Category Archives: technology

ABC’s 20/20 Episode Proposes a solution to Bullying Epidemic

AscentiveCyberbullying news from the Ascentive team

The ABC news magazine show 20/20 recently reported on what one school is doing to help combat the problem of in-school bullying and cyber-bullying. The Alliance School, an alternative Milwaukee public school, uses the Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) program to teach students key lessons such as respect and conflict-resolution.

LifeSkills Training promotes healthy alternatives to risky behavior by helping students develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence and by enabling them to effectively cope with stress and anxiety.  Not only is LST the top-rated substance abuse prevention program in schools today; a recent study also showed that LST prevents physical and verbal aggression as well as delinquency and fighting in schools.

“Bullying is an epidemic that affects everyone—victims, bystanders, and the bullies themselves. An effective school-based prevention program can help build an atmosphere in schools so that kids feel safe, and when they feel safe, they learn better and thrive,” said program developer Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin. “I am proud that LST is an integral part of this.”

The Alliance School is a charter school of the Milwaukee Public School system that strives to provide a safe, student-centered, and academically challenging environment to meet the needs of all students. The 6th – 12th grade school, which opened in 05, teaches LifeSkills Training to help reinforce a safe and accepting environment where students are treated fairly regardless of sexuality, ability, appearance, or beliefs.

Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) is a highly effective evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program with more than 30 years of peer-reviewed research behind it. Studies testing its effectiveness have found that LST can reduce the prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80 percent. The program was developed by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College and director of Cornell’s Institute for Prevention Research.

LST has been used with youth in all 50 states, the District of Columbia,Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and in 32 countries around the world. LST is included in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) and has been selected for prevention excellence by numerous organizations including the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (part of the U.S. Department of Justice). Recently LST was selected as a Top Tier prevention program by the Coalition for Evidence-based Policy, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization in Washington, DC. Visit http://www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.

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Net Nanny offers Cyberbully Prevention Tips

AscentiveInternet safety tips from the Ascentive team

As long as there have been schools, there have been bullies, and the Internet has created a whole new playground for them. Cyberbullying is now increasing at an alarming rate. Net Nanny ( http://www.netnanny.com ) encourages parents to take precautions to prevent cyberbullying, and when it occurs, to act quickly and decisively.

Most parents know that when a bullying incident occurs with their child, they should address it immediately. In the case of cyberbullying, online tools are now available to alert parents the moment something happens so they can react in real-time. When parents are alerted that their child may be the target of cyberbullying by a program such as Net Nanny, they should immediately follow these five guidelines:

1. Address it immediately. Speak frankly and openly about the incident with your child to get all the details possible. Ask direct and detailed questions.

2. Uncover the history. Determine if this is the first time for the incident or if it has been an on-going problem.

3. Understand your child’s feelings. Get a clear understanding of how your child feels. Are they just annoyed or are they scared, feeling threatened, or even contemplating extreme and dangerous actions such as retaliation or suicide

4. Create a plan together. Work with your child to determine how they (or you together) should deal with the cyberbullying. Your plan might be to include school officials in dealing with the issue, change user names and passwords for your child’s online activities, calling and speaking with parents of the offending bully and watching your child carefully for changes in behavior.

5. Consider professional help. If the incident warrants it, do not hesitate to get professional medical help or counseling for your child, and if you suspect any kind of criminal act or predator activity against your child, contact your local law enforcement agency.

“Email, websites, chat and social media are the places where cyberbullying usually occurs,” said Russ Warner, ContentWatch/Net Nanny CEO. “You can have a great relationship with your child, put in place many safety measures and do everything you can to protect them, but the bottom line is, you can’t stop their online activity. And when an incident occurs, parents need to act very quickly to help them and prevent future incidents. These five guidelines will certainly help.”

Net Nanny believes bullying in all its forms treads on the rights of children to attend school in a safe and secure environment, free from negative threats or discrimination. As cyberbullying increases with the proliferation of online social networks, Net Nanny believes parents, school officials, government agencies and corporations have a responsibility to do all they can to protect the rights of school children.

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Learn the Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

Today’s entrepreneurs need to have a handle on Social Media Marketing if they want to generate buzz about their brand and raise their bottom line. By harnessing the power of web content and Social Media Marketing, entrepreneurs can elevate both their web audience and client base in a substantial way. Of course, starting your Social Media Marketing strategy from scratch can be quite a challenge. To get off to a great start, you really need to fully comprehend the fundamentals of Social Media Marketing. From making the most of your content’s quality, to increasing your online points of entry, putting these fundamentals to use will help you build a foundation that will serve your clients, your brand, and your bottom line.

Listen

Your success with Social Media Marketing depends on more listening and less talking. Always read your audience’s online content and join in their conversations in order to learn what’s of vital importance to them. You need to listen in order to create and inspire the conversations that add value their lives, both on and off line.

 

Focus

It’s crucial to focus on your niche; don’t be a jack-of all trades. Your Social Media Marketing strategy must be focused in order to be successful. Don’t try to be all things to all people.

Quality

The quality of you connections is more important than the quantity. Only high-quality followers will read, share and talk about your web content.

Patience

Social Media Marketing success won’t happen for you overnight. You will need to commit to Social Media Marketing for the long haul in order for it to generate substantial results.

Compounding

When you create quality web content, your audience will share it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and their blogs. The sharing is the key, as it creates more entry points where new potential customers can find you.

Influence

You need to spend time finding the influential people in your market who are interested in their niche and have their own quality audiences. These are the people you need to build relationships with. Prove to them that you are a reliable, unique source of information on your niche.

Value

Don’t append all your time online promoting your product. This may sound counter intuitive, but the truth is, you need to spend less time promoting your product or service, and more time adding value to the online conversation about your niche.

Acknowledgement

Give credit where credit is due, and don’t ignore people that reach out to you online. Remember, Social Media Marketing is all about building relationships.

Accessibility

With Social Media Marketing, you need to be constantly available to your audience. Don’t just publish content sporadically. You need to consistently publish content and participate in online conversations.

 

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New Studies show that Parents don’t Properly Protect Children from Cyber-Bullying

AscentiveSafe Internet Use Tips from the Ascentive team

With about half of young people experiencing some form of cyberbullying or other harassment online, a majority of parents with children under 18 say they are concerned about their children’s social networking activities and want to find ways to protect them. Most parents also admit, however, that they do not have the tools, knowledge or time to properly monitor their children on social networks—and many admit that they take no precautions at all. That’s according to two new studies released today by an online monitoring service.

According to the studies, over 69% of parents with children ages 10 – 17 say they are concerned about their children visiting social networking sites, with their biggest fears being, in order, contact from strangers, information being displayed online that shares their child’s physical location, postings that could tarnish their child’s reputation, and their child getting cyberbullied.

However, the data also shows that most parents do not take the proper precautions to ensure their child’s safety when visiting social networks. For example, even though 68% of parents believe that daily monitoring is a must because news on social networks spreads fast and needs to be resolved quickly, only 32% of parents say they actually monitor their child’s social networking activities every day, and 28% of parents admit they only occasionally, rarely or never monitor their child’s social networking activities.

Meanwhile, 66% of parents believe they should monitor all of their child’s Facebook activity including emails and chats, yet the most common monitoring technique stated—”friending” their child—does not allow the parent to monitor email, chats or many other activities where dangers could lurk. Even if a parent were to “friend” their child, it would be practically impossible and extremely time-consuming to monitor what all of their child’s friends are doing, especially since the average teenager has more than 200 friends on social networks. Many parents don’t realize that the greatest danger posed to their child on social networks isn’t what their child does, but what others do to or say about their child.

“Almost all parents agree that they have a responsibility to look out for their kid’s safety and well-being while they’re on social networks, but there is a serious gap between what most parents believe is sufficient monitoring and what they are actually doing, which in most cases is far from sufficient,” said George Garrick, chief executive officer of SocialShield. “Our goal is to evaluate every friend request, every comment, every photo and all other activities regarding our customer’s children—including by all their friends—so that we can alert the parents if there’s anything suspicious. It’s ironic that so many parents insure their cellphones or protect their computers with anti-virus software, yet fail to properly protect their children from potential threats that can be both physical and psychological.”

Unfortunately, suicides by teens who have been cyberbullied on social networks are a fact of life today, as are incidents of predators stalking and contacting young teen girls, with such contact often leading to tragic outcomes. About half of young people have experienced at least some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center, which also found that cyberbullying victims are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide compared to youth who had experienced no cyberbullying.

Since using a social network essentially requires the use of your real name and identity, many people (younger, more vulnerable teens in particular) often post excessive amounts of personal data including their daily habits and locations, not realizing they are leaving a real-life trail of who they are, what they do, and where they can be found.

Other findings from the report include:

  • 62% of parents feel that occasionally looking over their child’s shoulder while he/she sits at the computer in the family room is enough to monitor his/her activities effectively, even though 71% admit their child also accesses social networks from other places, such as at a friend’s house or the library.
  • 50% of parents admitted that “properly monitoring would take a lot of time and I’m sure there are things I’m not seeing”
  • 63% of parents say they frequently review who their child is friending on social  networks to make sure it is only people that he/she knows in real life (although it’s impossible for any parent to really know who a particular “friend” is)
  •  54% of parents say they monitor their child’s social networking account by logging into his/her account as him/her on occasion; only 5% say they are currently using a monitoring application that alerts them if there is something they should be aware of.

Steve DeWarns, a San Francisco Bay Area police officer said: “Whenever I’m speaking to parent organizations, I always tell them that you don’t know what you don’t know, and this data proves that while parents want to protect their kids on social networks, they don’t necessarily have time or even know the most effective way.  And at the most basic level, a large proportion of parents really don’t understand what social networks are and how they work, thus where the risks lie.”

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Quick and Easy Ways to Improve Your Website

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

A well designed website is a vital ingredient to every business. It’s crucial to avoid designing a website that takes way too long to load, has poor accessibility, doesn’t load correctly, is too cluttered, or even too sparse. If one of your visitors leaves your website within eight seconds, it’s time to fix something on your site pronto. Here are some key suggestions as to where you should start:

Speed up your site

When your website fails to grab someone’s attention and compel them to order one of your products or services or even add their email to your mailing list, it may be time for you to check and see your problem is a home page that take too long to load. It’s possible that large resolution images or animated Flash Files may be slowing you down. Try viewing your site over a slower Internet connection or use an online speed test to check your site’s speed.

Use Keywords on Your Pages

Remember, the goal of search engines is to provide relevant results according to the terms that people are using for their searches. This means you need to provide the most relevant, high-quality information that your audience is looking for out on the Internet. One way to do this is to bold the keywords in your headlines and in the “bodies” of your web page content. However, here’s no need to bold all your keywords. In fact, although it’s important to have proper keyword density, you should avoid “keyword stuffing.” Keyword stuffing is when you overload the content or your webpage’s meta tags of the web page with every possible keyword or phrase that relates to the site in many different forms. For example, a bad meta description for our a paper site would read as follows: “paper, copy paper, printer paper, laser printer paper, Xerox paper, typing paper.” Note that this example has only keywords, with no sentence structure. If your site contains an unnaturally high density of one single keyword, your site will actually drop in search engine rankings.

Use Image Tags

Another way to improve your traffic is through the use of optimized graphics in order to get listed in the Google Images’ database. When you build your website, be sure to use Image Tags and Alt Image Tags to code all of your images. And name your image files with popular, relevant, descriptive keywords.

Update Your Website Dates

When your website has the current date, it’s letting visitors known that it’s fresh and current. Search engines take this into consideration when they crawl through your site as well. Always update your website dates on a regular basis.