“We discovered the perpetrator was using my son’s name and photo and impersonating him on Facebook,” said Taylor. “From midnight to morning, the person would post on other’s pages, saying some pretty harsh things. We first thought his account had been hacked, but it wasn’t long before we realized it was an acquaintance of his who had created a profile and acted on his behalf.”
According to Aftab.com, a cyberbully and privacy website, 85 percent of middle school aged children have been cyberbullied, but only 5 percent would tell their parents if they were cyberbullied. Perhaps most shocking is that 70 percent of cyberbullying comes from friends or acquaintances.
“As cyberbullying continues to grow, it becomes more difficult for children to avoid it,” said Betsy Landers, president, National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). “Our children can’t leave the classroom or playground to shut out cyberbullying; with technology, it follows them everywhere.”
This was the first of Taylor’s four children that used social networking sites, so the landscape was totally new. And, she didn’t know what action to take to monitor her children, or how to react to any problems on the networks.
“When I was in middle school, the bullying stopped once you left school,” said Taylor. “Back then we could rumor-monger, but the whole idea of someone copying a photo, creating a new profile, acting as somehow else – it’s just totally new to me. In fact, it was very scary figuring out how to appropriately respond to my son being cyberbullied.”
“Parents are digital immigrants when it comes to sites like Facebook and Twitter, so it’s not obvious what risks social media networks can present,” explained Matt Cullina, CEO of IDentity Theft 911. “We strongly advocate that before parents permit their child to sign-up for a social networking site, they educate themselves on the dangers, and provide some ground rules before establishing an account – like permission to monitor accounts and activities.”
SocialScout, a parental intelligence tool for parents to monitor their child’s social networking habits, is a key product offering by IDentity Theft 911, the nation’s premier consultative provider of identity and data risk management resolution and education services. Currently offered to PTA members through a partnership with the National PTA, SocialScout offers a quick and easy way to analyze a child’s social networking and mobile phone activity while safeguarding their privacy and reputation on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
"My kids say I'm not a helicopter mom. I'm more of a B-52 bomber mom. But even so, I didn't notice there was a problem right away,” said Taylor. “A monitoring tool like SocialScout could have helped address my son’s cyberbullying issue before it got out of hand.”
As a leader in social networking monitoring, SocialScout has crafted a resource for parents to guide them through steps to take to address cyberbullying when their child is the victim – or the perpetrator. The graphic is designed to provide a comprehensive look at why and how children are cyberbullied, and it details important statistics about common parent fears for social media. The SocialScout Cyberbully Response Plan is available for download at http://tinyurl.com/CBResponsePlan.
“Monitoring your child on a social network is no different than ensuring they are getting to school safely or ensuring they have healthy meals – it’s modern form of parental involvement,” said Landers. “Parents who are monitoring their children’s activities are not crossing the line into invasion of privacy; they are cyber-savvy and involved, not to mention potentially avoiding a tragedy down the road.”
SocialScout gives parents an easy-to-read report about with whom the child is communicating, and what they and their contacts are posting and sharing either online or through their mobile phone. It tracks some of the most popular networks, including Facebook and Twitter, and is easily accessible through any smartphone. This bird’s-eye view into your child’s digital world includes details about their contacts and the content of their text messages and online posts and messages. Activity Reports can be sent by email in real-time, or on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Additionally, SocialScout uses GPS-tracking to conveniently locate your child, ensuring parents know their whereabouts with the push of a button.
SocialScout is available to national and local insurance carriers, financial institutions and employers, offering peace of mind to parents wisely concerned about the online threats targeting their children. For more information, visit mysocialscout.net.