As usual, there have been a lot of digital safety updates in the news that are important for parents to know (so they can keep their family safe online). It can be difficult to find all of the important security and safety information you need to know as a parent. So to continue our mission of helping parents protect their families online and on social media, we created this bi-weekly newsletter to bring you up to speed on all of the things happening in digital safety.
In this Parent University member newsletter we talk about which social media networks are the worst offenders when it comes to showing children mature content, a shocking new study that revealed suicide-related hospital visits have nearly tripled for adolescents, how Snapchat made it even easier for students to share their location in real-time, the new Instagram updates parents need to know, and more.
We spend countless hours each week researching (and summarizing) the latest digital safety tips parents and educators need to know, join Parent University to get access to our best research and resources.
Table of Contents
Watch this episode as a video:
Facebook, Snapchat & Instagram App Updates worth Noting This Week
Snapchat just made it easier for kids to share their location
Utilizing the “Snap Map” feature, users will now be able to send and request location data with their friends. To access the feature, users long press on their friend’s name and can select to share or request location information. A map with the user’s current location will appear in the users’ private chat conversation. The feature only appears for mutual friends and users have the ability to disable any location sharing requests. Location sharing data will last for 8 hours after the user opened the app, unless the user cancels sharing before then.
New Instagram updates parents need to know
Instagram announced a new feature that allows users to share an Instagram post on their story. Users can share their own posts — or posts from any public accounts they follow — by adding it as a sticker in their story. Stories that share an Instagram post will include the original poster’s username and a link back to the original post. Instagram hopes this new feature will help users promote brands and accounts. Read our Instagram Parent App Guide to learn how you can keep your children safe on the app.
While Instagram users already have the capability of muting another user on Instagram stories, they will now have the ability to do the same in their regular feed. This new feature is designed to give users more control over the content that they see. If your student has an Instagram account, read our Instagram Tutorial for Students to learn how they can set up their account to boost their online resume and impress college admissions officers.
Source: The Verge
Do you know about the adult content students are watching on Snapchat?
Parents might not be aware that there are several companies creating content specifically for Snapchat that can be inappropriate for students. While some of the content can be educational, most of it can have a negative impact on students. Learning how to navigate Snapchat and what kids have access to is the best way to keep your children safe. Join Parent University to get access to our Snapchat Parent Tutorials.
2 Stories We Heard about the Negative Effects of Social Media
New study reveals social media is linked to teen drinking problems
A new study finds that teens who engage, view, or “like” alcohol related content on social media tend to have issues with alcohol. Teens who engage with content related to alcohol on social media have more negative drinking incidents then teens who don’t. Consider using this study as a means to start a healthy dialog with your teens about social media safety and alcohol use.
Source: The NY Post
Student suspended over social media post
A post on social media resulted in a Minnesota student being suspended from school and deputies opening an investigation. After becoming aware of the post, the school spoke with the student’s parents and suspended the student. However, the student continued to post inappropriate content on social media after being suspended, which resulted in an investigation. Deputies went to the home of the student and spoke with the student and their parents. The investigation concluded that the social media posts from the student were inappropriate but did not pose any imminent threats to anyone or the school.
Source: International Falls Journal
An Example of How Your Student Can Be Positive on Social Media
A bullied student used social media to empower others
Overcoming being bullied is never easy, but a student in Tennessee was able to turn a horrible bullying incident into a positive message that they share on social media. Compounding offline bullying with cyberbullying can be incredibly difficult for teens and tweens to endure. For this student, the offline bullying incident was shared on Snapchat. In an effort to change the bullying narrative, the teen uses social media to share her story with other student who may be struggling.
Source: ABC Nashville
Safety Threats You Need to Know This Week
Suicide-related hospital visits for teens and tweens have almost tripled
Were’ seeing an uptick in discussion around students, suicide, and shootings. A new study in the journal ‘Pediatrics’ found that kids being admitted or seeking help in the emergency department or hospital for suicidal ideation or attempts have dramatically increased. While the increase of suicide-related hospital visits have increased in every age group, adolescents have seen the biggest change in the past decade. According to the New York Times, in 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that middle school students were as likely to die from suicide as from traffic accidents. These statistics are shocking but some mental health experts warn that suicide contagion can be spread among teens through content like “13 Reasons Why”, the Netflix series.
Make sure parents, teachers, and students are aware of suicide risk warning signs. Always take warning signs seriously, and never promise to keep them secret.
Here’s some resources you should consider researching this week:
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433
- Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Lifeline Crisis Chat
- National Association of School Psychologists
- SmartSocial.com “13 Reasons Why” Guide for Parents
Source: The New York Times
Thousands of parents’ passwords were leaked by phone monitoring app
Popular parental monitoring app Teensafe has leaked thousands of accounts with both parent and student data. Teensafe is designed for parents to monitor multiple children and access all sent, received, and deleted texts or iMessages. The company left it’s servers unprotected and accessible to anyone without a password. Some of the data leaked includes: parent’s email address, their child’s Apple ID email address, their child’s device name (usually just their name), their child’s device unique identifier, and their Apple ID passwords in plain text. When asked about solving the issue, Teensafe said they “will provide additional information” as it becomes available.
Major internet service provider leaks customer data
According to ZDNet, a bug in Comcast’s website used to activate Xfinity routers can return sensitive information on the company’s customers. When setting up their home internet or cable service, users have to use a website from Comcast. The website can be hacked into revealing the home address, wifi name, and password where the router is located. Even if the password is updated, hacking the site can reveal the new password. When asked about the data breach, a Comcast spokesperson said, “within hours of learning of this issue, we shut it down. We are conducting a thorough investigation and will take all necessary steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
The Top Social Media App Stories for Parents This Week
This major social network has added new features to battle internet trolls
Twitter has announced new features which could help fight abusive content posted by internet trolls. An internet troll is a person who uses social media and technology to upset and bully others. The new feature will use behavioral signals to identify harassers on Twitter and then limit the visibility of their tweets. Even if the content of their tweet itself isn’t offensive, users who are consistently trolling others will see a decrease in the visibility of all of their tweets. If your student has an account, please read our Twitter Safety Guide for Parents.
These social media apps are the worst offenders when it comes to exposing students to sex, violence, and suicide
A recent survey from NSPCC shows that Facebook and YouTube are the worst offenders when it comes to exposing students to sex, violence, and suicide. The survey gathered reviews from over 4,000 parents and students. The survey lists the “riskiest sites” when it comes to mature content. Below is a list of social media networks with high or medium risk, according to the survey:
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Kik Messenger
- Yellow / Yubo
Source: Business Insider