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Category: Stuff for Your Brain

A Parent’s Guide to Setting Up Smart TV Safely

how to set up your smart tv safely

Smart TVs function just as regular TVs but with internet connectivity, like smartphones. They have built-in apps as well as capabilities to surf the web, send emails, access social media platforms, and stream videos on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and other similar streaming services. 

In the second quarter of 2020, Netflix had 72.9 million U.S. subscribers, so there’s no denying how popular smart Tvs are. However, with the advent of this technology, designed to access the internet using interfaces like Apple TV or the Fetchbox, there is a glut of content alongside child usage risks that parents need to consider.

With that in mind, here’s the Safe Search Kids guide to setting up a smart TV, plus some advice on how to ensure your kids search safely.

Parental controls on Smart TVs

Before purchasing a Smart TV, it is good to be aware of the parental controls available. Also, make sure you can create different user profiles, including setting up a child’s account.

To understand each parental control on a brand of Smart TV, go to the specific manufacturer’s website. You can also utilize this free database to learn about how to set up these controls.

If you have a regular TV but are considering buying an Android TV box to give you the ability to stream content and access online apps, you will also need to set up parental controls.

To do this, select the “Settings” icon (the little cog in the upper-right corner of your screen). Next, click “Parental Control” which is below the “Input” option. This will take you to the Parental Control settings. You can find more information on this here.

Potential privacy risks of a Smart TV

Unfortunately, most digital inventions are not without some degree of risk. Like a computer or a smartphone, Smart TVs have access to inbuilt cameras, audio recordings, personal data, and social media data. It is essential to read the privacy policy when a manufacturer releases a software update.

A voice-recognition Smart TV can keep data of what you are saying, searching for, and watching. This information is used to provide you with adverts suited to your preferences.

To set up privacy settings accurately, do not go for a quick set-up, but search for custom settings that allow you to turn on or off each privacy feature. It is advisable not to download any suspicious software on your Smart TV as there is no anti-virus developed for Smart TVs yet.

Apps

As with smartphones, apps are installable on Smart TVs. Some apps require a subscription fee like Netflix and Amazon Prime to access and enjoy the features. Others may require additional tweaking of settings to function properly.

Remember that these apps don’t come with in-built parental control settings, and your kids can view inappropriate content. Hence, the need to canvas through the TV manual or guide to further set these controls. Another feature accessible on smart TVs are social media apps. We have a guide you can read on how to protect your kids on social media.

Even if they are merely gaming apps that claim to be child-friendly, you still need to know the gaming apps’ PEGI rating.

Managing streaming content

If you have allowed streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu to run on your Smart TV, you have to set separate parental controls for each of the apps.

For the various streaming services, you can find out how to set parental controls here: Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.

Internet filtering and connectivity

Almost all Smart TVs offer built-in Wi-Fi to access your home network and the internet. Although ethernet provides a faster and stable internet connection, smart TVs come in-built Wi-Fi that leaves no cable trails lying around.

Internet filtering is a must when protecting kids on the internet. With a simple Google search, you can easily find a trusted internet filter software that allows you complete control over your kids’ access to the internet. Many other apps are designed to keep your kids safe online and give you peace of mind.

 Browsing

Once you have set up parental filters on the broadband-connection to your smart TV, you don’t need to worry as your children surf the net. Just as with other devices connected to your router, won’t smart TVs allow the display of inappropriate websites or content after this one-time set-up.

Parental filters allow kids to watch child-safe content from YouTube or Netflix, via the web or app. It is essential to set browsing limits for all devices in your home, which has internet connectivity.

 Content

The only thing to keep in mind is to be thorough in the content you allow your kids to access. There are many children-designed channels provided on Smart TVs.

Look at the channels offered for children on the streaming services you have subscribed to and ensure you are satisfied with the kind of program your kids would be viewing. Some streaming services allow you to create multiple user accounts with age limits features.

Screen time management

Before setting up a way for kids to manage their screen time, ensure that all the inappropriate sites and content are filtered out of your home network broadband.

If you have not already done that, limiting your child’s screen time won’t change much. You can now use helpful screen time management software designed for parents to monitor and control their child’s access to the internet and screen time.

Final thoughts

As more content gets uploaded on the internet daily, there are growing concerns from parents who want to protect their kids from inappropriate content. The number one thing to do however is to set up parental controls on all the smart devices at your home.

Parents can now monitor their kids’ access when surfing the internet, even via smart TVs. With digital services, it’s best to continually update the apps and devices’ settings, especially if your child has access to them.

Finally, remember to chat to your child and instill a good screen-time to off-screen time balance. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time for children and teenagers per day, and absolutely no screen time for children under 2. Too much screen time can not only disturb children’s sleep patterns, but increase the risk of emotional, social, and attention problems, and even obesity.

Safe searching!

Smart TVs function just as regular TVs but with internet connectivity, like smartphones. They have built-in apps as well as capabilities to surf the web, send emails, access social media platforms, and stream videos on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and other similar streaming services. 

In the second quarter of 2020, Netflix had 72.9 million U.S. subscribers, so there’s no denying how popular smart Tvs are. However, with the advent of this technology, designed to access the internet using interfaces like Apple TV or the Fetchbox, there is a glut of content alongside child usage risks that parents need to consider.

With that in mind, here’s the Safe Search Kids guide to setting up a smart TV, plus some advice on how to ensure your kids search safely.

Parental controls on Smart TVs

Before purchasing a Smart TV, it is good to be aware of the parental controls available. Also, make sure you can create different user profiles, including setting up a child’s account.

To understand each parental control on a brand of Smart TV, go to the specific manufacturer’s website. You can also utilize this free database to learn about how to set up these controls.

If you have a regular TV but are considering buying an Android TV box to give you the ability to stream content and access online apps, you will also need to set up parental controls.

To do this, select the “Settings” icon (the little cog in the upper-right corner of your screen). Next, click “Parental Control” which is below the “Input” option. This will take you to the Parental Control settings. You can find more information on this here.

Potential privacy risks of a Smart TV

Unfortunately, most digital inventions are not without some degree of risk. Like a computer or a smartphone, Smart TVs have access to inbuilt cameras, audio recordings, personal data, and social media data. It is essential to read the privacy policy when a manufacturer releases a software update.

A voice-recognition Smart TV can keep data of what you are saying, searching for, and watching. This information is used to provide you with adverts suited to your preferences.

To set up privacy settings accurately, do not go for a quick set-up, but search for custom settings that allow you to turn on or off each privacy feature. It is advisable not to download any suspicious software on your Smart TV as there is no anti-virus developed for Smart TVs yet.

Apps

As with smartphones, apps are installable on Smart TVs. Some apps require a subscription fee like Netflix and Amazon Prime to access and enjoy the features. Others may require additional tweaking of settings to function properly.

Remember that these apps don’t come with in-built parental control settings, and your kids can view inappropriate content. Hence, the need to canvas through the TV manual or guide to further set these controls. Another feature accessible on smart TVs are social media apps. We have a guide you can read on how to protect your kids on social media.

Even if they are merely gaming apps that claim to be child-friendly, you still need to know the gaming apps’ PEGI rating.

Managing streaming content

If you have allowed streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu to run on your Smart TV, you have to set separate parental controls for each of the apps.

For the various streaming services, you can find out how to set parental controls here: Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.

Internet filtering and connectivity

Almost all Smart TVs offer built-in Wi-Fi to access your home network and the internet. Although ethernet provides a faster and stable internet connection, smart TVs come in-built Wi-Fi that leaves no cable trails lying around.

Internet filtering is a must when protecting kids on the internet. With a simple Google search, you can easily find a trusted internet filter software that allows you complete control over your kids’ access to the internet. Many other apps are designed to keep your kids safe online and give you peace of mind.

 Browsing

Once you have set up parental filters on the broadband-connection to your smart TV, you don’t need to worry as your children surf the net. Just as with other devices connected to your router, won’t smart TVs allow the display of inappropriate websites or content after this one-time set-up.

Parental filters allow kids to watch child-safe content from YouTube or Netflix, via the web or app. It is essential to set browsing limits for all devices in your home, which has internet connectivity.

 Content

The only thing to keep in mind is to be thorough in the content you allow your kids to access. There are many children-designed channels provided on Smart TVs.

Look at the channels offered for children on the streaming services you have subscribed to and ensure you are satisfied with the kind of program your kids would be viewing. Some streaming services allow you to create multiple user accounts with age limits features.

Screen time management

Before setting up a way for kids to manage their screen time, ensure that all the inappropriate sites and content are filtered out of your home network broadband.

If you have not already done that, limiting your child’s screen time won’t change much. You can now use helpful screen time management software designed for parents to monitor and control their child’s access to the internet and screen time.

Final thoughts

As more content gets uploaded on the internet daily, there are growing concerns from parents who want to protect their kids from inappropriate content. The number one thing to do however is to set up parental controls on all the smart devices at your home.

Parents can now monitor their kids’ access when surfing the internet, even via smart TVs. With digital services, it’s best to continually update the apps and devices’ settings, especially if your child has access to them.

Finally, remember to chat to your child and instill a good screen-time to off-screen time balance. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time for children and teenagers per day, and absolutely no screen time for children under 2. Too much screen time can not only disturb children’s sleep patterns, but increase the risk of emotional, social, and attention problems, and even obesity.

Safe searching!

Using the Internet for Learning

Tips for Learning on the Internet

The days of relying on the rows and rows of public library books for school projects are long gone. Nowadays, the internet is a one-stop shop for gaining any and all resources necessary for learning. While it’s amazing that knowledge is so readily available at our fingertips, it’s increasingly important to differentiate valuable learning resources from spam and other junk.

Whether you’re a student or a parent, here are tips to help you embark on this journey to find the perfect resource.  

What Types of Resources Are Out There?

Whether you’re looking for some extracurricular activities to sharpen your skills in a certain subject or a fully inclusive tutoring service, the internet has it all. The key to finding the perfect online program is understanding the area(s) that you wish to improve. Are you at risk of being held back a year or do you just want to get a jump on highschool algebra? For help with a single subject or opportunities for extra learning, check out your school’s and/or school district’s resources. Often times schools will have a webpage for these types of learning activities. For example, one school in Indiana offers resources on learning to read and learning important math skills.

If you are in need of a full tutoring service, the search process can become a little more complex. Refining your search to be as specific as possible can make a huge difference. Instead of searching “online tutoring services” and getting a massive list of just about every tutoring service on the planet, try searching “5th grade math online tutoring services.” This list should be full of relevant sources. Picking the perfect one will then come down to a little extra research on the specific service. Make sure to look into customer reviews, as well as prices and scheduling, in order to find the service that fits your needs. Your search will come back with big names that you may recognize, such as Sylvan and Chegg. It may also come back with local tutoring services. Be certain to check the local programs as well—local teachers often teach these programs and can relate them to specific school requirements.

How Do You Discover Your Learning Needs?

Picking whether you want an organized tutoring service or just some additional activities is a conversation that needs to happen between child, parent, and teacher. This is a critical point for students to communicate their needs. Even if you sign your child up for the best tutoring service, they might not show the improvement you hope for if they don’t want to be there and participate. Maybe it would be better to provide them with fun activities that could capture their imagination while teaching them valuable lessons. This will encourage kids to embrace lifelong learning. Whichever route you choose, just be sure that everyone is on the same page. Communication is so important in this step, for both parents and students.  

Where to Start Searching?

When you first begin looking for information online, the results can be daunting. A simple google search comes back with billions of results in fractions of a second. If you’ve ever searched for something as broad as “learning resources,” then you know how difficult it can be to find what you’re actually searching for. By utilizing Google’s advanced search queries, you can get rid of the non credible sites with one easy trick. Add site:.edu or site:.gov to your search query and you should end up with only credible sites, such as “5th grade math resources site:.edu”. These .edu and .gov sites are normally some of the most reliable resources on the web, but make sure to double-check the content and sources on the site just to be sure.

A caveat to this strategy is if you are looking for full-service tutoring, then you may want to include .com and .org websites, as these are often private companies that specialize in tutoring. Just be sure to check the website for credibility before you give them any personal information.

If you’re looking for a fun activity on searching for credible sources, you can find lesson plans online to help teach your students.

Picking the Perfect Program and Beyond

Once you’ve discovered the programs or resources that you want to use, set up guidelines for using the new learning program. These guidelines should include expectations on how the student will utilize the program, how they will communicate their learning to their parents or teachers, and how they will stay safe while using the internet. Since the student in this scenario will be spending more time online, it’s crucial to set up a plan for cybersecurity. Spam and other non credible websites could lead to viruses and false learning. Follow these simple online safety practices and you’re sure to maximize learning while minimizing risk. Stay up-to-date with your child’s learning and always encourage clear paths of communication. This simple step will help the student feel like they have a support system and make you both feel more secure in the digital world.

Author Bio

Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise and Newsday.


Are you doing research on a report or paper? Find out how Simple Wikipedia can help.

The days of relying on the rows and rows of public library books for school projects are long gone. Nowadays, the internet is a one-stop shop for gaining any and all resources necessary for learning. While it’s amazing that knowledge is so readily available at our fingertips, it’s increasingly important to differentiate valuable learning resources from spam and other junk.

Whether you’re a student or a parent, here are tips to help you embark on this journey to find the perfect resource.  

What Types of Resources Are Out There?

Whether you’re looking for some extracurricular activities to sharpen your skills in a certain subject or a fully inclusive tutoring service, the internet has it all. The key to finding the perfect online program is understanding the area(s) that you wish to improve. Are you at risk of being held back a year or do you just want to get a jump on highschool algebra? For help with a single subject or opportunities for extra learning, check out your school’s and/or school district’s resources. Often times schools will have a webpage for these types of learning activities. For example, one school in Indiana offers resources on learning to read and learning important math skills.

If you are in need of a full tutoring service, the search process can become a little more complex. Refining your search to be as specific as possible can make a huge difference. Instead of searching “online tutoring services” and getting a massive list of just about every tutoring service on the planet, try searching “5th grade math online tutoring services.” This list should be full of relevant sources. Picking the perfect one will then come down to a little extra research on the specific service. Make sure to look into customer reviews, as well as prices and scheduling, in order to find the service that fits your needs. Your search will come back with big names that you may recognize, such as Sylvan and Chegg. It may also come back with local tutoring services. Be certain to check the local programs as well—local teachers often teach these programs and can relate them to specific school requirements.

How Do You Discover Your Learning Needs?

Picking whether you want an organized tutoring service or just some additional activities is a conversation that needs to happen between child, parent, and teacher. This is a critical point for students to communicate their needs. Even if you sign your child up for the best tutoring service, they might not show the improvement you hope for if they don’t want to be there and participate. Maybe it would be better to provide them with fun activities that could capture their imagination while teaching them valuable lessons. This will encourage kids to embrace lifelong learning. Whichever route you choose, just be sure that everyone is on the same page. Communication is so important in this step, for both parents and students.  

Where to Start Searching?

When you first begin looking for information online, the results can be daunting. A simple google search comes back with billions of results in fractions of a second. If you’ve ever searched for something as broad as “learning resources,” then you know how difficult it can be to find what you’re actually searching for. By utilizing Google’s advanced search queries, you can get rid of the non credible sites with one easy trick. Add site:.edu or site:.gov to your search query and you should end up with only credible sites, such as “5th grade math resources site:.edu”. These .edu and .gov sites are normally some of the most reliable resources on the web, but make sure to double-check the content and sources on the site just to be sure.

A caveat to this strategy is if you are looking for full-service tutoring, then you may want to include .com and .org websites, as these are often private companies that specialize in tutoring. Just be sure to check the website for credibility before you give them any personal information.

If you’re looking for a fun activity on searching for credible sources, you can find lesson plans online to help teach your students.

Picking the Perfect Program and Beyond

Once you’ve discovered the programs or resources that you want to use, set up guidelines for using the new learning program. These guidelines should include expectations on how the student will utilize the program, how they will communicate their learning to their parents or teachers, and how they will stay safe while using the internet. Since the student in this scenario will be spending more time online, it’s crucial to set up a plan for cybersecurity. Spam and other non credible websites could lead to viruses and false learning. Follow these simple online safety practices and you’re sure to maximize learning while minimizing risk. Stay up-to-date with your child’s learning and always encourage clear paths of communication. This simple step will help the student feel like they have a support system and make you both feel more secure in the digital world.

Author Bio

Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise and Newsday.


Are you doing research on a report or paper? Find out how Simple Wikipedia can help.

Things to Do When Kids Are Bored

It may not feel like it right now, but there is so much fun waiting for you just around the corner.  There are so many things a kid can do when he or she is bored.  You just need a few ideas.  Creativity often works that way. Often, you first need to get the creative juices flowing and soon you’ll be coming up with ideas of your own.

Here are a few brainstorming ideas we came up.  Start by thinking about them.  Then perhaps share them with your friends and see what they thing.

Pick out a couple and ask your parents if you need help to get the fun rolling.   As mentioned, this list may help you think about fun ideas of your own.

Create a Treasure Hunt!

You can go online and read about the different ways that you can arrange the hunt. The best way to get all your friends together and ask a parent to hide the treasure. It could be a batch of cookies or a gift certificate for a pizza or each child could bring one small toy to make up the treasure. Or you could be the treasure master, stashing the prize and making up clues that you hide in advance.

Clues could be something like “Look for the tree with the home-made swing,” or “Find the big grey rock and take three steps south.” Each clue leads to another clue and at the very end, the treasure. Maybe each of your friends could pick a day and hold their own treasure hunt. The hunts can be as long or as short as you want.  This is something you could also do as a family together, outside or in the house.

Have a Box Sculpture Contest!

This is easy.  Just ask your parents to get empty boxes from a grocery or chain store. Make sure you have a lot of them in a lot of different sizes. Then you need strong tape, glue and markers to decorate what you make. You could even decide on a theme, like box spaceships, box forts or box cars.  You can also get creative and spruce up your sculptures with items egg cartons, ribbons and show boxes.

Make Colorful Wall Montage

When was the last time you colored with crayons?  I doubt your parents won’t let you color on your wall, but there are tons of free coloring pages online you can print and color.  Choose from all sorts of drawings and cover one of your bedroom walls with your own colorful creations. It will be like a wall mural but made up of individual pictures.  There are hundred’s of options online of things to color.

Learn How to Fly a Kite!

Kites are relatively cheap to buy, but many kids prefer to learn about kites online and make their own. This activity requires you to follow the weather and look for good places to catch the wind, usually a park or a hill. This takes those reflexes that help you play video games and uses them in the real world. And it’s fun.

Explore Your Local World!

Get a guide book or go online to find out what you can do in your home town! What is the oldest building in your city? Where was the first school built? Was anyone famous born in your town? Is there a museum you can tour? What about a pond where you can sail a boat? Or simply go to your local park and lay in the grass with a friend looking for images in the clouds.

Put on a Kids Clothing Swap!

Ask your parents what they think about this. It would be a good way to clean out closets as well as encourage everyone to recycle. Just make sure that all clothes are clean and mended when they are brought to the swap.

No matter where you live, you can enjoy a whole world of adventure. All you need to do is use your imagination.

It may not feel like it right now, but there is so much fun waiting for you just around the corner.  There are so many things a kid can do when he or she is bored.  You just need a few ideas.  Creativity often works that way. Often, you first need to get the creative juices flowing and soon you’ll be coming up with ideas of your own.

Here are a few brainstorming ideas we came up.  Start by thinking about them.  Then perhaps share them with your friends and see what they thing.

Pick out a couple and ask your parents if you need help to get the fun rolling.   As mentioned, this list may help you think about fun ideas of your own.

Create a Treasure Hunt!

You can go online and read about the different ways that you can arrange the hunt. The best way to get all your friends together and ask a parent to hide the treasure. It could be a batch of cookies or a gift certificate for a pizza or each child could bring one small toy to make up the treasure. Or you could be the treasure master, stashing the prize and making up clues that you hide in advance.

Clues could be something like “Look for the tree with the home-made swing,” or “Find the big grey rock and take three steps south.” Each clue leads to another clue and at the very end, the treasure. Maybe each of your friends could pick a day and hold their own treasure hunt. The hunts can be as long or as short as you want.  This is something you could also do as a family together, outside or in the house.

Have a Box Sculpture Contest!

This is easy.  Just ask your parents to get empty boxes from a grocery or chain store. Make sure you have a lot of them in a lot of different sizes. Then you need strong tape, glue and markers to decorate what you make. You could even decide on a theme, like box spaceships, box forts or box cars.  You can also get creative and spruce up your sculptures with items egg cartons, ribbons and show boxes.

Make Colorful Wall Montage

When was the last time you colored with crayons?  I doubt your parents won’t let you color on your wall, but there are tons of free coloring pages online you can print and color.  Choose from all sorts of drawings and cover one of your bedroom walls with your own colorful creations. It will be like a wall mural but made up of individual pictures.  There are hundred’s of options online of things to color.

Learn How to Fly a Kite!

Kites are relatively cheap to buy, but many kids prefer to learn about kites online and make their own. This activity requires you to follow the weather and look for good places to catch the wind, usually a park or a hill. This takes those reflexes that help you play video games and uses them in the real world. And it’s fun.

Explore Your Local World!

Get a guide book or go online to find out what you can do in your home town! What is the oldest building in your city? Where was the first school built? Was anyone famous born in your town? Is there a museum you can tour? What about a pond where you can sail a boat? Or simply go to your local park and lay in the grass with a friend looking for images in the clouds.

Put on a Kids Clothing Swap!

Ask your parents what they think about this. It would be a good way to clean out closets as well as encourage everyone to recycle. Just make sure that all clothes are clean and mended when they are brought to the swap.

No matter where you live, you can enjoy a whole world of adventure. All you need to do is use your imagination.

What Did You See? Checking Facts before you Judge

Imagine you are in the back seat, playing with your phone as your dad drives you to soccer practice. You pass Liam, a kid from school. His arms are waving and his face is red as he yells at a small boy you don’t know. And your dad has driven past the scene, his attention on the road.

You shake your head, then go online and post: “What’s up with Liam? Just saw him screaming at some little kid. He’s such a loser.” “We’re here,” your dad says. “Give me your phone.”

You do and head to the locker room.

After practice, as you’re changing, you tell your teammates about Liam. “You should have seen him. And the kid was half his size.” One of the kids you tell whips out his phone and posts: “Liam. Always thought you were a jerk. Now I know.”

Only when you’re buckled in the back seat does your dad hand you your phone. Turning it on, you see that lots of your friends have commented on how much of a jerk Liam is. You feel a burst of pride. After all, you were the one who told the world about Liam’s horrible behavior.

You start responding as your dad detours to the school to get your big sister from her basketball practice.

When your sister gets in the car, she’s excited. “Did you hear about the Jameson boy? He took off from his mom and was over by the freeway throwing rocks at cars.”

Your dad shoots her a strange look. “How do you know this?”

“Well, Liam was riding by on his bike and the kid threw a rock at him. So he pulled into the ditch and told him to stop. He tried to get the kid’s home number and the boy wouldn’t tell him. Our coach had to stop drills when Liam called her to get the Mom’s number.”

You feel the slow burn of embarrassment start creeping up your neck.

“Mrs. Jameson was frantic,” your sister continues. “She’d even called the police because she couldn’t find him. The cops showed up anyway because they’d had reports about a kid throwing rocks at cars—sirens and everything. It was a wild scene.”

“Wow. Scary. A little boy that close to the freeway. And throwing rocks, no less. Good thing Liam has a head on his shoulders. That Jameson boy could have hurt someone or got hurt himself.”

And there you are, looking at all the mean postings about Liam.

You take a breath and write your next post: “Hey, everybody. Turns out that the real jerk around here is me. I’ve just learned the hard way not to make fast judgments about people. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”

Imagine you are in the back seat, playing with your phone as your dad drives you to soccer practice. You pass Liam, a kid from school. His arms are waving and his face is red as he yells at a small boy you don’t know. And your dad has driven past the scene, his attention on the road.

You shake your head, then go online and post: “What’s up with Liam? Just saw him screaming at some little kid. He’s such a loser.” “We’re here,” your dad says. “Give me your phone.”

You do and head to the locker room.

After practice, as you’re changing, you tell your teammates about Liam. “You should have seen him. And the kid was half his size.” One of the kids you tell whips out his phone and posts: “Liam. Always thought you were a jerk. Now I know.”

Only when you’re buckled in the back seat does your dad hand you your phone. Turning it on, you see that lots of your friends have commented on how much of a jerk Liam is. You feel a burst of pride. After all, you were the one who told the world about Liam’s horrible behavior.

You start responding as your dad detours to the school to get your big sister from her basketball practice.

When your sister gets in the car, she’s excited. “Did you hear about the Jameson boy? He took off from his mom and was over by the freeway throwing rocks at cars.”

Your dad shoots her a strange look. “How do you know this?”

“Well, Liam was riding by on his bike and the kid threw a rock at him. So he pulled into the ditch and told him to stop. He tried to get the kid’s home number and the boy wouldn’t tell him. Our coach had to stop drills when Liam called her to get the Mom’s number.”

You feel the slow burn of embarrassment start creeping up your neck.

“Mrs. Jameson was frantic,” your sister continues. “She’d even called the police because she couldn’t find him. The cops showed up anyway because they’d had reports about a kid throwing rocks at cars—sirens and everything. It was a wild scene.”

“Wow. Scary. A little boy that close to the freeway. And throwing rocks, no less. Good thing Liam has a head on his shoulders. That Jameson boy could have hurt someone or got hurt himself.”

And there you are, looking at all the mean postings about Liam.

You take a breath and write your next post: “Hey, everybody. Turns out that the real jerk around here is me. I’ve just learned the hard way not to make fast judgments about people. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”