Ten Tips for Introducing Your Child to Social Networking

kids-school-computerI read an article the other day about introducing your children to social media. There are ten important tips to follow to get your kids ready for the world of social media. Just as the author mentions in Tip #1, don’t be an ostrich. It’s going to happen. They are going to get on to social media channels and you may not even be aware of it. I found out my son had three blogs when he was in 5th Grade. THREE. I barely knew how to create a blog myself and there he was creating his own. One was for school. A digital photography blog. In class, they learned how to set up a private blog to share and upload their photos from class. Another blog was about his favorite burger restaurants. It had one entry. Harmless. No personal information. Then I found another blog he created for jokes. They were all fine until I realized he had created a tab at the top of the blog with the title, “adult content”. Um, what? Yes, you clicked on the tab and it had a joke that shouldn’t have been up on the internet. Heck, I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to make tabbed content pages. I made him take it down immediately.The only reason I found it was that I did a Google Search for his name. Have you ever done that for your child/children? I often do. I need to make sure his digital footprint is clean. If you don’t know what that is, be sure to check out and learn what a digital footprint is. Not only for your children but for yourself as well. Can find my article here.

Anyway, here is the full article from http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/2011/09/introducing-your-child-to-social-networking/  It’s a few years old but still applies today.

Tip #1: Don’t Be An Ostrich.

Burying your head in the sand just won’t work. Believing “I’m not going to let my child join a social network until…..” isn’t the best tactic to take. If you don’t get involved in steering your child in the right direction then they’ll sign themselves up without you knowing.

Tip #2: Know The Rules.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is a law that protects your child online. It’s against this law for any child under the age of 13 to join social networks like Facebook or MySpace. We never teach our children to lie, so don’t let them lie to join a site.

Tip #3: Not Okay Offline = Not Okay Online.

Mainstream social networks like Facebook are adult intended. Whether it’s the inappropriate photos that are allowed; our personal data being tracked and sold; or the illegal content that is sadly shared, the fact is we wouldn’t knowingly allow our children to be surrounded by these activities so we shouldn’t online.

Tip #4: The Sooner The Better.

Don’t wait until your child says: “I want to join XYZ site.” Start them out early as a member of a kid-centric site that you have researched and feel comfortable with. Social networking will be a part of your child’s life, so make sure you’re involved in helping them make a healthy choice early.

Tip #5: Set Limits.

As with all our kids’ media time, limit it. Make sure they have a healthy dose of outside activities before sitting down to enjoy their social media time.  And when they do, limit their screen time.

Tip #6: Dialogue.

Talk to your kids about what they are doing online, and don’t stop talking. It’s important they know you’re interested and involved.

Tip #7: Protect Your Child’s Identity.

Your child’s identity and online safety is immediately at risk if they provide their first and last name, birth date, school, phone number or physical location. A website asking for this information should be a “red flag”. A kids social network that complies with privacy laws – asks for your email for permission, your child’s birth date (to determine if <13), and a desired screen name.

Tip #8: Round Out Your Family Safety Net.

After you’ve set your children up with their age appropriate safety-focused social networking account, be sure to activate the rest of the safety controls across all devices and tools.  For starters, safety enable all idevices, Google SafeSearch and YouTube Safety Mode.

Tip #9: The Kids Channels Are Here!

It used to be only ABC, CBS, NBC, then along came cable where suddenly kids could enjoy programming just for them. The same has happened in social media.  Networks made specifically for your children, like Yoursphere.com, offer kid-specific activities while safety and privacy are key.

Tip #10: Have Fun With Your Kids.

There’s so much exploring, creativity, education and engagement that your children will gain from their social networking experience. Be sure you sit down with your child and enjoy the experience together.

Read the full article here.

Related Article:  Safety Tips for Social Networking – http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/2012/01/safety-tips-for-social-networking/

What is Omegle?

imgresStranger Danger!! Do your kids use Omegle? You need to go check and find out because out of all the social media sites out there, this is one of the dangerous ones. Just like their tagline promotes, it’s a change for people to talk to strangers! As if this crazy world needs an app/website like that. It’s a free online chat website that randomly links users with strangers. It’s a site/app for 18 and older but that hasn’t stopped young children from using the site. Back in October 2014, two 13-year-old girls went missing after meeting up with a 23-year-old man they met on Omegle.

What should parents do? First, check your child’s computer and mobile device to see if they have the app. Then, DELETE IT. However, sites like these pop up all the time and it’s hard to keep up. I try to stay up-to-date on the latest and only found out about this app today through a friend on Facebook. Second, talk to your children. It’s a conversation to have with them when they are young and continue to do so as they grow older. I plan on reminding my son about internet safety today and checking over his phone again this week.

Karina Hedinger from Fox News had this to say about online safety for children:

Hedinger recommends talking with children about online dangers often, the sooner the better; however, she says the key to keeping kids safe isn’t barring or banning them from certain sites since new ones pop up every day. Instead, she says the real key is having conversations about how to recognize online predators and explaining why children should refuse to give out personal information — including age, sex and location.

“Let’s put it this way: When I’ve talked to students in the past, I’ve had many, many kindergarteners talk to me about all sorts of different social networking sites and apps that they use on a regular basis,” she said.

You can read more here in the article about Omegle and why parents should care.

Related Articles:


More Internet Slang

Just like our kids grow, so does technology. It’s hard to keep up. Today I saw this article about new internet acronyms. Oh boy, just what we need – more to keep up with. Will it ever stop? No. I can guarantee you that. So, if you don’t already, make sure you are checking your child’s device/phone especially if they are a teenager.

From CNN, these are 28 new internet acronyms to be aware of:

  1. IWSN – I want sex now
  2. GNOC – Get naked on camera
  3. NIFOC – Naked in front of computer
  4. PIR – Parent in room
  5. CU46 – See you for sex
  6. 53X – Sex
  7. 9 – Parent watching
  8. 99 – Parent gone
  9. 1174′ – Party meeting place
  10. THOT – That hoe over there
  11. CID – Acid (the drug)
  12. Broken – Hungover from alcohol
  13. 420 – Marijuana
  14. POS – Parent over shoulder
  15. SUGARPIC – Suggestive or erotic photo
  16. KOTL – Kiss on the lips
  17. (L)MIRL – Let’s meet in real life
  18. PRON – Porn
  19. TDTM – Talk dirty to me
  20. 8 – Oral sex
  21. CD9 – Parents around/Code 9
  22. IPN – I’m posting naked
  23. LH6 – Let’s have sex
  24. WTTP – Want to trade pictures?
  25. DOC – Drug of choice
  26. TWD – Texting while driving
  27. GYPO – Get your pants off
  28. KPC– Keeping parents clueless

Out of that list, I had only heard of two of them. Yikes!

Here’s the full article from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/08/living/internet-acronyms-every-parent-should-know/

ETA (edited to add) – Another article to read. This has 99 texting acronyms! http://coolmomtech.com/2014/07/texting-acronyms-and-phrases-parents-should-know/

In Case You Missed It [ICYMI] – Articles to Read

rewind-logoThere’s a term buzzing around the internet and social media sites called “ICYMI”. Admittedly, I had to look it up myself to find out what that stood for. It’s basically anything you may have missed in the news and buzz of social media for the day, week, month. So, I’m going to give you a wrap up of some popular articles I’ve been sharing on Facebook, just in case you missed it.

“Snapchat and 6 Other Messaging Apps That Let Teens Share (Iffy) Secrets” by Common Sense Media

This article goes over 6 popular “temporary apps” (messages and images that self-destruct). It explains what they are, why they are popular and what parents need to know. Lots of useful information and what to be aware of.

Article: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/snapchat-and-6-other-messaging-apps-that-let-teens-share-iffy-secrets

Teens are officially over Facebook” by the Washington Post

Teens are over Facebook. Most are on Instagram and Twitter….

Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/10/08/teens-are-officially-over-facebook/

Making a case for spying on kids’ online activities” from CBS News

I keep saying and encouraging parents to check their children’s phones. This is advice from a mother last year who lost her daughter. Every parent should know where their kids are – especially online. A powerful statement of hers “It’s not spying. It is parenting.”

Article: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/making-a-case-for-spying-on-kids-online-activities/

How to find out if your kids are sexting on Snapchat” by CNN

Want to see what your kids are doing on their phone? This app/software allows you to monitor what they are doing. Including Snapchat! Would you use it? It’s called “MSpy“.

Article: http://money.cnn.com/2014/09/03/technology/social/spy-on-snapchat/index.html

Features of MSpy: http://www.mspy.com/features.html

Apps That Parents Should Worry About



It seems like every week, there is another app being developed that parents need to be aware of. I hope to be able to share those with you as I investigate and find out more myself.

Here are a few great articles you should read that outline some of the dangerous apps kids and teenagers are using.




My summary is below of the ones I feel cause the biggest problems…

Yik Yak

This is a newer app now available and probably the most dangerous. You can post anonymously, potentially causing cyber-bullying but even worse, it lets anyone (strangers) in the area view your posts. The app uses the device’s GPS signal to let those strangers know that you are close by.


I hate this app. I knew as soon as it was created, it would cause problems. The app lets you send a photo or video to another member and after 10 seconds, it disappears from the receiver’s inbox. Kids and teenagers have a false sense of privacy when it comes to this app. Problem is…nothing is “deleted” in cyberspace. It goes somewhere and if they are sexting or sending inappropriate photos, the legal ramifications can destroy their future.

KiK Messenger

Even though this app is rated for people 17 and over, the 11-15 year olds are the ones using it the most. Teenagers are moving away from Facebook where their parents can view what they say. Instead, they take to group text messages or messaging services like Kik to hold conversations with their friends. With Kik Messenger, the kids don’t need a phone line. It’s all done over Wifi so anyone on an iPod Touch or iPad can sign up and use it as well. Kids tend to promote their Kik Messenger username on public social media outlets like Vine and Instagram where anyone (including a pedophile) could start chatting with them. Make sure to check your child’s device for this app and if they are using it, monitor the conversations going on.


This app is definitely not for kids or anyone under 18. It’s a video chat app that links you up with complete strangers to talk to one-on-one. Enough said, right? Delete it if you find it on your child’s device and have a serious conversation about the risks in talking to strangers over the internet/mobile device.


This app promotes users to share secrets, gossip or feelings anonymously with the people around them. It shows your location but not your name.  It’s an app the kids just don’t need.


I saved the best (worst!) for last. Ask.fm. It can be used through the app or online through their website. It’s a question and answer format that tweens and teens are using more and more. It is being used more and more for cyberbullying. Unfortunately, users can ask questions anonymously which has caused bullying to occur. Content is not monitored. Find out if your child has an “ask.fm” profile or search for them yourself. You may be surprised. If you’re not worried about this app/website, I highly suggest reading this article on 10 frightening facts that all parents should know about Ask.fm:  http://www.chicagonow.com/tween-us/2013/10/facts-about-ask-fm-parents/

I know it’s tough to keep up and try and monitor what your kids are doing online and with their devices. You can’t ban them from every app or website out there but you can talk to them about it. Parents need to set boundaries and teach their children what is right and wrong in this ever changing digital world. It’s not going away so educate yourself and your children.

Smartphone Contract for My Teenage Son


My son just finished middle school last week. For his graduation and good grades, I’m getting him a smartphone. He’s had a cell phone (old school, flip phone) for a few years but hardly ever uses it. He’s also got an iPod Touch which he’s taken care of for several years. With him going in to high school, I figured it was time. I didn’t just hand him over a new phone. I wrapped up an empty box and said it was “coming soon” along with a smartphone contract that he must sign before I get him the phone. None of this was a surprise to him. He already knows these rules apply and we’ve been using these rules for years now. I just wanted it in writing and a reminder of what to expect.

For the contract, I searched online for other cell phone contracts for kids. I found a few I liked, combined them in to my own and added what I needed to. Below was the final product.


Dear SON,

Congratulations on finishing middle school! You will be the proud recipient of a new iPhone 5s (coming soon). I am so very proud of you not only for all the work this year but in the past as well. You have shown such care with your iPod Touch(es) and I expect the same care for your new iPhone as well.  Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well-rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone.

  1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you.
  2. YOU are responsible for any overage amount for going over the data plan.
  3. Your parents will always know the password.
  4. We can go through the contents of your phone at any time, with or without your knowledge. You agree to surrender your phone immediately, to any of us, if asked.
  5. You will not delete your texting history without permission, and you will fully cooperate in showing your parents the contents of your phone, including contacts, pictures, videos, text messages, etc.
  6. You will always respond to any of our  texts/calls, as soon as possible, in the given situation. You will not ignore our calls and texts.
  7. If the phone falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
  8. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay out of the crossfire.
  9. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
  10. Do not text, email, or say anything that you wouldn’t say in person with your parents listening. Censor yourself.
  11. Do not use your phone to take pictures or video of nudity, violence or other unlawful activity. If you ever receive inappropriate photos from a stranger OR someone that you do know, you will immediately tell one of your parents. And, you will NOT respond to any such message.
  12. You will not use your phone for malicious purposes, i.e. bullying, spreading rumors/gossip, etc, nor will you send text messages that are vulgar, obscene, or sexual in nature.  You must understand that such messages are both highly inappropriate and potentially illegal.
  13. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with any of us. If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably, one of your parents.
  14. Turn it off, silence it, and put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
  15. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.
  16. Do not download apps that are not age appropriate. You must ask permission before signing up for any social media accounts (like Instagram or Facebook).
  17. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO (fear of missing out).
  18. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Wonder without googling.
  19. You will obey all rules your school has regarding cell phones usage on school grounds.
  20. You understand that your phone may be taken away at ANY time for ANY reason that your parents see fit especially if you are not maintaining good grades, get in to trouble, fail to complete school assignments/homework or if you are disrespectful or disobedient.
  21. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

It is my hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.


______________________________________SON’s Signature

The Digital Footprint


Never has there been a better time to get involved with your child and social media then now. Our children are growing up fast and in this digital age, it’s important to make sure they are following rules and being careful what they put out there online. We are all building our “digital footprint” which is explained best by the website, cyber(smart:)

 “One of the great things about being online is the ability to share videos and photos with your friends and seeing their response. Everything you post online combines to make your digital footprint. Remember that what you share with your friends may also be viewed by people you don’t know. And once it’s online, it could be there forever. So think before you post.”

What can you do as a parent? Get involved. Find out who they are talking to, what they are posting. Talk to your child about their online presence. The internet is to be used, not abused. There are consequences for posting something inappropriate on the internet – from not getting in to college, not getting a job you wanted or even to being arrested.

Here are some “Rules of the Road for Kids” shared by Common Sense Media.

1. Guard your privacy. What people know about you is up to you.

2. Protect your reputation. Self-reflect before you self-reveal. What’s funny or edgy today could cost you tomorrow.

3. Nothing is private online. Anything you say or do can be copied, pasted, and sent to gazillions of people without your permission.

4. Assume everyone is watching. There’s a huge, vast audience out there. If someone is your friend’s friend, they can see everything.

5. Apply the Golden Rule. If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to someone else.

6. Choose wisely. Not all content is appropriate. You know what we mean.

7. Don’t hide. Using anonymity to cloak your actions doesn’t turn you into a trustworthy, responsible human being.

8. Think about what you see. Just because it’s online doesn’t make it true.

9. Be smart, be safe. Not everyone is who they say they are. But you know that.

It’s never too late to talk to your child, big or small, about the internet. It’s a tool that is out there and will only grow no matter how much you resist or ban your kids from using it. Get informed and then talk to your children about it. You’ll probably be surprised what they already are doing online and what they know.  On another day, I’ll share what I found out about my son’s online presence when I Googled his name. Two blogs! Just last week? I had to make him take down a picture and comment snarking on one of his teachers.

Other useful articles to read:


Image: “Internet Footprint” by ContentConnect