GetNetWise is proud to contribute content to the “First-Ever Online Safety & Security Education App Available on Smartphone Platform.” It was developed by GNW’s parent, Internet Education Foundation, along with Google and Verizon and the content is contributed by three of the other premier online safety education organizations in the world — Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely.org, OnGuardOnline.gov. This innovative app makes it easy for consumers and families to keep up with mobile and online privacy, safety, and security issues using their Android smartphone or tablet.
Archive for the ‘Kids’ Safety’ Category
ConnectSafely.org, in partnership with the iKeepSafe Coalition, has announced today their new publication, A Parent’s Guide to Facebook. This new resource for “parents, educators, and everybody looking for the basics on the world’s most popular social networking site – what it is, why young people use it, how to turn it into a great parenting tool, and how to optimize its privacy settings for teens.” The guide is available for download in PDF format and features “hands-on, step-by-step instructions and illustrations, as well as parenting points on safety, privacy, and reputation protection. It covers both cellphone- and computer-based use of Facebook and the site’s newest features, including Places, Groups, and the latest privacy updates.” ConnectSafely.org and iKeepSafe are both partners of the GetNetWise initiative.
Today Microsoft just launch their much-anticipated Kinect for Xbox 360 along with new Family Safety Settings. If you’re not familiar with the Xbox Kinect, you’ll be amazed after watching the video on the Xbox site. Last month GetNetWise Advisory Board members were invited to an advanced demo for Kinect. Later we received an extremely professional briefing by Microsoft’s top safety and security executives. In short, Kinect is not only amazing, it also takes into account a myriad set of privacy and safety issues so that it is as family safe as possible. In David Pogue’s NY Times review he writes “The Kinect’s astonishing technology creates a completely new activity that’s social, age-spanning and even athletic.”
At GetNetWise.org we were also pleased to see that Microsoft has updated its already robust family safety settings to accompany the Kinect launch. Below is a list of new family safe features provided by Microsoft executives.
New Family Settings include:
- Intelligent default settings for children, teens and adults. When Console Safety is turned “On,” Xbox automatically assigns default privacy and activity settings for each Xbox LIVE member, based on age. For example, for children under 13, the default settings include blocking profile sharing and text, voice and video chat, and turning on Family Programming. These settings can be individually customized by parents.
- Video Kinect. Allows users to video chat over Xbox LIVE with friends and family. Family Settings automatically block this feature for Child profiles, but parents and caregivers can customize whether (and with whom) their children can video chat.
- Kinect Share. Enables users to share pictures captured during Kinect games like “Kinect Adventures!” on social media pages like Facebook. Kinect Share is automatically blocked for Child profiles but parents can decide to allow this feature for any profile.
- Family Programming. When turned on, Family Programming prevents the display of mature content on the dashboard and highlights family-friendly entertainment.
- Game Title Exceptions. Parents have the ability to allow their family members to play specific games with content ratings above the console’s designated maximum if they deem the title appropriate.
“Where are you?” That’s the way the vast majority of mobile calls and texts start — and it’s the question parents always ask of their t(w)eens. Parents have a frenetic need to always know “where” their children are. Unlike the era before the mobile phone parents now have a better sense of where their children are. Recent studies by Pew Internet & American Life Project show that the supermajority of teens have mobile phones.
Many parents simply call their children and ask them where they are. While teens use mobile phones, they seldom use them to speak. Asking a teen to “answer” or pick up a call may be a tall order. You will need to learn how to text “where R U?” if you want a more prompt response.
Some wireless carriers offer parents GPS location tracking services for their children’s phones. Now, smartphones contain a growing array of Apps that can be used by parents to quickly locate their children.
A really interesting and easy App that parents can use is called Glympse (available on iPhone, Android and Windows 7). Glympse is an App that allows t(w)eens to quickly send to their parents a glympse of where they are on a map. Unlike other location tracking tools, Glympse allows users to send a short duration peak at where they are. After the specified period of time is over the other person can no longer view the location of the user — it simply times out. We think this is a very effective privacy feature. Check out the “What is Glympse” page for a helpful video.
Of course there are some caveats. Keep in mind that parents should use tools like Glympse responsibly and realize that they are not foolproof. Parents should explain to their children why they want them to check in with their location (who knows, kids may rather send a Glympse than a text message or, heaven forbid, actually talk on the phone). Further, never ask your teen to initiate a Glympse or text while they are driving a car. And lastly, use this conversation as an opportunity to talk to your children about your concerns with their sharing their location information with people they don’t know or don’t trust. We are generally concerned with the amount of uninformed location sharing that is being done on social networking sites and mobile phones.
Are Teens Broadcasting Their Mobile Location on Facebook? Well, yes. Should parents be overly concerned? Not that much more concerned than having their teens use Facebook at all. Let’s back up. Over a month ago Facebook launched “Places,” a service where people can use their GPS mobile phones to “check in” to locations such as restaurants, concert halls, and schools. Once checked in, Facebook notifies other Facebook users that John Doe just checked in to “Potbelly Sandwich.”
Obviously, those of us in the online safety community are deeply, deeply concerned about nefarious use of a child’s physical location. Frankly, the thought is terrifying. Thus parents and social networking companies need to take the distribution of kids’ mobile location very seriously.
Now, for teen users (those under 18 yeas old) Facebook only allows their “Friends” to see the places they have checked into. Even if the teen foolishly changes their privacy settings to allow “Everyone” to see their information, Facebook automatically prohibits anyone but the teen’s friend from seeing their mobile location in the physical world. This is a positive privacy and safety measure by Facebook. However, this auto feature does not exist for those over the age of 17 who set their profile to “Everyone”
Of course, the teen’s safety and privacy really hinges on whether they trust those in her “Friends” list. As a general rule, parents should talk to teens about limiting their Facebook “Friends” list to only those they know and trust. If they don’t, none of their information is safe — especially their physical location.
Google Consolidates Family Safety Tips and Tools In The New Family Safety Center
Today Google launched its new Family Safety Center — a one stop shop for great Google tips and tools for staying safe online. It’s featured at Google.com/familysafety/. The Family Safety Center interface is typical of Google’s other products and services — it’s clean and easy-to-navigate. The Center presents family safety resources for using the Google ecosystem of products and services such as Safe Searching (including Mobile) and YouTube family safety. It also provides great advice on how you can help everyone’s safety online by reporting abuse.
If your family uses lots of Google services like search, YouTube and Picassa, you can find instructions and videos on how to use these products more safely. The safe search information shows you how to prevent sexually explicit search results — and make that setting permanent. You can also learn how to make YouTube searches safer for kids.
See More at Google’s Blog post
Parents know that kids are logging on earlier than ever – children as young as five might have an account on the family computer or on sites like Club Penguin or Webkinz, with their own username and password. Signing up for their first account is a great time to talk to you child about how to keep their information and identity private. While there might be little real security risk for a young child using these services under supervision, it’s important to start building lifelong smart security habits early.
The most basic ground rule is this: NEVER share your password with anyone except your parents. Password sharing with friends and peers is a surprisingly common practice amongst youth. A 2001 study from Pew Internet found that 22% of youth 12-17 who use email or IM have shared a password with others. Often this is seen as a sign of trust between friends and significant others. But sharing passwords put kids at risk for being impersonated online, having their personal information compromised, or being a target of cyberbullying. Sharing passwords makes children more vulnerable to online harassment, as kids will sometimes exploit access to each other’s accounts as a tool for humiliating or damaging the reputation of the target if a friendship takes a turn for the worse.
Make sure your child knows how to protect their online identity. Even young children can understand these password security basics:
- Passwords are secret and shouldn’t ever be shared with anyone.
- Choose a password that’s hard for others to guess, using a mix of letters, symbols and numbers.
- Don’t write your passwords down—make sure it’s something you can easily remember.
For more password safety tips for kids, check out http://www.connectsafely.org/Safety-Tips/tips-to-create-and-manage-strong-passwords.html.
Relative to the iPhone the Android app phone is spanking new. The 20,000 or so apps for Android developed so far for Android phones are dwarfed by the number of iPhone apps — 120,000 and counting. In addition to all the fun and clever apps written for the iPhone, there are many security and safety apps written for the platform as well. Whether you want to block porn for your 12 year old or whether you want to remotely wipe clean your data from a lost iPhone, well, there’s an iPhone app for that. Now that more and more Android devices are being sold more and more developers are writing for the platform. That means that you will start seeing similar security and safety apps for the Android. The New York Times’ Gadgetwise (no relation to GetNetWise) blogged today about a new security app for the Android in a piece titled “App of the Week: Lock Up Your Android.” Gadgetwise features an app from WaveSecure, “a free app for Android lets you use any computer to lock down your lost phone, erase the disc, locate it and restore much of the phone’s contents if it is recovered.”
No doubt with more time on the market we will see even more great safety and security apps written for Android. Now if I could just get a porn blocker for my Droid.
Amanda Lenhart from Pew Internet & American Life Project just published a new report on teen sexting, which the report describes as sending “sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text messaging.” Ms. Lenhart is one of the nation’s leading researchers on youth online behavior. The report differs in some ways from last month’s MTV/Associate Press “Thin Line” study that included research on sexting. Certainly Pew’s research is more rigorous and nuanced. While the MTV study stated that 10 percent of teens had “shared a naked picture of themselves” Pew researches found that actually half that — only four percent — had shared nude photos of themselves.
Previous studies often get misquoted to give the impression that upwards of 25 percent to 30 percent of teens have sent naked pictures of themselves. The new Pew data very specifically states that the number is much, much lower. Of course the cascading effect — meaning the broader distribution of the naked image — can blossom to a much higher percentage.
Another interesting aspect of the Pew study is their acknowledgment that teens sometimes view sexting as a form of “relationship currency.” What is not commonly talked about outside of academic circles is the teen dynamics with relation to sexting are very complex. We as parents have a pretty black and white view of sexting (i.e. DON’T DO IT!). Yet the social pressures and coping mechanisms that result in sexting are not very well understood — certainly not by us as parents. We at GetNetWise applaud Ms. Lenhart for addressing this controversial aspect of the issue.
Of course, we encourage you to read our earlier blog post called “Practical Advice and Dialogue on Sexting” for help.
Last year we urged parents to help their kids set their privacy settings in whatever social networking service they used (See the How-To Video Tutorials here). We urged kids to turn the privacy settings to “Friends Only.” Well, things change really quickly on the Internet and Facebook has changed how users can access their privacy settings and even the settings themselves. So, still take our advice about changing your kids’ settings to “friends only” but note that the path to making privacy changes has changed. To get to your Facebook privacy settings simply select in the top right hand corner next to your profile name “Settings” and pull down the menu and select “Privacy Settings.” In our dated How To Video Tutorial “Privacy” was right up at the top, now you just need to take that extra step and select “Settings.” See photo here.
But it really is worth noting that Facebook has expanded the category of what is known as “Personally Available Information.” This is information that users cannot restrict from others. It used to be that in order to find each other on a “social network” you could see each other’s name, networks and fan listings. Now Facebook has expanded that list to include things like a user’s city, gender, photograph, the profile pages you are a fan of, and friends list. So, be aware that you really can’t control whether others see that information about you or your children.
What to do? We recommend taking a different look at what info your teen is sharing by taking a step back. First, log out of Facebook and search for your teen’s name on Facebook through Facebook search and other Web search engines. Take a look and see what you find. Then log in to Facebook as a non-friend of your teen and search for her name and see what information about her you can find. Make notes on what you can see and what you can’t. Third, and most important, talk with your teen about what you have found. Actually, we recommend performing the above search process together.
If changes are needed go into the “Privacy Settings” and make changes. If you and your teen don’t like how much information about her and her friends must be shared as “Personally Available Information,” write to Facebook.