Teens Love Their Phones

scan0001From the front page of today’s SacBee: Teens Love Their Phones. If you are the parent of a teen, it’s doubtful that this news item comes as a surprise. The statistics are from the latest Pew Internet and American life Project study, which was released on Tuesday:

33% of teens send more than 100 text messages a day.

Number of texts typically sent and received per day: 80 (girls); 30 (boys); 10 (adults).

62% of parents say they have taken away a cell phone as punishment.

26% of teens have been bullied or harassed through text messages and phone calls.

48% of parents use the phone to monitor their children’s location.”

If you have  concerns or questions about your child’s use (or over use) of his/her cell phone, we recommend checking out Common Sense Media’s Cell Phone Tips for Parents.
We also invite you to join the conversation on cell phone issues (bullying, “sexting,” etc.) by leaving a comment.

Cyberbullying – What are the consequences?

Parents who attend our Internet Safety workshops typically arrive with a good bit of  anxiety about the Internet, particularly around issues of online predators.

It is our goal to provide parents with tips for keeping their children safe from others. But we also want to make sure that parents understand the need to monitor how their children are acting online toward friends and rivals – and what impression their online profiles might create in the minds of college admissions officers or future employers. In this age of the Internet and smart phones, children must be taught that what they post online is not only public, but also permanent.

As a district, we are extremely concerned about cyberbullying incidents happening before, after, and even during the school day.  We are also under federal and state mandates to make sure there are consequences for cyberbullying. 

We hope you will take some time with your children to make sure they understand California policies on cyberbullying:

Bullying/Harassment: Education Code 48900 (2008) permits a student to be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion for engaging in acts of bullying. Education Code 48900.4 (2008) allows a student to be suspended or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the student is enrolled determines that the student has intentionally engaged in harassment, threats or intimidation, directed against school district personnel or pupils “that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the actual and reasonably expected effect of materially disrupting classwork, creating substantial disorder, and invading the rights of either school personnel or pupils by creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment.”

Education Code 48900.2 (2008) permits a student to be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the student is enrolled determines that the student has committed sexual harassment, as defined in Education Code 212.5.

Cyberbullying: Education Code 48900 (2008) permits a student to be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion for engaging in acts of bullying, including bullying committed by means of electronic acts. Education Code 32261 (no date available) defines “electronic act” as “the transmission of a communication, including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound or image by means of an electronic device, including but not limited to a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer or pager.”

Hazing: Education Code 48900.2 (2008) permits a student to be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the student is enrolled determines that the student has engaged ir or attempted to engage in hazing. “Hazing” is defined as a method of means a method of initiation or preinitiation into a pupil organization or body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, which is likely to cause serious bodily injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to a former, current, or prospective pupil.” For the purposes of this statute, “hazing” does not include athletic events or school-sanctioned events.

Note: The above policies are from the State School Healthy Policy Datebase.

$10,000 Internet Safety Video Competion for Ages 13+

trendComputer security company Trend Micro has an offer for any teen (or adult) who cares about Internet safety and security and is looking for opportunities to become an award-winning filmmaker. The company has launched a contest called What’s Your Story? The lucky person who submits the best short video (no more than 2 minutes) can win $10,000. There are also four $500 prizes.

In a nutshell:

Prizes: One $10,000 grand prize; four $500 category prizes

Deadline: Upload by April 30th, 2010

Content: Must address one of four Internet safety issues

Eligibility: All residents of US and Canada (excluding Quebec), 13 years and older

Visit the contest website for a Telling Your Story: Quick Tips and Guidelines video – as well as sample videos to help students jump start the process.

Note: No school or teacher sponsorship is required for this contest. Students are able to upload their own entries.

Facebook Privacy Settings: Has your child taken all the steps?

If your children are using Facebook, do they understand that everytime Facebook updates its privacy settings, they will  need to update their settings – immediately!?

Because the default for many privacy options for minors is “friends of friends,” your kids could easily lose control of what they’ve posted to their Facebook accounts.


We recommend sharing with your children Common Sense Media’s step-by-step video tutorial on how to update Facebook privacy settings.

We also recommend reading the accompanying article, which addresses what parents need to know, what your kids need to know, everything you need to know about the privacy settings, and the bottom line.  In this case the bottom line is

Your kids have to reset or review every privacy option. And we urge you to make sure they do it, pronto. And, parents, even if your kids have “friended” you, don’t be surprised to find that you can no longer see their pictures! That may be bad news for you, but the good news is that it means they’ve used the tools at their disposal.”

Cybersafety – Getting the Message

How do we educate ‘tweens and teens about the ethical use of cell phones? Sexting* has become an issue in communities the world over, largely due to the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones with cameras.

Unfortunately, many students do not understand the consequences of their actions. We hope the video below from the AdCouncil and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children will reinforce the message that what students post in online communities has far reach.


Out of Your Hands

*Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between cell phones

don’t temp f8, that txt can w8 – Texting while driving!

nophonezone190x130Does your child text while driving? If the answer is “yes,” he or she is at the same risk of causing a fatal accident as someone who is driving while legally drunk. The statistics are far reaching and frightening.

Across the nation, celebrities and organizations are grappling with this escalating problem. Oprah Winfrey is taking a lead with her No Texting Campaign – don’t temp f8, that txt can w8   and inviting all drivers to take her No Phone Zone Pledge. Her website now includes a growing bank of resources such as  the video What you really see when you’re texting.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched the first national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending distracted driving in this country.  You can learn more about their program at Distraction.gov.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is currently enforcing the following cell phone laws:

  • Prohibit persons under the age of 18 from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or a mobile service device. This prohibition includes telephones equipped with a hands-free device.
  • Prohibit persons 18 and older from driving a motor vehicle while using a hand-held cellular telephone unless that telephone permits hands-free operation. EXCEPTIONS: The law allows those driving a motor truck, truck tractor, tow truck, or specified farm vehicles to use a digital two-way radio service built into a wireless telephone that operates by depressing a push-to-talk feature and does not require immediate proximity to the user’s ear. These exceptions apply until July 1, 2011.

Bottom line: Do not text while driving!

If you have resources 2WebWatchers could add to this blog and include in our Internet Safety presentations, please post a comment.

Note: Image copied from Oprah.com

Super Social Safety Digiteens on K12 Online Conference

During this busy time of year, 2WebWatchers hope you can set aside an hour on December 16 at 9:15 – 10:15 to log on to the 2009 K12 Online Conference – Bridging the Divide. High school teacher Vicki Davis and her students will be sharing their year-long Digiteens Global Project:

As part of the k12 online conference 2009 and as a conclusion to the Digiteen Project #3 of 2009, students from Westwood Schools will be presenting their top socially connected sites for kids aged 8-12 (and some that they DO NOT recommend.) As part of Digiteen 2009, these students felt that many sites that are marketed to kids aged 8-12 are not appropriate nor safe and set out to review and test the best. They have been blogging and have a twitter account (@socialsafety) and will be presenting live in Elluminate on Wednesday, December 16, 2010 from 12:15 pm-12:45 pm and answer your questions about their testing experiences.

At the conclusion of the student presentation, from 12:45pm – 1:15 pm leading social internet safety expert, Anne Collier will reflect and talk with students about their findings. Backchannel questions will be included in the conversation.”

In addition to meeting and learning from Vicki’s students, you will meet Anne Collier.  Anne’s  Connect Safely website and her interviews posted to PBS Frontline’s Digital Nation series are  great resources for parents and educators to learn about keeping children safe in a digital world:

Be sure to checkout the video resources she has posted to the site, such as Larry Magid’s tutorial on privacy settings for Facebook and the Meet the Web Family videos, including Is Kate a Web Addict?

Google’s Safe Search – A Great Tool for Parents!

Parents often ask 2WebWatchers about the best ways to set parental controls on their home computer.  We think you’ll find Google’s SafeSearch worth checking out.  Of course, nothing replaces parental supervision, but the Google team is doing their best to provide parents with a user-friendly tool that attempts to block explicit or inappropriate sites. Thanks to coloredballsvery conspicous “colored balls” displayed at the top of the screen, parents can see at a glance that SafeSearch is still “locked.

 And if SafeSearch were not enough,…Google has also launched KidRex, a search engine “for kids, by kids.”

We would welcome parent reviews on both these Google tools. Please feel free to post a comment by clicking on the Post a comment link below this post. 

Note:  All comments are moderated by 2WebWatchers (usually within 24 hours).