Sexting and Prosecution

Is it possible that children can be prosecuted as sex offenders in the UK and in the US for texting and sexting?

So just what is the issue and how can you best protect your teenager?

BACKGROUND: In a 2009 article from Pew Research Internet Project, sexting was defined as “the creating, sharing and forwarding of sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images by minor teens.“   Sexting has evolved as the era of self-portrait photographs (selfies) has exploded and the term ‘selfie’ was named as one of the top buzzwords in 2012.

ISSUE: young teenage boys and girls are taken sexual photos of themselves (selfies) and then sexting them to others now could face prosecution for distributing indecent images of children and, if convicted have to sign a sex offender registry.

Last year, there was the case of a 17-year-old boy from Manassas County, Virginia who was being charged as a felon for sending sexually explicit videos to a 15-year-old girl.  Stephen...

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Tech Tales & Tips: Digital Role Model

Tech Tale:

Vanessa is a working mother who uses her laptop and smartphone to conduct business when she’s at home. In between giving her children a bath and preparing dinner, she can often be found skimming her emails on her smartphone or checking the news alerts for updates impacting her business. If she is under a deadline, she may even set-up her laptop in the kitchen and work a bit while waiting to pull a roast out of the oven.

Vanessa thought she had a handle on it all, juggling work and home life in admirable fashion, until she overheard her children one evening:

“We can’t ask mom, she’s on the computer again.”

“She’s always working. She never wants to play with us.”

“Let’s hide her smartphone.”

And the guilt sets in.

. . .

You and I both know that Vanessa is by no means a bad mother. She is just like you and me, trying to make it all work. She reminds me of that Enjoli commercial from the 80’s: She’s...

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Digital Detox over a Weekend

What is a digital detox?

Basically a detox is just shutting down, turning off and stepping away from technology.  A detox, just like a food detox, is a chance to give your body and mind a much needed break or short rest from overindulgence.

And let's face it: we all indulge in our technology.

So join me for a digital detox this weekend? Or if you can't manage a weekend, how about for the evening?

Too hard?  Okay, try for just an hour.  The benefits might surprise you.

Write to me at [email protected] and let me know how your own digital detox went or share your personal success tips.

I would love to hear from you!

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Spring Training for the Digital Parent

Internet, mobile phones and wi-fi connected devices are ubiquitous.  And this "everywhere - at all times" Internet access may cause parents to feel frustrated by their lack of concrete technical knowledge and expertise.

So what can you as a parent do to protect your children, when it seems as though your children are more tech savvy than you are?

Communicate with your child.
Stay involved in your child’s online activities by talking with them and showing interest in their online world. Ask them to show you their favorite websites or the latest app or online game. Use The Parent Zone WWW approach as a guide when communicating with your children. Who are they talking to? What are they doing online? Where are they going online?

Digital footprints, comments and photos are forever.
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is a golden rule online. Teach your child that online activities – stay online forever. They may not be...

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Encouragement for the Digital Parent

Being the super advocate on Internet and technology, I had loaded their kid tablets up with plenty of educational apps and games, so I thought I was ahead of the game.

Imagine my surprise when my four year old starts clicking photos and focuses in on a little girl down the hall. I gasped, grabbed the tablet and told my son that we do not take pictures without asking people first. I slapped my hand to my head because it had totally slipped my mind that their little tablets were camera- and video-equipped.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know that you are not alone in dealing with technology and parenting. I consult, teach and coach others on Internet safety and best practices and yet even for me, it is not always easy.

But instead of playing the blame game and feeling like a bad parent, I realize that this happens. We cannot stay on it 24/7 and we cannot know the latest news on all technology, apps and games. But we can stay relatively informed and try to nip things...

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7 Digital Parenting Resolutions for 2015

It’s almost mid-January and you have more or less settled back into the school routine after a couple of weeks of (hectic) vacation. If you’re like me, you can’t believe that the holidays are over and here you are again setting out the kids clothes, checking over homework, packing snacks, checking the activities calendar and so on.

You have made your list of resolutions, including yell less, praise more, give more hugs and I thought now is the perfect time to bump up your digital parenting game as well. Just a reminder of some simple things that you can do as a parent in the digital age:

  1. Feel less guilty about screen limits. No, I’m not saying sit your kids in front of Sponge Bob marathons, but I am saying that researchers have noted that a little educational TV is not all bad.
  2. Get outside more. Not just the walk to school, but real life outdoor activities. We did them when WE were younger: Wheelies, bicycles with tassles, roller skates. Tell your kids about...
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Buying a Mobile Phone for Your Child

I won’t give you a lecture on what age is the appropriate age for purchasing a mobile phone for your child, but I will point you to a fantastic resource where you can ask yourself the following questions posed by Common Sense Media:

  • Are your kids pretty independent?
  • Do your children need to be in touch for safety reasons?
  • Would having easy access to friends benefit them for social reasons?
  • Do you think they’ll use a cell phone responsibly  – for example, not texting during class or disturbing others with their phone conversations?
  • Can they adhere to limits you set for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Will they use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly and not to embarrass or harass others? (Source: Common Sense Media)

Once you decide that your child is ready for a cell phone, you need to educate yourself and your child and ensure that “protection” and “phone” go together.

Read up on mobile phone safety tips to keep your...

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Reduce Your Digital Footprint

AUTHOR: Katherine Fitzgerald, Law student, University of Paris 8

The Internet is ubiquitous and it has become an integral part of our consumer experience. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I booked a trip or purchased a movie ticket without going online. And whilst this may be an overwhelmingly good thing, there are nonetheless inconveniences.

A major problem with buying online is the digital footprint we leave behind, a kind of breadcrumb trail of information. Even on social media sites, our habit’s or ‘Likes’ illustrate our preferences and in turn this information can be used for target advertising.

This is done through the use of “cookies” which are a kind of short term memory for the web.  They are stored in our browsers and enable a site to “remember” little bits of information between pages or visits. Cookies are widely used to make the web experience more personal, which is generally a positive thing. However some...

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Understanding In-App Purchases

AUTHOR: Katherine Fitzgerald, Law student, University of Paris 8

Let’s face it apps are everywhere and all invasive it seems. There are apps for dating, banks, bookstores, cinemas, health, music and of course the holy mecca when it comes to children: games.

Whilst our older children still prefer to use their smartphones, a growing phenomenon has develop in the last few years in smaller children. Case in point according to OFCOM tablet computers are growing fast in popularity, becoming a must-have device for children of all ages. The use of tablets has tripled among 5-15s since 2012 (42%, up from 14%), and one quarter (28%) of infants aged 3-4 now use a tablet computer at home. Whilst this figure seems alarming it just seems to reflect a greater use of technology as a form of entertainment at home. I remember my parents being concerned at my love of television as a child. It therefore doesn’t seem so surprising to see that the younger generations are now turning to...

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Back-to-School Digital Habits

Only three weeks into the school year and I feel the burning need to write yet another post about back-to-school digital habits.  Perhaps because I’m thinking that some parents out there are just not feeling the technology.  Or maybe because I think that there are parents out there cowering in kitchens (with a glass of wine) when they think about apps and ipads and games, oh my.

So the good news first: you are raising a child in the 21st century and unless you live in a hermetically sealed, self-contained and self-sustaining pod somewhere, your child will one day inevitably come into contact with technology.  And the simple truth is that technology IS changing education and your child will need to know these skills of the future.

Embrace the technology and get with the program.  (And when I mean embrace the program, I don't mean run out and buy an iPhone 6 plus for your 3 year old. But I do mean, understand that technology can be a good thing if you set...

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