Social Aggression

Post image for Parents Be Warned! Ask.fm is a Dangerous & Deadly Social Site for Teens & Tweens

Back in 2012, I wrote about some potential dangers surrounding the Instagram and Kik Messenger combination. By now, hopefully many parents know what to look for and how to combat this social danger. Recently, I started to investigate a new social danger for kids, specifically Ask.fm which actually has a few documented teen suicides attributed to the service. Interestingly, it was my teenager and my wife that introduced me to Ask.fm. My teen wanted to join and my wife said absolutely not!

Before I go into this social danger, I do want to point out that I am an avid Instagram user and do like the service. I allow my kids to use it, with some guidance, and my wife and I feel pretty comfortable with how it is being used by them. In both this case (with Ask.fm) and with Kik Messenger, the linkage (literally) is via Instagram. With Kik, many tween and teen Instagram users were putting their Kik Messenger user name in their Instagram profiles or picture messages (e.g., “Kik me at…”). The linkage with Ask.fm is similar – tweens and teens are putting their Ask.fm profile links in their Instagram profile. That’s the only connection with Instagram…it’s a springboard to these other dangerous social sites. But Ask.fm is prevalent in many other social media sites (so just to be clear, I’m not picking on just Instagram).

Ask.fm Danger

Ask.fm Danger

So what is Ask.fm? It is a social site where users can ask other users questions, and responses are limited to 300 characters. The questions can be from a named user, or completely anonymously asked. It is unmoderated (unless a user reports something), has no parental controls, and is an over-seas company (based in Latvia). If you look at their Terms of Service (TOS), it says “Terms of use are governed by Latvian laws and disputes are solved in Latvian courts.” Now THAT’S comforting.

Update: Be sure to check out my Parents Guide to Social Media Apps used by Kids – published 9/27/14.

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Post image for 10 Ideas for Facebook Parental Controls and What You Can Do Until They Are There

Facebook needs parental controls – although I will bet that if you ask kids between the ages of 13 and 16, they would say that it definitely does NOT need ANY type of parental control whatsoever. But, being a parent and a bit of a social media junkie, I know that something is definitely needed. Children are simply too young to understand the dangers of having a social presence. It is fun when things are going great, but as soon as social bullying rears its ugly head, it can be devastating to your kids. Not only that, but, like video games, cell phones, TV or technology in general, it can become incredibly addictive. I should know, I have a technology addiction (and a bit of Attention Deficit Disorder thrown in for good measure).

As adults we “supposedly” have the tools and intelligence to work with social media the “proper” way, although I would state that many people act like little, immature children when they are using it. But children often don’t have the experience or the “maturity” to cope with bullies, cliques, relational aggression or simply mean kids online. The number one thing that you, as parents, can do to navigate these tricky waters is to educate and talk to your children about both the advantages and disadvantages of being on Social Media. I am going to focus on Facebook specifically in this article mainly because it seems to be the most personal and has the most privacy controls, believe it or not, as compared to Google+ or Twitter. And most kids are on Facebook, even younger than the 13 years or older limit that is outlined within the Facebook Terms of Service and checked during the registration process.

It is really up to you to decide if you are going to abide by the age restriction. There may be reasons why you might want your 12 year old to be on Facebook. I’m not sure if I would let kids younger than that on there but I have heard of plenty who are. But you are the parent so that choice is yours. However, I do feel that there needs to be some tighter restrictions for those “legal” kids (13 and older) who are on Facebook.

Facebook needs to do something about this. They should have done this years ago in my opinion. Instead, they grew the complexity of the privacy settings to the point where you need a masters degree in Social Media to even come close to figuring it out. What Facebook HAS done recently related to kids is add the ability to include an unborn child in your profile. Uh really? Let’s get some innovation here and help those parents who are worried about their “born” kids on Facebook.

As a parent of a child who recently joined Facebook, I’m concerned. Currently without direct oversight, how can I ensure that she isn’t being tagged in inappropriate photos taking by her friends. How do I know if the people she is friending or who are friending her won’t hurt her in some way. Luckily, both my wife and I are pretty savvy on the workings of Facebook, or at least we think we are. We have heard stories of how parents friended their children so that they could keep their eyes on them, only to later learn that their kids tweaked their privacy setting to pretty much block their parents from seeing any of their activities, photos, videos, check-ins, etc. It’s pretty hard to avoid that. Kids are really smart when it comes to this.

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You gotta love unscripted recordings. And how we are all at the beck & call of technology. During our live podcast, Skype decided to act like a misbehaving child and refused to let us talk. But we worked through this and just kept going with a fairly “loaded” series of topics. The result is Cast of Dads Podcast #33 “State Fairs & Skype Burps“.

Cast_of_Dads_episode33

Note: we are always looking for sponsors! If you would like to sponsor an individual episode or a series of episodes, please do let us know.

The Cast of Dads Podcast #33 discussed a few of the questions below:

  • Can a car sitting in a parking lot be more dangerous than on the road?
  • What is the best way to buy a new car?
  • Is there really a Diaper Conspiracy?
  • What do you teach your kids about bullying?
  • What is Brad really good at putting in his mouth and blowing? (HAHA)

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I have always been a big proponent against the use of Social Media by children, especially when they are in elementary school. Interacting with Social Media is not something you want your kids doing at an early age, at least not until they can really understand its implications. However, as they grow older and more independent, loosening up the reigns a bit may not be that bad of a thing.

HTD_lasso_phone_sm

More and more children are getting cell phones at an earlier and earlier age. This is a good thing in many ways in that it’s easy for them to call if they have an emergency, to text you if they need to be picked up, or simply just free up the home phone (hope you have a good calling plan with lots of minutes!) Many elementary schools simply don’t allow cell phones on campus, which I think is good because it is a distraction and the negatives definitely outweigh the positives.

That being said, as your children move on up the ladder, they will need to have ways to communicate with you and their friends in timely and efficient ways. Having a cell phone can not only help a bit with their independence, it can also be a great virtual assistant when it comes to extending your leash on them just a bit further (and virtually).

My oldest daughter who is 11 years old, for example, does have a cell phone. She texts with her friends and uses it to communicate with us. She also feels “special” and a bit more “adult” by having one. (I’m still trying to figure out if this is a good thing or not.) However, as she moves to 6th grade, it will be important for her to fit in with the crowd and be able to “chat” within the channels of her social peers. While we restrict her phone to calls and SMS texts only, I know that this will probably change in the future as more of her friends become more “socially active” online. Remember though, many of the main social sites require you to be 13 years or older to participate.

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Cast of Dads: Podcast #10 – “Kids Online & How To Do It Right”

February 23, 2010

In this tenth episode of the Cast of Dads podcast we discussed a very important topic that all parents should seriously be considering, that of educating your children about the various social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. This is particularly personal to me as my oldest daughter (a “tweenager” – pre-teen) is starting to […]

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Cell Phones, Tweens, Texting & Conversations – Child & Family Cellular Safety Thoughts

February 22, 2010

If you are a parent of a tween (a pre-teenager), you have probably hit the stage of your child wanting a cell phone. My wife and I broke down (or were gradually worn down) about a year ago with our oldest and she got hers when she was about 10. She wasn’t (and still isn’t) […]

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Cast of Dads: Podcast #7 – “We Were ALL Morons!”

February 2, 2010

We got some great user feedback on some of our previous podcasts that we were geeking out a bit too much. Since we listen to our audience, in this episode, we tried to eliminate most (if not all) of the tech and focus more on being a dad and a parent. Episode #7 of the […]

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