As parents, teachers and administrators our responsibility for our student’s safety extends beyond the traditional spaces of home and classrooms. In the age of common internet activity, we are all responsible for their safety online. We need to help them become good “digital” citizens, not only for right now, but also educate them regarding the long term consequences of choices that they may make now.
At Assumption, we have researched the topic and found a reliable source of information. We would like to share with you our contact, Josh Ochs, a resource with extended experience with social media, his safety tips and his recommendations for using the media to benefit our students.
We encourage you to actively look for other reliable sources to assist in fostering responsible digital citizenship for our students. Please feel free to share them with us as well.
Facts About Online Safety That Every Parent Should Know! by Josh Ochs
There are a variety of “Apps” or online applications, available to students today that can either be used beneficially or abused dangerously. Knowing them and understanding their capabilities could prove to be a very important factor of insuring online safety for your student.
My name is Josh Ochs and I travel the country sharing social media safety tips with thousands of students each year. I teach them how to use social media in a way that impresses colleges and employers. I teach them how to turn social media into a portfolio of volunteer work and positive experiences. I have a formula that helps each kid to “shine online” so their digital presence doesn’t keep them from getting a second interview at their favorite college.
The Yik Yak App
Yik Yak acts like a local bulletin board for your area by showing the most recent posts from other users around you. Anyone can share information with others without having to know them.
Yik Yak is extremely popular within teens. The app is becoming extremely popular with high schoolers who have heard about it from their friends at other high schools who have heard about it from their friends in other high schools. It’s a severe case of word-of-mouth.
Think of the app like a drug. They haven’t heard good things about the app but they want to take a risk and see what happens if they download and use it.
The Whisper App
Whisper is an anonymous social network that allows people to express themselves. Whisper is most popular within people between ages 17 and 28. Fewer than 4% of Whisper users are under the age of 18. The vast majority of its users — 70% — are women.
On average, people spend more than 20 minutes per day with Whisper, checking its content 8–10 times per day. If you have ever had something too intimate to share on traditional social networks, people simply share it on Whisper!
Connection with others is FREE and private messaging and responding to other Whispers with your own anonymous Whispers is encouraged.
The Secret App
Secret is an app that allows people to share messages anonymously within their circle of friends, friends of friends, and publicly. Your secrets are delivered anonymously to the people in your contacts who are on Secret. They can view, love and comment on your post. When friends love your secret, it will be shared to their friends.
How does Secret differ from other anonymous apps? The difference is that it starts from your friends. Knowing that the secret comes from someone you know supposedly makes the app more interesting and compelling.
The After School App
The After School App has already been rejected from the app store twice due to complaints from parents and teachers. Because of some threatening messages from teens on the app, many schools have sent warnings to parents regarding safety and cyberbullying issues.
The main distinguishing feature of this app is that it creates a separate chat group for each school.
To join the group/school you have to verify that you’re a student of that school on Facebook (the app will check the information posted on your Facebook page).
Although the app is currently unavailable to download, it will likely be back soon. Moreover, hundreds of thousands people have already downloaded it on their phones and can continue using it.
The Ask App
Insanely popular with kids, the question-and-answer service thrives on anonymity, making it extremely dangerous.
It is the ask and answer playground, the troubling secret playground of tweens and teens. Find out what people want to know about you! Ask.fm is a global community with more than 90 million members in over 150 countries. It is a social networking website based in Riga, Latvia, where users can ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity.
Any kid over the age 13 years old can create an account. In fact, 42% of Ask.fm users are under the age of 17. This site markets to a very young and impressionable age group.
The Snapchat App
This is the most popular of the sharing apps with Tweens and Teens these days.
Snapchat has 60+ million total users, 30 million active monthly users, and 70% of all users are female. 32% of all teens in US at the age 13 to 17 years old use Snapchat. 400 million snapchats are sending per day and the Co-founder and CEO of Snapchat Evan Spiegel just turned 24.
It encompasses a very young and very active social group.
Snapchat is a messaging service that allows people to send stories, photos and short videos to each other, called Snaps. Distinguishing feature: the photos you send disappear. Seconds after opening snaps, users can no longer access them and the images are deleted from the company’s servers.
Sexting on Snapchat is a major concern. One of the reasons teens are sending inappropriate Snaps, is that their parents aren’t on Snapchat.
The Instagram App
Instagram is the third most popular app that teens are using and the starting place for most kid’s online presence. Instagram is an extremely popular photo and video sharing app. At least 75% US teens and 30% of adults 18+ have Instagram accounts. It allows you to explore millions of pictures from amazing places around the the world, as well as from Insta-photographers, who live in your neighborhood. Instagram is even widely used by talented artists as their work portfolios. Yet, most users just share their everyday moments with friends and followers.
In spite of almost limitless possibilities to show a wonderful world around us, the most popular photos posted on Instagram are selfies. Moreover, some people’s self esteem depends on the number of likes their photos collect. Most Instagram accounts could tell a very detailed story about their owners, but is that story the one you actually want others to know?
The FaceBook App
Facebook becomes an online resume, where college admissions officers & employers search for their applicants.
Nowadays, Facebook is no longer just a social networking platform, it becomes a personal resume, a portfolio of accomplishments and an online reputation management tool. Even though teens and tweens no longer consider Facebook to be their favorite social media network, it’s still the most popular network. Admission officers and hiring managers will visit applicants’ Facebook pages first, while searching for additional information online.
While competition for the spot at the best universities is higher than ever, top colleges have to turn away up to 95% of applicants during the consideration process. That’s why every word you include in your application, as well as on social media matters.
The Twitter App
Kids think Twitter is a safe place to share their thoughts, feelings, and personal life away from their parents. 1/3 of all kids in the US have a Twitter account on their cell phones.
Twitter is an online social network, which allows you to send instant messages (called Tweets) up to 140 characters in length.
Tweets can include photos, videos, and links to other websites and are available to all users around the world in a matter of seconds. Other users can “Favorite” and “Retweet” the post, if they like it sending it far beyond the original user’s followers. When tweets are posted they can’t be edited and in some cases can’t be deleted.
The Vine App
Vine, owned by Twitter is a video sharing app. Users can record and share videos up to 6 seconds long. Users can “Like”, “Comment” or “Revine” videos, which means they add them to their own timeline for their followers to see (similar to Twitter Retweets). Videos can also be shared on Facebook or Twitter.
Kids want popularity. So they try to collect more views & revines from friends and strangers. Kids mostly post videos of themselves, their daily routines and blunders. They have found that making funny & stupid videos collect more views and revines.
Some kids are using Vine to show and promote their talents. They record themselves singing, dancing, playing musical instruments and sport games, some of them make interesting video collages.
Posted Vines can show up in Google results (changing your kid’s online resume that colleges see).
WhatsApp and Kik Messenger
These are the two most popular text message apps kids use to chat with each other.
WhatsApp (600 million active users)
WhatsApp requires you to use a valid phone number as your username. Once you use your friend’s phone number you can use it to chat the same way you would with the SMS application on any phone but without the per-use charge often associated with many data plans. They key here is that you need to know the person’s phone number beforehand.
Kik Messenger (150 million total users)
Users can connect with anyone on the network and aren’t simply limited to their phone’s contact list. On Kik, usernames are how members identify themselves. The app doesn’t share users’ phone numbers. Kik is not based in the United States of America, therefore if cyber bullying takes place local, police departments have no jurisdiction over the Canadian-based company. In addition, anything that takes place on this app is under the jurisdiction of another company.