Monitoring vs. Spying – which way is the right way?

Online Überwachung - Und die Privatsphäre?

The most basic impulse of parenting is to make sure that children are safe. Ironically, in our culture of constant checking in, selfies, status updates, and tweets, ensuring our children’s online safety can feel more complicated than ever.

Recent studies show that 78% of teens now have a mobile phone, almost half (47%) of those own smartphones, and over 90% of teens have access to a computer or have one of their own. With all of this access to technology that changes on a dime, how can parents monitor their teens without crossing over into spying on them? Does privacy exist for teenagers, and does online monitoring cause teens to lose trust in their parents?

Before addressing the sticky subject of teen privacy within a family unit, it is essential for all teenagers to understand that privacy, while a privilege, does not exist online or anywhere else, for that matter. Regardless of where we go and what we do online or in the physical world, we are observed through a variety of tools, such as security cameras, traffic cameras, internet records, mobile phone records, what comes in the mail, credit card purchases, social media sites, and GPS devices. And even though we believe that certain information can be deleted, that is just not true when it comes to our online reputations.

This is a hard lesson that teens need to learn as soon as possible: If it is online, it is forever, even if they think there is privacy.

The Difference Between Monitoring and Spying on Teens

This hard lesson is partly why parents are so concerned about their children’s behavior online, but the fact remains that teens require the chance to be independent, show responsibility, and experience privacy as they develop into adults. Monitoring software such as Safe Lagoon, can be added to teens’ smartphones and other devices by parents as a preventive measure, offering protection against people who want to do their children harm.

The best way to monitor kids of all ages is to keep talking with them, no matter how difficult it might feel, especially with teens. Open communication is the key when it comes to monitoring online behavior and helping parents keep teens safe. Monitoring is a form of – and adds to – open communication between parents and teens, allowing them to cooperate in an increasingly noisy and busy world.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Monitoring Software

When talking to your teen about online behavior, it’s good to begin with statistics:

  • On average, teens spend 5 hours and 38 minutes online every day
  • More than half of teens have witnessed cyberbullying on social media.
  • Out of over 1300 teens surveyed, 18% have considered meeting with someone in person whom they first met online. Of these, 58% have actually met up with someone in person.
  • 15 percent of teens admit they have hacked into a social network account.
  • In 100% of the cases teens that are the victims of sexual predators have gone willingly to meet with them.
  • About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly.

Your teen probably doesn’t realize what’s going on in the world outside of themselves. Also, share some stories you’ve read about recently that concern you. Teens need to hear examples of what other teens have done and the consequences of their choices. Even as adults, we learn from others mistakes.

Parents may decide for their child’s safety monitoring software would give them peace of mind. If you do decide to go this route, it is important to give your child a heads-up before you do. Again, you may discuss the statistics, the stories, but mainly your concern is for their safety. Explain to them that you are not spying on them, and you want to make sure they are not putting themselves or their family at risk.

We all want that ideal, picturesque relationship with our teens. We all want to avoid dealing with their bad attitudes and senseless behaviors. Part of us would love to just have them skip their teenage years and go straight into adulthood. The thing is we know that can’t happen and really we don’t want to miss out on any part of their growing years. And fact is teenagers are good at drama. While they are reacting negatively to being monitored, secretly, I’d bet they are thanking you for caring so much about them. It’s simple. We need to open our eyes and be the parent! And remember that Safe Lagoon is always ready to give a helping hand!

-based on TeenSafe publication

 

A Selfie – Fun or Dangerous?

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When we look at ourselves in the mirror, we first experience self-consciousness; this is the exact moment when an individual becomes aware of himself or herself as an object. Taking a selfie as a social phenomenon is a way through which people attempt to feel better about themselves. Very few selfies are meant to lighten someone’s mood or draw a smile on the face of a loved one.

The Most Common Types of Selfies

  • “I’m-having-fun-somewhere-cool!” Selfie — whether it’s the beach, a new coffee shop or a hike, many people snap selfies to show off their interesting adventures.
  • I-look-good-today-I-should-snap-a-picture Selfie — Occasionally, you wake up and think you look great! Teens might have a particularly good hair day, and they want the world to know it! While it might seem vain, at least these kinds of selfies (in moderation) demonstrate self-esteem! And that’s a good thing!
  • I’m-sad-I-want-people-to-know-how-bad-I-feel” Selfie — This one isn’t so good. Sometimes, in an effort to not feel alone, we project feelings and crying sessions that should probably be kept private.
  • Just-finished-a-workout!” Gym Selfie. — Again, this shows that teens are proud of their hard work. They want to share it! However, exercise and feeling good should be their own rewards.
  • Other Common Selfies: “The Car Selfie,” “The Fall-Weather Selfie,” “The Barefoot-Beach Selfie,” “The New-Haircut Selfie,” “The Awesome-Lunch Selfie”… You get the idea. The list is endless.

The common sense tells us Selfies are relatively harmless. Sure, posting too many can make you seem like a narcissist but can it be really actively dangerous for a teen?

 

A Selfie Gives Out Personal Information and Appearance

People either take selfies with friends or in other situations with celebrities. In both cases, people have to be more cautious about giving away information of time, place, and names of people they usually hang out with. By giving out this information, the person sharing it or other friends might be harmed if they are tracked down by a stalker. As you post a selfie on the Internet,  you are also letting others know how your friends and family members look like. While you think you are only doing something fun and light, you do not know that this might give a chance for someone else to use this information against you.  Therefore, you are also sharing with a potential online predator the places where you and your friends tend to hang out and the type of activities you tend to pursue. Selfie also sends the Message that “You Are Not Home”.

Criminal consequences aside, one of the biggest concerns for parents and professionals is Selfies Cause Anxiety in Teens.

Teenagers are already susceptible to low self esteem, and it’s well known that they tend to compare themselves to their peers. Selfies take this to destructive extremes because they force teenagers to compete with one another based on appearances alone, and this plays out day after day whether they’re at school or at home.
Every selfie taken is an opportunity for a teenager to express their emotions and personality. Unfortunately, every selfie posted is also an opportunity for criticism from peers, and teenagers understand this because they’ve seen so many others experience negative attention through social media selfie posts.

This is why teenagers spend so much time selecting clothing, styling their hair, and applying makeup before taking selfies. They also use filters and apps to touch up their photos, and many teenagers look significantly different in their selfies than they do in everyday life. It seems like who you are on social media is more important than who you are in real life for many of our tweens and teens.

When a selfie goes live, teenagers experience intense anxiety waiting for comments and likes. If a picture doesn’t receive much attention or negative comments are left, many teens assume that it  means they’re ugly or not liked. This leads to negative self talk that puts teens at heightened risk of depression. The response to a single selfie can determine how a teenager feels for days or weeks to come.

Talk to Your Teen About What They Post. Taking selfies can really get out of control, but there are some strategies they can follow to avoid being harmed or becoming extremely obsessed with the habit. For those who are taking too many selfies, they might start to think of taking less daily. Also, they ought to consider sharing them with close friends only and not with everyone else. Another great technique is to consider taking pictures of their work/study achievements rather than selfies showing off how they look or the way they are dressed up. This can give them something even more valuable to share with friends and family members, something that does not involve bragging about their looks or clothes.

Eventually, like it or not, what we post on social media affects the way people perceive us. And that in turn can affect job prospects, relationships, and our sense of self. So talk to your teen about the image they’re projecting on social media. Together, you can come up with ground rules to make sure selfies are safe and moderate! Then, you can snap a picture of the two of you together!

Enjoy parenting! And do not forget Safe Lagoon is always there to keep your child safe and happy!

-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!

Everything a Parent Needs to Know About PERISCOPE

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Last February, in Ohio, a 17-year-old was raped and assaulted by a man she had only met the day before. How did authorities find out? The rape was streamed online via periscope by her best friend and high school classmate. Now, the friend Maria Lonina, 18, and the accused Raymond Gates, 29, are facing the same charges of kidnapping, sexualt assault, and rape.

The question is was Lonina recording her friend’s attack as a cry for help or for attention on social media? Prosecutors believe the latter.

So What Is Periscope, Exactly?

Periscope works in conjunction with Twitter, which purchased the app in 2015. Users can broadcast live — with no filter or delay — to their followers using only a smartphone. The app lets users stream both audio and video to their audience for an interactive experience that includes feedback and comments. Audiences can not only interact, but watch and replay the video up to 24 hours after the broadcast ends.

Since it is linked to Twitter, live broadcasts are supplemented with social sharing. The app is also designed for mobility, meaning users can spontaneously go live with on-the-go broadcasts that include the broadcaster’s location. It could provide a platform for public speakers to showcase their skills or enable users to share first-hand experiences as they happen, from a neighborhood block party to a fish being reeled in by an angler on a river.

The app’s website shows scenes of hot air balloonists broadcasting live from the sky to friends back home, civilians broadcasting the aftermath of a disaster to their concerned followers and tourists visiting a city for the first time.

All those scenarios are certainly possible with this amazing, ingenuitive application — but it is also possible that teens could misuse its power to send out a live, public video broadcast that they can never take back.

Periscope has only existed since March 2015, but the statiatics tell the story of an app that is taking off, especially in the last few months:

  • There are 10 million registered Periscope users.
  • 1.85 million people use Periscope every day.
  • Users stream 350,000 hours of video daily.
  • Viewers watch 40 years worth of video every single day.
  • Periscope dominates the critical 16-24 age demographic                                                                                                                                                                                                            Today’s teens are accustomed to broadcasting their lives on social media. Periscope, however, can turn their bedrooms into studios. Regular social posts can be edited or deleted, but when it comes to live broadcasts, there are no second takes.  Among the other dangers the investigation uncovered were:
    • The potential for real-time cyberbullying.
    • Sexual harassment, requests for teens to stream inappropriate broadcasts and inappropriate broadcasts being streamed to teens.
    • The potential for viewers to uncover the broadcaster’s personal information, such as username or Twitter account.
    • Location services reveal your teen’s physical location. Once the user’s location was identified, the news investigation plugged that information into a free website that allowed them to track the user’s exact location, giving them location updates every time the broadcaster posted something on social media. Even more troubling is that the location marks are timestamped, leaving a “trail of breadcrumbs” to identify the user’s exact movements, allowing the tracker to follow the user’s physical movements as they go.

What parents need to know

Live-streaming apps like Periscope pose an elevated danger because they combine real-time broadcasting, comment-based interaction and the potential to determine physical location. Periscope’s guidelines urge users to “not show graphic material,” but essentially, anyone can broadcast anything, whether it’s a virtual lap dance or a real-time ice cream truck burglary.

While Periscope is a relatively new app, there are some established guidelines that parents can follow:

  • Get your own Periscope account so you can see what your teen is doing and act as a personal moderator.
  • Turn OFF location services — this is a good idea for all social media accounts.
  • Instruct your teen to be aware of their surroundings and never to broadcast potential location markers, such as their school or home address in the background.

Periscope is a remarkable, innovative app with a powerful potential for both good and bad. Like everything surrounding your teen’s online activity and social personas, the best recipe for keeping them safe is dialogue, honesty and technology.

Monitor your teen’s activity on Periscope, but explain why you’re monitoring — that even if you trust them, you don’t trust the Internet. If teens are breaking into ice cream trucks, they’re likely going to get into trouble anyway. With Periscope, however, an otherwise perfect kid can face a lifetime of regret from one lapse in judgement and one live broadcast.

– 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

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.