Many youth advocates say that the onus of online accountability and the safety of children is the responsibility of social media websites.
Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the number of stories associating the use of social media to cyber bullying linking photos, videos, and online posts into major events that parents are seemingly unaware of leading us to the increase of cases of teenage suicide with social media playing a primary role.
Parents struggle to help kids who are teased, harassed, and abused online by peers and Internet users in a chronic displays of high school drama, fueled by the perpetual clock of mobile connectivity.
We need to get a grip on ourselves as parents who raise children in a connected world, and recognize that it is not the responsibility of social media websites to raise our children. Kids will find a way to get online and the platforms will continue to shift with the trends of technology.
If we want major change, it will not come from laws or banning people from websites; it will come from parents, communities, and schools to engage in dialogue and education to raise children who have an understanding of digital citizenship and accountability for their online and offline actions, because accountability and respect still matter.
Parents: Facebook is not in the business of raising my child, nor should you expect Facebook to raise yours. It is not the responsibility of Twitter to make sure my child behaves well online -- it is my responsibility to make sure my child behaves in any environment, and when my child misbehaves, I trust that my network of friends, family, school staff, and my community will take the best steps possible to ensure my child is polite, caring and has empathy, informing me about the progress my child makes along the way.
If I have to do is put a credit card down next to the agreement, would I?
Visualize a teen signing up for Facebook and the following pops up on the screen:
THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER CHARGES, just accountability because we think that your parents should know when you are posting negative, hurtful, or illegal content and if you choose to do something negative, hurtful, or illegal, we would like to be able to put the onus of responsibility onto those who are responsible for you and your actions - having your parents verify your actions online makes any reporting faster and more precise and helps us identify who is using the account, from what computer and to help victims of online harassment and crime."
As a parent, would you enter that credit card information, essentially co-signing for your child and their actions?
Would social media companies give you the option to use your credit card or maybe the companies are aware that free is good business in the information world?
One measly cent to keep your kid safe and accountable on the Internet; you just have to be as equally accountable with sharing responsibility with other users to help protect your child from predators who hurt, harass and torment others online.
One problem, though: The people who hurt, harass and troll, that person might just be your child having a bit of fun online because it is just so easy to sign up without you or anyone else knowing.
Social media is free because we would most likely not pay for it if required. It does have a cost though, and we are seeing it with the lives of kids who are hurt everyday online and offline because of a post or picture that will not disappear from the Internet. Safe and smart social media use for kids starts with education, communication, and engaged parenting, not getting mad at Facebook.
On <a href="http://instagr.am/" target="_hplink">Instagram</a> (iPhone and Android, free), users take photos from their daily lives and have the option to apply a variety of filters to enhance or touch-up their images. Users then have the ability to share their images on various social network sites as well as Instagram's own social network. Users also have the ability to "like" other users' photos and share with their own friends. BEST FOR: The application is best for those wanting to share the daily images of their lives. As Instagram has grown in popularity, many users can share their photos on multiple social networks. It's a great way to share your latest craft project or vacation adventures with your family and friends. TIPS & TRICKS: Photos from Instagram don't have to stay in the online realm. Users now have the ability to easily turn their filtered photos into actual photos on canvas using CanvasPop or even into desk calendars with the app Calendargram (iPhone, free), which would make great gifts for all of your loved ones.
<a href="https://plus.google.com/" target="_hplink">Google+</a> is a social networking site that encompasses a variety of features, including Google Hangouts, an online spot that facilitates group chat and the "+1 button" that allows users to show your personal endorsement of an informative article or an interesting item. Google+ allows you to categorize your contacts into a variety of groups called circles. With circles, you can choose what groups can see what you post and what you share. If you want to talk about a family get-together, you can share it with your friends and family circle, but not your professional colleagues. BEST FOR: Google+ is ideal for those who want to share content-rich information. It has features for sharing personal documents and photos, articles and can connect users via text chat and video chat. The social media network also has over 40 games where you can connect with friends and share your scores with your different circles. TIPS & TRICKS: Google Docs has recently been integrated into Hangouts, the video chat feature of Google+. Now users can pull up their documents while using the video chat feature and you can even share your screen to make for a productive and basically face-to-face conference.
<a href="http://pinterest.com/" target="_hplink">Pinterest</a> is a virtual pin board where users can "pin" images on a variety of topics, such as home décor, recipes, and apparel. Pinterest users then create boards to house the images, so users may have one specific to anniversary planning, birthday parties, favorite recipes or quotes, for example. The cyber-version of "vision-boards," users have the opportunity to browse and share images. BEST FOR: If you're constantly surfing the web to collect ideas, it can be difficult to remember every site you visited or how to keep up with all of your bookmarks. With Pinterest, the "pinning" can be added to your internet browser easily and you can start collecting all of your favorite images. TIPS & TRICKS: Need some quick gift ideas for your grandchild's first birthday party or your son's promotion and not sure what you're looking for? Pinterest has segmented categories for price ranges in their gift section and you can quickly click on the image to take you to the product information and you can order right from your mobile device or computer.
<a href="https://twitter.com/" target="_hplink">Twitter</a> is an online, micro-blogging social network channel that allows users to share and read posts up to 140 characters. Users can follow friends, celebrities, news distributors, companies and other organizations to keep up with daily news, the "it" celebrity or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. BEST FOR: Twitter is a great way to quickly receive news and catch updates from your friends, family, favorite sports team or news outlet. You can create different lists to separate your personal friends from the entertainment world from breaking international news. TIPS & TRICKS: To help you create lists, Twitter has a suggestions feature that provides categories such as music, fashion, technology and government. With these suggestions, you can have a complete list to keep you up-to-date on these areas. Also remember, watch what you tweet, especially if your information is public. News and broadcast networks could feature you on their show if you interact with them online.
With "more than 10 billion visits per month and the Facebook user hitting the site an average of 68.7 times every month," according to <a href="http://thefinancialbrand.com/22917/facebook-youtube-twitter-linked-in-traffic-comparisons/" target="_hplink">The Financial Brand</a>, most people are familiar with the social networking site. A <a href="http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/general/socmedia.pdf" target="_hplink">recent study from AARP</a> amongst people age 50+ showed that 23% of those surveyed either used or frequently visited Facebook, which was by far the most popular social network amongst their age group. One thing to keep in mind is that Facebook has seen changes recently with Timeline, meaning users need to familiarize themselves with the different privacy policies that accompany the modifications. BEST FOR: To best use Facebook, remember to keep in mind what you want to share. Check your privacy settings and if you need help, remember that Geek Squad is available 24/7 online at geeksquad.com to help you navigate the changes. TIPS & TRICKS: Did you know you can now use Facebook to connect you and your friends through text message? If your Wi-Fi or internet connectivity is off, you can still contact your friends and family via Facebook. You can turn on text messaging so your contacts can use Facebook Messages to send you texts. Also, once you have activated text messaging through your Facebook account you can send a text to 32665 (FBOOK) and in the message, write msg and the name of the person you'd like to Facebook message and it will send to their inbox! For example: msg Joe Smith How are you?
<a href="http://www.linkedin.com/" target="_hplink">LinkedIn</a> is a social networking tool focused on professional networking and building business relationships. The tool can be used to network and has informational tabs that compile your personal industry's top news for the day for quick reference. BEST FOR: LinkedIn can be used to connect professionally and also as a supplement to the traditional resume and business card. You have the ability to expand and personalize your descriptions and skills that you sometimes leave off in hard copies. You even have the option of adding a video onto your LinkedIn profile to give you an extra boost in impressions. TIPS & TRICKS: Frequently check your LinkedIn to see what your contacts and colleagues are up to. It's a great way to stay connected professionally.
<strong>Watch who you "Friend" and "Follow."</strong> On many social media sites, people can request to follow or friend you. If you're not comfortable with strangers having access to your social media information, depending on the social media tool, you could have the option to allow them access to pre-approved sections of your profile. <strong>Privatize your profile.</strong> Geek Squad can show you how to take advantage of the privacy settings offered by social media sites. By marking your page as private, people have to request you as a friend or ask for your approval in order to "follow" you on Twitter or view your complete Facebook profile. Social media websites generally undergo changes a few times every year, and most of those facelifts affect privacy settings in some way - though users may not be directly alerted of those specific changes. If you notice changes on social-networking site homepages, it's a good idea to revisit your privacy settings, perform a quick internet search to learn more or ask a Geek Squad Agent to give you the scoop.
<strong>Beware of your posts!</strong> Always remember that any content you post on the internet will be there forever, for anyone to read, store and republish. Remember that this information is stored somewhere, likely in multiple places. <strong>Avoid sharing personal information.</strong> License plate numbers, house numbers or other addresses as well as specific names of schools, workplaces or towns should be not shared on the internet. Information can be used like pieces in a puzzle to paint a bigger picture of you. <strong>Always take a second look.</strong> Just because the screen says your friend John has sent you information doesn't mean John is actually the person who did. Scams often run rampant on social media sites, so beware of any unusual messages. For example, hackers disguise messages to your contacts claiming to need money after being robbed or having lost money in a foreign country. <strong>Trust your gut. </strong>If it doesn't "seem right" it probably isn't. Things free or too good to be true are just that. Social networking sites have been a breeding ground for fake antivirus software ads, so avoid any type of free antivirus offers.
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