Welcome to the SafeKids/NetFamilyNewsletter and thanks to everyone who's just subscribed! Be sure to put our return address ( on your ISP's allow or white list so its filters won't block the newsletter. And post in our forum or email me anytime.   New! See our book, MySpace Unraveled.

July 13, 2007

Dear Subscribers:

Here's the lineup for this second week of July:

~~~~~~~~~~~~Support the Newsletter!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Help support Net Family News: Make a donation
to our free public service, via Network for Good's online fundraising system
for nonprofit organizations. Contributions are tax-deductible.


Beating cyberbullying: Ethics training, spin control
  1. Ethics training needed

    "She was a little big for her age, her face still chubby and prepubescent," writes's Kaley Noonen in "She pulled me aside after the cyberbullying workshop I'd just given to a room full of 20 middle school girls. She looked as though she were hiding something. 'Would you help me get my MySpace page shut down?' she asked." The girl explained to Kaley that an ex-friend had used her password to hijack her MySpace profile and proceed to bully her by posting "all kinds of malicious [sex-related] lies" about the girl on it.

    As hard as that is to read, anecdotes like Kaley's and so many others from teens, reporters, and other experts are not unusual. Then there's...

    • The brand-new finding from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that some 8 million US 12-to-17-year-olds have been bullied (see this issue).
    • The recent finding from the Crimes Against Children Research Center about the fine line between bullying an victimization: "Youth who engage in online aggressive behavior making rude or nasty comments or frequently embarrassing others are more than twice as likely to report online interpersonal victimization" (see this summary), and...

    All this points to a serious and growing need for ethics training. Kaley quotes a 2005 Pew/Internet study that found girls are "now considered the 'power users' of online communication tools. This kind of power needs to be tempered by ethics training. You wouldn't give a 16-year-old girl a chainsaw without warning her of its dangers, yet with a keystroke, many girls are capable of carving up names, reputations, even entire lives with cheerful indifference."

    At the end of his 10-part Internet-safety series, author, public-policy expert, and dad Adam Thierer writes that "one of the most important parenting responsibilities involves teaching our children basic manners and rules of social etiquette." Helping them apply those basics in their online experiences is equally important, he suggests, offering eight "sensible rules" for online behavior. Rule No. 1 is "Treat others you meet online with the same respect that you would accord them in person."

    Kaley takes it a step further when she teaches middle-schoolers what empathy means - with a real-time demo of their own completely non-empathetic reactions to a photo of Britney Spears with her head shaved and dark circles under her eyes (see the article for those heartless reactions).

    One thing is clear: If we don't want our children to be victimized themselves, we need to talk with them about treating people online the way they would to their faces, and if someone else is cruel online, not to make the situation worse by participating. Note one high school student's intelligent attitude:

    "'I've heard of [cyberbullying] and experienced it. People think they are a million times stronger because they can hide behind their computer monitor.' This student called them 'e-thugs,' while displaying his own maturity about the practice: 'Basically I just ignored the person and went along with my own civilized business'." [This is on p. 5 of the Pew/Internet report, also quoted in's coverage.]

  2. Cyberethics & media literacy: Facebook in their yearbooks

    Students at a Washington, D.C.-area high school found some of their Facebook photos published in their school's yearbook, the Washington Post reports. There were pictures of everything from tailgate-party drinking to cellphone portraits to silly antics among friends. "Desperate and crunched for time, yearbook staffers resorted to filling pages with photographs downloaded from student Facebook pages. They did it largely without the permission of students and without crediting photographers." The Post writer suggests the incident illustrates "how complacent the denizens of Internet vanity sites have become" about sharing their private lives. Maybe so. I think this just points to another piece of the cyberethics training that's needed - the media-literacy piece. This piece of the training deals with issues like cut 'n' paste plagiarism and copyright theft. Here's coverage from the Student Press Law Center.

  3. Grownup cyberfullying & spin control

    We're hearing more and more about the teenage, queen-bee-wannabe kind, but adults are certainly not immune to cyberbullying - not on the user-driven Web, where defamation can happen to anybody, whether a parent or a public figure. The Washington Post describes some particularly tough examples and the reputation-management providers they've turned to. "Charging anything from a few dollars to thousands of dollars a month, companies such as International Reputation Management, Naymz and ReputationDefender don't promise to erase the bad stuff on the Web. But they do assure their clients of better results on an Internet search, pushing the positive items up on the first page and burying the others deep."

    Of course these organizations help with teenagers' reputations too, but let's hope it won't come to this potentially costly fix for them. What these services do is something a lot of people can do for themselves with a little bit of time - put a little positive p.r. out there on the Web about themselves (such as a blog or social-networking profile or two or three to which good friends can post supportive comments to) that search-engine crawlers can find too. I've mentioned this in the past, the perhaps unfortunate but growing need to learn and teach our kids how to do our/their own spin control. It seems the choices are becoming 1) stay very anonymous and private online, 2) be less private and more spin-savvy, or 3) be very public and either spend a lot of time spin-doctoring our own reputations or a lot of money paying professionals to do it. Most young people will probably fall somewhere around No. 2 or will be in denial, think they're in category No. 1, and occasionally need a little spin-doctor help, whether amateur or professional.

More on this

* * * *

Web News Briefs
  1. Dad-created teen social site

    Hmmm. I hope the Santa Cruz Sentinel does a followup story on this, because it'll be interesting to see if a parent-created, parent-monitored site for teens - even with all the desirable features - will develop significant teen participation. Invitation-only Santa Cruz Teen Space - with "instant messaging, chat, online radio, Yahoo! videos, blogs, polls, games and event listings" - was created by 41-year-old computer programmer and father of two James Williams because he wanted his daughters and other local teens to have a safe alternative to other social sites, the Sentinel reports. "Members [so far there are 72] can format their own profiles as well as rate each other's attractiveness, send each other cyber high-fives and leave embarrassing face-to-face confessions behind by sending notification of a crush." If people (under 18 only unless a parent) want to join but haven't been invited, they can apply. Williams reviews the applications. The Sentinel doesn't say how he verifies applicants' ages or parents' guardianship, unless by phone when he checks up on applicants (and people can lie on the phone as well as online). I suspect there will always be teens who make "safety" a priority (it'd be great if researchers could come up with a percentage in a future study), but I suspect that what MySpace and other social sites deliver is what I'd call social critical mass - e.g., everybody in one's school (or one's country, as with in Sweden and Cyworld in South Korea) - and for most teens, having "everybody" there would be a higher priority. [Cyworld's now has versions in the US and other countries, but the Korean one claims 90% of South Koreans under 20 - see this great blog post about it.]

  2. Social sites focused on porn

    I hope parents who are trying to keep their kids off MySpace and YouTube know about user-produced social sites that specialize in pornography, because they're reportedly proliferating. One of the more disturbing things about them is the content that's uploaded without the video subjects' permission. This takes social-networking reputation concerns to an extreme. "There are over 250 ex-girlfriends currently featured among the tens of thousands of sex videos on [one such site]," Alternet reports. And how does this happen? "About 15% of women have knowingly made sex videos, according to a recent poll in Cosmopolitan magazine. If true, that's how many are at risk of having an ex post X-rated files of them on a porn-sharing site." The piece leads with the news that the video of one "ex-girlfriend" has been viewed by 138,629 people on one Germany-based porn video-sharing site (or "aggregator of amateur-generated porn"). The article goes in-depth on the tagging, rating, discussion groups, and other social elements of Web 2.0's red-light district. It says "Every day, there are 266 new porn sites on the Net. Every second, 28,258 users are viewing porn," the article says, adding that these sites that aggregate the homemade kind make it easier to find.

  3. Stickam: Reported ties with porn biz

    A former vice president at, a Webcam social site, told the New York Times that Stickam is managed and owned by a businessman who also owns DTI Services, "a vast network of Web sites offering live sex shows over Web cameras. "[Alex] Becker alleges that Stickam shares office space, employees and computer systems with the pornographic Web sites." Becker also said he saw Stickam staff delete "thousands of email messages" that had been sent to the site's customer-service and abuse-reporting addresses without reading them. For its part, the company told the Times it takes user security seriously and Becker was being "retaliatory" because of disagreement over his contract. The thing is, "several thousand of its mostly teenage members log onto the site each night to broadcast their own lives, often from their bedrooms. They put on makeshift talk shows, flirt with other members in video chat rooms, and often, if they are female, field repeated requests to take off their clothes."

  4. Monitoring kid phone use

    Fifteen-year-old Joshua has a fairly pricey Blackberry Pearl. Why? Because it runs Radar kid-monitoring software, CNET reports. "Initially, the Radar software, which costs about $10 a month on top of a wireless plan, has worked only with BlackBerry devices and other smart phones, a factor that has limited growth." But its makers have struck deals with Verizon Wireless and Motorola that will make it available on more phones. As for Josh, anytime he "gets a call from someone not on a call list approved by his parents, they receive a real-time text alert on their cell phone or online," according to CNET. Now if the software can just monitor kids' photo- and video-sharing activities. (See the reference to "happy slapping" attacks in the BBC, whereby "assaults on children and adults are recorded on mobile phones and sent via video messaging" and examples in "We're all on candid camera," which ran in the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, and BBC.)

  5. Alleged illegal plans in virtual world

    It's probably a one-in-a-million case, but it does represent a risk to youth in virtual worlds and other online game settings where people of all ages play. A 31-year-old Australian woman faces child abduction charges in North Carolina "after trying to bring her 17-year-old World of Warcraft boyfriend back to Oz," reports. She was arrested as she stepped off a train in Rocky Mount, N.C. She "allegedly had an online relationship with the boy for more than a year, which began in the online game World of Warcraft," and had since "exchanged copious amounts of email and even discussed marriage." She's being detained pending a July 11 court date and could face two years in American jail. Online games and social networking on cellphones are the next frontiers for child online safety. Meanwhile, another virtual world, Second Life, is now seeing the first case of an avatar suing another avatar for real money. A Second Life entrepreneur "has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Second Life resident" for copying the former's virtual product and selling it for a third of the price, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

  6. Libraries as teen hangouts

    Teens love creating and sharing digital media, and so it follows that teens increasingly love hanging out at the library, according to Fourteen-year-old Liz and her friends love getting together, it reports, at the West Chicago Public Library, where they play video and board games, go online, and read. As media - books, movies, periodicals, etc. - get more digital, so do libraries, and "the library of the future, leaders say, will be a one-stop shop, offering community-center elements, including more hangout and group meeting spots, as well as tech elements such as training classes, Webcasts and downloadable video games." Already, the Daily Herald says, 40% of all the Naperville (Ill.) Public Library's checkouts are "non-book items," including DVDs and CDs. Hopefully, in these locuses of media literacy, critical thinking - about online behavior, sources, copyrights, etc. - will become a norm in digital-media users' online lives.

  7. Kids' ed sites: Back in vogue?

    I feel like I'm back in Web 1.0, the downloadable, professionally-produced-content Web, when I read about educational sites for kids in the tech news media. They've been around for a long time, but they certainly haven't been in the news. I guess what's new is that the focus really is now shifting from textbooks and educational software to educational Web sites kids can interact with. For example,, which "opens access to learning exercises for free online," CNET reports - kind of like the seasoned "Like a Sesame Street program, the free Web site teaches kids their ABCs and the basics of reading through the use of audio and visual phonetics, games and animations. Exercises on Starfall include sounding out vowels ('ah'), reading books like The Little Hen and decorating a virtual character." The other new-old genre is education-related sites for parents, such as the longstanding and the startup, recently reviewed by's Larry Magid for

  8. Game console news

    If you have an Xbox 360 player at your house, you may've heard of "the red ring of death." Explains a Seattle Post Intelligencer blog, "when an Xbox 360 suffers an indeterminate major hardware failure, the normally green ring of power lights turns red and the system will not boot up. This is not a software crash but a total hardware failure, and the sad owner of the Xbox [used to have] to mail it to Microsoft and then pay $140 for them to service it and mail it back." It's not a problem for most 360 owners, MS says, but for those who have experienced it, good news: Microsoft is extending the Xbox 360's warranty, saying it will devote $1 billion+ to the repair costs," USATODAY reports. "Microsoft said it should take two to four weeks to repair damaged consoles." Meanwhile, there's good news for PlayStation fans too: Sony's taking $100 off the price of its PS3, USATODAY reported in another article. The new price is $499, and Sony "plans to introduce a $599 package with a larger (80-gigabyte vs. 60-GB) hard drive and one game next month." Analysts say PS3 sales have lagged a bit in the face of the Nintendo Wii's success.

  9. Social networking at the Arctic Circle

    San Francisco-based, a social site hugely popular in the UK, Ireland, and Down Under, is also very popular among Canada's northernmost youth. "A search on Bebo shows hundreds of young Inuit who are registered users from Kuujjuaq, Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay and Inukjuak," reports the Nunatsiaq News. "The sites registered to users in Nunavik and Nunavut generally feature photos of family members and eye-catching decorations. The texts are peppered with English, French and Inuktitut written in roman orthography. Or sometimes there's a combination of languages - 'I would like to buy a used car first so I don't have to bicykugaq around town,' says one entry," the News adds. Nunvut Territory is northwest of Hudson Bay (see this map at

* * * *

Share with a Friend! If you find the newsletter useful, won't you tell your friends and colleagues? We would much appreciate your referral. To subscribe, they can just click here.

We are always happy to hear from potential sponsors and distribution partners as well. If you'd like to make a contribution or become a sponsor, please email us or send a check payable to:

Net Family News, Inc.
1121 3rd Ave.
Salt Lake City, UT 84103

That does it for this week. Have a great weekend!


Anne Collier, Editor

Net Family News

HOME | newsletter | subscribe | links | supporters | about | feedback

Copyright 2009 Net Family News, Inc. | Our Privacy Policy | Kindly supported by Domain Names and Web Hosting UK,, PCTattleTale Parental Control and Monitoring Software,, and