Category Archives for "Internet-Mobile Safety"

Warning Signs of Grooming by an Internet Predator

This article was written by Jenny Evans and was orignally posted on the blog.  It is reprinted here with permission.

Most people your child meets on the Internet will be harmless, but there’s still danger in making friends online. Child predators use the Internet to meet children and form relationships with them, the end result of which is to molest or abuse them in the future. This process is known as “grooming,” and it’s vital that you recognize grooming while it’s happening, so you can stop it before it goes too far.

Predators groom children by lending a listening ear, making them feel special, treating them “like a grown up,” introducing sexual speech or pornography to make such acts seem more acceptable, encouraging secrets, and introducing them to other adult behaviors like drinking and doing drugs.

Sexual grooming by an online predator is surprisingly hard to notice, and children may be committed to protecting their secret relationship with their “new friend.” Some warning signs that your child may be being groomed by an online pedophile are:

  • Secrecy, especially about Internet activity
  • Unexplained appearance of new gifts – especially cell phones, jewelry, or expensive items
  • Appearance of pornography, especially child pornography, on their phone or computer
  • Strange names in their social networking “friends list”
  • Suspicious new contact information in their cell phone
  • Edgy new behavior, dress, language, makeup, or appearance
  • Skipping school
  • New risky behavior (drugs, smoking, alcohol, etc)
  • Sudden interest in or knowledge of sexual or age-inappropriate topics
  • Loss of interest in real-life friends or distance from family
  • Changes in mood, especially after being online

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell these grooming warning signs from typical teen behavior. But if several are present at once and the behaviors have not previously been problems, there is most likely something besides normal adolescent turbulence going on.

Jenny Evans is a mother of three and a freelance writer specializing in parenting, childhood, and family issues.

Are You Smartphone Smart? Protect Your Children in a Digital World

Many of my teen clients have smartphones and are very adept at using them.  However, there are some things they don’t pay much attention to.  One of those things is Geotagging.  I learned about Geotagging because I try to keep up with the issues regarding internet and cell phone safety.  Not knowing about Geotagging can endanger not only your teens, but your entire family.

Geotagging is a feature on any device that has a GPS chip in it.  It is the technology that embeds all the details about where and when a photo is taken.  It includes the coordinates that would allow a predator to locate where your family lives or the places they frequent when a photo is shared.  As I understand it, it is accurate to within 15 feet of the location where the photo is taken.  With a few smarts regarding GPS technology, a predator can extract the embedded information fairly easily.

Not all smartphones have the Geotagging feature turned on, but you should check to make certain.  If it is on, you need to manually turn off the Geotagging feature.  On some phones, the phone will ask if you want to Geotag photos and because “tagging” photos on Facebook and Flickr is fun, kids often click on yes without understanding what they are agreeing to.

When you do disable Geotagging on your smartphone, be sure that you take care to target just the photos so you won’t also disable your direction finders and the feature that allows law enforcement to locate your child in case of emergency.

I hope you find this tip to keeping your children safe in the digital world to be helpful.   A moment of caution can prevent a lifetime of heartache.

Teen Video Sexting

Since I couldn’t have said this any better, I am reprinting this article by Jenny Evans from the KidZafe Blog.

Sexting used to mean sending nude or racy pictures to someone else’s cell phone, but today’s teens are upping the stakes with a new kind of sexting.  Sexting is evolving from pictures to video – and video sexts can be twice as dangerous and twice as risky.

Most parents know that sexting in any form carries a lot of heavy consequences, ranging from damaged reputations to criminal charges.  Once a sext is sent, the sender has no control over where it ends up or how it is used, and the image lives forever beyond their control to delete or destroy.  Possessing or distributing a sext of someone under 18 years old could also mean serious child pornography charges.

Video sexting has all these dimensions and more.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and videos are literally thousands of pictures in succession.  Video makes sexts more suggestive, more realistic, and more likely to go viral or appear on pornography and child pornography websites.

All the video chatting technology that our kids use to stay connected is a privilege, one which teens must use responsibly.  Before even considering handing your child a cell phone with texting or video capabilities, talk to your kids about your expectations for how it is to be used.  Follow up with regular monitoring to make sure house rules are being observed.

(See the Kids’ Internet Safety Page to learn more about KidZafe, a powerful tool to help you protect your children from predators, bullies and keep their online reputation safe).

Monitor Your Kids’ Internet Use without Spying

Reposted with permission: posted by jevans on May 23, 2010 for

(I don’t often post entries that someone else has written. However, Jenny Evans has said this as well or better than I could have and with her permission, I didn’t have to reinvent this information. I hope you find it useful. Please contact me if you would like more information about a fantastic, easy to use parental monitoring system that will protect your kids online and on their cell phones.)

So you’ve had the Internet safety conversation with your child: no giving out personal information online, no talking to strangers in chat rooms, and no sending elicit photos or texts. What next?

As a parent, you need to monitor your child’s online activity to make sure that your teen or tween is actually following the rules you’ve already discussed. That’s not spying – it’s parenting. When you give a curfew of 11 P.M., you don’t go to bed at 9:30 and assume your teen will get home safely because you’ve already discussed it. You stay up until they get in (which is, hopefully, before curfew time) – just to make sure they’re following the rules that will keep them safe.

It’s much the same with online activity. Parental monitoring can put a swift end to situations that could potentially become dangerous to your child.

How else will you know when a strange new “friend” appears on your child’s MySpace page? Or when they are approached by an anonymous stranger in a chat room?
Here are some statistics that point to the need for parental monitoring of your kids’ online activity:

• Three in five teens say having personal information or photos on a public site is unsafe and one in four say they know someone who has had something bad happen to them because of information posted electronically. Despite this fact, half have posted photos of friends and three in five have posted photos of themselves (2009 study by Cox Communications and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).
• About one in five teens have engaged in sexting – sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos through text message or email – and over a third know of a friend who has sent or received these kinds of messages. (2009 study by Cox Communications and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).
• More than 70% of young people talk to strangers online (According to a Dateline survey)
Look at your tween or teen’s friend list on their social networking sites, and make it a point to read their messages and posts on YouTube, MySpace, or a personal blog. Are you worried about invading your child’s privacy? You can’t invade privacy where there isn’t any, so any public Internet activity (like the ones I’ve listed above) is your right and responsibility to monitor.

What about private communications, like personal texts, emails, and private chats? That’s also something you need to monitor – but how and when you do it is between you and your child. That’s right, it doesn’t have to be a secret. In fact, it’s more effective if it’s not. Just letting kids know that you’ll be randomly viewing their texts or chat logs will significantly change the way they act online. The point of monitoring is not to “catch” kids doing something bad on the Internet, but to deter them from dangerous online behavior in the first place.

As a parent, you also need to take advantage of solutions that monitor your child’s online activity. Because you can’t be sure you will see risky activity or risky contacts, services like ours can help you to keep a watchful eye on your kids – not to spy on them, but to keep them safe. To be candid, you need to be looking out for dangers your kids are not equipped to handle alone.

Kids encounter all kinds of dangerous situations in life, and depend on their parents to keep up with what they’re doing and keep them safe. Whether it’s putting up a baby gate to keep a toddler from falling down the stairs or keeping a watchful eye as they play in the yard or monitoring a child’s Internet and mobile phone activity to protect them from cyberbullies and child predators, it’s all a day in the life of a parent.