background img

The tools every parent must know to keep your kids safe on the Internet

One of the parents from my daughter’s class, Chris Roberts, created this checklist for ensuring our younger “web surfers” remain safe. I think it’s a great list, so, with his permission, I am sharing it here for safe explorations.

 For the younger children – 12 and under:

1.    Create separate user accounts for each child on the home computer.

2.    Enable strict content filtering on the computer.

3.    Install anti-virus, malware software, etc.

4.    Establish a select list of sites they’re allowed to visit. (We talk about the sites they want to visit, spend time on them together, and then I go through the sites and click through as deep as I can to understand the site content, culture, links, and ads, if they have them.) If I think they’re okay, then they’re added to the list.

5.    Enable YouTube Safe Mode on all web browsers (no matter what the age of user). Remember, you have to enable the safe mode per child, per account set up.    

Mama Said: Facebook Etiquette for Moms

Educators are constantly talking about how to teach kids responsible use of the Internet and social media. Parents look over their child’s shoulder while he or she is logged on. Schools try to address social media safety and appropriate Google searches. We use software to try to block “bad” sites.

But what about moms on Facebook?

Facebook provides many of us with a place to connect with family and friends dispersed all over the country. It is an easy way to say, “Hey, look what we’re up to!” or “Don’t the kids look awesome?!”

It is fun to log on and get a glimpse into our old friends’ lives. It makes us feel that we are a still a part of them. And it gives us a place to vent about the latest ridiculous story in politics or entertainment. Facebook has made it easy to find friends we thought were long lost to us.

Yet we do not all feel the same way about what should, or should not, be posted there.

Everloop: Training Tweens to Become Digital Citizens

A few weeks ago, I caught wind of an intriguing site called Everloop.com. After checking it out and doing my research, I was incredibly impressed. Everloop is an incredibly fun, secure social media site designed for kids. The site provides tweens a safe, censored environment to learn about the unwritten rules of online social interaction. The experience heavily involves parents and gives moms and dads the power to decide what their kids can and can’t post. Inappropriate interactions are stopped before they happen and kids (and parents) can avoid incredibly embarrassing situations.

Hilary DeCesare, Co-Founder and CEO of Everloop.com (not to mention a digital child and parenting expert), took a few moments to share Everloop’s mission and how the site is literally changing young lives. If you’re a fan of ABC’s hit show “Secret Millionaire,” you may already be familiar with Hilary’s story as well as the idea behind Everloop.com.

MHM: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background as a mamapreneur?

Hilary: I’m not sure a man could really do what we do [laughs]. I went to school in Colorado and then I ended up staring at Xerox. I did Xerox for a little bit then went to Oracle and did ten years at Oracle. During that time was fortunate enough to end up getting pregnant immediately with twins. It was kind of crazy because I wasn’t expecting to be a mom quite so soon and I was kind of doing the whole “climbing up the ladder” thing.

When I left Oracle I decided that what I really was passionate about was helping other CEOs to get their businesses off the ground. I wanted to help them put strategic framework around their businesses. I spent five years with another mamapreneur and we had great success and at that same time my kids started to grow into that tween phase.

MHM: Can you tell us what inspired you to create Everloop?

Hilary: I’ve always been passionate about technology – I love it. I think parents have this fear of, “Oh my gosh! I’m not really that familiar with it – how do I get my kids to be digital citizens when I don’t know it.” There’s the fear of the unknown.

So, with two other mamapreneurs, we created Everloop a year and a half ago. It was designed to be that first step into the internet. It has the best features of Facebook, the best features of Twitter, the best features of YouTube. We kind of pulled it all together. So far I have to say that I’m incredibly pleased because the timing was so relevant. Kids are getting themselves in trouble.

MHM: What does Everloop offer for the young audience to which it caters?

Hilary: What we’ve really said to parents is that you want your kids on their own social network. It’s not that fun to be on a social network with your grandma and your mom and all her friends and your friends. [laughs] When your grandma says, “Honey, what a great soccer match!” All the sudden [their tween] friends will start to heckle them. Give them their own place.

MHM: Why is Everloop safer than other social media sites?

Hilary: So, what we did on the ground level is we actually engaged some of the top experts in the field around the laws that are out there. There’s a law called COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) and these people are experts in making sure that sites are safe. We made sure to engage these people while we were building the product. There are multiple levels of security set up. It starts with registration and then we also block profanity, cyber bullying, personal information from kids when they are posting it.

So not only is it a safe site, it’s also moderated and we’re teaching them about behaviors that take time to learn. By the time they finally get into the “Wild Wild West” of the open internet they actually then remember, “I shouldn’t have done that. Oh, I can’t do that.”

Kids are making horrific mistakes on Facebook, they’re posting things on Twitter. They are doing things they shouldn’t do. We have had numerous experiences where kids have made mistakes on Everloop. But, guess what? It was blocked before it was posted. If these things had been posted on a site like Facebook, it could have led to a firestorm. I could tell you stories – unbelievably awful. These kids could have been chastised, they could have been bashed and bullied and it never goes away. So, what we do is, we block those and have to contact parents. We have gotten numerous thank you cards.

MHM: Parents aren’t aware that their children are often sneaking onto Twitter, Facebook, etc. Could you tell about the parental controls and involvement Everloop offers.

Hilary: First off, we make sure parents are completely separate. As a parent of three, I still want to be the parent that decides if my child can post pictures. Which picture? I want to make sure that I’m the one who decides what loops – loops are groups – what loops they join. I want to be kept in the loop. There’s no parent out there who wants to be out of the loop.

What we have done with our parent panel, first off, it has kind of morphed into a place where parents can go where they can feel like they have have a say in their digital kids’ lives. What we want to do is make sure that their is no parent out there that is out of the loop and that there is a kid that says, “My mom gets this. She understands what is going on.” Where [the mom] may have no clue, we’ve made her into this empowered body [laughs] just by her being able to go into the dashboard and look and decide with the click of a button what their kids can do on Everloop.

MHM: If you could name the top 2 or 3 reasons parents should consider getting their kids an Everloop account, what would those be?

Hilary: What we’ve really said to parents is you want your kids on their own social network. In their own world – their own home base. Give them their own place. It’s the cool place for kids.

MHM: Is there any memorable feedback you’ve received from parents that has really made you thankful this venture a gratifying one for you as a parent?

Hilary: When you start a company, there’s always a mission. You want to make sure you keep going back to your mission because it’s easy to get distracted. One of the things we wanted to make sure we were doing was that we were educating kids in a non-invasive way. If you hammer kids over the head, they are going to be like, “This isn’t a cool site!”

We have received numerous thank you notes [from parents]. We took one child off because there was a racial slur. After  within a couple weeks the parent reviewed it, after the daughter apologized we let her back on and that child is now one of our top digital citizens. She is owning the site.

That’s where you start to get the goose bumps because you’re delivering a fun place for kids to be and at the same time they are getting themselves ready for that much bigger experience in the world.

_________________________________________________

If your tween uses a smartphone, an Everloop app is in the works! It should be hitting the app store sometime this fall.
Hannah Camacho is an educator, mom to three wonderful children ages 3 and younger and proud wife of an Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran. She has been a BlogHer featured tech blogger and is very involved in the world of mobile app marketing and PR when she’s not chasing her three busy little ones.

How to Delete a Facebook group

Hmmm…. have you created a Facebook group and changed your mind? Don’t want it out there anymore?

There seems to be no simple way to delete a Facebook group so here  is how to do it…..

First send a message to everyone in your group about closing the group. Then remove everyone from the group so you’re the only member, then click on leave group. When the last member leaves it gets deleted.

That’s it!

Got 5 Minutes? How to Get Organized Using Facebook, by LivingSocial CEO

Thanks to  Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO and Co-founder of LivingSocial for sharing some helpful organizing tips using Facebook to help save you time!

You’ve probably heard the buzz surrounding Facebook and other social media tools, but might not be convinced that they’re right for you.  Perhaps setting up an account and maintaining it seems daunting. Or, maybe you signed up and don’t know what to do next.  Utilizing Facebook in a practical way for just a few minutes a day can actually save you time.  Here are 5 easy ways to leverage social media:

  1. Online clubs and fan groups: Social networks allow you to connect with current friends and new friends based on your mutual interests.  Using applications like LivingSocial to find people with similar taste, you can create an online book or movie club to unite with fellow bookworms or movie buffs.
  2. Quick event planning: Facebook lets you plan parties easily and efficiently – just create an event, enter the details and invite friends.  Sending virtual invites saves you the time of hunting down addresses and taking RSVPs over the phone.  You can even plan reunion events for people you’ve lost touch with and found again through social media.  And, you can figure out what to drink and listen to using LivingSocial’s music and beer pages.
  3. Social media at work: Being social media-savvy can help you stay relevant in your job, by keeping up with the eager social media enthusiasts entering the workforce. You can keep your profile professional by using Facebook’s custom privacy settings to regulate who sees what information.
  4. Help other parents: The best product and book reviews come from other parents, especially friends. Love a stroller, but hate a certain crib? Let other parents online know with a quick post to a social media site.  Or, post a question to find out what your friends recommend.
  5. Share photos: Emailing photos to your family and friends after big events can be time-consuming, especially sorting out who wants which photo.  Facebook makes this easy – just post your photos and everyone (including non-Facebook users) can check them out, if you want.  Animoto.com’s Facebook application is a great way to share animated videos made from your own photos.

It’s really easy to spend hours on Facebook, but most people don’t have the time to do so. For more information on some of the quick tips I provided, visit http://livingsocial.com or if you’re a Facebook user:  http://apps.facebook.com/livingsocial/.

More info about Living Social taken from the Living Social Website……..LivingSocial.com is a social discovery and cataloging network that allows people to review and share their favorite movies, books, games, music, restaurants and beer. As the most comprehensive interest-based online community, LivingSocial is now helping more than 6.4 million users catalogue their interests, seamlessly integrating with Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, hi5, and Orkut.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Difference between a Facebook Profile, Facebook Group and a Facebook Fan Page

Often times I have been asked about the difference between a Facebook Group and a Facebook Fan page. Facebook can be confusing when you first join. So without going into too much detail, I will explain the difference between the 3 different types of presences on Facebook.

A user profile is a place on Facebook for your personal information. The place where you can engage with your friends and keep things casual. You can add as much personal information as you would  like, however, be cautious of HOW much info you share. (Recently I had watched a news program that mentioned not to put your birthday, address or phone number on your Facebook profile.) There is a place for pictures, links and other random fun ways to engage with your friends.

A Facebook Group can be created or joined. Groups are formed by Facebook users around a common interest. For instance, Mile High Mamas, has a Facebook Group. According to Facebook, “A group can be created by going to the Groups application and clicking “Create a Group” in the upper right corner of the page. All groups require a group name, description and group type.” Groups are not circulated into the members’ feed or also called a stream on their user profile. Therefore if you want to see group updates, you need to go to the group page.

A Facebook Page or sometimes called a Fan page, is meant for businesses, public figures or a brand. Facebook users can become a “fan” of your business. The fan page/business page is a place where  “fans” can  interact with your business or other fans of the business. A fan page is good because updates made on the fan page are circulated into the home “feed” of the users. When someone becomes a “fan” of your page, friends of the person who fanned the page can then see that their friend fanned the page, and they then can also fan your page. I manage a Fan Page for BornFit. I happen to like the Fan page because we can post updates about BornFit events, sales as well as recent blog posst from the BornFit Blog. The Facebook fan page is another great place to gain more traffic for your website and exposure for your business.

Hope I explained this to better help you understand Facebook. Post a comment below if you have any more questions regarding this subject.

Or if you are a Facebook “pro”… Do you have a Fan Page for your business? What sorts of things do you post on there? How do you like having a Fan Page?

Say it to my face…book?

I consider myself to be rather in-touch with what’s going on around me. I have over 400 “friends” on my personal Facebook Account. I have a bunch of people that I email, instant message/chat, text, or call on a regular basis. I try to stay on top of what’s going on with my friends, and I try to keep them appraised of the situation here.

I call, text, or email important things to top-priority people, and most everything gets shared on my blog at one point or another. On the flip-side, I’m easy to contact. I recently got a new BlackBerry, and she rarely leaves my side. I check email, Facebook, and Twitter from my phone. MY. PHONE. My, how times have changed!

I have pretty much all the communication bases fully covered.

So, imagine my surprise one day when I discover, purely by a random course of events, that one of our closest friends is engaged.

Engaged!?

Did he tell me in the myriads of text messages we’d had going back and forth the day before? No. Did he tell me in an email? No. Did he tell me in one of the phone conversations we’d had that week? No.

A friend of a friend saw it on our friend’s Facebook relationship status.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of Facebook, you can set a status that will broadcast to everyone, and you can also plug in information that is static on the site. It just sits there for everyone to see if they go to your page (Name, Hometown, Relationship Status, etc.). THIS is where he announced his engagement.

I couldn’t believe it, and because we are such close friends, I’ve given him unending grief about it, too. (His mom is on Facebook, and he claims to have told her before she saw it on there. I can only hope that’s true.)

“I had to learn this information on Facebook!?” I said to him when he finally called me. “I guess I see where I rank…”

I tried really hard to let this slide, to ignore the tenderness of my feelings, but this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

This situation conjured up feelings from the not-so-distant past. A bunch of things like this have started happening in my circle of friends, and I’m wondering if this trend is here to stay. For example, I found out via Facebook about the birth of a close friend’s baby. Even though we’d been calling and emailing back and forth before her due-date, she opted not to send out a mass email or give us a call. She chose Facebook as her means of communication, and because I have so many friends to sort through on there, I’d missed the announcement until days had gone by. (In all fairness, it’s not her fault I have so many status updates to sort through.) I wished I would have been told directly so that I could have helped them celebrate sooner. Still, I tried to set my feelings aside and be happy to see pictures of her new little one so quickly.

We all have different “types” of friends, so I can understand finding out some of these things if the personal connection isn’t as strong. For example, I’m “friends” on Facebook with people I haven’t seen in 17 years (or longer!). I wouldn’t expect a phone call or a personal email about something that is happening to them, and vice versa. I enjoy reading Facebook statuses about what’s going on in their world.

Of course there are exceptions to these little rules I have in my head. When my dad was in a car accident last year, I put it out onto Facebook, and the overwhelming response I got from people warmed my heart. Things were happening so quickly, and I was glad to have a quick way to keep people updated.

Just the other day, in fact, one of my friends used her Twitter account to alert us about an accident in her family, and I wasn’t the least bit offended. It was a call of action, so to speak, and we rallied around her.

To me, that’s different. As devastating as an accident is, it’s in a different category than a “monumental event” like a birth, engagement, or death. When I find out something monumental about a close friend at the same time as their mother’s best friend’s daughter? I feel less important.

There. I said it.

All this being said, I think I’ve figured it out. I am just as important as I was before to my friends. People are just excited to announce the news to the whole world in the most efficient way possible. Social Media has become the Great Equalizer amongst the recipients of information. I either need to let go of my old way of seeing things or risk having my feelings hurt again and again.

Have Social Media tools like Facebook changed the face of communication, and/or do any of the old-school rules still apply? Do I need to unlearn all the “rules of communication” that are so ingrained in my psyche? And, more importantly, is there an app. for that? 😉

So, what do you think? How do you prefer to send and receive important information?