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Chief Technology Mommy: Working relentlessly to keep children & teens safe on the Internet. No high-level technical jargon and No Excuses!

30 year-old man poses as teen on Facebook and “sexts’ young boys – Keeping children and teens safe online

A 31-year old  man from Georgia,  was arrested and charged with multiple sex crimes for posing as a teenage girl on Facebook and “sexting” middle school-aged boys.  Brendan Spaar created a fake Facebook page and portrayed himself as Kinsey Spencer, a 16-year old girl from South Forsyth High School.  Spaar became friends with the boys through the fake profile and convinced them to send him their cell phone numbers.  Investigators said that Spaar then sent the boys sexually explicit photos of a female and asked them to send photos and videos of themselves.

Deputies charged Spaar with four counts of child molestation, four counts of sexual exploitation of children and three counts of computer pornography.

Bottom-line tip from Chief Technology Mommy:

If your child has a Facebook page, they should never friend anyone on a social media outlet that they don’t know in “real life.”.  If the person is not currently interacting with your child and you don’t know their parents, it’s safe to say that your child has no business interacting with them on the Internet.  When you monitor your child’s social media activities, don’t forget to take a look at their friends list.  If you are not familiar with a friend, view their profile, and ask your child how they know the person.

Working to keep our children and teens safe on the Internet!

Click to read the full story

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Threats made on Facebook ends with the death of three teens. Keeping our children and teens safe online – Chief Technology Mommy

When I was in 6th grade, I had my first physical altercation with a classmate.  We were both sent to the principal’s office, our parent’s were called, I was put on punishment,  we both apologized and went on our way.  When the fight was over, it was over.  Unfortunately those days are over.

An argument that began at school, made it’s way to Facebook with threats, and ultimately lead to the death of three teens.  As the teens sat in their car, a man approached them and fired 10 to 12 shots into the car at point-blank range.  Joshua Soto, 14 and Javier Orlandi, 16 were pronounced dead within a half-hour.  Dante Lugo, 14 died the next night.  The alleged shooter is the 30-year old stepfather of the other teens involved in the argument.

I have no idea who started the argument or what it was about, but I am almost 100% sure someone saw the threatening posts on Facebook.  As the rational adults (evidently the 30-year old stepfather was not,)  it’s up to us to monitor our children’s social media activities and report inappropriate conversations.  In this day and age we cannot take threats lightly or shrug them off as “kids being kids.”

Here are a few things we can do to keep our children safe on the Internet:

1.  Don’t just browse, but thoroughly read through your child’s posts.  Make a note of who they are speaking with and pay special attention to the tone of the conversation.

2.  If you see a threatening or inappropriate posts that involves any child, ask your child about it and report it if necessary.

3.  Encourage your child to tell you if they feel threatened at school or on the Internet, and bring it to the attention of the school, the other parents, or the authorities.

4.   Work to make sure young men feel comfortable telling someone about threats made against them.  I’ve heard grown men tell little boys to “man up,” but when it comes to threats they should understand that their stance has nothing to do with their manhood, but everything to do with saving their lives.

Let’s work together to keep our children safe on the Internet.

Click below to read the full story:

http://articles.philly.com/2012-01-12/news/30620335_1_car-and-three-police-teenagers


Teenage girls fight on facebook ends with the shooting of a 2-year old. Keeping children and teens safe on the Internet. Chief Technology Mommy

What started as a fight between teenage girls in Philadelphia wound up a shooting that left two children, their grandmother and another man shot.  Two-year old Aisha Owens was shot in the hip and stomach.  Allegedly the fight stemmed from an unruly Facebook posting over the summer that spilled over to the school year.

There are so many things that went wrong here and we all could make judgments (I know I did.)  The judgments and finger pointing won’t change the series of events, but we definitely can learn a few things from the shooting incident.

Bottom-line:   Adults must monitor their children’s social media interactions.  There are parents who will not monitor for a number of reasons, but this is not about them.  I can’t make any adult stay connected to their child’s online activities, however I am accountable for what I do.

Things to consider:

  • Do you know who your child’s friends are on facebook?  Have you met them face-to-face?  Do you know their parents? If your child does not interact with them offline, they probably should not interact with them online.
  • Speak with your child about the rules of “friending,” and peer pressure.  For example:  Just because someone attends the same school, does not automatically qualify them as an online friend.
  • Most importantly have a conversation with your child about your expectations and guidelines as it relates to social media.

Let’s all work together to keep our children safe on the Internet!

Click the link to see the video story:

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/South_Philadelphia_Quadruple_Shooting_092811

To spy or not to spy…that is the question. Keeping children and teens safe on the Internet – Chief Technology Mommy

Over the years, I have had many debates with parents and experts about “spying” on a child’s internet usage and social media activities.  Some people feel that spying will break the trust in the relationship and cause the child to be resentful.  Let me very clear about my stance:  I do not spy; I am very upfront with my daughter about my monitoring of her technology habits.  When I was younger my parent’s policy was “my house, my business,” and I now appreciate that rule.  Please understand, I am not judging anyone’s parenting style or house rules– I am speaking only from my experience.  Knowing that my parents were openly watching made me think twice about my decisions, made me feel as if they cared, and ultimately saved me from many unnecessary heartaches.

Periodically I review the cell phone bill to monitor texting and phone usage, as well as review the browser history on her computer.  Last year, I typed my daughter’s name in a search engine only to find her on YouTube singing as if she was auditioning for American Idol.  Although we had previous discussions about internet usage, she felt that it did not apply if she were going to be a superstar.  Needless to say we revisited the social media conversation and the expectations.  I compare the monitoring to being a supervisor; you expect your employees to do the right thing, however from time to time you still inspect their work.  With our children we must “inspect what we expect.”

As the parent you have every right to be very open and upfront about your expectations and actions as it relates to your child’s internet and social media interactions. While some experts are still debating over “spying” and a child’s right to privacy, they forget that some of the information the child discloses is public, which means the only person in the dark is the parent! Maybe I’m crazy, but I would rather have my child temporarily upset with me for monitoring her activity than reacting to a situation that could have been avoided.

I am not a huge fan of monitoring software, however it depends on your individual situation and experiences.  Instead of spending money on software, here are a few easy things you can do today for free to monitor your child’s internet usage:

1.  Place your home computer in a common area.   Often times when your child has less privacy they are less likely to do something they don’t want you to see.  I have found having the computer in the living room or kitchen, opens up communication and sharing.

2.  Review your browser history.  Periodically perform a check on your browser history to find out where your child is spending time on the web.  Many children are aware of this tactic and will erase the history.  If you check the browser history and it’s clear, you may want to explore further.

3.   Set-up Google alerts for your child’s name or alias.  Set up the alerts to come to your email and if things are posted on the Internet, you will be the first to know.

4.   Implement technology time-outs.  When my daughter walks in the house from school, she understands that her cell phone should be turned off.  I don’t take the phone from her, but the expectation has been discussed and set.  If her friends want to speak with her they know to call the home phone, if she wants to use the internet she can access our home computer in the common area, and I can’t imagine her sitting in the house texting all day.  The cell phone rule is a little more relaxed on the weekend and still gives her the freedom she needs.

5.  Talk to your children.  Never underestimate the power of communication.  I ask my daughter about her day, what’s going on in her world, and usually will slip in a conversation about social media or Internet usage.  It’s amazing how my daughter opens up when I am interested in what’s important to her, listen without interruption, and encourage open conversation.  Lastly, it’s important that these conversations become a normal way of life as this will make the way easier when and if an issue arises.

I do believe that children have a right to some privacy, however if someone is bullying my child or a predator is reaching out to her on her social media pages – it is my business!  Back in the day, my mom was my mom…not my “girl” or my friend and I appreciate that.  If my daughter grows up and says the same, I will count that as a success!

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