Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cyber Bullies, Hackers, and Trolls! Oh My!

Image result for internet safetySo much has been happening this summer that I far behind in my promise to list some helpful sites/apps for parents and grandparents. The ones listed in this post range from being helpful in keeping our children safe online to fun apps to share with our kiddos. AND, I apologize for the length of the post. I cut it down and then thought of something and cut it down and...I probably left out a lot of info, but this is a good start. Hope it helps! 

Most of you know that I am a stickler for internet safety where kids and senior adults are concerned. These are the ages that seem to be most commonly under attack from hackers, molesters, thieves and all other bad digital citizens. I guess the rest of us have no excuse. Ha! Although, nearly every single time I covered digital citizenship and internet safety with my students, I would get stories of how their mom did that or it happened to my uncle or my dad learned that after he was hacked, and the like. The stories are out there and the damage is not usually minimal. My hope is that we can learn our lessons before we become the subjects of one of the stories.

Keeping our kids safe: 

Did you know that predators can contact your kids via apps? They can. And they do. For example, the site, Omegle, is a website and app and it's free. It allows texting and video chats with strangers. While it carries a warning, children are able to talk or video chat with anyone. ANYONE. What can you do? (REMEMBER, if a predator contacts a friend of your kid, that predator can reach out as a friend of a friend so monitoring closely is always a good idea.)
  • Turn off the GPS in each app
  • Set privacy settings to the most restrictive
  • Block sites and apps on your child's phone
  • Check into family safety plans
  • Random checks of your child's digital devices
  • Talking to children about the dangers
PLEASE watch the video. And share it with your kids, grandkids, neighbor's kids, all kids AND their parents. I used this in a Slides presentation in my big intro to digital citizenship with my elementary students. This one had the greatest impact on them. (I used it for my 3rd-5th graders). 

Cyberbullying is REAL, y'all:

For younger kiddos, check out

Image result for netsmartzkids

And there is a ton of info for all ages and families at CommonSenseMedia.Org

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Monitoring text messages and everything else

TeenSafe Phone Tracker will monitor EVERYTHING including deleted texts. It's not free but, if I had concerns, I would probably consider a tracker. You can talk to me all day long about privacy but making sure my kids are safe is more important. We can talk until we're blue in the face but kids are going to do what kids are going to do. If my kids earn my trust, that's one thing. But I never want to wake up and get that visit from the police that my kid is dead or make the call that he/she is missing. If you find this too intrusive, don't use it. Simple as that. is a parental control that allows you the options you feel are best for keeping your kiddos safe on all their digital devices. Along with parental controls, this service provides filters, keeps track of how much time your child is spending online, can "immediately and remotely disconnect a user", can report how much time child is spending on which websites, provides visible notification timer bar, and more. You can get this for about $30/year.

Bully emojiI am a Witness: Great for helping kids not be bystanders and take steps to stick up for themselves or their friends. LOVE this!


Facebook: I have several things to say about this social media site that some of us take for granted but, we shouldn't.

  • check your privacy settings, frequently, and make sure they're always set to the strongest settings available
  • change your password at least every 6 months and make them long and include upper case/lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Passwords should be AT LEAST 8 characters long.
  • NEVER accept a friend request from someone with whom you are already friends. This is a hack.
  • NEVER post anything you wouldn't want to stay in the digital world FOREVER because that's exactly how long it stays out there
  • NEVER post your vacation plans or anytime you'll be out of your house. I always wait until I return to post vacation news UNLESS someone is staying at my house while I'm gone. Then, and only then, do I consider posting anything about my whereabouts. 
  • NEVER use the 'Check in' feature. It not only alerts others that you are not home, it lets them know exactly where you are.
Instagram: My advice for this social media site is pretty much the same as Facebook: don't tell where you are or when you're there and change that password. Use the strongest/strictest privacy settings available. Make sure others have to ask to follow you and, if you don't know the person, permission denied. 

Webcams: When you are not using your webcam to take a picture of video chat or make a video, cover it with tape. NOT clear tape. If someone hacks you, they can access your webcam.

Lock it up: Make sure you use the lock screen for all of your digital devices. You may not care if family members use your device, but you'll wish you used the lock screen should it be stolen.

Email: Don't even bother opening SPAM and don't open anything from someone you do not know. You also have to be careful when opening email from someone you do know. For example, Sometimes I get an odd message in the subject line in emails from my brother and this tells me it's not from him. Use your common sense.

Private browsing: Marketers are tracking everyone. I use Disconnect and Ghostery to help keep this to a minimum.

Antivirus software: Get some. I use AVG and Malwarebytes.

Passwords: Use them. Make them long and strong. They should have upper and lower case letters with numbers and symbols in the mix. Change them at least every 6 months.

Cell Phones: Do not answer a call from a number you do not recognize. Same thing with text messages. Let people leave a message. Have something set up with all family members so that a person claiming to be a family member or calling for a family member has to give you the word or phrase or whatever to verify their...honesty.

Watch out for Trolls:

A Few Things for Grandparents and Retirees

I have not checked all of the suggestions out at this time but I am in the process of doing so. If you want something checked out or have checked it out yourself, let me know. I'll love to check it out for you or share your findings!

App suggestions: AppCrawlr

Tools, Tips, and App Suggestions: Completely You

Apps and Settings: KasperskyLab Daily

Apps for Long Distance Families: Mashable

Apps for Connecting Long Distance Families: USA Today

More Apps and Websites for Grandparents: about parenting

Bully emoji: I am a Witness

Please share helpful tips/websites/apps/etc. that I missed! 

Thanks, y'all!


  1. Awesome information!! Thanks for taking the time to teach us!!

    1. Thanks! There's so much more information. It's going to take a few more posts, and maybe a different blogger, to get it all out there. :)

  2. Here's a threat I learned about the other day. (from my email to family)
    I learned from the Krebs on Security site. (link to Krebs article

    "Sadly, it is still relatively easy for thieves to create an account in the name of Americans who have not already created one for themselves. All one would need is the target’s name, date of birth, Social Security number, residential address, and phone number. This personal data can be bought for roughly $3-$4 from a variety of cybercrime shops online.”

    So if you have not created a my Social Security account, do so soon.

    Even if you are years away from filing for SS benefits you should setup your account now to protect it from hackers.

    So many threats out there. I think it pays to be suspicious of any offers. I know family who have had there computer files encrypted and held for ransom. It's crazy.

    1. Absolutely! Our state was hacked a few years ago and they offer us free protection through a company that has been reliable thus far. A lot of people didn't take advantage of this but I sure did. I know that people have set up accounts in their pets' names. Ridiculous. It really is sad how easy it is. We are never prepared, are we?


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