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Branding, Miley Cyrus, #Twerk and Why This Matters For Parents

While the online and offline world are buzzing over Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, I wonder where everyone has been for the last year. The performance by Hannah Montana’s alter ego was shocking – and not in a good way – but it was not too far off with what is already all over the web. Twerking has joined modern pop culture talk and videos all over the web, as evidenced with my favorite leading indicator of rebellious behavior….hot-selling shorts at summer beach stores.

 

 

Online dad Jim Higley agreed that we should not let Robin Thicke off the hook. Online  mom Beth Feldman (a.k.a RoleMommy) could not help but share her PR/branding tips to help Miley Cyrus and on OMG Insider:

 

 

 

 

 

Many teens and young adults believe that getting attention online, including social media, is a type of approval. Miley Cryus confirmed this point with her tweet after the VMA’s. Her performance had “306,000 tweets per minute – more then the superbowl“.

 

 

Is this type of attention the right type of attention for her brand? When I asked my teen son (who is very up on modern pop culture and a fan of rebellious musical performances) about Miley Cyrus’s VMA “Twerk” performance and how she was sharing how popular it was online he said “Ewwww“.  When my 10 year old sons have heard about the twerking incident, they shook their heads and said “What happened to Hannah Montana?”

 

With new reports that Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke knew they would be “making history” and that everyone is “overthinking it”, it seems as though it was a planned strategy.   I am also a fan of shocking musical performances such as Madonna and Lady Gaga, but  think this type of performance was not the right type of shocking for a professional image. Because I speak on the topic of branding for professionals, I thought I would share tips for parents to talk about branding/online image with their kids. With discussions raging on Miley Cryus’s behavior, this may just be the perfect time.

 

1. What is popular does not equal what is appropriate for your image/brand: I suggest that parents pay attention to the popular terms in modern pop culture (like Twerking) then help their kids understand what may be popular is not always appropriate. This goes hand in hand with kids’ understanding that the image they share online will stay with them the rest of their lives, and be seen by audiences varying from college recruiters to future employers. Then parents can discuss with their kids how to brand themselves with an understanding of allowing free expression that is appropriate to share online and what should be kept offline.

 

2. Parents Should Learn The Terms:  I was confused at how it took something as public as the VMAs to get people in an uproar about Twerking. It has been going on for some time. Yes, teens and dancing always seems to be a hot button or movie theme. So the more parents can keep up on the current terms, the better they will be prepared to discuss what is and is not appropriate for their kids age (again, what is popular may not be good for their personal brand). It’s great to give kids some slack regarding freedom of expression. But now that every event seems to have someone taking pictures and posting online, maybe some dances need to stay off the dance floor and social media platforms.

 

The task of trying to keep up to date on terms and websites kids are using may be overwhelming, but there are sites that offering information to help. My core philosophy is to start by rewarding kids for sharing what apps they are using and have regular internet safety talks.

 

At the same time, parents can look online to understand terms and apps. I start with monitoring research such as the Pew research reports and lists like the  top social media apps kids are using. Resources such as search engines and internet safety sites including NetSmartz, ESRB and Common Sense Media are also a great place to start.  ESRB has an updated version of its mobile ratings app to include interactive elements (shares personal info, shares location, users interact). Even though rumors about the word “Twerk” being added to the Oxford Dictionary may be wrong, the term WAS added to the Oxford Dictionary online (OED) which the Slate website called “a historical dictionary and it forms a record of all the core words and meanings in English over more than 1,000 years, from Old English to the present day, including many obsolete and historical terms. Words are never removed from the OED.” So the OED may be a good place to check to understand that foreign language our kids speak.

 

While the goal is to open up a respectful dialog with kids so they come to their parents to discuss issues, being a parent also means delivering the hard to hear but important information to protect their kids. This tweet shared by Miley seemed to show her Dad did not give her the difficult-to-hear feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

How do you keep up on terms used by your kids? Which ones do you have an issue with?

 

 

 

 

Beta Launch of Kazaana – Family Friendly Social Platform (was PixyKids)

As my 9 year olds become more interested in sharing media with family and friends, I have started to look into family friendly social platforms that are appropriate for 9 year olds. Just recently I received a brief demo of the family centric social platform called Kazaana (was called PixyKids). I appreciated the beautiful graphics and the ability for everyone to create their own space – and then share with family and friends. But most of all, I appreciated that the parental controls would allow me to approve every friend (or family) that my 9 year olds would invite into their space. Now that the Beta is live I can’t wait to take a test drive with my 9 year olds to learn more about Kazaana.

 

Below is the press release I received with more info:

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It’s April Fools, Don’t be a Internet Fool

While April Fools jokes like this one from Google in 2007 (Google TiSP – here is "how it works") will be abundant tomorrow, it is also important to remind those using the Internet – to proceed with caution as usual. The New York Times just posted an article titled "Separating Pranks from Fraud on the Internet". This article discusses watching out for scams and fraud, so the laugh is not on you.

 

BitMom Guest Post: Simple Safe Internet Surfing Tips For Families

Guest post from Nicole Balistreri , the coordinator for US based BitDefender's BitMoms.com community.

Hello Techmama readers!! Nicole here… resident BitMom aficionado and safe family surfing advocate. Let’s be honest – you’re lost without your gadgets, and your digital life is a huge part of your family. Everything from schedules to important family records is located on your PC (or Mac) and you would be in a real bind if something happened to any of that information.Also – let’s not forget about the wandering eyes of kids… hmm… indecent Google searches? Accidental virus downloads? We’ve all been there. No fear, take note of the simple tips below and your family will be surfing safer in no time.

  1. Exercise caution when you add personal data to your online social networking accounts! Keep the critical data to a safe minimum – this means no birthdays or family member names as passwords!
  2. When uploading photos – be aware that these photos could be used without your consent for advertising campaigns or, worse, for pornographic purposes. In order to discourage image theft, you might also add a watermark text on your pictures in areas where removal is impossible, or at least difficult.
  3. Use an alternative e-mail address for social networks, newsletters, ect in order to avoid spam which could be harmful to your computer.
  4. Use security software with a parental control feature! This provides comprehensive settings for web and application control as well as the ability to filter web, mail and instant messaging traffic for certain keywords.
  5. Use a good anti-malware solution. It will solve most of the problems you can encounter on Web: it can block spam, phishing attempts and prevent malware from infecting your computer, therefore keeping your private data safe. Make sure you update your antimalware, firewall and spam filters as frequently as possible, and that you don’t forget to scan your system often.

Nicole Balistreri is the coordinator for US based BitMoms.com an online community dedicated to promoting family internet safety sponsored by BitDefender and strategic partners. BitDefender is an award-winning provider of innovative anti-malware security solutions based in Bucharest, Romania. Visit www.bitdefender.com for more information.

Disclosure: This is not a paid post, I inquired for some safe surfing tips and asked that the information be shared on a guest post.

 

A Disturbing New Term: CyberBlackmail

I posted on TechMamas.com yesterday about this terrible news:

Today I read in Techmeme then on the CNET site a report: “Teen gets 15 years for Facebook blackmail“.  Here are some details from that post:

Anthony Stancl, 19, plead no contest in December to two felonies, including repeated sexual assault of a child, according to the report. Stancle had been accused
of creating a Facebook profile belonging to a nonexistent teenage girl and then, between approximately the spring 2007 and fall 2008, using it to convince more than 30 of his male classmates to send in nude photos or videos of themselves
.”

My original post had a second part to it which discussed cyberbullying. But the more I thought about the Facebook blackmail incident the more I realized it is even more sinister then cyberbullying. So last night I got really upset and deleted the second part of my post about cyberbullying – because in the end it was blackmail. I decided instead of cyberbullying I will call the incident “cyberblackmail“.

With scary thoughts of the cyberblackmail incident in my head as I went to bed last night, I did not sleep very well.

For some reason I came to understand that cyberbullying happens. I knew that parents need to educate their kids on the subject, give support if their child falls prey to cyberbullying and have a punishment strategy if they find out their kid(s) participates in cyberbullying. But blackmail is something I had not accepted or imagined would happen in social networks by a 19 year old. And that 16 year old boys could so easily fall prey to the cyberblackmail.

Now I know **it happens.

Next question was “How can I possibly explain this to my son?” There is a lesson that needs to be explained, but the topic is so distasteful that I would rather not discuss it.

So I decided to explain to my 11 year old son, that there are “bad” people on social networks and websites who will try to appear as your friend or a pretty girl to make you do inappropriate things. The lesson learned is NEVER send inappropriate pictures or do anything you don’t feel good about because someone on a social network asked you to do. Never share personal information with someone you don’t know and never meetup in person with them. Be strong, say NO. Realize that anyone who asked you to do inappropriate things is NOT their friend or someone they would want to date. And – inappropriate includes sending any picture that you would not want your future employer to see.

I have a feeling I am not going to sleep well tonight either. But at least I did have the conversation with my son. He was quiet but when I said “Do you understand?” He said “Yes, Yes.. ok… I get it”.

I hope he does.

Until they have “Stop CyberBlackmail” websites, here are some good links for information on cyberbullying:

Stop Cyberbullying.org

Facebook Blog: Watch Your Words: Steps to Preventing Cyberbullying

 

CNET Report: Teen gets 15 years for Facebook BlackMail

**I took out the second part of this post – which I explain in a new post “A Disturbing New Term: CyberBlackmail“. Click HERE to read that post.***

Today I read in Techmeme then on the CNET site a report: “Teen gets 15 years for Facebook blackmail“.  Here are some details from that CNET post:

Anthony Stancl, 19, plead no contest in December to two felonies, including repeated sexual assault of a child, according to the report. Stancle had been accused of creating a Facebook profile belonging to a nonexistent teenage girl and then, between approximately the spring 2007 and fall 2008, using it to convince more than 30 of his male classmates to send in nude photos or videos of themselves.”

This situation is a solemn reminder that kids not only need education on appropriate use of social networks, but also on personal privacy including not sharing personal pictures of themselves online for any reason.

 

Twitter Virus Gone Viral: “Is This You?” (Don’t Click on That Link!!)

I did a quick check on Twitter this morning and I saw lots of direct messages (or DM's) with the same type of wording – which always sets off phishing or virus alarms for me. I NEVER click on those links and neither should anyone else!

Phishing is defined on Wikipedia as " the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication". A computer virus is defined on Wikipedia as "A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer. The term "virus" is also commonly but erroneously used to refer to other types of malware, adware, and spyware programs that do not have the reproductive ability. "

So I decided to see who else was having this issue by sending out a Tweet (without any links!) – and I received lots of replies by my followers that also received those DM's. "This You" is trending on Twitter!

Mashable posted on the topic. I did not follow any short URL's – but went to the Mashable website to find the post: http://mashable.com/2010/02/24/this-you-phishing-attack/

Here are some examples of what the Twitter direct messages look like. Remember – DON''T click on the links or else you will spread the virus to your followers!!

Twitter DM text: "haha. This you???? (PHISHING LINK)", "This you???? (PHISHING LINK)".

Clicking on the link does what Graham Cluley's post explained "If you click on the link you are taken to a fake Twitter login page, where hackers are just waiting for you to
hand over your credentials. In fact, they can automatically post the
phishing message from your account as soon as you hand over your
details
."

Unfortunately, several of my followers clicked on that link and their accounts were taken over – which is why I received the DM.

Enjoy Twitter but stay safe, never click on links unless it is from a trusted source. Think before you click on any links from followers via a reply or a direct message to you. The signs are usually there so keep an eye out: phishing and viruses attacks regularly try to sneak into our online world.

Here is a post I did on another phishing incident: "Dear Phisher: You Are A SCAT and NOT Wells Fargo" http://www.techmamas.com/main/2009/01/computer-phisher-wells-fargo-.html

Here is a link to the Anti-Phishing Working Group website: http://www.antiphishing.org/

Update 2/25:

TechMeme shared link of post from Graham Cluley's blog titled "This you???? : Phishing attack hits Twitter users".

Graham Cluley also posted with "Malware and spam rise 70% on social networks, security report reveals"

 

Is There Any Such Thing As “Safe Web Surfing” for Kids?

*republished 10/10 with updates:

A blogger friend emailed me asking about safe web surfing for her son. Many parents want to allow their kids to search for websites on the web, but worry about them wandering onto dangerous websites.

So I decided to revisit an area I think about often: What controls are available for safe web surfing for kids?

1. Brandon from BlackWaterOps tweeted the following suggestion:  OpenDNS.com , set your router, safe guard your childs surfing. no software to bypass, update, and its free. MakeUseOf.com had a post on 5 Free Parental Control Apps that also included OpenDNS.com. Their post had some details on which settings to use.

2. CNET Download: Searching the CNET download website for parental controls will provide a listing of applications available for download. I decided not to leave web surfing to chance and implemented a web filter on my son’s first computer (that he received when he was 8). I choose to use the option of “not allowing” any website, so my son and I could hand pick which websites were allowed. This option does take the most time, but it is the most restrictive. The only challenge is that once in a website, a filter will not work. For example, if I allow YouTube, I can’t restrict which videos he watches. Lifehacker posted with an application called “Kideo” that helps make YouTube safer. There are also other applications for restricting YouTube access.

3. Online security controls are available at the operating system level. Here is a link to information about Microsoft Windows and Apple Safari browser controls. The Mozilla Firefox website has information on Firefox browser controls. Websites like MACWorld and also publish information about safe web surfing.

4. Laptop Magazine has reviews on Security software and How-to’s.

5. Common Sense Media has website reviews to locate the right websites for kids. Disney Family Fun website posted with the pledge that kids should take, and some other relevant websites for information on safe web surfing: America Links Up , Cyberangels , Family Guide Book, GetNetWise, SafeKids, SmartParent and Web Wise Kids.

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Free Online Safety Service From Norton Makes It Easier To Keep Kids Safe Online

**Guest post by Marian MerrittSymantec's Internet Safety Advocate

I have three kids who love the Internet in all its forms. The oldest is just 15 and the youngest is 7. Like a bunch of bumper cars, their online activities occasionally dent the family rules for being safe online. Sometimes they forget what we’ve discussed or they are into things I never dreamed would capture their interest. It feels like I’m always a step behind knowing what they are going to download or visit and then protecting them from the mistakes they might make.

The youngest one doesn’t understand why I’m concerned about her using search engines when she was taught how to use Google and Yahoo at school. (How do I know the “safe search” settings haven’t been tweaked?) The middle child, 13 years old, wants to game online and has no problem downloading cheat codes or visiting sites with gaming tips. He rolls his eyes when I lecture about visiting these “who knows who runs them” sites and downloading files. And of course, my oldest is into all the normal teen stuff: social networks, chatting, Skyping with her friends,and YouTube. So I admit it, I need some help here.

Norton has just launched a great and easy to use service that should make my life a lot easier. It’s called OnlineFamily.Norton and is a simple way to give me the insight I need into my children’s online activities but without the usual associated headaches of traditional web filtering or parental control software. And, during the introductory period (through next January 1st) the service (a $60 value) is entirely free!!

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Computer Virus Threats Continue: SQL and APRIL 1 Conficker Worm

I just read a post on Geeks! that disusses the "SQL" computer virus. CLICK HERE to read the "Biggest Threat Today SQL Injections" post that has great details about how it works. Here is the YouTube video that goes into more detail (from the post):

Yesterday I read in the New York Times blog about the "Conficker Worm", a virus that is set to run on April 1st (no joke). They recommend making sure everyone has updated virus files, runs a full system scan and makes sure back-ups are up to date before April 1st.  Those steps are good to do anyway to make sure your computers are as secure as possible, even though new threats happen regularly. Windows users should also make sure they have run the "windows update" and "security updates". 

It is unfortunate , but new viruses pop up all the time (so this is not "new"). The only way to try to protect yourself is by installing internet security software, running auto scans, updates and doing regular backups. I also suggest having any personal financial information on a different computer then that used by the family – where lots of web surfing takes place. The more web surfing that takes place on a computer means that there will be a greater risk for computer virus infection.