Tag Archive | Cyber Safety

What Is Your Emoticons Saying About You?

emoticonsMost everyone, whether you are an adult or teen, have experienced what a headache it can be to have something you’ve written be misread or taken out of context – the back-pedaling, the awkward explanations, and then explaining the explanations.

Yes, communicating online is a tricky thing.

Since the creation of emoticons, thankfully, we’ve had some visual cues at our disposal to help convey feeling or intent more clearly. Emoticons, or icons that indicate emotion by the use of keyboard characters, have become an integral part of our online lexicon.

As a textual shorthand for everything from instant messaging to text messaging, there are 10 essential emoticons you need to know:

  1. 🙂 The Smiley Face – This one is the grand-daddy of them all, the first-born of our “iconic” lingo. It tells the reader that whatever is said in association with it is intended to be read in a friendly/jovial/non-threatening tone.
  2. 😉 The Wink – Another versatile character, this emoticon expresses anything from playfulness, flirtation, to a sort of “just between you and me” confidentiality. It’s also frequently used, as is the smiley face, to say “just kidding”. Careful with these two. Use them too often, and it becomes obvious to the recipient that you’re really not just kidding.
  3. 😦 The Frown – Expresses sadness, disapproval, sympathy, or “I just figured out that you really aren’t just kidding”. I told you to be careful.
  4. 😀 The Laughing Face – Self-explanatory, but context is important here. You’d like to know, after all, whether you’re sharing in the laugh – or being laughed at.
  5. :^* The Kiss – When you’ve moved beyond the simple smile or flirtatious wink, it’s time to pucker up with this little number. This can be used to maximum effect when combined with:
  6. ( ) The Hug – A parenthetic embrace, the hug conveys affection or empathy. Additional parentheses can be used for emphasis, but use this one sparingly, lest it lose its charm. Also, as in the case of all emoticons, the hug is not recommended for business correspondence. You could be labeled a suck-up … or worse.
  7. ❤ The Heart – Another emoticon for saying ‘I love you’. When used in conjunction with the kiss and the hug, now you’re really getting sappy. Easy does it. You can’t take these things back, you know.
  8. :-O The Surprised Face – This one expresses shock or dismay, as in:“I can’t believe you just e-mailed hugs to the GM, you suck-up”. Combine this with the laughing face when someone shares a bawdy joke or story.
  9. :-/ Confused Face – Bewilderment, apprehension. “How am I going to explain those hugs to all my co-workers, and what the heck was I thinking using Reply All, anyway?”
  10. { } No Comment – Empty brackets indicate that you’ve got nothing to say in response. You probably should have learned the difference before replying to that office email from the GM.

Source: Internet Service Providers

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10 Ways Technology has Made Bullying and Cyber Bullying Worse

cyber-bullyingWhen we were growing up there were bullies.  Nobody liked to be bullied, but it was a fact of life that you had to deal with kids that weren’t very nice.  Now, schools are so anti-bullying that anything that even slightly seems like bullying is taken very seriously.  At least when we were growing up they didn’t have Facebook to upload embarrassing videos to that would ruin a person’s life.

Check out 10 ways technology makes bullying worse.

  1. Facebook: Embarrassing pictures and videos can be uploaded to Facebook in a matter of a few seconds and ruin someone’s life forever.  Kids do not understand the damage that something like that can do to a person.  People have actually committed suicide because of events like these.
  2. Cell phones: Growing up we did not have cell phones.  Kids these days have the ability to take pictures at a moment’s notice and sometimes not in the most appropriate places.  Nude pictures of students in the shower or in the locker room have also caused suicides.
  3. Texting: Kids can bully by texting now.  They can text everyone else at the same time something bad or embarrassing about someone else.  They can also send pictures over their phone to everyone on their contact list.  Bullying like this can make someone’s life miserable.
  4. Flip cameras: These cameras are used to shoot quick videos at close range and can be uploaded to the Internet.  Kids that want to bully just have to take embarrassing videos of a student and share them with everyone.  Or a video can be sent to a parent as well that would get them grounded or in trouble.
  5. You Tube: A lot of good things have happened to people by posting a video on You Tube, but a lot of bad stuff has happened too.  People love to be the first one to dish the dirt on someone else.  They witness a fight they grab their cell phone and upload it to You Tube.  Or they set someone up and post what they think is a funny video to You Tube, but it’s actually very embarrassing.  People don’t think they are bullying when they do this stuff, but they really are.
  6. Gaming systems: Many online gaming systems allow conversations between the players.  Teens have reported that someone pretending to be them said mean things or embarrassing things to another person.  This kind of bullying is hard to stop and hard to track.  It does however cause a lot of problems for today’s teens.
  7. Blogs: There are teens that create blogs that post the latest gossip about people and will say nasty things about people.  Teens feel that they are anonymous and that no one can tell who is doing the bullying, but there are ways to track down who’s doing it and there are some big consequences.  If the bullying leads to a suicide the teen who is behind the bullying can be brought up on charges and sent to jail.  Lesser sentences are losing privileges to use a computer for 2 years.  Try doing your homework without a computer these days.
  8. Chat sites: Other sites online have chat rooms where teens can go and chat with their friends online.  People can go into these chat rooms and make up a user name and start saying bad things about kids in that chat room.  Many times there is a chat room that the students frequent because all their friends go there so when someone bullies in a chat room a lot of that kid’s peer group could be reading it.
  9. E-mail: Bullies steal identities and will sign into an e-mail account and send damaging e-mails pretending to be that teen.  Inappropriate messages to a female teacher or a nasty message to the principal are all things that can really get that child in trouble and they didn’t do anything.  Remind your child to keep passwords absolutely private.
  10. Instant messaging: Bullies will try to send nasty instant messages threatening to do something to a teen when they see them next.  Or tell them that they are going to make sure that they don’t get something they want at school like a part in the play or a solo in choir.  Bullying can take many forms even if it’s just telling someone that they did a terrible job on their audition or they overheard someone important say that they did a terrible job.  Anything like that is going to put undue stress on that child.  Make sure that your child is aware and being safe.

Source:  Full Time Nanny

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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.

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

Holiday Video Games for Kids: What is and isn’t appropriate for your child

Is your teen or tween or even child asking for a video game for their holiday gift?

Video games have become a prime source of entertainment for kids and a source of anxiety for many parents. They not only worry about the amount of time their children spend playing the games, but also the content. Even though these games are merely videos and fantasy, they’ve become very realistic in their depiction of violence, blood and gore.

Kids may think its fun killing and maiming, but parents should be concerned about the affects these games could have on them. There are many video games kids love that are totally inappropriate for them to play.

  1. Grand Theft Auto – This game lets kids play the role of a criminal who commits a range of unlawful acts from auto theft to bank robbery and assassinations. Even though this game is extremely popular, Grand Theft Auto promotes a totally inappropriate role model for young children.
  2. Gears of War – This immensely popular video game has sold millions of copies and achieved awards for its detailed visuals. For just this reason, the graphic videos in this game should give parents pause. Even though the quest of the Delta Squad may be noble, the gore in Gears of War isn’t appropriate for young children.
  3. Dead Rising – Chopping up zombies is the main activity in the video game Dead Rising. Although it’s won many awards, the graphic violence glorified in this game is not something impressionable kids should be exposed to.
  4. Aliens vs. Predator – Set in a futuristic science-fiction world inhabited by aliens and predators, this violent video game is made for adults and not intended to be used by children of any ages. Unfortunately, that’s what makes it so attractive to kids.
  5. God of War – The massive blood orgies in this video game should be evident by the picture of the hero Kratos on the cover. This may be a great game for adults, but definitely not appropriate for kids.
  6. Resident Evil – Zombies abound in this survival horror video game. The blood and frightening imagery in Resident Evil may be popular with kids, but their parents may have a different opinion.
  7. Metal Gear Solid – Sneaking around slitting throats isn’t exactly a suitable activity for young impressionable kids. Parents should pass up Metal Gear Solid for their children’s Playstation game collection.
  8. Legacy of Kain – This series of video games was developed for adults and not intended for young children. Legacy of Kain depicts vampires killing each other in various settings and scenarios that are both complex and gory.
  9. Devil May Cry – This hack and slash video game may be popular, but Devil May Cry is not appropriate for kids. Playing a happy-go-lucky demon hunter gallivanting around killing all sorts of creepy-crawlies spawned from the depths of Hell isn’t the best role model for children.
  10. F.E.A.R. – Even thought the paranormal presence in this video game is a little girl, F.E.A.R. is not suitable for children. First Encounter Assault Recon uses a wide array of firearms and could give your kids nightmares.

Parents should make the ultimate decision on what video games their kids play and closely monitor them. Many of these sophisticated games are developed for adults and could have harmful affects on impressionable youngsters. Pay close attention to ratings and don’t succumb to pouting and pleading. There are plenty of games that are both fun and educational for kids to choose from.

Source:  Internet Service Providers

TV shows are no different.  Click here to read 10 good reasons to want to know the ratings of the shows your teens are watching.

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Back to School: Create Strong and Secure Passwords for your Teens Cell Phones, iPads, etc

With the ever expanding world of technology and the sometime irresponsible world of our teenagers, it is important they learn how to create strong and secure passwords for their cell phones, iPads, computers, social networking etc.

There may come a time when they lose their phone or other technology devices; help them secure their privacy and safety.  Or maybe someone picks up their phone or iPad and starts browsing it with unacceptable searches or worse gains access to their social networking page and posts pictures or content that are less than acceptable.

School is opening, more teens than ever have cell phones or iPads that are easily transported with them to school.  Help them create strong and secure passwords and this includes their social networking sites.

In this day in age it seems like you can’t trust anyone.  It’s kind of sad when you think about it. Every time you log on to a site you have to have a password now.  We all have trouble remembering passwords, but it’s not a good idea to use something easy like your birthday or your kids’ birthday.  These are dates and numbers that hackers and sadly even friends will try.

Check out 10 tips for stronger, more secure passwords.

  1. Length matters: Longer passwords are harder for hackers to figure out.  Use a password that is at least 8 characters or longer.  Try combining names and dates to make it easy for you to remember, but harder for a hacker to discover.
  2. Change it up: Yep, I want you to come up with different passwords for different sites.  It is possible that your password for one site could be compromised and then they can use your password to access other sites that you frequent.  You may be wondering what are the odds of that happening and while I can’t tell you the exact odds I can tell you that you don’t want someone to steal your identity.  If someone gets your password they can find you on Facebook and see what you are into and then that will give them clues for where else to try to login.
  3. Be different: Use a symbol in your password.  People are less likely to guess a password with an @ symbol in the middle of it.  Or use a capital letter or a number in your password.  The more unusual you can make it the harder it will be for someone to figure it out.  If you use a symbol you can use it as part of something easy for you to remember.  Something you like, Big$$$$$ or something funny like that.
  4. Make up your own acronym: For example, you could do Sghsin1985.  This stands for Sam graduated high school in 1985.  This is a strong password because it’s not easy to guess, it’s longer than 8 characters, it blends numbers with letters and there is a capital letter in it.  If you want to be even cleverer you can substitute the s for high school and use $ in it’s place. (Sgh$in1985)
  5. Hide your passwords: Okay, I know what you are thinking.  How am I supposed to remember what password I used for which site if I’m going to use different ones for everything?  Feel free to write them down, but don’t use a sticky note stuck to your computer.  If someone were to break into your home they could see that and take it figuring that they will continue to steal from you online.  Hide your passwords in your home.  Tape it in the back of a reference book or something.
  6. Beware of the computer you’re using: With cyber cafes out there and libraries that let you get online you need to be careful with how secure the computers are.  Even our home computers might not be as secure with being able to access the Internet through our phones and tablets.
  7. Don’t pick a random word: You may think that just picking some random word that is longer than 8 characters would be a good choice, but it isn’t.  There are programs out there that hackers use that will literally run through all of the words in the dictionary.  Always change it up.  If your favorite word is curmudgeon then use it, but add some sort of number with it either before or after it or a symbol.
  8. Avoid using personal information: One of the biggest mistakes people make when coming up with a password is by using their kids’ names or dog’s name or anniversary date.  All of these things are available for hackers to find and they can use that information against you.  Feel free to use this information in combination with other things though.
  9. Try not to use repeated numbers: You might be tempted to use 8 characters in a row on your keyboard.  (wertyuio)  This looks on the surface like it would be a good idea, but hackers are onto these types of passwords.  That same as 12345678 is a bad choice.  Also, don’t just spell something backwards.  Hackers are onto that trick too.
  10. Test your new password: Once you have done all the legwork and come up with what you think is the perfect password you can go HERE and check the strength.  If you need to make adjustments after that you can.

Source:  Internet Service Providers

Remember parents, you should always have access to these passwords.  It is for your child’s safety.

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