The ICANN saga – part 2

Guest blog contributor: John Carr. He is a member of the Executive Board of the UK Council on Child Internet Safety, the British Government’s principal advisory body for online safety and security for children and young people.

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Earlier this week I blogged about an article that appeared in The Times concerning ICANN’s neglect of children’s issues. The story got a little promotional piece on the front page and was huge inside the paper.

Imagine my surprise when I was contacted by The Times again yesterday. ICANN had sent them a statement and the journalist wanted my reaction to it. I asked him to send me the statement. He did.

First point to make: this was ICANN responding to an article that was all about children and children’s welfare. In their 346 word reply the word children did not appear once. Neither did any derivative of children e.g. child or anything that might be even loosely connected e.g. youth or young.

The second is that to any but the wholly initiated their prose is all but incomprehensible. Look at this:

“ICANN is a unique institution that is governed via a bottom up, consensus-driven multistakeholder model. As a result, ICANN staff cannot unilaterally impose guidelines or requirements on registries, registrars or other stakeholders in a top-down manner. Policy recommendations are developed and refined by the ICANN community through its Supporting Organizations and influenced by Advisory Committees – all comprised of volunteers from across the world – in a “bottom-up”, multistakeholder, open and transparent process. Each Supporting Organization has its own specific policy development process. The 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) was the product of a long public consultation process that led to the consensus development of new gTLD policies and the incorporation of advice from law enforcement agencies into the agreement”

I have been to a few ICANN meetings so I think I can just about translate this but the journalist on The Times put it very eloquently when in a second article that appeared today he said

ICANN say they cannot and will not accept responsibility for the publication of illegal content online. We rely on courts and governmental regulatory activity to police illegal activity.

But isn’t the rather obvious point that by their own actions ICANN can either make it harder or easier for such regulatory activity to be effective? Regulators do not willfully ignore crimes but the way ICANN has set its rules means the volumes are now overwhelming them.

Top-down, bottom up, multistakeholderism counts for nothing if the end product is mayhem.  Cui bono? ICANN cannot hide behind a working method to excuse it of a clear responsibility to act in the public interest. ICANN is a legal entity in its own right. It should not have to ask volunteers if it should act to protect children in whatever way it can.

***To view this article directly, please click here.

Using Literature to Combat Bullying

This blog was submitted by guest contributor Hilary Smith.

blog 1Everyday, kids everywhere suffer the pain and humiliation of an encounter with a classroom bully. The problem is a common one – recent reports show that more than one in five children have reported being bullied while at school. And these numbers may even be higher than anticipated; studies indicate that up to 64 percent of kids who are bullied never report it. These experiences leave a lasting impression on both parties; kids who are bullied tend to be more depressed in later years, and former bullies have been correlated with greater drug and alcohol use in adulthood. With every new study, the true dangers of bullying are uncovered. Bullying is no longer viewed as “just a part of growing up.”

Despite our growing knowledge of the short- long-term consequences bullying can have, it remains rather difficult to stop the behavior head on. After all, how can we stop something that happens behind our backs? One way to subvert bullying is through education and thoughtful discussion. If you’re looking for ways to facilitate that discussion, you simply need to head to your nearest bookshelf.

Stories Help Kids Develop Empathy

When we read a book, we engage in a world and an environment that can be very different from our own. This experience can give us insight into how the “other half” lives, be it a different culture, a different era, or simply a different way of thinking. Once we’ve gained this insight, it can – as a 2013 study from the New School says – “[expand] our knowledge of others’ lives, helping us to recognize our similarity to them.” In this way, reading makes us more empathetic and understanding of the people around us.

In this way, reading can help stop bullying before it starts. If a child reads from an early age, he or she will have an easier time empathizing with other children at school or on the playground. Instead of bullying the “different” kids, he or she will be able to try and understand them, possibly making a new friend along the way. Of course, not every kid will get along (not every adult gets along with everyone, either). But children with a strong and developed sense of empathy just might handle personality clashes with grace and without any cruelty.

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Books Can Build Self Esteem

ou may be thinking Sure, I can read to my kid and help him be more empathetic, but what about the other kids? What happens if my child becomes the victim? This concern is completely valid. No one wants to see his or her child struggling with meanness at a young age. However, this is also a concern with an easy solution – building the child’s self esteem. A confident child can stand up to the bully picking on him or her (or sometimes, picking on another kid), which will lead to a more pleasant and stimulating school environment.

There are many books available today that are designed to help a child build self-esteem. Reading with them regularly will help reinforce those important lessons – and the quality time you spend with them doesn’t hurt either! In fact, self-esteem-building books give a child the freedom to be exactly what he or she wants to be, ultimately creating a happy, well-adjusted adult.

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How Adults Can Help

 As adults, we know it is our responsibility to help the children in our lives navigate through the adventure of growing up. And, as we already mentioned here, books and literature can be a great way to teach kids about other’s experiences and their own self worth. But here’s the big questions (the same big question every parent asks every day): how do we do it right?

Well, the first thing to do is to carefully select the literature you read to your child. When they are very young, consider books that are emotionally sensitive and uplifting. Choose books that feature a variety of characters, so your child learns to see the similarities between people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Finally, it’s best to avoid books that glorify violence, hatred, or illegal behaviors. Yes, these things can make for interesting stories (there’s a reason that many crime novels became bestsellers), but these messages aren’t suited to a young, impressionable audience.

After you read a story with you child, talk with him or her about the lesson they learned while reading. Together, you and your child can help bring an end to bullying in your community.

Popular Social Media Apps and How Teens & Tweens Are Using Them

Blog contribution by Xooloo

Tweens-using-smartphones-2Social Media Apps Tweens & Teens Are Using

The addiction to social media and mobile apps is no secret amongst today’s teens and tweens. According to Pew Research Center, the availability of smartphones has resulted in 92% of teens (ages 13-17) saying they go online every day, and 24% of teens stating that they are online “almost constantly.” With this many teens online at such a high level of frequency, what exactly are they doing?

Social media is a major draw among this demographic, and there are a number of social media apps that rise above the rest in popularity. Research reports that Facebook is still the most popular and frequently used social media app among teens, with 71% of them claiming to use it. Instagram comes in next at 52%, followed by Snapchat (41%) and Twitter (33%).

According to Common Sense Media, tweens (ages 8-12) and teens (ages 13-18) use their media differently. Teens are more likely to multi-task, using their device or computer to listen to music (76%), text (60%), watch TV (51%), or use social media (50%) while they are doing their homework.

The Social Fabric of Tween/Teen Life

With all of this time online, how do tweens and teens use social media? In today’s highly technological world, social media acts as a place tweens and teens can hang out and socialize outside of home and school. Despite the high number of teens that still use Facebook, this is slowly changing as they begin to favor Instagram and Snapchat.

When on these apps, teens and tweens are chatting, playing games, and snapping and sharing photos and other images they find online. Contrary to parents’ concerns, in most cases, tweens and teens prefer to interact with kids they already know. However, with the vast amount of social media apps available, it becomes increasingly easier for your child to interact with strangers and friends, alike.

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The key is to know which apps your child is using. Once you have that information, you can familiarize yourself with these platforms and how they are used. Sign up for an account, discover firsthand how these platforms are being used by kids.

When you have this information, you can open a line of communication with your child and educate them on best practices when using the app. You can also discuss the possibility of not using certain apps if you feel they aren’t appropriate.

This will help you maintain awareness of what your child is doing online and will allow you to offer your guidance on what they should and should not be posting. Sometimes kids share things with a wider group than intended; in these situations, parents can step in and use that incident as an opportunity to discuss their child’s awareness of their social sphere.

Ultimately, social media is here to stay, and has become a significant part of the social development of tweens and teens. Understanding that social media apps now are an integral part of adolescent life is a crucial realization for parents to have. They can then play a role in their child’s social media presence by teaching them appropriate online behavior, and monitor their app time-usage.

To view blog article from Xoolo, click here.

To view Xooloo.com, click here.

Introducing the Family Link app: Helping families navigate technology together

Blog shared from Google’s “Keyword” posted on March 15, 2017

Pavni Diwanji

The devices we carry every day open up a world of information for us to explore, sparking our curiosity and creativity. But when it comes to our kids using those same devices, it’s tricky. We want them to explore and be inspired as they embark on their digital adventure, but every family feels differently about what their kids should and shouldn’t be able to do on their device. That’s why we developed the Family Link app. When your child is ready for their first Android device, Family Link lets you create a Google Account for them, which is like your own account, and also helps you set certain digital ground rules that work for your family – like managing the apps your kid can use, keeping an eye on screen time, and setting a bedtime on your kid’s device.

Here’s how it works: First, your kid will need a new device that runs Android Nougat (7.0)* or higher. Then, download Family Link onto your device and create a Google Account for them through the app. Finally, sign them into their new device, and you can then use Family Link to:

 

Manage the apps your kid can use

Approve or block the apps your kid wants to download from the Google Play Store.

Screenshot: Manage the apps your kid can use

 

To read full blog article, please click here.

 

 

 

 

The Role of Pets in Depression and Bullying in Kids

Guest Contributor: Hillary Smith

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It’s hardly possible to list all perks of owning a pet in one article, so I won’t even try. Instead, I’ll focus on one of the least discussed aspects of pet ownership – its effect on children bullying and depression. This topic is as serious as it is important to talk about since more people than we know suffer from the above-mentioned problem. Both depression and bullying in children can significantly affect the quality of life, that’s why the issue should not be left without attention.

It goes without saying that pets fulfill our lives with new emotions. Nothing compares to seeing your fluffy dog running towards you as you get back from work at the end of a long working day. And there’s sure nothing like waking up from a tender purr your cat makes when sitting by your bed early in the morning. Most of the pet owners would agree that having a four-legged friend is associated with positive emotions that range from adoration to happiness to amusement.

Can Your Pet Cure Depression?

Absolutely. Although it doesn’t happen overnight, there is scientific evidence that pets can help alleviate (or even eliminate entirely) the symptoms of depression. Animal-assisted therapy is considered an effective way of treatment for those suffering from depression and anxiety.

But How Can They Do This?

There’re plenty of possible reasons why this works, and I’d be happy to mention the most probable ones. First and foremost, pet ownership is all about unconditional and uncomplicated love. While we can only dream about such level of relationships with other human beings, our fluffy friends find it easy to bring it to our lives. With pets, love feels simple, which brings a great relief for those tired of disputes and unjustified expectations. Secondly, owning a pet encourages activity and helps you build up your daily routine. They say we’re most likely to feel depressed when are bored and not busy. Well, with a ball of fluff rushing around, there’s no enough room for boredom. Thirdly, pets are great for social interaction and they can easily fulfill your daily need of physical touch.

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Pets and Bullying in Kids

Speaking of how pet ownership affects bullying in kids, there are two different perspectives to be considered. The first one is how pets can help children fight against bullying, while the second is just the opposite – how pet ownership breeds empathy and helps children realize the true nature and adverse consequences of bullying. To put it differently, adopting a pet can help both victims of bullying and those bullying others.

So how pets can fight bullying?

As it’s been proved, pets help children better understand such complicated feelings as empathy, tolerance, and kindness – all those emotions a lack of which often results in bullying issues. Since pets are known for responding to emotional cues, they can teach children to show compassion to those in need.

At the same time, owning a pet (especially a dog) can help kids deal with a psychological burden of bullying they might experience at school or elsewhere. Having a pet helps children feel more confident, loved, and understood. As a result, having a pet is likely to make your kid able to respond to bullying better.

Being bullied can have serious negative consequences on a child’s mental health, which is why the problem should never be left untreated. Luckily, chances are good that something as simple as adopting a pet can help tremendously.

So what’s the bottom line?

Having a pet is great for both physical and mental health. However, not all pets are equal. Especially, when it comes to dogs. While some breeds are great companions and can feel like real friends, others are less inclined to hugs and kisses. So if your primary reason for owning a pet is emotional well-being, make sure to conduct a little research to be able to make an educated choice. And don’t forget the most important thing: regardless of your choice, life will never be the same. In the finest sense of these words.

 

Making News, Protecting Privacy, Curbing Trafficking

A Message From the President 
Dear Friends,

Happy 2017! Enough Is Enough has been working tirelessly in the month of January to tackle issues that are all part of our effort to keep our kids safe online. Current efforts range from fighting sex trafficking online, to shaping and suggesting policy within the new Trump administration, to continuing to educate the public with ways to keep our children’s online information private and safe. You’ll find below just a taste of what is going on at EIE, as well as some helpful resources to protect your family online.

In other BREAKING NEWS: EIE applauds the leadership in South Dakota and Virginia for passing resolutions declaring pornography a public health crisis. EIE continues to lead on a national level educating the public and policy makers on the harms of pornography, and we celebrate the victory with those who are taking action!

Wishing you a safe 2017, and as always, thank you for helping us keep up the good fight!
Sincerely,
Donna

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Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will.

Enough Is Enough is working hard to make sure that parents know traffickers are targeting children — mainly between the ages of 12-19 — right in our own backyards, and are using the Internet to entice them into a face-to-face meeting. The traffickers use the same tactics used by sexual predators to groom and exploit children online.

Did you know…

  • Traffickers often set up fake accounts online to “friend” a teen, and lure them into meeting up?
  • Teens from all different social economic and ethnic backgrounds are targets.
  • Sex trafficking is the 2nd fastest growing crime in the United States, according to the FBI.
  • Law enforcement in Houston, home to Super Bowl 51, plan to increase resources to combat sex and labor trafficking. Large events are often associated with drawing in traffickers due to the large crowds that are present.

To report a tip or get help, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline
at 1-888-373-7888.  For additional trafficking resources, click here.


EIE In the News:

Donna Rice Hughes on WUSA 9 Discussing the Women’s March (January 24, 2017)

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Donna Rice Hughes on WTTG FOX 5 Discussing the Women’s March and President Trump (January 24, 2017)

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Donna Rice Hughes on CBNNews.Com Discussing Cyberbullying  (January 20, 2017)
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Podcast from FOSI Conference — Larry Magid speaks with Donna Rice Hughes about EIE’s Porn Free Wi-Fi Campaign, fake news and the incoming Trump administration. (December 5, 2016)


Print Media:

Protecting America’s Children: Melania Trump Vows to Fight Cyber-Bullying (January 23, 2017)
Alternet: South Carolina Bill Could Block Porn on All New Computers (December 27, 2016)
Momzette: Vast Online Dangers Threaten Curious Kids (December 7, 2016)
Blogs:
Will Jeff Sessions drain the Internet swamp of crimes against children? (January 10, 2017)


data-privacy-dayHeld annually on Jan. 28, Data Privacy Day generates awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust. Here are a few helpful resources from EIE’s partner, the National Cyber Security Alliance, to educate you with ways to protect your personal information and manage your privacy in preparing for the day.
Please implement these recommendations to to better manage your privacy:
  • Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites and apps to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
  • Lock down your login: Choose one account and turn on the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.
  • Keep a clean machine: Update your security software, web browser and operating system to have the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Share with care: What you post can last a lifetime. Before posting something about yourself or others online, think about how it might be perceived now and in the future and who might see it.

Will Jeff Sessions drain the Internet swamp of crimes against children?

The following commentary by EIE President and CEO Donna Rice Hughes appeared on Jan. 10, 2017 in “The Hill.
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As the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee holds confirmation hearings for Senator Jeff Sessions to be the country’s eighty-fourth attorney general today, the committee will probe his views on law enforcement, criminal justice and a number of other legal issues.
According to the 2016 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, Internet safety is now the 4th most commonly identified “big problem”, up from #8 in 2014 on the list of parent’s health concerns for children.
Sexting received the biggest change in rating this year, from #13 in 2014 to #6 in 2015; kids have had free and easy access to prosecutable Internet pornography for over two decades. Child pornographers, predators and traffickers often use anonymizing tools, the Deep Web and unregulated virtual currencies to cover their tracks. And the Internet-enabled sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT) has out-paced international and national efforts to curb the problem.
The endless sludge of criminal content and activity on the Internet must be drained and the rule of law upheld.
Last summer, Donald J. Trump signed Enough Is Enough’s Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge which included the commitment to appoint an Attorney General who will make the prosecution of existing federal laws to prevent the sexual exploitation of children online a top priority.
One key area that the committee must address is Trump’s Pledge to appoint an Attorney General who will make the enforcement of the federal obscenity, child pornography, sexual predation and sex trafficking laws a top priority. Every child deserves a protected age of innocence.
The government must start doing its job by vigorously enforcing the laws designed to protect vulnerable children in the digital age. Therefore, some of the questions based on the Pledge the Judiciary Committee should ask Senator Sessions include:
  • Will you aggressively enforce the existing federal obscenity laws, child pornography laws, sexual predation laws and the sex trafficking laws?
  • Research substantiates that online pornography is a growing health crisis that must be addressed and reversed. What strategies would you implement to deal with the proliferation of prosecutable pornography which has been allowed to flourish online due to the failure of the Obama Justice Department to enforce the existing federal obscenity laws?
  • How will you work with Congress and the White House to ensure law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the necessary tools, resources and support they need to investigate and prosecute child sexual exploitation, obscenity and child pornography and be of sufficient magnitude to effectively deter illegal activity on the Internet?
  • How will you ensure the enforcement of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), requiring schools and public libraries using government eRate monies to filter child pornography, obscene content and harmful to minors material? In particular, how will you, as attorney general hold public libraries accountable to filter and work with the FCC to ensure oversight?
  • Most victims of child pornography are prepubescent with a growing trend towards the depiction of younger children, including infants. Child pornographers and sex traffickers are gravitating to the use sophisticated anonymizing tools to cover their tracks and the “Deep Web” sites that cater to their perversion which accept payment in unregulated currencies such as Bitcoin. How will you tackle these growing challenges?
  • Will you support the work of a presidential commission to examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families, and the prevention of sexual exploitation of children in the digital age?
Today’s youth have fully integrated the Internet into their daily lives, using technology as a pervasive platform for education, communication, interaction, exploration, and self-expression. Preventing the sexual exploitation of youth online requires a shared responsibility between the public, corporations and government.
A growing number of government commissions, task forces, scholars, and institutions have recognized the significant risks associated with unfettered Internet access by youth, and they have called upon governments, policy makers, caregivers, industry and educators to take action. The Presidential Pledge and supporting documentation, including the signed pledge by President-elect Trump can be found at http://enough.org/presidential_pledge
Donna Rice Hughes, Enough Is Enough®’s CEO & President has been an Internet safety pioneer, author, and speaker since 1994. As a media commentator, she has given thousands of interviews on Internet safety related issues. She has testified numerous times before Congress, and has served as a Child Online Protection Act (COPA) Commissioner and other national and state government task forces.
To view the commentary as it appears on The Hill, please click here.

“Barbara Walters Presents” My 5th Show with Barbara

“Barbara Walters Presents”
My 5th Show with Barbara
Airing Tuesday, December 6 at
8PM ET/7C on the Investigation Discovery Channel

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A Message From the President

Dear Friends,

I wanted to let you know about my interview with the legendary Barbara Walters airing tomorrow night.

I sat down with Barbara in June for a couple of hours to tape the interview. The one-hour show covers my journey over the past several decades and highlights some key EIE victories since 1994.

I haven’t seen the entire show yet, but the producers tell me it’s a great hour of journalism, the way investigative reporting should be. For those of you who are history buffs, you might appreciate the historical significance of this show which chronicles the year the mainstream media went tabloid.

One thing is for sure, I respect and love my longtime friend Barbara, who held my hand during one of the most difficult years of my life. And for those friends and family who walked though that season with me, I will always be grateful.

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EIE President Donna Rice Hughes’s story and work as an Internet safety pioneer is featured in this one-hour interview with Barbara Walters.

Most importantly, I always believed that if I chose the high road, the path of dignity and follow the Lord’s leading in my life, that all these painful and challenging times would work out for good, and they did. (Romans 8:28-29)

 

 

Barbara Walters Interview Information

“Barbara Walters Presents: The Scandal That Changed History” airing tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 8ET/7C on the Investigation Discovery Channel.

Check out 3-minute promo here

Check out our Press Release here: (DONNA RICE HUGHES: FROM ‘MEDIA PUNCHING BAG’ TO INTERNATIONAL CHILD INTERNET SAFETY EXPERT: Barbara Walters Special Tuesday Reveals Woman with a Mission)

Enough Is Enough Congratulates President-Elect Donald Trump

 

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Mr. Trump enthusiastically signed the Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge in July, prior to the GOP convention

Donna Rice Hughes, CEO/President of Enough Is Enough® (EIE), whose mission is making the Internet safer for children and families, congratulates Donald J. Trump on winning the Presidency.

Mr. Trump enthusiastically signed The Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge in July, prior to the GOP convention. EIE is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and does not endorse or oppose candidates for office.

“Mr. Trump’s leadership to uphold the rule of law by signing the Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge is historic and represents the first time in history a candidate has signed a pledge during the election process to defend the innocence and dignity of America’s children by promising to enforce the existing federal laws and advancing public policies designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of children online” said Mrs. Hughes, a leading Internet safety pioneer, author, speaker, and Emmy-winning filmmaker.

“Making the Internet safer for children and families is a critical step in making America safe again.”

“Internet safety is now the 4th ranked health issue for U.S. children and is a bi-partisan unifying issue that requires a holistic multi-pronged strategy with a shared responsibility between the public, industry, and government. Governments can’t parent and parents can’t enforce the law.”

Donna Rice Hughes, CEO/President of Enough Is Enough
Donna Rice Hughes,
CEO/President of Enough Is Enough

“Parents alone cannot prevent Internet crimes against their children. Government must also do its part and enforce all the laws on the books, not just some of them” adds Mrs. Hughes.

EIE will stand alongside and support President-Elect Trump as he fulfills his commitment to appoint an Attorney General, who will make the vigorous prosecution of the federal obscenity, child pornography, sexual predation, child trafficking laws and the Children’s Internet Protection Act a top priority.

The Pledge also includes provisions for the necessary resources and tools to prosecute such crimes, and calls for the establishment of public-private partnerships to step up voluntary efforts to reduce and prevent Internet crimes against children.

Finally, the Pledge asks for consideration to appoint a Presidential Commission to examine the harmful public health impact of hard-core Internet pornography and the prevention of the sexual exploitation of children in the digital age.

(Are you prepared to protect your kids so they can enjoy the wonders of the Internet while being spared from the dangers? Learn More, courtesy of Enough is Enough and YouTube)

Hughes concludes, “We applaud our next First Lady Melania Trump’s commitment to make cyberbullying her cause while in the White House, and look forward to supporting Mrs. Trump’s efforts to be an agent of change for Internet safety and responsibility.”

“With our new President and First Lady united in their commitment to prevent the Internet-enabled exploitation of our nation’s youth, the tide will begin to turn so that children can enjoy both safe and rewarding digital experiences.”

Donna Rice Hughes, Enough Is Enough‘s CEO & President has been an Internet safety pioneer, author, and speaker since 1994. As a media commentator, she has given over 4500 interviews on Internet safety related issues.

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She is also the Emmy-award winning Producer and Emmy nominated Host of the EIE’s Internet Safety 101SM TV series.

She has testified numerous times before Congress, and has served as a COPA Commissioner and served on other national and state government task forces.

She won the 2013 Women In Technology Award for Social Impact and the 2014 Professional Women in Advocacy Excellence In Advocacy Award for “Veteran Practitioner”.

The Presidential Pledge and supporting documentation can be found at http://enough.org/presidential_pledge.

 

 

The True Cost of Those Alluring Online Quizzes

quiz-imageThey’ve become all the rage for kids and adults alike.  After all, within a matter of minutes and a few clicks of the keyboard, anyone can determine: “Which Celebrity Do You Resemble?” “What Classic Disney Princess Are You?”  “Are You Actually Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” “Which State Do I Actually Belong In?”  “How Young Are You At Heart?”  “What Is Your IQ!”  Quiz lovers and anyone seeking instant gratification or feedback about their intelligence, identity, or personality traits are up to the challenge.

There’s no denying that online quizzes and surveys can be enticing. Long before the Internet was around, they appeared in an assortment of magazines and publications. Today however, the seemingly harmless quizzes that have taken over social media feeds and appear regularly on search engine ads have driven up online traffic in record numbers to the delight of quiz developers. The results can then be instantly shared or posted to friends and any online connections. Children also partake in this viral quiz-taking phenomenon as it’s a fun and easy way to compare and share results with their friends.

But the question must be asked: Is there a cost to taking online quizzes?

The answer is a resounding yes. While many get easily sucked in to answer a set of seemingly unrelated questions to appease their curiosity, participating in online quizzes can come with a hefty price.

Although they can seem like a momentarily thrill ride as questions and images are designed to engage the quiz taker, the user is often not aware that these quizzes are a data-mining haven for the quiz developer—and even fraudsters—to collect personal data, and in some cases their money.

If you’ve ever taken a Facebook quiz, you’ll be asked to log in with your social media profile before the results can be posted for friends to see. Most often, a popup screen will ask you to allow access “to pull your provide information, photos, your friend’s info, and other content that it requires do work.” It goes on to say:

 “By proceeding, you are allowing [Insert Quiz Name] to access your information and you are agreeing to the Facebook Terms of Use in your use of [Insert Quiz Name.]” 

Did you catch that?  Your profile information is being accessed by the quiz developer (and your Facebook friends’ information is being accessed without their knowledge or permission)! The abundance of information being shared can include photos, your personal information and interests, work and education history, groups you belong to, religious views and more.

Participating in online quizzes can also lead to unwanted ads that follow you long after you’ve taken a quiz, or request a required payment or purchase with a credit card (which opens up a whole host of problems with potential credit card fraud) before results can be accessed. Even more disturbing, terms and privacy policies stemming from quizzes are sometimes found on an entirely different domain from that on which the quiz appeared. Developers are likely banking on the fact that quiz takers will breeze right through the small print allowing third-party service providers to collect a whole slew of information about personal income, buying habits, and so forth, which are then put on display for marketers ready and willing to pay for specific, targeted data.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your child?  First and foremost, if the temptation is too strong to bypass these quizzes, adjust your social media privacy settings and deselect anything you do not want shared without your permission. Also, make sure you know who your Facebook Friends are (and especially your child’s Facebook Friends if they have an account) as they may be able to share your profile information (or your child’s profile information) by taking part in these quizzes.

Teach your kids not to take these quizzes without your permission. That way, you can monitor what information they are voluntarily providing (whether they realize it or not). Of course, caution your children about posting personal or contact information, including your child’s full name, address, phone number, passwords, and financial information that should only be provided on a secure site under parental supervision.

If you’re uncertain as to how to monitor social media accounts, Enough Is Enough has a host of brief Internet Safety 101 “Rules ‘N Tools” videos available on You Tube that show how to set privacy settings, and provides instruction on ways you can know your child’s online activities and friends. Click here to view the safety videos.

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So next time if you want to find out if your intelligence meets the “genius” criteria, or determine what your biological age really is, first consider the privacy rights you may be relinquishing by taking the quiz. Better yet, just bypass these quizzes all together. If you must indulge, take them the old fashioned way with paper and pencil.