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Posts Tagged "technology"

Parents Guide to Protecting Kids Online

March 09, 2017
By Maria Korolov, Business & Technology reporter

If you’re like me, and you use your kids as free tech support whenever you need to configure your wireless router or your TV to play funny cat videos, then it’s probably tempting to let the kids take care of their own online security, as well. That could be a big mistake.

While your kids might be experts at the technology, they’re not experts at evaluating risk.

You already know that, without guidance, children can be easily manipulated into smoking, drinking, speeding, bullying, and, of course, jumping off of cliffs because all their friends are doing it.

Mistakes can cause a lot of damage — everything from expensive ransomware infections, identity theft, loss of friendships to even putting your child’s life at risk.

Just as in the off-line world, you need to provide guidance, set boundaries, and, depending on your child’s age and maturity level, implement some safeguards. You also need to be aware of where the threats are coming from.

10 Things You Can Do Right Away

​1.​ Make YouTube safe for your kids

​2.​ Help your kids set the privacy controls on their social media accounts

3.​ Install anti-virus on your computers and mobile devices

4.​ Set up separate accounts for your kids on your computers

5.​ Set up separate accounts for your kids on your mobile devices

​6.​ Secure your gaming systems

​7.​ Consider using kid-safe browsers and search engines

​8.​ Lock in apps for youngest children

​9.​ Consider using an app that limits the time your child spends online

​10.​ Make sure your kids are only using safe chat rooms

Teach, Educate and Talk with Your Children

11.​ Teach your children not to respond to messages from strangers

12.​ Educate your children about the risks of “sexting”

​13.​ Warn your kids about file sharing

​14.​ Warn your kids about online polls and surveys

15.​ Warn your kids about getting too close to strangers

16.​ Help your children deal with cyberbullying

​17.​ Set a good example

18.​ Set rules about what your kids can share online

19.​ Add your kids as “Friend”

20.​ Set limits on how much time your children can spend online

21.​ Additional resources

Internet Matters: Resources for parents looking to keep children safe online, with age-specific how-to guides, free apps, and device safety checklists.

Family Online Safety Institute: Parenting guides and news and reports about online safety issues.

Safe, Smart & Social: Social media training guides and safety tips for parents and educators.

Read this article in its entirety and get specific action items:

Keeping Kids Safe Online

February 17, 2016

If your student is surfing the Web, you need to be paddling right alongside him — or at least observing him carefully from the shore.

While the Internet offers goodies galore (educational materials, fun games, and connections with people all over the world), it can also pose risks to your child's physical safety and emotional well-being. 

Communicate with your child. Discuss what they are doing online and why. Set rules, and talk about them. Then keep talking, since your child can earn more rights and responsibilities as they grow. If they feel comfortable with these conversations, they will be more likely to let you know when they run into an online bully or stumbles upon inappropriate content. While keeping kids safe, be a role model with your own Internet habits, since your child is likely to emulate your behavior.

Safety Standards:

  1. Limit usage. Permit your child have free online time for, say, 30 minutes right after school to instant-message friends, play games, or visit social networking sites, but make it a rule that family time starts with dinner. After that the computer is used for homework and it's an IM-free zone.
  2. Keep kids in sight. Have the computer centrally located. Your child is less likely to browse questionable content if she knows Mom or Dad (or her brother or sister) might walk by at any second. This helps you monitor time spent online, chosen activities, and resultant behavior.
  3. Do your homework. Check his browser history to know where your child goes online, and check the sites regularly. Use security tools and privacy features — whether offered by your browser or Internet service provider, or purchased separately — for extra protection. GetNetWise has more information about these safety features.

Parents also need to understand what kids love to do online — and what risks go along with the rewards. 

Communicating and social networking: Online communication consists primarily of email, instant messaging (IMs), chat rooms, and journals or Web logs (blogs). On networking sites such as Facebook, kids can create Web profiles, and then invite others to view and become online buddies. Your child may use these media to share gossip, exchange photos, make weekend plans, find out about missed assignments, connect over common interests, and express opinions.

What to know: One out of every five kids gets sexual solicitations online. Strangers, predators, and cyber-bullies all target children, and their work is simplified when screen names reveal age, gender, or hometown. If posts aren't marked as private, personal information can be displayed to an unrestricted audience of readers.

What to do:  

  1. Know who your child talks to online. Review her buddy list: does she really know everyone, or are some buddies "friends of friends"? Have her remove anyone whom she hasn't met in person.

  2. Tell him not to exchange personal information like a phone number, address, best friend's name, or picture. No party invitations, revealing details, or meeting in person — ever.

Web surfing: Kids can explore new interests, check to see if a library book is available, or find a recipe for the class party in valuable resources, such as online encyclopedias, newspapers, and periodicals.

What to know: Surfing the Web without restrictions can mean encountering pop-up ads, viruses, erroneous information, and inappropriate content. The ease of cutting and pasting means that plagiarism is a real concern. And time flies online! Kids can click from one site to another until bedtime (or beyond), if you let them.

What to do: 

  1. Set a code of conduct and time limits. Keeping kids safe means setting guidelines about suitable language, content, and behavior. While it's important to direct your child to suitable websites, it's even more valuable to help her recognize the redeeming qualities of those sites, so she can surf safely on her own.

  2. Critique content. Help your child think critically about the content he reads and sees. Encourage him to check facts with multiple sources before including them in a school report. Try to distinguish between user-generated content and reputable institutions.

For other ideas on keeping kids safe online, visit

This article has been reposted from


5 Reasons You Need A Social Media Break

October 12, 2015
By Marleny Ramirez-Wood, from the “On Second Thought” blog

Most of us have been there: The thought of whether we should back off (just a little) from all our social media connectedness.

We step away for a day or so (or let’s be real, an hour) but wonder if our perceived fans might wonder where we went. They must know I’m good in [enter phase in life] with [enter friend, spouse, pet].

Or, there’s the dreaded F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) that creeps up with a middle-school type anxiety we thought was long gone. Or maybe you’re just a stalker that likes to check out what others are doing, without ever actually posting or commenting on anything. Regardless, most of us know we are dependent on having technology at our fingertips.

Let me tell you something: That’s not good. The truth is social media dependence affects our brains, productivity, relationships, and even life span on this earth (I’m being serious, click on the links and see.)

But for some reason, we keep going back to it like a drug. It tastes so good that our body and mind begins to crave that instant gratification and easy entertainment. So maybe you’ve said, for the 100th time, that it’s time to take a break. Maybe you’re aware of the negative effects it’s having. But you need a little extra motivation. Here are some real benefits of living beyond the virtual world and re-introducing that old term known as “real life.”

1)   Real connections

Think back on some of the greatest moments in your life. Did they involve real people and real events? As much as technology can try to imitate great moments, it is still a poor comparison to sitting down with someone or a group of people and really connecting, learning from each other, and truly laughing out loud.

We were created to be in community with one another, and when we do this, we fill a real need that can’t be supplemented.

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. "
Hebrews 10:24-25

2)   Contentment

Keeping up with the Joneses takes on an entirely new meaning when we add a social media highlight reel to the mix. You know what I’m talking about. It’s how whatever it is that you feel you are lacking is exactly the thing that keeps popping up on your Facebook, Twitter, and Insta feeds. Or it’s showing up in everyone’s stories on Snapchat, taunting you and dragging you into that dreaded comparison game.

You can avoid it by backing away from the social crack. Comparison can be toxic to our relationships and health. Remember that if you already struggle with comparison, it will only be exasperated on social media, so don’t keep feeding the monster. Rather, understand that everyone is fighting his or her own battle and there is an ultimate purpose behind it all. Taking a break from the virtual world and adding real connections will help you see that  all people are broken and struggle with something.

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." 
Proverbs 14:30

3)   Not Missing Out – for real

The irony is that in the fear of missing out we are actually missing out! On real life.

When we are stuck on our devices, we stop taking in our surroundings, exploring, being creative and making eye contact with loved ones.  

We try to capture every moment, so much so that we are missing the moment itself.  

I may be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure that on our deathbeds we won’t wish we’d posted one more update or sent one last tweet. Check yourself, and don’t miss out on what really matters.

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall”.
1 Peter 1:24

4)   Getting raw and helping people

In a world where filters abound, editing is the norm and angles are carefully calculated, seeing something that does not seem so “made-up” is rather refreshing. When we admit our failures and struggles, not only do we bravely go against the grain, but we also give others confidence to do the same. A sigh of relief, if you will, that we don’t have to have it all together and that, frankly, it shouldn’t be the expectation. When you get real, it stands out from the clutter. People listen. People receive hope.

It’s a real-life #nofilter.

"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
2 Corinthians 11:30

5)   Be a real star

I’ve taken a quick inventory of the people that have made the biggest difference in my life. They are not the people with the biggest or coolest social media accounts, but those that cared and loved me the most. People that cared more about others than keeping up with a personal brand. Those that cared about the message they were delivering with their actions, more than just their words. The quiet ones. The ones set out to make an eternal impact.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
Philippians 2:3  

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all things in social media are bad. It gives everyone an opportunity to have a voice, whereas before only a select few could occupy the elite media space. But what do you think makes more of a difference in someone’s life: A 10-second Snapchat, or a 10-hour day spent learning, living, and listening?

Maybe you aren’t quite ready for a full social media detox. But think about taking small steps. Commit to going to dinner with a friend or your family and not checking your phone once. Look up. Look around. And then realize how disconnected we look when we’re sitting three feet across from one another and might as well be 3,000 miles away.

I think you’ll like what you find. #realtalk  #thestruggleisreal

Read more from the I am Second blog:


Keep Kids Learning over Summer Break

June 15, 2015
By Kelly Arl, blogger from

An ever-present worry for teachers through the summer months is that students will relax a little TOO much over the break. While it can be tempting to try to micromanage students’ summer learning with packets and reading lists, there are tons of resources available online that can keep your students’ brains active and their enthusiasm high. Take a step back and let students drive their own learning this summer. Here are five ways you can help students' excitement, motivation, and passion for engaging activities fuel their learning through the summer months.

1. Jump into the sandbox.
Sandbox worlds are open-ended platforms that allow students to build objects, games, and more, and share their creations with other users all over the world. MinecraftScratch, and Hopscotch are excellent tools that will have your students thinking hard and playing hard all through the break.

2. Bring out your students’ inner genius.
Genius Hour is based on a revolutionary idea: that students should be given time to pursue whatever knowledge they want, just for its own sake. Whether your students are interested in foreign language, robotics, parkour, or something you’ve never even heard of, facilitating Genius Hour is a highly rewarding experience that is sure to stoke your students’ passion for learning. You can learn more about implementing this exciting model on the Genius Hour Wikispace.

3. Keep problem-solving skills sharp.
Sometimes, it feels like students’ brains get a little mushy over the summer without problems to solve (are they really gettingthat math story problem?). Luckily, there are tons of games available online that take serious cognitive muscle. Your students will love Coaster Crafter and Contraption Maker, which allow them to build, test, and crash their own machines to beat challenges. Find lots more ideas with Graphite’s Top Picks for Great Games That Teach Strategy.

4. Join the maker movement. 
We’ve all had that student with an otherworldly ability to take things apart and create something new (and hopefully useful!) from the pieces. Maker Ed is just what it sounds like -- the process of making things, be they toys, clothes, art projects or Rube Goldberg machines. You’ll be surprised at what your students can build from random things they find around their homes or classrooms! The Lesson Flow Making Makers is a great place to start. 

5. Dream about the future. 
All kids think about what they might like to be when they grow up, and you can help them explore their interests through tech. While programs like Google CSFirst guide students to explore the 21st-century skills needed for specific careers, other sites like Roadtrip Nation can help develop a broader vision of what might lie ahead. The Lesson Flow Exploring STEM Careers also has some fantastic resources for guiding kids through career research.

Summer doesn’t have to be a slump for students. With a little guidance and cheerleading, kids can take their excitement for learning to new heights! 

Visit the Graphite blog for more ideas.

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