social media

Sexting-e1574457235379-300x200.jpg

Could Your Child be Sexting? Signs to Look for and Ways to Respond

Teens and sexting

Oh, what we wouldn’t do to travel back in time to the days before smartphones kid-jacked our families, right? But here we are. Our kids are forever connected. And, it’s up to parents to help them navigate the risks — one of which is sexting.

Ouch. Even reading the word may make any parent want to click off this post and run. But don’t. Stay here. Keep reading. Yes, it’s a difficult thing to imagine that your child could be like those “other kids.” (You know, the unruly ones; the wild ones, the ones who must lack parental input and digital monitoring, right?)

But it happens. Good kids — great kids even — may bend the rules and eventually engage in sexting.

As one parent recently reminded with this Direct Message on Twitter:

“I recently discovered my daughter has been sexting with her boyfriend. I’m still shaking over what I found. This is not like her at all. The worst part is she blew it off like it was no big deal! She says everyone does it, and I’m overreacting. Am I the crazy one here? Do a lot of kids do this? Please help. No clue what to do next.” ~ Minnesota Mom

Teens and sextingSexting stats

For Minnesota Mom, and others, here’s what we know.

Some, but not all, kids sext.

One of the latest and most comprehensive studies reveals that while adolescent sexting isn’t an epidemic, it’s still happening despite public campaigns to reduce it. The study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja, surveyed 5,593 American middle and high school students ages 12 to 17.

In summary, the study found:

  • 14% of middle and high school students had received a sexually explicit image from a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • 6% said they received such an image from someone who was not a current romantic partner.
  • 11% reported sending a sext to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 9% of the students who were asked by a current boyfriend or girlfriend to send a sext complied.
  • 43% of students asked to send a sext by someone who was not a current romantic partner complied.

No, mom, you aren’t crazy.

If you’ve discovered your child is sexting, don’t buy into the flippant (and erroneous) response that “everyone’s doing it.” For those kids who are engaged in sexting, your concerns are more than legitimate.

Sexting can carry enormous emotional, physical, social, and even legal risks. Also, if a situation gets out of hand (not often but it happens), those involved may never fully recover emotionally.

Some signs of sexting

  • Increased secrecy. If your daughter (or son) is sexting, they may become overly protective of their cell phone and hide their screen from public view. They may sleep with their phones under their pillows to safeguard its contents.
  • Grade changes. Grades may drop as risky behaviors edge out day to day responsibilities.
  • Friend changes. If you check your child’s social accounts and notice an increase in flirty photos and language or friends who do the same, it could be a sign of risky digital behavior.
  • Spike in screen time. You may notice your tween or teen on the phone more, leave the room to talk or text, and insist on using their phone from a private place.
  • Anger, defensiveness. While kids may try to rationalize or normalize sexting, your child knows sending a racy photo on a device is risky. Hiding that behavior can cause anger and defensiveness. Your child also likely knows about the specific risks associated with sexting — things like sextortion (pressuring, threatening), revenge porn (sharing to humiliate), bullying, a wrecked reputation, anxiety, and depression. However, she may be in denial that the consequences apply to her personally.

How to respond

Don’t lose your cool or shame. Today’s digital teen culture is something parents haven’t experienced. Peer pressure plays a significant role in sexting. Girls may sext to compete for and win someone’s approval, to prove loyalty or love, or as relational insurance. Boys can be bullied or shamed by male peers if they don’t have girls sexting them.

Keep in mind: What the teenage brain believes to be a good idea at 15 isn’t likely to align with that of a parent. Coming-of-age behaviors in the digital era do not look like they did decades ago. So getting angry, shaming, or getting extreme with restrictions, may not be as useful as working together to figure out why your child is sexting, why it isn’t wise, and how to avoid doing it in the future.

Act quickly. If you discover your child is sexting, immediately remove all suggestive images from your child’s phone and be aggressive to get them deleted from anyone else’s devices. Sexting will often end between the participants without incident. Other situations can escalate. Every situation will be different. Gather all facts and carefully consider bringing other people into the situation. State laws vary, and sexting allegations can have profound consequences. Some options may be to 1) talk to the other kids or parents involved 2) speak to the school (if relevant) 3) contact the police (if a situation evolves to conflict or threats) 4) pursue legal action (if related) 5) seek counseling if a situation causes anxiety or depression for your child.

Teach responsibility; consider filtering. Teaching digital responsibility is one of the top tasks of parents today. And, a healthy parent-child relationship is the best way to equip your child to deal with and avoid sexting. In addition to discussing the risks, but time limits, and phone curfews in place, and consider protecting your family devices with parental controls.

Be proactive. Sexting is a tough but necessary conversation. Start talking to your kids at a young age about the importance of protecting their privacy — information, images, reputation — online. Get specific about what kind of content is okay and not okay to share. Have age-appropriate conversations on how to avoid the temptation of sexting and possible consequences. This handbook from Common Sense Media is an excellent resource as you approach the sexting discussion.

Make the consequences clear. Work together to create ground rules for responsible phone use that include clear consequences. Be prepared to enforce those consequences. If you say you will take away a phone for a week that isn’t used responsibly, be prepared to do that (even if you have to endure not being able to communicate with your child throughout the school day).

Parenting in the digital age certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Kids are always one poor choice away from an emotional avalanche. Find different ways to let your kids know you are there for them — without condition — to listen, to counsel, and to help them work through any difficult situation.

The post Could Your Child be Sexting? Signs to Look for and Ways to Respond appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

shutterstock_508588189-300x200.jpg

Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips

Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips 1

Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips 2The 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.

  1. Bring the headlines home. A quick search of your local or regional headlines should render some examples of kids who have risked and lost a lot more than they imagined online. Bringing the headlines closer to home — issues like reputation management, sex trafficking, kidnapping, sextortion, and bullying — can help your child personalize digital issues. Discussing these issues with honesty and openness can bring the reality home that these issues are real and not just things that happen to other people.
  2. Netflix and discuss. Hollywood has come a long way in the last decade in making films for tweens and teens that spotlight important digital issues. Watching movies together is an excellent opportunity to deepen understanding and spark conversation about critical issues such as cyberbullying, teen suicide, sextortion, catfishing, stalking, and examples of personal courage and empathy for others. Just a few of the movies include Cyberbully, 13 Reasons Why (watch with a parent), Eighth Grade, Searching, Bully, Disconnect. Character building movies: Dumplin’, Tall Girl, Wonder, Girl Rising, The Hate U Give, Mean Girls, and the Fat Boy Chronicles, among many others.
  3. Remove phones. Sometimes absence makes that heart grow appreciative, right? Owning a phone (or any device) isn’t a right. Phone ownership and internet access is a privilege and responsibility. So removing a child’s phone for a few days can be especially effective if your child isn’t listening or exercising wise habits online. One study drives this phone-dependency home. Last year researchers polled millennials who said they’d rather give up a finger than their smartphones. So, this tactic may prove to be quite effective.Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips 3
  4. Define community. Getting kids to be self-motivated about digital safety and privacy may require a more in-depth discussion on what “community” means. The word is used often to describe social networks, but do we really know and trust people in our online “communities?” No. Ask your child what qualities he or she values in a friend and who they might include in a trusted community. By defining this, kids may become more aware of who they are letting in and what risks grow when our digital circles grow beyond trusted friends.
  5. Assume they are swiping right. Dating has changed dramatically for tweens and teens. Sure there are apps like MeetMe and Tinder that kids explore, but even more popular ways to meet a significant other are everyday social networks like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Instagram, where kids can easily meet “friends of friends” and start “talking.” Study the pros and cons of these apps. Talk to your kids about them and stress the firm rule of never meeting with strangers.
  6. Stay curious. Stay interested. If you, as a parent, show little interest in online risks, then why should your child? By staying curious and current about social media, apps, video games, your kids will see that you care about — and can discuss — the digital pressures that surround them every day. Subscribe to useful family safety and parenting blogs and consider setting up Google Alerts around safety topics such as new apps, teens online, and online scams.Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips 4
  7. Ask awesome questions. We know that lectures and micromanaging don’t work in the long run, so making the most of family conversations is critical. One way to do this is to ask open-ended questions such as “What did you learn from this?” “What do you like or dislike about this app?” “Have you ever felt unsafe online?” and “How do you handle uncomfortable or creepy encounters online?” You might be surprised at where the conversations can go and the insight you will gain.

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.

shutterstock_1414416164-300x200.jpg

Device & App Safety Guide for Families

Device & App Safety Guide for Families 5

app safetyWhile we talk about online safety each week on this blog, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), a time to come together and turn up the volume on the digital safety and security conversation worldwide.

To kick off that effort, here’s a comprehensive Device and App Safety Guide to give your family quick ways to boost safety and security.

Device Safety Tips

  • Update devices. Updates play a critical role in protecting family devices from hackers and malware, so check for updates and install promptly.
  • Disable geotagging. To keep photo data private, turn off geotagging, which is a code that embeds location information into digital photos.
  • Turn off location services. To safeguard personal activity from apps, turn off location services on all devices and within the app. 
  • Review phone records. Monitor your child’s cell phone records for unknown numbers or excessive late-night texting or calls.
  • Lock devices. Most every phone comes with a passcode, facial, or fingerprint lock. Make locking devices a habit and don’t share passcodes with friends. 
  • Add ICE to contacts. Make sure to put a parent’s name followed by ICE (in case of emergency) into each child’s contact list.
  • Back up data. To secure family photos and prevent data loss due to malware, viruses, or theft, regularly back up family data. 
  • Use strong passwords. Passwords should be more than eight characters in length and contain a mix of capital and lower case letters and at least one numeric or non-alphabetical character. Also, use two-factor authentication whenever possible.  
  • Stop spying. Adopting healthy online habits takes a full-court family press, so choose to equip over spying. Talk candidly about online risks, solutions, family ground rules, and consequences. If you monitor devices, make sure your child understands why. 
  • Share wisely. Discuss the risks of sharing photos online with your kids and the effect it has on reputation now and in the future. 
  • Protect your devices. Add an extra layer of protection to family devices with anti-virus and malware protection and consider content filtering
  • Secure IoT devices. IoT devices such as smart TVs, toys, smart speakers, and wearables are also part of the devices families need to safeguard. Configure privacy settings, read product reviews, secure your router, use a firewall, and use strong passwords at all connection points. 

App Safety Tips

  • Evaluate apps. Apps have been known to put malware on devices, spy, grab data illegally, and track location and purchasing data without permission. Check app reviews for potential dangers and respect app age requirements.app safety
  • Max privacy settings. Always choose the least amount of data-sharing possible within every app and make app profiles private.
  • Explore apps together. Learn about your child’s favorite apps, what the risks are, and how to adjust app settings to make them as safe as possible. Look at the apps on your child’s phone. Also, ask your child questions about his or her favorite apps and download and explore the app yourself. 
  • Understand app cultures. Some of the most popular social networking apps can also contain inappropriate content that promotes pornography, hate, racism, violence, cruelty, self-harm, or even terrorism.
  • Monitor gaming. Many games allow real-time in-game messaging. Players can chat using text, audio, and video, which presents the same potential safety concerns as other social and messaging apps.
  • Discuss app risks. New, popular apps come out every week. Discuss risks such as anonymous bullying, inappropriate content, sexting, fake profiles, and data stealing. 
  • Avoid anonymous apps. Dozens of apps allow users to create anonymous profiles. Avoid these apps and the inherent cyberbullying risks they pose.
  • Limit your digital circle. Only accept friend requests from people you know. And remember, “friends” aren’t always who they say they are. Review and reduce your friend list regularly.
  • Monitor in-app purchases. It’s easy for kids to go overboard with in-app purchases, especially on gaming apps.

Our biggest tip? Keep on talking. Talk about the risks inherent to the internet. Talk about personal situations that arise. Talk about mistakes. Nurturing honest, ongoing family dialogue takes time and effort but the payoff is knowing your kids can handle any situation they encounter online.

Stay tuned throughout October for more NCSAM highlights and information designed to help you keep your family safe and secure in the online world.

The post Device & App Safety Guide for Families appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

shutterstock_1499788634-300x200.jpg

5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids

online privacy

5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids 6Over the years, I’ve been the star of a number of sub-stellar parenting moments. More than once, I found myself reprimanding my kids for doing things that kids do — things I never stopped to teach them otherwise.

Like the time I reprimanded my son for not thanking his friend’s mother properly before we left a birthday party. He was seven when his etiquette deficit disorder surfaced. Or the time I had a meltdown because my daughter cut her hair off. She was five when she brazenly declared her scorn for the ponytail.

The problem: I assumed they knew.

Isn’t the same true when it comes to our children’s understanding of the online world? We can be quick to correct our kids when they fail to exercise the best judgment or handle a situation the way we think they should online.

But often what’s needed first is a parental pause to ask ourselves: Am I assuming they know? Have I taken the time to define and discuss the issue?

With that in mind, here are five digitally-rich terms dominating the online conversation. If possible, find a few pockets of time this week and start from the beginning — define the words, then discuss them with your kids. You may be surprised where the conversation goes.

5 digital terms that matter

Internet Privacy

Internet privacy is the personal privacy that every person is entitled to when they display, store, or provide information regarding themselves on the internet. 

Highlight: We see and use this word often but do our kids know what it means? Your personal information has value, like money. Guard it. Lock it down. Also, respect the privacy of others. Be mindful about accidentally giving away a friend’s information, sharing photos without permission, or sharing secrets. Remember: Nothing shared online (even in a direct message or private text) is private—nothing. Smart people get hacked every day.
Ask: Did you know that when you go online, websites and apps track your activity to glean personal information? What are some ways you can control that? Do you know why people want your data?
Act: Use privacy settings on all apps, turn off cookies in search engines, review privacy policies of apps, and create bullet-proof passwords.

Digital Wellbeing

Digital wellbeing (also called digital wellness) is an ongoing awareness of how social media and technology impacts our emotional and physical health.

Highlight: Every choice we make online can affect our wellbeing or alter our sense of security and peace. Focusing on wellbeing includes taking preventative measures, making choices, and choosing behaviors that build help us build a healthy relationship with technology. Improving one’s digital wellbeing is an on-going process.
Ask: What do you like to do online that makes you feel good about yourself? What kinds of interactions make you feel anxious, excluded, or sad? How much time online do you think is healthy?5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids 7
Act:
Digital wellness begins at home. To help kids “curb the urge” to post so frequently, give them a “quality over quantity” challenge. Establish tech curfews and balance screen time to green time. Choose apps and products that include wellbeing features in their design. Consider security software that blocks inappropriate apps, filters disturbing content, and curbs screen time.

Media Literacy

Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms. It’s the ability to think critically about the messages you encounter.

Highlight: Technology has redefined media. Today, anyone can be a content creator and publisher online, which makes it difficult to discern the credibility of the information we encounter. The goal of media literacy curriculum in education is to equip kids to become critical thinkers, effective communicators, and responsible digital citizens.
Ask: Who created this content? Is it balanced or one-sided? What is the author’s motive behind it? Should I share this?  How might someone else see this differently?
Act: Use online resources such as Cyberwise to explore concepts such as clickbait, bias, psychographics, cyberethics, stereotypes, fake news, critical thinking/viewing, and digital citizenship. Also, download Google’s new Be Internet Awesome media literacy curriculum.

Empathy

Empathy is stepping into the shoes of another person to better understand and feel what they are going through.

5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids 8

Highlight: Empathy is a powerful skill in the online world. Empathy helps dissolve stereotypes, perceptions, and prejudices. According to Dr. Michelle Borba, empathetic children practice these nine habits that run contrary to today’s “selfie syndrome” culture. Empathy-building habits include moral courage, kindness, and emotional literacy. Without empathy, people can be “mean behind the screen” online. But remember: There is also a lot of people practicing empathy online who are genuine “helpers.” Be a helper.
Ask: How can you tell when someone “gets you” or understands what you are going through? How do they express that? Is it hard for you to stop and try to relate to what someone else is feeling or see a situation through their eyes? What thoughts or emotions get in your way?
Act:  Practice focusing outward when you are online. Is there anyone who seems lonely, excluded, or in distress? Offer a kind word, an encouragement, and ask questions to learn more about them. (Note: Empathy is an emotion/skill kids learn over time with practice and parental modeling).

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, shame, or target another person online.

Highlight: Not all kids understand the scope of cyberbullying, which can include spreading rumors, sending inappropriate photos, gossiping, subtweeting, and excessive messaging. Kids often mistake cyberbullying for digital drama and overlook abusive behavior. While kids are usually referenced in cyberbullying, the increase in adults involved in online shaming, unfortunately, is quickly changing that ratio.
Ask: Do you think words online can hurt someone in a way, more than words said face-to-face? Why? Have you ever experienced cyberbullying? Would you tell a parent or teacher about it? Why or why not?
Act: Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior and pay attention to his or her online communities. Encourage kids to report bullying (aimed at them or someone else). Talk about what it means to be an Upstander when bullied. If the situation is unresolvable and escalates to threats of violence, report it immediately to law enforcement.

We hope these five concepts spark some lively discussions around your dinner table this week. Depending on the age of your child, you can scale the conversation to fit. And don’t be scared off by eye rolls or sighs, parents. Press into the hard conversations and be consistent. Your voice matters in their noisy, digital world.

The post 5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

img_1596040370943472-300x225.jpg

Iron Man’s Instagram Hacked: Snap Away Cybercriminals With These Social Media Tips

Iron Man’s Instagram Hacked: Snap Away Cybercriminals With These Social Media Tips 9

Celebrities: they’re just like us! Well, at least in the sense that they still face common cyberthreats. This week, “Avengers: Endgame” actor Robert Downey Jr. was added to the list of celebrities whose social media accounts have been compromised. According to Bleeping Computer, a hacker group managed to take control of the actor’s Instagram account, sharing enticing but phony giveaway announcements.

Iron Man’s Instagram Hacked: Snap Away Cybercriminals With These Social Media Tips 10

The offers posted by the hackers included 2,000 iPhone XS devices, MacBook Pro laptops, Tesla cars, and more. In addition to the giveaways added to the actor’s story page, the hackers also changed the link in his account bio, pointing followers to a survey page designed to collect their personal information that could be used for other scams. The tricky part? The hackers posted the link using the URL shortening service Bitly, preventing followers from noticing any clues as to whether the link was malicious or not.

This incident serves as a reminder that anyone with an online account can be vulnerable to a cyberattack, whether you have superpowers or not. In fact, over 22% of internet users reported that their online accounts have been hacked at least once, and more than 14% said that they were hacked more than once. Luckily, there are some best practices you can follow to help keep your accounts safe and sound:

  • Don’t interact with suspicious messages, links, or posts. If you come across posts with offers that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Use your best judgment and don’t click on suspicious messages or links, even if they appear to be posted by a friend.
  • Alert the platform. Flag any scam posts or messages you encounter on social media to the platform so they can stop the threat from spreading.
  • Use good password hygiene. Make sure all of your passwords are strong and unique.
  • Don’t post personal information. Posting personally identifiable information on social media could potentially allow a hacker to guess answers to your security questions or make you an easier target for a cyberattack. Keep your personal information under wraps and turn your account to private.

To stay updated on all of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post Iron Man’s Instagram Hacked: Snap Away Cybercriminals With These Social Media Tips appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Vox Messenger Logo - 512x512

End-2-End Encrypted. Secure. Ad-Free.
Lightweight and Faster than the Competition.

Vox Messenger is an ad-free, secure and end-2-end encrypted alternative to other popular chat messenger apps.

Available for Free. Whitelabel Corporate Edition Available on Request.

Vox Messenger {Secure} - Communicate safely with our private and secure messaging app | Product Hunt Embed

All Rights Reserved - © Copyright 2020 - Vox Messenger (a Division of Kryotech Ltd.)