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Smartphones are popular holiday gifts for kids that come with responsibility

There will be lots of smartphones under Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes this year, but if you plan to get one for a teen or pre-teen, consider first having “that talk” with your child. By “talk,” I don’t mean the birds and bees, I mean a conversation about smartphone safety, privacy and security. A while back […]

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Doxxing: Key Internet safety risk & what to do about it

You may’ve heard the term “doxxing.” It’s where online harassment can spill over into the offline kind, increasing risk of harm to whoever’s being targeted, regardless of age, race, gender, etc. The form it usually takes is public exposure of the target’s personal information – street address, phone number and other records – and, as […]

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Safety & civility advice for anonymous apps

A growing number of apps allow people to post anonymously. Some of the better known ones include Ask.fm, Whisper, Secret and Yik Yak but there are new ones all the time, including After School, that’s been downloaded more than 100,000 times including by students from more than 14,000 U.S. high schools, according to Recode.net. As […]

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Safe holiday online shopping tips

When you see a great deal online, make sure you examine the fine print. The biggest “gotcha” is usually shipping costs. Many online merchants will offer free shipping during the holidays, but some will add substantial fees that could wipe out any savings. Be aware of sales tax and any other fees. Depending on whether […]

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Perfect digital parenting doesn’t exist

I’m stating the obvious – that perfect digital-age parenting doesn’t exist – but let me explain why it doesn’t. Writer Heather Havrilesky got me thinking about this with her commentary “The ‘Mommy’ Problem” in the New York Times this weekend. She focuses on mothers (since our culture does so much) and on offline parenting. I’ll […]

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Zooming in on ‘screentime’ (this time with more precision)

Don’t believe everything you read about “screentime.” It’s rarely helpful – especially if presented as an undifferentiated mass of digital activity that just needs to be limited. That blunt-instrument approach is not helpful to parents. This very visual commentary from graphic designer and blogger Heather Hopp-Bruce in the Boston Globe is a refreshing departure from […]

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Dealing with the nasties online

Pondering positive ways to deal with online negativity seems to be a trend – maybe even a blooming social norm! Because, in response to social cruelty like the recent tragic trolling of Robin Williams’s daughter Zelda Williams, other people sympathized, defended her and started thinking of ways to counteract cruelty like that. Negativity grabs our […]

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Safe computing includes minding your ergonomics

 I recently set up a new home office, which not only involved countless trips to Ikea, but also having to deal with ergonomics — something I hadn’t thought much about since the last time I set up an office. Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines ergonomics as “a science that deals with designing and arranging things […]

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Don’t let stalkers or abusers and creeps track your phone’s location

Modern cell phones know where you are. This can be a very good thing, but — in the wrong hands — it can also lead to potential abuse. As Kaofeng Lee and Erica Olsen point out in the article, Cell Phone Location, Privacy and Intimate Partner Violence from the website of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV): Sharing […]

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Zooming in on social norms (sidebar)

This is a sidebar to my earlier post about social norms as one of the solutions to social cruelty online. Social norms are practically super powers. As I mentioned in my main post, this doesn’t occur to us much because, well, these are norms, after all – part of the wallpaper, socially speaking. They’re everyday […]

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