Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Snapchat app – Why Parents need to be very concerned   Leave a comment

Parents – Here is just another reason why you NEED to know what is on your child’s phone. The newest, hottest social media app is Snapchat. It’s an app that allows users to take a picture, add some text if they want, and send it off. When the recipient receives it, the picture deletes itself up to 10 seconds after it has been seen.

For those of you I know personally – Some of your children are using this app. I added this app to my phone and it tells you what contacts in your phone are using this app. Some of your children’s names popped up. I am no going to divulge who those young people are. That is something you need to investigate and talk with your children about. (By the way, the same holds true for Instagram – Your children are using this app too.) Facebook is full of requests from our young people to “Snapchat me”.

snapchat-500

What is this picture, taken from Snapchat’s website implying?

My first thought after hearing about this app was “Well, that’s stupid. Why would that appeal to anyone?” That thought lasted about as long as a person can view a Snapchat picture sent to them. My next thought was this app is just begging for people to send nude photos of themselves. I’m sure the Snapchat user’s thought process goes like this: “What could be more perfect? Take a naked picture of myself, send it to ___________ (fill in the blank of the person to be impressed by said picture), he/she will be impressed and like me. Life will be great because photo will automatically deleted and I will be considered cool because I’m giving him/her what he/she wants. This is awesome!”

Ad for Snapchat from a college website

sexting-480x330

This thought process couldn’t be more wrong, and this is why we need to stay vigilant as parents in keeping up on what our kids are doing. We MUST keep reminding them that what they do online will be there forever no matter what they read or hear.

Snap chat arms immature minors (there are no age restrictions) with an easy way to send photos of themselves and others that could have long lasting consequences past the 1 to 10 second timer on the app.

Although an interview with Snap Chat’s CEO, explains that sexting is not the motivation of the app the FAQs say something completely different:

According to Snapchat’s 22-year-old co-founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel, “it doesn’t actually make sense for sexting. Because you see the photo for, what, three seconds?”
Snapchat photos don’t last very long.

From Snapchat’s FAQs:

IS THERE ANY WAY TO VIEW AN IMAGE AFTER THE TIME HAS EXPIRED?
No, snaps disappear after the timer runs out. You can save snaps that you capture by pressing the save button on the preview screen.

WHAT IF I TAKE A SCREENSHOT?
Screenshots can be captured if you’re quick. The sender will be notified immediately.

Yes, anyone can take a screen shot if they are quick enough, and as we can see by watching our kids text, they can be very nimble with their fingers. Even though the sender is notified if a screen shot is taken, it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. A digital photo can be taken of the phone when a Snapchat image is received. Then, the sender doesn’t even know that the image was captured.

Those pictures could be sent around faster than you can imagine, ruining a young persons reputation in a matter of minutes.

Snapchat’s main feature is definitely implying a false sense of security. Their privacy policy states that they “cannot guarantee that the message data will be deleted in every case” and “Messages, therefore are sent at the risk of the user”. So, theoretically, if a child were to send an inappropriate photo through Snapchat, the image could be floating around on their servers even after the photo has been deleted from the recipient’s phone. How do we know that we can trust Snapchat employees to respect their users’ privacy? The answer is: We can’t. And the consequences can be disturbing, with parasite porn sites stealing and spreading images and videos of young people, and tragic tales of victims like Amanda Todd, who was bullied so badly over images of her that were shared over the net that she commited suicide. (Taken from Nakedsecurity.sophos.com)

As you can see from Appdata.com, as of today, Snapchat ranks 2nd in photo sharing apps.

top photo app stats

Snap chat is currently sharing more than 10 million images a day.

Parents, as you can imagine, Snapchat would allow a child or teen to send nude photos to their friends without fear of becoming the laughing stock of the school or ending up on a porn site, but we should expect more from our children. We should expect them to make good decisions for themselves, regardless of how easy technology makes it from them to do otherwise. My hope is that you will take this knowledge and use it to leverage your vigilance at home. Keep an eye out for this app on your child’s mobile device. If you see that they’ve downloaded it, chances are it’s time to sit down and have a serious conversation about the consequences of sexting.

(Sources: Yoursphere.com, Nakedsecurity.sophos.com)

Posted December 4, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Family, General, Media, School, Technology

Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 3   Leave a comment

Here is part 3 on my Instagram series for parents. This time with some more information on privacy settings.

You can read Part 1 and 2 here:

Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 1

Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 2

***Please note that this article only talks of instagram in terms of Ipod and Iphone. It is an Android product as well, and now profiles and comments can be viewed on the web***

Instagram – Is It Okay for Kids? What Parents Need to Know

 | February 8, 2012 |yoursphere.com

In many ways, and without reinventing the wheel, Instagram is changing the way people share photos with each other. The mobile app, which is only available on the iPhone, is steadily growing in popularity among the kid and teen crowds, causing parents to take notice and ask, what exactly is Instagram, and is there anything I should be worried about?

Just like with any social sharing application, there are a few things parents need to know about Instagram and how their teen may be using it, so the Yoursphere for Parents editorial team did the research. But first, what is Instagram?

What Is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing mobile app that’s (currently) only available on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Users can either upload a photo from their device’s library or take a photo right then and there and use Instagram to change the way the photo looks.

The user then has the option to simultaneously upload this photo to a number of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare, depending on which ones they sync to their Instagram account. The photo will also be uploaded to the Instagram community where people can like and comment on it.

In many ways, Instagram is a photo-sharing social network on its own. Users have a profile with the option to fill out information such as first and last name, username, birthday, gender, bio, email address and phone number. Popular photos from all over the world are shared under the “Popular” tab, and every user has the option to follow other Instagram users and vice versa.

The idea behind Instagram is simple, really. And they execute it so beautifully. But just like with any social sharing application, there are some privacy and concerning content issues that can ruin the Instagram experience for a family with kids and younger teens.

What Parents Need To Know

Privacy

The only information required when signing up for Instagram is an email address and desired username. Though they ask for a phone number, it’s very clear during sign up that this is optional, so please consider your privacy or your teen’s privacy before entering a phone number here.

The single most important thing to realize is that, by default, anyone can view the photos that you upload to Instagram. In other words, your profile and your photos are publicly viewable unless you tell it otherwise. If you only want your followers to see your photos, then you need to set your profile to private by following these steps:

  1. Go to your profile page (tap the Profile tab)
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the Profile page, where you’ll see a “Photos are private” switch
  3. Toggle the “Photos are private” switch to ON to turn on privacy.

Once you set your profile to private, anyone who wants to see your photos will need to be your friend/follower first, meaning they’ll have to send a request and you’ll have to approve.

Geotagging

During the process of uploading a photo, the geo-location data of the photo you’re uploading can
easily be shared with your followers if you’re not careful. Fortunately, Instagram turns geotagging off by default, but it’s easy to accidently turn it on.

When uploading a photo, be sure to avoid tapping the button shown in this screenshot. If you do, you can always tap it again to turn it off. This is just something to be aware of as geotagging is a huge risk to you and your teen’s privacy online. You can learn more about how geotagging works,here.

Age-Appropriateness

Instagram is not for children under the age of 13, and in my opinion, not suitable for slightly older teens, either. If you’re 12 years old, there isn’t even a 1999 year to choose when signing up. Instagram has strict Terms of Useand Community Guidelines that make their age requirement clear. Also, there’s an obvious connection between Instagram and other adult-intended social networks like Facebook and Twitter.


Blocking and Reporting Users and Content

While there are tools for reporting/blocking users and inappropriate content, know that people will, and do upload nude photos. In fact, the editorial team found a multitude of bestiality photos in less than one minute when searching for friends. It’s a sad fact, and another commonsense reason that you shouldn’t allow your children to use Instagram. If you are an Instagram user, they provide easy-to-use tools to block or report someone. The steps below show you how:

Blocking a user –

  1. Navigate to their profile page (tap Profile > Search Instagram > Names and usernames, then search for and tap on their username).
  2. Tap the button in the top right corner of the screen (gear icon).
  3. Tap “Block user” to prevent the user from viewing your account.

           

The same steps can be followed to report a user, in addition to giving a reason why you’re reporting them.

Reporting a photo –

  1. Tap the “…” below the photo you would like to report and then “Flag for review”
  2. Select the proper reason for reporting from the list and, if prompted, a short description.

              

NOTE: All flags are anonymous and go directly to Instagram.

—————————————————————————————————

So, parents, do you use Instagram? Does your teen? If so, have you or they encountered any privacy, bullying or content issues like we did?  As I said at the outset, Instagram does a simple and fantastic job of letting us do some very fun and creative things with our photos. Frankly, in my opinion, it’s a shame that others ruin what should be enjoyed by you and your family.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And remember, there are plenty of apps out there, just like there are plenty of social networks out there that were made FOR your children, and with their privacy in mind. And though it’s a wonderful app that enhances the way we share photos, Instagram is not one of them.

I hope you have found this series useful. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what your kids are doing when online. It’s important to understand that online doesn’t mean sitting in front of a computer. If they have a smart phone, they can be online anywhere. For their safety, please know what they are doing.

Peace,

Greggor

Posted November 30, 2012 by sotpyouth in Family, Media, School, Technology

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Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 2   1 comment

Continuing on with Instagram for Parents – Info for Parents Series

I hope you found part one informative. If you didn’t read it yet, you can find it here:

Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 1

Here is another article on Instagram that I found interesting:

Instagram: What parents need to know

By  Washingtonpost.com

Business news today is dominated by Instagram, a quirky photo sharing application. Facebook has announced it’s buying the start-up used by 30 million people in a deal worth about a billion dollars in cash and shares.

Some of the most prolific users of Instagram are teens. Using their iPads and smart phones, they snap photos, embellish them and share them with friends.


Instagram is a hit with teens. (Karly Domb Sadof – AP)

A 16-year-old writing for the teen-produced site Radical Parenting detailed in a recent post why she and her friends are addicted to Instagram. Perhaps the biggest reason the application is such a hit with teens, as the writer mentions, is that it offers an outlet for that abundant need teens have for self-expression.

The purchase by Facebook is likely to make Instagram that much more popular. So, it might be a good time for a parental primer.

The folks at Yoursphere For Parents, a group that provides Internet safety information, recently gathered some helpful tips to better supervise this digital playground.

First, it’s important to know that photos uploaded on Instagram can, by default, be viewed by anyone, anywhere. There’s also an option to share the photo location, which may be of concern if a parent would rather not have a child broadcast his whereabouts.

Also, Instagram, like Facebook, is not supposed to be used by children under 13. Images are usually cute or artistic, but there are also nude photos and disturbing images to be found.

The application requires an account sign-on, which includes entering a birth date, but many parents have already found that tech-savvy kids easily overcome this obstacle.

Also, like so many digital gathering places, Instagram has been used for cyber-bullying.

The Yourshpere editors make it clear that it’s not the application itself that is necessarily a problem — and the Radical Parenting writer offers a glimpse at how teens are using it to explore their artistry.

Still, a certain level of supervision is advised.

Do your kids use Instagram? How? Do you monitor their use?

Stay tuned for Part 3 – Coming tomorrow…greggor

Posted November 28, 2012 by sotpyouth in Family, Media, School, Technology

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Instagram – Info for Parents – Part 1   4 comments

Ok. I’ll admit it. I’m getting fairly addicted to Instagram. I like because it’s fun to take pictures with my phone, add some cool effects and save them to use for my own albums or something in youth ministry. I quickly found out that that it’s a very popular social networking site owned by Facebook. I started being followed by people and in turn I follow people. You can see comments people make on your photos and you can make comments on other peoples photos. It’s starting to become the Facebook alternative for kids who don’t have (or can’t get) Facebook. It does have a 13 year old age limit, meaning you have to be at least 13 or older to sign up, but it’s easy to circumvent that. Instagram is something maybe parents don’t know a lot about and think it’s fairly harmless and let their kids sign up for it. It’s up to you as a parent to decide how harmless it is for your child, but know that “not so good” pictures and comments are not difficult to stumble upon…

That is why I am offering this 3 part series on Instagram. I have found some articles I would like to share with you to give you some information regarding this extremely popular social networking entity. What you do with it is up to you, but it’s no different than any other online access we give to our children – It should be closely monitored.

***By the way – This article speaks of Instagram in terms of Ipods and Iphones. Instagram is also on Android, and has most recently allowed user profiles to be viewed on the web – Pictures and comments. Click the image of my Instagram home screen to see what I’m talking about.***

How Instagram became the social network for tweens

Well-intentioned parents who’ve kept their tweens off Facebook are catching on to the workaround: kids are turning to Instagram, the photo-sharing app that may as well be a social network.

| September 8, 2012 4:00 AM PDT

I just learned that my 12-year-old daughter is an app scofflaw. So, in fact, are the hordes of her fellow tween-agers — kept off Facebook by their well-intended parents — who have turned to Instagram as a seemingly innocuous social-network workaround.

As it turns out, just like Facebook, you technically have to be 13 to have an Instagram account. And, just like Facebook, Instagram is more or less a social network, dark sides included. Kids post photos, their followers comment… and then those not invited to said birthday party or shopping excursion get hurt feelings.

Many of us adults discovered Instagram as a nifty photo-sharing app that’s lets you spruce up your photos with cool filters. But it has all the functionality of a social network, which Instagram founder Kevin Systrom says was by design.

“We are delighted that there is such a social component to using the app,” he said, “but we target and intend for our user base to be 13 or older and because of legal restrictions cannot have anyone under that age using the app.”

It’s not easy proving the popularity of Instagram among the tween set with hard data, mostly because, as Systrom acknowledged, the service doesn’t “currently disclose demographic data.” It’s unclear whether this might change now that Facebook has officially closed its purchase of Instagram.

Asked specifically if he’s heard about the growing numbers of tweens on Instagram and Systrom could only offer that the service has grown in just about every demographic, from “the elderly side” to the 13-plus group. “The proliferation of iPod Touches and iPads has also helped growth outside of people that own iPhones,” he said.

But even if Instagram did release demographic data, it likely wouldn’t reflect reality. Users like my daughter and her 100 young followers have managed to get around the strict Instagram terms requiring users to be 13 or older to use the service. If their iTunes accounts are set up correctly, tweens shouldn’t be allowed to download the app, Systrom said. My daughter’s account, for example, must still be tied to my account — she’s had an iPod Touch for years and still goes through me before buying apps. (So yes, I’m actually just as much the app scofflaw.)

Plus, upon signup, Instagram gives you a birthday picker that doesn’t let you chose an age younger than 13, Systrom explained. (My daughter claims no memory of this part of the Instagram sign-up process, so it’s unclear how she bypassed it.) Systrom kindly offered to close my daughter’s Instagram account, as the service does with any account it learns is in violation of terms. But would mean the end of my already shaky cool-mom status, and after all, she didn’t sign on to be the daughter of a journalist.

Hard data
My daughter’s experience aside, a few studies help us connect the dots in support of this meteoric rise in Instagram’s popularity among tweens. According to Nielsen, for example, Instagram is the top photography site among teens ages 12 to 17, with 1 million teens visiting the site during July. Nielsen doesn’t categorize Instagram as a social network. While Flickr was top photo site for the overall population in July, Instagram was the favorite among teens, Nielsen found.

Add to that an earlier Nielsen study on growing popularity of Facebook and social networks in general among teenagers, and yet another on how teens tripled their mobile data consumption between December 2010 and December 2011, and the picture becomes clear.

Also, a Pew report presented over the summer about teenage online behavior found that 45 percent of online 12-year-olds use social-network sites and that the number doubles to 82 percent for 13-year-old Internet users. The most popular activity for teens on social networks is posting photos and videos, the study found

Parents caught off-guard
We parents have been advised over and over again by educators that our tween-age kids are just too young for Facebook. Most are just not mature enough to gauge what’s appropriate for posting and to know how to respond to cyberbullying or contacts from strangers or spammers.

But with Instagram our guards were down. We never really imagined how it would be used. When my daughter asked permission to download the app, I was frankly excited that she was showing interest in photography. I love using the app and was unaware of the age restriction.

I had heard stories of kids on Instagram who had lost friends over not being included in activities posted to the site. But I only really caught onto Instagram’s ubiquity as a tweenage social network the day before school started this year, when my daughter’s middle school sent out class schedules to individual families using its password protected Web site. Within an hour of viewing the class schedule, my daughter had scribbled out a chart of who was in each of her classes. When I asked how she had figured it all out, she responded, “Everybody posted their schedules on Instagram.”

That started me looking through her account. In another Facebook-like status update, she posted a photo of a note she wrote on her iPod Touch that read, “So glad it’s a 3 day weekend!!!” That got 31 likes.

“My fifth-grade daughter and friends purchased the Instagram app with iTunes gift cards. Her friends thought it was an app to take and share pics and at first didn’t realize they could post comments,” posted a commenter named SAM. “I had no idea that it was a pseudo-Facebook app. (We are waiting until she is 13 to get a FB account.) I did not know that this app would have her following and being followed by hundreds of people she didn’t know…and posting comments…it was alarming.”

Another commenter, Laura, says she’ll be closing her 12-year-old daughter’s Instagram account, which has turned into a “nightmare.”

“She is not allowed to have a Facebook account until high school to avoid bullying issues, but due to my lack of knowledge (I thought Instagram was basically a glorified camera), I allowed her to have an account,” Laura wrote. “In the last week, she has been indirectly contacted by what appears to be a predatorial pedophile posing as a radio contest to which girls send their photos. And she also experienced the middle school drama that I was trying to avoid by the lack of a Facebook account.”

Tweens, of course, are merely following the leads of teenagers, and, for that matter, the general population. An Experian Hitwise survey just found that Instagram increased its market share in the U.S. by 17,319 percent between July 2011 and July 2012.

But a friend of mine just offered up a theory on Instagram’s youth popularity based on the behavior of his 14-year-old daughter and her friends who are also crazy for Instagram. She’s been on Facebook since she was 12 and her parents have always warned her that with other parents (and grandparents) on the social network, she needed to keep her act very clean.

However, her grandparents haven’t yet caught wind of Instagram, so she and her friends can be a little freer with what they post and comment on there.

Of course, it may just be a matter of time before older folks join the party. As Instagram founder Systrom noted, the service’s numbers are growing on “the elderly side” as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2. Until tomorrow…Greggor

Posted November 27, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Media, Technology

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When Texting Turns to Torment   Leave a comment

When Texting Turns to Torment

From commonsensemedia.org
In CyberbullyingMobile and communicating by Caroline Knorr, on 03.01.2012

Dealing with Digital Harassment


Too much texting, too much calling. Are your kids at risk?

  • 76% of people ages 14-24 say that digital abuse is a serious problem.
  • Compared to 2009, young people in 2011 were significantly more likely to step in if they saw someone “being mean online.”
  • Some of the most frequent forms of digital harassment include people writing things online that aren’t true (26%), people writing things online that are mean (24%), and someone forwarding an IM or message that was intended to stay private (20%).
  • Digital abuse isn’t generally the act of strangers — perpetrators are usually people the victims know well.
  • (All of the above are from the 2011 AP-MTV Digital Abuse study)

Advice & Answers

 

What Is Digital Harassment?

 

Digital harassment is when kids and teens use cell phones, social networks, and other communications devices to bully, threaten, and aggressively badger someone. While it’s a form of cyberbullying, “digital harassment” is a bit different because it usually takes place between two people in a romantic relationship.

Certainly, lots of young people conduct healthy relationships and use their online and mobile lives to stay connected to each other. But not all relationships are balanced — especially with teens, whose emotional lives run at peak speeds.

Some relationships can become manipulative and controlling, and teens use the digital devices at their disposal to act out. A few texts a day can turn into a few hundred. Relentless and unreasonable demands escalate. The abuser presses for things like the other person’s passwords(so they can check up on them) and sexy photos and forces their significant other to unfriend people whom the abuser doesn’t like. They may spread lies, impersonate someone, or even resort to blackmail.

 

 

Why It Matters

 

Digital harassment has real consequences for those who’ve been targeted. A 2011 poll conducted by MTV and the Associated Press found that targets of this kind of abuse are more likely to consider dropping out of school, engage in risky behavior, and even think about suicide.

However, there’s a bright spot in all this. The survey also found that kids and teens who discover digital harassment among their friends are now more likely to intervene if they see someone being mean online than they were in 2009.

Large public-awareness campaigns — most notably MTV’s A Thin Line and The Family Violence Prevention Fund’s That’s Not Cool — are helping teens recognize when staying connected crosses the line into digital harassment. These campaigns use kids’ idols — like Justin Bieber — and entertaining videos to give teens the language they need to identify and end digital harassment.

Parents can support their teens by understanding that relationships these days are often played out both online and in public — and kids need their parents’ guidance in establishing appropriate boundaries for healthy relationships. Young love is complicated enough without the added pressure of constant access and public scrutiny. The tips below can help you help your kids navigate these murky waters so they can avoid digital drama for themselves and their friends.

 

 

Advice for Parents Read the rest of this entry »

Posted March 15, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Family, General, School, Technology

Facts & Dreams

"Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet." -Victor Hugo