Cracking the Sexting Code

Sexual expression is a major part of human development, and often occurs as part of puberty – but if it seems like kids are getting interested earlier than before, that’s because they really are. As reported by MedicineNet, puberty has occurred earlier and earlier over the last century – and teens are turning to sexting as one way of expressing the changes they’re experiencing.

Why Are Teens Sexting?

Teens sext for many different reasons – some do it because they think it’s fun, others want to feel sexy, while a significant number of both genders sext because they feel pressured into doing so.

There’s no universal reason why teens get started on this – what’s truly important is understanding that they do sext, and what they’re saying is just as important as the fact that they’re sexting at all.

However, we need to understand that teens see sexting as normal. This is the point that parents, guardians, and teachers often miss – in many cases, teens see it as a perfectly healthy and appropriate way of expressing their sexuality, even when adults – or the law – disagree.

Sharing the Information

Sexting comes in two main forms – text and photographs- and are usually shared over messaging apps or sext friendly apps. Over two-thirds of teens with access to smartphones have sexted someone else, usually their boyfriend or girlfriend, and in many cases girls are asked to sext rather than initiating it on their own.

However, most teens are jealous of their information and privacy – they might be willing to share an explicit photograph with the person they’re dating, but they don’t believe that picture should be passed around. In short, teens only accept sexting when they have some measure of control over it.

This falls squarely in line with how teens feel about the rest of their information – they don’t want it to be used in ways they don’t approve of, but as long as they consent, they’re not going to worry about it.

The real problem is when teens start sharing information without realizing it’s wrong. An increasing number of teens are being arrested for distributing child pornography of themselves, and you can bet that most of them don’t believe it was wrong. This is especially true in cases where teens married before 18 (which is legal in most states, though parental consent is typically required) and see exactly nothing wrong with sending erotic messages or images to their spouse.

Fortunately, such cases will rarely be prosecuted, but the law is the law and it’s still illegal.

What About The Slang?

There’s a common misconception that messages between teens consist mainly of obscure slang designed to hide the real conversation from parents. While it’s true that certain words and phrases are used, slang isn’t a truly significant part of most sexts.

In other words, there’s no truly secret ‘code’ you’ll need to unravel before you can understand what teens are saying – all you really have to do is read the messages themselves.

All of this comes down to a simple bit of information: While we may not care that teens are sexting in the first place – unless it involves actions like threatening to release nude photographs without the subject’s consent – we should care enough to keep tabs on them, talk with them about appropriate sexting behaviors, and make sure they’re truly in control of what they’re doing.



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New Feature: Parent Notification Upon New Location Connection

A new feature has been added.  Parents can now be notified when their child connects from a new location.

For example, normally you may have a couple different locations your child may login from.  Home and school.  When they connect from a new connection such as a friend’s house, we will send you a notification of this activity.

To access this feature, visit this link:

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Understanding the dangers posed to children by the Internet

The Internet is a fantastic tool that we all use in our everyday lives whether it be to purchase products and services, to perform research or to communicate with friends, colleagues and family members.
The Internet is also an extremely powerful tool that our children can take great benefit from – particularly in terms of the research facilities that come hand in hand with the Internet it can be extremely useful in facilitating the learning process for them.

As well as these great benefits the Internet does come with many pitfalls and dangers, especially when it is being used by children. As adults and parents it is important that we understand all of these dangers as well as the ways in which we can monitor, regulate and shield our children from them.

Understanding the scope of the Internet

As with all dangers it is important to understand the scope that the Internet covers so that we can then understand each individual danger within that scope. The Internet is not simply the thing that we see when opening a browser and visiting Google, it is actually a means of communication that is available to our entire computer as well as most of our other electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets, Television as well as many modern kid’s toys and games.

In addition the Internet is not just available in the form of web pages but is accessible via email, instant chat programs and from inside many games. As such all of these devices and different platforms need to be monitored and regulated in order to keep our children safe.

How do we regulate these mediums?

Each of the various mediums available to use with the Internet tend to have their own methods of regulation. Internet browsers can be regulated with the use of content filters – in fact Microsoft Internet Explorer has a built in content filter. Most games that provide Internet access have parental controls and the ability to restrict or turn off Internet access. Other devices and platforms such as smart phones and email systems are harder to restrict so need a different approach.

For these harder to restrict platforms it is important that we have parental control over our children’s use of the internet. For example it is important that we restrict the times in which they can use the Internet and we should be present while they do so, in order that we can monitor the use. If clear rules are put in place to this effect then controlling how and when children use the Internet is much easier.  Because Zoobuh is the best email for kids, our expertise and products can help give you the control you need.

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Email Etiquette for Children

For the past 15 years, research from the Pew Research Center has shown that email is the top work-related technology tool used by adults in the U.S. yet many adults have difficulty following email etiquette guidelines.

Children who learn appropriate email etiquette develop confidence in their collaboration skills and are better prepared to communicate effectively when they enter the business world.

Here are five crucial email etiquette rules that even young children can routinely practice:

1. Use correct spelling and punctuation to make emails easier to read and create a professional appearance. (ZooBuh’s built-in spell check feature makes it easy for younger children to identify misspelled words.)

2. Utilize appropriate formatting such as emoticons and personalized fonts for informal emails to friends and grandparents but simple fonts with only standard colors for emails to teachers or businesses.

3. Write a concise subject line to make sure the email is read by the recipient. The ability to compose a subject line that succinctly describes the content of the email is a valuable reading comprehension skill as well.

4. Be cautious when sending personal information via email. This includes addresses, phone numbers, bank account information and even school or church details. (The parental controls in ZooBuh can be set to automatically check for these items.)

5. Include a polite greeting and a sincere closing with each email. This ensures that despite its potential for impersonal use, each email can remain a valuable communication tool.

Learning to use email effectively is a 21st century skill that is crucial for a child’s future success and with practice, acceptable email etiquette will become automatic.

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New Feature: adjust destination and percentage threshold of spam

You’ve always been able to adjust the threshold at which the system determines what spam is and isn’t.  However there is a new feature available where you can save the spam into a folder for review.Spam Adjustments

Since there is such a variety of spam and junk, there is the ability to only let the spam through that may have barely missed the “cutoff” point and discard the rest.  You can adjust the slider percentage to fine tune the amount.

Some examples of messages that may fall into this category are those from Facebook, Twitter, Apple, etc.   If these messages are flagged as spam, you can now retrieve them up to a week.

Note:  your child cannot see any messages in the Spam folder until you move them into their Inbox.

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New domain names available

One of the features requested by our customers was the option for more domains, specifically teen-oriented names.

By default, the email addresses will be So would be an example.

A real-time, updated list of domains can be found here.

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Setting Up Rules and Monitoring Tools for Teens Social Media Use

Setting Up Rules and Monitoring Tools for Teens Social Media Use

Teenagers with access to the internet and social media networks enjoy communicating with friends, following celebrities or sports heroes and chatting with people all over the world who have the same hobbies and interests. However, parents need to be aware of the potential dangers of social media and work with their teens to establish a set of rules to monitor use.

Here are five things that parents can do to establish rules for teens regarding social media:

  1. Talk to teens. Parents may assume that teens know how to behave online and in social media groups, but it’s always a good idea to have the conversation anyhow. Parents should stress that the teens should never post personal information, such as an address or cell phone number. Teens should never share their login information with others, except for with parents. Teens should also be told that they need to report any activity or information that makes them uncomfortable or that is inappropriate.
  2. Establish Check-up Rules. Parents need to let their teenagers know that they will be checking their accounts periodically. Parents should request that teens provide up-to-date login information as part of the conditions of being online and that the information is not negotiable. While teens may resist, claiming that this is an invasion of privacy, it’s important for parents to see what minor children are doing online.
  3. Limit Use. Social media has the potential to take up a lot of time for teens, so parents can set limits on where and when teens have access to electronics. Many parents insist that there will be no electronics during family dinners, after bedtime and when visitors are present (such as grandparents). Parents should also practice what they preach and limit their own electronics use in the same situations.
  4. Learn the Technology. Parents should never voluntarily stay in the dark when it comes to social media. If a teen joins a social media site, a parent should as well. Whether it’s Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or an online chat room, parents need to become as savvy as possible with social media. Parents should note that if a teen’s social media activity seems to taper off, it’s possible that the teen has set up an alternate account.
  5. Outline Penalties. Often, teens try to push the boundaries and rules set up to protect them when using social media. Parents should establish what the punishments will be for teens that break the rules beforehand. That way, teens know the consequences of misbehaving and parents can easily enact penalties rather than seem inconsistent on enforcing the rules.  Teens will quickly learn that breaking the rules leads to a loss of privilege and most teens would rather keep their electronics and live by the rules.

It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that their teens are using social media responsibly and are not instigating or receiving cyberbullying. Parents can also help safeguard impressionable teens from online predators. However, parents can only help their teens if they are involved and active, so it’s critical for parents to set up rules regarding social media use for teens.

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Prevent Online Predators from Targeting Your Children

One of the great benefits to the growth of the internet has been the unique communicative methods that have developed. Chat rooms and social networking sites would be among the most entertaining of these online communication venues. However, they can also be the most dangerous since they are often used as a vehicle for predators to target children. This is why parents and guardians need to follow some serious advice: you have to take steps to stop online predators from targeting your children.

The steps to take to protect children from online predators is not difficult. All that is required is following a few basic steps to achieve the desired results.

Inform Children of the Dangers of Chatting Online

You do not want to scare your children when you inform them of the dangers, but you do have to stress to them the seriousness of the issue. This begins with telling them that the internet allows someone to communicate anonymously. This means a person may not be who he claims to be. An adult can pretend to be a child and do so to cause harm to an actual child he is targeted. Letting children know this situation exists allows them to be forewarned about any dangers.

Concrete Steps Parents and Adults can Take

* Talk alone might not prove to be enough. This is why it is necessary to take a number of steps to ensure that children are protected from being targeted by online predators. Here are a number of those steps to take:

* Always look at the history of the browser in the internet tools section. Through examining the history of the browser, parents can have a clear idea of the type of website, social networks and chat rooms the child is visiting. This way, appropriate action can be taken.

* Purchase and install parental control software. Software of this nature is designed to help block access to any sites that might be considered threatening to a child. It also can ensure rules parents put down regarding how a child is to surf the internet is adhered to.

* Place the computer in an area of the home which is a public area. This can allow for greater monitoring of how the child uses the internet. It also makes it impossible for any VoIP or video chats without knowing.

* Set time limits on how often the computer can be used per day.

* Children should be limited to only chatting in public chat rooms. They should be specifically barred from any private one on one chats because these type of chats are where predators can behave in a manner that is not being seen by others in the public chat room.

* All age requirements for social networking sites and chat room must be followed. If a member must be 14 years of age or older, then it is of paramount importance no child under that age should be able to sign up.

Small Steps Yield Great Results

These steps may be seen as being very simple, but they are steps that can be successful. Once instituted, these steps can work a great deal towards preventing online predators from effectively targeted young children.

Author’s Bio: David Anderson is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. His blog focuses on telecom bloggers and technology bloggers.

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Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe When Online

Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe When Online

Just like the real world, the internet has a seedy side that kids can easily stray into. A seemingly innocent search on bunnies can quickly turn up raunchy images of women wearing skimpy bunny costumes. Porn, excessive violence, misinformation and hate group rhetoric flourish online. Here are some ways to protect your children from the wrong information and online predators:

Getting Involved Online – It is important for parents to be involved in their children’s online activities. Just as it is imperative to check the safety of your child’s playground such as the jungle gyms and swings, it is also essential to check your child’s online playground. It may seem excessive to keep checking on his or her online activity, but playing co-pilot is the only way to ensure you kid’s safety. When the child reaches the age of seven however, being constantly glued to his or her side will not be required. However, it is still important to be in the room during internet usage.

Setting House Rules – Determine the amount of time that you would like your kids to spend online and make a list of the websites that they can visit without your approval. You should talk about the rules with your children and the consequences of breaking them. Posting a short contract or a list of websites they can visit next to the computer is a great reminder for your kids. If there are multiple children in the home, you can set times for certain children to use the computer.

Protecting their Privacy – Whether you are an adult or child, protecting your privacy is one of the tenets of proper internet usage. Even if your child may be too young to know the consequences of revealing personal information online, you should let your kids know the importance of privacy protection. Teach them that they should never reveal their real name, phone number, e-mail, school, age, password and address online. You should also teach them not to open e-mails from unknown senders and to refrain from answering back to hurtful and disturbing messages. The most important lesson of all is to not get together with strangers or so-called friends they met online.

Place Your Computer in a Visible Area – To ensure easy monitoring, you should place your computer in a central location. Even if you have multiple computers, keep those connected to the internet in a highly visible place. This is a way for you to keep tabs on your child’s internet activity.

Be the Consultant – Get your children to come to you when they see something uncomfortable and disturbing whether it be in real life or online. Reassure him or her that you will not overreact, blame him or her or immediately remove his or her internet privileges.

Your ISP Is Your Friend – Before buying extra internet safety software, you should work with your internet service provider or ISP first. Certain internet browsers such as America Online! and Yahoo have free and reliable parental controls. These parental controls can limit your child’s activity to certain websites and disable certain communication channels such as e-mail, chat room, and instant messaging. It also screens websites for age-appropriate content taking note of the time of log-in, type of searches and other choices.

Author’s Bio: David Anderson is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. His blog focuses on telecom bloggers and technology bloggers.

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Cyberbullying and the Internet

With the advent of social media, and the never ending updates in our technology, we are connected more than ever before. Teens are updating their Facebook status or sending Twitter tweets at a rapid pace, and mommy blogs are popping up left and right. Everyone is finding a voice on the Internet and plugging in through social networking has skyrocketed. The internet and the wide availability of smart phones has brought us together in ways that were previously unthinkable, but there is a danger to this level of interconnectedness. More and more people, particularly teens and young people, are becoming victims of cyberbullying.

A New Way to Pain

Cyberbullying is using the internet, cell phones or other devices to post pictures, text, videos or other information intended to hurt or embarrass another person. According to the National Crime Prevention Association, cyberbullying affects almost half of all American teens. Although many feel cyberbullying is not a big deal, the consequences can be severe. As evidenced by the rash of suicides—particularly by teens—in the last few years, cyberbullying can have a devastating affect on the victim and their family.

Stealing a Growing Identity

However, there is another side to this coin. Identity theft is another way internet users can harass and embarrass others. Stealing an identity and making fraudulent charges to someone’s account, or hacking into a social media account and posting things the user would not have posted is a risk many users take.

Never post identifying information—social security numbers, bank account numbers, mailing addresses or passwords—online anywhere, and be wary of people or companies who require suspicious information. There are many services that can provide guidance on staying safe and being cyber-smart, monitor information across a variety of networks, can watch bank accounts for suspicious activity, and will alert users to any suspicious activity in any of these areas. Keeping your personal information is key in this interconnected web world we live in.

Be careful about posting your location online. Many social media sites now offer the option to “tag” yourself and others in specific locations. Although this is a fun tool, be aware of the privacy settings that are set up, and be careful about where you tag yourself and others. Tagging friends at the water park or the movies may be fine, but an identity thief can use this information to track movements and discover more information that was originally posted.

How to React

There are some simple ways to prevent cyberbullying. If the aggressor is just one person, simply blocking them from communicating may be enough. Sites like Facebook and other social networking sites make it fairly simple to prevent specific people from communicating via that site. Most mobile service providers also have a system to block numbers, so aggressive texts and phone calls can be blocked.

Deleting messages without reading them, and not rising to the bait of responding to cyberbullying can also help stop the problem. Reporting any incidence of cyberbullying to an adult or school administrator can also help prevent and deter cyberbullies.

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