Taking an active role
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I’ve been thinking about McGruff Safeguard quite a bit lately. Especially since my 7 year-old niece is now on Facebook. I have a firm sense of relief as more and more parents are signing up to monitor what is going on with their kids. We’ve had some parents concerned about privacy issues. We’ve had parents who aren’t concerned about that at all. However, once they’ve tried it and are able to communicate better with their kids and teens and will know if any sexual predators try to harm their kids, they’d be notified, they don’t regret making that decision.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but by taking the steps and downloading McGruff Safeguard
, you’re actively contributing to stopping internet predators. You’re actively taking the steps to be a better parent to your children. You’re actively taking a roll from a position of strength. That means something. The following came in from one of our parents:
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. Also, that she should have responded back to them with disgust and that it was unacceptable.
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 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 computer-internet. I personally know of a parent that does not have the service and never checks up on their child to see what they are doing on the internet. If they only knew that this boy spent most of his nightly hours on the x-rated sites and is hooked on pornography.
Parenting is tough enough. With the ever-advancing technology, I don’t see it getting any easier. Download McGruff Safeguard
today. You’ll be glad you did.
Labels: Facebook, McGruff Safeguard
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 12:07 PM Link to this Article
Bullying Leads to 15-year-old Suicide
Monday, January 25, 2010
We have posted many articles about bullying via texts and social media platforms such as Facebook and Myspace. We have heard of a few teen suicide stories which these platforms have been a launch pad of emotional abuse. Here’s one more to add to it. One thing we need to keep in mind as parents is that our kids don’t think like we do. Some things we understand, which only come with growth and maturity, are far out of the scope of the “everyday reality” that our kids face on and offline.
Phoebe Prince is yet another example of why it’s so important to get in touch with that reality…their reality. According to the Boston Globe
, Prince had been a victim of both bullying and cyber bullying, which authorities believed may have prompted the 15 year-old to take her life.
Prince and her family moved to Western Massachusetts last year from a small village in west Ireland. Last fall, she enrolled at South Hadley High School which has a student body of approximately 700 students.
“In a school with that many kids, there are going to be issues,’’
Sergeant Robert Whelihan, a spokesman for the South Hadley Police Department
said yesterday. “We are investigating what effects the bullying might have had
on the suicide.’’
The bullying included disagreements over teen romances at school, school
officials said. And it continued with taunting text messages and harassing
postings on Facebook, the popular social networking site.
“The real problem now is the texting stuff and the cyber-bullying,’’ said
South Hadley School Superintendent Gus A. Sayer. “Some kids can be very mean
towards one another using that medium.’’
You may think to yourself, “Well, if my son/daughter were having issues with other kids, they would surely let me know.” Unfortunately, this is not always the case. They may feel embarrassed, disconnected, or ashamed of what is happening. There are lots of reasons kids don’t communicate as we do. They’re kids. If they knew any differently, they probably would.
That’s why it’s important to know what is happening behind the scenes. McGruff Safeguard
is about keeping those you care about safe. It’s about giving you the information necessary to facilitate conversation.
Could this suicide have avoided? I absolutely think so. There is a whole mess of stuff that happens that we don’t know about. If your kids are being cyber bullied…that’s one thing we can alert you on. Then, you have an inside look as to what your kids are going through. Download McGruff Safeguard
today. It can definitely make you aware, and it may help save a life.
Labels: bullying, cyberbulling, Facebook, McGruff Safeguard, myspace, Pheobe Prince, South Hadley High school, teenage suicide
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 8:32 AM Link to this Article
Trues Stories: Setting up road blocks
Friday, January 22, 2010
I have a true story from a parent. I wanted to share this to get back to one of the main reasons McGruff Safeguard was created. Today, between the use of acronyms and slang, it can be a bit more difficult to understand what our kids are saying. Here is what one parent ran across:
I saw on one boys response to my child that he told his parents he needed 15I think this is a great idea. There isn’t much we can do to actually control our kids. However, by doing things that limit the amount of actual cash they’re given but also giving them resources to make better decisions is a great idea.
dollars to go to the movies, but it would be used to by 2 "zanny's" (Xanax) at
$7.00 a piece and $1.00 for a bottle of liquor.
I learned to have passes for the theater and give my child a movie pass, or if he wants money for McDonalds, I purchased a Golden Arch card and give him that to use. It really helps me in implementing strategies that may not necessarily stop some inappropriate behavior however, I can put up some roadblocks and make things more difficult.
When I was a kid, “zanny’s” or Xanax and alcohol were a popular combination. However, these two drugs mixed together, although causes a “buzz” can be a very dangerous combination. Xanax can actually intensify the effects of the alcohol. This is something that as kids, just trying to have fun, they really don’t know what it is they’re doing to their bodies.
Have you noticed any conversation with lingo you’re not familiar with? One of the top 3 features of the McGruff solution is acronym resolution. We translate this for you and alert you if there is any conversation that represents dangerous behavior. McGruff Safeguard is here to help. Try it for free today. Understand what the conversation is.
Labels: acronyms, True Stories, Urban Dictionary, Xanax
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 4:36 PM Link to this Article
In Memory Of Amber
Monday, January 18, 2010
January 13th was Amber Alert Awareness day, marking the 14-year anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old, Amber Hagerman. On that tragic day in 1996, Amber was riding her bike in Arlington, Texas, when a neighbor heard her scream. The neighbor saw a man pull Amber off her bike, throw her into the front seat of his pickup truck, and speed away. The neighbor immediately called the police and provided a description of the suspect and his vehicle. Arlington Police and the FBI interviewed other neighbors and searched for the suspect and vehicle. Local radio and television stations covered the story in their regular newscasts. Four days later Amber’s body was found in a drainage ditch four miles away. Her kidnapping and murder still remain unsolved.
This story is heartbreaking. However, since the Amber Alert Awareness Program has been in existence, it has played a role in recovering nearly 500 missing children. According the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
, the AMBER Alert Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child.
It makes me think of how much easier it is today for predators, such as the one who abducted Amber and is still out there, can have access to our kids online. That is why there is such value in having a parental control software program like McGruff Safeguard
, installed on your computer. It is ultimately a tool for parents, however, if there ever comes a time where law enforcement needs to be contacted for any reason, there is documentation of what was happening online.
It’s a scary world out there at times. There is nothing more important than keeping our families safe from those who would want to do them harm. Help us help you keep your loved ones safe.
Labels: Amber Alert Awareness Day, Amber Hagerman, McGruff Safeguard, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 9:23 AM Link to this Article
Sex offenders on facebook and myspace
Friday, January 15, 2010
Just recently, I posted a blog about the sex offenders that were found on Facebook
in New York. I wanted to go into a bit more depth with this subject today. Many of you, like me, want to know how these sex offenders were found, how they are BEING found, and what are the states we live in are doing about it.
According to Wired, a popular magazine devoted to new technology, as of December 1, 2009, 3,533 registered sex offenders were stripped of their social networking accounts. This happened as a result of the state’s 2008 Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP) law.
According to the article, the law requires the state’s 30,000 convicted sex offenders to file their home, e-mail and social networking addresses with the state. Out of that pool, only about 27 percent revealed e-mail addresses or social-networking usernames to authorities, and only 10 percent divulged a Facebook or MySpace username.
The remaining 22,000 or so registered sex offenders who did not supply
online identity information are either in prison or homeless, lack computer
access or simply chose not to respond, an unidentified state Division of
Criminal Justice Services representative told the New
York Daily News.
The e-STOP system only works if criminals volunteer their social networking
identities, as they are required to do within 10 days of creating a new account
under penalty of new felony charges. Proponents of the law have declared it a
“Before e-STOP, sexual predators freely lurked in social networking
sites trolling for innocent victims,” said executive director of Parents for
Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center Laura Ahearn to the Daily News. “With
e-STOP, Attorney General Cuomo has sent a clear message that there is a new
sheriff in the cyberworld protecting our most vulnerable.”
Okay, so what else is going on NOW in order to stop predators from getting on the popular Facebook site? Facebook has an application (not created by Facebook, but it’s out there) called P.O.M. Offender Application. What does this app do? It locates sex offenders in your area (U.S.) and comes complete with a Google map mash up showing their residence, their crime and their photo. To check it out, click here
Illinois has also recently signed a bill into law by Governor Pat Quinn, banning registered sex offenders from using social networks, turning the act into a felony. The new law took effect January 1, 2010.
“Obviously, the Internet has been more and more a mechanism for predators to
reach out," said Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), a sponsor of the measure and a
governor candidate. "The idea was, if the predator is supposed to be a
registered sex offender, they should keep their Internet distance as well as
their physical distance.”
The popular social networking sites, as well as some states, are taking steps to protect our children, but they can only do this IF the registered sex offenders are actually doing what they are supposed to. To me, this means there are thousands slipping through the cracks. That is why it is so important to continue monitoring the online activity of our kids and teens. McGruff Safeguard
does this for you by monitoring conversations and alerting you if there is questionable conversation. By registering for McGruff Safeguard
, you are helping us help you keep your loved ones safe.
Labels: e-Stop Act, Facebook, facebook application, myspace, Pat Quinn, Wired
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 9:20 AM Link to this Article
Facebook Security Tips: Top 10 Tips for keeping your kids safe
Monday, January 11, 2010
I was reading an article the other day about safety for FB users, especially since they are getting younger and younger as my previous post spoke of. There are more than 250 million active users on Facebook, with each having an average of 120 friends. Because most of its users do not know the some of the implications of entering personal information, I wanted to share this “Top 10” list on Facebook Privacy. http://www.makeuseof.com/
has this guide that will show you what you can (and cannot) do to safeguard your Facebook Privacy.
1. Organize Friends in Lists
What do you do when your boss, mother-in-law, or a casual web acquaintance
sends you a friend request on Facebook? Use Friend Lists. Friend Lists are the
foundation of your Facebook privacy settings. Select Friends from the top menu,
and use the Create link to create friend lists like Co-workers, Family, College
Friends, etc. Your friends can’t see your lists, so you can name them whatever
Tip: On your left sidebar, all your friend lists may not show up by
default. Click More to see all of them, and drag and drop those you want above
2. Customize Profile Privacy
Click Settings > Privacy Settings > Profile. Select which parts
of your profile will be seen by whom.
If you choose Customize in the drop down, you can be more specific. This is
where the Friend Lists you created before become really useful.
Also go to the Contact Information tab and choose how you want your contact
information to be shared on the Internet.
3. Set Facebook Privacy Level of Photo Albums
On the Photos tab of your profile page, click Album Privacy. Here again, you can use your Friend Lists to set the privacy for each photo album.
Note that your profile pictures go into a special album that is always visible to ALL
4. Restrict Search Visibility
Click Privacy > Search to set your visibility when someone searches
Facebook for people. This is an important way to safeguard your Facebook
privacy. You can also select what will be visible in the search results.
5. Control Automatic Wall Posts and News Feed Updates
actions in Facebook such as comments, likes, appear as highlights on ALL your
friends’ home pages. You cannot use friend lists here, only turn them on or off.
Go to Privacy > News Feed and Wall and choose whether you want your boss
or ex-girlfriend to know that you’re in a relationship.
6. Set Facebook Wall Privacy
Go to your profile page, click Options > Settings under the status box.
Here you can control whether your friends can post to your Wall, and
who can see the posts made by your friends.
7. Avoid Appearing in Advertisements
Facebook has two types of advertisements: third-party and Facebook. Third-party advertisements are currently not allowed to use your pictures, but there is a setting to disallow it if it is allowed in the future.
Go to Privacy > News Feed and Wall > Facebook Ads tab to turn this off.
The Facebook ads shown to your friends are about ‘social actions’ like
becoming a fan of something. You can turn this off at the bottom of the page.
8. Protect Yourself from Friends’ Applications
Go to Privacy > Applications, and click the Settings tab and uncheck all the boxes. These settings control what information about you is visible to applications installed
by your friends. By default, these are set to visible. This means that your
religious, sexual, and political preferences, pictures, etc. are readily
available to one of the million worldwide Facebook application developers, each
time any of your friends takes a quiz, plays a game, or runs any other Facebook
app. This is obviously a Facebook privacy issue.
This is the most commonly misunderstood aspect of Facebook privacy. These settings control what applications installed by your friends can see about you, even if you don’t install the application yourself.
Why is this important? Because these settings will not change anything about
what you are sharing with the applications you install yourself. For that, go to
the next step.
9. Privacy from Your Applications
There is no way to control what applications see about you; it is an
all-or-nothing affair. Take this quiz developed by the American
Civil Liberties Union to check what anonymous application developers can
know about you and your friends each time you take a quiz.
The Burton Group’s Identity Blog features the Facebook Privacy Mirror, an
application that you can use to find out what applications know about you and
your friends. If you really want to see exactly what profile data of each of
your friends is visible to application developers, Privacy Mirror shows it in
The only thing you can do is to authorize only those applications you
require and trust. Go to Settings > Application Settings from the top menu.
Change the drop-down from Recently Used to Authorized. Here you can see all the
applications you have authorized to get access to ALL your profile information.
Remove the ones you no longer need.
Also check the list of applications Allowed to Post and Granted Additional
Permissions to remove unwanted ones.
10. Quitting Facebook? Delete, Don’t Just De-Activate Your Account
You can easily deactivate your account in Facebook from the Settings page.
But deactivation will retain all your profile information within Facebook,
including pictures, friends, etc. If you want to permanently delete your
Facebook account, click here to submit a deletion request. Note that:
There is an unspecified delay between submitting your delete request and actual deletion. If you login to Facebook, your deletion request is automatically cancelled.
There doesn’t seem to be any way to confirm that your request was completed.
Even after permanent deletion, Facebook says that copies of your photos may remain on their servers for technical reasons.
Also, note that once in a while, there is news of a Facebook hack or leak that can
expose your information on the Internet. It is better to be safe than sorry by
avoiding using Facebook for anything that may embarrass you.
Hopefully some of this information can help you. I know there were a couple of things on this list that I wasn’t aware of. Facebook has many features and these are a some we thought were well worth mentioning. If you have the opportunity to sit down with your kids and do some of these safety precautions, this along with installing McGruff Safeguard
, can ease your mind with what your children are doing online. What are your thoughts?
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 5:29 AM Link to this Article
Tweens on Facebook: Start Early, Start Now
Friday, January 8, 2010
You can probably imagine my surprise when I received an email notification that my 7-year old niece has requested my friendship on Facebook. Now, I instantly thought of my 11-year old nephew, the brother, and his participation on the social media platform. I felt it was a little young for him. So, I am thinking to myself, “Wow…what is my sister thinking?” (Btw, I will be having a conversation with her about this, and installing McGruff Safeguard for monitoring them.)
What this goes to show, is that our kids are becoming more and more technologically savvy, and they are hopping on social sites daily at a faster and younger rate. It makes me think of my daughter. She will be 6 tomorrow. I am thinking that it will be HIGHLY unlikely that in one year from now, she’ll be allowed to be on Facebook. Right now, I’m just okay with the whole Webkinz
site. She certainly won’t be participating in a FB forum anytime soon. But back to technologically savvy kids… parents are finding that their teens are far more advanced in internet knowledge than they are. This can be scary and overwhelming to a parent.
With this advanced internet knowledge, I’ve had many parents say they believe that developmentally, tweens and teens need some level of privacy and should be extended trust. I agree that trust should be extended. I also think that by allowing your kids to be active on these sites is giving them trust. That doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be thinking that they don’t monitor and protect their kids from what they are not aware is out there. Perhaps the best way to do this is by looking into the option of McGruff Safeguard
in order to be ‘notified’ for critical behavior rather than monitoring every interaction that their tweens or teens have.
This gives parents the opportunity to set the stage NOW on how their child will use the internet, establishing from day one that they will monitor their kids’ activity, ensuring that they are safe from the outside, and also mentoring them on their online interactions and conversations.
Our parents were able to provide input to us on how we talked to others, how we interacted with friends, how we needed to respect other people. Kids (tweens especially) today still need that guidance; even though HOW we do it is changing. Help us help you keep your family safe online.
Labels: Facebook, McGruff Safeguard, technology, tweens, Webkinz
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 2:08 PM Link to this Article
Teen Suicide Awareness
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I was reading in the news yesterday about teenage suicide, which prompted me to do a bit of research on the subject…how often, what the statistics are, and see if there was an increase in cases since most teens are now online in social spaces like Facebook and Myspace.
Here’s what I found: According to Our Health, Our Future
- 10,000 teens commit suicide each year.
- Over the past 25 years the rate of teen suicide has increased 300%.
- Suicide attempts occur more often in females than in males, the ratio is 9:1.
- Girls who attempt suicide tend to overdose on drugs or cut themselves.
- Completed suicide occurs more often in males than in females with a 3:1 ratio.
- Boys who commit suicide frequently use firearms and hanging.
- Suicide is a result of untreated depression. Many of the high-risk factors and some of the warning signs are the same for depression.
What’s even more alarming is there are websites glorifying suicide and even giving the “best” methods of doing it. An example of a slide I found in relation to this topic was from the UK organization, Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide). They explained that “online ‘advice’ about suicide ranges from --responsible organisations, the caring and sympathetic, neutral dissemination of information to outright predators.” They also said, “Out of 240 different websites 45 judged to be encouraging, promoting or facilitating suicide (Biddle and others - BMJ 2008).
Here is an example of a suicide method site:
500 feet of 3/4” rope;
Car, with at least a 286-NP 6-banger, with good tires. Known for excellent reliability, pick-up.
Case of beer, various tranquilizers.
Do up! Load up and party!
1. Tie one end of the rope securely to a huge tree.
2. Make a nice hangman’s noose in the other end of the rope.
3. Get in the car, run the rope in, and buckle-up, because it’s the law!
4. All buckled in nice and secure?
Well, now just put that ol’ hangman’s noose around your little neck, and pull the damn thing up tight.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty scary. However, monitoring social networks can help prevent some teen suicides. Two doctors would agree:
“Analysing posts on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook
could help to prevent suicide, according to two Victoria University
Dr Tiong-Thye Goh and student assistant Yen-Pei Huang, both from the
School of Information Management at Victoria University, have devised a decision
support system to scan social networking sites to identify key words that people
aged between 18 and 24 are posting. A high proportion of key words could mean
that the blogger is at risk of depression, suicide, self-harm or harming
"Social networking sites have in recent years become an increasingly
popular avenue for young people to express and to share their thoughts, views
and emotions," says Dr Goh.
"When young people are emotionally distressed for instance, instead of
the traditional channel of consulting friends, parents or specialists, social
networking blogs may provide a channel to share and release their emotions and
A few months back, I wrote a post about an aunt who noticed warning signs from her depressed nephew. She reached out. It changed so many things about his life. McGruff Safeguard is here to help monitor any key words that would indicate your child may be contemplating this permanent fate. In the next post, we’re going to lay out some warning signs, and dive a bit deeper into suicide prevention. Together, we can help make a difference in someone’s life.
Labels: keywords, McGruff Safeguard, pro suicide websites, social media monitoring, teenage suicide
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 7:44 AM Link to this Article
Saturday, January 2, 2010
It’s that time of year again. The time where you reflect on the past year and look to see what mistakes you’ve made and how you could do things differently from now on. Did you have any frustrations with your kids and their online behavior? Did anyone in your family a victim of cyber bullying? Did you feel like you had a sense of control only to realize things weren’t as they seemed? Parenting in the year 2010 will have its challenges, especially when it comes to monitoring the online behavior of your teens.
We want to give a couple of tips for making this year safe for your kids/teens online:
- Consider installing McGruff Safeguard on all the computers in your house that your kids are on - McGruff Safeguard and help monitor conversations that are taking place online and will alert you if there is any suspicion of abusive behavior. Whether it is sneaking out, drugs, sexual abuse, or cyber bullying. If you are aware of what is going on in the lives of your kids, it opens up a door for discussion. With it being so difficult growing up and learning how to do things for yourself, kids often hold back any feelings of hurt or concern. If you know what is going on with them, knowing helps facilitate conversation.
- Be open with your teens – Always remember that growing up is never easy. When you approach a subject out of love rather than judgment, people have a natural inclination to open up versus coming at them harsh and watching them shut down. I have so much personal experience in this area. My parents were very hard on me and very judgmental over what I did that was not up to their approval. Know that your teens are going to make mistakes and do stupid things. I believe that’s part of the growing process. However, boundaries are important. And explaining the “why’s” can help them to understand a little better.
- Know who your kids are hanging out with – Sometimes the people who you think are a negative influence on your kids are the ones who you can make the biggest impact with. When you have McGruff Safeguard on your computers, at least you can see what they’re not always telling you. If you use a service like this for the good, everyone can benefit from various lessons learned.
- Talk to your kids about online predators and cyber bullying– If you need to show them different stories of victims and people, do it. Be sure to let them know that that not everyone they come in contact with online is who they say they are. There have been multiple stories in the past year of this. It’s important for them to be safe with how much information they share on their online profiles and such.
If you have any questions about any of these things, we’re here to help. Please keep sending us your stories. We wish you a wonderful and safe New Years. Here’s to making a positive change this year.
Labels: cyberbulling, McGruff Safeguard, new year, online predators
posted by Lindsay Manfredi at 11:47 AM Link to this Article