The Nigerian native has been extradited from Dubai after a string of over-the-top Instagram posts.
The Nigerian native has been extradited from Dubai after a string of over-the-top Instagram posts.
When I was a teenager, my role model was Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton. I admired everything about her. I cut my hair like hers and brushed my teeth three times a day, determined to get my smile to sparkle like hers. I even started eating Wheaties when she endorsed them, thinking it would help me land my back handspring (spoiler alert: it didn’t).
It’s natural and healthy to seek out role models. Who doesn’t want to excel at a skill or possess admirable qualities? Teens today are no different. They look to others to figure out how to attain their goals. But while kids today may have the same emotional desire for role models, the online culture has confused the meaning of influence.
Algorithm vs. Character
We no longer bestow titles like role model and influencer on the few, but the many. And the requirements? Not too steep. Today, influencers win the public’s affections based on the number of likes, follows, shares, or sponsors a person accumulates. When it comes to emulating others, kids turn to famous Instagrammers and YouTubers whose fame is determined by algorithm strength rather than character strength.
For parents, this force field of influence can feel impossible to penetrate. Many (this mom included) constantly feel torn. As our kids mature, we want to give them space to explore and form opinions and preferences of their own apart from our commentary. On the flip side, technology brings more risk to the choices kids make today. Those risks can be severe and include online scams connected to celebrities, data breaches, and mental health issues linked to social influence.
Equipping vs. Condemning
So, what practical steps can we take to help our kids think more critically about the role models, celebrities, or influencers they choose to follow and even emulate? One way to move the needle is to thoughtfully and consistently increase the dialogue about values, beliefs, and goals.
Keeping the conversation focused can be tricky. The goal of guiding your child should aim to equip, not condemn. Hint: The goal isn’t to debate the questionable things a celebrity or influencer chooses to say or do. The goal is to explore and build the values that inform the things your child chooses to say and do.
Here are a few conversation starters to challenge your child to look a little more closely at the influencers and celebrities he or she esteems.
Family Talking Points
Highlight common ground. I instantly connected with Mary Lou Retton because we about the same age and were both half-pints. She was 4’9,” and at that time, I was barely an inch taller and struggling with that. But Mary Lou was fierce, unstoppable, and had a positive attitude that was contagious. Suddenly, short was cool. In talking to your child about the people they admire, point to the common ground, he or she might share with that person. Questions: What kind of character or personal traits do you think you might share with this person? How do you think the two of you are similar or different? If you could have lunch with this person, what do you think you could teach them? What could they teach you?
Find the friction. Encourage your child to look beyond the social surface and find influencers who have overcome real-life struggles. The discussion might turn to issues such as depression, grief, addiction, bullying, or dealing with a disability. Questions: What influencers or celebrities do you admire who have conquered a difficult situation? What have you learned from watching how he or she responded to that situation? How do you think you might respond if you were in that situation?
Learn the back story. If your child admires a person and you can’t figure out the reason, challenge her thinking. If the reasoning is that someone is “so pretty” or “goes to Coachella,” challenge your child to dig deeper and learn as much as she can about her favorite person. Questions: What specific qualities or achievements do you think make this person famous? Do you agree with that? Did you discover events in this person’s life that may have shaped who they are? What did you learn about this person that makes you admire them more? What did you learn that makes you admire them less? How does this person help others? If you were in this person’s shoes, how would you use your influence differently?
Get personal. Sometimes we can strengthen a perspective by looking close to home. Challenge your child to think about the people in his or her family or community. Who do you know that stands up for what’s right? Who makes time to help others? Point out someone who has conquered an addiction or made a courageous comeback of some kind. Questions: What do you think are the three most important traits a person can have? Who do you know who has these traits? If you overheard people talking about you in the future, what words would you hope they would use to describe you?
Asking great questions can improve the quality of family conversations. While technology has changed our vocabulary in dramatic ways, the meaning we apply to our words can survive any cultural shift if we’re intentional. Take the time this week to ask your kids great questions. And stick with it, parents — you have more influence than you think.
The post Helping Kids Think Critically About Influencers They Follow Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
The topics parents need to discuss with kids today can be tough compared to even a few years ago. The digital scams are getting more sophisticated and the social culture poses new, more inherent risks. Weekly, we have to breach very adult conversations with our kids. Significant conversations about sexting, bullying, online scams, identity fraud, hate speech, exclusion, and sextortion — all have to be covered but we have to do it in ways that matter to kids.
With 95% of teens now having access to a smartphone and 45% online ”almost constantly,” it’s clear we can’t monitor conversations, communities, and secret apps around the clock. So the task for parents is to move from a mindset of ”protect” to one of ”prepare” if we hope to get kids to take charge of their privacy and safety online.
Here are a few ideas on how to get these conversations to stick.
Make adjustments to your digital parenting approach as needed. Some things will work, and others may fall flat. The important thing is to keep conversation a priority and find a rhythm that works for your family. And don’t stress: No one has all the answers, no one is a perfect parent. We are all learning a little more each day and doing the best we can to keep our families safe online.
Be Part of Something Big
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Become part of the effort to make sure that our online lives are as safe and secure as possible. Use the hashtags #CyberAware, #BeCyberSafe, and #NCSAM to track the conversation in real-time.
The post Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
A campaign first observed last year has ramped up its attack methods and appears to be linked to activity targeting President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Officials say they are concerned about their ability to fight crime and protect citizens, while privacy advocates remain critical of government interference
Adding hashtags to a social post has become second nature. In fact, it’s so common, few of us stop to consider that as fun and useful as hashtags can be, they can also have consequences if we misuse them.
But hashtags are more than add-ons to a post, they are power tools. In fact, when we put the pound (#) sign in front of a word, we turn that word into a piece of metadata that tags the word, which allows a search engine to index and categorize the attached content so anyone can search it. Looking for advice parenting an autistic child? Then hashtags like #autism #spectrum, or #autismspeaks will connect you with endless content tagged the same way.
Hashtags have become part of our lexicon and are used by individuals, businesses, and celebrities to extend digital influence. Social movements — such as #bekind and #icebucketchallenge — also use hashtags to educate and rally people around a cause. However, the power hashtags possess also means it’s critical to use them with care. Here are several ways people are using hashtags in harmful ways.
Hashtags can put children at risk. Unfortunately, innocent hashtags commonly used by proud parents such as #BackToSchool, #DaddysGirl, or #BabyGirl can be magnets for a pedophile. According to the Child Rescue Coalition, predators troll social media looking for hashtags like #bathtimefun, #cleanbaby, and #pottytrain, to collect images of children. CRC has compiled a list of hashtags parents should avoid using.
Hashtags can compromise privacy. Connecting a hashtag to personal information such as your hometown, your child’s name, or even #HappyBirthdayToMe can give away valuable pieces of your family’s info to a cybercriminal on the hunt to steal identities.
Hashtags can be used in scams. Scammers can use popular hashtags they know people will search to execute several scams. According to NBC News, one popular scam on Instagram is scammers who use luxury brand hashtags like #Gucci or #Dior or coded hashtags such as #mirrorquality #replica and #replicashoes to sell counterfeit goods. Cybercriminals will also search hashtags such as #WaitingToAdopt to target and run scams on hopeful parents.
Hashtags can have hidden meanings. Teens use code or abbreviation hashtags to reference drugs, suicide, mental health, and eating disorders. By searching the hashtag, teens band together with others on the same topic. Some coded hashtags include: #anas (anorexics) #mias (bulimics) #sue (suicide), #cuts (self-harm), #kush and #420 (marijuana).
Hashtags can be used to cyberbully. Posting a picture on a social network and adding mean hashtags is a common way for kids to bully one another. They use hashtags such as #whatnottowear, #losr, #yousuck, #extra, #getalife, #tbh (to be honest) and #peoplewhoshouldoffthemselves on photo captions bully or harass peers. Kids also cyberbully by making up hashtags like #jackieisacow and asking others to use it too. Another hashtag is #roastme in which kids post a photo of themselves and invite others to respond with funny comments only the humor can turn mean very quickly.
When it comes to understanding the online culture, taking the time to stay informed, pausing before you post, and trusting your instincts are critical. Also, being intentional to monitor your child’s social media (including reviewing hashtags) can help you spot potential issues such as bullying, mental health problems, or drug abuse.
According to a new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), mean girls are out in force online. Data shows that girls report three times as much harassment online (21%) as boys (less than 7%). While the new data does not specify the gender of the aggressors, experts say most girls are bullied by other girls.
With school back in full swing, it’s a great time to talk with your kids — especially girls — about how to deal with cyberbullies. Doing so could mean the difference between a smooth school year and a tumultuous one.
The mean girl phenomenon, brought into the spotlight by the 2004 movie of the same name, isn’t new. Only today, mean girls use social media to dish the dirt, which can be devastating to those targeted. Mean girls are known to use cruel digital tactics such as exclusion, cliques, spreading rumors online, name-calling, physical threats, sharing explicit images of others, shaming, sharing secrets, and recruiting others to join the harassment effort.
Show empathy. If your daughter is the target of mean girls online, she needs your ears and your empathy. The simple, powerful phrase, “I understand,” can be an instant bridge builder. Parents may have trouble comprehending the devastating effects of cyberbullying because they, unlike their child, did not grow up under the threat of being electronically attacked or humiliated. This lack of understanding, or empathy gap, can be closed by a parent making every effort empathize with a child’s pain.
Encourage confidence and assertiveness. Mean girls target people they consider weak or vulnerable. If they know they can exploit another person publicly and get away with it, it’s game on. Even if your daughter is timid, confidence and assertiveness can be practiced and learned. Find teachable moments at home and challenge your daughter to boldly express her opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Her ability to stand up for herself will grow over time, so get started role-playing and brainstorming various ways to respond to mean girls with confidence.
Ask for help. Kids often keep bullying a secret to keep a situation from getting worse. Unfortunately, this thinking can backfire. Encourage your daughter to reach out for help if a mean girl situation escalates. She can reach out to a teacher, a parent, or a trusted adult. She can also reach out to peers. There’s power in numbers, so asking friends to come alongside during a conflict can curb a cyberbully’s efforts.
Exercise self-control. When it comes to her behavior, mean girls habitually go low, so encourage your daughter always to go high. Regardless of the cruelty dished out, it’s important to maintain a higher standard. Staying calm, using respectful, non-aggressive language, and speaking in a confident voice, can discourage a mean girl’s actions faster than retribution.
Build a healthy perspective. Remind your daughter that even though bullying feels extremely personal, it’s not. A mean girl’s behavior reflects her own pain and character deficits, which has nothing to do with her target. As much as possible, help your daughter separate herself from the rumors or lies being falsely attached to her. Remind her of her strengths and the bigger picture that exists beyond the halls of middle school and high school.
Teach and prioritize self-care. In this context, self-care is about balance and intention. It includes spending more time doing what builds you up emotionally and physically — such as sleep and exercise — and less time doing things that deplete you (like mindlessly scrolling through Instagram).
Digitally walk away. When mean girls attack online, they are looking for a fight. However, if their audience disengages, a bully can quickly lose power and interest. Walk away digitally by not responding, unfollowing, blocking, flagging, or reporting an abusive account. Parents can also help by monitoring social activity with comprehensive software. Knowing where your child spends time online and with whom, is one way to spot the signs of cyberbullying.
Parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier as our kids get older and social media only adds another layer of complexity and concern. Even so, with consistent family conversation and connection, parents can equip kids to handle any situation that comes at them online.
The post Clicks & Cliques: How to Help Your Daughter Deal with Mean Girls Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
Simply by downloading the right combination of apps, parents can now track their child’s location 24/7, monitor their same social conversations, and inject their thoughts into their lives in a split second. To a parent, that’s called safety. To kids, it’s considered maddening.
Kids are making it clear that parents armed with apps are overstepping their roles in many ways. And, parents, concerned about the risks online are making it clear they aren’t about to let their kids run wild.
I recently watched the relationship of a mother and her 16-year-old daughter fall apart over the course of a year. When the daughter got her driver’s license (along with her first boyfriend), the mother started tracking her daughter’s location with the Life360 app to ease her mind. However, the more she tracked, the more the confrontations escalated. Eventually, the daughter, feeling penned in, waged a full-blown rebellion that is still going strong.
There’s no perfect way to parent, especially in the digital space. There are, however, a few ways that might help us drive our digital lanes more efficiently and keep the peace. But first, we may need to curb (or ‘chill out on’ as my kids put it) some annoying behaviors we may have picked up along the way.
Here are just a few ways to keep the peace and avoid colliding with your kids online:
Interact with care on their social media. It’s not personal. It’s human nature. Kids (tweens and teens) don’t want to hang out with their parents in public — that especially applies online. They also usually aren’t too crazy about you connecting with their friends online. And tagging your tween or teen in photos? Yeah, that’s taboo. Tip: If you need to comment on a photo (be it positive or negative) do it in person or with a direct message, not under the floodlights of social media. This is simply respecting your child’s social boundaries.
Ask before you share pictures. Most parents think posting pictures of their kids online is a simple expression of love or pride, but to kids, it can be extremely embarrassing, and even an invasion of privacy. Tip: Be discerning about how much you post about your kids online and what you post. Junior may not think a baby picture of him potty training is so cute. Go the extra step and ask your child’s permission before posting a photo of them.
Keep tracking and monitoring in check. Just because you have the means to monitor your kids 24/7 doesn’t mean you should. It’s wise to know where your child goes online (and off) but when that action slips into a preoccupation, it can wreck a relationship (it’s also exhausting). The fact that some kids make poor digital choices doesn’t mean your child will. If your fears about the online world and assumptions about your child’s behavior have led you to obsessively track their location, monitor their conversations, and hover online, it may be time to re-engineer your approach. Tip: Put the relationship with your child first. Invest as much time into talking to your kids and spending one-one time with them as you do tracking them. Put conversation before control so that you can parent from confidence, rather than fear.
Avoid interfering in conflicts. Kids will be bullied, meet people who don’t like them and go through tough situations. Keeping kids safe online can be done with wise, respectful monitoring. However, that monitoring can slip into lawnmower parenting (mowing over any obstacle that gets in a child’s path) as described in this viral essay. Tip: Don’t block your child’s path to becoming a capable adult. Unless there’s a serious issue to your child’s health and safety, try to stay out of his or her online conflicts. Keep it on your radar but let it play out. Allow your child to deal with peers, feel pain, and find solutions.
As parents, we’re all trying to find the balance between allowing kids to have their space online and still keep them safe. Too much tracking can cause serious family strife while too little can be inattentive in light of the risks. Parenting today is a difficult road that’s always a work-in-progress so give yourself permission to keep learning and improving your process along the way
The post Digital Parenting: How to Keep the Peace with Your Kids Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
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