Back to School Safety for Students Online

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August 14, 2017

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ app reviews at

This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

We sat down with Andrew Selepak, professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media. Derek Peterson, who is a technology expert and founder of Digital Fly, software which helps schools with bullying, cyber-bullying, suicide, self-harm, violence and other potential dangers. Brian Greenberg, a cyber-security and business technology expert at Akrete. Holly Zink, who is a Digital Marketing Project Manager and Tech Blog Administrator at Safeguarde and Maryanna Agelinas who is a Mom, Entrepreneur, & Social Media Management expert at Pharos Social to talk about digital back to school safety tips.

Listen to this episode on our podcast

Once something is online, it is there forever. How does that work on Facebook and what can we do to make sure that doesn't happen?

The big thing to understand is that when it comes to posting things to Facebook, Facebook has everything attached to a URL. Every picture you upload, every video you upload has a unique URL that can be shared that goes beyond your privacy settings. It was interesting I had a student who said, "Well, I have pictures on Facebook but they are private. They are only mine, only I can see them." I said, "Well it still has a URL and if somebody gets to that URL then they can share it with everyone and you would never know." If you don’t want others to see something you did or said, don’t take photos of it or post it online. –Andrew Selepak, University of Florida

Can you give us an anti-bullying tip or how can we see bad behavior in students that might be bullying or find those that are being bullied?

You will tend to see a certain behavior with the child or the student and that is that their phone becomes their safeguard and they are worried about anyone seeing what is on their phone. A parent or a teacher should be able to pick up a child's phone at will and just browse through it. There should be no suspicious behavior, but we tend to see kids who want to cover what they are doing. That is the first red flag that there may be problems with the child’s phone. –Derek Peterson, Digital Fly

What is the one feature that we can use to protect ourselves?

Two-factor authentication is a feature that can help protect your privacy and increase your security with apps and accounts. It's simple. It simply means that you are registering your cell phone number with that account provider and then turning on two-factor authentication. Then, whenever you go to login, it will send a text message to your phone with a random number and you have to put in that number to log in. –Brian Greenberg, Akrete

What is a back to school safety tip for students who use social media?

Often people think that just having a strong password, particularly on social media accounts and bank accounts, will protect their account from hackers and criminals. It may not be enough though. You could be on Twitter for example and you may get a friend request. They may seem like someone you know, you accept, and your account could possibly be hacked. Same thing goes for posts from other pages. Make sure you know the people you interact with on social media sites and make sure you have as much protection as possible. –Holly Zink, Safeguarde

How can we create trust with kids to protect them online?

Have a conversation with your child early on. This is a whole new game with online presence, predators, and cyberbullying. They can reach our kids anywhere so grabbing them at a young age, having the conversation, and setting expectations is vital. Ask them, "What do you want from a social media platform or an online presence?" And then give them your expectations for allowing them to have a presence. Go through what the non-negotiables are. –Maryanna Agelinas, Pharos Social

What are some of the “I heard” things that you hear consistently from parents and kids? What are some common misconceptions that you hear?

One of the things that I hear kind of frequently is, "I heard that you can hide online". What I mean by that is that I have a lot of students who think that if they use their first name and middle name on Facebook, then no one will ever find them. It's not true. Don’t think that you can hide online. –Andrew Selepak, University of Florida

People think that they can create a strong password that will keep them secure online, but it's not always secure. For example, even if a parent were to monitor a kid's social media account in order to protect them, that may not actually protect the child on social media because if the kid is cyber bullied online, the parent cannot do anything to protect the child in that scenario. –Holly Zink, Safeguarde

"I heard that on Snapchat everything disappears in 15 seconds." What actually happens is kids screenshot snaps and then they can live on forever. That picture or that image can be texted and uploaded and sent all over the place. –Derek Peterson, Digital Fly

"If I have photos on my phone, I can throw them out or delete them and I won't ever have to worry about those again." That isn't necessary true though because most of those applications that take your photos synchronize all of those photos up into the cloud, so depending on how you set up your computer and your phone, you may have copies of all of your photos in iCloud, in Dropbox, in Google Photos, and a number of other services and you didn't even know. –Brian Greenberg, Akrete

"I heard that if my children allow me to friend them on all of their platforms it means that they must be pretty good" and that's not true. Fake accounts exist. Spinster accounts exist. And there are so many different languages out there that cyber bullies are using, hashtags to attack people online that parents don't know about. –Maryanna Agelinas, Pharos Social

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