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Surfing The Information Highway in the 21st Century

Navigating the Informational Highway in the 21st Century - SueScheffBlog Pic 1

I accidentally looked at WHAT on the Internet?

Picture this: It’s early evening. You’re starting to make dinner when your daughter asks you what the final score was in the OSU/UO civil war game. You don’t know the answer, so you tell her to look it up online.

“No biggie,” you think. “She’s ten; she knows what to do.”

Suddenly the sounds of screaming and moaning fill the room.

You run to the computer where, right there on the screen, is a close-up video of…let’s just say a woman’s lady bits being manifestly violated. Frantically you close the window, but a dozen pop-up ads start flinging themselves on to your screen, each one with images more graphic than the next.

You shoo your daughter out of the room, telling her no, she’s not in trouble, but that you need to fix a problem with the computer and that it’s time to start her homework.

“What the heck happened here?” you think. “She’s always been trustworthy! That’s why I don’t have any of those parental blocker things! Those are for other kids who sneak around behind their parents’ backs! She never looks at anything more annoying than Justin Beiber pictures!”

After the virus checker finishes its job and deletes the dozens of files of malware your daughter accidentally downloaded, you decide to see just what she was up to. And that’s when you see it. Your daughter, curious about sports, had typed in the simplest search she could think of to get the answer she wanted:

“Beavers score.”

Unfortunately, situations like that are incredibly common, which is why those parental blocker programs exist. You don’t install them because you don’t trust your kids. You install them because you trust them but you also want to protect them until you’re certain they can handle the (mostly good but often nefarious for newbies) ways of the Internet on their own.

Just….NO!

 

Think of it this way: Even if you had the best auto insurance policy ever, you wouldn’t allow your ten-year-old daughter to simply take the keys to the car and drive herself to the mall, would you? Of course not.

When your children are young and small, they need special seats with lots of straps and harness-like apparatuses. That is your parental blocking program. As your child gets older, they grow out of those special seats and are allowed to sit in the back seat unencumbered. This is when you loosen (slightly, and however much you feel comfortable doing so) the restrictions on that blocking software.

When they’re old and big enough to move up to the passenger seat, you can take off the parental blocking software and allow them to use the Internet unrestricted, but not yet privately. When they’re old enough to drive… you get the idea. There’s no need to beat the metaphor completely to death.

The moral of the story is this: Protecting your kids against their own naïveté and those who might actually be trying to do them wrong online does not make you an annoying “helicopter” parent. It makes you a good parent. Stop beating yourself up about it!

Special contributor:

Erin Steiner is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics including this one.

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Teens and Cyber Safety

Teens will explore the Internet.

The ready availability of virtually anything and the generally unrestricted access the Internet provides is an irresistible draw to any teenager looking to explore. As a parent, you need to do what you can to keep them safe. Clever teens will get around nearly any form of parental control placed on the computer. It’s better in the long run, and much easier in the short term, to teach your teens to use the Internet safely.

1: Virus Protection.

The Internet is full of threats. Viruses show up all over the place, from e-mail attachments to embedded in downloads to fake programs. It’s essential that any computer your teen uses have adequate virus protection installed and kept up to date. It won’t stop a virus from being willfully — if accidentally — installed, but it will help eliminate most threats.

2: Safety Add-Ons. 

There are a number of utilities that can help make browsing technically safer. Spybot: Search & Destroy has an excellent immunization feature that blocks known danger pages from ever loading. Adblock+ is an add-on for most browsers that removes advertisements, including those embedded with malicious code. A good firewall can also help keep threats out.

3: Safe Browsing Habits.

Even the most sophisticated protection in the world won’t stop dedicated human error. It’s best to educate your teens on some safe browsing habits. Some good lessons include “if the virus scanner stops the download, don’t download it again,” “don’t download e-mail attachments from anyone you don’t know,” “learn to recognize advertisements pretending to be legitimate content,” and more.

4: Withholding Information.

The most dangerous thing a teen can do online is give out sensitive information to someone willing to misuse it. Teach them never to give out sensitive information. This information includes passwords, full real names, social security numbers, phone numbers, credit card numbers, usernames and other identity information. Anyone who has a legitimate reason to need some of that information can get it in other ways. No one will ever ask for it through e-mail unless they’re trying to steal it.

5: Complex Passwords.

Bad passwords are easy to guess, easy to brute force break and easy to steal. Good passwords are harder to remember, and people tend to write them down or set them to input automatically, which can be just as dangerous. Teach your teens to use good passwords and remember them. It doesn’t have to be a messy combination of letters, numbers and symbols. A good password might simply be a long phrase with capitalized words, a number and some punctuation. Such a password is easy to remember and hard to guess.

Accidents will happen. Everyone steps outside their boundaries at some point in their life. With some education and some safe browsing habits, your teen will learn firsthand after a major virus, and not identity theft or something more dangerous.

Special contributor: Paul Taylor

Author Bio:

Paul and his wife Julie both spend quite a bit of time coming up with ideas, blogging, and researching all things related to childcare. They take care of all the necessary information related to “babysittingjobs.com/”. He personally thinks his blog will help finding information on all things related to a babysitter.

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How to POKE Someone Without Touching Them

Parenting teens is not easy.

Getting them to listen can be more of a challenge.

Many times you feel like shaking them and asking them if they are listening, however you know better than to touch them – but what about a ‘poke?’

If you’re trying to get someone’s attention, reaching over and giving them a good poke in the ribs is a surefire way to successfully grab it. The physical interruption of their focused train of thought works better than anything else, unless, of course, they are fully immersed in their favorite video game.

For those in the ‘video zone’, it generally takes much more than a slight physical irritation to break their concentration. But you don’t always have to make physical contact with someone to get their attention; there are several other ways to get someone’s attention, or ‘poke’ them, without actually touching them.

Here are five:

  1. Facebook – Poking has been a part of Facebook since the beginning, and new people still ask what the purpose or message is meant to be with a Facebook POKE. The big secret is: there is none. A poke on Facebook is simply an attempt to recreate the physical poke in the ribs in a virtual environment. It’s simply an annoying little blip in the middle of your world that says someone wants to get your attention, and probably for no real reason. If this has ‘disappeared’ in the latest version, it is likely that no one noticed, because it seems to have lost its appeal anyways.
  2. Text – Sending a text message to someone is probably the most common means of ‘poking’ someone in the digital age. It is silent (except for the little message notification) like the physical poke. It is quick and fairly unobtrusive. It has the added benefit of actual communication along with the ‘poke’, which replaces the previous nod of the head, pointing of the finger, or mouthing words that the other person strained to decipher from your lips; definitely an improvement in the poking arena.
  3. Tweet A tweet is similar to a text message to someone; however it is more often used as a group poke to catch the attention of any of your followers who might be paying attention to your 140 character attention grabber.
  4. Whistle – A bit old school, but this usually still works in a crowd. A good strong whistle between the fingers can break through an awful lot of chatter and catch the attention of someone who might be totally out of reach for a physical poke in the side. Not everyone has mastered this skill, but there is usually someone within a group of friends who possesses the capability to deliver this ‘poke’ through the air.
  5. Face-to-face – For the aforementioned video-gamer and others who are strongly engrossed in their own fantasy world, a face-to-face blockage of their direct line of view may be the most effective means of gaining their attention. This may require some effort on your part to keep them from trying to simply bend their view around the interference in their visual line of sight. Eventually, though, they do come to realize that the object is a person and not simply an apparition, and you may receive some response from them at this point… just don’t expect it to be polite.

There are bigger and more creative ways of getting someone’s attention, of course. Billboards along the highway, sky writing, and announcements over PA systems have also been used, but those are a bit more extreme than just a ‘poke’.

Source: Internet Service Providers

Online Privacy: 7 Laws that impact your virtual life

How much information do “they” have about you based on your email and other internet use? You might be surprised to find out. You also might be surprised to know that the internet is largely unregulated by the federal government and policies are mostly underdeveloped.

Because the U.S Supreme Court leans more in favor of the right to free speech, they have taken a hands-off approach to regulation when it comes to the internet and online privacy. There are laws that regulate the use of such things as child pornography and online gambling, but it is important to realize that most laws are issued by individual states rather than being comprehensive and federally issued.

The following is a list of 7 laws that impact our online privacy.

  1. The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA): From 1986, this complicated law containing many exceptions makes it unlawful under certain circumstances for someone to read or disclose the contents of an electronic communication (18 USC 2511). It notes the difference between an email in transit, and one that is stored on a computer, which means that a private email may be read, if there is the suspicion that the sender is trying to damage the system or another user, but the random monitoring of email is not acceptable.
  2. The USA PATRIOT Act: This act, passed by Congress after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and amended in 2006, gives the government easier access to records about online activity. It also expanded the types of records that can be obtained without a court order.
  3. Electronic Funds Transfer Act: Requires the financial institution to communicate with the account holder all information as it applies to the account- fines, charges, usage, etc. They must provide documentation of all account transactions. They must set forth a plan to promptly address any error on all accounts. It also addresses civil and criminal liability as well as administrative enforcement and congressional reports.
  4. State laws regarding the treatment of personal information are held by Minnesota and Nevada who both require Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to get permission before sharing certain information concerning their customers. They also prohibit disclosure of personally identifying information, and Minnesota does not allow disclosing information about visited websites.
  5. California and Utah require all nonfinancial businesses to disclose to the customer the types of personal information they will share or sell to a third party, either for compensation or direct marketing purposes.
  6. Connecticut and Delaware have laws that require employers to give notice to employees before they monitor e-mail communications or Internet access.
  7. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998: This law protects children by requiring web operators who gather information from children to get consent from a parent or guardian and permit the parent to disallow the collection of such information. They are also required to disclose the purpose of gathered information.

While the laws governing personal privacy online are, in many cases, still undeveloped, as internet users, we must be careful to protect our own privacy. Many tools are available for that purpose. From computer virus protection and firewalls to choosing strict controls and strong passwords, you can enjoy all the benefits the internet has to offer without being victimized by the unsavory aspects.

Source:  My ISP Finder

Is your teen sharing too much online?

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Teens and Cyber Safety: Stop Think Click

In today’s digital world, from elementary school to nursing homes, someone is usually texting, surfing online or playing a video game.

Especially teens, they are old enough to understand the dangers, however some believe that bad things won’t happen to them.  Their ID will never be stolen, they won’t be chatting with a predator, and of course believe their friends would never forward – copy – paste their private photo’s (sharing virtually).

Regardless of how fast your fingers fly on a keyboard or cell phone, the best tool you have to help avoid risks online is your brain. When you’re ready to post or send a message or a photo, download a file, game or program, or shop for something—stop for a second. Think about things like:

Do you know and trust who you’re dealing with—or what you’re sharing or downloading?

How will you feel if your information ends up somewhere you didn’t intend?

Asking a few key questions first can help you protect yourself, your friends and your computer. Flip through and find more things to stop and think about before you click. Watch video on sidebar.

OnGuard Online Net Cetera is a program designed to help educate parents, teens, teachers, kids and everyone that using any sort of digital gadgets.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is offering FREE booklets to everyone.

The toolkit materials are free and in the public domain.  The FTC encourage teachers, parents and others who care for kids to use this resource during a classroom presentation, community gathering or PTA meeting, and to spread the word by using the information in a newsletter or on your website, ordering free copies of Net Cetera and Heads Up for your neighborhood school from bulkorder.ftc.gov, or sharing the toolkit with colleagues and community leaders.

Remember, safety matters. Keeping your family safe both online and off is a priority.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens!

Read more and watch video.

Perils of Parenting: Are you a BBM Parent?

Dateline featured one of the most compelling wake-up segments for parents this week.  Perils of Parenting has been the coffee table and water cooler topic since it aired this week.  Even Twitter has been Tweeting all week about it!

What if you could spy on your kids as they go through a typical day, dealing with some typical problems — like bullying, and drinking & driving? A group of parents did just that — with the help of Dateline’s hidden cameras. What they learned about their children could teach us all a little something about our own. Kate Snow reports. – Watch full episode here.

Look who’s talking is a perfect example of parents being a poor example to their kids.  Are you a BBM parent?  What is one?  Black-Berry-Messenger Parent.  Watch the video below as the little boy, probably no older than 7, talks about BBM people.

In this short clip below, it is shocking how aware these young kids are to realize how much virtual time their parents are spending in comparison to their parenting time.

Perils of Parenting featured Parenting Expert and Author, Dr. Michele Borba who concludes that parents need to unplug!  We hear about our kids and their Internet and social networking addictions or even obsessions, but have parents looked at who they are mimicking?

Take the time to watch this segment and more important, take the time to be with your kids 100%!

Would your teen get in the car with a drunk driver?  The answers will shock you.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens and kids.

Watch video and read more.

Teens and Social Mingling Online

Teens love to hang out, whether it is in malls or at their friends, however it is when they are mingling online where serious danger can happen.  Yes, when they are alone with their keyboard and mouse.

Here is a great reminder of social web safety tips for teens.  They can never be reminded enough!

  • Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends.
  • Read between the “lines.” It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that, while some people are nice, others act nice because they’re trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship or romance.
  • Don’t talk about sex with strangers. Be cautious when communicating with people you don’t know in person, especially if the conversation starts to be about sex or physical details. Don’t lead them on – you don’t want to be the target of a predator’s grooming. If they persist, call your local police or contact CyberTipline.com.
  • Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you’re both in the same location, so – to be 100% safe – don’t meet them in person. If you really have to get together with someone you “met” online, don’t go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring some friends along.
  • Be smart when using a cell phone. All the same tips apply with phones as with computers. Except phones are with you wherever you are, often away from home and your usual support systems. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.

Posted with permission from ConnectSafely.org.

For those juniors and seniors that will be applying to colleges, remember, what goes online stays online.  Keep your social networking pages clean!  What you post today, can haunt and hinder you tomorrow.  This applies to everyone, even adults!

Broward County schools will be opening on August 23rd.  Be an educated parent, talk to your kids about bullying and cyberbullyingLet’s have a safe and fun school year! Like talking about dangers of drugs, you can never talk  to much about the dangers that lurk online.

Communication is key to keeping your teens safe!

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens!