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Category: Online Safety for Kids

Online Safety While Playing Pokémon GO?

Even just a few months ago, who would have guessed we would be talking about online safety related to outdoor activity? Well, as new technologies and trends continue to emerge we should know by now not to rule anything out.

Pokémon GO is all the rage and it’s brought kids, teens and adult game lovers outside to play, and exercise, all because of a simple and fun app on their smart phones. This is a good thing.

At the very least those playing the game are putting in a lot of extra steps walking while breathing in fresh air. Others are running as their virtual reality leads them into the great outdoors.

Now, here’s where the discussion of safety comes in. There have been reports of minor injuries due to users not paying attention to their surroundings while playing the game. It can be as simple spraining an ankle while loosing your footing off a curb, or falling and landing on your elbow.

There is a verified news story about two young men who fell off a small cliff and had to be rescued. To be clear, they climbed a fence to access an area not open to the public which led them into harms way.

Now, I will say it again! The fact that people are venturing outside and getting some exercise is a very good thing. Sitting on your couch and doing nothing over a lifetime will quite frankly – shorten your life.

Bumps and scrapes are a normal part of a healthy active lifestyle. But I would also say that when caution and care is put into the equation, there are fewer broken bones.

We’ve mentioned walking and running, and we can take that to the next level for hikers, but what about biking? Yes, it’s something I saw last week in my own neighborhood.

A young boy was playing Pokémon GO while riding his bike. Parents are diligent in telling their teens not to text and drive, now you’ll also need to warn them about the dangers of riding their bike one handed while searching for Pokémon on their phone with the other.

… and yes, NO driving while playing Pokémon GO either.

Reviews of the game include comments that it’s very easy to get lost in the game to the point where kids, teens and adults alike, pay less and less attention to the ‘real’ world around them.

The moral of the story? Get outdoors, YES! Have fun, YES!

Anything that encourages any member of society to ‘get active’ is indeed a positive thing, much like Wii Fit a few years ago. But when you go outside, don’t leave common sense at the door.

Even just a few months ago, who would have guessed we would be talking about online safety related to outdoor activity? Well, as new technologies and trends continue to emerge we should know by now not to rule anything out.

Pokémon GO is all the rage and it’s brought kids, teens and adult game lovers outside to play, and exercise, all because of a simple and fun app on their smart phones. This is a good thing.

At the very least those playing the game are putting in a lot of extra steps walking while breathing in fresh air. Others are running as their virtual reality leads them into the great outdoors.

Now, here’s where the discussion of safety comes in. There have been reports of minor injuries due to users not paying attention to their surroundings while playing the game. It can be as simple spraining an ankle while loosing your footing off a curb, or falling and landing on your elbow.

There is a verified news story about two young men who fell off a small cliff and had to be rescued. To be clear, they climbed a fence to access an area not open to the public which led them into harms way.

Now, I will say it again! The fact that people are venturing outside and getting some exercise is a very good thing. Sitting on your couch and doing nothing over a lifetime will quite frankly – shorten your life.

Bumps and scrapes are a normal part of a healthy active lifestyle. But I would also say that when caution and care is put into the equation, there are fewer broken bones.

We’ve mentioned walking and running, and we can take that to the next level for hikers, but what about biking? Yes, it’s something I saw last week in my own neighborhood.

A young boy was playing Pokémon GO while riding his bike. Parents are diligent in telling their teens not to text and drive, now you’ll also need to warn them about the dangers of riding their bike one handed while searching for Pokémon on their phone with the other.

… and yes, NO driving while playing Pokémon GO either.

Reviews of the game include comments that it’s very easy to get lost in the game to the point where kids, teens and adults alike, pay less and less attention to the ‘real’ world around them.

The moral of the story? Get outdoors, YES! Have fun, YES!

Anything that encourages any member of society to ‘get active’ is indeed a positive thing, much like Wii Fit a few years ago. But when you go outside, don’t leave common sense at the door.

YouTube Parental Controls

We are happy to offer a video filtering tool at the top of our website, but what if your child or teen is searching YouTube from a regular browser or smart phone? Fortunately, parental controls are now available on YouTube using a Google account.

Even though YouTube contains questionable material regardless of filtering, there are ways to make it a little safer.

In this article you will learn how to turn on Restricted Mode (formally called Safety Mode) and more importantly – how to lock it.

How to Activate Parental Controls When Searching Directly on YouTube.com

In the past, you could only turn on safe search for Google’s regular search results to ensure safe browsing. After many requests from parents and educators, YouTube now has parental controls so you can implement YouTube Safe Search in your browser when searching from youtube.com.

To implement the Restricted Mode for YouTube, go to YouTube.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page….

You will see a reference to Restricted Mode: Off...

Click the drop down arrow and details about ‘restricted mode’ will appear…

Clicking On followed by the Save button will activate ‘Restricted Mode’ but will not lock it.

youtube-parental-controls-safety-mode

Locking YouTube Safe Search

As you will see, it’s very easy to turn safe search on and off. Therefore, you may want to lock it in order to ensure it is always activated for all family members.

To Lock the Parental Control for YouTube, you will need a Google account. To open a free Google account, go to google.com and click “Sign In” in the top right hand corner of their main website. You will then see the option to create a new account.

Now return to YouTube (while signed into your account) and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the Restricted Mode link.

After selecting the “On” button, you will see an option to Save. Then log out of your account.

YouTube-Safety-Mode

Restricted Mode is now activated you can now log out of your account. Unlocking restricted mode on YouTube will require you to log into your account. This guarantees that no one else can deactivate the safety setting.

Important: If you have more than one browser on your computer, you will need to follow these steps for each browser. Below is a video that walks you through the process of implementing YouTube Parental Controls that were just explained.

Consider using parental control software with full parental controls to block access to bad areas of the internet. At the very least, use our safe video search tool.

Watch this Video for Step By Step Instructions to Lock YouTube Safe Search

Even with parental controls activated, many parents and educators find YouTube inappropriate for their kids. Our safe video tab on the top of our website offers strict filtering of videos from a variety of safe sources.

We are happy to offer a video filtering tool at the top of our website, but what if your child or teen is searching YouTube from a regular browser or smart phone? Fortunately, parental controls are now available on YouTube using a Google account.

Even though YouTube contains questionable material regardless of filtering, there are ways to make it a little safer.

In this article you will learn how to turn on Restricted Mode (formally called Safety Mode) and more importantly – how to lock it.

How to Activate Parental Controls When Searching Directly on YouTube.com

In the past, you could only turn on safe search for Google’s regular search results to ensure safe browsing. After many requests from parents and educators, YouTube now has parental controls so you can implement YouTube Safe Search in your browser when searching from youtube.com.

To implement the Restricted Mode for YouTube, go to YouTube.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page….

You will see a reference to Restricted Mode: Off...

Click the drop down arrow and details about ‘restricted mode’ will appear…

Clicking On followed by the Save button will activate ‘Restricted Mode’ but will not lock it.

youtube-parental-controls-safety-mode

Locking YouTube Safe Search

As you will see, it’s very easy to turn safe search on and off. Therefore, you may want to lock it in order to ensure it is always activated for all family members.

To Lock the Parental Control for YouTube, you will need a Google account. To open a free Google account, go to google.com and click “Sign In” in the top right hand corner of their main website. You will then see the option to create a new account.

Now return to YouTube (while signed into your account) and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the Restricted Mode link.

After selecting the “On” button, you will see an option to Save. Then log out of your account.

YouTube-Safety-Mode

Restricted Mode is now activated you can now log out of your account. Unlocking restricted mode on YouTube will require you to log into your account. This guarantees that no one else can deactivate the safety setting.

Important: If you have more than one browser on your computer, you will need to follow these steps for each browser. Below is a video that walks you through the process of implementing YouTube Parental Controls that were just explained.

Consider using parental control software with full parental controls to block access to bad areas of the internet. At the very least, use our safe video search tool.

Watch this Video for Step By Step Instructions to Lock YouTube Safe Search

Even with parental controls activated, many parents and educators find YouTube inappropriate for their kids. Our safe video tab on the top of our website offers strict filtering of videos from a variety of safe sources.

A Teens Guide to Social Media Safety

social media safety teens

Parents can worry about a lot. Like everything else in this world, social media is something that the adults in your life will get nervous about. While there’s good reason for that, it’s not easy for you to understand why Facebook or Twitter is such a big deal.

(This article is directed at teens. Parents, read what you can do here).

There are many different reasons why social media can be a dangerous playground. While the horror stories all focus on kids being lured or abducted, there are far more threats that are less severe. No matter your age or sex, it is important to follow some important rules for social media safety.

Before you roll your eyes, please know these guidelines exist to protect you! It’s not about telling you what you can and can’t do… it’s about offering guidelines to protect you from being ripped off, bullied, disrespected, scammed, or worse while you’re just trying to have a good time online.

Check Your Privacy Settings

In most cases, the default privacy settings will give your posts the most public exposure which can be very dangerous.

Important Privacy Setting Resource Links:
Facebook Privacy Settings / Twitter Privacy Settings / Control Visibility on Instagram

Why It’s Important

If you’ve never checked or updated your privacy settings, then people you don’t even know can see your posts. Even if you think you are being careful about what you post, it’s common for teens to post sensitive information without even realizing it. It could be something as simple as an identifying background in one of your pictures… but online predators find easy prey in public profiles.

In a nutshell, keep your social profile strictly private… the best settings are where only friends can see what you post because you never really know who your friends are friends with online, so the “Friends of Friends” setting can leave you exposed and vulnerable.

Be Cautious of Friend Requests

Sure, it’s great to connect with new people through social people… but isn’t there something suspicious when a complete stranger sends you a friend request?

Play it safe and only accept friend requests from friends in the real world.

Apart from the obvious (more severe) threats… friend requests from strangers more commonly turn out to be spam bots (meaning you’ll be spamming your friends). Fake profiles are also created for cyber bullying. So when a new friend request comes in, and you think you know the person, be sure to check their profile first and see if anything looks fishy.

Think Before You Post!

Limit personal contact information in your profile and posts. Never give away your phone number or address. Keep private information private. If you want to share this information with a friend, do it directly by phone or text.

Why It’s Important

Teenagers tend to have a reckless, impulsive approach to social media. (No offense.)

That’s why it’s important to think first before you post what you are thinking or feeling. Even though you can delete something (a post, picture, comment, etc.) you can never permanently erase something that has been published on the internet. That’s also a good reason why you should face your problems instead of Facebooking them. 🙂

More Tips for Online Safety:

  • Avoid using location services like Foursquare and disable location services on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. when posting photos. It’s cool, sure… but it’s not necessary and the risk is greater than the reward.
  • Avoid posting that you are going on vacation, or posting pictures while on vacation… until you are back home. Be also aware of the ramifications of using your cell phone at school and discuss responsible behavior within school guidelines.
  • If you do meet somebody new online, never agree to meet them off line. If somebody you met online sends or requests provocative pictures, tell an adult. You have to approach online friends (who you don’t know in the real world) as a potential predator… because even if it feels like you know them; you really don’t know who they are.

Parents can worry about a lot. Like everything else in this world, social media is something that the adults in your life will get nervous about. While there’s good reason for that, it’s not easy for you to understand why Facebook or Twitter is such a big deal.

(This article is directed at teens. Parents, read what you can do here).

There are many different reasons why social media can be a dangerous playground. While the horror stories all focus on kids being lured or abducted, there are far more threats that are less severe. No matter your age or sex, it is important to follow some important rules for social media safety.

Before you roll your eyes, please know these guidelines exist to protect you! It’s not about telling you what you can and can’t do… it’s about offering guidelines to protect you from being ripped off, bullied, disrespected, scammed, or worse while you’re just trying to have a good time online.

Check Your Privacy Settings

In most cases, the default privacy settings will give your posts the most public exposure which can be very dangerous.

Important Privacy Setting Resource Links:
Facebook Privacy Settings / Twitter Privacy Settings / Control Visibility on Instagram

Why It’s Important

If you’ve never checked or updated your privacy settings, then people you don’t even know can see your posts. Even if you think you are being careful about what you post, it’s common for teens to post sensitive information without even realizing it. It could be something as simple as an identifying background in one of your pictures… but online predators find easy prey in public profiles.

In a nutshell, keep your social profile strictly private… the best settings are where only friends can see what you post because you never really know who your friends are friends with online, so the “Friends of Friends” setting can leave you exposed and vulnerable.

Be Cautious of Friend Requests

Sure, it’s great to connect with new people through social people… but isn’t there something suspicious when a complete stranger sends you a friend request?

Play it safe and only accept friend requests from friends in the real world.

Apart from the obvious (more severe) threats… friend requests from strangers more commonly turn out to be spam bots (meaning you’ll be spamming your friends). Fake profiles are also created for cyber bullying. So when a new friend request comes in, and you think you know the person, be sure to check their profile first and see if anything looks fishy.

Think Before You Post!

Limit personal contact information in your profile and posts. Never give away your phone number or address. Keep private information private. If you want to share this information with a friend, do it directly by phone or text.

Why It’s Important

Teenagers tend to have a reckless, impulsive approach to social media. (No offense.)

That’s why it’s important to think first before you post what you are thinking or feeling. Even though you can delete something (a post, picture, comment, etc.) you can never permanently erase something that has been published on the internet. That’s also a good reason why you should face your problems instead of Facebooking them. 🙂

More Tips for Online Safety:

  • Avoid using location services like Foursquare and disable location services on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. when posting photos. It’s cool, sure… but it’s not necessary and the risk is greater than the reward.
  • Avoid posting that you are going on vacation, or posting pictures while on vacation… until you are back home. Be also aware of the ramifications of using your cell phone at school and discuss responsible behavior within school guidelines.
  • If you do meet somebody new online, never agree to meet them off line. If somebody you met online sends or requests provocative pictures, tell an adult. You have to approach online friends (who you don’t know in the real world) as a potential predator… because even if it feels like you know them; you really don’t know who they are.

CyberBullying: A Word for Parents

cyberbullying guide for parents

There was a time when bullying was something we all had to endure in school, on the bus, and hanging out with friends. It was always unpleasant. The next generation, our children, have an even worse type of bullying to deal with… and it’s so much more common than what we suffered!

About CyberBullying

Remember how frustrating it was in school when somebody was upset and reacted passive aggressively, usually by spreading a rumor? How the victim of a bully (maybe it was you, maybe it was one of your friends) would feel singled out, how hard it was to go to school and deal with the drama.

Your children deal with passive aggressive bullying all the time… because the internet brings out the passive aggressive in almost every young person. From shy kids to the straight forward, outspoken kid… cyberbullying can happen by accident. But as you remember about being the victim of a bully… the wounds never heal.

What’s even worse about cyberbullying is this. When a direct conflict among friends is resolved, you can forget and forgive the hurtful things that were said. However, you can never erase them from the internet.

With that in mind, it’s important to be very sensitive when talking about cyberbullying with your child. And yes, if your kid is using the internet than you do need to talk about this!

Teaching Your Child How To Not Be a CyberBully

As mentioned before, the internet brings out certain behaviors in young folk. Of course your child knows not to pick on somebody in person, but do they know not to rant and rave on social media when what they say could unintentionally hurt somebody else?

Watch for passive aggressive behaviors, and teach your children to face their problems (directly) rather than Facebooking them or through any type of social media.

If your child is 13 or younger, you should have their social media log in info, and don’t share the password with your child. This way, you can easily check in on them and you can also protect your child from being the victim of a “hacker” cyberbully by preventing anyone else from finding out how to log into their account.

Cyberbullying is even more common with older teenagers (age 14-17), especially when they have a smartphone that allows them to post on impulse. Teach them to think before they post, and make sure they understand how important it is to never post anything that could hurt somebody else… or could come back to haunt them.

What To Do If Your Child is the Victim of a CyberBully

Be the parent that a child can feel comfortable talking to if they are being harassed or directly attacked online. Be kind and understanding, and be sensitive to their needs. The rest is really up to you, as a parent.

If the harassment is severe enough, you can involve other authorities (the school or the police.) As you may remember, this could backfire on your child so it shouldn’t be your first choice. If the bullying has started over personal drama, encourage your child to confront the person in real life and come to a resolution. Do not “feed the trolls” or respond to cyberbullying online… bring it back to real world interaction.

To protect your child from becoming the victim of a cyberbully, encourage them to make friends with other children who are kind and respectful. Teach your children that friends who are always “surrounded by drama” can be dangerous… you never know when you’ll get sucked into it!

What can a child or teen do to empower themselves against a cyber bully? Have them read our article on CyberBullying: for Kids and Teens.

What can a child or teen do to empower themselves against a cyberbully? Have them read our article on CyberBullying: for Kids and Teens.

There was a time when bullying was something we all had to endure in school, on the bus, and hanging out with friends. It was always unpleasant. The next generation, our children, have an even worse type of bullying to deal with… and it’s so much more common than what we suffered!

About CyberBullying

Remember how frustrating it was in school when somebody was upset and reacted passive aggressively, usually by spreading a rumor? How the victim of a bully (maybe it was you, maybe it was one of your friends) would feel singled out, how hard it was to go to school and deal with the drama.

Your children deal with passive aggressive bullying all the time… because the internet brings out the passive aggressive in almost every young person. From shy kids to the straight forward, outspoken kid… cyberbullying can happen by accident. But as you remember about being the victim of a bully… the wounds never heal.

What’s even worse about cyberbullying is this. When a direct conflict among friends is resolved, you can forget and forgive the hurtful things that were said. However, you can never erase them from the internet.

With that in mind, it’s important to be very sensitive when talking about cyberbullying with your child. And yes, if your kid is using the internet than you do need to talk about this!

Teaching Your Child How To Not Be a CyberBully

As mentioned before, the internet brings out certain behaviors in young folk. Of course your child knows not to pick on somebody in person, but do they know not to rant and rave on social media when what they say could unintentionally hurt somebody else?

Watch for passive aggressive behaviors, and teach your children to face their problems (directly) rather than Facebooking them or through any type of social media.

If your child is 13 or younger, you should have their social media log in info, and don’t share the password with your child. This way, you can easily check in on them and you can also protect your child from being the victim of a “hacker” cyberbully by preventing anyone else from finding out how to log into their account.

Cyberbullying is even more common with older teenagers (age 14-17), especially when they have a smartphone that allows them to post on impulse. Teach them to think before they post, and make sure they understand how important it is to never post anything that could hurt somebody else… or could come back to haunt them.

What To Do If Your Child is the Victim of a CyberBully

Be the parent that a child can feel comfortable talking to if they are being harassed or directly attacked online. Be kind and understanding, and be sensitive to their needs. The rest is really up to you, as a parent.

If the harassment is severe enough, you can involve other authorities (the school or the police.) As you may remember, this could backfire on your child so it shouldn’t be your first choice. If the bullying has started over personal drama, encourage your child to confront the person in real life and come to a resolution. Do not “feed the trolls” or respond to cyberbullying online… bring it back to real world interaction.

To protect your child from becoming the victim of a cyberbully, encourage them to make friends with other children who are kind and respectful. Teach your children that friends who are always “surrounded by drama” can be dangerous… you never know when you’ll get sucked into it!

What can a child or teen do to empower themselves against a cyber bully? Have them read our article on CyberBullying: for Kids and Teens.

What can a child or teen do to empower themselves against a cyberbully? Have them read our article on CyberBullying: for Kids and Teens.

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