Category Archives: Cyber Bullying

Lawsuit Claims Aids Sex Trafficking

By: N i c o l a

Three sex trafficking victims have brought a lawsuit against The victims claim that the website helps promote the exploitation of children. Lawyers for the victims claim that the girls were sold as prostitutes through ads on BackPage says that the lawsuit is an attempt at censorship and has asked a judge to dismiss the case. The judge declined, BackPage appealed.

The Washington Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. BackPage believes the case should be thrown out because the Communications Decency Act of 1996 gives it immunity from the activities of its members. The victims say they were raped multiple times when they were teenagers and that the website is partially responsible for their sex trafficking. reported, “According to court documents, when pimps forced the women to offer sex on the controversial website, Backpage never verified their ages and instructed sex traffickers not to use certain words or graphics to avoid scrutiny from the public and police.”

During the arguments, the Supreme Court Justice’s asked both sides whether BackPage was part of contributing, developing or creating content for the website. The attorney for BackPage claimed that it was clear that his client did not create or develop the ads that allegedly harmed the plaintiffs. He argues that this is an effort to chill online speech.

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was the first attempt by the United States to regulate pornographic material on the internet. It criminalized the transmission of materials that were “obscene or indecent” to persons known to be under 18. However, many portions of CDA have been struck down for violating the right to free speech.

The BackPage lawsuit could have a major effect on sex trafficking. The ruling in the case could also have a huge impact on free speech in the online world.

If you suspect child sex trafficking, it should be reported to the CyberTipline of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Yik Yak App: A Parent Guide to Social Media

By: Jason Howie
By: Jason Howie

The Yik Yak app is a social media app that acts like a social media bulletin board. The Yik Yak webpage states, “It allows anyone to connect and share information with others without having to know them.” This could be very problematic for parents. Although the app webpage does state that the app is for users 17+ it has not prevented younger users from signing up.

Yik Yak is extremely popular with teens in high school. It has found such popularity through word-of-mouth. Many students who have heard of the app have only heard about it placed in a negative context yet they still take the plunge and download the app to use it.

CNN reported that “Some students have compared it to a virtual bathroom wall where users post vitriol and hate.” Fox News reported that it was the ultimate tool for bullies. Other media outlets have also reported that Yik Yak is a platform for hate speech or harrasment.

Recently, the Washington Post did a report on how Yik Yak has become a scourge across the land on high school and college campuses from California to Concord, N.H. Some incidents that have happened due to the app include a student leaking a video sex tape, 2 students charged with felonies over posts made to the app bulletin board, and another student charged and arrested for making threats about a “Virginia Tech 2” promise on the bulletin board of Yik Yak.

Yik Yak is currently in the process of being banned on high school and college campuses. Parents should encourage their children to delete this app from their smartphones if they downloaded it. There are other apps that are safer for kids to use. Parents can ensure that kids don’t download the app by setting up age restrictions on their child’s mobile device. Parents can also encourage their child’s school to block the app by asking the school to request a geofence.

WebSafety Keeps Kids Safe on the Internet

By: Enokson
By: Enokson

WebSafety is a new cell phone app that allows parents to keep their children safe on the internet. It gives parents real-time information about the who, what and where of what their kids are doing online. The app helps parents monitor their children’s behavior and their whereabouts through real-time alerts.

web safety app

In an Interview between Michele Borba product developer of WebSafety, she mentions that WebSafety is very important for parents because it keeps them alerted to when their children are posting personal information and inappropriate things on the internet. She says that one of the most common things that kids do to make themselves vulnerable in the cyber world is the posting of private information.

The WebSafety app empowers parents to keep track of their childrens’ smartphone and tablet usage. It can trigger alerts for vulgar language, flag websites and monitor apps that kids and teens download onto their phones and tablets. WebSafety also offers geo-tracking. Parents can make sure kids are where they say they are going to be. It also allows parents to create a 25 mile geofence to alert them when the child has left the area.

WebSafety is running a limited time promotion of 50% off to the first 25,000 new subscribers to 6-month and 12-month subscriptions. It is available on most Android Smartphones and Tablets. iOS Support Coming Soon!

Pricing Packages start at $3.99 

  • Protects one child device.
  • Includes parent Dashboard.
  • Access to the WebSafety forum.
  • Customer support.
  • Additional devices cost $3.99/month.
  • Purchase a year’s subscription for $39.99, and two months free.

$11.99 / month

  • Protects four children’s devices.
  • Includes parent Dashboard.
  • Access to the WebSafety forum.
  • Customer support.
  • Additional devices cost $2.99/month.

$14.99 / month

  • Protects six children’s devices.
  • Includes parent Dashboard.
  • Access to the WebSafety forum.
  • Customer support.
  • Additional devices cost $2.49/month.
  • Purchase a year’s subscription for $149.99 and save over 16%.

Borba believes that the first step in protecting children on the internet is for parents to have the ability to be informed. She says that parents need to keep an open line of communication with their children and she recommends that kids be told when they are being monitored. Kids who know they are being watched will think more about what put out in the cyber world and more about who they are engaging with online.

Subtweeting: What Is It?

By: Rosaura Ochoa

A popular digital trend in the online world is the development of subtweeting. It is fast becoming a trend among teens and tweens. Subtweeting may sound like an innocent new trend in social media or a new fad that kids are just trying on for size. In reality, subtweeting is the newest form of cyberbullying to hit the digital world.

Subtweeting according to the Urban Dictionary means “indirectly tweeting about someone without mentioning their name. Even though their name is not mentioned, it is clear who the person tweeting is referring to.” The trend allows users to talk negatively or gossip about a person without taking responsibility for their words.

A better explanation of subtweeting can be found in an article by Kate Knibbs at Digital Trends. She writes, “But not all Twitter users want to engage in tweet-to-tweet combat with their enemies. Some prefer to call their nemeses out behind their back –which is kind of hard to do considering your tweets are usually public and your rivals may or may not follow you. And there’s a term for this underhanded insult-slinging: It’s call subtweeting.”

Subtweeting is a passive-aggressive way to cyberbully without having to be held accountable. It is more common among high school students and young Twitter users; teens and tweens. The trend has been around since 2012 and is an original modification to the Twitter culture.  Its popularity has moved into other social media outlets including Facebook and Instagram.  On Facebook, people use the hashtag #subtweet to make an insult about another user without mentioning the user’s name.

Parents of teens and tweens need to be aware that subtweeting is a hurtful practice that can cause ripples of negative behavior. Monitoring the social media posts that your children make can help you take notice of whether your teen or tween is engaged in subtweeting. Teens and tweens often take to social media to vent their frustrations, it is important for parents to teach them that online communication isn’t the best option when the real issues they are having with someone can be addressed in real life through the non-digital mode of communication –talking.

Your Teen is Talking to Strangers and Giving Out Too Much Info

By: Wen Tong Neo

McAfee released a study in June that exposed a shocking revelation for the parents of tweens and teens. The 2014 Teens and the Screen study: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying exposed that teens often over share personal information and are willing engage strangers online.

The survey highlighted some important findings. Private lives are not so private. Teens often seek social networks considered to be the “no parent zone.” Cyberbullying is still prevalent on the world wide web and teens are often the victim. Cyberbullying conflicts are also carried into offline altercations.

Some of the statistics are startling. Continue reading Your Teen is Talking to Strangers and Giving Out Too Much Info

Skype Safety Tips for Kids and Parents

By: jayneandd

The internet is a dangerous place especially for kids who are not tech savvy enough to realize a potential threat lurking on the web. Skype is a free video chat and instant messaging service widely used for family and friends to keep in touch with each other. Parents and kids often use the service as it was intended, but sometimes kids and parents get a rude shock.

Skype users have been affected by such items as a video of a naked person, inappropriately touching themselves, tasteless messages sent to young unsuspecting individuals, and compromised personal information. Online safety is a priority to keep both children and parents out of harm’s way.

Skype Safety Tip #1

Always monitor your child while they are using Skype. Know who your child is chatting with and make sure nothing inappropriate is happening in the chat room. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure that the computer or tablet being used is in a common room of the home.

Skype Safety Tip #2

Make sure personal information is kept private by updating privacy settings. First, make sure to use a long, unique password that uses a combination of numbers, letters and characters to prevent the account from being hacked. Next, update privacy settings on Skype to limit communications and protect your private information. Teach kids not to put personal information in a Skype profile because some of it could be made public.

Skype Safety Tip #3

Teach kids about “stranger danger” and what to do if they are approached out in the real world and what do to if they are approached online by a stranger.  Teach children to tell a trusted adult immediately if they are approached by a stranger on Skype or any other internet chat service.

Skype Safety Tip #4

Protect your computer by making sure an antivirus or anti-malware program is installed. Skype users can be subject to viruses and malware that can cause computers to run slowly, corrupt data, and cause vulnerabilities.

Skype Safety Tip #5

Report any incidents to local authorities.  Take a screen shot of the chat and save everything of importance to give to police.  This includes the username of the other party, the time and date of the conversation, and any other pertinent details about the conversation.  The incident will be investigated.


Tips for keeping your teens and tweens safe online

I recently had the chance to talk to the experts at ZoneAlarm about  Facebook’s latest privacy changes – where teens can publicly share their photos and updates as well as be found by the general public.  What does this mean for a teen’s online security?  What are some concerns parents should have or be made aware of?  It’s no secret that from cyberbullies to online stalkers and predators, teens face an increasing range of online threats. What can parents do to help their teens protect themselves online? Their experts offered up this infographic as well as some helpful statistics and tips for keeping our kids safe.

Did you know that?

  • 23 percent say they have been victims of cyberbullying.
  • 62 percent of teenagers have witnessed taunting and other cruel behavior online.

Control who sees timeline posts. Under privacy settings, you can select: “Who can see my posts?” Then, by changing it from “Public” to “Friends” or “Close Friends”, all future posts that your teen creates will just be seen by the audience that she specifies. She can also change the “Limit who sees old posts” setting from “Public” to “Friends of Friends” or “Friends.”

Watch out for apps. Continue reading Tips for keeping your teens and tweens safe online

Does technology make parenting harder?

51a241c5ddd8b47e50aa3c59a964910a25464_640Does technology make parenting harder?  This is a question I struggle with every day.  But when I really stop and think about it, I have to say, “Yes! Technology does make parenting harder.”  Some may say it makes it easier too, but that’ s a topic for another day.

The Huffington Post came out with this article today about “How Technology Has Made Parenting Harder.”  Hold on, don’t go read it yet, let’s talk about some ways that this typical every day parent thinks technology makes parenting harder.

The dangers of technology 

Spams, cyber bullying, inappropriate content, stranger danger and viruses just to name a few of the dangers I worry about every time the kids get on the computer, smartphone or iPad.  One day I was letting the 6 year old watch what I thought was a “My Little Pony” video, and well it was and it wasn’t!  Good thing I was sitting right there to change the “channel” fast.   They want to video everything they do and share it with the world.  While I am thrilled at their creativity and self-confidence, I feel like I’m stifling them when I look into their pouty faces and say, “No baby sorry you can’t post that on YouTube.”   Which leads me to the next way that technology has made my job as a parent harder.

But everyone else does it!

The video is made and the children are ready to post it.  “No girls you can’t post that on mom’s work account.”  “Okay we will make our own! ” Which is followed by the discussion that you are too young to make your own according to (insert social media tool here ) rules.  “But other kids do it! My friends all have accounts!” Followed by more pouty faces, flounces and bounces to their room.  However, in a few years I’m sure that flounce and bounce will be followed by a text message, status update, tweet – or whatever it may be called in about 3 years – that “My mom is so mean!” or a similar type comment.  Which leads to the next way that technology makes parenting harder.

Gripes, moans, complaints, half -truths and untruths (lies) 

Now, I admit, I’m a “mean mommy” quite frequently, if that’s what it takes to get the job done. But do children really need one more place to complain about how horrible their life is since mom (or dad) made them do their homework or grounded them from this weekend’s fun?  But that’s just the sugar in the cupcake of all this bit$#ing and moaning.  Next is how mean their teachers are.  How they hate the kid next door. It graduates to making fun of someone because they are different  And, it snowballs from there into lies, cyber bulling and fighting online and off.

How else does technology make parenting harder? Oh let me count the ways . . .

  • Fighting to get homework and chores done.
  • Text talk instead of an actual conversation.
  • Headphones so they don’t even hear me when it is a real conversation.
  • Less exercise.
  • Demands for bigger and better technology/toys and honestly one of the kids sounds like a walking, talking commercial as she shares with me all the reasons I need to buy her X and X.

Now sure there are lots of advantages to technology too.  But we aren’t talking about those yet.  Maybe next week.

But I know for sure, that technology does make parenting harder for me. I have a 25 year old and a 6 year old.  There is a huge difference in how I have to parent now and how I parenting then.

What does all this mean?  It means I have to be a better parent.  I have to be more aware and I have to “step up my game.”  But hey if the kids can figure out my iPad I should be able to figure out how to be a better parent right?

What about technology makes parenting harder for you?


Five Reasons Instagram Might Be A Bad Idea for Your Teen

teens and instagramInstagram is one of the hottest social media apps on the market and they are growing quickly. In the past year alone they have doubled their subscription base and that does not appear to be slowing down. Because the app is used primarily on phones and tablets, it has been particularly popular with the younger crowd for sharing pictures with friends. The problem with Instagram is that it is not meant for kids younger than 13 per their terms of service. Despite this, kids sign up all the time with little to stand in their way. Here are five good reasons why you might want to stop your kid from using Instagram at such a young age:

Instagram is public

Like any other social media site, anyone can see your kid’s pictures if they don’t set the account to private. If the kid posts a picture at the park with friends and the account is set to public, anyone can know where your kid is, what they look like and who they are with. The danger is obvious.

Instagram can be brutal

We have all heard the stories of how social media can hurt a kid. Instagram allows Continue reading Five Reasons Instagram Might Be A Bad Idea for Your Teen

The power of kindness to overcome bullying and cyberbullying

download-key-logger-programThe power of kindness to overcome bullying
by Lauren Ivy Chiong

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

That’s the saying we learned as children to recite when picked on by bullies, but the statement that the words never hurt couldn’t have been further from the truth. The truth is that cruel words can hurt as much as a physical injury, even if it’s in a different way, and the wounds run deep and can last a lifetime.

I was the prototypical nerdy girl who got picked on in the locker room and chosen last in P.E. I’ll never forget what the mean girls said to me, even though it’s decades later. Now I’m the mother to a preschooler, and she’s on the verge of being old enough to understand what it means to get picked on for being different and to have her feelings get hurt.

How can the inevitable cruelty in the schoolyard be overcome? The first thing that comes to mind is kindness.

I was very pleased to find some current examples of how kindness is being used in schools to overcome bullying and foster compassion and friendship.

Performing random acts of kindness

In Terre Haute, Indiana, a local non-profit organization called SPPRAK, an acronym for Special People Performing Random Acts of Kindness, has unveiled a program at Dixie Been Elementary School called SPPRAK Pack. The program’s mission is to help students celebrate acts of kindness by allowing them to record fellow students’ good deeds on sticky notes, which are then placed on a large banner displayed in the school’s front hallway. The notes record moments of students sharing lunches, helping put toys away, opening the door for each other, and more. The program is expected to be available soon in all of the 28 schools in Vigo County, Indiana.

Stopping cyberbullying with kindness

Jeremiah Anthony, a student at West High School in Iowa City, Iowa, is combating cyber bullying one compliment at a time. He created a Twitter account called @WestHighBros to send out kind tweets about his fellow classmates when he became aware of the growing problem of students being bullied via social media. Anthony, along with two friends, send out tweets full of praise and encouraging words for students whom they choose randomly.

Here are some samples of the @WestHighBros tweets:

“Leader in so many ways. You don’t tell lies and you are forever real. Your infectious smile brightens everyone’s day around you.”

“One of the funniest and classiest guys we know. Fantastic on the soccer field and in the classroom. Keep up the great work!”

So far the friends have sent out more than 3,000 tweets and counting.

#26Acts of kindness for Sandy Hook Continue reading The power of kindness to overcome bullying and cyberbullying