The pitfalls of being an influencer: What parents should know and do – 10 minute mail

Does your child dream of becoming a YouTube or Instagram celebrity? The influencer lifestyle is not as picture-perfect as it may seem.

The rise of the internet has led to the rise of the social media influencer, altering the aspirations of children around the world. A recent survey of 2,000 parents of 11 to 16-year-olds shows that doctors (18%) are still number one on the dream job list, but they are closely followed by social media influencers (17%) and, more specifically, YouTubers (14%).

Being an online celebrity might look glamorous, but what are the risks? The digital world can hide a range of dangers, and it’s important that both children and their parents are aware of the threats.

Online hate is inevitable

Many young influencers, who base their self-worth on the likes and shares they receive, struggle if the interest of the online crowd fades. Basing self-esteem on public acknowledgement from strangers at an early age is risky – this is especially true considering that feedback on the internet can often be even more aggressive as anonymity is heightened and the commentator can hide behind their screen.

Any person in the social media limelight will inevitably have to face online hate. Comment sections flooded with hateful messages are an emotional drag while actual threats are frightening for anyone, no matter their age.

Parents can help their children by moderating comments and reporting inappropriate behavior to administrators, but this is not feasible when large numbers of people are involved.

Oversharing and online stalking

Kim Kardashian is one of the most influential figures on social media – someone who likes to post and share everything from her private life. During one of her visits to Paris this backfired in the worst possible way when she was robbed at gun point, with criminals stealing jewelry worth US$8 million. It later came to light that the heist was organized based simply on following Kim’s whereabouts on social media posts. This example of oversharing should be a warning to anyone, especially to young influencers who will do almost anything to please their followers.

Parental guidance at the start a child’s digital life is essential. It helps set healthy boundaries between public and private life on social media. Remember – anything posted online will stay there forever.

Followers are not real friends

Nowadays we spend so much time in the digital world that we often feel like it’s the real world, and so young children tend to overlook the simple fact that followers are not real friends. Anonymous online crowds will not be there when they need a break from the latest social media craze or be their confidant in difficult times. Real friends and family cannot be replaced and should not be neglected in favor of a digital life.

What else can a parent do to keep their children safe?

  • Talk to your children and guide them through their experience online from a young age. If they pick up good habits when they’re young, there is a good chance they’ll adhere to them as teenagers. Keep the dialogue as open as possible. Make sure your child sees you as a trusted advisor in case anything in their online life goes wrong.
  • If your young children follow an influencer, consider following the online celebrity too and keep an eye on what they share or post. Be there to discuss with your child any inappropriate content that appears.
  • Build bridges across the generation gap. When having a conversation with your child, listening can be more valuable than talking. Let your child know you’re interested in what they’re saying and lead by example – practice what you preach.
  • Accept your child’s ambition to be an acknowledged content creator as an opportunity to be close to them and teach them more than just how to prepare their online stream. Keep yourself up to date with the latest trends amongst teens. You have responsibilities, but try not to act like an authoritarian figure. Make it clear that both of you are learning. That way you can enjoy a dialogue with your teenager at an age where communication can be particularly difficult.
  • Use parental control tools that can help you to keep an eye on what your children is doing online and identify situations where they might need advice. With your support they can learn how to act responsibly and articulate their opinion, how to set good goals and achieve them. This last point is especially important nowadays when most teens have expectations of instant results.

To learn more about dangers faced by children online as well as about how not only technology can help, head over to the to the Safer Kids Online platform.



Editor


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The pitfalls of being an influencer: What parents should know and do – 10 minute mail

Does your child dream of becoming a YouTube or Instagram celebrity? The influencer lifestyle is not as picture-perfect as it may seem.

The rise of the internet has led to the rise of the social media influencer, altering the aspirations of children around the world. A recent survey of 2,000 parents of 11 to 16-year-olds shows that doctors (18%) are still number one on the dream job list, but they are closely followed by social media influencers (17%) and, more specifically, YouTubers (14%).

Being an online celebrity might look glamorous, but what are the risks? The digital world can hide a range of dangers, and it’s important that both children and their parents are aware of the threats.

Online hate is inevitable

Many young influencers, who base their self-worth on the likes and shares they receive, struggle if the interest of the online crowd fades. Basing self-esteem on public acknowledgement from strangers at an early age is risky – this is especially true considering that feedback on the internet can often be even more aggressive as anonymity is heightened and the commentator can hide behind their screen.

Any person in the social media limelight will inevitably have to face online hate. Comment sections flooded with hateful messages are an emotional drag while actual threats are frightening for anyone, no matter their age.

Parents can help their children by moderating comments and reporting inappropriate behavior to administrators, but this is not feasible when large numbers of people are involved.

Oversharing and online stalking

Kim Kardashian is one of the most influential figures on social media – someone who likes to post and share everything from her private life. During one of her visits to Paris this backfired in the worst possible way when she was robbed at gun point, with criminals stealing jewelry worth US$8 million. It later came to light that the heist was organized based simply on following Kim’s whereabouts on social media posts. This example of oversharing should be a warning to anyone, especially to young influencers who will do almost anything to please their followers.

Parental guidance at the start a child’s digital life is essential. It helps set healthy boundaries between public and private life on social media. Remember – anything posted online will stay there forever.

Followers are not real friends

Nowadays we spend so much time in the digital world that we often feel like it’s the real world, and so young children tend to overlook the simple fact that followers are not real friends. Anonymous online crowds will not be there when they need a break from the latest social media craze or be their confidant in difficult times. Real friends and family cannot be replaced and should not be neglected in favor of a digital life.

What else can a parent do to keep their children safe?

  • Talk to your children and guide them through their experience online from a young age. If they pick up good habits when they’re young, there is a good chance they’ll adhere to them as teenagers. Keep the dialogue as open as possible. Make sure your child sees you as a trusted advisor in case anything in their online life goes wrong.
  • If your young children follow an influencer, consider following the online celebrity too and keep an eye on what they share or post. Be there to discuss with your child any inappropriate content that appears.
  • Build bridges across the generation gap. When having a conversation with your child, listening can be more valuable than talking. Let your child know you’re interested in what they’re saying and lead by example – practice what you preach.
  • Accept your child’s ambition to be an acknowledged content creator as an opportunity to be close to them and teach them more than just how to prepare their online stream. Keep yourself up to date with the latest trends amongst teens. You have responsibilities, but try not to act like an authoritarian figure. Make it clear that both of you are learning. That way you can enjoy a dialogue with your teenager at an age where communication can be particularly difficult.
  • Use parental control tools that can help you to keep an eye on what your children is doing online and identify situations where they might need advice. With your support they can learn how to act responsibly and articulate their opinion, how to set good goals and achieve them. This last point is especially important nowadays when most teens have expectations of instant results.

To learn more about dangers faced by children online as well as about how not only technology can help, head over to the to the Safer Kids Online platform.



Editor


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Cyberbullying: How is it different from face‑to‑face bullying? – 10 minute mail

The digital age has added a whole new dimension to hurtful behavior, and we look at some of the key features that set in-person and online bullying apart

Bullying is an ever-present global problem: it happens in schools, offices and even in homes. The issue has been tackled by law enforcement, school officials, governments, and various non-profit organizations alike. With the advent of digital technology, the problem has extended to the online realm, and cyberbullying has become so pervasive that this term even wormed its way into the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.

As today is International Stand Up to Bullying Day, let’s shed some light on the differences between in-person and online abuse and harassment.

Anonymity

In face-to-face bullying, as the name suggests, you are very aware of who your bully is – or bullies are. Even if they slander you behind your back, they usually make a show of it. On the other hand, cyberbullies have an extra advantage: the internet can provide them with the extra layer of anonymity. The bullies hide behind pseudonyms and obviously unreal profile pictures on public message boards or social media, keeping themselves out of (h)arm’s reach. Since the victims don’t know who their bullies are, it diminishes the chance that the antagonizers will be caught and minimizes their fear of being punished.

A public audience

According to a recent Pew Research study, 59% of US teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Unfortunately, the appeal of cyberbullying, besides its anonymity, is ease of access. Bullying someone face-to-face involves the assailant, the victim, and perhaps some bystanders. But, on the internet, bullying can spread like wildfire and it can take many forms, from threatening direct messages to public rumors, and crude photoshop images of the victim. Even worse: more than one bully can join in, setting up a snowball effect on the victim.

Being connected all the time

When it comes to traditional bullying, it’s easier to seek shelter elsewhere, since the act itself depends on physical proximity to the abuser. The same cannot be said about cyberbullying, since you are a target no matter where you are, as long as you are connected … which is rarely avoidable in this digital age. You can go to sleep and wake up to a new slew of threatening messages in your inbox or new rumors circulating about you on the internet. Such incessant bullying may even lead to victims feeling unsafe in the place they should feel safest: their homes.

Detachment

Online bullies tend to be more detached from their actions, and more importantly from the consequences of their actions, since they don’t have face-to-face interactions with their victims. To put it in simple terms: since they can’t see what their actions are doing to the victims, they tend to feel little or no remorse. This has been documented by the online disinhibition effect. In the case of cyberbullying, it is called toxic disinhibition, and it includes inappropriate or even antisocial behavior such as hostile language or threats. People online can behave differently to how they behave in real life, since they lose their inhibitions and believe that there will be no consequences for their actions.

Online is forever

You may be familiar with the saying “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, which implies the privacy of an event. In the case of the web, what goes there stays there, although it is far from private. Anything that goes on the web may be hard to erase entirely. Unfortunately, this also applies to rumors or images that cyber-bullies may post online and for others to see. In these cases, you can ask the service providers to take the posts down. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and and other major services all have dedicated site sections that will help you with that. There are even companies that specialize in hunting down data and then ask the websites to remove the information or at least make it difficult to find.

What to do if you’re a victim of cyberbullying

Bullying in whatever form is a very sensitive topic, which can be very difficult to broach. It affects everyone regardless of age, race, gender or religion. Although it can make you feel isolated, always remember you’re not alone and there are people who care about you, so don’t be afraid to speak up about your problems and seek help.

Also, remember that it’s not your fault and you did nothing that warrants this kind of behavior. Nobody deserves to be bullied under any circumstances, no matter who they are, how they look or what they believe.

Don’t keep it to yourself; talk to someone you trust. It could be your parents, teachers, boss or even healthcare professionals. They are all here to help you and support you.

Keep the evidence of cyberbullying – print it out, screenshot it, save it however you can. It can be emails, blog posts, social media posts or direct messages; just keep a record of them. You will need proof when reporting the behavior. Report the bullying to the respective services hosting the abuse and, if it is happening in a forum, you can flag the comments. If you’re still at school, it’s important to show the posts to your parents.

The following websites offer not only advice, but also contacts for counseling services:

Further resources:

What is cyberbullying and how to defend against it?
Stop Cyberbullying Day: Advice for victims and witnesses
Cyberbullying: What schools and teachers can do
How to spot if your child is a victim of cyberbullying

To learn more about more dangers faced by children online as well as about how technology can help, head over to the Safer Kids Online platform.



Amer Owaida


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Digital addiction: How to get your children off their screens – 10 minute mail

What are some of the common signs that your child may be a screen addict and what can you do to limit their screen time?

Children, just like adults, tend to spend a little too much time on their phones. Who can blame them? We, grown-ups, often do that ourselves, after all. However, sometimes ‘a little too much time’ becomes ‘far too much time’, and a habit becomes an addiction. In fact, a recent poll found that almost one-half of parents feel that their children are “addicted” to their smartphones and tablets. In addition, one in three parents admitted that they themselves are hooked on screens.

Now, what are some of the signs suggesting that your child is a screen addict?

  • Firstly, it is important to be on the lookout for signs that your child is becoming so immersed in the online world that they begin to lose interest in real life activities. In extreme cases, children might even try to avoid face-to-face contact with their friends, in favor of exclusively digital interaction on messaging apps and social media.
  • Another red flag is if your child only appears happy when they are spending their time in front of a screen, be it a phone or a computer, and any attempt to limit their usage leads to conflict or a belligerent reaction. Try using technology, such as parental control apps, to spot the problem in its early stages.
  • Are digital activities harming your child’s relationships with their siblings or friends? Living in the virtual world can also lead to difficulties in a child’s social life outside of home, so be wary of them distancing themselves from those around them. While time isn’t the only factor to consider, children spending more and more of their lives on social media is often an indicator of a developing technology addiction.

What can you do if your child is responding touchily or aggressively when the topic of digital devices comes up? Below, we suggest a few tips.

  • Probably the most important thing to remember is to never give up on communication. Kids can get defensive if it’s suggested that they spend too much time on digital devices, and it can be tempting to assume that they know more about the digital world than you do. However, leaving them to manage their online behavior alone is a mistake; kids need your guidance online as much as they do when it comes to real life. Maintain dialogue with your child and do what you can to guide them through the digital experience, just as you might do when talking about how to deal with their friends at school.
  • It is also crucial to build trust and understanding. It is only by establishing a relationship of confidence that a parent can position themselves as the person that their child can turn to if anything bad happens. Being dictatorial will often do nothing but force bad behavior into hidden corners.
  • If you feel that your child is overusing their device, only take it away from them as a last resort. Instead, suggest practical steps that will help to limit how much they use it. For example, uninstalling some of the social media or messaging apps on a tablet or smartphone can limit the temptation to constantly look at the device. Limiting the notifications on these apps is another way of reducing a phone’s alluring pull.
  • Consider using parental control apps, which are equipped with a range of useful features. Not only do these tools enable you to shield kids from harmful content, but they can also keep activity logs as well as enable you to decide which apps can be used and when they can be used.
  • Lastly, plan short breaks from technology. A week or a weekend without a mobile phone or tablet can be beneficial for both children and parents. If you decide to give it a try, plan accordingly and prepare a lot of engaging activities that will keep you busy and the technology out of reach.

A parting thought

Lead by example, and make sure that your own behavior encourages healthy use of technology. If you are picking up your smartphone every two minutes, a child is likely to mimic that behavior, laying the foundations for an unhealthy habit. Keep your own digital consumption under control and be a good role model for your kids not only when it comes to the use of technology. In other words, model what you want to see.

To learn more about risks faced by children online, as well as about how technology can help, please head over to https://saferkidsonline.eset.com.



Editor


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Facebook now lets you monitor your children’s chats – 10 minute mail

The feature is part of expanded parental controls on the Messenger Kids app aimed at children under 13

Facebook is rolling out a slew of changes to Messenger Kids that give parents more control over how their children use the messaging app. You can review who your kids are interacting with and review their chat histories, according to the social network’s blog post this week.

In addition, you get access to the most recent videos and photos your kids have sent or received, and you can remove the content if needed. The app’s revamp also gives you the option to see a list of devices where your children are logged in, and force a log-out remotely.

“Parents remain in control of who their child is connected to in Messenger Kids and can remove people from their child’s contact list at any time,” said Facebook product manager Morgan Brown. The new features can be accessed through the Messenger Kids Parent Dashboard in the Facebook Android and iOS apps.

You can also request a copy of your child’s Messenger Kids data, much like you can do with your own information shared with Facebook. “The download will include a list of your child’s contacts as well as the messages, images and videos they have sent and received. Your child will be notified through the Messenger Kids app when you request this information,” said Brown.

Facebook has also made it easier for kids to block contacts and overall manage who they interact with. As a parent or guardian, you can now also see if your child has reported or blocked, as well as unblocked, other users.

Image credit: Facebook

In addition to rolling out the new features, Facebook announced an update to its privacy policy to add extra information about “data collection, use, sharing, retention and deletion practices”.

The company said it would use age-appropriate language to educate children on data collection. “For example, we inform kids that people they know may see their name and photo, that parents can see and download their messaging content and that they are not able to delete any messages they send or receive,” said Facebook.

The social giant has previously given assurances regarding the use of collected data and was quick to reiterate its promise again: “We don’t use children’s data from Messenger Kids for advertising. There continue to be no ads in Messenger Kids and no in-app purchases.”

Geared towards children younger than 13 years, Messenger Kids is designed to be a controlled-environment alternative to the social network’s main Messenger app. The kid-friendly app was launched for iOS devices in the United States in December 2017; other countries and the Android version followed a few months later.

The app gives children a way to stay in touch with their relatives and friends while giving parents some measure of oversight, including by allowing them to pre-approve the list of people their kids interact with.

Facebook came under fire last year after a design flaw in the app undermined these parental controls by allowing some of the app’s users to chat with complete strangers.



Tomáš Foltýn


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Safe downloading habits: What to teach your kids – 10 minute mail

Even if you are careful about what you download, chances are your children will be less cautious. Here’s how you can help them – and your entire family – stay safe.

Life without the internet is rather difficult to fathom, and particularly for children the online world holds a magical allure. While many parents are becoming increasingly aware of the potentially negative effects of too much screen time, the undeniable truth is that there’s a host of opportunities to explore on the internet.

However, it’s also important to consider that not all that’s free on the internet is necessarily safe. Aside from potential copyright issues, the free movie, game or music album that your child downloads may be bundled with malware, adware or another software nasty. This could occur, for example, when kids visit a dodgy website and are bombarded with giant download buttons and flashing ads, finding it hard to not make the click.

Many grown-ups are wising up to the risks of clicking and downloading anything from shady sites or shared by strangers, but children may be less cautious. The consequences can come in the form of frustrating ads and popups, but can also be much more sinister and involve having personal details stolen or losing access to your important data.

And aside from downloading ‘stuff’ from dodgy websites, kids can be tempted to buy from legitimate sites and rack up nasty credit card bills for their parents. Indeed, one mother recently announced she was ‘cancelling Christmas’ after her son racked up a hefty bill buying Xbox add-ons.

So, what can parents do to protect their children, their personal data, and their bank balances?

  • Everything should start with an open dialogue on the dangers lurking on the internet. Put simply, children should be taught to approach everything on the internet with critical thinking. This includes risks that have to do with downloading materials for entertainment or homework from suspicious websites, including those hosting pirated content. Kids should be equally wary of links and attachments sent via email or social platforms and promising, for example, a free game feature.
  • Also, when children want to download new software, they should know that they need to visit the websites of the original software developer, or the official store, where the chances of accidentally downloading any unwanted ‘extras’ are much, much lower.
  • Parents should also ensure that kids use a reliable internet security solution that includes multiple layers of protection and downloads the latest updates automatically, as crooks constantly come up with new threats. Indeed, make sure to keep the operating systems and applications on all of your family’s devices updated with the latest security patches.
  • At the end of the day, it’s important to have an understanding of what kids are up to online. Using a parental control solution helps to keep an eye on children’s activities, including the sites they’re visiting and what they’re downloading. In addition, such a tool can also allow parents to block potentially risky and age-inappropriate websites, as well as prevent children from making accidental online purchases from legitimate websites.

Just like we encourage kids to stop at a road crossing to gauge their circumstances and the cars passing by, we need to teach our children to stop and think before clicking on download buttons. With careful guidance and ensuring that the message of ‘stop and think’ is consistently reiterated, children will soon learn that – while it is exciting to play on the internet – it comes with risks just like many things in life. No child wants an extra game feature at the expense of Christmas being cancelled, so chances are good they’ll take the message on board.

To learn more about more dangers faced by children online as well as about how not only technology can help, head over to https://saferkidsonline.eset.com.

To read how you can instill safe selfie habits in your kids, please refer to our recent Selfies for kids – A guide for parents article.



Tomáš Foltýn


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How to spot if your child is a victim of cyberbullying – 10 minute mail

What are some of the most common warning signs that your child is experiencing online harassment?

Cyberbullying is by no means a new phenomenon; in fact, the term was added to the Oxford Dictionary back in 2011. However, as technology permeates almost every facet of our lives, the threat of online harassment is becoming more and more prevalent. It is increasingly common for schoolchildren to own smartphones, which often go hand-in-hand with social media accounts. This hyper-connectivity combined with the anonymity that the internet affords means that kids are increasingly at risk of cyber-abuse.

Online harassment is continually reported to be on the rise, and one in three parents worldwide report knowing a child in their community who has been cyberbullied. This form of bullying can be even more damaging than in-person bullying and can affect victims long into their adulthood. That said, it is not always easy to distinguish between common childhood or teenage issues and potential signals that your child is being cyberbullied. To help, we have taken a look at several common warning signs that might indicate that your child is being targeted by a cyberbully.

Unexplained physical changes

The first thing to look out for is noticeable physical changes. While this isn’t a sure-fire sign of cyberbullying, if your child has suddenly lost weight or appetite, has trouble sleeping during the night, or looks stressed out in the morning, it is worth having a conversation about whether everything is okay.

School avoidance

Similarly, if your child is regularly pretending to be ill to avoid going to school, this could also be an indicator of a problem. Almost every child uses excuses to get out of school from time to time, but if it is becoming a habit, or if time off becomes long, there might be a more serious issue at hand, such as the fear of a conflict with a bully.

Mood swings

Keep an eye out for noticeable nervousness, sudden mood swings and snappy answers to your questions. These may be characteristics commonly associated with moody teenagers, and do not necessarily signal that your child is being harassed, but if mood changes are regularly accompanied by petulant responses and jumpy reactions, it might be time to check if everything is okay. Responses such as “good” or “fine” should not be taken as satisfactory by parents – they do not always mean that everything is good and fine.

Loss of interest

Next up is an abrupt loss of interest in a hobby or passion. Does your child love playing football or the guitar, but has suddenly lost all interest? This could also be a sign that somebody is giving them a hard time. Similarly, if your child begins distancing themselves from family and friends, this may be an indication that they are having a hard time.

Quitting social media

Lastly, watch out for your child suddenly quitting social media. In an age where young people invest a lot of time into building their digital presence, notably on social media, abruptly deleting an account should set off an alarm.

To wrap up, it can be very daunting for children to speak out about their experiences or admit they are being bullied, which is why it is important that parents are able to spot if their child is a victim of online abuse or harassment. Pay close attention to how your child is doing and, if needed, be ready to offer a helping hand.

To learn more about more dangers faced by children online as well as about how technology can help, head over to https://saferkidsonline.eset.com.



Editor


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