How to Have a Back to School Safety Review with Your Kids

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to review important back to school safety rules to help set the stage for a great and safe new year.

The beginning of the school year is a time to start new and refresh the old. As you prepare by buying school supplies and looking over new class schedules, use this time to refresh another important element of your child’s life — safety rules.

Review these important back to school safety rules to help set the stage for a great and safe new school year.

Social Media Safety

Only accept friend requests from people you know. When you accept requests from strangers, you can never be sure who they really are. People create fake profiles to target teens and younger users, so always ignore requests from people you don’t know.

Never meet someone you met online in real life. If you happen to meet someone online who you don’t know, never agree to meet them personally. This is one of the most dangerous situations created through social media. If someone repeatedly asks you to meet in person, tell an adult.

If you experience bullying online, tell an adult. If you are being bullied, do not respond as that can make things worse. Also, if you see someone else being bullied, don’t get directly involved. Instead, tell a trusted adult, parent, or teacher who can help resolve the problem.

Smartphone Safety

Don’t give your password to anyone. Even if a teacher or adult asks for your password, say no. Tell them you need your parent to be there if they want to access your phone.

Always think twice before sending a text or photo. If you don’t know if you should send something (or post it online), ask yourself how you would feel if the message were posted on the front page of the newspaper. If you would feel embarrassed or ashamed with your post going public, don’t share it. You never know what can happen to your content once you send it to someone else, so only share things you feel comfortable with the world seeing.

Walking and Driving Safety 

Do not look at your phone while walking near streets. When looking at your phone, you become unaware of your surroundings and are less likely to see a vehicle coming near you.

Never look at your phone while driving. Distracted driving is the number one cause of teen accidents. Put your phone in the backseat while driving and utilize the “#X It Can Wait” campaign to pause your text conversations when you get behind the wheel.

Related Post: Distracted Driving Causes More Accidents Than Ever Known

Obey the speed limit and practice safe driving. Limitations on speed are set for a reason. It is for your safety and for the safety of others on or near the road. Always adhere to speed restrictions to protect yourself and those around you.

As a parent, you are probably already using your phone to prepare for the new school. Over 75% of parents use their phone for back-to-school shopping to find coupons, compare deals, and find nearby stores.

But there is another way for parents to use their phones to prepare for the upcoming school year.

The MamaBear app, which is available for iPhones and Androids, provides parents with real-time updates when their child gets a new follower and posts a message through their social media accounts. It also uses GPS technology to send alerts when your child reaches their intended destination or goes over the speed limit while driving.

It is a Peace of Mind Parenting™ app that turns your smartphone into a tool to make the back-to-school season safer and less stressful for both parent and child.



Is Instagram Safe for Kids: A Guide for Concerned Parents

Very popular among teens, Instagram is a favorite photo sharing app for young people. But Is Instagram Safe for Kids? Find out in this guide for parents.

On average, 70 million photos are shared on Instagram per day.

With that level of sharing power and an active user base of more than 300 million, parents shouldn’t be surprised that their children and teens want in on the action.

Parents should expect that sooner or later their child will want to create a profile on the extremely popular photo-sharing app — if they aren’t on it already.

To help parents prepare, we have compiled a list of everything parents need to know before their child joins Instagram.

Is Instagram Safe for Kids?

Not exactly. And not without parental supervision and a good dose of discussion with your children.

As with most social media sites, Instagram includes hazards that come with a community primarily created by its users.

Users can have a negative, harmful, or dangerous experience as they may:

  • see racy photos
  • see nude photos (while not allowed, they frequently slip through and can be found via search)
  • receive too much exposure after sharing a photo
  • be easy to locate when they post photos with geo tagging (tags that show your location)
  • witness or experience bullying from other users
  • receive unwanted solicitations from strangers

Instagram can be a safe and fun app for teens if they know the best practices for keeping themselves out of harm’s way.

At What Age Can Kids Join Instagram?

According to policy, a person must be at least 13 years of age to join Instagram.

While there are many users under 13 who create accounts, Instagram is doing what it can to shut this down.

The app, owned by Facebook, has been known to shut down accounts by users they believe are not 13. One mom explained how she allowed her 11-year-old son to set up an account before realizing that it was in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which restricts websites to collect information from children under the age of 13.

Instagram notified him that his account was disabled until he could upload a picture of a government-issued ID to prove his age.

Are Profiles Public?

Yes and no.

By default, Instagram profiles are public. Many teens like their profiles to be public because they want to get a high number of followers. Users can set their profiles to private which allows only users that accept or “follow” to see their photos.

How Can I Protect My Child?

Understand the site yourself. Instagram provides an excellent resource of tips for parents.

Tell your teen set their profile to private. Teach your child how to responsibly control their visibility.

Teach your teen how to unfollow, block, and report users. Unfollowing a user means that you will no longer view posts from that user in your feed. Blocking a user means that the user can no longer search for or see your account. People aren’t notified when they are blocked. Reporting a user notifies Instagram that a user is violating their policies.

Explain when they should unfollow, block, or report a user. Review appropriate and inappropriate uses of Instagram with your teen so they know when they should unfollow or block another user and even notify an adult or report an account.

Review your teen’s postings. The only way to really know what your teen is doing on Instagram is to see it for yourself. While Instagram doesn’t offer a way for parents to review their child’s account, MamaBear does.

Related Post: The Hurtful Side of Social Media: Horrific Threats Via Instagram

With the MamaBear, the app for Peace of Mind Parenting™, parents can plug their teen’s Instagram login information into the app. Then parents will get notifications sent to their phone anytime their child uploads a new photo, gets a new follower, or uses inappropriate or flagged words.

This is an easy way to allow your child to enjoy the fun of Instagram while ensuring their safety. The free MamaBear app has versions for both parent and child and is available for both iPhone and Android devices.


Table Talk: A Conversation About the Dangers of Tracking a Lost Phone

Parents are becoming more aware of the dangers of technology, especially as it affects their children and family. They’re beginning to understand the risks of online bullying, inappropriate social media sharing, and digital strangers.

But most parents are probably much less aware of another lurking danger that, while usually frustrating to all involved, can seem innocent — a lost cell phone.

Talking to your teens about what they should do if they lose their cell phone may not sound like an important conversation, but teaching your teen the steps to take if they lose their phone could save their life.


You Can Use a Tracking App to Locate Your Phone

Many teens know how to locate a missing phone by using apps or tools. Some tracking apps are included in the software on a device such as:

There are also tracking apps that can be downloaded or installed on devices such as:

  • Prey
  • Lookout
  • Avast
  • AccuTracking

Parents need to have a conversation with their teen about how they should use these tools. They can use the tool to locate a missing phone. But identifying the location of their phone doesn’t mean they should attempt to retrieve it.

Only Retrieve Your Phone If It’s in a Known, Secure Location

A teen should attempt to retrieve their phone if — and only if — it is in a safe and known location.

Tracking apps may pinpoint a phone’s location at a friend’s house or area of the house. In that case, it is safe to retrieve the phone.

But if the phone is at any sort of unknown address or public location, you should never attempt to retrieve the phone.

Never Retrieve a Phone from an Unknown Location


While it may seem tempting to go after a phone once you know its location, it’s potentially very unsafe. You never know who may have your phone, what they are willing to do to keep it, or if they have it to lure a child to them.

After using a tracking app to find his missing phone, 18-year-old Brampton, Ontario native, Jeremy Cook decided to attempt to retrieve the phone. He and a family member drove to the location of the phone where they came upon a car of three men.

What happened next according to a report by CBC News in Toronto is a tragedy that could have been easily avoided.

As Cook tried to retrieve his phone from the men in the car, the car began to pull away. Cook grabbed the driver’s door and was then shot.

Cook died at the scene.

Report the Missing Phone and Location to the Local Police

Tracking a missing phone can lead you to an extremely dangerous situation.

If you locate a missing phone using a tracking app, do not attempt to retrieve it yourself if you don’t know the address. Instead, call the local authorities for assistance.

Had Cook reported the missing phone to authorities instead of attempting to retrieve it on his own, things could have ended very differently.

While deaths related to tracking phones are relatively few, there is still a very real possibility that a teen (or adult) could encounter a hostile situation while trying to recover their missing phone.

No one should attempt to recover their phone on their own, and parents need to make sure that point is clear to their teens, who may not understand the real danger of tracking their phone.

Technology has many dangers, but many of those dangers can be avoided with the right tools and parent-child communication.

For help with managing the dangers of technology, parents can use MamaBear, the app for Peace of Mind Parenting™. Available for iPhones and Androids, this free app provides parents and teens with tools that connect and protect them through messaging, social media, and GPS location technology.

The Risk of Missing Teens May Increase During Summer Break

The one word that probably comes to mind for a teen thinking about summer is… freedom.

Summer is the time when strict school schedules fade away, the days get longer, and the sense of liberty feels the largest.

While it is a great feeling for teens, it can be nerve-wracking feeling for parents — and for good reason.

The FBI’s National Crime Information Center, also called NCIC reports that there were over 460,000 missing children reported in 2014, and some officials worry that the number of missing teens can rise during the summer months.

mamabear app



Scheduling Problems

During the school year, teens are wrapped up in a tight, consistent schedule for most of their days and weeks. Parents can use a school schedule to know when and where their children should be.

But in the summer, teens — especially teens that may have their own vehicles or modes of transportation — aren’t as easy to keep track of. When a teen has an inconsistent schedule, it can be difficult for parents to track their whereabouts at all time.

Related Post: 5 Benefits of Using MamaBear to Monitor Teen Driving 

Sneaking Out

You may think you know where your teen is at all times. But are you really sure they are in their room watching TV or  sleeping?

In the summer, sneaking out into the warm night to hook up with friends can be exciting for teens so parents need to be extra vigilant about securing their house to know if their child slips out during the night.

Running Away

Parents also need to be extra aware of their teen’s whereabouts if they are going through a tough time. Teens are more likely to run away when experiencing a stressful situation.

According to, teens are more likely to run away if there is a dispute with their parents, fear of punishment for doing something wrong, or substance abuse problem.

Call Authorities Right Away If Your Teen Is Missing

If you can’t locate your teen, you do not need to wait 24 hours to contact local authorities.

In an interview with the KTAR New in Phoenix, Glendale Police Sgt. Jay O’Neill advised, “There’s a myth that there has to be a waiting period, 24 hours, or whatever it is. There’s no waiting period. We take missing children and other people that are at risk very seriously and so we would encourage people to immediately local law enforcement.”

Stop Your Teen From Being a Statistic

Communicate: Communication is key. Always talk to your teen before they leave the house. Find out where they are going, who they will be with, and what time they will be home.

Give Them Options: Teens are more likely to run away from home after a fight with their parents. If you and your child are having a rough time getting along, consider letting them stay at the house of a close relative, such as a grandparent. That way, the teen won’t feel like they need to run away to get space.

Keep an Eye on Their Social Media: Parents can learn a lot about their teens by checking in on their social media accounts. Use social media to monitor your teen’s plans and online friends. Pay close attention to any conversations about making plans to meet in person — especially if it is a stranger.

To extend the lines of communication between you and your child, you can use MamaBear, the app for Peace of Mind Parenting™. The free app, available for iPhones and Androids, gives parents tools to monitor the location of their child using GPS and sync up with their social media accounts.

With MamaBear, you and your teen can get back to enjoying a safe and free summer!