A friend of mine shared this with me recently, so I read it and wanted to share it as well. You can download the PDF here, or read an exact copy below.
I spent a long time as an administrator of some social media sites and I’ve seen some things no one should see, learned some things about people that surprised, shocked and disgusted me, and been directly involved in terrible situations that could have been avoided had simple guidelines like these been followed. It has given me a perspective that many people can’t see. When the police tell you not to do something, it is because they’ve already been to hundreds of scenes where disaster could have been avoided. They know something we don’t know, and we should be willing to learn from others.
Some sites will allow you to restrict users who access posted content; others allow anyone and everyone to view your postings.
Lance’s comments: My kids never bother to look at technical details like this and I know that most people are not concerned, but this is definitely worth discovering. When you use a site/app, take a moment to look at the settings. If you can set your account/profile to private, do it.
Consider restricting access to your page to a select group of people, for example, your friends or friends from school, your club, your team, your community groups, or your family.
Lance’s comments: The Police are telling you to do something that cannot be done, but I do agree with their sentiments. The bottom line is there is literally nothing you can do to control what you put online. The nature of how the internet works makes it impossible to do this. More on this idea, below.
Don’t post your full name, address, phone number, or any kind of financial or personal information; SIN #, bank and credit card account numbers — and don’t post other people’s information either. Be cautious about posting information that could be used to identify you or locate you offline. This could include the name of your school, teachers, family members, sports team, clubs, and where you work or hang out.
Lance’s comments: Do you want to put yourself in danger really fast? This is how you do it. This has to be the number one bad idea that I’ve run into. Just like point #2 above, you can NOT control what you put online, so don’t put stuff like this online. It just sits there waiting for predators, and you’re not trying to protect yourself from one lone bad guy in your area. Internet predators are like wolf packs – they work together to collect and share their prey. If you put it online, they will find it.
Don’t use your name, your age, year of birth, or your hometown. Even if you think your screen name makes you anonymous, it takes very little effort to combine clues and figure out who you are and where you can be found.
Lance’s comments: Birth dates are so incredibly common. Don’t be common. Screen names that are random are actually ideal, even if you don’t have an easy way to remember it. The point is not to make it easy for YOU to remember – the point is to make it difficult for someone ELSE to connect it to you. Try digging up information about yourself – you will be surprised how easily one clue leads to another, and soon enough you’ve built a profile that just speaks volumes about you.
Anyone can see your page, including your employer, your parents, your teachers, the police, your school or the job you might want to apply for in five years.
Lance’s comments: This is absolutely true. In fact, there is a website called the Way Back Machine and its purpose is to archive the entire internet. Once you put something line, it stays there. By the way: online does not simply mean websites. iOS, Android, Backberry etc apps are all online as well. Your phone is transmitting your data all the time, whether you choose to send it or not (think Apple’s Photo Stream).
They can be altered and used in ways you may not be happy about. If you do post one, ask yourself whether it’s one your mom would display in the living room.
Lance’s comments: This is dead-serious and 100% true. I am very good with Photoshop and I’ve seen many pics that have been altered where I could not tell they were. Every still image you see in a magazine or poster etc has been put through Photoshop, edited, changed, enhanced, etc, and it is not difficult to do the same to your pics.
Aside from the photo-hacking, your personal photos also means nudes. If you’re shooting nudes on a phone, you’re in the wrong. There are so many ways for you to lose control over photos that are ON your phone. Apple’s photo streaming service sends all your pics (by default) directly to Apple’s servers, which have been hacked before (think of all the celebs who had their nudes hacked and released). Your phone also adds details to each photo that include where you were on the planet, down to a few meters/feet, what time it was, etc etc. Look at the map tab on your Instagram account and you’ll see that all your pics are geo-tagged. This, too, is a default setting. When your iPhone/iPad backs itself up to iCloud you are sending your entire phone to Apple’s servers again. When you back it up yourself on your computer, Apple wants to send it to the cloud again and you have to disable that as well.
That’s just Apple. What about all those apps you’re using? Are the makers of those apps more or less trustworthy than Apple? What are they doing with your data? And what about Android? Whenever I download an app to my Android it tells me directly what that app wants access to, and it is pretty amazing how deep they go.
If you have pics on your phone, they will make it online.
Because some people lie about who they really are and their intentions, you never really know who you’re dealing with.
Lance’s comments: Flirting is fun. There is a thrill in getting someone to like you, and being liked in return. Predators know this and use it. Keep that in mind when you’re talking to people whom you do not know in person. And consider the fact that you may be talking only to your friend’s phone, and not actually your friend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “my friend took my phone and sent that.”
Before you decide to meet someone, do your research; ask whether any of your friends knows the person, and see what background you can dig up through online search engines. If you decide to meet them, be smart: Meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust. Tell someone where you’re going, and when you expect to be back.
Lance’s comments: This is a major concern with internet dating and dating apps, and NOT just for females. I do not agree with the advice from the Police here because I think it is too soft. The very first time you meet someone from the internet/dating app, you’re a fool if you do it alone. Always do it in a busy public place, and always have friends nearby watching.
It is important to note that predators often use a tactic called grooming. This is where they build trust with their target over time, so keep that in mind and don’t be one of those people who says, “they seemed so nice, I can’t believe they’d do something like that.” Good relationships take time to build, so put that time in before you let them get close enough to hurt you.
Even if you delete the information from your page, it’s still out there; on other people’s computers.
Lance’s comments: You may notice that this is a theme here. The nature of the internet is such that once data leaves your computer/phone/tablet (device) it is permanently out of your control.
When I was working for social media sites it was common for users of the sites, lawyers and police to contact us and ask that content be removed. This is actually the easy part because we’d say to them, “sure,” and then we’d remove it. But, it is more complex than that. If the site is large, then they’re likely to use something called a content delivery network (CDN) which means that numerous computers located at data centers around the planet have exact copies of the website. This is meant to speed up the page times, but it also means that when the data is removed from one computer it is not removed from all of them. That takes time.
Also, when someone views any content their device has already downloaded the data. It is literally on their phone or computer at this point. This is called the cache and people can store it permanently. They can also take screenshots.
It gets worse, because the website and its users are not the only place/people where your data is. When your device sent it to the internet the data went through your internet service provider’s network, which means they have a cached copy. Every step along the way (called a node) has a cached copy, right from you, to the site, to the user at the other end.
You literally can not take it back. When you hit upload, what you are actually doing is saying, “I want to permanently lose control over this.“
If you feel uncomfortable or threatened because of something directed at you online, tell an adult you trust and/or report it to the police, and the social networking site. You could be preventing yourself or someone else from becoming a victim.
Lance’s comments: Don’t feel defenseless or hopeless about losing control of your data. Even though you can’t stop it, you can slow it down. You must make contact with the site/service where your data is being exploited and demand it be taken down. At the same time you also need to contact the local Police. Do both. If a school is involved, include the administrators as well.
Predators know that people are afraid to get help and they will use that against you. If you’re embarrassed about a nude/vid of you because the predator is threatening you with it, imagine the damage when they spread it. It is much better to face the website, the police, the lawyer and the school admins than to let that get out of control. Let the predator believe you’re scared, and then bring the combined might of your defence team down upon them.
If you’re a minor and you’re concerned about your parents finding out, rest assured that they want your safety more than they want to crap on you for doing something stupid online. Yes, you will be given crap for doing stupid things, but you will be safe when it happens, if you open up. As a parent I know first hand that kids want to keep things out of their parents’ view, just between them and their friends, but that’s the exact opposite of what should be done. Think about it: have you ever had a friend turn on you? It can happen. Also, how can another kid know how to help you? Do other kids really have the knowledge, tools, and resources to make the predator stop? To take your data offline?
You don’t have to like (trusted) adults to recognize that they’re the ones most able to help you.
Finally, consider the fact that YOU are not the only person these predators are preying upon. When you take down one predator you are saving multiple people from them.
Lance’s comments: This is actually the one single piece of advice that you can carry with you that will help you in every single situation. Are you willing to do or say this thing in front of everyone? If not, then it’s not the right move.
This is not a well thought out post. I am just writing a general message based on what’s been on my mind recently. I feel like I am not the only parent out there to have been surprised to learn about their child’s self-harming until it was way too late to be an effective resource for their own child. I am still in the midst of it all so I cannot pretend to speak from the perspective of someone who has been there, worked through it and has golden advice. I am a work in progress, just like you are.
Believe it or not, self-harm is a thing that people do. Young teen girls have a slight numbers advantage over teen boys, so it is not fair to claim that it’s a girl thing.
You may believe that you don’t know anyone who would cut themselves (for example), but you may be surprised to find out the opposite.
People who self-harm will keep it a secret, most especially when they believe that they cannot tell you. They’re not looking for judgement, criticism or to be corrected when they do tell someone. If you want to know if anyone in your life self-harms you must first make it known that you’re not going to have a negative reaction to learning about it.
And if you do find yourself learning that your child has done it, your response simply must come from a position of love and support, and absolutely cannot come from admonishment nor scrutiny.
I am not someone who has ever intentionally hurt myself and it does not appeal to me, but I do know of others who have/do. I cannot relate to the thoughts that lead people to hurting themselves, but I don’t need to. What I need to do is ensure these people know that my love for them is real and that I am going to support them in getting the proper help, without judgement.
It is a long and difficult road for everyone and there is no room for us to bring along our negative baggage. I don’t know how to advise anyone to bring this up in their home without it coming off as a witch hunt, but it one of those things that should be addressed sooner than later. Find a way. If you have success, please share you story with someone.
You can’t really take my word too seriously on this topic because I seem to have lost my ability to talk to my kids. People always warned me from the moment my daughter was born that the teen years would be hell, and when the second one came along people found it amusing to point out just how much trouble I was in for. Hearing comments like that were laughable, and over time they angered me because I felt it was pretty obvious that I had a great relationship with my girls. To me, those people were flat out wrong. At least it were wrong at the time. That is until around the age of 8 (or thereabouts), for both of them. I once read that 8 years old is when girls start to diverge from their parents’ way of thinking – when they begin flexing their individuality, and that held true in my house. They began to really express their individual personalities at that time, and that was hard to deal with. I’ll admit that I didn’t deal with it very well, because I didn’t understand it and I wasn’t equipped to deal with it. I was also out of the country for five months around this time, and custody was split 50/50. Enough complications? Ugh.
I have found that the harder I try to hang onto what we once had the worse it becomes. That relationship is gone. Those little girls are gone. They’re young women now and they don’t have the same wants and needs anymore, so for me –the same guy, mostly– to continue on with them as though they’re still 8 (or younger) is a disservice to them. And to me. I have to adapt as they mature.
I read a book called “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk,” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish that I found very helpful. I ran into an article on yourtango.com today that reminded me of that book, and inspired me to write this post. If you don’t have time for the book, the article summarizes many of the principles very well. If I could condense it even further, I’d say this:
Shut up and LISTEN to what your kids have to say.
While you’re listening the only thing you should be thinking about is how what they’re telling you is –aside from paying attention, obviously– this question, “How does this make her feel?”
Kids are new – they don’t know until their taught. If you can identify how they’re feeling, say it as a sympathetic statement, or ask directly. If you translate their feelings into words they are now more equipped to express and eventually process (deal with) those feelings.
One of the challenges for the adult mind to deal with in these situations is to shut up. For us the problems kids deal with are simple, easy to solve or avoid, and largely inconsequential. We could easily deal with them in their shoes, but only if we had our adult brain and lifetime of experience. They don’t have those, so remember that. What they feel is real, regardless of your perception of it. To them, their feelings are their world; don’t deny them.
Almost 3 years have passed since my beautiful wife delivered her first child (my third). a sweet little boy. In that short time he has grown into the happiest little guy I’ve ever seen. He is affectionate, sensitive, very bright, observant, strangely obedient, and of course he has more energy than the sun!
Thinking about how he is developing so well really strikes me and I find myself in awe, daily. Clearly it is not my doing! There are certain circumstances required for a child to reach his potential, such as being guided through life by someone who shows him love, affection and kindness all day, every day. He needs someone to give him firm boundaries, to read to him (in two languages, no less), to explore his world with him, to teach him manners and right from wrong. Someone who places more importance on his well-being than their own personal interests. Someone with the patience to hold him while he cries for hours on end, for seemingly no reason.
That person isn’t me, even though this is my 3rd time around the block. The only person who fits this description is Mamá. She does this without enough sleep, without any experience, and without complaint. One day isn’t enough.
¡Feliz día de las Madres!
I saw this poster on Facebook and thought it was worth sharing, but as I prepared to re-post it I thought that I’d put my spin on it, because maybe I have some OK enough ideas.
I thought this was going to be a cute video full of silly parenting mistakes. I was so wrong. This video shows some of the worst parenting moves out there. Don’t watch it at work, nor in front of kids.
1. Let fear control them.
Simple: Mature peeps don’t let fear decide for them what to do or not do. They don’t let fear stand between them and what they want. They know that success is up to them, and fear is a weak excuse.
2. Do things to please others.
Mature peeps know that making other peeps happy is a good thing to do, but they also know that it the happiness of others is not their responsibility. Mature peeps let others manage their own happiness, but they do contribute to it.
3. They idealize romance.
Love is different each time you experience it and comes in so many different packages, and mature peeps totally get that. They may have fantasized when they were younger, but not anymore. They understand that love is a process, is complicated at times, and it changes as you change.
4. They don’t trust their partners.
Mature peeps expect that their thoughts, ideas, and actions will be respected and they give that same respect to their partners. They don’t always question their partners’ decisive actions.
5. They hold grudges.
Holding a grudge is like drinking a poison and expecting the other person to get sick. Mature peeps realize that a burned bridge isn’t any use to anyone. They like to keep a door open, just in case.
6. They obsess over their appearance.
Mature peeps care how they look because they have self-respect, but they don’t let their appearance define who they are nor allow it to determine their value in the world.
7. They don’t keep family close.
It is a normal developmental stage when humans want independence from their parents so that they can prove themselves to themselves, but as we mature we come back around to the family we have. Those who don’t have family members build new families out of good friendships.
8. They let themselves get bullied.
Adult life is so full of actual consequences that bullies run the risk of losing their job or even their freedom. But that doesn’t stop negative people from being negative. Mature peeps learn to identify the negative people and eliminate them from their lives.
9. They don’t take decisive action.
Mature peeps are careful to balance their choices, but they don’t sit around waiting to make a decision. Time is too important to waste, so they are quick to make choices and act upon them.
10. They let their ego win.
Mature peeps know their strengths, but they don’t let their ego make choices for them. Ego allows us to think too highly of ourselves, which leads us down the wrong path. Part of our maturity is knowing our weaknesses and working at getting better.
This morning one of my kids pointed to one of her friends in the school yard and said, “That’s my friend ____. She says that I’m her favorite WHITE friend.” The girl that she pointed to is a young black girl. She told me that she is really nice and they’re ‘friends in good standing’ (my words, not hers as hers are very colourful and difficult to remember perfectly).
Moments later the 3 of us (both my kids & I) are having a discussion about racism because they tell me that –at their school– it is OK for non-whites to talk about racism all the time at school, and to call people by their race, whereas whites cannot say a word about race without being called a racist.
Important points: This does not mean that the bulk of the dialogue they’re involved in at school is race-based. Also, in our town whites are the minority – Canada is diverse like that.
She doesn’t like being called the “white friend” because she can clearly see that is a racial comment, but she can’t say anything about it because she is then accused of being racist. They’ve told me on numerous occasions that a few of the black kids will respond to even the most innocuous and non-race-based speech with, “that’s racist!” and “you’re just saying that because you’re racist!”
I think that there is something to be said for poor anti-racism education, because these scenarios sprang up around the same time that school brought ‘taught’ these topics.
The other kid in the car –the one who is tough as nails on the outside– asked why there even is a BLACK history month. She has no frame of reference to compare that idea to, so in her mind there is no balance. There is no any-other-history month so she can’t see why blacks get one. Does that not reinforce the importance of unbiased education?
My advice to them was this:
Don’t let anyone call you anything based on your race, tell them that you don’t like it and no one should be labelled by their race.
Once upon a time there was a very excited young girl of 13 who one night found herself sitting with her family, happily watching TV. She was also anxiously awaiting the answer to a most important question she asked of her father. A question that would determine the fate of the child’s beloved. An answer with the power to forever change the course of her life. A single one-word reply delicately held the balance between chaos and calm. She knew that her daddy would be the one to swoop in and save the day for her. He’d do anything for her and she just knew it; he was the best daddy ever (there was ample proof of this for when she was little she would frequently present him with hand-crafted awards attesting to this fact).
When her most wonderful and beloved father finally arrived he was –in her adoring eyes– riding a pink unicorn that burst into the house atop its very own magic rainbow. Father was dripping with sparkles and spraying intense beams of sunshine into the room. She sprang to her feet with a glorious leap that would render the most proficient of kangaroos acrimonious with envy. She squealed with glee at the moment of truth: father was here to grant her wish at last!
And he knew of the intense pressure that had been placed upon him before his arrival. He had known that when he was to next see his delicate little princess she would be on the verge of experiencing every single positive emotion she’d ever felt, all in a single moment; a nuclear tween blast 13 years in the making. Fathers know these things, don’t they?
First he went into the kitchen to address his hunger and thirst, as well as to give her the chance to discuss the matter. Things of this magnitude are not to be taken lightly. She followed and watched, patiently – an uncommon trait for her. He slowly prepared a tea and then un-boxed some cold pizza, offering her some of course. He knew she didn’t like pizza; he knew she didn’t want to do anything except cross the bridge to the answer she had been so patiently waiting for. The elephant in the room was crushing her, but she didn’t want to risk asking again for fear of jinxing it. Did he bring it up? No, he didn’t, and he wasn’t going to either, but she didn’t know that. She filled the uncomfortable silence by excitedly talking about how many things would be set right in her world in only a few moments, hinting desperately to him that she was on the edge of the cliff.
As he should, he had more patience than she. He calmly moved his tea and cold pizza into the living room to join the rest of his wonderful family. This family was not the typical family as it was both split and mixed at the same time. This beautiful young lady was his oldest child born to a woman with whom they did not live, but rather they shared her. Father was remarried now, to a great woman who fully captured his heart, and together they gave her a little brother – her ONLY little brother. No one ever did learn how she felt about that little brother, but it was most certainly clear by her actions that this little boy held higher status than that of her closest younger sister. For a splendid 15 seconds he held the world in his palm for he had everyone he truly loved in one room, and they were all happy. He sipped his tea and it was the perfect temperature. His cold pizza wasn’t anything special, but it served its purpose. He soaked up the minute details of the moment and inwardly wished that this was normal. Moments like this don’t come along often, they’re rare, in fact. One might say that they should be cherished. Maybe that’s true, but not for this father. He marches to a different beat.
His little princess finally broke down and asked one more time, trying to sound as upbeat as she could, “Daddy, can you put the internet on my iPhone, please?” This might sound like such a simple question to most, but for her it was a gateway to a new beginning. She had only received this magical device mere hours ago, from her mother no less. Her mommy was so cool, and so kind, and so giving! Her first iPhone 4S, in white, packed with her favorite songs and WiFi access, but no cellular. Her mother was wise enough to give her time to prove that she could handle the device before allowing her to fully experience all of the joys that the magical iPhone offers.
Even though she asked politely, he did what only came naturally to him. “I don’t think I want to do that,” he said flatly. He wanted to grant her wish, he really did. He knew that there would be consequences to saying no, but he also knew that there would be greater consequences to saying yes.
With those 8 words he managed to shatter every single one of her hopes and dreams. There would be no recovering from this one. He was supposed to save her, but he didn’t. He ripped her rainbow colored heart out and threw it on the ground where he could apply all the force his 205 pound body could direct into a size 13 foot. How could he!?
The light of the rainbow flickered just then. She grasped as the harsh reality began to sink in, “how will I talk to mommy?” The depth of his uncaring heart was finally revealed as he calmly replied, “not putting internet on that changes nothing. You can carry on as you did before you got it.” Had she not been able to reach her before now? No, of course she could. It was a poorly formed negotiation on her part, the devastation in her heart was preventing her from thinking clearly or she would have been able to come up with a much better argument.
He was a stone cold –maybe even evil– man. They were right, they who warned her of him. She hadn’t believed before and now she could not deny it.
Reality delivered one of its harshest blows. Sadness. Unbearable sadness. No, not sadness, emptiness! Her head fell parallel to the floor. She was defeated. Alone. Empty. Her dreams gone, her daddy had stolen them from her. She slowly and quietly crept out of the “living” room, silently slid up the stairs and retreated to the darkness of her bedroom where she could finally be safe. Where no one would notice her. Where she could at least hide under the blankets if that venomous warlock of a man ever tried to enter. It was the most secure location she had available to her, and it would have to do for the next 3 days until she would be able to make her escape to the land of WiFi access and the caring embrace of BFFs and anonymous Instagram likes.
Did her father chase after her or try to talk to her? Hell no! He finished his pizza and drank that tea! It was the perfect temperature and it’s only like that in a very short window of opportunity. He realized that he could have done without that pizza though, and he was regretting it before he finished it. He only took it because it was slowing him down and it gave him an opportunity to offer her a slice – it was a deliberate distraction at best. He did listen closely to her retreat though. He heard her close her window and flick off the light. He surmised that his refusal to put the internet on her precious new white iPhone 4S resulted in a complete withdrawal from society to the point where the only remaining option was sleep.
Time passes with such ease during sleep, and there were only 3 days left. Just 3 days until she could connect to the people who matter most, to the endless stream of memes, selfies and likes. Only 3 more days until she could reconnect with an endless supply of “other,” more caring people who could really understand her struggle with a father like that.
Little did she know, her father only wanted to have a short chat about how to properly make use such a device. She didn’t know that he just wanted to ensure that she would be responsible with it. She didn’t know that he just wanted to feel confident that neither of its two cameras would see things a camera should not see. She didn’t know that he just wanted to hear her explain how she would not do anything that could harm her, or anyone else. She didn’t know that he also wanted to know if she knew how to use its features like connecting to WiFi networks and how to make an emergency call. She didn’t know the most important thing: he just wanted to make sure that his little princess was going to be safe, as all daddies do.
She didn’t get that chance to spend that time with her daddy. He was too mean, he could not understand her, and now she couldn’t even stand to be in the same room as these people who claim to be her “family.”
The struggle is real.
3 more days.