Thursday, March 19, 2009

Elementary School Kids Using Facebook

A Tennessee elementary principal is warning parents that many children in his school are using Facebook, seemingly to attract a boyfriend or girlfriend. While this is not shocking, it should put internet safety for their kids as paramount in parents' minds.

Parents understand most children are still learning how to interact socially at that age, but yet the 20-30 hours a week the kids spend on social networking sites are mostly unsupervised. This is a recipe for trouble or worse. Internet predators prey on these unsuspecting and impressionable youngsters looking for attention. Cyber-bullies use social networks to threaten and scare them.

Parents need to protect their children from these unfortunate realities, and YouDiligence ( can help.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Boston Girl, 12, Duped by MySpace Predator into Thinking She was going to Hollywood to be a Movie Star

Chaulk one up for the MA State Police who were able to save a Boston girl, 12, who was lured to purchase a ticket to fly to Hollywood to become a movie star by someone posing as a 16 year old girl on MySpace.

Anyone who thinks that MySpace and Facebook are safe from creeps who prey on children needs to wake up. Parents need to protect their children and teach them about internet safety and using socal networks responsibly.

This story could have ended much worse. I am relieved for this girl and her parents that she is safe at home tonight.

YouDiligence helps parents protect their children from online predators and cyber-bullies.

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another Cyberbullying Story

I try to make it a habit of presenting YouDiligence to at least one school or church organization every week. Last week, I spoke to the PTO of Fairfield (outside of St. Albans). It seems like at every one of these presentations, I hear a cyberbullying story. In fact, one of my primary tasks at all of these meetings is to just listen. Kids' online activity raises a lot of uncertainty for parents.

It is hard enough dealing with uncertainty for just oneself. When one's kids are involved, worrying over uncertainty goes to a whole other level.

At the meeting, a woman said she had really wished that she had known about YouDiligence two months ago, and she related the story of how her daughter was recently cyberbullied. Her story had all the classic aspects of cyberbullying that I have heard repeatedly in different forms and shapes. The mother noticed that her daughter had been moody and uncommunicative for weeks and weeks, and knew something was up, but the daughter did not want to share. Finally, the cyber bullying episode reached a point where the daughter broke down, and realized she could not control the situation. This is when the mother got involved. The mother did not share the exact specifics, but she felt that much pain and suffering would have been spared if she could have stepped into the situation much earlier.

And that is a very important point. Kids in their tweens and early teens are struggling with issues of control and mastery. And parents want to encourage this mastery--we are proud of our kids' mastering skills and knowledge growth. But the truth of the matter is that young kids should 'be spotted', and in fact, they want to know that their parents are doing so. The tricky part of adolescence for both kids and parents is navigating this path from very dependent (under 10 years old, and wanting to be spotted) to ostensibly independent (hopefully by 18-19, and resentful if parents are still trying to spot them).

When considering kids' online activities in terms of this navigation path, it is entirely understandable why internet safety has become the number one concern for parents.

Posting On Social Networking Sites Creates a Permanent Record

Remember when you were in junior high and the principal used to scare you into believing that if you didn't behave that it would go down on some all powerful "permanent record"? Well now that permanent record actually exists -- and worse, it's a public forumn. Internet safety is something all parents should teach their kids from the very beginning of internet use.

Social Networking can be a great tool and a harmless way to interact with friends. But there are dangers, not the least of which is that everything you post, is now there for posterity as this article highlights.

Whether it's MySpace, Facebook, or any other site, if you post it, someone can find it, access it, and expose it.

YouDiligence ( helps protect kids futures, hopefully keeping their "permanent record" as clean as possible in the internet era.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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2 Purdue Fraternities & a Sorority Post Hazing Photos on Facebook & Get Suspended

I'm sure there are many stories out there about hazing incidents that have been posted on Facebook, but this one struck close to home -- 4 miles to be exact.

This is certainly not the first, nor will it be the last story about fraternity hazing. Aside from the obvious stupidity of the hazing activity itself (and I am a proud fraternity alum -- at Purdue no less), but what strikes me is the lack of concern by these students for their long-term reputations. If those photos made it to the Dean of Students' office, how hard will it be for a potential employer to find them at some point in the future?

Now that President O'Bama has opened the door, making it acceptable to review private Facebook and MySpace pages of applicants, parents of high school and college kids everywhere need to warn their children about the long-term consequences of posting what might seem like silly, fun, or innocuous things, as they can come back to haunt you. The Internet IS the "permanent record" that your junior high principal used threaten to put something down on to keep you in line.

All those "friends" they think they have -- yeah right. All it takes is to right-click-save and whatever mistakes might have been posted by a child on their page are now saved by someone that can use them later on. No one knows if another person will remain their friend for a week, a month, or ten years. However, once they allow access to their private social networking pages, they are exposing themselves to potential problems down the road.

The answer is educating our children about responsible social networking use, and yes, monitoring their activity to make sure they are following your rules and aren't getting into trouble. Trust but verify.

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2,116 Convicted North Carolina Sexual Predators had MySpace Accounts

Parents in North Carolina can rest a little easier as their attorney general struck a blow for internet safety by identifying 2,116 sexual predators in NC that had MySpace accounts -- and MySpace shut them down.

In the last month there have been almost 100,000 sexual predators' accounts shut down on MySpace and Facebook combined. But that's out of nearly 400 million accounts -- uh, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this represents a very incomplete accounting for the likely actual number of predators on those sites. These were just the predators dumb enough to use their real names -- and finally someone decided to run a check comparing the MySpace and Facebook roster against the convicted sexual predator database. It's not just the names that need to be checked. It couldn't be more clear, for the safety of their kids, parents need to consider monitoring their kids' pages.

Studies show kids spend over 30 hours per week online, mostly unsupervised. How likely is it that they come into contact with a predator or are bullied by their peers? That's a question parents must ask themselves.

Fortunately parents now have help. YouDiligence ( email alerts to parents when questionable material is posted on their kids' sites -- providing some peace of mind.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bullying is Incredibly Destructive

As I was watching some Parry Aftab YouTube videos (the leader of Wired Safety) I stumbled across this video. It is incredibly powerful and sad. It very simply and effectively shows a string of kids in a series of still photos taken during happier times of their short lives. To think that all these sweet kids killed themselves after being bullied is heartbreaking.

Reading the connected comments is a whole other story. As an adult who survived adolescence with, what I figure is a common mixture of, pride about how I handled some situations and shame how I handled others, it makes me uncomfortable to read the comments of what I assume are mostly young people.

There are the heartless and cold "only losers get bullied" statements.

There are the bravado "I was bullied from 7th-12th grade. Even after high school people have messed with me even to this day. But I learned to take all the things they say about you and find something to release it and make yourself a much better, tougher person. I did this by working out in a gym and ran into a few kids from high school, some that gave me shit, and they just stared in awe like they couldn't believe it. I just walked by as if they were dirt under my shoes. Not saying a word or nothing" statements.

Neither gives me much comfort, or illuminates a path out of the darkness of bullying. It's likely most kids experience, at some point, both sides of the exchange--they have bullied someone, and they have been bullied. In this day and age when cyber-bullying has provided a larger platform and audience for this behaior, it may be important for parents and educators to think about this when trying to guide kids away from the incredibly destructive behavior of bullying -- on the play ground or online.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

5600 -- Really? Facebook Only Identifies 5600 Sexual Predators' Accounts

The sincerity of social networking sites regarding Internet safety can be questioned after the latest news from Facebook. See this TechDirt post:

During a week of taking a public relations beating and a subsequent user rebellion over claiming perpetual ownership rights to the content posted by its users, Facebook followed MySpace's lead to identify and remove known, convicted sexual predators from its site. What's curious is that out of Facebook's 100+ million subscribers only 5600 were registered sexual predators. By contrast, MySpace found over 90,000 -- this also seems really low when compared to their number of subscribers, which they put at 200+ million.

5600 -- Really? That's about as believable as Alex Rodriguez's partial-kind-of-not-so-much-yeah-I-was-young-and-dumb (hey it worked for Michael Phelps) explanation of his steroid use. One has to ask several questions:

  • How hard did Facebook really look?

  • How committed is Facebook to Internet safety?

  • Is Facebook really concerned about the safety of their users?
We should probably commend the social networks for however reluctantly beginning to take small steps towards making their product safer. However it clearly further identifies the need for parents to protect their kids online.

YouDiligence ( helps parents with this daunting task. YouDiligence doesn't rely on the honesty of sexual deviants to identify themselves. It works even if false identities are being used. YouDiligence scans the content itself of what is posted on kids pages, helping parents identify suspicious and troubling posts. Parents have the control to customize the search criteria that's used to alert them to troubling posts by their children and others on their children's sites. Once an issue is identified, YouDiligence emails the parent an alert in real-time.

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

Friday, February 20, 2009

Using Social Networks to Share a Story

With all the issues of cyber-bullying and online predators dominating the news the last couple of weeks, two high school sports stories really stuck out to me this week that are from opposite ends of the spectrum. They have nothing to do with either cyber-bullying or online predators -- instead they are examples of how we shouldn't and should use social networks to share a story. The first story, unfortunately, did make the rounds on social networking pages, and the second story, which could likely win an ESPY this year, has yet to be seen online except in the media.

The first story comes out of the state high school basketball tournament in South Caroline. A video was posted on a social networking site of a huge brawl after a hard foul near the end of the game. The stands emptied and players and fans on both teams were involved in a 20 minute plus melee, the footage was posted on several social networking sites, and ultimately made it into the mainstream media.

The second story is of an act of sportsmanship and character that makes tears well up in your eyes. The short version is a Wisconsin high school basketball player's 39 year old mother unexpectedly died of cancer. He showed up to his game over 2 hours away to play after saying he wouldn't be there. He walked in after the game began and asked to play. Knowing the situation, the other team stopped the game, let him get dressed and come to the court. His coach had not put his name in the score book, so upon entering the game, he would be assessed a technical foul. The other team argued they didn't want the call, but the referee insisted. After gathering his players and asking which one wanted to take the shots, a senior guard raised his hand. He looked at the coach and said, "You know I'm going to miss, right?" the coach nodded. He took his spot at the free throw line and took the ball from the referee and twice took shots that barely made it past his arms -- obvious intentional misses. This received a standing ovation from the crowd, all of whom knew what the situation was.

This is the kind of story that needs to be shared on social networking sites -- it shows character and leadership. Let's hope that whoever had their cell phone or camcorder rolling at this point in the game will post it sometime soon. It surely will receive serious consideration for an ESPN ESPY award. For now, we have the story:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Peers are a larger group than Predators

A good article appeared in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Biggest online threat is peers, not predators . It is a balanced view of the ongoing debate between internet safety experts. Some experts are focused on the dangers posed by predators, and some are focused on cyber-bullying and child development issues. The following quote is something that we stress all the time here at YouDiligence:

Morris-Reichenbach says parents need to step in to closely monitor their children’s online activities and help their children make good decisions in cyberspace.

“Parents need to tell their kids: ‘You send something, you post something to a friend, and you have to live with it being out in cyberspace forever. If you have any doubt, don’t do it,’ ” she said.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Parents Should be Concerned about Internet Safety for Kids

This item from Indiana today where police arrested a 28 year old man who had repeatedly had sex with a 14 year old girl he met on MySpace.

This news only reinforces the fact that sexual predators troll social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace looking for unsuspecting victims, especially children. It is a parents' right to protect their children from harm, and many parents need help to make the internet safer for their kids.

YouDiligence makes it easier for parents to know who their kids are interacting with online, and alerting them to risky internet activity on their children's social networking accounts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Larry Magid, the Internet Safety Guru, Discusses State Attorneys' MySpace Report

Larry Magid who is connected to the organization ConnectSafely.Org has written an interesting response to the State Attorneys General report about MySpace kicking 90,000 sexual predators off their site. Check it out: Magid Article

One of Magid's comments that sticks out is:

"Online safety groups and public officials should be spending our time educating families on how to avoid real risks that affect most kids-- like bullying, harassment and unwanted exposure to inappropriate material."

He says we should focus on the above issues and points out:

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is one of several safety organizations that no longer condone the use of the phrase "stranger danger."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fallout Continues From Michael Phelps' Multi-Million Dollar Bong Photo

The second and third tier consequences are flowing in from Michael Phelps now famous pot smoking lapse of judgement. The latest? As reported in this New York Times article, he has been suspended for 3 months from competition and he is losing one of his primary sponsors because he did not project the image that Kellogg's wanted for its kids cereals.

Parents, kids, and college athletes all have a lot to lose if their indiscretions are posted online or in the paper as it was in this case. Parents have the added responsibility of helping protect their kids from posting similarly damaging photos, videos or comments on the Internet for anyone in the world to see. It can impact their futures, and they need to look no further than the most recent American sports hero to see how quickly the tide can turn. YouDiligence helps parents protect and manage the online reputations of their kids.

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Facebook Impostors Raise Internet Safety Concerns

Here is another story about the dangers of social networking and Internet safety. People posing as someone else, and then getting the real person's friends to send money to the impostor. This is the ultimate cyber-bullying.

At UDiligence, (YouDiligence's product for college athletic departments) we have run into this problem when protecting the online reputations of student-athletes. We have found a number of "poser" pages that were put up in malice, intending to damage the reputations of the athletes.

Two of the instances involved female soccer players, who had MySpace pages that they didn't create, but that said very graphic and sexually explicit things about them. UDiligence notified the school and helped get the pages taken down, saving the long term reputation issues for the athletes, who were graduating and looking for jobs.

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

A group of State Attorney General's offices release MySpace Sex Offender Report: Are they moving to Facebook?

A group of State Attorney General's offices released a report the other day stating MySpace had purged 90,000 accounts of people who are in the sex offender database.

It is good that MySpace is tring to be proactive in this regard. Tech Crunch has a blogger, Erick Schonfeld, that has been covering this topic for the last month. He wrote a very interesting post that suggests many of these booted MySpace predators might have migrated to Facebook.

This makes perfect sense for the predators. What predators want is a large population, because there is a larger pool of potential victims to choose from and it is easier to not stand out when there is a crowd. When we started YouDiligence, we recognized that MySpace and Facebook were the two dominant players in the social networking space, and that our service would be most beneficial on these two sites.

Wisconsin Sexual Predator on Facebook

The day after MySpace announced that they had removed more than 90,000 sexual predators with accounts from trolling their social network, this story appears out of Wisconsin. An 18 year old male faked being a girl and then solicited and blackmailed teenage boys into having sex with him by claiming he would expose nude photos of them if they didn't comply.
If ever there was a case that shows how YouDiligence could have helped parents protect children, this is it. YouDiligence searches kids pages for words that predators and cyber-bullies use, and alerts parents by email when it finds a match on their kids' MySpace or Facebook pages.

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Social Networking & College Athletic Scholarships a Double Edged Sword

This story in February 1's Rocky Mountain News suggests there are a number of specialized college athletic recruiting social networking sites that are popping up across the country that are selling themselves as a way for high school athletes to connect with college coaches -- and maybe more importantly it signifies a trend where creative athletic programs and coaches are embracing social networking as a viable mechanism to reach high school athletes. One of the sites that isn't mentioned in the article, but is gaining traction nationally is:

It has always been a challenge for high school athletes who are not in the "revenue" sports of football and men's/women's basketball to get noticed if they are not in the top 200 recruits nationally of their sports. Likewise it has always been a challenge for the coaches at small colleges and in non-revenue sports at Division I schools to get to the far corners of the country to see athletes on very small recruiting budgets.

In years past, parents have tried to fill this void by spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars putting together DVD highlight reels of their kids' athletic performances. They sent these tapes to dozens or even hundreds of coaches in hope they might look at their video over the 1000+ other vidoes that had come in.

With the economy shredding recruiting budgets for almost every level of college sports, it has hit smaller colleges and non-revenue sports even harder. This has forced coaches to seek out and even embrace technology as their friend - learning about and using the technology like social networking that is available -- within NCAA and NAIA guidelines -- to connect to the lesser-known athletes from small to previously unheardof high schools.

It is a win-win for the athlete and the coach. There are a lot of talented high school athletes who never played beyond the 12th grade because they never had the chance to be seen by a recruiter or a coach. Now they can, and it seems so far, everyone wins.

Now, while these recruiting social networking sites are designed to specifically enhance a high school athlete's chance to connect with college coaches, other social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are being used by college admissions offices as a litmus test as to whether or not they want to accept some students into their freshman class. Parents, don't be fooled, most high schoolers have a MySpace and/or Facebook page.

For the parents of athletes who are working so hard to get your kids recruited, don't let the latter happen to you. YouDiligence is a service that alerts you by email to potentially troubling posts on your kid's MySpace and Facebook pages -- the very things that college admissions offices are looking for. Now you can protect your kids' reputation by having them remove potentially problematic posts before collegiate admissions officers get to see them. The first month is free --

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

Using Facebook to Apologize & YouDiligence to Protect

For those who have yet to see the photo that surfaced in the London tabloids of American Olympic hero Michael Phelps taking a hit off of a marijuana bong, here is the link to the story and the photo.

It's amazing that this took place in November and it is just now getting out. Phelps has quickly admitted his mistake, apologized and said it would never happen again. Interestingly, he chose his Facebook page as the primary release point for his apology. This is a real sign of the times, and since he has nearly 2 million fans on Facebook, it was a sure way to reach his most loyal supporters quickly, and a testament to the efficacy of social networking.

Here is what his agent at Octagon came up with for him, and is posted on his Facebook page:

I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23-years-old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public – it will not happen again.

Parents of tweens and teens across the country are shaking their heads right now because this, on a much smaller scale -- but a more important one to them -- is the very thing they are afraid of happening to their child. They are worried about what their kids are doing and are worried that someone may post similarly damaging party photos of their kids on a MySpace or Facebook page for the entire world to see and the subsequent damage to the reputations such photos might have on their kids.

We developed YouDiligence to help parents protect their kids from negative exposure on social networking sites -- exposure that can ruin the kid's reputation.

If you are worried about what your kid is posting to a social networking site, you should subscribe: The first month is free and it may just keep your kid from posting things -- like the photo of Michael Phelps -- which might impact the decision of an admissions officer at the college they hope to attend.

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another College Athlete Arrested

One more typical weekend on a college campus where yet another athlete does something to negatively impact his future.

This is not even really news any more and that's unfortunate. The only part that is news: who it was and what did they do -- this time?

In my role running MVP Sports Media Training (, I educate collegiate athletes all across the country that they are more accountable than the average student and thus more vulnerable to scrutiny by the public, media and alumni of thier schools -- whether it be for their real or virtual activities on and off the field.

Why, they often ask, does my name appear in the paper when there were 100 other people arrested for doing the same thing? The answer is simple -- you are in the public's eye because you are an athlete. When you make a mistake it is magnified and exposed. Is it fair? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. The fact remains the 100 other kids who got arrested for the same thing aren't on an athletic scholarship and don't publicly represent the school.

Much like posting something on a social networking site and having it exposed, compromising behavior can have a negative impact on your future as well. Many employers will not hire someone with a DUI or an arrest record, and just like potential employers do internet searches for information on applicants' character, many of them also do background checks where actions that lead to arrest will be readily available.

Once the arrest has been reported, the media will likely do a quick search of social networking pages to see if the athlete has posted anything that they can expose to add to the controversy. Many athletes don't think about the fact that posting something controversial on their Facebook and/or MySpace pages can be exposed for reasons other than the content of those can be a secondary consequence, compunding an already difficult situation.

I try to get the athletes to think about their actions this way. It's called "The Mother Rule" -- If you are fine with having your mother or grandmother read about what you are about to do, or post online, then you are probably OK to do it.

BSOT...Be Safe Online Tonight

Thursday, January 29, 2009

YouDiligence is Effective at Identifying Cyber Bullying

One question I get asked a lot is "How can YouDiligence help my child if they are being cyber bullied. I have their login and password, and can check whenever I want." It is a good question. I usually answer this question with the following points.

First off, just having a login and password can be a false sense of comfort. My brother had his kids' login and password, but rarely went into their pages. Episodes of cyber bullying can happen very quickly. Even if you as a parent go in once every two weeks, a lot can happen in two weeks.

One of the critical features of YouDiligence is the real-time nature of alerts and reports. If you're child is starting to experience cyber bullying, you want to know today, not happen upon a glimpse of this two weeks down the line.

Another very important piece of information is how is your child behaving themselves in the episode. Is their behavior in some way encouraging a cyber bully? Is there a single individual or group involved in the episode(s)? YouDiligence can help a parent analyze a situation by looking at their child's comments on others' pages. If one tried to do this without YouDiligence, the task becomes an arduous and time consuming activity.

YouDiligence saves time and helps parents be involved in a less invasive, but more effective way than simply blindly searching their kids' sites for that proverbial needle in a haystack. Now parents can know what they're looking for and if something of consequence is happening in real-time.

Social Networking Can Be A Good Thing

Social networking benefits validated, at least in some cases as shown in the post on the link below:

More science like this needs to be done to discover how extended periods of social networking prepare people for actual situations, confrontations, problem solving- if it increases or decreases judgment, creativity and problem solcing.

One of the reasons we created YouDiligence was to allow parents to have a collaborative discussion with their kids about what the proper boundaries are for social networking from a content perspective.

Part of the judgement process in social networking is editorial and the fact is that anything in a social network is public and it is kept forever, so while kids need to play and improvise they also need to comprehend the far-reaching consequences of their actions in the virtual world.

Attorneys General, Social Networking Companies and Internet Predators

New study challenges attorneys general on predator danger and the link below describes the debate on this issue:

This debate will continue, but what is necessary no matter the danger, is that parents have technologies to counter the risks and realities that may come with social networking.

It may seem simplistic but parents would not allow their 10 year olds to spend hours at the park unsupervised with no knowledge of the scope and nature of their activities. Yet who can expect a parent to want to -- or have the time to -- read through all the content, posts and links of a kid's social networking site?

We created YouDiligence to bridge the gap, raise awareness and help parents and kids have collaborative discussions about the boundaries of on line social networking.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Social Network Monitoring and YouDiligence

YouDiligence founder Kevin Long was interviewed yesterday on station. Kevin was interviewed via phone as part of the story. The piece featured interviews of college and high school students, as well as parents and administrators. It focused on how college admissions offices are using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace as a determining factor in their admission decision making process. Kevin shed some light on how YouDiligence helps parents protect their kids' reputations. The piece is interesting in hearing both students and administrators take on the topic of students online activity and how it can impact their futures.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cyber Bullying Heats Up.

The topic of cyber bullying is heating up. There are 10 or so stories a day being reported. There is still quite a debate on how to prevent this for parents and teens. There's an even greater debate on how to respond when it happens to you or your children. One of the largest discussions on this topic is centered around the legal aspects of this type of attack. This is new territory for all involved. Cyber bullying is a whole new breed of ridicule that isn't always as visible as the type on the playground. 

As the law and ways to respond to and prevent cyber bullying become more clear, we'll continue to follow and report developments as well as our suggestions.

Here's one of the several stories that came out today on this topic. It includes several tips on dealing with cyber bullying. Early detection is one of the best ways to stop this before it's a serious problem for anyone.

Friday, January 23, 2009

PTO and PTA Roles in Internet Safety

I am scheduled to speak to a local PTO organization next saturday night. PTOs are similar to PTAs--it is just that they are not officially recognized by the national or state PTA organization. PTOs tend to be organized for elementary and middle schools.

I think it is great that parents and their respective PTOs are taking proactive measures at the elementary and middle school level. It shows they are aware that internet safety needs to be addressed at as early an age as possible. As soon as a kid gets online, both they and their parents should be getting into good habits around safe and responsible online activities.

It is good that schools, through their PTOs, are sharing the responsibility to generate safe online experiences.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sports-Internet Safety and Athletes

Hey all you sports fans, my name is Kevin Long, or "KLONG", to most of my friends. I am one of the founders of YouDiligence. For the purposes of this blog, I will be the one to focus on the athletic side of the business, which we are now calling UDiligence, and soon enough the athletic side will have its own web address and login on that page. Check out our snazzy new logo embedded in this post.
I will begin posting on sports when I'm ready to share some insights about online reputation management for athletes.

BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cyber Bullying Floodgates

Another call came in today from a distraught parent worried about her teen child being bullied online. This is a case of a teenage girl going after another teenage girl in horrible fashion on MySpace. According to the mother, the abuse has escalated from taunts and disparaging remarks to death threats. The concerned parent said she went to the police, and the police told her they could do nothing about it.

This highlights the fact that we need, sooner than later, to upload an itemized to do checklist for parents when they face such a situation. Although it is not our core business, we are also trying to figure out how we can respond rapidly ourselves to such situations, because it has become abundantly clear that there is a real need out there for swift and effective responses to cyber bullying, and that old school methods are not as effective as they need to be. It is clear that police have something else added to their already significant responsibilities, and it is incumbent upon us as a society to empower them and help them in any way we can to handle this growing phenomenon. Achieving true internet safety will require partnerships across the online-offline divide.

So stayed tuned here for more on our checklist for how to handle such cyber bullying episodes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Silver Lining of Dr. Megan Moreno's Study

Dr. Megan Moreno of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, is one of the authors of a just released study (appearing in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine) that looked at potentially risky behavior on MySpace by self-described 18 year old males and females. The gaudy headlines in a lot of the major media verged on the tabloid-esque with such headlines as "Study: 54 percent of MySpace profiles of 18-year-olds mentioned risky behaviors": See CNN's Take on Study

For sure, there were some troubling aspects of the study, and it suggested we have a ways to go in raising internet safety issues, especially concerning our children, but there were positive 'notes' in the study.

For example, the study recommends that parents not be fearful of, but instead engaged with, their kids' online lives. Certain articles on the study quoted experts that recommended exactly what we at YouDiligence recommend--for kids living under your roof, have their login and password. As we like to say about the YouDiligence platform, this does not necessarily result in a loss of their privacy. If kids act appropriately on their sites, then YouDiligence will not generate reports, and you, as a parent, can sleep comfortable knowing they are acting responsibly. The other benefit of YouDiligence (used in tandem with having your kids' login and password) is that you will receive an email alert almost immediately if your child changes his/her password.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Internet Safety Debate Heats Up

The report release last week on Internet Safety is drawing fire from many critics. The credibility of the report may come into question over the involvement of Myspace in putting it together. Here is a recent story commenting on the growing debate and concerns that are arising.

The article mentions one of the reports biggest critics, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who alleges that the report creates a "false sense of security."

In the end, perhaps this debate will draw attention to this vital issue and serve to raise awareness.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Harvard, Internet Safety and Cyber Bullying

Harvard recently published results of a study on Internet Safety. Contrary to what many people believed, they concluded that the internet may in fact be safer than expected. The reaction to the study has been quite varied. Although some people are expressing relief, others are still pointing out the variety of abuses that can occur online. Hopefully this debate will encourage further study on online safety.

Here's a fascinating story of a woman who's child was the victim of Cyber Bullying. It points out that potential problems may be found in places not yet researched. It also points out the tremendous effect to correct such online bullying.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Little Blue Boxes

We got a nice little plug for YouDiligence in the local paper where Bryan and I grew up:

We were both paper boys for this paper growing up. It was a very quaint process. We would go down to the intersection, and pick up, from a wooden blue box, a bundled group of papers. We would then walk or ride around the neighborhood, and distribute to each house their paper. Sadly, these days, the boxes probably wouldn't stand a chance--they would get vandalized very quickly.

Then again, maybe kids are too busy texting to worry about little blue boxes on the corner:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Online or On the Air Be Careful What You Say/Post

It was about 1:00 AM. My buddy invited me to be on his high-school radio show. I thought this was the coolest thing in the world, and it was. We started talking and I soon forgot the butterflies in my stomach and we were having a blast. We played some great music and spoke about our favorite musicians.

The studio was the quietest place in the world. Nobody was left on the campus at that hour. We started joking around about girls we wanted to date and telling stories. We couldn't stop laughing. It was all in good fun because we were all alone.

Then the phone rang. To this day I can hear it. It was the one of the loudest sounds I've ever heard. It was my friends parents and they were furious. Not only had they heard our show. To their horror, they were listening with good family friends. Other friends of theirs had also called them to mention the colorful show that evening. I was caught and my face was red.

What does this have to do with Internet Safety? These days we're all DJ's of sorts. Every day we send out emails to groups of people and post comments on Facebook or Myspace. The issue is, we never know who is listening or watching? It may be someone we could offend or someone who doesn't have our or our children's best interests in mind.

In short, be careful about what you write and keep Internet Safety in mind. Speak to your kids about their online activities and if possible, be included in their activities.

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About YouDiligence

YouDiligence is a Vermont-based company with affiliate offices in Indiana and Washington, D.C. Our mission is to help parents deal with the growing social networking phenomenon.

YouDiligence is a tool that allows parents to feel comfortable about their kids' activities on social networking sites while at the same time respecting their kids' desire for privacy.

Concurrently UDiligence is helping collegiate athletic departments educate their athletes about responsible social networking.

More than just a service: At Youdiligence part of our mission is to raise awareness and offer the best tools concerning internet safety and online reputation management in service of creating an online experience that is safe and gratifying for people of all ages and backgrounds.
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