13 Reasons Why You Need To Check Your Child’s Device!

The current hot topic through the media is the appropriateness or otherwise of the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why”. Now you might wonder what this has to do with cyber safety so I will highlight the angle I’m coming from upfront…. If your child has a smart phone and your home has a Netflix account, it is exceptionally easy for your child to be accessing age inappropriate content without your knowledge. Trust me, they do and will, because with all the media surrounding “13 Reasons Why” and all the kids talking about it, there is a natural curiosity factor amongst tweens and teens to find out what all the hype is about.

Just in case you haven’t heard about “13 Reasons Why”— it is the Netflix teen soap opera based on a novel, about a teen girl who commits suicide, leaving behind a box of cassette tapes explaining why she did it and these cassette tapes make up the somewhat disturbing and graphic story. It has been available to stream on Netflix since March 31, but only in the last few weeks has the mass media decided to make comment about the appropriateness or otherwise of the show.

I’m not about to tell you that your teenager should not be watching the show, that’s for you to decide.  However, I am going to highlight that it is rated MA15+ for numerous reasons, which therefore means that your 10 year old daughter should not be obsessing over it as I know many are!  Nor should your 15 year old son be secretly viewing it in his bed at night and then having issues sleeping because he is so freaked out.

On the other hand, your 16-year-old daughter might find the show educational but confronting on some level.  So I would therefore suggest that it is the sort of show to be watched when age appropriate as per the rating, with an adult!  Then parents would be wise to use it as a conversation opener of a difficult topic to raise with your teenage kids…depression, suicide and the many issues they face sometimes in silence as they struggle through this challenging and sometime difficult age.

From a cyber safety perspective, my advice to parents is that with all the hype surrounding “13 Reasons Why”, it’s a good time to check the settings on your child’s device. Have you set up the parental restrictions on their iPhone to exclude age inappropriate videos, music and apps? This is very easy to do within the device settings. Simply go to Settings>General>Restrictions, you will then need to enter a password which your child should not be familiar with (and that you need to remember to adjust settings as they mature). Then you can simply enable and disable apps and controls as you see fit. 

Alternatively, you can set up Parental Controls for your entire Netflix account by adding a PIN code that only the adults know or set up a profile for your child and enable only age appropriate shows.

If you or someone you know if having suicidal thoughts, call Lifeline in Australia on 13 11 14.

 Cyber Mum Australia

http://www.cybermumaus.com

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Giving Your Kids a Way Out – Using Technology For Good

There has been much discussion in the media of late about giving our kids a lifeline that they are free to use anytime! By a lifeline I’m talking about a means of communication that tells you they need out of situation. It could be they have arrived at a party and have realised it’s not their scene. Or for younger children they could be having a sleepover at the friends and not feel comfortable. Whatever the situation your child needs a way out without losing face, without feeling embarrassed, without losing their social standing.

Setting up a universal sign or language in your family is a brilliant safety net and not only builds trust and a bond with your kids but gives you the parent’s reassurance.So in our family we have now adopted the much publicised X –Plan (By Bert Fulks and as seen on The Today Show, Good Housekeeping, HerViewFromHome, ScaryMommy, The Huffington Post, Mamamia, MomsEveryday, and numerous social and news media outlets). This is a simple but powerful tool that is a lifeline for our kids to use at any anytime, here’s how it works:

Let’s say my eldest is invited to party, we agree she can go but have some reservations about the level of supervision and the fact they there may be some older kids attending. We remind her that if anything at the party makes her uncomfortable all she has to do is text the letter “X” to any of us (me her mother, her father, her grandparents etc). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow, within minutes the recipient calls her phone and when she answers the conversation goes like this:

“Hi?”

“Sweetheart, something’s come up and I have to come and get you right now.”

“What happened?”

“I’ll let you when I get there. Be ready to leave in ten minutes. I’m on my way.”

At that point my daughter tells her friends that something’s happened at home and that someone is coming to get her and she has to leave.

In short my daughter now as a way out; at the same time there’s no pressure on her to open herself up to any social ridicule. She has the freedom to protect herself while continuing to grow and learn to navigate her world.

This is one of the most loving things you can give your children. It offers them a sense of security and confidence in a world that tends to beat our young people into submission. There is however, one critical component to the X-Plan; once your child has been extracted from the situation the agreement is your child can tell you as much or as little as they want….it has to be completely up to them. The X-Plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgements and ask no questions. This can be a hard thing for some parents (admit it, some of us are complete control-freaks); but I promise it might not only save them, but it will go a long way in building trust between you and your child.

The only exception to the above rule is that if someone is in danger your child has a moral obligation to speak up for their protection no matter what it may cost them personally.

 I urge you to use some form of X-Plan in your home. If you honour it, your kids will thank you for it. You never know when something so simple could be the difference between your kids laughing with you at the dinner table or spending six months in a recovery centre or something far worse.

 Cyber Mum Australia

 Source: Sections of this article were originally published at http://www.bertfulks.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning as Teen Dating App grows in popularity!

If you thought Snapchat was occupying the online time of your teenager then think again or at least double check! Why? Well the teen dating App called “Yellow” where you’re teen “Makes New Friends” is growing in popularity amongst Australian school-aged teenagers with more than 7 million users now making new friends daily.

The App is popular as it connects with both Instagram and which means with “Yellow” any matches your teen makes they can automatically add this to their Snapchat contact list. So with geolocation functionality on your teen is therefore potentially opening their front door to strangers. Anyone can set up a “Yellow” account as there is no verification required, users simply need an email address, a phone number and a profile picture.

The App is being referred to as the Tinder for young people as it features to the same format of viewing photos of potential friends and then swiping left or right if you like the look on the person. Not only is it encouraging our teens to be more superficial and judge people by what they look like but it appears the App is notorious for large volumes of nudie pics being sent amongst so called friends.

To date in there have been multiple cases of child grooming via this App reported in Australia including children being pressured to send nude photographs and being coerced into explicit sexual conversation while using the App. Interestingly if you were to go to the App Store or Google Play and review the App this is what you would find:

“More than 7 million users are making new friends everyday on Yellow! Join the community right now.

 Yellow is an easy and free way to make new friends and chat with them.

1) SWIPE – Swipe right to like and left to pass.

2) NEW FRIEND – If it’s a mutual like, you get an new friend.

3) FRIENDS – All your Yellow Friends are here 🙂

4) CHAT – Have a great conversation with your new friend.

Rated 12+ for the following: Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity, Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humour, Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes, Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References.”

Despite this rating most parents are unaware that our teens are probably already using the App and we have no idea or no way of controlling unless which Apps are in use and which are not, unless of course you have Family Zone or a similar online protection system in place.  

So as always I strongly recommend talking to your kids about the potential danger of this sort of App whether they are currently using “Yellow” or not. Talk about why they feel there is a need for it in their life, about how easy it is for anyone including paedophiles to use it and impersonate another person, the potential of inappropriate content and how easily kids are being coerced into sending illegal nudie pics.  

It’s also worth understanding that as the explosion of the use of Emoji’s in text chatting continues to grow I also think it’s worth ensuring your kids realise that all may not be what it seems when getting messages from strangers or supposed friends.  

These days Emoji’s make up a huge component of the ‘conversation’. For example the eggplant, peach, purple devil and surprised cat do not mean what you think they mean and the list goes on. So talking about how to respond to these potentially inappropriate requests may be something your child needs some help with.

Good luck!

Cyber Mum Australia 

Is your kid a Cyberbully?

A lot has changed since we were children.  As a society it appears our kids have moved on from Barbie and Lego to iPads, iPhones and Playstations and whilst this has brought with it so many advantages, the online dangers still continue to catch parents off guard.

One key area parents and educators need to focus on is the prevalence of Cyberbullying.  Despite increased national awareness on the subject, the devastating reality is that research is showing there has been little improvement when it comes to our kids and their digital aggression.

Cyberbullying is the use of information technology to repeatedly harm or harass other people in a deliberate manner.

In previous columns I’ve talked about exclusionary bullying but following recent tradgic events I think it’s time parents had a look at the raw statistics of the impacts that cyberbullying can and is having on our youth.  I think it’s important to understand just how big a problem our kids are facing because for every victim there is a child out there intentionally hurting another child.

I’m the first to say that the term bullying is at times used far too loosely and that there are simply just mean and bitchy kids out there, doing mean and bitchy things.  However, our role as parents is to work out when the problems our kids are encountering need to be acted upon.

These statistics might help you understand that cyber bullying is real and your child may surprisingly not be the victim, these figures might also help you understand that sometimes you do need to take action.

  •  87 percent of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying
  • Close to 34 percent of students acknowledge that they have experienced cyberbullying
  • 15 percent of surveyed students admit to cyberbullying others
  • 24 percent of our sons and daughters report that they do not know what to do if they were harassed online
  • 39 percent of our children do not enable their privacy settings on social media
  • 19 percent of cyberbullying often entails the spreading of rumours
  • Nearly 13 percent of victimised children experience hurtful comments
  • 72 percent of children report they are cyberbullied because of their looks
  • 26 percent of victims are chosen due to their race or religion
  • 22 percent of harassed children feel that their sexuality was the cause of the bullying
  • Girls (41 percent) are more likely to experience cyberbullying at some point in their life compared to boys (28 percent)
  • Girls who cyberbully tend to post mean online comments
  • Girls tend to favour social media outlets like Snapchat or Instagram while boys often interact over gaming consoles
  • Male cyberbullies often post hurtful photos or videos

Parents, educators and other school officials need to recognise signs of cyberbullying, and we must all make a more concerted effort to help cyberbully victims.

The cyber bullying victim is not going to declare “I am a cyberbully victim”, instead they are going to assume no one understands them and no one is here to help them and potentially resort to self harm or even suicide.

It is up to parents and educators to check in on our kids, monitor their online behaviour, discuss the language and choice of words being used when chatting online.

We need to remind our kids that social media is not there for the purpose of talking about others and most importantly we need to instil in our kids that we will listen.  That we do understand what cyber bullying means and that we are prepared to take action before it gets bad.

For information on what to do if you or your child encounters cyber bullying I recommend going to www.esafety.gov.au where you can not only report the issues but there are more helpful tips on what to do.

Thanks for reading!
Cyber Mum Australia

What are your teenagers up to after lights out?

As end of year exams hit I think it’s worth parents taking the time to talk with their teenagers and do a reality check of what is really going on after lights out?

I get that it can be hard to police device use 24/7, unless you are using cyber safety solution like Family Zone to assist technology management in your home.

However, perhaps these statistics from a recent survey carried out by Digital Awareness UK and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, might convince you to at least give the topic an airing in your home.

A survey of 2,750 11 to 18 year olds found (45%) almost half, of young people are checking their mobile phones after they have gone to bed.

In addition one in ten teens admitted to checking their mobile phones for notification at least 10 times a night.

Of the 45% of survey respondents who check their phones when they should be sleeping, almost all (94%) are on social media – with a tenth saying they would feel stressed about missing out if they did not check their device before going to sleep.

Of this group, 75% are listening to music and over half (57%) are watching films.

A third (32%) of these youngsters say their parents are not aware that they check their mobile device after going to bed.

The scary part is the kids actually know their night time habits are having a negative impact on their life, with 68% of all respondents saying using their mobile devices at night affects their school work.

A quarter say they feel tired during the day because of how often they use their mobile device at night and almost half (42%) keep their phone next to their bed at night.

With mobile phone and device usage in Australia reaching unprecedented highs with in excess of 15.3 million Australians owning a smart phone and 12 million owning a tablet device, this is not an issue that we as parents can ignore.

So what do we do about it? Firstly I strongly encourage that you take the time to check in with your kids and have an open and frank conversation about these statistics and the dangers these habits present.

In addition the tips from the experts recommend that the most important rules or habits to form and encourage in your home with your teenager include:-

• Refraining from using screens 90 minutes before bedtime

• Turning off notifications

• Activating “do not disturb”, “aeroplane mode” or mute settings or turning the phone off altogether if you can

• Reduce blue light exposure, which can disrupt sleep. For example, most Apple devices have the “night shift mode”, which changes the colour temperature of your device to reduce exposure

• Try and break the habit of unprompted device checking

• Ensure your kids keep their phone in a location that prevents you from seeing, hearing or even reaching for it

• Encourage a “Digital Detox” – take a break from devices altogether or set times that you and your kids will turn your phones off

• Switch the habit – in the 90 minutes running up to bedtime, encourage the good old fashion concept of reading a good book, practicing meditation or having a relaxing bubble bath.

Sometime we just need to get our kids to think about the reasons as to why they are using mobile devices at night time?  Because when they actually stop and think about it they too realise that these habits often don’t make sense.

Cyber Mum

http://www.cybermumaus.com

 

How old are your online kids?

How young is too young to be online? What supervision should families have in place?

These are the sorts of questions I get asked a lot as a Cyber Safety Advocate and while there is no right or wrong answer, there are a number of valid views amongst industry experts, medical specialists and researchers.  

In my opinion the key is to ensure that regardless of ages, kids are accessing the internet with adequate protection in place.  Ultimately that’s the responsibility for us the parents, in today’s digital world it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are providing a safe environment for our kids.

There is no doubt that mobile technology and the internet has introduced many exciting opportunities into our children’s lives, from education to games to social engagement. However, it has also introduced a range of new threats and dangers – cyberbullying, sexting, pornography and violence – right into the home.

In August 2016 Family Zone released a Cyber Safety Report after interviewing over 800 Australian families. They asked families about their relationship with technology which helped gain valuable insight into what is happening across homes in Australia and what challenges and issues Australian families are facing when it comes to technology and their kids.

As a snap shot some of the findings were both interesting and some concerning;

– Children are starting to spend time online from as young as one year old

– More than half (53%) of Australian kids are actively online by the age of seven

– Three quarters (76%) of Australian parents said they were unsure or unaware if their children have accessed pornography or violent content online

– While almost three-quarters (74%) of Australian parents claim they know how to protect their children on their digital devices, the majority still had no parental controls in place to monitor content or limit screen time.

It is a worrying combination; unrestricted access to the internet and lack of parental controls are creating a generation of children who are accessing adult content from a young age, which can have a devastating effect on young minds.

The Cyber Safety Report supports that there is a misalignment between what parents think their children are doing online versus what they are actually doing online. But it is not always deliberate, especially when it comes to younger children.

On many occasions, inappropriate content is accessed by young children entering the ‘tween’ phase and accidentally stumbling across inappropriate content using innocent search terms, which have adult connotations for example common search terms that frequently turn up adult content include ‘wet and wild’, ‘pussycat’, ‘pussycat dolls’, ‘big girls toys’ and ‘big puppies’.

The rise of mobile phone use for children and the amount of time kids spend on their digital devices is another area of concern for Australian families. Results from the Family Zone Cyber Safety Report showed that the number one concern parents have in regards to kids using digital technology is that they are missing out on physical exercise and playtime. The second and third top concerns were children accessing pornography and being targeted by pedophiles.

With an ever changing digital landscape, it is easy to see why parents are anxious and have concerns.

For parents with teenagers, I strongly encourage an open dialogue about online activity and it’s not about stopping access, but more protecting them from excessive screen time and disturbing content because as your kids get older, they are increasingly susceptible to a myriad of online dangers and addictions.

Protecting your family from the dangers associated with technology can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some helpful systems available on the market that can help look after your kids both in and out of the home. If you’d like to find out more contact me at cyber-mum@hotmail.com or go to http://www.cybermumaus.com

Cyber Mum Australia 💻🔒

 

 

What’s In A Musicaly.ly Video Clip?

I often get asked by parents which Apps they should be allowing their kids to be using and the most popular Apps I’m asked about at the moment are Musical.ly and Pokemon Go.

In simple terms, like with everything, all Apps pose significant risks to kids so my role in advising parents is all about reducing the risks.  I try to do this by helping parents make informed decisions and help them put some safety measures in place.  In the digital age passive parenting is not an option, I believe that parents who are observant, engaged and informed often have kids who learn to use technology well.

Pokemon Go Scam Alert

“You know your doing something right, when your twelve year old son calls you to the computer, to show you the Pokemon Go scams already circulating online.”

My son is pretty computer savy (he probably gets this from his Dad more than his Mum). But what he does get from me is an eye for “ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS” and this afternoon he introduced me to the world of Pokemon Go trading scams.

The majority of the online scams were web sites posing as trading sites and asking you for personal information, credit card details etc. All of the ones we reviewed were scammers posing as Pokemon Go fans trying to rip you or your kids off or potentially putting your computer at risk by send you spam and virus infected emails.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting that Pokemon Go is a bad App, but like anything new there will always be people trying to capitalise on its popularity.  So be sure to look out for scammers and warn your kids who, in the excitement that is Pokemon Go, might just innocently fall for one of these scams.

I actually think Pokemon Go is heaps of fun and love seeing so many people out and about.  But like with any App, it can pose significant risks like the scams above.

But it also worth considering some of the following tips when you or your kids are playing:

  • Depending on your child age play Pokemon Go with them.
  • Be cautious of Pokestops and Lures.  A Lure is an item than can lure Pokemon to a location.  Other people you or your kids don’t know can also attend the location, bringing an element of stranger danger.
  • Watch your data usage or your child’s data usage.  I’m forecasting there will be a few parents getting a rude shock when the phone bill comes in next month.
  • There are in App purchases so don’t forget to chat to your child about the consequences if they have access to an iTunes account.
  • Whilst there is no chat room, usernames do appear if you or your child is in a gym. As you or your child have to be physically near the gym to battle it’s a good idea to choose your child’s username carefully so your child cannot be identified.
  • Remind your child they don’t have to walk to a Pokemon’s exact location to capture it.  As long as it appears on the camera screen you can capture it.

Helpful hint:  you can track your child’s activity on the App by clicking on the journal icon as it keeps a log of all activity.

My biggest advice is to talk and engage with your kids about Pokemon Go, or any other game or App they play.  Not only will you learn and find common ground but it also sends a clear message to your child that you are interested.  That way if there is an issue they will feel confident they can discuss it with you.

Cyber Mum 💻🔒

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About Cyber Safety and Family Zone

The internet and mobile technology has given kids incredible opportunities, in education, social engagement and entertainment. Kids love using screens, and parents love the opportunity to have a precious, uninterrupted break!

Cyber Mum Teams Up With Family Zone

You just need to tune into the news to understand that parents are struggling with keeping up to date with their kids in the digital space.

With technology being so complex and the average family home having many devices, it’s nearly impossible for parents to find effective ways to protect kids online.

Well the answer is finally here!  Cyber Mum Australia is proud to announce a new partnership with Family Zone the global first in online safety systems designed by parents for parents.

Family Zone brings together the best cyber experts, organisations and technologies into one easy to use web based filtering system to provide a stress free service where all the hard work has already been done.  It enables you to have peace of mind then your kids are at home and even better peace of mind when they’re on devices such as mobiles and tablets and away from your home.

Perth based telco veteran Tim Levy, the former chief of Kerry Stokes’ B Digital and founder of Mo’s Mobiles recently bought by Vodaphone , had an idea to enter the crowded world of internet filtering almost six years ago.

Fast forward to today and Mr Levy this week launches Family Zone and announces plans to list his Perth based company and raise up to $5.5 million in an initial public offering.

“It can be a really intimidating area for parents,” Mr Levy said.  “Plus it can be quite daunting to lock down home or mobile devices.  So when we started building this I realised the only way to get people to want to use it is by making it really easy.”

The result of years of development is the Family Zone box and app.  The box acts as a wireless access point which is plugged into a home router, re-routing all devices through it and giving total control to the parent.  While the app is installed on a child’s smartphone or tablet for out-of-home use.

The unique thing about the Family Zone product is everything is in one place, parents do not need to become full time administrators.  Family Zone has filtering controls and profiles so through the click of a button the parents can make a child’s internet access ‘sleep’.  Family Zone also relies on the expertise of Cyber Experts like Cyber Mum Australia who identify risks and assist with age appropriate guidelines and settings and set up daily routines for families.

Cyber Mum, Caroline Bleechmore added “These days it’s just too easy for kids to get into trouble online.  At last there is a system that will give parents peace of mind when their kids are online.  Family Zone helps parents manage everything from screen time, what kids are viewing, what they can access and when they can access it.  But most importantly Family Zone’s Cyber Experts form a partnership with parents to help keep them one step ahead of their digital savvy kids all as part of the Family Zone service.”

Simple and effective, this is the first system that actually works.  Last month Family Zone won the Western Australian Information Technology and Telecommunications Alliance start up of the year award.

As an introductory offer from Cyber Mum, I’m giving my followers a special introductory offer to Family Zone making it an affordable lifesaver for busy parents.

 

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