Last night, I was watching an episode of Lie To Me with actor, Tim Roth. In this episode, a video was made by a girl that was being bullied by her classmates. What made things tricky was that the bullying was encouraged by the gym teacher that this girl trusted. The "trusted teacher" was provoking her classmates to bully her. The video that was made expressed violence toward others, however, the violence was actually what she wished upon herself. She then attempted suicide. In the end, they caught the suicide attempt in time. She survived and worked up the courage to confront the students as well as the teacher.
I bring this example to you because this happens more often than we think. A few weeks back, we posted a video on the intensity of cyberbullying. Here are some mid-blowing statistics on this issue that we wanted to bring to you in regard to technology that folks are using today in order to hurt other people.
• According to the National Crime Prevention Center, more than 40 percent of all teenagers with Internet access have reported being bullied online during the past year.
• Girls are more likely than boys to be the target of cyber-bullying. Also, there is a direct correlation to the amount of time girls spend online and the likelihood that they will be bullied.
• The National Crime Prevention Center study found that only 10 percent of those kids who were bullied told their parents about the incident, and that a mere 18 percent of the cases were reported to a local or national law enforcement agency.
• According to a recent study, 58 percent of fourth- through eighth-graders reported having mean or cruel things said to them online. 53 percent said they have said mean or hurtful things to others while online. 42 percent of those studied said that they had been “bullied online,” but almost 60 percent have never told their parents about the incident.
• Cell phone cameras and digital cameras are a growing problem in the cyber-bullying world. A recent survey found that 10 percent of 770 young people surveyed were made to feel “threatened, embarrassed or uncomfortable” by a photo taken of them using a cell-phone camera.
This is alarming. Imagine your child being the target of intentional cruelty. And the sad part is that often, kids don’t want to tell anyone. Usually out of fear or embarrassment. As a result, they are dealing with these huge issues that kids really shouldn’t have to deal with.
Going back to the episode of Lie ToMe, the popular girl who was doing the bullying didn’t really want to do it. She felt pressured by her peers and by a teacher whom she looked up to. This leads me to believe that WE can help influence our kids through conversation, IF we know what is actually happening in their lives. McGruff Safeguard is a key way to monitor your kids, whether they are the victim, or the bully. You can be a part of the solution. As the old saying says, “It takes a village” to raise a child. Help us help you keep your children safe.
I have to say that I had to laugh out loud (lol) when I received this story. Not because it was funny, but because I could totally relate on both the child and the parent end. I was a very rebellious teenager. If my parents told me I COULDN’T do something, I would show them that I could. For me, it was an independent power struggle. I felt like I had to somehow prove I was capable of feeling life out and making my own decisions. There are lots of teens out there who feel the same way. Even if they don’t necessarily act out as I did, they are all searching for their own identity. Sneaking out is one way I tried to find that. Other kids are up to the same deeds as well. The following is one parent’s story of how McGruff Safeguard was used in order to interfere with the pattern of sneaking out:
“I have a teenage child who liked to sneak out at night when everyone was asleep. Since I kept close tabs on the phone usage his only way of "planning" these outings with his friends was in chat online. The service has enabled me to interfere with his sneaking out. Needless to say, he has no idea how I find out and has nearly stopped all attempts of getting out at night.”
Speaking from experience, this mother is brave and needs to be applauded for taking a stand. If you have to sneak out in order to do something, usually, what kids are doing is probably not something they should be. When I snuck out, it was ordinarily to be with people my parents didn’t want me to be with, and there were often times drugs and alcohol was involved. Had my parents had McGruff Safeguard as a service back when I was a teenager making stupid decisions, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into some of the trouble that I did.
Parents, the world is a scary place. There are more dangers out there now, than there was before. We want to help you stop this activity BEFORE it happens. So, whether you are a parent who monitors your teenager because they sneak out, or whether you are just looking to know what is truly going on in your teens life, McGruff Safeguard can monitor it all. Help us help you keep your family safe online.
At McGruff Safeguard, we truly enjoy hearing from the parents and families who use the software program. The following story is from one of the parents. What I liked personally liked about this was the mother’s stance on privacy. We’ll go into this a bit more after you see what she wrote:
“I love being able to read about what is going on with the day to day activities of my 13-year old. The naive parents think that it is so invasive and that you don't trust your child or are not giving them privacy. At 13 they don't deserve privacy. The best thing about the program is simply being able to direct your conversations with your child about what is going on and having an intelligent two-sided conversation about topics of concern. All of this is important to do before it is too late.”
This was the premise McGruff Safeguard was created under: two-sided conversation. I’ve seen the extremes…parents who give their teens way too much freedom, and those who keep their kids on a pretty tight rope. Both can be detrimental. I think one of the biggest challenges parents have is learning how to find and then maintain moderation. However, growing up is tough
There are many parents out there that indeed feel as though they are invading their child’s privacy. It’s really not if you think about it. It’s actually making sure they don’t make careless decisions. It’s about their safety. It’s about their future. McGruff Safeguard wants to help you monitor your child so you can have two-sided conversation. We love your feedback. Please keep it coming.
Safe Internet Alliance Panel - Confronting Internet Risks Today
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Safe Internet Alliance is hosting a panel discussion today (in about 15 minutes, actually) called the "Framework for a Safe Internet." The conference will host a veritable who's who of Internet moguls--representing giants like Yahoo, Verizon, Microsoft, and AOL--in a series of panels each focused on maintaining a safe Internet for ourselves and our children. Marty Schultz, Chief Safety Officer at McGruff SafeGuard, is also preparing to share today on a panel about confronting Internet risks today. I thought I'd share with our readers a sneak peak at the discussion to ensue in a few hours.
The bottom line: the world is a dangerous place. Ergo, the Internet is a dangerous place. It's simple logic. Unfortunately, however, it's not always so simple to see. The dangers in this world that we as parents grew up with are still there--everything from scraped knees to busy streets, and even ill-willed perpetrators and pedophiles. So, as your child rests comfortably in a desk chair staring at a computer, isn't he or she protected? No.
Here is the mental shift we as parents must make: logging on is tantamount to heading out. Your child, though physically present in your home, is socially traveling the world and encountering a host of new, and also not-so-new dangers. The risks have changed, but the principal is unchanged: the world is dangerous. We must protect our children!
But don't the ISP's, social network policies, and federal regulations keep the internet relatively safe for my kid? They try. But, at a park near a busy street, do you trust the town's police force to keep your kid from darting into traffic? No. They post signs, "children at play," and the like--but ultimately, the role of protecting the next generation falls squarely on the parents.
The only tried-and-true method for keeping kids safe is for parents to accept their responsibility to know what their kids are doing. The only way to do this online is for parents to know not just where their children go online, but what they do when they get there, what they talk about, and to whom they talk. If your child is at the park, that seems safe enough. But if they're over by the bushes talking to the shadowy figure with an eerie look to him--you just might want to know that. You just might need to step in and protect your innocent child from the dangers he or she might not yet understand.
At McGruff SafeGuard, protecting children online is our first objective. If it means speaking at a thousand panels just like today's, we'll be there. We also want to empower every parent to do their part. Learn about our free internet monitoring tool and consider downloading it today.
We recently wrote a blog post about getting into abusive relationships. This is a true story that shares the importance of McGruff Safeguard to one family. This family was able to use the conversations they retrieved through the service to not only grow closer to their daughter, but to help another family reach out to their son.
I got this product after my daughter started talking to a new boy at school. He was supposed to be a really nice boy, a preacher’s son. But the language he used was horrible. He wanted to meet her and spend some time with her without her parents knowing.
My daughter volunteers at an elementary school after she is done with high school. The boy wanted my daughter to meet him after school to get to know her better. They decided it would be a good idea to not tell their parents. The boy is 18 years old and my daughter is 16 years old. I found out through the service, not only that they were going to meet, but where they were going to meet.
After that and after reading the horrible things he said to her, I printed the conversations out and gave them to his father. I also let the boy know before I gave his parents the conversations that I knew what he was saying to my daughter.
I find peace of mind because my daughter has been diagnosed with depression, and she doesn’t always tell me or the therapist what is really on her mind. I use the information from her conversations to gently touch on subjects with her that she would not normally bring up with me. It has been a great way to open the line of communication between us. She doesn’t know I use this, and I don’t want her to think I am prying into her private life. However, she has grown closer to us as she feels that we really do know how she feels. We can help offer help for issues that she needs a little guidance in. I love this service and highly recommend it to anyone with kids.
It can be hard for a parent to know up front whether their kids are hanging out with kids that are good for them. In this story, we found out that just because your child or teen is involved with a “preacher’s son” doesn’t necessarily mean they are immune to hurt or abuse. McGruff Safeguard is here to keep you on alert when you just don’t know. Here’s to fostering conversation with your kids.
We've talked over and over again on this blog about privacy and social media. Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace--some of the most prevalent social media sites on the web--are also the easiest venues for your child or teen to "put themselves out there" in ways they might not have realized, or even wanted. But today, I want to share with you more than just a warning, I have some actionable tid-bits that you and your child can put into place today.
I must credit Nick O'Neal over at All Facebook for putting together an incredibly detailed list of instructions for protecting your privacy on Facebook. I recommend your read his article (http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/02/facebook-privacy/) for a detailed break down. Some of my favorites, ones which I've personally implemented, include the following...
Avoid Photo/Video Tag Mistakes. If someone snaps a shot of you at the last Christmas party, it's not too harmful for them to tag that photo of you. But what about photos that you might not want out there? Or worse, photos that AREN'T you but someone thinks its funny to say that it is. Change your settings to disallow tagging without your approval.
Control what Basic Information is Shown. This is indeed basic. Under the “Basic Information” section on the Profile Privacy Page, you can control what is seen on your page. Go thru the list and select what you want shown or not shown. You can go to the News Feeds and Wall privacy page as well to control what actions are shown in your friends feeds.
Make Your Contact Information Private. For certain friends your contact information is known, but for acquaintances you don’t want to give out all that information.
Avoid the Embarrassing Wall Post. If a friend or contact posts something embarrassing of your child, Facebook has provided you with the ability to customize the posting visibility.
These are just a few of my top picks. Read the full list and detailed instructions at All Facebook blog.
I was thinking about something this morning. You know, this whole sexual internet predator thing is not just something we think about here in America. I think that it's sometimes easy to forget, since we live here, that this is a WORLDWIDE problem. I ran across an article by writer, Donna Rice, and wanted to share some of its content.
"Child sexual exploitation occurs in every economic, social, ethnic, and religious group. With the explosion of the Internet into a powerful, worldwide medium, the danger to children, whether they are from New York or New Zealand, has drastically increased. Pedophiles and other sexual predators can use the Internet, with no precautions, to exchange names and addresses of other pedophiles and of potential child victims. Hidden behind screen names that are pseudonyms, they gather online and swap child pornography with amazing speed and in amounts beyond our wildest imagination, which excites them to molest even more.
Offline, pedophiles typically operate in isolation. Never before have pedophiles had the opportunity to communicate so freely and directly with each other as they do online. Their communication on the Internet provides validation, or virtual validation, for their behavior. They share their conquests, real and imagined. They discuss ways to contact and lure children online and exchange tips on seduction techniques. They are using the technology of the Internet to train and encourage each other to act out sexually with children. The Internet also serves as a tool for predators to exchange tips on the avoidance of law enforcement detection.
The most common means by which sexual predators contact children over the Internet is through chat rooms, instant messages and email. In fact, 89% of sexual solicitations were made in either chat rooms or instant messages and 1 in 5 youth (ages 10-17 years) has been sexually solicited online (JAMA, 2001). Considering that 25% of kids online participate in real time chat and 13 million use instant messaging, the risks of such children, either knowingly or unknowingly, interacting with a predator is alarming."
Now think about this…these numbers were from 2001, and the rate has gone up since then! We absolutely MUST teach our children and teenagers how to be safe online. Monitoring their activity is a key way to stop any potential danger that your kids can't see. McGruff Safeguard was created for that reason. We know you can't be around your kids all the time. When you can't, you can rest assured that we can. Help us help you keep your children safe online.
Wouldn't it be great if you could just look at your kids and read them as if they were a book? What if there were no secrets? What if there was an air of constant respect? What if our kids never did anything to freak us out? That would be great—right?
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Parenting certainly has amazing aspects to it, full of rewards, joys, and laughter. However, it's not an easy thing. No one ever created the perfect manual telling us the secret. Kids ARE their own people, they have their own minds, and they certainly, at some point, make their own choices. The only real control we have over them is…well…none. We can TRY to control our kids, but they may end up resenting us in the long haul. I know plenty of people, whose parents attempted the control thing, and in the end, the kids only rebelled, and a wedge was created.
I am no parenting expert. I believe there are rules that need to be followed. There are boundaries that need to be set for our kids' safety. And there are hard conversations that need to be had throughout parenting. However, the greatest way to do this is to love our kids. Not only love them, but LISTEN to them. It's extremely important to let them know that we care about how they feel. And we truly should.
Think back on the times where you felt you were not heard. Do you remember when you had a feeling that meant a great deal to you, but not to someone else? I think often times as parents, we can get too much on the "boss" track, that it's easy to forget to "listen" to our kids. If this is consistently the case, then our kids will want to turn to someone who DOES "listen" to them, whether online or in person. And they may not know of the danger they put themselves in.
I challenge you today to pay attention to what is going on with your kids. Have dinner with them and their friends. Really take some time and HEAR what they are saying since we can't read them like we would sometimes like. If you have concerns about some of the activities they're participating in or you think they may be participating in, we're here to help. McGruff Safeguard wants to help you to initiate conversation. Talk to you kids. Create some space and get to know where they are today.
Do you know how many social networking sites your children post things on? There are hundreds of sites online that cater to connecting YOU with not only friends, but anyone on the internet. Many people now have more than one place that they go online to post comments and photos. I myself have Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter, just three of the many.
Recently I heard of a new site called Ping.fm, which is like a one stop shop for posting to all these sites simultaneously. It's a free social networking web site the lets users post a message in one place and post to all of their social sites. This way you don't have to go to each media site that you have and post your message separately. Ping.fm groups services into three categories - status updates, blogs and micro-blogs - and can update to each group. Ping.fm currently supports more than 30 services. Once you've set up a Ping.fm account and added your information for the services you use, you are ready to return to your dashboard to start sending out messages to all your profiles at once. Sounds amazing, right?
While this service may seem fantastic, it is a little scary how easy it is to post things on the internet and have that info syndicated everywhere. With ping.fm your child can just post one thing to all their multiple social sites with ease. A time-saving trick? Sure, but all it takes is one careless word and this site amplifies that word 30 times over. This is a great example of how, with the web, great freedoms bring great responsibility.
The web is becoming easier and easier to use and your child or teen may not realize the risk that is out there. McGruff Safeguard can help you to make sure your children are safe while online.
I found this video I wanted to share with you. It tells a story. It actually tells a couple of stories. One of the first issues we presented to you when we began to blog was cyber-bullying. According to the web definition, cyber-bullying is bullying which is carried out through an internet service such as email, chat room, discussion group or instant messaging. It can also include bullying through mobile phone technologies such as short message services (SMS). It is a real issue. Please take a few minutes to view the video.
Cyber-bullying is a serious issue. Suicide is a serious issue. Can you imagine an entire audience watching as your child committed suicide online? Consider McGruff Safeguard today if you haven’t begun using it. There are a lot of scary things out there, and you can never be too careful. Help us help you protect your loved ones.
True Stories: "They started saying things to her that were sexual and degrading..."
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
One of the themes that comes up so often in the discussion of online parenting, protection, and especially monitoring is the unpalatable idea of "snooping" or spying. McGruff SafeGuard is a tool that gives parents insights into their child's activity online, but not for the mere sake of "gotcha's" or a covert sting operation. As one parent writes, "I do not feel like I am invading her privacy because there are so many issues that come up and need to be discussed in today's society."
This parent, like many parents, was not questioning her daughter's integrity. She did not want to invade privacy. This parent wanted to be a good parent--protecting her child from the dangers which might go otherwise unnoticed in the secret realms of social media.
"The service is great! I had a couple incidences with my 14 year old daughter. There were boys at her school that she was friends with and they started to say things to her that were sexual and degrading. I was glad I had the opportunity to view the comments to let my daughter know that what they were saying was disrespectful and that "no boy or man" has a right to talk to any girl the way they did."
When your young teen daughter begins to get unwanted attention from men, there are lots of emotions that can come up. Many times, the child does not feel empowered to tell an authority, as the evil of "tattling" is so ingrained in our early childhood minds. Or, more often, the embarrassment of it all prevents an emotionally fragile teen from talking.
With McGruff SafeGuard, however, this parent was able to see the perverted advances of her classmates and reaffirm her daughter's self-esteem. "No boy or man has a right to talk to any girl the way they did," the mother explained. The mother continued:
"I do not feel like I am invading her privacy because there are so many issues that come up and need to be discussed in today's society. I did, however, tell my daughter that I have the service and that it alerts me to sexual content via email. The service is the most important thing a parent should have if they allow their child freedom on the internet."
This mother chose to let her daughter know she was watching--that if anything came up that might endanger the young girl, that Mommy would be there to protect her. After all, isn't that what our children should know about us as parents? Not that we will be there to bust them, but that we are there to protect them.
I was talking to my friend last night about our teenage years. We were discussing some of the things we went through as individuals and what we went through with our friends and girl/boyfriends. When she was in high school, she was in a very abusive relationship. She tells me this story and I asked her if I could share it with you because of its prevalence in teenage relationships today.
My friend met Kevin when she was 17 years-old. She was a junior in high school. However, she didn't meet him AT high school. She met him at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. She had been getting involved in drugs, had run away from home, and was often in juvenile detention because of her rebellion. As a result of all the trouble she had been in, her parents put her through a drug and alcohol treatment center. She then had to attend NA meetings. After she met him and spent time with him, they began dating, and she thought she fell in love.
After a few months, she noticed that she never hung out with any of the people she used to. He wanted to spend all his time with her and became upset if she did anything outside that didn't include him. To her, this was sweet because it meant he really "cared." She didn't recognize the signs of this controlling relationship. A few months after that, they became sexually involved. He became verbally abusive, got mad when she did other things, and eventually started "pushing" her around. She knew this wasn't right, but once again, she thought she was in love. It wasn't until after she was finally sick of him being a jerk that she tried to break things off. When she did, he came to her parent's home and threatened to kill himself. He was beating on the door, threatening her as well. The garage door was open and although she had locked all the doors, he was in the garage and had taken the phone off the hook so she was unable to call the police. Thankfully, the doors held up and her parents eventually came home. She filed a restraining order and never saw him again.
I tell you this story because often, when teens think they've fallen in love, it can cloud their judgment. They may not be able to see that their girl/boyfriend is showing signs of potentially dangerous behavior. Because teens do so much of their communication online, these signs are much easily detectable. McGruff Safeguard can follow conversations and keep parents informed on questionable matters and communication. That way, you can be aware of the relationship and help assist your teen in gaining a higher sense of themselves to understand that jealous and violent behavior is wrong and unacceptable.
We want to help you protect your children and teens. Monitoring what is going on in their relationships is one way we can look out when you're not able to.