Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Are You Friends With Us On Facebook?

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

We are having such a good time with our Parent Talk Today friends and fans on our Facebook page, and we just hit 200 friends there! Have you joined us?Lots of fun discussions going on there.

If you’re reading this on the blog, just hit the button on the left sidebar. If you’re reading PTT on your favorite parenting magazine’s website, just go directly to the site and click on “like.” We’ll see you there!

Are Teens Getting Tired of Social Media?

Monday, January 4th, 2010
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Facing a time crunch with homework, tests and other real-world activities, some teens are just saying no to Facebook and other social-media temptations, according to a recent New York Times article.

Some are going so far as to ask a friend to change their Facebook password to help them avoid the siren song of social media.

According to the article, Facebook will not reveal how many users have deactivated service, but Kimberly Young, a psychologist who is the director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery in Bradford, Pa., said she had spoken with dozens of teenagers trying to break the Facebook habit.

“It’s like any other addiction,” Young says. “It’s hard to wean yourself.”

Are your kids cutting back on social-media use? How about yourself? Is it time for a reality check regarding how much of our lives we’re willing to devote to the social-media beast?

What the Season is All About

Monday, December 21st, 2009
A Wish for Christmas album cover

When someone asks you what good social media can really do, or when they complain to you about the commercialism of Christmas, show them this link.

It really brings home the fact that we all need each other, that social media can bring us together in amazing ways — and that the best way to have a meaningful Christmas is to “get out of yourself.”

Protect Your Kids on Social Networks

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

As many of you know, I've been working as Consumer Reports' social media reporter since February. I love this work, and it fits so well with my commitment to sharing important consumer news with parents right here on Parent Talk Today.

I usually do my work for the organization as @CReporter on Twitter. But my editors also asked me to write a Consumer Reports blog post, "Eight Ways to Protect Your Kids on Social Networks," which talks about how to keep kids safe on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.

Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, advises parents, educators, librarians and policy makers on how kids can use the Web safely. Her advice in this post can help keep your kids safe.

For more on information on surfing the Web safely, visit the Consumer Reports Guide to Online Security.

How Does This Social Media Stuff Work, Anyway?

Monday, March 9th, 2009


Are you on Twitter? Facebook? Chances are, if your kids are hitting the teen years, they're there. Or they want to be.

What's the best way to know what they're up to? Get involved with social media yourself. It's not that difficult — and it's a lot of fun. More and more parents are sharing tips via social media. Many parenting magazines now have Facebook pages, and the parenting community is "tweeting" like mad these days!

I wrote an article, for the April issue of the American Society of Journalists and Authors newsletter, about how writers can use social media to advance their careers. But the article is really helpful for anyone who wants to get started with social media. Check it out here. You can download the PDF at no charge. The article is on page 10.

I'd love to hear how you're using Twitter, Facebook or other social media to connect with other parents. Please leave a comment!

P.S. Of course, when I'm sitting her tweeting away and chatting with my parent buddies on Facebook, I look JUST like this model! ;)

Identity Thieves: Are They Targeting Your Kids?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009


When my son was in elementary school, we used the Internet to look up facts on dinosaurs, earthquakes and Benjamin Franklin for school reports. But now, as a seventh grader, Matt is starting to dip his toe into the social aspects of the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. I’m sure he’ll be wanting to check out Facebook or My Space before long. (Although I’m certainly not pushing it!)

Of course, we’ve had conversations about the importance not posting personal information on the Web, for safety’s sake. But now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is urging kids to avoid posting personal information for another important reason: identify theft. The problem isn’t just for adults anymore, they say.

PROTECTING CHILDREN’S INFO ONLINE

According to the FTC, identity theft from victims age 18 and younger increased from 6,512 in 2003 to 10,835 in 2006. (These figures are based on formal complaints only, so actual incidences of identity theft are higher.) In 2003, about 3 percent of identity-theft victims were younger than 18. By 2006, the figure had risen to 5 percent.

The “friends-of-friends” aspect of social-networking sites allows pre-teens and teens to provide information about themselves that can now travel far beyond the kids they know. And these sites can increase our kids’ exposure to people who have criminal intentions. The FTC and other online-safety experts (see below) suggest these tips for socializing safely on the Web:

°     Know the potential audience. Think about how different sites work before deciding to join a social-networking site. Some sites will allow only a particular community of users to access posted content. Others allow everybody and his brother to view postings.

°     Encourage your child to think about keeping control over the information she posts. She might consider restricting access to a select group of people, such as her buddies from school, a club, a team or a community group.

°    Keep critical information private. Tell your child to never post his full name, Social Security number, address, phone number or bank and credit-card account numbers — and don’t post other people’s information, either.

°    Keep screen names vague. Make sure your child’s screen name doesn’t say too much about her. Kids shouldn’t use their name, age or hometown on social-networking sites.

°    Remind kids that posted material never disappears.  Once your child posts information online, he can’t take it back. Even if he deletes the information from a site, older versions exist on other people’s computers.

THESE ORGANIZATIONS CAN HELP

To learn more about avoiding identity theft online, check out the following organizations:

°    i-SAFE — Endorsed by the U.S. Congress, i-SAFE is a non-profit foundation dedicated to protecting young people on the Web. The site incorporates classroom curriculum with community outreach to empower students, teachers, parents and law enforcement to make the Internet a safer place.

°    National Cyber Security Alliance — This non-profit organization provides tools and resources to help keep kids (and adults) safe online. NCSA members include the Department of Homeland Security, the FTC and many private-sector corporations and organizations.

°    Staysafe — This educational site helps consumers manage online safety and security issues.

°    Wired Safety  This group is made up of volunteers around the world. Wired Safety provides education and assistance on all aspects of cybercrime and abuse, privacy, security and responsible technology use.

°    Federal Trade Commission — To file a complaint or to get information on consumer issues, visit the website or call toll-free 877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity-theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law-enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

°    GetNetWise is a public service sponsored by Internet-industry corporations and public-interest organizations to help ensure that Internet users are protected.

°    Internet Keep Safe Coalition. This site, the home of Faux Paw the Techno Cat, was created by a coalition of 49 governors, law-enforcement agencies, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other associations dedicated to providing tools and guidelines to teach children to use technology safely.

OTHER WAYS TO AVOID KIDS’ IDENTITY THEFT

Experts at Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, note that child identity theft can go undetected for years because it often isn’t discovered until the victim applies for credit, tries to rent an apartment or tries to open a bank account. There are things you can do to protect your child against identity theft offline, too:

°    Don't let kids carry their Social Security cards in their wallets. These cards should always be stored in a safe place.

°    Keep your child’s magazine subscriptions under your name, not his. This helps prevent your child's name from appearing on mailing lists.

°    Pay attention if your child starts receiving junk mail. If your 12-year-old suddenly begins receiving credit-card invitations in her name, it may mean that her personal information has been compromised.

°    If someone insists he needs your child's Social Security number, verify that he really needs it. I have started questioning this practice at doctors’ offices, and have refused to give out my family’s Social Security numbers to be used as patient identification numbers. When I explain my reason for refusing, most staff members have been understanding. Some have even said “Gosh, I guess I shouldn’t give mine out at my doctor’s offices!”

Are Your Kids Sexting?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009


Terrific piece by Nick K. Mandel, over on the Consumer Reports electronics blog today, on sexting, where cell phone users — usually teens — exchange provocative, sexual photos of themselves using their cell phones' built-in digital camera.

(Disclosure: I work for Consumer Reports as their social media reporter. You can follow me at @CReporter on Twitter. I primarily cover consumer issues there, but that also overlaps with my parenting reporting here. After all, we parents are some of the biggest consumers around!)

Mandel notes that a survey from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
suggests that one in five teens have "electronically sent, or posted
online, nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves." A percentage that high means that many parents who think "my kid would never do that" may be surprised to learn the truth.

Check out Mandel's post and the articles below. Then talk with your kids if you think they may be fooling around with sexting. Chances are, they have no idea how serious the consequences can be.

Get Your Consumer-Information Fix at @CReporter

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Are you, like me, a big Consumer Reports fan? Wish you had a place to go for great links to all things consumer-related?

Starting today, I'm the social media reporter for Consumer Reports, and I'll be sharing all sorts of great info over at www.twitter.com/CReporter. If you're on Twitter, please follow and say hello. You'll also want to stop by CR's terrific blog.

Not on Twitter? It's easy — and free — to get started. Just go to Twitter.com.

I'll still be here, of course, bringing you lots of great parenting ideas as always. I see this new project as a great complement to what I'm doing here. After all, who needs helpful consumer information more than parents?

P.S. Stop by the CR blog to learn more about tomorrow's free breakfast offer at Denny's. Bring the kids!

All Hail Mommy Bloggers — and Social-Media Fans

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


I’m so jazzed to share this fun Parents TV video about mommy bloggers with you because it features two terrific friends and colleagues, Jen Singer of MommaSaid.net fame and Amanda Wolfe, Parents magazine’s media editor and editor of GoodyBlog.

I’m one of Jen’s columnists on MommaSaid.net. (How cool that they mentioned the columnists in the report, too.) Check out the column, “Boo Boos, Germs and Pap Smears,” here.

Both Jen and Amanda will be speaking on my panel on social media at the American Society of Journalists and Authors annual conference in New York City on April 25. If you’re a writer, blogger (mommy-blogger or otherwise) or a social-media fan, you won’t want to miss this conference and this panel. To learn more about the conference and to register, click here.

In addition to Jen and Amanda, the panel will feature Redbook editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison (yep, she blogs,
too, over at Something About Stacy) and Peter Shankman of Help a
Reporter Out
fame. Hope to see you there!

So Your Kid Won’t “Friend” You on Facebook?

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Facebook, Inc.

Thanks to writer Liz Seegert (who is also the mom of a teenage son) for telling me about a terrific article by Lisa Belkin in The New York Times Magazine: "When Your Kid Won't 'Friend' You."

Belkin talks about joining a Facebook group called “Moms of Kids Who are Embarrassed They Have a Facebook.” Apparently its ranks are growing quickly.

How old should a kid be before joining Facebook or another social-media site? Is it strictly his business what he does there — or are you, as a parent, obligated to see what's on his page and to make sure he's making good decisions, not giving out too much personal information, not posting something that might hurt his chances of getting a job after college, etc? (Man, life used to be so much simpler, didn't it?)

I had no idea how wide-ranging the opinions are on this topic until I started reading the comment after Belkin's piece. Let's just say there's no clear agreement here. But reading others' thoughts on the subject might help you look at all the issues and decide what's right for your kid.

And, really, with all the craziness surrounding kids and Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Who-Knows-What-Will-Be-Invented-Tomorrow, that's all we can do, right? Look at all sides of the issue, try to put pressure (from our kids, their peers, other parents, the media) aside and decide what's best for our family.

Hey, nobody ever said this parenting thing would be easy.