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Category: Social Media Safety

Are you a Cyberbystander?

cyberbystander for online bullies

People talk a lot about cyberbullies and their victims. One part of this social ill that people rarely talk about is how bystanders effect the situation. Some researchers call them “cyberbystanders.” Cyberbystanders are those who watch cyberbullying while it happens.

They are the other people in chat rooms or on social media apps who can read the posts that the bully posts to the victim.

Cyberbystanders can be middle-school kids, college students or even business associates. These people will watch the exchange and have a chance to speak up. But do they?

Many studies have been done to see exactly what happens to cyberbystanders. A university study found that only one out of ten cyberbystanders will take a stand during the exchange. The action these people take is usually limited to posting support for the victim or posting comments that the bully should back off.

Most of the time, though, cyberbystanders do nothing. The studies seem to show that cyberbystanders didn’t want to get the middle of a situation that was none of their business. They didn’t seem to make the connection that they were on a public site—making everything that happened there public.

Some of the cyberbystanders who did nothing during the bullying did take action afterwards. They sent comments to moderators or to the site’s security officers. Moderators and site security can remove offending posts and even ban bullies from the site.

Companies are taking cyberbullying more seriously these days and will often respond to comments within hours. This can help prevent further bullying, but still doesn’t make a difference to the victim of the bullying that’s already happened.

Cyberbystanders online act much like real-life bystanders. When an accident happens on the street, if there are lots of people watching, then people are less likely to help. In other words, the more witnesses there are, the fewer people will help.

That is the same online. If lots of people are watching the posts and tweets, the less likely someone will step in and defend the victim or criticize the bully. If only a couple people are reading the posts—or witness the accident—the more likely they are to step in and help. On the other hand, the more people that are following an ugly exchange online, the more brutal the bully will be. It seems that bullies like an audience.

Social scientists are still trying to understand the difference cyberbystanders make to online communication. What you can do is remember that you are probably a cyberbystander. Talk with your teachers, friends or family about what you should do when you see bullying happen online. Don’t be one of the nine out of ten who does nothing.

People talk a lot about cyberbullies and their victims. One part of this social ill that people rarely talk about is how bystanders effect the situation. Some researchers call them “cyberbystanders.” Cyberbystanders are those who watch cyberbullying while it happens.

They are the other people in chat rooms or on social media apps who can read the posts that the bully posts to the victim.

Cyberbystanders can be middle-school kids, college students or even business associates. These people will watch the exchange and have a chance to speak up. But do they?

Many studies have been done to see exactly what happens to cyberbystanders. A university study found that only one out of ten cyberbystanders will take a stand during the exchange. The action these people take is usually limited to posting support for the victim or posting comments that the bully should back off.

Most of the time, though, cyberbystanders do nothing. The studies seem to show that cyberbystanders didn’t want to get the middle of a situation that was none of their business. They didn’t seem to make the connection that they were on a public site—making everything that happened there public.

Some of the cyberbystanders who did nothing during the bullying did take action afterwards. They sent comments to moderators or to the site’s security officers. Moderators and site security can remove offending posts and even ban bullies from the site.

Companies are taking cyberbullying more seriously these days and will often respond to comments within hours. This can help prevent further bullying, but still doesn’t make a difference to the victim of the bullying that’s already happened.

Cyberbystanders online act much like real-life bystanders. When an accident happens on the street, if there are lots of people watching, then people are less likely to help. In other words, the more witnesses there are, the fewer people will help.

That is the same online. If lots of people are watching the posts and tweets, the less likely someone will step in and defend the victim or criticize the bully. If only a couple people are reading the posts—or witness the accident—the more likely they are to step in and help. On the other hand, the more people that are following an ugly exchange online, the more brutal the bully will be. It seems that bullies like an audience.

Social scientists are still trying to understand the difference cyberbystanders make to online communication. What you can do is remember that you are probably a cyberbystander. Talk with your teachers, friends or family about what you should do when you see bullying happen online. Don’t be one of the nine out of ten who does nothing.

The Back to School List just for Kids

Everywhere you look someone is telling you to get ready to go back to school. Stores are urging you to come get your supplies and new clothes. Parents are reminding you to get your bus passes and clean out your closet. Websites post lists for you to read through and check off before the first day of class.

This list is different.

This is the back to school list just for kids.

1) Did you do everything that you wanted to do this summer?

Think back to before summer break. Is there an activity you planned on doing? Is there a hobby you wanted to spend more time on? How about a friend you wanted to see during the holidays? Did you hope to arrange a treasure hunt or put new wheels on your skateboard?

Think hard—then act. There is still time to take care of that one great idea.

2) You’ve grown up a little over the summer—so should your personal space.

Take a minute and think about your room, your desk and even the posters on your wall. Go through your clothes and try them on. Jeans and shirts that don’t fit should go in a pile to give to your Mom or Dad. Do the same with your action figures, your posters, the cool stuff you have on your desk.

Looking through your personal space and seeing what “doesn’t fit anymore” will show you how much a life can change in a couple short months.

3) Now, do some house cleaning on your social media.

Many people–and that includes kids–are going through their settings. They are cutting out “friends” from the people they really know from actual flesh-and-blood life. Many recommend taking a good, long look at your privacy settings.

Make sure that when you post a personal detail, only real human beings that you know can see what you’ve written. A good rule of thumb is: Would you feel okay hanging alone in your room with this person? If the answer is, “Geez, I dunno,” then think hard about giving that person a look inside your life.

4) Relax.

School is a phase of life that takes you into the future. You’ll be going to classes that don’t seem to make sense and doing homework that doesn’t seem to have any purpose.

For some of you, people might be asking you about college or university and great future plans. The best thing for you to do before you walk into that big crowded building is to just relax. Do your best and the rest will come.

Everywhere you look someone is telling you to get ready to go back to school. Stores are urging you to come get your supplies and new clothes. Parents are reminding you to get your bus passes and clean out your closet. Websites post lists for you to read through and check off before the first day of class.

This list is different.

This is the back to school list just for kids.

1) Did you do everything that you wanted to do this summer?

Think back to before summer break. Is there an activity you planned on doing? Is there a hobby you wanted to spend more time on? How about a friend you wanted to see during the holidays? Did you hope to arrange a treasure hunt or put new wheels on your skateboard?

Think hard—then act. There is still time to take care of that one great idea.

2) You’ve grown up a little over the summer—so should your personal space.

Take a minute and think about your room, your desk and even the posters on your wall. Go through your clothes and try them on. Jeans and shirts that don’t fit should go in a pile to give to your Mom or Dad. Do the same with your action figures, your posters, the cool stuff you have on your desk.

Looking through your personal space and seeing what “doesn’t fit anymore” will show you how much a life can change in a couple short months.

3) Now, do some house cleaning on your social media.

Many people–and that includes kids–are going through their settings. They are cutting out “friends” from the people they really know from actual flesh-and-blood life. Many recommend taking a good, long look at your privacy settings.

Make sure that when you post a personal detail, only real human beings that you know can see what you’ve written. A good rule of thumb is: Would you feel okay hanging alone in your room with this person? If the answer is, “Geez, I dunno,” then think hard about giving that person a look inside your life.

4) Relax.

School is a phase of life that takes you into the future. You’ll be going to classes that don’t seem to make sense and doing homework that doesn’t seem to have any purpose.

For some of you, people might be asking you about college or university and great future plans. The best thing for you to do before you walk into that big crowded building is to just relax. Do your best and the rest will come.

Online Summer Safety Tips for Kids

Summer Fun

School’s out, and that means your kids have lots of time free to spend online chatting, making plans with friends, and posting fun summertime photos—sometimes without you there to supervise. If that gives you anxiety, fear not. Here are four steps that will keep keep your child safe online this summer.

1. Set Rules for Responsible Use

Sit down with your children and talk frankly about why you care about their online safety, covering big topics like cyberbullying or identity theft in a way that matches their maturity level. Then work together to define clear, understandable rules for their online interactions. Here are a few basics to consider:

  • Never post personal info like addresses and phone numbers on social media.
  • Avoid location check-ins and photo geo-tagging, which can be used to track where you are as well as when you are away from home.
  • Be wary of free games and other goodies, which can infect your devices with malware. Keep security software up to date and scan everything before downloading.
  • Use secure passwords and protect them. There are several password managers out there that can generate strong passwords and store them all in one place.

Once you’ve agreed upon the ground rules, put them into a contract to be signed by everyone in the family.

2. Follow Your Own Rules

This is an important follow-up to the previous rule. You want your kids not to text or go online after 10 p.m.? Shut down your phone and laptop at the same time.

Don’t want them posting embarrassing photos of you? Let them veto pictures they may not be happy with you sharing on social media, too.

If you can adhere to the rules you and your kids built together, they will feel more inclined to do so as well.

3. Build Your Child’s Critical Thinking Skills

In a world abounding with fake news, help your kids think critically about any content they find online. Encourage older kids especially to fact-check stories before reposting on Facebook or commenting on Twitter.

Teach them to question their own motives as well. Just because a comment will generate a lot of likes, that doesn’t mean they should post it. Even one poorly chosen post can cause problems down the line.

The Family Online Safety Institute has also developed a checklist that includes reminders to remove and untag unwanted posts, and to “accentuate the positive” by posting upbeat content.

4. Let Your Kids Know You Will Still Monitor Online Usage

Finally, let your kids know that you may occasionally check up on their activity. Being upfront about your plans to look at their browser history and monitor their Facebook account will establish a sense of trust and keep them accountable.

For young kids who need a bit more oversight, there are plenty of helpful apps available to let you keep an eye on them. Older kids and teens may not need (or want) as much monitoring, so for them, you may be able to check in less often. To really emphasize trust, you can even ask them to put their passwords into a piggy bank for use only in an emergency.

The internet can be a great resource for helping kids learn and be social during their school-free summer months, and following the steps listed here will help them do so smartly, responsibly, and safely.

School’s out, and that means your kids have lots of time free to spend online chatting, making plans with friends, and posting fun summertime photos—sometimes without you there to supervise. If that gives you anxiety, fear not. Here are four steps that will keep keep your child safe online this summer.

1. Set Rules for Responsible Use

Sit down with your children and talk frankly about why you care about their online safety, covering big topics like cyberbullying or identity theft in a way that matches their maturity level. Then work together to define clear, understandable rules for their online interactions. Here are a few basics to consider:

  • Never post personal info like addresses and phone numbers on social media.
  • Avoid location check-ins and photo geo-tagging, which can be used to track where you are as well as when you are away from home.
  • Be wary of free games and other goodies, which can infect your devices with malware. Keep security software up to date and scan everything before downloading.
  • Use secure passwords and protect them. There are several password managers out there that can generate strong passwords and store them all in one place.

Once you’ve agreed upon the ground rules, put them into a contract to be signed by everyone in the family.

2. Follow Your Own Rules

This is an important follow-up to the previous rule. You want your kids not to text or go online after 10 p.m.? Shut down your phone and laptop at the same time.

Don’t want them posting embarrassing photos of you? Let them veto pictures they may not be happy with you sharing on social media, too.

If you can adhere to the rules you and your kids built together, they will feel more inclined to do so as well.

3. Build Your Child’s Critical Thinking Skills

In a world abounding with fake news, help your kids think critically about any content they find online. Encourage older kids especially to fact-check stories before reposting on Facebook or commenting on Twitter.

Teach them to question their own motives as well. Just because a comment will generate a lot of likes, that doesn’t mean they should post it. Even one poorly chosen post can cause problems down the line.

The Family Online Safety Institute has also developed a checklist that includes reminders to remove and untag unwanted posts, and to “accentuate the positive” by posting upbeat content.

4. Let Your Kids Know You Will Still Monitor Online Usage

Finally, let your kids know that you may occasionally check up on their activity. Being upfront about your plans to look at their browser history and monitor their Facebook account will establish a sense of trust and keep them accountable.

For young kids who need a bit more oversight, there are plenty of helpful apps available to let you keep an eye on them. Older kids and teens may not need (or want) as much monitoring, so for them, you may be able to check in less often. To really emphasize trust, you can even ask them to put their passwords into a piggy bank for use only in an emergency.

The internet can be a great resource for helping kids learn and be social during their school-free summer months, and following the steps listed here will help them do so smartly, responsibly, and safely.

Social Media Safety! To Post or Not to Post

kids social media edicate

Wow! You learned how to do the front crawl, earned $63 dollars with your lemonade stand and your whole family spent a week at a resort all the way across the country. And every day of your summer break, as your thumb hovers over your phone, you need to ask yourself one question: Should I post this?

As you think about that great picture of your sister with cotton candy all over her face, remember one of the basic rules of social media posting: Do not post a picture of anybody without that person’s permission. That includes your sister. Remember, too, that while you might get a laugh at an embarrassing picture of your brother and his bar-b-que sauce accident, posting that picture could be something you regret for years to come.

Another thought to go over as your fingers find the post icon is this: How many pictures do I post? The answer: As few as possible.

When you send picture after picture after picture after picture, people start to get annoyed. It can also seem a little desperate to load your page with dozens of images from the same place. Better to choose two or three cool shots to post and save the rest to show your close friends when you get home.

When typing text on social media, less is also better. Shorter posts are more likely to be read and less likely to contain detailed, personal details that could be used to harm you or your family.

It’s also more fun to show pictures and describe details in person. Then you can make sure that you only share with friends that are close enough to meet face-to-face. You can see the looks on their faces when you tell them about that awesome midway ride.

Considering that you will have more free time to post on social media, this is a good time to double check your privacy settings. It’s also a good time to go through your “friends” and truly think about who you really—really—know. When you go through the list, you could find people that are complete strangers to you.

Summer is a time when you have more freedom to explore and enjoy the real world. So grab that opportunity. Put down your phone and truly experience your summer vacation. What you do this summer can change how you feel, think and what you do for the rest of your life.

Yes, it’s great to have pictures and share the experience with your “friends.” What’s more important is the way reality can shape who you are. Take it easy on the social media and discover that the most important “posts” are the ones that you carry in your head and your heart and share by how you live.

Wow! You learned how to do the front crawl, earned $63 dollars with your lemonade stand and your whole family spent a week at a resort all the way across the country. And every day of your summer break, as your thumb hovers over your phone, you need to ask yourself one question: Should I post this?

As you think about that great picture of your sister with cotton candy all over her face, remember one of the basic rules of social media posting: Do not post a picture of anybody without that person’s permission. That includes your sister. Remember, too, that while you might get a laugh at an embarrassing picture of your brother and his bar-b-que sauce accident, posting that picture could be something you regret for years to come.

Another thought to go over as your fingers find the post icon is this: How many pictures do I post? The answer: As few as possible.

When you send picture after picture after picture after picture, people start to get annoyed. It can also seem a little desperate to load your page with dozens of images from the same place. Better to choose two or three cool shots to post and save the rest to show your close friends when you get home.

When typing text on social media, less is also better. Shorter posts are more likely to be read and less likely to contain detailed, personal details that could be used to harm you or your family.

It’s also more fun to show pictures and describe details in person. Then you can make sure that you only share with friends that are close enough to meet face-to-face. You can see the looks on their faces when you tell them about that awesome midway ride.

Considering that you will have more free time to post on social media, this is a good time to double check your privacy settings. It’s also a good time to go through your “friends” and truly think about who you really—really—know. When you go through the list, you could find people that are complete strangers to you.

Summer is a time when you have more freedom to explore and enjoy the real world. So grab that opportunity. Put down your phone and truly experience your summer vacation. What you do this summer can change how you feel, think and what you do for the rest of your life.

Yes, it’s great to have pictures and share the experience with your “friends.” What’s more important is the way reality can shape who you are. Take it easy on the social media and discover that the most important “posts” are the ones that you carry in your head and your heart and share by how you live.