Posts tagged ‘social networking’

Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online

As parents, it can often be hard to keep up with your children’s internet usage, let alone the latest websites, online interactive tools, or technologies. Now OnGuard Online has created a great resource for parents that gives an overview of specific technologies and ways to talk to your kids about their online activities, titled, Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online. The guide is available for free online download, or you can order a free physical copy of the guide as well as reprint it, give it away, or reuse the material in any way that is most useful to you.

Download a free copy here.

Order a free copy here.

(Thanks to iKeepSafe for the tip)

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October 20, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Teens Sued over Obscene Facebook Page

Four Chicago teens are facing a defamation lawsuit over a fake Facebook page they created for a teammate. The four teens created the fake Facebook profile page using their victim’s real name and cell phone number. Once the profile was up, they proceeded to post sexually explicit and racist comments on it, appearing to come from their victim, who they also portrayed as gay. By the time the profile was deleted, the four teens had amassed 580 friends on the fake profile. The mother of the victim, who lobbied Facebook to delete the profile, is now suing the four teens for defamation and emotional stress.

I think we can all agree that this type of behavior is unacceptable and that the boys who did this should be punished in some way. However, who will actually pay the price for their behavior? Their parents. If these four boys are found guilty, their parents will be paying damages.

This example shows that it is not just the kids involved who are affected by cyberbulling—whole families can suffer as a result. This lawsuit highlights the importance of talking to your children about ethical online behavior. Many teens think that they can get away with anything under the cloak of anonymity that the internet provides, but they are wrong. In fact, there are many ways that your identity can be tracked down over the internet, and that’s just what happened to these boys.

As technology progresses, and people begin to carry their internet identity around with them through cyberspace, the illusion of anonymity will breaking down further and further. It is important to start educating your children while they are young about appropriate online behavior (for example, check out Woogi World, a social media environment built to teach elementary school age kids about ethical and safe online behavior). Remember, if your son or daughter is being the bully, you could be the one to pay.


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October 7, 2009 at 4:36 pm 3 comments

Can Online Child Safety Go Too Far?

I recently read about a software program billed as an internet safety tool for parents. The program, SpectorSoft is described below:

“Spector works by taking snapshots of whatever is on the computer screen and saving the snapshots to a hidden location on the computer’s hard drive. Spector can automatically take a picture of the computer screen as frequently as once per second or snapshots can be triggered by user activity. Additionally, Spector records every web site visited and features a world-class keystroke recorder that captures every key users type on the computer keyboard, including passwords.”

Does this description make anyone else a little uneasy? This software essentially amounts to legal spyware. Although I realize that parents want to keep their children safe online, recording every single movement and keystroke seems like a gross breech of parent/child trust. Asking your child for their Facebook password is one thing, but obtaining it though spyware seems like quite another.

At what point does monitoring your children’s online activity cross the line from sincere concern to creepy surveillance? The distinction is important because your children can feel your sincere concern, but will resent your creepy surveillance.

Here are some tips that might help your child feel that you care about them rather than feeling like you want to control them:

  1. Join the social networks your children are on and “follow” them or become their “friend.” Insist that adding you as a friend or follower is required if they are going to use the sites. This accomplishes two things. First, it allows you to monitor what your child is posting without being overbearing. Second, it forces you to learn the technology. Knowing the way social media functions and how it is used gives you an insight into the way that your child uses it and can breed greater understanding between the two of you.
  2. Check your browser history regularly, and let your child know that you will be checking it. A browser history is not a complete record of everything your children do online, but it can give you an idea of the websites they frequent. As well, if you are regularly monitoring browser history, you will know when the history is erased. A deleted browser history is a red flag, and gives you the opportunity to talk to your child about what was erased and why. Talking with your children about a discrepancy gives you the chance to express your concern for them and show them that you trust and love them while reinforcing standards about inappropriate internet content.
  3. If necessary, apply a filter. Internet filters are not new or ironclad, but they are a recurring reminder to your children that you care about what they see and do online. Talk to your children about why you have applied the filter and what content you don’t want them to access. If they begin to wander into a questionable section of the internet, a filter message may be the very thing that reminds them of potential dangers and help them make the decision to turn around.

Overall, just remember that if you show your children trust, respect, and concern for their safety, while giving them freedom to surf the web—instead of acting like Big Brother—they will respect your efforts to keep them safe online.

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September 14, 2009 at 7:30 am Leave a comment

1,000 CrimeReports Fans on Facebook!

Today, CrimeReports has reached 1,000 fans on Facebook. It was slightly less than a month ago that we announced 500 fans, but thanks to our enthusiastic users, CrimeReports is growing like never before. We are extremely pleased to have so many supporters across the US and Canada who want to get involved in neighborhood crime prevention by working with their local law enforcement and using CrimeReports.

Thanks to everyone who has made this possible by spreading the word, talking to your neighbors, and working with local law enforcement to keep your neighborhoods safer.

Get even more information and links by following us on Twitter: @crimereports.

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September 11, 2009 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

Facebook: Internet Shopping for Burglars

Through MSNBC, I recently found the results of a study by Legal & General, which found that 38% of Facebook and Twitter users post information about upcoming vacations. In addition, the study found that 13% of Facebook friends and 92% of Twitter followers are accepted by complete strangers. The study also found that young people (16-24 year-olds) were most likely to share detailed vacation plans through social media. But not only are people posting their vacation plans—practically out on the open—they are also raving about all the new stuff they just bought when they were gone, like a new flat-screen TV, iPhone, or laptop.

Internet Shopping for Burglars

What this boils down to is an environment ripe for criminals to find out when you will be out of the house and exactly what to steal—right from their own couch. Criminals no longer have to troll neighborhoods looking for mailboxes bursting with mail, all they have to do is follow people on Twitter or Friend them on Facebook, and they’ll know exactly who to hit and when.


Fight Identity Theft also just publish a story covering the ways that Facebook quiz developers can access your profile and your friend’s profiles when you agree to take a quiz made by them. Says the California ACLU:

“Even if your Facebook profile is ‘private,’ when you take a quiz, an unknown quiz developer could be accessing almost everything in your profile: your religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, pictures, and groups. Facebook quizzes also have access to most of the info on your friends’ profiles. This means that if your friend takes a quiz, they could be giving away your personal information too.”


What should your strategy be?

  • Don’t share anything online that you don’t want any stranger to see. If you don’t want strangers to call you, don’t post your phone number—it’s that simple.
  • Check your social media privacy settings. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites allow you to set security levels—use them!
  • Don’t broadcast to the world every time you leave the house. You may want people to know you’ll be out of town, but if it is really important for them to know, you can always send them an email or give them a call.
  • Bragging about big item purchases is a no-no. Do you walk through the mall telling everyone that you just bought the latest, greatest, fastest, $5,000 laptop? If not, then don’t do it online either. If someone is looking to steal one, you’ll be at the top of their list.

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September 9, 2009 at 7:30 am Leave a comment

Design Your Neighborhood Against Crime

Lately, there has been a widespread trend toward use of web 2.0 tools and social media in law enforcement. Although these tools are great for communication and maintaining connections between citizens and law enforcement, they—in and of themselves—will not decrease crime significantly. Sure, web 2.0 crime mapping can provide an advantage to neighborhood watch groups, but public-facing crime mapping will not necessarily reduce crime if it is not coupled with a variety of other personal crime-prevention strategies.

What we’re talking about is not simply looking at the results of crime, through crime mapping, statistics, and sharing crime tips through Facebook, but using that information to target physical aspects of the community that encourage crime. For neighborhood watch groups this means not just watching out for crime, but actively paying attention to physical aspects of your community that may increase chances for crime.

Physical Aspects of Your Neighborhood

Look around your community. How many neighbors have their porch light on at night? How many lawns look unkempt? How many houses have bushes under their windows? How many houses have large windows facing the street? How many houses have fences? The answers to these questions may help you root out some aspects that make your neighborhood more attractive to criminals.


Overall street appearance, like nicely manicured lawns, attractive bushes, and accent lighting, sends a message to criminals that the homeowners care about their property and keep an eye on it—and might have security systems. Unkempt lawns and neglected trees and shrubs, are a sign that maybe other aspects of the home are untended too, like door and window locks.

Street and porch lighting deter criminals who generally don’t want to be in the spotlight. And, coupled with street-facing windows, make criminals feel uncomfortable, like they are being watched and could easily be identified.

At first, you would think that high fences would keep criminals out, but that is not always true. Waist-high fences or shrubs lining your property actually provide two benefits: they act as a barrier that is awkward to cross, and they give you street visibility. With high fences, you won’t know a criminal is coming until he hops the fence or enters the gate. With a waist-high barrier, you can them coming from a mile away.

Finally, there is a very simple way to block access to your windows, plant thorny bushes under them. I know it sounds kind of silly, but faced with the prospect of pushing his way through a thorn bush to get to your bedroom window, most criminals will pass your windows up for easier targets.


These are all aspects of your property and neighborhood that you can control. Talk to your neighbors about implementing strategies to deter criminals before they even get to your house. In addition, you can talk to your city council about street-lighting issues as well as public signage (like neighborhood watch signs) and other physical aspects of your neighborhood that are city property.

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September 4, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Online Safety for Grandparents

iKeepSafe blog just published a great article by Debra Berlyn and Jodi Lyons, emphasizing the importance of web safety for seniors. Usually when we discuss online safety, we talk about keeping our children away from pornography, sexual predators, cyber-bullying, and more, but the over-65 crowd needs information and protecting as well.

Online safety for seniors is not so much about keeping them away from sexual predators as it is about keeping them away from identity predators. As grandparents take an interest in the social networking activities of their children and grandchildren, it is important to help them create a healthy skepticism toward people they interact with online and not give out ANY personal information unless they personally know the person they are giving the information to.

Click here to get more great tips from the full article.

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August 28, 2009 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing bloggers and may not necessarily reflect the official or actual opinions of CrimeReports, its parent company Public Engines, or any of its employees.


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