat others as you would want to be treated (online)
• “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t be willing to share with your grandparents”.
• It can be found---even if it is deleted, it can be retrieved.
• You are responsible for your own on-line behavior and on-line accounts.
• In cyber-space, only associate with people you know face to face.
What am I about to do?
Why do I want to do it?
What could be the consequences?
Would I want it done to me?
Internet/Cyber-safety: The following information and more can be found at our Olweus Bullying Prevention Program website. As a reminder the web address to our bullying prevention website is:
*Install antivirus software on your computer and keep it up to date. Use
A firewall for protection. Young people can be notorious for downloading
games and applications from Web sites that may include harmful
viruses. Make sure you back up files regularly.
*Take advantage of any free parental controls and spam blockers provided
by your Internet service provider.
*Bookmark appropriate sites for your children to visit and reach an
agreement that these are the only sites they can visit online. If they wish
to venture to a new site, they should check with you first. Teach them
to use a “kid-friendly” search engine and set your
*Search preferences on Strict Filtering to avoid the display of
*Limit time spent on online gaming.
*As kids move into the tween and teen years, consider adding monitoring
software. Monitoring software allows you to view the sites they visit and
to review chat sessions and comments they post on social-networking
sites. You can also view the history of the sites visited on your computer.
* Kids often learn how to clear the history by selecting the Delete History option.
*If your child appears to be deleting the history of sites visited, you will need to add monitoring software.
*Teach your child how to communicate appropriately in cyberspace.
*Explain how easy it is for messages to be misinterpreted online.
*Discuss the golden rule as it applies to cyberspace. Stress to your child
that, “If you wouldn’t want someone to say that to you, don’t send it
in a message.”
*Discuss how easily rumors get started online and the importance of avoiding gossip
*Teach your child how to be a rumor blocker (don’t pass it on) rather than a rumor starter.
*Discuss with your child what information is appropriate to share online
and what information is too private or personal. Make sure your child
knows to avoid posting his or her phone number, cell phone number, date
of birth, or home address on Web sites or in instant messages.
*Discuss with tweens and teens with whom they can share
photos and what types of photos are appropriate.
*Respect the minimum-age guidelines of social-networking sites. Do not
allow your children to lie about their ages to bypass the age limits. If
you are willing to let your child have a profile on a social-networking site
such as Facebook.com, set it up together. Emphasize
how important it is for you to know their passwords.
*Make sure your child understands the importance of keeping their
passwords private. Good friends may become enemies and could wreak
havoc if they know your child’s passwords.
*Online friends should be friends in the real world. Make sure the friends
on your child’s buddy lists and social-networking sites are people he or
she knows, rather than friends of friends.
*Teach your child the importance of
building a positive online reputation for the future, because employers
and colleges may search online for information about him or her.
“…According to a recent study, 58% of all teens between the ages of 12-17 have downloaded apps to their personal cell phones. This generation loves to communicate through their cell phones. The movement away from desktops to laptops has become problematic. Increasingly, unhealthy practices are taking place over third party mobile apps. Apps have become the new way for teens to engage in at risk behavior without the watchful eyes of their parents
...And now for some good news!
New research is shedding light on the good things that can happen when kids connect, share, and learn online. As a parent, you can help nurture the positive aspects simply by accepting how important social media is for kids and helping them find ways for it to add real value to their lives. For inspiration, here are some of the benefits of your kid being social media-savvy:
It strengthens friendships. According to Common Sense's study Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives, 52 percent of all teens who use social media say it's helped their friendships, whereas only 4 percent say it has mainly hurt their friendships; and 29 percent of social network users believe that social networking makes them feel more outgoing (compared to 5 percent who say it makes them feel less so).
It offers a sense of belonging. A study conducted by Griffith University and the University of Queensland in Australia found that although American teens have fewer friends than their historical counterparts, they are less lonely than teens in past decades. They report feeling less isolated and have actually become more socially adept as well, partly due to an increase in technology use.
It provides genuine support. Online acceptance -- whether a kid is interested in an unusual subject that isn't considered "cool" or is grappling with sexual identity -- can validate a marginalized kid. Suicidal teens can even get immediate access to quality support online. One example occurred on a Minecraft forum on Reddit when an entire online community used voice-conferencing software to talk a teen out of his decision to commit suicide.
It helps them express themselves. Both producers and performers can satisfy a need for creative self-expression through social media. Digital technology allows kids to share their work with a wider audience and even collaborate with far-flung partners (an essential 21st-century skill). If they're really serious, social media can provide essential feedback for kids to hone their craft.
It lets them do good. Twitter, Facebook, and other large social networks expose kids to important issues and people from all over the world. Kids realize they have a voice they didn't have before and are doing everything from crowdfunding for people in need to anonymously Tweeting positive thoughts.
(excerpt from Common Sense Media)