Tag Archives: internet

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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Demi Lovato and Seventeen Team Up to fight Cyber Bullying

Internet safety tips from the Ascentive team

Along with stars from ABC Family, Demi Lovato, has team up to put an end to bullies on and off the internet. Lovato is one of many stars who have faced cyber-bullies online and hopes to put a stop to it.

As a contributing editor for Seventeen Lovato has opened up about her struggle with being a victim of bullying in the past. “I was bullied when I was younger, it got so bad that I ended up leaving school because of it and the effects of that traumatizing time are still with me to this day,” she revealed in her recent article.

Stars such as Shailene Woodley (Amy Juergens from The Secret Life of the American Teenager) andTyler Blackburn(Caleb Rivers from Pretty Little Liars) have also joined their fellow ABC Family costars to promote the fight against bullying.

“All it takes is to speak up, to say something. All it takes is to find that strength within yourself, to be the one to say something, to tell someone about it, to tell a teacher, tell a parent, to tell another peer—somebody—what’s going on,” said Shailene Woodley.

Tyler said, “I think that the social media aspect of bullying is different because it spreads like wildfire immediately. So in that way, I think it’s almost more intense. But it’s just as hurtful as bullying someone face-to-face,” said Tyler Blackburn.

“I think that some people use bullying as a way to fit in, and I’ve noticed it’s not just the “cool” kids doing it anymore. Sitting behind a computer gives people a sense of anonymity, but everyone needs to realize that words—even the ones they write online—have a strong power to hurt people” said Demi Lovato.

ABC Family also recently premiered the two-hour ABC Family original movie, “Cyberbully,” starring Emily Osment (“Hannah Montana”), Kelly Rowan (“The OC”) and Kay Panabaker (“No Ordinary Family”), presented as part of the Delete Digital Drama Initiative. The initiative, will launch this summer both on the network and in the magazine’s August 2011 issue.

“Cyberbully” follows Taylor Hillridge (Osment), a teenage girl who falls victim to online bullying, and the cost it takes on her as well as her friends and family. Taylor is a pretty 17-year-old student dealing with her parents’ recent divorce and painfully aware of her lower social status in high school. When her mom gives her a computer for her birthday, Taylor is excited by the prospect of going online to meet new friends without her mother always looking over her shoulder. However Taylor soon finds herself the victim of betrayal and bullying while visiting a popular social website. Obsessed with the damaging posts, she begins to withdraw from her family and friends, including her life-long best friend, Samantha Caldone (Panabaker). Tormented and afraid to face her peers at school, Taylor is pushed to a breaking point. It is only after this life-changing event that Taylor learns that she is not alone – meeting other teens, including a classmate, who have had similar experiences. Taylor’s mom, Kris (Rowan), reels from the incident and takes on the school system and state legislation to help prevent others from going through the same harrowing ordeal.

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Best Free Phone Services on the Web

Business tips from the Ascentive team

Despite the birth of email and instant messenger, the phone is still an important part of business. People use the phone to connect with a voice they think they can trust that represents a particular product or service. But phone service doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg; here are the best free Phone Services on the web.


Make free VoIP calls from your Web-enabled mobile phone through Wi-Fi with GoSIP’s free download.


Fring harnesses your phone’s SMS technology to deliver free VoIP calls wherever you are. It also lets you chat with friends on most major chat clients.


Mobivox offers a free download that allows individuals to call anyone in the world, regardless of the phone they use.


FreeConferenceCall offers accounts that can accommodate up to 96 users.

Free Audio Conferencing:

FAC provides free conference calls and offers toll-free conferencing for participants at 7.9 cents per minute.


Offering a “complete internet fax service,” RingCentral’s free trial allows you to receive faxes as emails, to fax any MS Office file and to sign faxes electronically.


FaxDigits offers most of its services – a dedicated fax line, incoming faxes as PDFs, unlimited inbound faxes – for free. A premium services suite runs users $7.95 per month.

PamFax via Skype:

Although not quite free, some Skype plug-in developers have harnessed the power of Skype to send faxes to any fax machine in the world. Users pay in Skype credits per page with no monthly fees.


WalkieTalkie, Conference Calls and Chatterbox are just a few of the new applications Facebook offers. Facebook has also become a proving ground for VoIP-freeware development.


Ekiga provides free VoIP for Linux enthusiasts.


Acquired by Google,  with GrandCentral one phone number makes all your phones ring.


JahJah  links two traditional phone lines together without downloads


KPhone is a Linux-based softphone project based on volunteer efforts.


Earthlink’s free SIP phone download.


NadizPhone is a VoIP-enabled social networking site that allows free calls between members.


SighSpeed is an award-winning VPS that is free for personal use. Business plans start at $19.95 per month.


TelTel has a free download, but calls cost TelTel credits, which must be paid in $10 increments.

VoIP Discount:

VoIP Discount offers free VoIP calls, but only to trial members. After the trial period, users must buy credits, which gives them 120 “free days” of calling.

AIM Call Out:

Now that every major IM client has its own VoIM service, VoIM less about features and more about brand loyalty. For those still clinging to AOL, here’s yours.

Google Talk:

Finally, Google Talk is a freeware voice over Internet protocol VoIP client application offered by Google.


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What are Cookies?

Internet privacy info from the Ascentive team

If you surf the Internet, you’ve come across cookies in one form or another. A cookie is a type of message that is communicated to a web browser by a web server.  The two main purposes of a cookie are to identify users and possibly prepare customized Web pages, or to save site login information. Due to their core role of enhancing/enabling usability or site processes, disabling cookies may prevent users from using certain websites.

Cookies are created when a user’s web browser loads a particular website. The website sends information to the browser which then creates a text file. Every time the user goes back to the same website, the browser retrieves and sends this file to the website’s server. Computer Cookies are created not just by the website the user is browsing but also by other websites that run ads, widgets, or other elements on the page being loaded. These types of cookies regulate how the ads appear or how the widgets and other elements function on the page.

Session Cookies are a type of cookie used by a server to store information about user page activities so users can easily pick up where they left off on the server’s pages. By default, web pages really don’t have any ‘memory’. Cookies tell the server what pages to show the user so the user doesn’t have to remember or start navigating the site all over again. Cookies act as a sort of “bookmark” within the site. Similarly, cookies can store ordering information needed to make shopping carts work instead of forcing the user to remember all the items the user put in the shopping cart.

Persistent Cookies are employed to store user preferences. Many websites allow the user to customize how information is presented through site layouts or themes. These changes make the site easier to navigate and/or lets user leave a part of the user’s “personality” at the site.

Cookie security and privacy issues

It’s important to note that cookies are not viruses. Cookies use a plain text format, and they are not compiled pieces of code so they cannot be executed nor are they self-executing. They also cannot make copies of themselves and spread to other networks to execute and replicate. However, Cookies can be used for malicious purposes. Since they store information about a user’s browsing preferences and history, both on a specific site and browsing among several sites, cookies can be used to act as a form of spyware.

Responsible web developers deal with privacy issues caused by cookie tracking by clearly describing how cookies are used on their sites. These privacy policies should explain what kind of information is collected and how the information is used.

Reputation Creators launches Student Guard to combat CyberBullying

Internet security tips from the Ascentive team

The Internet has changed the world in more ways than we can ever imagine. Of course the Internet helps us immensely, the power and reach of the online world can also have devastating consequences. One problem both children and parents face daily is the spread of CyberBullying.

A cyberbully uses the Internet, cell phone, or other device to send or post text or images to try to hurt or embarrass other people. Whether it’s creating a fake Facebook or MySpace page to impersonate a fellow student, repeatedly sending hurtful text messages and images, or posting cruel comments on the Internet, Cyberbullying can have seriously harmful effects on children. Nasty comments, lies, embarrassing photos and videos, and snide polls can be spread widely through texting, and by posts on social networking sites like Facebook.

According to estimates, the average kid in the US now spends as much as seven hours on the Internet every day. That’s a lot of time spent online, and with a lot of bullies out there, anyone and everyone is open to threats and abuse. And it seems that the presence of countless social networking websites today has made the problem even worse. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube have made it easy for people to interact with each other online. Although these websites have plenty of positive aspects, they have given an impetus to CyberBullying.  The problem is that private information, embarrassing photos and slanderous comments can be easily posted on these sites and all of this definitely creates a negative impact. Unfortunately, CyberBullying can lead to depression, poor grades, anxiety, fighting, and, in some cases, suicide

Experts say that Cyberbullying has reached immense proportions. Although CyberBullying is illegal in many states in the US, parents still need to be particularly careful about what their children are doing online, and this is precisely where Tim Niedel can help.

Tim Niedel is the CEO of Reputation Creators Corp, a company that has emerged as the frontrunner in the campaign to stop the menace of Cyberbullying. The company has come out with a breakthrough product known as “Student Guard” which allows parents to keep tabs on what their kids are doing online.

Reputation Creator Corp’s Student Guard actually allows parents to access private and secured web portals at any time of the day to look at the videos, photos and text messages posted on these portals. This allows parents to monitor what their kid is doing at Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and the other social networking websites. Student Guard allows parents to protect their child, and can take preventive action if the child is trying to bully someone else.

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