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Tips for Smart Cellphone Use

Some 95% of Americans own cellphones of some kind, according to Pew Research Center – among 18- to 29-year-olds, the number is a whopping 100%. But no matter your age, there are some basic ideas for keeping mobile phone use safe and constructive:

Share with care. Use the same good sense about what you post from your phone as from a computer. Once they’re posted, text, photos, and video are tough to take back, can be copied and pasted elsewhere, and are up there pretty much forever. Think about the people in them (including you!). Reputations are at stake.

Phones are personal. Letting other people use your phone when you’re not around is like letting them have the password to your social network profile. They can impersonate you, which gives them the power to mess with your reputation and relationships. Lock your phone when you’re not using it, and use strong and unique passwords for all your apps.

Keep it kind. Because people socialize on cellphones as much as online, cyberbullying can be mobile too. Treat people on phones and the web the way you would in person, and the risk of being bullied goes down. Be aware, too, of people randomly taking pictures at parties, in locker rooms, etc. – you may not want to be tagged in their social-network photo albums!

Sexting: The vast majority of kids are smart and don’t take, send, or post or even store nude photos of themselves or peers on their phones. People who do so can be charged with production, distribution, or possession of child pornography, a serious crime. They can also be subjected to jokes, bullying, blackmail, expulsion from school, loss of a job, etc. and the images can circulate forever. Just don’t go there.

The value of presence. If you do a lot of texting, consider the impact that being “elsewhere” might be having on the people around you. Your presence during meals, at parties, in the car, etc. is not only polite, it’s a sign of respect and appreciated.

Know what your apps know. Pay attention to any permissions apps request as you install them. If an app asks to access your location, contact list, calendar or messages or to post to your social networking services, consider if the app really needs that information to function. When in doubt, consider withholding permission or not using that app.

Down time is good. Constant texting and talking can affect sleep, concentration, school, and other things that deserve your thought and focus. You need your sleep, and real friends understand there are times you just need to turn off the phone.

Share location mindfully. A growing number of apps allow friends to pinpoint each other’s physical location. If you use such a service, do so only with friends you know in person, and get to know the service’s privacy features.

Have a conversation (not a lecture) with your kids about smartphone use. Consider drawing up a family cellphone contract and talk with your children about why each point is important (there’s a sample contract at ConnectSafely.org/mobile). If you decide to use parental-control apps, discuss them with your children.

Consider parental-control tools. There are actually two major types of parental controls. The first is family rules or guidelines that you establish with your children, and the second is technology tools provided by cellphone companies, smartphone makers and app developers. If you do use technology to monitor or limit your child’s phone activities, in most cases it’s a good idea to be up front with them and revisit it every now and then as they mature.

Don’t text or handle your phone while driving. Texting or even touching your phone while driving is dangerous and illegal in many states. If you must speak on the phone, use a speaker or headset and hands-free controls. Never text, send or read email or post online and if you use your phone for navigation or listening to music or podcasts, set it before you leave or use hands-free voice recognition.

If you’d like to print these tips out, here’s a PDF version. Please contact admin@connectsafely.org for permission to reprint or post.

© 2018 ConnectSafely.org


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Source: Connect Safety

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Online Safety Tips

The vast majority of us use the internet to socialize, work, learn, and play. But widespread use doesn’t necessarily mean widespread understanding. The good news is there are easy ways to keep your internet use safe and constructive. We’ve compiled some of our best advice here.

Table of Contents

1 – Interacting with old and new friends
2 – Security and passwords
3 – Shopping, banking, donating and contests
4 – Using apps and unknown websites
5 – Social media safety tips
6 – Media literacy and fake news
7 – Cyberbullying
8 – Smartphone use

Interacting with old and new friends

  • Be kind online. It’s OK to disagree, but don’t be disagreeable.
  • If you get together with someone you first met online, have the first meeting in a public place.
  • Know how to report abuse or block anyone who bothers you and others on social media.
  • Be weary of anyone who says you or a family member owes them money, unless you are sure they are legitimate.
  • Be very cautious before sharing intimate photos with anyone, even someone you trust. A friend can become an ex-friend and once an image is online, it may be impossible to have it removed. For more, see our advice on sexting, sextortion and revenge porn.
  • Be cautious about sarcasm and humor. Something that may be funny in person, could be misinterpreted online

Security and passwords

  • Use strong and unique passwords (more at connectsafely.org/passwords)
  • Don’t automatically click on links in emails. They can be fake and lead you to malicious sites. Type in the web address yourself. When in doubt call the bank or other company that sent you the email.
  • Make sure your phone is locked. Secure your smartphone with a PIN (minimum 4 digit number), password, fingerprint or other method.
  • Don’t respond to anyone who tells you your computer is infected with a virus even if they claim they’re with Microsoft, Apple or your internet provider.

Shopping, banking, donating and contests

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter and there are no Nigerian princes willing to send you money.
  • Only shop at reputable online merchants. When in doubt, ask around.
  • Never send cash or wire money, Use credit cards if possible, otherwise debit cards or legitimate payment services like Paypal.
  • When shopping or banking look for secure sites where the web address starts with HTTPS. The “s” stands for “secure.
  • Do some research before donating online to make sure the charity is legitimate and that the money is going to the right place.
  • Never give out your social security number, medicare number or any other identification unless you’re sure it’s necessary, such as applying for credit.

Using apps and unknown websites

  • Read reviews before downloading smartphone apps.
  • Pay attention to what permission smartphone apps ask for before you download or use them.
  • Know and use the privacy settings for any device, app or service you use.
  • Don’t provide any personal information on a website unless you are certain it’s legitimate and, even then, only if necessary.

Social media safety tips

  • Learn to use each service or app’s privacy settings.
  • Don’t let friends or strangers pressure you to be someone you aren’t. And know your limits. You may be internet savvy, but people and relationships change, and unexpected stuff can happen on the internet.
  • Be nice online and treat people the way you’d want to be treated. People who are nasty and aggressive online are at greater risk of being bullied or harassed themselves. If someone’s mean to you, try not to react, definitely don’t retaliate. Use privacy tools to block anyone who is being mean
  • Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends. And even if they remain good friends, they can be hacked, their device can be stolen or they could accidentally forward what you sent them.
  • Read between the “lines.” It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that, while some people are nice, others act nice because they’re trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship or romance.
  • Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you’re both in the same location, so – to be 100% safe – don’t meet them in person. If you really must get together with someone you “met” online, don’t go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring some friends along.

Media literacy and fake news

  • Be aware that not everything you read online is necessarily true
  • Consider the source and if you have any doubt, so a little online research to see if it’s likely true
  • Never share anything that you have any reason to doubt. It’s not only bad to share inaccurate information, but it also hurts your credibility
  • Be aware of your emotional response to media. Just because something seems horrible, confirms your bias or makes you feel “right,” doesn’t make it true.
  • For more, see ConnectSafely.org/fakenews

Cyberbullying: Tips for kids and teens

  • Know that it’s not your fault. What people call “bullying” is sometimes an argument between two people. But if someone is repeatedly cruel to you, that’s bullying and you mustn’t blame yourself. No one deserves to be treated cruelly.
  • Don’t respond or retaliate. Sometimes a reaction is exactly what aggressors are looking for because they think it gives them power over you, and you don’t want to empower a bully. As for retaliating, getting back at a bully turns you into one – and can turn one mean act into a chain reaction. If you can, remove yourself from the situation. If you can’t, sometimes humor disarms or distracts a person from bullying.
  • Save the evidence. The only good news about bullying online or on phones is that it can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You can save that evidence in case things escalate.
  • Tell the person to stop. This is completely up to you – don’t do it if you don’t feel totally comfortable doing it, because you need to make your position completely clear that you will not stand for this treatment any more. You may need to practice beforehand with someone you trust, like a parent or good friend.
  • Reach out for help – especially if the behavior’s really getting to you. You deserve backup. See if there’s someone who can listen, help you process what’s going on and work through it – a friend, relative or maybe an adult you trust.
  • Use available tech tools. Most social media apps and services allow you to block the person. Whether the harassment’s in an app, texting, comments or tagged photos, do yourself a favor and block the person. You can also report the problem to the service. That probably won’t end it, but you don’t need the harassment in your face, and you’ll be less tempted to respond. If you’re getting threats of physical harm, you should call your local police (with a parent or guardian’s help) and consider reporting it to school authorities.
  • Protect your accounts. Don’t share your passwords with anyone – even your closest friends, who may not be close forever – and password-protect your phone so no one can use it to impersonate you. You’ll find advice at passwords.connectsafely.org.
  • If someone you know is being bullied, take action. Just standing by can empower an aggressor and does nothing to help. The best thing you can do is try to stop the bullying by taking a stand against it. If you can’t stop it, support the person being bullied. If the person’s a friend, you can listen and see how to help. Consider together whether you should report the bullying. If you’re not already friends, even a kind word can help reduce the pain. At the very least, help by not passing along a mean message and not giving positive attention to the person doing the bullying.
  • For more, see ConnectSafely.org/tips-to-help-stop-cyberbullying

Smartphone use

  • Phones are personal. Letting other people use your phone when you’re not around is like letting them have the password to your social network profile. They can impersonate you, which gives them the power to mess with your reputation and relationships. Lock your phone when you’re not using it, and use strong and unique passwords for all your apps.
  • Watch your photos to make sure that they are appropriate. Think about how you and others are dressed and be aware of how anything in the background could embarrass you or give away your privacy. Know how to turn off location sharing on photos and respect other people’s privacy by not posting pictures of them without their permission.
  • The value of presence. If you do a lot of texting, consider the impact that being “elsewhere” might be having on the people around you. Your presence during meals, at parties, in the car, etc. is not only polite, it’s a sign of respect and appreciated.
  • Know what your apps know. Pay attention to any permissions apps request as you install them. If an app asks to access your location, contact list, calendar or messages or to post to your social networking services, consider if the app really needs that information to function. When in doubt, consider withholding permission or not using that app.
  • Down time is good. Constant texting and talking can affect sleep, concentration, school, and other things that deserve your thought and focus. You need your sleep, and real friends understand there are times you just need to turn off the phone.
  • Share location mindfully. A growing number of apps allow friends to pinpoint each other’s physical location. If you use such a service, do so only with friends you know in person, and get to know the service’s privacy features.
  • Have a conversation (not a lecture) with your kids about smartphone use. Consider drawing up a family cellphone contract and talk with your children about why each point is important (there’s a sample contract at ConnectSafely.org/mobile). If you decide to use parental-control apps, discuss them with your children.
  • Consider parental-control tools. There are actually two major types of parental controls. The first is family rules or guidelines that you establish with your children, and the second is technology tools provided by cellphone companies, smartphone makers and app developers. If you do use technology to monitor or limit your child’s phone activities, in most cases it’s a good idea to be up front with them and revisit it every now and then as they mature.D
  • Don’t text or handle your phone while driving. Texting or even touching your phone while driving is dangerous and illegal in many states.  If you must speak on the phone, use a speaker or headset and hands-free controls. Never text, send or read email or post online and if you use your phone for navigation or listening to music or podcasts,  set it before you leave or use hands-free voice recognition.

Source: Connect Safety

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How to use privacy tools for popular services and apps

After School

“Anonymous” app After School does not have typical privacy settings because users do not have a profile that can be viewed or shared. All user posts are by default anonymous unless a person includes his or her name in a post. After School outlines its privacy policies on its website. For more, see ConnectSafely’s A Parent’s Guide to After School.

Facebook

Facebook has a privacy settings page but it also has “in-line privacy” settings for each post. Each time you post, there is an icon such as a globe for public or other image to indicate if you’re sharing with friends, friends of friends, only me, specific friends or a custom list. This gives you an enormous amount of granular control. You could, for example, create a list of friends or family members and send a specific post just to them. Note that this setting is sticky so it stays in place until you change it. If, for example, you decide to post something to Public, you’ll need to change it back to Friends or whatever you prefer, the next time you post — otherwise that post, too, will be public.

Google

Google has numerous services that can be viewed and changed on its Control, protect, and secure your account page. Google also has a Privacy Checkup that allows you to review and adjust your settings and a page that lets you review and delete a record of your Google activity.

Links to ConnectSafely parents guides or privacy pages on other services

Instagram

By default everyone can see your posts and photos on Instagram but you can restrict them so that they can only be seen by approved followers. This “Controlling your visibility” help page explains how to create a private account as well another information on how to protect your privacy on Instagram. Also see ConnectSafely’s Parents Guide to Instagram.

Kik

Unlike most phone-based messengers, Kik uses usernames, not phone numbers, to identify users. Read more on the Kik website and in ConnectSafely parent’s guide.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s Understanding your privacy settings page explains that there is a privacy tab that allows you to control who can see your profile and information.

Roblox 

Access to privacy settings depends on the device being used to access the platform. Roblox’s privacy and cookie page explains its policies in detail.

Snapchat

The default “My Friends” setting only allows users to send and receive media from users they have added to their friends list. That, and other settings can be changed as explained in this help page.

Twitter

Twitter is “asynchronous” which means that you can have followers who you don’t necessarily follow. By default, anyone can follow you, which means they have access to all of your tweets. However, there are ways you can post privately by protecting your tweets so that only people you approve can see what you post.

This Twitter privacy and safety page allows you to protect your tweets but also allows you to turn off your location, prevent people from tagging you in photos and manage other aspects of your privacy and safety.

Twitter also allows you to restrict specific accounts from contacting you or seeing your tweets. Here is a page that explains How to block accounts on twitter.

WhatsApp  

WhatsApp outlines its default privacy settings, including advice for adjusting settings based on the device you’re using.

YouTube 

YouTube is owned by Google so its privacy settings are controlled in a Google account. Google also has a Privacy Checkup that allows you to review and adjust your settings and a page that lets you review and delete a record of your Google activity.

Source: Connect Safety

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Advice on Sexting, Sextortion and Revenge Porn

  • The safest way to avoid a picture getting into the wrong hands is to never take it, allow it to be taken, or share it. Sadly, there are cases (sometimes called “revenge porn”) where someone shares pictures meant only for them — sometimes after a breakup.
  • Never take and send an image of yourself because you were pressured, even from someone you care about.
  • If there is an inappropriate sexual image of you online, see if you can get it taken down. Many apps and services will remove such images upon request
  • If someone sends you a sexual image, do not share, post or forward it. It’s a violation of trust and you could be breaking the law. If it’s an image of a minor, you could be committing a very serious crime. If the image isn’t meant for you or you feel it’s inappropriate or possibly illegal, delete it from your devices and any online storage.
  • If a stranger (or possibly even someone you know) asks you to take a revealing picture, it could be a scam that could lead to further demands and threats (“sextortion”). Do not respond and consider reporting it to the police and, if it involves a person under 18, the CyberTipLine (800) 843-5678). It could be a criminal who has exploited other people so you’re helping others by alerting authorities.
  • If someone does post, distribute or threaten to distribute nude, intimate or sexually explicit images of you without your permission, consider contacting law enforcement or an attorney. Many states have laws specifically designed to prosecute “revenge porn” cases and to protect and compensate victims.
  • Consider contacting a victim hotline or advocacy service such as the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative or the National Organization for Victim Assistance. If a minor is a victim, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • If a minor (person under 18) is depicted in the image, it could be considered “child pornography,” which can be a very serious crime, especially if an adult is involved or if there is any type of coercion.

Resources:

ConnectSafely’s Tips for Dealing with Teen Sexting

ConnectSafely’s FAQ on Sexting and Sextortion

How to Stop from Being a Victim of Revenge Porn (from DCMA.COM)

Helpful Tips for Victims of Revenge Porn (from Ridder, Costa and Johnstone, LLP)

Revenge Porn FAQ (from End Revenge Porn)

You Sent a Sext Now What (from NetSmartz from National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

Are You Sure You Know Who You’re Talking to Online? (from NetSmartz from National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

 Articles

Responding to revenge porn: Challenges to online legal impunity (Dr Michael Salter & Associate Professor Thomas Crofts)

Revenge Porn and the Purge trend on Instagram and Twitter (Sameer Hindjula, Cyberbullying Research Center)

ConnectSafely Tips and FAQs

FAQ on ‘Sexting’ and ‘Sextortion’

Tips for Dealing with Teen Sexting

Tips for Strong, Secure Passwords

More tips from ConnectSafely

Organizations and resources

National Network to End Domestic Violence

End Revenge Porn

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (Providing counseling and technical advice to victims of nonconsensual pornography)

Source: Connect Safety