School Targeted by Anonymous Apps!

Everyone hates youWith anonymity comes daring.  Some Apps these days allow students to post behind the safety of a screen without revealing their identities.  Recently, one seemingly ordinary Friday afternoon, Myers Park High School in North Carolina was hit by a ‘Yik Yak’ attack.  Claire Williams from the Charlotte Observer reported that,  staff and administrators at the school were all targeted at once on this particular day.  Yik Yak is a social media app that allows users to post comments without any apparent accountability.  ‘Someone’ started the attack and by the afternoon there was a new nasty post going up every 15-30 seconds.’  Tracking the offenders proved hopeless.

After the Yik Yak hit, Myers Park High School, Principal Mark Bosco, sent home an email to parents. The email urged parents to check their children’s phones for the app and track content.

“Students who have the app are making anonymous posts about students, teachers, etc.,” the email said. “Many of the posts are personal attacks, derogatory, hurtful, abusive and are examples of cyberbullying.”

‘The School also approached the developers of Yik Yak asking them to block the app on school grounds.   The app, launched seven months ago by Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll just after their graduation from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., was intended for college campuses, never for middle or high school students. Buffington and Doll said they have blocked the app at 85 percent of high schools in the country – in America that is!

So Yik Yak’s time at Myers Park High was short-lived.  However there are many other apps similar to Yik Yak that allow users to post comments or pics anonymously. Streetchat, and Secret, to name just two.  So beware.  These apps are alluring to teens. They are at an age where they are testing the waters and to be able to do this anonymously can present a perfect opportunity!   Teens do need to understand however that despite the claim that these messages and pictures are anonymous and vanish into thin air, every App stores every IP address and if needed they could and would be tracked.  Read more:

Remore here:

Yik Yak, other anonymous social media apps pose problems for schools | Education |

Posted in Anonymous, Apps for Teens and Tweens, Cyber Bullying, Cyber Safety, cyberbullying, Schools, Social Media Apps, Yik Yak | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dirl and Gnoc? Learn the New Online Teen Language!

imageSecret, teen coded messages may be online danger signs. Perhaps parents need to go back to school and learn the new language!   The Daily Mail recently reported, that, ‘these coded messages may be the first clue that their children are self-harming, being bullied or groomed online, or even driven to suicide.

Teenagers and predators alike are using their own language and acronyms on Facebook and other social networking sites to conceal the true nature of their conversations.  Among the danger signs are ‘Dirl’, meaning ‘die in real life’ and used by cyber-bullies to urge victims to kill themselves, and ‘Gnoc’ – ‘getting naked on camera’ – used to lure young people into getting undressed.

Below are more:

The teenagers’ online lexicon revealed:

Bbp: Banned by parents.
Clavicle: Those suffering from eating disorders might use this to search for pictures of people who are very thin, as a prominent clavicle can be seen as a measure of thinness.
#cutfor: Hashtag used to promote self-harm in the name of particular celebrities. #cutforJustinBieber trended in 2013.
Dirl: Die in real life, a phrase which may be used to upset someone
Gcad: Get cancer and die.
Gnoc: Get naked on camera, used to groom young people or as a form of ‘sexting’.
Gokid: Got observers, keep it decent.
Foad: F*** off and die.
Fugly: F****** ugly.
Hduw2bb: Hello do you want to be buddies? Possible interaction with a stranger.
Idttu: I don’t talk to you. Used to ostracise another person online.
Ih8p: I hate parents.
IHML: I hate my life.
Iw2mu: I want to meet you. Suggests possible meet-up with a stranger.
Jlma: Just leave me alone.
Kpc: Keeping parents clueless.
Lggd: Let’s go get drunk.
Miw: Mum is watching.
Mmas: Meet me after school.
Mos: Mum over shoulder.
Np4np: Naked pic for naked pic. Offering to swap pornographic pictures with others online.
Oreo: Racist slang for a black person who is ‘trying to be white’.
Our x: Our secret, used by abusers to encourage victims not to speak out.
Pcrs: Parents can read slang
Pos/Pob: Parent over shoulder or parent over back.
Taw: Teachers are watching.’

Read more:



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American Psychiatric Association Makes It Official: ‘Selfie’ a Mental Disorder

Selfie3While there is a fair bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ in this article it comes close to belief!!  Global Trend News reports on its website that:  ‘The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially confirmed what many people thought all along: taking ‘selfies’ is a mental disorder.

The APA made this classification during its annual board of directors meeting in Chicago. The disorder is called selfitis, and is defined as the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self  and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.

APA said there are three levels of the disorder:

  • Borderline selfitis : taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day but not posting them on social media
  • Acute selfitis: taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day and posting each of the photos on social media
  • Chronic selfitis: Uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self  round the clock and posting the photos on social media more than six times a day

According to the APA, while there is currently no cure for the disorder, temporary treatment is available through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  The other good news is that CBT is covered under Obamacare.’ read Medicare, I think,  if you are an Australian or the NHS if you are in the UK!

American Psychiatric Association Makes It Official: ‘Selfie’ a Mental Disorder.

Posted in Cyber Safety, Selfies | Tagged | Leave a comment

What is Whisper? New Teen App!

WhisperWhisper is an app that combines our fascination  with secrets and mystery with the juicy salaciousness of gossip. All done anonymously.  It is a teen’s dream!  And it has recently exploded in its use by university students and teens.  Essentially, it is a smartphone app that allows users to share secrets anonymously.  You type in a message and the app finds a matching image and turns your secret into a ‘cool’ meme. Strangers can anonymously “like” or leave comments on your unleashed secrets.  The creepy thing is that strangers can and do respond to you.  To test it, I sent out an image with this anonymous ‘secret’: ‘I’m 15, and I am lonely’, and within seconds I received 2 responses that I will not print here!

Teens also need to remember that this is a start-up company.  It is in its youth. While it might say you are anonymous, all your messages are stored against your IP address and just like Surprise, surprise, Snapchat Pics Don’t Delete!, Whisper messages, could come back to haunt you.

I am sure that there are fun and even therapeutic ways that this app could be used but in my experience, sadly, there are also mean, nasty and sinister ways.  Beware!

Posted in Anonymous, Cyber Safety, memes, Whisper | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Do you know if your child has a Kik Account?

Kik3Parents would be wise to keep an eye on the apps their tweens and teens are using on their ipods and smart phones.   Kik allows free text and pic sending services between those who have downloaded the app on their phone or ipod.  The danger of the ipod is often overlooked by parents as they don’t realize that once it is coupled with a wi fi connection an ipod has many of the capabilities of a phone.

Late last year the disappearance of Sydney teenager Krystal Muhieddine, was connected to her use of the Kik app.  She left her house early on Tuesday morning in a car with a stranger before being found in country Victoria on Friday.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that, ‘Krystal’s parents did not allow their children to use social media in the house, but Mrs Muhieddine said she believed her 14-year-old daughter had been using Kik to communicate with the person with whom she left.’

With the invasion of mums, dads and aunties on Facebook tweens and teens are looking for a bit of privacy.  Kik has become a very  popular app, especially for young adults and teens to be able to communicate  with each other.  It is free and private.

Parents need to be  proactive.  You’ve got to have the conversation and you’ve got to be  willing to have your kids be angry with you.  Parents should make sure that they know what every app on their child’s phone does and if they don’t know, delete it.

Read more:



Posted in Cyber Safety, cybersafety, Dangers, Kik, Kik Messenger, Parental Controls, Parents, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Parents can reveal too much online! Baby in the Bath Pic

Foam-born babyWe love sharing photos of our children online.  But what are the risks?  It is unlikely, that children would be identified and tracked down by someone sinister though we should make sure that they are not wearing anything that might identify where they go to school or where they live. We should make sure the geo tagging function on our phones are cameras is switched off.

But is not this that is the main issue – for me I always wonder where those pics end up?  On whose computer, in which country and for what purpose?  There are many creepy answers that I need not specify.  Enough to say, think carefully - what might seem an innocent ‘baby in the bath’ pic very sadly may end up being used for something very different and no one wants this.  So think before you post, is it an appropriate photo, will my teenager thank me for it, and are my privacy settings as tight as they need to be?

Posted in Cyber Safety, cybersafety, Dangers, Digital Reputation, Flickr, iphone settings, Parental Controls, Parents, Photoblogs | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments Cyberbullying at its Worst!

Ask-fmMean teens plus  can be a recipe for extreme nastiness.  Parents need to know that this seemingly addictive site is the popular, go to site of the moment for teens experimenting with the power afforded to them by anonymity.  Let’s see what happens if we ask someone ‘why are you so fat?’ or ‘why do you think you so special? or we tell someone to ‘go die’ or ‘everyone hates you’ or as the pic shows much, much worse.  There have been many sites before it, and to name two.  This particular platform is based in Latvia.  It is an App as well as a website.  The best advice I can give parents is to make sure your teens are not on it.   Take my word for it, no real good can come from it!

Posted in, Cyber Safety, cyberbullying, Dangers,, Parents,, Teens | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mother and daughter – Lessons learnt the hard way!

My mom

In an attempt to show her daughter how quickly a picture can spread over the internet, one mum’s “lesson” quickly backfired.

Kira Hudson posted a picture of her daughter, Amia, on Facebook holding a sign dated 18/03/14, saying, “Mum is trying to show me how many people can see a picture once it’s on the internet,” WHNT reports.

Mother shames daughter on the internet, teaches herself a lesson.

Posted in Cyber Safety, cybersafety, cybersmart, Facebook, Parental Controls, Parents, Social Media | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

What is Yik Yak?

Another anonymous app providing a social messaging board for anyone to post anything! You can imagine how this could be used once it gets into the hands of some tweens and teens. Not nice!

The app is free and it clearly indicates that it is not to be used by anyone under the age of 17. BE WARNED

Posted in Cyber Safety | 1 Comment

Top 5 Teen Apps 2014: No.3 Kik Messenger – Can Parents Control it?

Kik meWhat is Kik Messenger?

Of all the Teen Apps, Kik Messenger is the one parents google most!  Parents want to know how to control Kik, how to find out what their kids are texting, and who is texting their kids.  Kik Messenger, put simply, is a free text messaging service but you don’t have to have a mobile phone to use it.  Mix a tween, an ipod, an itunes account and wifi together and you have an instant messaging service.  Teens tend to download the app onto their phones. Once the app is installed you can text, send pics and have group conversations.  It combines texting with social networking!

Why do teens love it? 

Number one - It is free!! Number 2  – It is private and Number 3 they can download to their own individual ipods, ipads and phones.  Statistics currently put teens at sending 100 texts a day and that can become very costly if you are paying for it. With wifi you can text to your heart’s content on Kik.  Kik, like other apps, is customized to the user’s mobile device so unlike FB you can’t find a Kik account online.  Kik flies below a parent’s radar.   Just as parents feel that they are up to speed with Face Book,  Apps such as Kik appear and leave them confused.

Why should parents be concerned?

Kik Messenger recently upgraded the age limit from 13 to 17.  Parents need to consider why that has occurred.  Why is Kik worried about younger users?  I’d be worried about the type of pics that teens might post and the pedophiles trawling the web for such pics.  Think too much skin, think pouty selfies. Kids tend also to post their ‘Kik Address’ on other sites such as Tumblr or Instagram and this is how strangers access them on Kik.   The usual phrase is: ‘Kik me @…….followed by their address.  If Kik is the first text message service your child has used some basic lessons in what to text and what to not are in order!

What can parents do?

Talk to your teens about how, what and what not to text.  Bad news should NEVER be texted. That’s a pretty standard rule.  Bad language should NEVER be texted.  Sending pics should  be carefully thought through.  Do you want those pics sent on to others?  Does your friend know that you have sent those pics of him?  Engage in a conversation about what they think about Kik. Consider using iMessage instead – it is more private and protected.   Remind them of keeping their digital reputation tidy and clean.  Talk about their privacy settings – they should ensure that only people they know can message them.  Talk to them about what to do if someone they don’t know texts them or asks them to send them pics.  This is NOT a rare occurrence unfortunately.

Posted in Apps for Teens and Tweens, Cyber Safety, Dangers, Digital Citizenship, Kik, Kik Messenger, Parental Controls, Parents, Social Media Apps, Teens, Texting, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 5 Teen Apps 2014 Series: Instagram – how to keep them safe.

Home page InstagramWhat is Instagram?

Top 2 App as promised and more to follow.  Snap Chat  was Number 1.  Instagram is like a public, mobile photo album.  You can post your own pics, copy pics from the internet, share your friend’s pics and use filters to create interesting, artistic designs.  You can ‘Follow’ others and your pics can be liked and commented on by your ‘Followers’. This is new terminology - not ‘Friends’ as in Face Book but ‘Followers’ as in Twitter and Instagram.  Just the term itself lends a legitimacy to having people you don’t know, watching what you do!   The App was launched in 2010, and was #1 in the App store 24 hours later.    

Why do teens love it? Teens are an often infuriating mix of wanting to be different and craving to the be the same!  They love to know what others think of what they like but they also like to push the boundaries.  Instagram allows for both.  They can put themselves out there by posting all sorts of pics and at the same time test for acceptance by seeing how many ‘Followers’ and ‘Likes’ they get.   There is a sense of individuality and independence about Instagram.  You choose the pics to share and hashtag (#)them so others interested in a topic can view them.  For example if you take a cool pic of your cat you can load it on #cats.  Currently there are 12 million pics of cats posted from around the world and you can add to this!  There is the cool, artistic factor of using the filters to jazz up a pic, and turning your pic into a work of art.  Then there is the ego boost teens get when their pics are ‘liked’  or ‘commented on’.  They post lots of selfies, pics of their friends, and of images they feel encapsulate their public persona.  Instagram is an App, so again it is easy to sign up to: just an email address will get you started and it is floats under parents’ radar.  It’s interactive and socially connective – perfect for teens.  It’s spontaneous – you can take a pic wherever you are an upload it in a few second for the world to see! Lastly, so far at least, there are no advertisements. This makes it feel less corporate and more edgy!

Why should parents be concerned?

I’d be worried about the type of pics that teens might post.  Think too much skin. Has your teen set their account to Private meaning that only those ‘Following’ them can see their pics?  Have they accepted Followers who they don’t know?  There is quite a competitive edge to Instagram.  I have seen teens post comments such as ‘Follow me, I am trying to get 1000 by Saturday’.  Now these are not 1000 friends!   There is also no way of knowing who a ‘Follower’ might be.  I have seen Teen accounts being followed by hundreds of ‘gorgeous looking muscular 15 year olds’ and I had to wonder if they were really who they purported to be.  The ‘Likes’ and Comment facility open themselves to nasty comments or the withholding of ‘Likes’ both could be used to cyberbully.

What can parents do?

Talk to your teens about being courteous and respectful on Instagram.  Have they asked their friend if they can post that pic of them?    Ask them to tell you and show you how it works, engage them in a conversation about what they think about it and why.  Remind them of keeping their digital reputation tidy and clean.  Has anyone they know done anything on it that they think is inappropriate.   Talk about their privacy settings – they should ensure that only people they know can ’Follow’ them and that they are only ‘Following’ those they know.  They should feel that they can report cyber bullying if they see it happen or step in and put a stop to it.   Never assume a teen as thought of all the consequences – they usually haven’t.

Posted in Apps for Teens and Tweens, Cyber Safety, cybersafety, Digital Citizenship, Digital Reputation, Instagram, Internet safety, Parental Controls, Parents, Photoblogs, Social Media, Social Media Apps, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 5 Teen Apps 2014 Series: Is Snap Chat Safe?

Snapchat 100millionWhat is Snapchat?

Number 1 App today as promised and the rest to follow.  This cute, innocuous little fellow is the symbol of Snapchat!  Snapchat is an app that allows users to take pics and send them to others.  You can do this on your phone without the app, so what is the difference?  With Snapchat before you send the pic you set a timer which allows the receiver to view the pic for a set time, anywhere between 1 and 10 seconds.  Once viewed the pic supposedly disappears.

Why do teens love it?

It is a fun little app and produces lots of laughs.  There is a sense of mystery and ‘naughtiness’ as pics disappear as if by magic.  Teens send lots of cheeky, crazy pics of themselves to each other!  Snapchat captured the teen’s need to be just outside the boundaries with their slogan, ‘It ain’t Facebook’ just at a time when teens were feeling the squeeze with everyone and anyone getting on the Facebook train.  It’s easy to get started, no more filling out forms to register, just an email address will get you started.  And it has a creative edgeYou are taking the pic and deciding who to send it to, and for how long.  It gives you control but is safe from judgment because the pic vanishes right before your eyes.  It’s interactive and socially connective – perfect for teens.  It’s spontaneous and ‘a bit out there’ and Mums and Dads don’t do it! Lastly there are no advertisements. This makes it feel less corporate and more edgy!

Why should parents be concerned?

It is the type of pics that teens might send without thinking that can be a worry.  Think sexting.  It seems ideal doesn’t it.  You can send those pics and with no regrets!  But be warned there are ways around the ‘vanishing pic’ claim that the app is premised on.  If you screenshot the pic immediately it arrives, you have a copy of the pic on your camera roll forever.  If you take a pic of the shot with another phone you again capture the pic.  You can save these pics, or send them on or post them on Instagram or Facebook.  There is also no way of knowing who might be with the person at the time you are sending the snapchat. In other words who else might see it?

What can parents do?

Talk to your teens about the pitfalls. Take every opportunity that you can to engage them in a conversation about the possibilities and the consequences.  Resist telling them what to do or how to do it.  Teens switch off when parents lecture.  Steer them towards information about Snapchat.  Ask them about it, what they think about it, what they know about it.  Talk about their privacy settings – they should ensure that only people they know can send them snapchats and they in turn should only send to those they know.Don’t be put off when they brush you off with, ‘It’s okay Mum, I know all about it.’ – unfortunately they usually don’t!

Posted in Apps for Teens and Tweens, Cyber Safety, Digital Reputation, Parental Controls, Parents, Sexting, Snap Chat, Social Media Apps, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Be Warned Apps are flying right below your Parent Radar!

AppsTired of prying adult eyes scanning their Facebook pages, teens are turning more and more to Apps which they download to their phones or other mobile devices and then use them to communicate in private.  Just as parents thought that they had mastered the foreign land of web based social media, such as Facebook, they have been undercut by this new software!  If you think they are just texting when you see them on their phones you couldn’t be further from the truth!

The Top 5 Teen and Tween favoured Apps are Instagram, Kik Messenger, Snapchat, and Whisper.  They allow, in order, pics to be stored, posted, shared and liked, free texting, magically vanishing pics, (or so they say!) anonymous questions to be asked and, answers to be given and rumour spreading!  All within the privacy of a smart phone. Mum and Dad (or even Aunty) can no longer join up, be friends and keep an eye on things.

Over the next week I will write a post on each of the Top 5 Teen Apps. What teens love about each app, what they are using them for – the good and the bad,  why you need to be aware of them and what you can do to keep your eye on things and keep the conversation open.

Posted in Apps for Teens and Tweens,, Cyber Safety, Instagram, Kik Messenger, Parents, Phones, Snap Chat, Snapchat, Social Media Apps, Teens, Tweens, Whisper | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh dear, Now the Mums fight it out on FB!!

angry mumThe war of words continued yesterday moving from the daughters to the mothers.  After one Mum posted an Instagram message to her daughter from another 12 year old on her FB page, the other Mum took to FB also to vent her concerns.  The Instagram message called Ms S’s 12 year old daughter, ‘a “b*tch” and said “I dont (sic) care if anyone tells her”.

As suggested by this site yesterday it is unwise to try and thrash these things out with other parents without a mediator such as a School.  And never do it via social media! It just gets messy.  In the heraldsun article, expert Michael Carr-Gregg, told parents to encourage children to ignore bullies, and block them from their social media sites, rather than to become directly involved.  He warned that both taking direct action via social media and parental involvement could escalate bullying rather than solve it.

To view the parents’ posts and debate the issue go to


Posted in Cyber Safety, cyberbullying, cybersafety, Digital Reputation, Instagram, Parents, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

India Inc takes on Cyber-bullying!

Cyberbully victimIndia might have a solution.  A Global Youth Online Behaviour Survey released by Microsoft found that instances of children being harassed by cyber bullying are on the increase in countries like China, Singapore and India. Globally, India is third behind China and Singapore.  In fact over half (53 per cent) of children in India have been bullied online.  The Corporate world in India is taking its responsibility seriously and attacking the situation in a thought provoking way with its attitude that it is ‘better to be safe than sorry’.   Many companies have put processes and policies in place, as have Schools, but in India they have gone one step further. For instance, one company uses software tools — boardreader and socialmention — to trawl the net, especially Forums and Discussion Boards and Social media sites, conducting random checks on #hashtags and/or words and phrases that could indicate that cyberbullying is taking place.  This allows them to be proactive before things get worse.
Should parents and schools consider doing the same or is it an invasion of privacy?
India Inc takes on cyber-bullying with dedicated teams, Web tools | Business Line.
Posted in Cyber Safety, cyberbullying, cybersafety, Internet safety, Parents, Schools, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment