Text Message Bullying: Responding to Aggression

sad-emoticonBullying comes through many venues – the classic image is a gang of thugs gathering behind the gym at school, but the truth is that many bullies have moved to alternative forms of attack like social media, public message boards, and text messaging. The last of these is most common and today we’re going to take a look at the best ways of responding to any kind of aggression and ridicule sent through texts.

There are several factors that can make text bullying more damaging than traditional bullying for both the victim and the bully:

  • It can happen 24 hours a day, even at home, which is usually a refuge from bullying, so it can feel inescapable.
  • Text bullies are often much meaner because they don’t have to see their victims.
  • The victims may not know who is sending the text messages, which can be frightening.
  • Teens may think text bullying is anonymous and that they can’t get caught. They also may use someone else’s phone to send the messages.
  • Victims often respond by sending mean messages back to the bully, becoming bullies themselves.

Discovering The Problem

Most kids are intensely private when it comes to their technology – they have no desire to share their private communications or let you know when anything is wrong, and like many cases of bullying, children are often unwilling to call attention to it. They may be afraid of retaliation or being thought of as weak, so it’s up to parents to take the initiative when it comes to detecting the bullying.

There are two fairly reliable methods of doing this:

  1. Method one involves paying attention to the child’s behavior. If they’re happy and having fun when they get home, but come down worried and upset ten minutes later, then there’s a good chance that they saw a message of some kind that bothered them. This is a warning flag and should prompt a discussion about what’s upsetting the child.
  2. Method two – and the more reliable way of discovering the problem – involves monitoring the child’s text messages. This can be used separately or in conjunction with method one – quickly glancing over the recent messages for signs of bullying is an excellent way of monitoring the situation without intruding too far on the child’s privacy.

Dealing With Text Message Bullying

The best method of dealing with bullying via text message is ignoring it. Bullies want to provoke a reaction, and nothing will make them happier than getting a response demanding they stop.

Text messaging is, by its very nature, a delayed response. There’s no instant gratification of seeing another child afraid, and no way to escalate things when the bully wants to do so. The upside of this is that bullies will quickly get bored when they don’t receive a response, though they may send increasingly frequent (and crude) messages in a desperate attempt to provoke a response of some kind.

There are cases of cyberbullying which caused teen to take their own life – it’s in the news and it is scary. Any parent may be tempted to take away a teen’s cell phone to prevent text bullies from harassing a victim, but this deprives teens of social connections that are very important to them. Fear of losing their phones is a major reason why teens don’t report text bullying. There are, however, other ways that parents can help combat the effects of text messages from bullies:

  • Talk to your kids about text bullying and why it is wrong. Tell them if they ever are the victim that it’s not their fault and they won’t be punished.
  • Help teens block numbers that are sending mean text messages.
  • Tell teens not to let anyone else use their phone to send messages.
  • If the text bullying is serious, contact the cell phone company to get the teen a new phone number and have the teen be very careful about who they give it to.
  • If the teen knows who the bully is, let the bully’s parents know what they are doing.

Despite examples on the news, warnings, and tough consequences, bullying will never completely go away. As parents, we need to constantly be aware of popular apps and websites that are popular with teens.  The more we monitor what our children are doing with their cellphones, the safer they will be.

Smartphone Addiction in Teens

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It’s a familiar scene: you’re trying to facilitate family bonding time and your teenager’s attention is off somewhere else, her eyes glued to her glowing smart phone. You’re exasperated! Is this normal, you wonder? It’s hard to comprehend what could be so important!  You begin to wonder if your teen has an addiction.

Well, it’s not outside the realm of possibility…

Many surveys and researches suggest that social media addiction occurs because we become hooked on the validation gained from having our posts “liked” and commented on. 62% of adults worldwide report an increase in self-esteem after they receive positive social-media feedback.

This phenomenon might be intensified for teens that are just beginning to build their identities outside of their parents. Teens across the globe are learning to equate the size of their online audience with feelings of love and acceptance… and when those likes stop rolling in, teens become unhinged.

Worried your teen might be a victim of modern age technology?

There’s a good chance that smartphone addiction is happening if your teen…

  • …feels uncomfortable when they do not have instant access to information
  • …gets angry when told they should leave the smartphone behind
  • …appears agitated when the battery on their smartphone is low, and abandons conversations or activities so they can plug their phone in
  • …frequently expresses concern about, or goes past, any data limit on their plan – and regularly asks to have more data if there is a limit
  • …seems incapable of navigating to a destination without checking for directions on their phone
  • …feels anxious any time they cannot check up on social media
  • …obsessively checks for new messages, and grows increasingly agitated if they go for a long period of time without receiving an update                                                               What can you do to help?                                                                                              1) Be a role model.                                                                                                     When you’re with your teen, be present and put your own phone away. The recent survey has discovered that  parents showed that the smartphone addiction is not restricted only to teens. In fact, 69% of parents admit that they check their phone every hour, with 56% of parents even admitting to checking their phone while they were driving! This alarming behavior does not go unnoticed by teens. Whether they realize it or not, teens are watching you to learn how to behave, so set a good example by limiting your own screen time at home.                                                            2) Set limits.                                                                                                                      Create “no phone zones” in your home to make sure that your teen is putting the phone away at certain points of the day. For example, teens shouldn’t be allowed to carry a phone to the dinner table or to their bedroom when they’re supposed to be going to sleep.                                                                                                                               3) Encourage in-person socialization.                                                                 Allow your teen to have his or friends over after school so they can spend time together in person instead of texting back and forth. Look for clubs or after school activities that your teen can participate in that will help him or her put the phone down and engage in other activities.                                                                                       4) Talk to teens.                                                                                                                      The older a teen is, the more likely they are to argue with you about any rules that you set. To avoid this additional conflict, talk to teens prior to establishing new smartphone rules. Tell your teen about how much he or she is missing out on by being glued to the phone, and tell them this is not a punishment, but rather a lifestyle change that you want the whole family to get on board with. Remind them that a handful of great friends are worth a million acquaintances.

The key to solving smartphone addiction isn’t to totally remove a teen’s smartphone as a part of their life – it’s simply to get them to recognize it as a tool, not a safety blanket, and that like all other tools it’s okay to put it down for awhile.

The ultimate goal is to promote a healthy online/offline balance that improves your child’s life instead of dragging them down and tying their happiness to a single object.

based on TeenSafe article

Proper Parental Etiquette on Social Media

 

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“Mom, that’s so embarrassing! I can’t believe you posted that cheesy comment to my profile picture!”  

Sounds familiar? Social media is a relatively new phenomenon, and for many parents, it’s hard to determine proper etiquette. How often is it okay to participate in your child’s online interactions? Do you intervene at signs of trouble? Is it okay to send friend requests to your teen’s peers? Want to avoid being “that parent?”

Here are 5 tips to be social media savvy when it comes to your teens:

1.Interact Sparingly – There’s nothing wrong with the occasional “like” or brief comment on a particularly flattering photograph. And special occasions are a great time to make your presence known. (It’s always nice to get a “Happy Birthday” message, even from Mom or Dad!) The key here is to focus on quality of interaction, not quantity. Try to refrain from liking or commenting on every single picture and post. To you, it feels supportive, but to your child it can be embarrassing and feel intrusive. It’s likely your son or daughter is already cautious about what they post if they know you’re only a mouse click away. So give them a little space. They’ll appreciate it.

2.When in Doubt, Be an Observer – Teens divulge a lot online. It’s tempting to call them out when they’re “over sharing” with their Twitter followers or Facebook buddies.  However, if you really want a window into your child’s social life, observe from a distance. When you interact infrequently, your son or daughter will be more inclined to forget you’re monitoring their behavior. As a parent, this information is invaluable. You’ll be much more aware of what’s really going on and even gain a better understanding of your teen’s friends.

3.Discuss Issues in Person – So your teen posted an inappropriate status update and you want them to take it down immediately. Or perhaps your son or daughter is experiencing cyber bullying and you feel the need to intervene. Take a deep breath and consider your course of action. If you jump in and become authoritative online, you will most likely make the situation worse. Discuss concerns in person; don’t use the online platform to address issues. That way, your child saves face with his or her peers, and your family can have a dialogue without it being projected to a bunch of strangers.

4.Remind Them of Consequences – Without being overly negative, gently remind your teen that once something exists on the Internet, it’s hard to erase. Talk to your son or daughter about their future aspirations. If your child has a clear view of what they want out of their life and career in the next five or ten years, they might be less impulsive with what they post. It is widely known that your employer might secretly check out profiles of vacancy seekers before saying “yes” to them so tell your daughter that if she wants to run for office someday, she might think twice before sharing that objectifying selfie.

5.Social Media: Bringing You Together – Social media is a great thing! It allows family and friends who live far away to stay in touch. It helps introverts be social in a way that’s comfortable for them.  Facebook, Twitter and other platforms allow a certain kind of democracy that previous media lacked. Let social media be a power for good in your home! Let social media be just one more tool that brings you together.

Stay aware of things being ever present with not too much interference while Safe Lagoon help you monitor your teen’s activity from a safe distance.

-based on TeenSafe

Online Communications: What Parents Need to Learn

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Fast developing Internet technologies give its user the spectrum of communication modes with most of them requiring no special advanced computer skills. Some parents may find themselves overwhelmed by the number of online activities their children have these days that is why we begin our enlightenment for the most popular types of communication on world wide web (it is not only emailing, you know).

  • Chat allows to exchange messages in writing in real time between the group of two or more;
  • Instant messaging allows private messaging in real time;
  • Message board Made for discussions in writing, unites users generally based on mutual interest like music, sports, etc. Allows extended posts, embedded pictures and videos. Messaging can also be done in real time;
  • Blog Online alternative to the public diary with entries on whatever authors find interesting and ready to share. Allows comments for the close circle of friends or anyone reading the blog (depending on custom settings);
  • Microblog Design to make fast entries (up to 200 symbols) accompanied by pictures, news comments, links to other webpages. The followers of such microblog receive instant alert that the new publication is made so they can react/comment;
  • Social network Allows to share personal info and make “friends” online by browsing the content and communicating both by commenting other people’s posts or PM (personal messages). Most popular among teenagers since allows them to share pictures, videos, links with the entire circle of online acquaintances and even play games online. The problem of openly exchange of private data and potential risks of using them with malicious intent is becoming more urging by a day. Considering that it is better to teach your child save more to themselves during a conversation online and keep yourselves as anonymous as possible. Almost every registration for online suggest providing personal data such as name, date of birth, home address, mobile number, etc. Ask your child to be cautious about it and when it is impossible to avoid registration the real data might be replaced with imagined one. Such information as first name and age can be specified since it does not give away your child’s identity.                                                                                                             With that in mind as an option try to convince your child that their better use a pen-name. They can choose among their favourite comics superheroes or even invent a special fantasy name on their own – what a fun way to “play”! But do not forget to explain that appearing under other name does not give you the right to insult other users or treat them badly. Online etiquette woks just like non-virtual one.      However, Internet communication has its unique specifics your child should be aware of. Unlike real life conversations there are no face of the partner in conversation to be seen so no one could be trusted without come precaution. Even on social networks where most of users have their own profile pictures instead of avatars and share personal info about themselves you cannot be 100% sure that the same face you see belongs to the same person posting on this page. This trick or hiding behind someone else’s identity is widely common among online predators who have a perfect way of draw a veil over their dark intentions and even get away with a crime. They obtain the necessary information about their potential victim, start an innocent conversation with a child, pretend to be of the same age and interests, try to become their friend luring them into a trap, and only after arranging a meeting in the real world they make a harassment.

You know you are on the right track as a caring parent if you are actively involved with your child’s online activity and get yourself educated in the new tendencies to keep up with your little one at any time. And remember – Safe Lagoon is always ready to give a helping hand!

Interesting facts about Social Networks and they way they affects us

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General information

  1. 1 million links are shared via Facebook every 20 minutes.
  2. 5 million users are invited to an event on Facebook every hour.
  3. 100 000 people become friends on Facebook every minute.
  4. Half of all users spend 1-5 hours a week chatting and posting on social networks.
  5. 8 people worldwide join an existing social network every second.
  6. Facebook can be considered the world’s third country by the number on people living in it (around 1 bln), surpassed by China and India only.
  7. 50% people aged under 30 are members of at least one social network.
  8. An average user signs in their account twice a day.
  9. An average number of “friends” to a user equals 195 people.
  10. There are 200,000,000 blogs online.
  11. 80% people confide in their online friends more than their real ones.
  12. More than 90% people born in XXI century have accounts on social networks.
  13. Below is the list of the most popular social networks in some countries::
  • USA — Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin
  • United Kingdom — Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin
  • Germany — Facebook, Twitter, Xing
  • Russia — Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki, Facebook

 

Threats found on Social Networks

  1. Statistics shows, that sexual harassments has grown 26 times with introduction of social networks..
  2. About 100 users each year pay with the lives because of the message they left on social networks.
  3. The 2011 data in UK revealed that 4 out of 5 robbers used social networks to prepare for their crime.
  4. Scientists consider social networks being one of the factors compromising human immunity system.
  5. Social networks are already in advance of pornography as the most popular way of online activity.
  6. Around 15% of social network accounts are made for spying purposes, most notably by secret services .
  7. Social networks can press vulnerably people close to suicide as they become more detached from reality and their usual circle of contacts.
  8. It has been revealed that most of the popular social services still keep pictures deleted by users.
  9. Facebook managed to reach 200 million users mark in less than a year, while for television it took long 13 years to attract 60 million viewers.

Social Networks and Families

  1. Approximately 10% of marriages in USA would never existed if not for social networks.
  2. Every fifth couple becomes an item via social networks.
  3. 69% parents are on their children’s list of friends.
  4. 1/5 children spent 24 hours a week browsing social networks. Half of all kids are about to reach this mark.
  5. 80% of children are registered with at least one social network.
  6. 80% of parents believe they are aware of what their kids are doing online while 31% of children are sure their activities are undiscovered.
  7. The average age of becoming an independent social network user is now 10.
  8. The following percentage show how many hours a week children spend on social networks: 7-14 hours — 23% , 14-12 hours— 57% , more than 21 hours — 20%.

– Safe Lagoon Team

 

Which online behavior your child is hiding from you?

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According to the recent studies, the time kids spend surfing the Internet nowadays surpasses their parent’s online activities. The numbers show that half of all network users are children aged 8-13. More of them start using their portable devices (such as smartphones and tablets) to go online by each day. If 5-10 years ago the only thing they could use to access the network was their desktop home PC – now Wi-Fi connection is available as almost at every street café.  The most popular activities for children online are found to be search engines, social networks and gaming.

But highly advanced computer technologies brought not only the good, but a source of trouble as well – some people may use Internet to get advantage of your kids. Many parent (65%) tend to think that their children spend hours on the net only for the benefit of doing the homework. While from a kid’s perspective the knowledge Internet can give is not that important as downloading music/video, emailing, chatting and other fun-related activities.  ¾ of all kids say that they are online to chat with friends and start new relationships while 15% claim that after some time in virtuality, they are eager to meet their new acquaintances in real life.

The studies produced the following fascinating statistics:

  • 49% of children who go online frequently have been harassed at least once in their virtual experiences, with 13% of children receiving such sexually inappropriate messages on a regular basis. Other cases find the offenders among Internet uses who send nasty emails to their chosen “victim” (trolling, cyber-bullying);
  • 19% of the surveyed have met their online acquaintances, 12% of they gone to such meetings on their own, 8% have not bring this to anyone’s knowledge.
  • 23% of children have seldom visited porn sites, 11% more are doing it regularly, 48% of kids have browsed web pages showing violence, 18% are familiar with racist content,  31% are chatting about sex while 61% of children are tend to access internet alone, without asking any permission from their parents.

More than that, many parents seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact their child could face pop-up pornography screens simply browsing through pages with free music/video downloads. It is not the only problem – we all know that teens are obsessed with chatting on various message boards where users can easily hide behind avatars. How to make sure the real encounter with a virtual “friend” is safe enough for our children?

Their curiosity can lead much further than we would want to – online world is full of vandalism, racism, sex, violence and suicidal references either of which may cause the actions on behalf of your child that could damage his physical and mental health.

Nowadays the huge amount of web pages, emails and file-sharing programs offer the opportunity to download music, film and files free of charge. Even though they may seem harmless the frightening percentage of such “offers” are packed with dangerous viruses and over malicious software that can ruin your PC’s safety and hack confidential data.

Any precocious methods are far less complicated and expensive than dealing with unwanted consequences so start protecting your child only today with Safe Lagoon.

– Safe Lagoon Team

Social media disrupts teen sleep

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If you ban electronics from your teenager’s room at night and want more proof you’ve made the right call, some scientists in Wales have your back.

In a new study, they document how using social media at night disrupts adolescent sleep and argue it is likely the biggest reason so many teenagers say they feel tired when they go to school.

Their study found that more than 20 percent of teens “almost always” wake up at night to check messages or to respond to friends, using their phones or computers for these nocturnal social media sessions.

Up to another 15 percent said they woke up at least once a week to check social media.

That’s a lot of teenagers clocking screen time in the middle of the night.

These nighttime behaviors seemed to – no surprise here – correlate closely with teenagers reporting that they are sleepy when heading to school, the study found.

From 54 % to 58 % of those who got up to check social media said “they almost always go to school feeling tired,” it said.

And that’s a problem because sleep deprivation has been associated with lower academic achievement, noted the study from the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research at Cardiff University.

On the flip side, they wrote, “We find that young people who go to school less often feeling tired are, on average, happier with themselves and their school life.

“Experts have been warning for awhile that screen time disrupts children’s sleep.

The new study, which involved kids ages 11 to 15, concluded that using phones and computers in the middle of the night stamped out the other efforts parents often make when it comes to teens and sleep.

In fact, the authors write, the “potential benefits” of regular and reasonable bedtimes “appear to be entirely expunged if young people are then waking up during the night to use social media.”

But rather than force your child to leave their favourite toy out of the bedroom you can set reasonable limits on using online features via Safe Lagoon. The enhance functionality gives you many choices to schedule the access to online services and apps. Thus you can make sure your child is having sweetest dreams without being interrupted by a new comment on Facebook even if the phone stays beside the bed at night.

Internet of Hamelin

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Everyone is familiar with the old tale about Pied Piper of Hamelin. Peculiarly enough it became extremely relevant today. As the story goes the rat-catcher is tricked by Hamelin’s magistrate who refuses to pay him money for extermination of rats in the city which leads to the Piper giving his revenge by beckoning children with his magic pipe into the waters where they vanish forevermore.

The legend origins from Middle Ages and it surely serves as a metaphor, not a straight story. But it is aimed at parents who didn’t pay enough attention to keep their children safe and let a stranger lead them into the abyss.

About 700 years late parents are still that naïve. The Pied Piper hasn’t gone anywhere – he became even more sophisticated, he uses disguises, he creeps right from the wireless networks of your home. Today his name is Internet. Our children follow him wherever he goes enchanted by the magic music. We thought that Internet only means to make learning process easy for our little ones. No more need to go to the libraries since it’s all there – the tons of useful information. We were told that World Wide Web contains every bit of data.

Every single bit. Can you imagine? There are places we certainly do not want to show our precious and unspoiled kids. We must not fear to use the term Parental controls – it may sound detached, Orwellian even, but all we are about as parents is Protection, not Restriction.

Let us ask ourselves a simple question: are we doing enough for our children to be safe? We always taught them to avoid talking to strangers, cross the streets at green light only, keep away from the fire and sharp things.  We tie a scarf around their necks on a windy day so they do not catch a cold. We do our best at being the keenest parents imaginable as long as we rest assured that there is no more we could do for the well-being of our children. Who else would care but us?

But sometimes the danger appears out of nowhere. The flashing screen – harmless companion of our days – a toy for killing time and searching things we do not know. Just yet. We must admit that Internet has become the part of our lives which we neither can deny of fight against. And the landscapes online are so vast we can lose our kids there in no time. There never will be enough time and effort to keep an eye on them at every single second. To forbid going there is not entirely fair isn’t it? As we use Internet for our good day after day – apps for this, auto-updates for that. And we wish the same easy arranged feature for our kids as now and in the future – there is no way of stopping the progress and we know that we do not need to. All we need is to show our children the safe path for internet-surfing so they can find what they are looking for without hurting themselves in any way.

‘Parent’ as a full-time occupation

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Once young and unexperienced parents face any problems considering their dear kids all I hear is: “Let professionals take care of this situation. They will know exactly how to deal with it.”

This habit has taken roots so deeply in our minds we see it as a normal state of things which is perfectly explainable. Say, why would you fix the fridge yourself when you can call a skilled specialist armed with instruments and experience to get it running again in to time? Or.. you are not supposed to address dental pain with a make-shift, are you?

But to my way of thinking there are areas you should not entrust a strange person utterly and completely no matter how skillful this person appears to be. It certainly will not do with up-bringing of your own child. When it’s time to introduce your child to social institutions such as kindergarten and later – school – it goes without saying that you will do your best to find the friendliest place ready to provide the most professional level of assistance.

But look at you – you are already a professional working as a “parent” at full-time job! No one knows you better when your own parents, no one spends that much time with you. No one cares that much about child’s happy future and well-being. And every discovery, every difficulty in their life they share first and foremost – with the closest keen they know – their parents.

Thus you as a parent must find ways to enhance your professional level since there might be people to help you (such as school teachers and doctors) but the responsibility for up-bringing your children rests on your shoulders alone. And as for “parental control” issue you cannot push it on o anyone – you must seek possibilities to get acquainted with anything new in the world of nowadays technology and information security – find it, learn it, master it to the best of your abilities as it is a key for helping your child to stay safe and guided.

Remember that there is no other occupation as noble and proud as a Parent!