Posts Tagged ‘Online’

Online Safety 3.0: From Fear to Empowerment

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Larry Magid’s presentation at CUE 2012 (Computer Using Educators) Annual Conference, March 17, 2012

FOSI Qatar Conference: Child online protection involves tensions between regulation and free flow of information

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

by Larry Magid

I’m in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar for a two-day conference where representatives of government, non-profits and businesses from throughout the Middle East will join their counterparts from other regions to discuss “Promoting Online Safety and Cyber Ethics in the Middle East.”

The conference began with a discussion between Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) CEO Stephen Balkam and  former U.S. ambassador David Gross who took delegates on a walk down memory lane about the history of Internet regulation in the U.S. and Europe.

David Gross

Balkam asked Gross to comment on the tension between the tendency to want to regulate the Internet vs wanting to promote free speech.

“Every parent naturally as a matter of biology as well as intellect want to protect children,” said Gross. “A lot of these issues are variations of an old theme with each country wanting to make its decisions in their own way based on their own culture.”

But what’s different is that kids are often more tech savvy than adults. “The extraordinary and maybe unprecedented twist is that technology and internet related technology seems to be more intuitive for young people than the adults who who are making the rules.”

Gross said that the Internet does not lend itself to being heavily regulated by government but instead “a more organic multi-stakeholder which includes government but also schools, parents, non-governmental organizations and corporations “coming together to field their way through it.”

Changes over time

Gross pointed out that the difference between the nineties and now “is that the issues are more complex thanks in part to cloud computing and the rise of international companies like Google and Microsoft.  Also, the discussion, which used to be between Europe and the U.S. is now “a conversation that is truly global which means that the complexities have gone up enormously. Instead of two players you now have 100+ players,” he said.

Recognizing cultural differences among countries, Gross does not advociate a one-size-fits all policy.  “Ultimately there are going to have to be accommodations and how these things get resolved will fundamentally determine the economic well being of many countries.” While this may seem daunting, he’s optimistic that it can be worked out. “With technology and clever policy making everyone will be able to live within their own set of rules.”

New opportunties

In the past, said Gross, “what your future would turn out to be depended mostly on who your parents were and where you were born but, because of the Internet, that is no longer the case.” Access is truly global and truly open, but the danger, he added “is from those who will shut that down”

Pseudoscience, technopanic and online youth

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Pseudoscience sculpture by Mihail Chemiakin (Photo by Larry Magid)

There’s an amazing group of sculptures in a park near the Kremlin in Moscow, called “Children are victims of adult vices” by Mihail Chemiakin.

This particular sculpture is “pseudoscience,” which is relevant for the talks that I (along with my co-director Anne Collier) will deliver this week at the Safer Internet Day forum here in Moscow. Some adults have perpetuated myths both about dangers to young people online and the way youth treat each other in social media. Panicking over cyberbullying, sexting, predation and other risks is a form of pseudoscience that hurts young people. That’s not to say that these risks don’t exist, but that kids are far more resilient that many of us give them credit for. To ignore the growing research about youth risk is, indeed, an example of of pseudoscience. Scroll down for links to articles about real science on youth risk.

The other vices depicted in sculpture are drug addiction, prostitution, theft, alcoholism, ignorance, indifference, violence, sadism, lack of memory, exploitation of child labor, poverty and war.  For more, see this on Wikipedia.

Mihail Chemiakin's "Children are victims of adult vices" taken by Lvova Anastasiya & downloaded from Wikipedia Commons

For more

Internet fact sheet from the Crimes against Children Research Center

Predator panic making a comeback

Let’s not create a cyberbullying panic

With new data we can stop the teen sexting panic

Why technopanics are bad (Anne Collier)

Why do we always sell the next generation short (Adam Thierer)

Your Online Safety Video Could Win You $10,000

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Everyone has a story to tell about safe and respectful use of technology, and those who tell it via video could win a ,000 prize from Internet security company Trend Micro.

The What’s Your Story? contest, now in its third year, will award one ,000 grand prize and six other cash category prizes to individuals and schools that submit winning videos.

Videos should be short (30 seconds to 2 minutes) and, as you create your video, you’re encouraged to “keep in mind that these videos will be used to help educate kids and families and promoted by members of the judging panel.” In other words, you’re not just entering a contest, you’re creating a video that could be used by some of the leading non-profit Internet safety organizations and media companies (including Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo) to educate other Internet users all over the world.

Categories for this year’s contest are:

  • Take action against bullying
  • Keep a good rep online
  • Be cell smart


The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada (except Quebec) age 13 or older.  Youth are especially encouraged to submit a video and teachers can enter classroom video projects. The deadline is April 3rd, 2012. Contest rules are more details are here.

Judges this year will include representatives from several non-profit organizations and social media companies including where I serve as co-director.

You can view all of last year’s winners here or just scroll down for last year’s grand prize winner.

Online Gaming Safety Information for Parents

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that, one, there are safety controls available on gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and two, that there are a number of other safety precautions that both you and your child can take to help protect their safety and privacy…
Social Networking and Internet Safety Information for Parents

Online Predators – from McAfee Social Networking Guide

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Safe Eyes Guide to Social NetworkingOnline Predators – It’s commonly believed that the Internet is the perfect environment for online predators because it is easy for them to hide their identity, get access to potential victims, and there’s a huge pool of kids to target.

An online predator is a criminal who generally targets teens with the goal of manipulating them into meeting for sex. Online predators typically “groom” their victims by building trust with the child through lying, the use of blackmail and guilt, creating different personas, and then attempting to engage the child in more intimate forms of communication, and eventual in-person meetings.

On social networking sites, online predators can use all these techniques to become friends with your children and try to engage with them. Online predators will also use information from your child’s profile to try and locate them in person. This is why it is critical for you and your kids to talk about appropriate online behavior and what type of information is okay to post online.

If your child becomes a victim of a cyberstalker or an online predator, here are some steps to follow:

1. Take immediate action
• Ignore contact from the bully or online predator or do not log on to the site where it occurred
• Block the offender’s screen name and email address to prevent them from contacting your child
• Change your child’s online information or, if necessary, delete the account
• Contact the site where this occurred to have your child’s information removed, and report the perpetrator
• Report this to your Internet service provider (ISP) and the offender’s ISP.

2. Report the incident to the authorities

3. Save the evidence
• Keep a log of all communications from the perpetrator
• Keep track of the offender’s screen name, email address, and ISP, if available

4. Learn as much as you can about your children’s use
of the Internet

• Find out which services they use and what they like to do online
• Find out about the security features on their favorite websites
• Talk to your children about protecting themselves and being safe online

McAfee Social Networking Guide is avaiable at:

Share This | No comments Blog

Cyberbullying and Online Gaming: How to Protect Your Child

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

I can say with confidence that my 12 year old loves his Xbox 360. But there were a lot of prerequisites that had to be met before he was allowed to have it, and he had to wait a long time before I even considered getting him one. Aside from…
Social Networking and Internet Safety Information for Parents adds Online Safety FAQ

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Excuse me for posting about a post. I know it seems strange but I added this FAQ over the weekend and it’s just now getting featured. Because of the way WordPress works it’s down in the stack so a bit harder to find. So, if you haven’t aready done so, please check out our new:

Online Safety FAQ

Online Safety FAQ

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Is my child at risk from online predators?

What are the risks of cyberbullying

What about sexting?

Reputation management

Too much time online


Mobile phones

What special risks are associated with Facebook, Google+ or other social networks.

Online Privacy Primer

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

by Larry Magid

Scroll down for article (below slide show)

Privacy Primer Slideshow

Watch what you post

There is a lot of talk about how social networks, search engines and even seemingly innocuous websites can invade our privacy, but the biggest risk to our privacy is what we post ourselves.  Sure, you should get to know the privacy settings of the services you use, but you should also be aware that anything you post online can be copied and pasted so, if it’s really really embarrassing or really a secret, don’t post it online, even if you have the tightest possible privacy settings.

Keep hackers at bay

There is also the possibility of unauthorized access. If hackers get their hands on your usernames and passwords or figure out how to break into one of your accounts, then all privacy bets are off. And even if you practice great security, there is always a chance of a data breach at some company or agency with access to your data. It’s happened to millions after intrusions into company, government and university sites.  For example, in April, 2011 Sony’s servers suffered a major data breach that jepordized personal information from 77 million customers.

Protect yourself

Still, there are things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Use strong passwords, change them periodically and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Here is are some helpful password tips from ConnectSafely.
  • Check your online credit and bank accounts frequently to look for fraudulent activity and report it immediately. In most cases you’re not liable. Check all three of your credit reports (for free) at least once a year.
  • Use security software and keep it and  your operating system and applications up-to-date.
  • Use the privacy tools associated with your social networks but be aware that anything can be copied and forwarded. Here are links to privacy settings on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter*
  • Use encryption setting with your  WiFi wireless networks. Don’t enter highly confidential information when connected to a public network.
  • Only provide personal or financial information to websites you know and trust. Never enter passwords on sites you’re not sure about, especially if you get an email asking you to do so.
  • Be aware of the privacy policies of any sites or companies you deal with. The privacy policy is where companies will disclose if they sell or rent your name to others or how they may use your personal information.
  • Be aware of the mobile and social networking apps you’re using. Check their privacy policy and make sure you only use apps from reputable sources.
  • Know how to use your browser’s private or “ingonito” mode and how to erase the history from your browser.
Tracking cookies

And there is the issue of being followed around the web. Many websites, including ones operated by very well known companies, put little files, called cookies, on your machine for a couple of reasons. One beneficial reason is to store information such as your username and password so you don’t have to enter it the next time you visit, but they also use cookies — called tracking cookies – so that they can target ads that they think you’re likely to respond to.

How Tracking cookies often work:

  • You visit a website that has an ad on it that’s placed by one of the advertising networks. The ad may appear on the site you’re visiting, but it’s actually being delivered from a server owned by the advertising network.
  • The network then puts a cookie on your machine that records the ad that was shown and the site you visited.
  • Then you visit another site that displays another ad from the same ad network and the cookie is updated with information about the current and current site.
  • Over a period of time the network can get a pretty good idea of sites in its network that you’ve visited.

The good thing about tracking cookies is that they help give you ads you’re more likely to be interested in. If you’ve been shopping for, let’s say, sporting equipment, you’ll see a lot more sporting equipment ads which might be a good thing if you’re always on the prowl for new equipment. Also, you’re less likely to see ads for products or services that don’t interest you.

Still, it can be creepy to be followed around and, even though the major advertising networks claim they don’t use this information to personally identify you, the fact is that the data is being stored and could, at least in theory, be used to identify you.

Removing or opting out of tracking cookies

Many security products can be used to remove tracking cookies and the major browsers also have tools to remove them.

DoubleClick, which is owned by Google, offers instructions on how to opt out of cookies. Here are instructions for deleting stored cookies in Microsoft Internet Explorer,   Mozilla Firefox and  Google Chrome.

All the browser companies have agreed to include a “do not track” feature in future browsers, but tracking will be the default setting unless you change it.  Mozilla Firefox, the first to implement this feature, has posted instructions on how to use it.

Location sharing

Your cell phone knows almost exactly where you are via its GPS antenna and its ability to recognize nearby WiFi hotspots. And, an  increasing number of mobile phone apps are “location-aware,” which means that they are capable of tracking your location. Be sure to only use location-aware apps that you trust and be very careful how you configure them. Some apps are designed to share you location with friends or via social networks or Twitter. Use them carefully and only share your location with people you trust. Review your settings occasionally to make sure you’re still comfortable with the people you’re sharing your location with and be careful before you use your phone to “check-in” to a location.

Don’t overlook the “obvious”

There are certain privacy traps that are so low-tech that we’re likely to forget about them. These include:

  • Watch what you say on your phone while you’re in public — people around you might be listening
  • Be aware of others viewing your screen. It doesn’t take a hack to know what you’re typing or reading if someone is behind you or near you. If you do look at your create condidential documents, consider getting a privacy screen for your laptop.
  • And, for the ultimate in low-tech privacy protection, shred your old financial records and other confidential documents before throwing them in the trash or recycling bin.


*Note about Twitter “privacy“: Although it’s possible to configure your Twitter account so that you have to approve anyone who follows you, that’s not how the service usually works. Think of Twitter as a public forum where everything you post can be seen by anyone.