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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