Social Media, Bullying and What You Can Do to Help

Social Media, Bullying and What You Can Do to Help | MamaBear App

Statistics from DoSomething.org show that nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online and another 70% have seen bullying online. But with only one out of ten victims reporting this type of abuse to an adult, cyberbullying isn’t always an easy problem for parents to identify.

Parents must be proactive and prepared to protect their children from social media bullying.

Keep an Eye on What’s Going On

The best way to know what’s going on in your child’s social world is to see it for yourself.

  • Help your kids set up their accounts. Kids want to be independent and sooner or later, they are going to set up their own social media profiles. Instead of waiting for them to sign up, get involved early. Help them set up their accounts, and use that opportunity to tour the site together, set privacy settings and discuss the dangers as well as social etiquette. When you set up their profile, explain you need a copy of their password and username, not because you want to snoop, but because you want to keep them safe. It’s responsible parenting.

  • Make monitoring a habit. Being on the social site yourself and friending or following your children make your presence known as a form of monitoring but also providing a sense of security to your kids. Plus, it will keep you up-to-date on social sites so you are more educated on their trends and purposes.  Using third party services like MamaBear App can help save time filtering need to know information with customized word list to monitor with timely mobile notifications.

  • Put limitations on phone and computer use. Setting boundaries is important in all relationships.  Set limits on time and place for device use. Limit computer use to a central location where you can periodically pop in and see the screen. If your children have phones for games and emergencies, they don’t need their device with them 24/7. Here are some ideas for a cellphone contract that can guide you in creating these boundaries.

Related: Helping Your Teen be Safe on Social Media

Save the Evidence

If you happen to find an indication of bullying on your child’s social sites, make sure to save the evidence.

Many online sites make it easy to take down messages, so be sure to capture proof while you still can. This evidence might be vital in filing a complaint, so take a screenshot that includes the date and username of the bully.

Block and Report the Bully

Block and report any user that shows signs of bullying directly from your child’s account. You can also file a complaint separate from your child’s account. Many popular social sites also allow you to file a report even if you don’t have your own account.

Talk About It

Talk to your child about what happened. Discuss that bullying isn’t acceptable and reassure them that you are there to listen and answer any of their questions about the situation.

By planning ahead and properly addressing the problem, you are teaching your child how to protect themselves in the future. But as a parent it’s up to you to be proactive and make sure they stick to the plan.

Download the MamaBear Family Safety app, available for iPhones and Androids, to connect with your child’s social media accounts and ensure that they are engaging in a safe and healthy social media environment.

7 Smart Things You Must Know About Online Safety For Kids

The number of teens on Facebook has fallen by about 3 million in the last two years. Which social media sites are now trendy among our youth that you should know about? Here are seven smart things for parents to know about teen behavior on social media. | MamaBear App

The number of teens on Facebook has fallen by about 3 million in the last two years.  Which social media sites are now trendy among our youth that you should know about?  Here are seven smart things for parents to know about teen behavior on social media and online safety for kids.

1. The Risks of No Parental Supervision

It is estimated that about 80% of teens have the ability to hide their online activity from their parents worried about the natural consequence of access being taken away with unacceptable activity.  However, parenting experts argue that instead of punishment, a much more open and collaborative attitude will help share the risks and provide more opportunities to teach the basic safety skills of accessing the Internet.

2. Get Up to Date on the Trendy Sites

The number of incidents regarding cyberbullying and sexual harassment is on the increase. The likely reason is that photo sharing on Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and others has become so easy and popular.  The so-called ‘quick delete’ on Snapchat is not as secure as many people think. The Internet trolls and bullies have never had it so good.  For example, the Ask.fm site ( 80 million users), allows a teen to have a public profile page. It is not uncommon to find abusive questions there like “when are you going to commit suicide?”, for example! Aside from these, check your child’s devices for kik, whatsapp and any other app that doesn’t look familiar.  As always, open the dialogue and find out who they’re chatting with and why, which apps they use the most and then keep a close eye.

3. Vlogging is Cool

Some teens love blogging about their lives on video and this trend is known as ‘vlogging’. Obviously,YouTube and also Google Hangouts are the places to be. Ask to see any videos your children have  made and check to see that there is no personal information shared or inappropriate  content that could be reputation damaging or an invasion of privacy.  The good news is that there are lots of video tutorials from legitimate sources to help kids learn the right way to vlog.  Parents should not forget this fact.

Related: YouTube Parental Controls and What Every Parent Needs to Know

4. Cyberbullying Risks

Talk to your kids about the serious risks of cyberbullying and monitor it. It has been estimated by the Anti Bullying Alliance that about 30% of parents are not talking to their children about the risks of cyberbullying.  In addition to talking, use tools like MamaBear or be aware of the need to know risky content by filtering with keyword search and notifications. Many parents require their children to share their social media username and passwords.  We support and encourage this sharing of information.

5. Sexting

With the increase in the number of selfies and instant porn sites, the rise in sexting among teens is scary. Again, parents need to talk about the risks of leaving a ‘digital tattoo’.  The consequences can ruin your child’s reputation for years to come and subsequently affect getting into preferred colleges and potentially job acceptance.

Related: Taking Responsibility for Kids and Sexting

6. Texting is Trendy

Many parents worry that their teens are becoming digital zombies when they see them texting like crazy.  About a third of kids send less than 20 texts a day but roughly 20% are sending more than 200 texts daily!  There is good news though from the US Pew Research Center whose research shows that the texting teen is just as active socially in real life. Parents can insist that mealtimes are phone free in order to catch up and bond as a family. They can also keep an eye to make sure that their teens are not relying entirely on virtual friendships. If their best friend is no longer present, that could be a red flag.

7. It is not All Bad News

More good news comes from other research which indicates that teens are not necessarily less literate because of their frenetic digital participation. There are unlimited opportunities for kids to express themselves either in a video such as Becoming YouTube or in self publishing content. Some teens have claimed that they have become more socially adept and less timid because of social media.

Although our children face more risks with increased exposure and parents have more responsibility to teach and monitor safety, it’s a great part of their worlds today.  Acceptance with boundaries and accountability is our take.

Need help connecting with your kids and ensuring they are safe on social media sites? Try the MamaBear App for free and see how easy it is to connect with your family with just a few simple steps.

Download the free app for Android here.

Download the free app for iPhone here.

 

June is Internet Safety Month

June is Internet Safety Month, which is the perfect time to take a look at your family’s mobile and internet safety plan to make positive changes that will keep everyone in the family safe from cyberbullying, predators and even identity theft. We’ve compiled some tips any family can use this month and every month to keep their kids safe online and on their mobile devices.

  1. Have frequent conversations about safety. Keeping an open line of dialog with your children, no matter what age they are, is the most important thing any parent can do to keep their children safe in real life and on any device.
  2. Encourage them to stand up for what’s right. Being a leader and taking a stand against negative peer behavior is a hard, ongoing learning and life experience. If their friends want to prank or cyberbully a peer, give your kids the words to refuse to engage and help discourage their peers from cyberbullying.
  3. Teach your kids how to report inappropriate behavior. If they witness cyberbullying or comments that are hurtful, reassure telling an adult who can intervene. If they hear of a peer who is experiencing inappropriately sexual behavior from an adult, that behavior can be reported via the website http://www.missingkids.com/cybertipline. According to The CyberTipline® they have “received more than 2.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation between 1998 and March 2014.”
  4. Connect with local schools and their resources. Every year schools devote more resources to internet safety. Learn your school’s internet safety policies, make sure your children are aware of and follow those policies. Talk to teachers and school administrators when you have any concerns about students’ behaviors inside and outside of school.
  5. Install a family safety app like MamaBear. Stay in the know about their social media activity by installing a family safety app like MamaBear. MamaBear allows you to monitor activity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In addition you can stay connected with information about location and driving speed. This provides peace of mind to parents and gives kids an opportunity to stretch boundaries.
  6. Encourage your kids to adopt practices that help them avoid identity theft. Tell them to always log out of a computer in public places, always be aware of where their mobile devices are (and not give them to friends). Caution against giving out any personal information online (name, date of birth, phone, address, etc.) This website offers advice for how to keep one’s personal information safe online.

Knowledge is power. Stay informed. Read articles outlining current trends in internet safety. Follow blogs like this one, which are constantly reviewing internet safety trends and sharing them with our fans. Then, share that information with your children. They may not seem like they are listening, but that information will sink in and will help them learn how to keep themselves safe online.

The Dangers of Messaging Apps

dangers messaging app

In a recent MamaBear Blog post, we identified some of the top messaging apps. Most parents are aware of the prominence of social messaging apps and the way they have captivated tweens. While messaging apps can be harmless in most cases, it is important for parents to not only stay in the know about which apps are being used but also to monitor them as closely as possible to ensure their children’s safety.

The Dangers of Messaging Apps

While kids may simply be using messaging apps like Kik and SnapChat to share trivial messages and a range of goofy emoticons with their school friends, there are some hidden dangers associated with messaging app use that would strike fear into the heart of any parent.

According to this Fox 4 article, in one week the app Kik was linked to three serious crimes involving teen victims in Southwest Florida. The apps are being used by predators to prey on young victims as well as by kids engaging in sexting and cyberbullying.

See Also: Taking Responsibility for Kids and Sexting

Designed for Young Adults, Usurped by Tweens

Parents should take note. Most kids who have smartphones use these apps on a daily basis and throughout the day and night. Originally designed for much older youths, messaging and social media apps have been usurped by young kids who lack the maturity to understand how much damage they can do.

See this article for an interesting perspective on what happens when apps designed for more mature college students fall into the hands of tweens:

See Also: Yik Yak App Makers Do the Right Thing

More alarming is the way different social apps are being used together by young kids in dangerous ways. For example, one blogger describes how the photo sharing social network Instagram and the messaging app Kik were used together to allow a pedophile to target a young teenager.

Safety Measures

What can parents do?

First, talk to your kids. Without taking too prying of a tone, ask them questions about the apps they use most. Try to make the questions positive, rather than negative, in order to get a foot in the door with kids reluctant to share. What are their favorite messaging apps? Who do they like to talk to? Have they made any new friends? Asking questions but keeping the dialog light and conversational can build trust and help kids to be more open to sharing with their parents.

Second, install a family safety app like MamaBear on all family members’ phones so that you can monitor your kids’ behavior on social media like Instagram and Twitter. This way you will know who they are making friends with and be able to keep tabs on any troublesome behaviors.

Third, remind your children to take their own safety seriously. They should be aware of the kinds of things that really do happen with messaging apps and the types of predators who lurk behind deceiving screen names and profile images. It is important for the whole family – parents and children alike – to stay in the know about what these apps should be used for and what can make them go terribly, terribly wrong.