Category: Social Media Safety

Check the Facts Before You Post on Social Media

Check the facts before you post on social media

Before you post information about others on social media, think twice.  Is the post true?  Even if it is true, will it hurt someone else?  Is it any of your business to spread news about someone you’ve heard?  Social media is a great was to communicate and keep in touch with friends.  But it has a dark side.

Whether people are judged wrongly in a situation or are simple spreading rumors, it’s always important to check the facts before we judge.

Here are a few examples of how information on social media can get out of hand.

Mean Liam

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.”

Learn these Tips to Keep Teens Safe on Twitter.

A Story of Before and After

My odd friends are once again teaching me how what we think can sometimes fool us. Let me tell you about Rahim and Sandy. Rahim is a quiet, gentle guy and all the girls I know have a secret crush on him. The one with the biggest crush is Sandy. What put him in solid with her was when she saw him one afternoon at the mall.

A girl who was dressed kind of oddly was being bullied by a group of rude boys. Sandy, watching in the food court, saw Rahim stride up to the group and order the boys away from the girl who by this time was crying.

Rahim stood between the weeping girl and bullies until mall security came and escorted the boys away. Sandy watched as the guards thanked Rahim and the girl’s mother ran up to hug her girl.

Sandy texted me from the food court: “Rahim is awesome. He’s so strong and kind. I like him so much.”

I smiled and set my phone aside.

A busy week of school and sports and gossiping passed. Sandy spent every spare moment she could with Rahim. They took breaks together, went for slushies together and biked away from school together every day.

Sandy texted me: “I know we are just friends, but Rahim is the guy I see with me for a long time.”

This was before.

The very next day after that text, Sandy saw a picture on social media of the bullied girl from the mall kissing Rahim on the cheek. In another picture, Rahim and mall-girl were sitting close to each other eating burgers and looking happy.

At this point, Sandy texted me: “How could I be so stupid. Rahim took advantage of a bullied girl and now is hanging with her.

He was only nice to her because she was so pretty. And all this week while he was hanging with me, he was also hanging out with this girl.

He must be one of those guys who needs lots of girlfriends to feel good about himself. I saw that in a movie last week.”

I rolled my eyes and turned off my phone.

Sandy does this all the time. Before the mall incident, Rahim is sweet and sensitive. After the mall, he’s the villain on a television show. Sandy is my friend and I’m going to have to talk with her about making assumptions. I need to tell her that mall-girl is Rahim’s cousin.

Learn about kids safety on Discord with this parental guide.

How a Town Made A Monster—True Story

Once upon a time, a mom and dad drove their little girl to school. Mom got out to walk the girl to the school door.  Before they got there, Dad remembered something he had forgotten to ask the little girl. He rushed out and ran to the girl and Mom. Mom was upset. She said that they could talk about the question after school.

Dad disagreed and the two had a small argument on the school steps, which was very bad manners. The little girl started walking away. Her dad grabbed her arm and she quickly answered his question before running off to class.

Meanwhile, a woman in the parking lot saw the argument on the steps. She saw the dad grab his daughter’s arm. She went on social media and made a post: “I saw a man grab a little girl today at school. Watch out for your kids.”

Another parent saw the post and shared the post with his friends. They shared the post with their friends. Soon, everyone in the small town was thinking that a man was trying to kidnap their dear children.

Thinking that some evil man lurked near the school, people started seeing monsters everywhere! If a man stopped to drop off a sandwich for his son at recess, people would go online to post: “I saw a man try to grab a little boy.”

When another man ran up to his girl to give her the sweater she had left at home, people would post: “I saw the bad guy.” And all those posts bounced from cell phone to cell phone.

Before long, people went to the police and reported that a man was trying to steal kids from school. The story reached news reporters. A major television station reported that a man was stalking school kids. The stern announcer warned thousands of people to be on the lookout for this monster.

The police immediately started investigating. They interviewed many of the people who posted sightings of the evil man. The police talked to kids and their parents.

Then they made an official announcement: Nothing had happened. No one was trying to snatch children.

Hundreds of posts and reposts warned of a bad man, but none of the reports were true. No evil monster was trying to grab children from school. The monster was made up by too many people posting false details on social media.

Soon, the panic faded. People forgot about the evil man—and they did not seem to understand that they were the ones who made the monster.

This event really happened in Alberta, Canada, June, 2011.

Now, let’s learn about News.

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School Counselors Using Digital Tech for Safer Schools

school counselors digital technology safety

For decades, school administrators have worked to make school buildings safer. They have done so by locking doors, adding security systems and cameras, hiring law enforcement staff, and installing metal detectors.  Over 90% of schools in the U.S. have security cameras to help staff monitor the school and surrounding area more closely.

In 2016 alone, schools spent $2.7 billion on security systems. A year later, the amount spent almost doubled.

Besides video surveillance, almost 80% of schools track their visitors by asking them to sign into the front desk.

Sure, it’s essential to keep all the outside doors of a school locked and take note of who is in your building, but not all threats are face to face.  We live in a digital world where student data privacy in the classroom is of utmost importance.  And, a lot of your preventative maintenance needs to take place in that same cyber environment. 

So, when threats are made, schools need to right tools to spread the word to teachers and staff quickly. Here are some ideas you may want to try to keep your school safe.

Social Net Watcher

School shooters tend to be narcissists. They often use social media, especially Instagram, to proclaim their manifestos.

One start-up out of Indiana, Social Net Watcher, watches students’ social media accounts for specific phrases that may indicate warnings of violence. They can also be programmed to alert school officials to acts of cyberbullying.


In an emergency, fast communication is essential. TextMagic allows schools to send immediate texts to the staff, students, or parents at the touch of a button.

Texts are the most effective form of communication in an emergency. Teachers may not have access to their computers while they are barricaded in their classrooms.

TextMagic can also be used to alert parents if their children are not in attendance. Parents who may be concerned about the mental health of their children can be warned immediately that their child is not where he is supposed to be. 

Visitor Management System

While most schools have visitors sign in at the reception desk, some schools are taking this precaution to the next level.

Visitors at some schools must present their state or federal ID to the school. These IDs are checked against a national database of registered sex offenders.

Alertus Desktop

Although text messaging is the most effective form of communication during an emergency, at times, a back-up plan is needed. Alertus Desktop can send an immediate alert to every computer screen on campus. This system is particularly helpful for buildings that have notoriously bad cell coverage.

Take a look at what Gordon College learned by implementing Alertus Desktop.  The school felt that its checklist for notifications in emergency systems was too long.  And, It wanted one unified system for keeping people informed.  

The college reports that its decision to streamline communications was extremely beneficial.  “Being able to setup pre-scripted alerts to fire off with one button press or one-click during a crisis can help save lives during an emergency.”

Facial Recognition Software

Although there may be privacy concerns from using biometric data on a school campus, some districts are willing to overlook this opinion to keep their students safe. Programs such as RealNetworks is 98% accurate, and this software will alert school officials if someone of concern is on campus.

GPS Systems

Schools not only need to keep students safe on campus, but they also need to protect their students on buses as well. GPS systems are so sophisticated now that the district will be notified if a driver is reckless.

This software has the added benefit of protecting the school from parent complaints. If parents complain that the bus did not pick up their children that morning, the district can check the GPS to see whether or not the driver really missed the stop.

Edgewood Independent School District in Texas utilized this technology on its fleet of school buses. The system proved beneficial when the local sheriff was able to send the closest officer immediately to a driver who needed assistance.

Safety and Security Film

The doors of a school may be locked, but that doesn’t mean that school shooters can’t break into a building through a window. An American company now has made a thin film that can be placed over the windows of a school building to keep them from breaking.

Fortify the windows of your school with this 3M product. This product will enable responders to have more time to arrive in the event of an emergency.


Schools have the moral and legal responsibility to keep their students safe.

Even though some schools have metal detectors at the door, 7% of high schoolers reported being hurt or threatened with a weapon on school property within the last year.

Even though safety measures have been utilized, nearly 6% of high schoolers have reported that they stayed home from school because they did not feel safe.

What that means to you as an administrator at a school is you need to maximize your resources.  Explore these different options. Then, start to implement  some of these digital technologies and other strategies to keep your school safe

While safety is key, schools should also explore ways to also enhance the learning experience using technology and promote safer internet for schools.

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Should You Interact with Your Child on Social Media?

Mom's online with kids

Social media is an integral part of our lives these days, and that’s doubly true for kids growing up in a post-Facebook world. Since parents and children are often on the same social platforms, it may seem natural to follow your child and interact. Is it a good idea though? The topic is more complex than it seems.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Answer

Like so many other issues around parenting, this is a case where every family and child is different. What works for one may not work for another. Family dynamics and the needs of individual kids should dictate the best way to approach social media use. The important thing is to understand that these apps are likely a big part of your child’s social life and that boundaries should be respected—both yours as a parent, as well as your child’s.

The other thing to consider is that if you interact with you child on social media, you’ll need to consider your own social media settings to ensure it doesn’t effect their safety.

Here are three tips to help you navigate the often-murky waters of online interactions with your kids.

1. Have a Frank Discussion About Social Media Boundaries

There’s often no better way to answer these tough questions than just being direct and asking. The reality is that for some kids, having parents involved in their lives is normal, while for others, it’s an embarrassment.

In either case, you should have a talk about appropriate use of social media, information privacy and security, and being safe online so that even if your kids don’t want much interaction, you can help them be smart about what they do on the internet. Even if you don’t interact with them on social media, you can still set and enforce rules for safe web use.

2. Determine If Interactions Would Seem Out of Place

Facebook and even Twitter aren’t the most popular social platforms for teens and kids anymore. Many now spend their time on Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms. So pay attention to which platforms your kids use and how they use them

If you already have accounts on the same platforms that you use on a regular basis, following and interacting with your child may make sense; if you don’t, though, you run the risk of misusing the platform and potentially embarrassing your kid—to the extent that it could cause them to migrate to other platforms or adjust settings so you can’t see as much of their activity.

3. Decide Where Your Motivation Lies

Another way to determine whether you should interact directly with your child on social media is to honestly examine your motives. If you’re only trying to police your child’s activities, you may be wasting your time; it’s relatively easy for kids to adjust privacy settings to control what you can see. It’s also not uncommon for kids to have multiple profiles, with only one visible to family.

If your family already has a trusting, open relationship with one another, it might feel natural and fine for you to interact with them in online spaces. If there’s less trust, though, getting a social media account just to monitor your children or teens could further hurt that relationship. Kids are smarter than many give them credit for—they’ll know if you’re trying to be sneaky.

Boundaries on social media may seem murky to parents, but for kids who’ve had access to these platforms their whole lives, they are often very clear. Navigating this social online world as parents takes finesse, openness, and a willingness to learn. Because in the end, the most important thing is that your kids are safe and happy.

Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate. You can find more of her work at

Where is Everybody on Facebook?

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Where is Everybody on Facebook?

It seems like everybody has a Facebook page. You probably do, and you probably have a lot of “friends.” And your friends may have a lot of friends. But Facebook, as an Internet site, is losing friends. Studies from organizations and from Facebook itself have found that Facebook users are spending more and more time OFF Facebook.

When they are on Facebook, they aren’t as “engaged” as they used to be. Engaged is defined as when a user does something, for example, “liking” a post, responding to posts and uploading their own posts. Some don’t even go on Facebook anymore.

Where is everybody?

After years of being one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, Facebook has found that people are going to other social media platforms to visit with others. Some teenagers go on Snapchat or Instagram or privately message people. They go to Reddit to join in on heated discussions. Tik Tok is popular now, but not only for young people.  It seems many adults from Facebook are now on Tik Tok as well.

Many older adults are only going on Facebook when they want to “catch up” with family. People are spending their time doing activities other than checking Facebook every few minutes. Those that do use Facebook don’t “share” or “like” as much as they once did. They post less and less and they log in less frequently.

Comments online point to problems people have with Facebook. Some don’t like all the advertisements that pop up. Some don’t like that their profile information gets sold to big companies. Other people are upset that Facebook sometimes deletes posts that don’t agree with their philosophy.

Still others think that Facebook is an outdated social media platform and even old-fashioned. Those people think that Facebook is like myspace, slowly getting replaced and fading into the past.

Of course, Facebook is still strong. The company is worth billions of dollars, but not as much as it used to be. Its strength is slowing fading. The business is trying to get people interested in it again.

They’re sending out “memory” reminders and “friend anniversary” notifications, hoping people remember how much they used to enjoy Facebook. Many people find the notifications annoying. Luckily, they can turn that off. They can also enjoy other activities, which many are choosing to do.

Where is everybody who used to be on Facebook? Maybe they’re playing one-on-one in the gym or reading a book. Some are hanging out with their flesh and blood friends in the real world.

Yes, Facebook is still there, waiting for you to log on and check your wall. Facebook can wait. Your life can’t.

Why Adults are Dumping Social Media?

You love your computer. You enjoy playing games online. Maybe your Dad lets you post messages to your cousins using his social media page. You can’t wait until you get your own social media account. Don’t hold your breath. By the time you are old enough, social media won’t be the same!

In the last few months, people have become very angry with Facebook. Upset. Facebook took personal details about their lives and sold those details to make money. For many people, selling their information was an invasion of privacy. Imagine someone you don’t know sneaking into your bedroom and picking through your dresser drawers. That’s what many adults thought it felt like.

So many people were mad at Facebook that they closed and deleted their pages. Steve Wozniak, one of the men who started the company that makes Apple computers and iPhone, deleted his Facebook account. So did Elon Musk, the tech whiz who just launched a car into space. And so did Will Ferrell, the actor who played the main character in the Christmas movie ELF.

More importantly, almost 3 million young adults under the age of 25 stopped using Facebook. These people didn’t like their private information being used to make money for a gigantic company.

Most of the time, when your personal information is sold, it is used to try to sell you something or to sell something to your Facebook friends. This may not seem all that bad, but it means that all the facts of your life online are being examined by strangers. These strangers don’t care about you or your friends. They do care about making money. You are just how they make that money.

Another problem adults have with Facebook is that their information can be used to steal their identity. Identity theft is when someone takes another person’s personal details and applies for things like credit cards, bank accounts and money from the government. Identity thieves sometimes use the stolen identity to get mobile phone accounts and run up huge bills. They even steal the identity of little kids.

Many of those victims don’t know that their identities have been stolen because most little kids don’t apply for credit cards or file tax returns or any of the other things that alert people to identity theft. When the child grows up and does apply for a credit card, he or she may discover that they owe money all over the world. This can happen when private information is used by thieves. This is another reason that many adults are leaving Facebook.

Parents are also deciding if they should be following their children to other popular social media apps.  But do kids want their parents watching what they do on social media?  Regardless, millions of people around the world are deciding that Facebook isn’t the most popular places to be these days.   What about you?

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