Internet Safety & Awareness

Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. The organization empowers parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.

 TECHNOLOGY HAS FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED the ways in which children engage with media, which now involve a range of devices and platforms. In a world where information flows ever faster, it may not be a surprise that the ways in which children see, read, or hear about the news also have changed. What used to be shared by print newspapers, radio, or television news is now shared on websites and across social media, in Snapchat stories, on Facebook Live broadcasts, in Twitter conversations, and through other new forms of communication. Read the full report NEWS and AMERICA’S KIDS:  How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News  


 As parents, our first priority is to keep our kids safe. And when we hear news about a teen suicide related to online bullying or a kid being murdered after meeting a stranger through a social media app such as Kik Messenger, our first instinct is often to panic. Maybe we take away our kid's phone or ban all social media -- or do neither and just feel helpless. Here are some tips for being a social media-savvy parent.

How old your kid should be before he or she starts using social media with your permission is really up to you. Most social media websites and apps require that kids be 13 to sign up. Despite what many think, this isn't to limit kids' exposure to inappropriate content but because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents companies from collecting certain information from kids under 13. Rather than create an environment that protects kids from data tracking, Facebook and other websites and apps choose to restrict access to those under 13.

This just in! Breaking news! You don't want to miss THIS!  If you get your news online or from social media, this type of headline sounds very familiar. What's real? What's fake? What's satire? Now that anyone with access to a phone or computer can publish information online, it's getting harder to tell. But as more people go to Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other online sources for their news and information, it's even more crucial that all of us -- especially kids -- learn to decode what we read online.

How can I help my kid avoid digital drama? To adults, digital drama and cyberbullying may seem one and the same. But to kids, there's a difference. Unlike cyberbullying, which involves repeated harassment of someone, digital drama is the everyday tiffs and disputes that occur among friends or acquaintances online or via text message. A guy may change his relationship status to "single" immediately after a fight with his girlfriend to make a statement. A teen may post a comment about someone else knowing that people will see it, friends may chime in, and people will talk about it. In the same way that the word drama describes a performance, kids usually engage in online drama with an audience in mind.

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Resources & Publications from Sigma Threat Management Associates