Kathy Hatem is the Director of Communications for Enough Is Enough, a non-profit organization dedicated to Making the Internet Safer for Children and Families
Last week, schools around the country held numerous events to honor the lives of the 17 people killed at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. So often after senseless tragedies that unite our nation in a period of grief and mourning, we often found ourselves asking of the good that can possibly come out of such senseless and evil acts, and how the lives of those lost can be honored so that they did not die in vain.
In the aftermath of the shooting, we’ve witnessed the concern written across the faces of our future generations in the aftermath of the shootings as they asked themselves, “How did we get here?” “Why now? “Why us?” We’ve seen thousands of students take part in a 17-minute walk out in solidarity and remembrance of each of the lives lost. We’ve seen students take to the streets and to the halls of their state legislators demanding action.
As a parent of school-aged children, I am encouraged beyond measure to see students rising up to a level which our nation has not seen in decades. Our children are on a mission to be seen, heard, and understood. They want to feel safe and protected, and receive confirmation from those charged with protecting them that their lives are valued and they matter in this world.
When evil is at the root of such darkness our children see and experience day in and day out, I am reminded that it takes an act of God for them to see the potential for any good that can result from the horrific sights and sounds that embed the minds of our young generation.
Apart from school shootings, our children are witnessing or are personally exposed to: the degrading words of a cyberbully that squashes their spirits; dehumanizing acts depicted in unprecedented amounts and access to free, graphic Internet pornography (whether stumbled upon accidentally or viewed intentionally); or, the sexual exploitation resulting from revenge porn or sexts strewn across social media platforms for all to see.
In the most volatile and challenging of times, it is a wonder that our kids can be so resilient and charged to act. At my child’s school, and at schools across the country, random acts of kindness are being encouraged as they honor the lives lost in the Florida shooting. Students are posting kind notes on the lockers of those they’ve never spoken to prior. They are asking the child who often sits alone to join them for lunch. They are picking the kid who always gets chosen last to join their team at recess.
Our kids are so much powerful then we’ve given them credit for, myself included. When they unite, they can move mountains. When I think of the potential impact everyday kindness efforts can have on cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, and on relationships and friendships in general, I am reminded that just perhaps, this is the good that can come out of such tragedy. With this generation leading the way and demanding better from us all, I don’t doubt for a moment that they will ever allow the lives of the 17 killed to be lost in vain.
**Note: You can help spread kindness and combat the online culture of cyberbullying by generating your own “Random Post of Kindness” or “Sweet Tweet” and sharing it on social media with someone you’d like to encourage!
This blog was submitted by guest contributor Scott Reddler
In this digital era with widespread use of smartphones among children, it’s important for you as a parent to take usage monitoring seriously. From cyberbullying, to sexting, to predators, the online environment presents many potential dangers for children. And when you consider that 75% of children under eight make use of mobile devices like smartphones, cell phones, and tablets, you can appreciate the importance of keeping your children safe online.
Of course, you can expect that your children might be resistant to your monitoring efforts, but there are some things you can do to hopefully get them to understand why going this route is a must. What follows are, firstly, some tips to help you talk to your child about smartphone monitoring and, secondly, a look at how to actually go about monitoring usage.
Discuss Digital Safety
You should never assume that your children understand the the full extent of the potential dangerous out there with online predators, cyberbullying, and sexting. Remember that their young minds are still developing, and they will have a harder time than adults when it comes to properly assessing potential consequences for their actions. So before you start monitoring your children’s smartphones, explain to them why this policy is necessary by engaging them in a discussion about digital safety, what it means, and why it’s important.
Listen to Their Concerns
While as the parent you need to make it known that smartphone monitoring is a must, you should also listen to your children’s concerns and validate their feelings. A two-way discussion is more likely to yield the results you want than would a one-way lecture where you simply lay down the law and tell them how it’s going to be. As you listen to their concerns, let them know that you understand where they’re going from and explain why monitoring is necessary.
Draw Up a Contract
Before giving your children smartphones, be sure to create a smartphone contract that covers the following:
School performance requirements that let them know that good grades are a requirement to gain the privilege to use their smartphones; and
Restricted apps that they’re not allowed to download or use.
Let them know that they must sign the contract if they are to be granted access to smartphones — and be sure to list the consequences of violating the contract so that your kids are fully aware.
How to Monitor Usage
Fortunately, parental-control apps are plentiful, so you can browse what’s available to easily monitor your children’s smartphone usage. In order to be fully transparent, let your children know that you’ve taken the liberty to download usage-tracking apps onto their smartphones. When they know that they are being monitored, they’ll be less likely to get into trouble.
Indeed, this digital age, combined with the widespread use of smartphones among children, means that you have to pull out all of the stops to keep your kids safe. They may not fully appreciate the dangers that lurk online, but it’s your job to protect them. And smartphone monitoring is definitely one way to keep them safe.
For more tips on how to talk to your child about smartphone monitoring, check out the following infographic:
Recently, the fashion magazine Teen Vogue crossed the line by publishing a “how-to” guide on anal sex for its young readers on it’s online site. Teen Vogue’s article Anal Sex: What You Need to Know/How to Do it the Right Way(July 7, 2017). The article, containing numerous diagrams of both the female and male genitalia that are labeled gender-neutral as “non-prostate owners” and “prostate owners,” states, “This is anal 101, for teens, beginners, and all inquisitive folk.”
We find it irresponsible for Teen Vogue, a mainstream teen publication owned by the trusted Condé Nast, to encourage teens and tweens to explore any type of sexual activity, for that matter. Our children must never be the target of unsolicited sexual advice from a mainstream media publication, and we urge the editors to remove the article immediately, for the safety, emotional and mental well-being of our children.
Teen Vogue needs to take responsibility for content it publishes geared toward our teens, as parents should be the primary source for teaching their children about healthy sexuality.
We need you to tell Teen Vogue to immediately remove this article from its TeenVogue.com website, and not be published in a future print version of the magazine. Please, sign the petition now which will go to the editors of Teen Vogue. Our initial goal is to reach 25,000 signatures! Be sure to forward this to your friends so we can reach our petition goal!
Parents, please remember to be aware of information your child is accessing, since popular magazines or websites geared towards children are not always safe. YOU are the first line of defense in protecting your children from messages and content they are receiving.
EIE is partnering with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) this month on its #CleanUpComcast campaign telling Comcast to stop distributing sexually exploitive material. Please consider joining us!
(Article below provided by NCOSE)
Are you inviting pornography distributors into your home?
Comcast is a well-respected mainstream company that provides cable TV, high-speed Internet, and Xfinity video-on-demand.
However, Comcast is also a major distributor of hardcore pornography, which is why it is on NCOSE’s 2017 Dirty Dozen List. Through its on-demand videos and premium channel services, Comcast sells pornography with racist themes, incest themes, and teen themes.
Our society is already struggling to cope with the impacts of multiple forms of sexual abuse and violence: child sexual abuse, adult sexual exploitation, racially-motivated sexual violence, sex trafficking, and more. These problems have not emerged from a vacuum but flourish within the context of hardcore pornographic material.
Comcast has remained complicit in these harms time and time again. While they made some recent improvements to their parental controls and worked to make pornographic channels less immediately visible, after mounting pressure from NCOSE, they still defend their profits from pornography.
Recently, a Vice President at Comcast called the president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Patrick Trueman, and told him Comcast would be sanitizing the descriptions of pornographic films they sell….the same descriptions that make it clear that Comcast is profiting from pornographic films depicting themes of racism, violence against women, and incest.
While Comcast may believe its motives are to help shield unintentional viewers from the harmful content they distribute, there is room for skepticism about those intentions. Does Comcast want to protect its customers or itself? If Comcast wanted to protect its customers it would not simply sanitize the descriptions of pornographic films, it would stop distributing and profiting from such offensive and degrading content in the first place.
But we won’t let them. Will you?
Here is what you can do to clean up Comcast.
We are asking Comcast to immediately stop distributing hardcore pornography, which causes a multitude of public health harms to children and adults alike.
1. Email Comcast executives directly to tell them to stop distributing pornography.
Usually, we have easy tools for supporters to email corporate executives, but Comcast has blocked us! They don’t want to change their policies. But they can’t block you! So here are three direct emails for Comcast executives. Please let us know if they respond to your email by forwarding it to us at email@example.com.
2. Join us on our call days, July 19th-20th! You can call Comcast executives to let them know that they can’t hide their unethical profits by simply sanitizing descriptions. Learn more and get talking points here.
Call 833-CLEANTV to tell Comcast executives, or call them directly:
Chris Dunkeson, Vice President and General Manager, 2156651700
Phil Miller, Vice President, Strategic Partnership Development, 2152867955
James J Finnegan, Vice Chairman of Information Technology, 2156651700
3. Please share the below graphics and tweets online using the hashtag #CleanUpComcast! You can find more content to share online at endsexualexploitation.org/comcast.
Bullying has always been a serious problem affecting kids and teens at school or on the street. But in today’s world, when this social phenomenon has evolved into a new form commonly referred to as cyberbullying, it’s getting even more dangerous and difficult to control. It’s hard to believe, but 1 in 3 young people are now victims of cyber threats. It used to be relatively easy to detect the source of bullying and put a stop on it when the bullying was offline, but today’s realities call for new and improved measures.
So what can we possibly do to combat cyberbullying and save its victims from emotional despair and shame? According to recent studies, the answer is rather simple. It’s been scientifically proved that regular yoga practice can improve the situation with cyberbullying in a long run. Sounds too good to be true? Let me explain how it is supposed to work in more detail.
It Deals With the Root Cause of the Problem
According to psychologists, bullying occurs as a result of psychological instability and lack of emotional intelligence. If a person is balanced and happy, it’s very unlikely that he or she will decide to hurt one’s feelings by spreading gossips and assault one’s dignity. At the same time, when a person suffers from a lack of self-confidence, support, and understanding of family and friends, chances are good he or she will start bullying someone around. I’m obviously going to extremes when explaining how it works, but it’s only for the sake of simplicity.
It Triggers Soul-Searching
Yoga is meant to improve both physical and mental health of those who practice it regularly. But apart from these obvious benefits, there is also a positive side effect most people don’t talk about. Regular practice of yoga triggers soul-searching and makes people change their point of view on virtually all aspects of their lives. People start thinking of possible consequences of their deeds, and it prevents them from doing something that is obviously wrong.
It Teaches People Empathy
It is not a breaking news that yoga is beneficial for both your body and soul. And while the physical outcomes are usually obvious, things are slightly different when it comes to what yoga makes to our souls. It is believed that yoga practice improves our ability to feel other people’s pain. And it goes without saying that empathy is not a typical character trait of those who practice bullying towards people around.
It Can Help the Victims of Cyberbullying Too
What makes yoga a good remedy to cyberbullying is that it works for both the victim and the aggressor. Those who’ve been suffering from cyberbullying at least once in their lives know for sure how hurtful and emotionally-destroying it can be to be the victim of one’s brutality. And since one of yoga’s major missions is to bring people a peace of mind, it becomes clear how helpful it can be for the victims.
Yoga Helps, But Where Should I Start?
While it’s obviously better to attend professional yoga classes and learn the basics with an experienced yoga instructor, you can start with a simple asanas that don’t require any previous physical training or special knowledge. No matter if you’re a victim of cyberbullying or someone who want’s to put a stop on bullying people around, don’t hesitate to start with basic yoga positions and keep your practice regular to see the result faster.
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.
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.
This blog was submitted by guest contributor Hilary Smith.
Everyday, 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Blog shared from Google’s “Keyword” posted on March 15, 2017
Pavni Diwanji VP, ENGINEERING
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.
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.
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.