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States with the Highest Catfishing Rates – 2019

As we approach Valentine's Day, many singles will either be swiping on dating apps or pondering if they should join. Every online dater runs the risk of connecting with a fake profile, also known as catfishing. Often these fake profiles seek to build an online relationship with their victim, gaining their trust and virtual affection only to defraud them of hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is a particularly cruel crime that preys on those hoping to find a connection amongst thousands of profiles.

Thousands are catfished every year

In 2017, there were 15,372 people who reported the crime to the authorities. Those victims lost a combined total of $211.3 million. It is the 11th most popular cybercrime and the second costliest.

We wanted to know which states had the biggest problems with catfishing. We pulled numbers from the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center annual report.

total number of catfishing victims per state

State by state breakdown

The states with the most catfishing victims were:

  1. California (1,761)
  2. Texas (1,089)
  3. Florida (1,085)
  4. New York (674)
  5. Pennsylvania (511)

Since these are states with high populations we decided to figure the amounts per capita. The list drastically changes:

  1. Nevada (9.7)
  2. Alaska (8.2)
  3. New Mexico (7.3)
  4. Washington (7)
  5. Wyoming (7)
BestVPN Heat map Per Capita

Catfishing is a costly crime

Nationally, Americans lost hundreds of millions of dollars in catfishing schemes. California had the most money handed over to romance scammers. Victims lost $31.6 million. In Texas, $23.4 million was lost, followed by Florida ($13.1 million), New York ($9.9 million) and Georgia ($9.9 million).

Heat map-losses-per state

Catfishing continues to scam more victims

Despite a rise in awareness from news reports and the MTV show, Catfish, the numbers continue to rise. Romance scams saw a 5.5 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 and a 15 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. The amount of money victims are losing is on the rise too.

Women over 40 are more likely to fall victim to a romance scheme. In 2014, they accounted for 79 percent of the total losses for catfishing schemes, followed by men over 40 at 15.8 percent. The FBI reported scammers often stole profiles from American service members to lure women.  

Methodology

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center releases an annual report detailing online crimes and money lost. State by state comparisons are from the 2017 report. In this report, the FBI refers to catfishing schemes as ‘confidence/romance fraud.’ In their total numbers, the FBI includes Puerto Rico and the outlying islands, which was omitted in our state by state analysis.  Per capita was figured by taking the number of crimes reported in the state, dividing it by the population provided by the U.S. Census in July of 2017 and multiplying it by 100,000. It should be noted these numbers are only people who reported the crime to authorities. The true numbers are likely quite higher as many victims are too ashamed and embarrassed to come forward.

Digital Rights and Privacy Resources

This decade, advances in communications technology and the ubiquity of the internet have pushed the issues of digital rights and privacy from out of the realm of niche technological fields and into the forefront of daily life for everyone with a mobile phone or a social media account.

If you have ever logged onto Facebook or performed a Google search, news stories regarding the NSA PRISM surveillance program and Cambridge Analytica scandal should have you rightly concerned about governmental and corporate threats to your online privacy and data protection.

However, news about digital rights and online privacy issues comes out at a rapid clip, with policy decisions and governmental regulation ever changing in the face of evolving threats and technology.

In order to educate internet users on these related topics, and point would-be activists in the right direction, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of organizations dedicated to advocating for digital rights and policy in the United States and around the world, as well as a list of guides, apps, and other great resources allowing people to enhance their internet security and avoid falling prey to online surveillance and the actions of bad actors on the web.

All of the links are up to date, and most organizations’ websites provide easy instruction on how you can participate in their campaigns or support them financially.

Privacy Organizations

  • Access Now - A well-funded international non-profit organization with bases in over ten locations around the globe fighting for digital rights and freedom of expression through grassroots campaigns and government lobbying. Access Now holds annual conferences in which experts discuss pressing issues in the realm of digital rights.
  • Center for Democracy & Technology - A non-profit organization centered in Washington dedicated to both preserving freedom of expression on the internet while advocating technology, laws, and policy that enhance the privacy of internet users and protect them from government and corporate surveillance.
  • Center for Digital Democracy - Founded in 2001,  the CDD is one of the top privacy organizations in the United States, advocating for digital rights and protections against predatory data collection practices for all members of society.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation - Since its start back in 1990, the EFF has been on the vanguard of championing digital rights and user privacy on the internet. As the leading non-profit organization in the field, the EFF advances education and influences policymakers around the world.  
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center - A 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Washington, DC dedicated to bringing attention to emerging free expression and digital rights issues in the information age. EPIC is on the vanguard of the fight for consumer privacy on the internet.
  • Internet Governance Project - A coalition of professors, researchers and students centered at Georgia Tech that conducts scholarly research on global internet governance and brings proposals directly to government bodies.
  • Internet Rights and Principles Coalition - An open organization based at the UN Internet Governance Forum dedicated to upholding human rights standards on the internet with many opportunities for those interested to get involved.
  • The Privacy Coalition - A nonpartisan coalition of organizations from many sectors that have mutually agreed to the Privacy Pledge, a short statement inspired by the 4th amendment and devoted to protecting the essential freedom of privacy.
  • TechFreedom - TechFreedom is a non-profit think tank focused on guiding the policy discussion prompted by rapid technological change in a positive, user-friendly direction.

Civil Liberties and Consumer Advocacy Groups

  • American Civil Liberties Union - An American non-profit organization with nearly 100 years of history preserving and defending the individual rights and freedoms of U.S. citizens. Recently, digital and privacy rights have been at the forefront of their campaigns.
  • CAUCE - Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email - A volunteer-led organization originally started to advocate for anti-spam email laws that has broadened its focus to defending internet users against all forms of abuse and invasion of privacy on the web.  
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse - This San Diego, California-based non-profit has been educating and protecting the privacy of individuals while advocating for consumer protections since 1992. Opportunities for internships are posted on their website.
  • U.S. Public Interest Research Group - An independent, non-partisan consumer advocacy group working against the abuses of powerful corporations that publishes research and findings to support the public good.

International Privacy Organizations

  • Digital Rights Watch - An Australian charity organization dedicated to educating about and lobbying for the digital rights of Australians. Digital Rights Watch posts an annual report of their work on their website.
  • European Digital Rights - A coalition of civil and human rights organizations based all around Western Europe working to defend the digital rights of EU citizens and protect against unlawful web surveillance.
  • La Quadrature Du Net - A French digital rights and privacy advocacy non-profit that includes net neutrality, freedom of expression, and online privacy among its central issues. The website is available in both French and English.
  • Open Media - Based in Vancouver, Canada, but advocating for policy change around the world, OpenMedia sponsors grassroots campaigns to educate people on citizens on digital rights and fight against government and corporate surveillance and online abuses.
  • Open Rights Group - This UK-based nonprofit is funded by thousands of supporters and protects against threats to digital rights through grassroots campaigns, legal actions, and original tech projects. Open Rights Group has been active for over ten years and boasts many successful initiatives.

Digital Security Resources and Guides

  • Access Now - Digital Rights 101 - A primer on digital rights, privacy and the most omnipresent threats internet users face hosted by TechSoup Canada, an organization dedicated to enhancing the voice of Canadian nonprofits through the use of technology.
  • Centre for Investigative Journalism - Information Security - This digital handbook is a must-read for journalists around the world, with in-depth information and explanations on how to protect one’s privacy and safely store and send sensitive information without being spied upon.
  • Digital First Aid Kit - A terrific guide that's helpful for a wide variety of internet users, educating them on how to protect against common privacy threats on the internet. This guide also teaches users how to communicate securely, avoid account hijacking, and keep devices malware-free. Most importantly, it contains self-diagnostic tools that help users analyze whether they can mitigate problems on their own.
  • FreedomBox - FreedomBox is a pocket-sized private server system that empowers regular people to host their own internet services: VPNs, personal websites, file sharing, encrypted messengers, VoIP servers, a metasearch engine, and more. FreedomBox is an inexpensive piece of power-efficient hardware that runs on free software: it cuts out large platforms and empowers users to do things like share files, send encrypted messages, have voice calls, and more on self-hosted servers. 
  • LevelUp - LevelUp is a group focused on providing peer-to-peer, online and offline digital safety training and guidance to those with limited experience in the area.
  • Privacy.net - A website run by one man named Dennis (last name withheld) dedicated to educating the average internet user on how governments and corporations violate their privacy online. An excellent, informative digital rights resource.
  • SAFETAG - Auditing group that services at-risk independent media houses and nonprofits with their digital security and privacy concerns through assessing and fixing vulnerable areas in a group’s online presence.
  • Security in-a-Box - Developed and hosted by Front Line Defenders and Tactical Technology Collective, Security in-a-Box is a toolkit with advice on how to safeguard your devices from hacking and surveillance, and boost overall digital security.
  • Surveillance Self-Defense - Handy guide on protecting against corporate and government surveillance and promoting privacy written for all groups in mind: average users with little background on the topic, journalists in risky areas around the world, and savvier individuals in the tech industry.

Computer Privacy Software

  • Ad-Aware - The premier free antivirus program that protects against hackers and malware and allows you to browse the internet and check email safely. 24/7 online technical support and support for several platforms.  (Windows, iOS, Android)
  • AVG - A great antivirus solution that regularly scans your computer or phone for malware and security threats while providing security updates. Full version with better online security protection available for $79.99 a year. Please note: As various reports have noted, AVG's privacy policy allows them to collect and sell anonymized user data such as browser and search history, advertising IDs, and ISP to fund their freemium product. (Windows, iOS, Android)
  • Symantec Drive Encryption - Data encryption ensures that your sensitive information is protected and your files can’t be accessed by malevolent parties. Symantec is a leader in the industry and their encryption software is top of the line. (Windows)
  • Emsisoft - Creators of award-winning anti-malware software, Emsisoft has developed multi-layered cybersecurity software that, on a yearly basis, prevents over 20 million infections for its users. They offer industry-proven software for both home and business applications, with plans starting at $29.99 per year for the former and $59.97 for the latter. (Windows, Android)
  • File Vault 2 - The best data encryption software for the Mac user. Automatically encrypts your files and prevents access to those without the password. (Mac)
  • Eraser - A security tool for Windows that ensures that data on hard drives is completely erased by overwriting it several times. Often, data that seems to have been erased leaves its trace until it is actually overwritten by other files, but not so after one has used Eraser. The software is both free and open source. (Windows)
  • ProtonMail - An email service that puts your privacy and security first: end-to-end encryption, no tracking/information-logging of any kind, secured and encrypted (and even bunkered) data centers in Switzerland that never upload "to the cloud," and self-destructing emails that evaporate after their expiration. Prices include a free basic account with core features, a plus account with all major features for about $4.50 per month, and more elaborate business plans for organizations. (Mac, Web, iOS, Android)

Mobile Privacy Apps

  • IPGMail - A handy messaging app for iOS users offering end-to-end encryption that ensures that only those that you intend to view your messages will be able to see them. (iOS)
  • Orbot - An app available for Android apps using the Tor browser to encrypt all of your internet traffic and redirect it through a series of proxy servers, worldwide. Users claim that the software doesn’t slow connection speeds down as VPNs often do, while still providing excellent security. (Android)
  • Signal - One of the most highly regarded secure messaging apps that is available for both Android and iOS. Allows for voice, text, video, picture and document messages in both one-on-one and group conversations. Endorsed by Edward Snowden, himself. (Android, iOS)
  • Telegram - A cloud-based secure messaging app available for a wide variety of platforms compared to competitors. Boasts high delivery speeds relative to other encrypted messaging apps of its type. (Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, PC)
  • Umbrella - An open source app that serves a handbook detailing how to maintain digital security and protect against myriad online threats. Offers real-time alerts about recent security threats in your area. (Android)
  • Wickr - An extensive mobile toolkit of features that enhance digital security that is favored by professionals in a number of fields. Comes in both a free version and a premium version that costs $25 a month. (Android, iOS)

Web Browsers and Add-ons

  • Disconnect - Disconnect is a privacy tool available for a variety of browsers in free, Pro ($24.99 one-time), and Premium ($50 per year, comes with a VPN) versions that protects you by blocking tracking requests from websites. (Chrome, Firefox, Safari)
  • Flash Control - This app puts control of website flash content in the user’s hands by blocking automatically loading content, thereby increasing your browsing speeds and web sovereignty. (Chrome)
  • Ghostery -  Ghostery is a nice app that enhances web browsing privacy by anonymizing your data in addition to optimizing page performance by blocking certain website requests.(Chrome, Firefox, Safari)
  • Privacy Badger - Sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy Badger blocks requests from invisible trackers while learning through time via algorithms which websites are tracking, and which aren’t.  (Android, Chrome, Firefox)
  • Tor - The ultimate software for protecting online privacy and defending against surveillance. Tor works by channeling users’ communications through a network of volunteer-run relays ensuring that no one becomes aware of a user’s actual location.

Print Publications and Mailing Lists

  • 2600 Magazine - A quarterly digest with a charmingly retro website covering contemporary digital rights and technology issues from a hacker’s perspective.
  • Bloomberg Law Tech & Telecom - Delivers up-to-date news coverage on emerging issues and trends in telecom law from around the world.
  • EPIC Alert - The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s bi-weekly publication featuring privacy news, reviews of privacy and digital rights-related books and publications, and an extensive list of upcoming events relevant to privacy issues.

Privacy Law Services

  • Data Protection in the United States: Overview - Hosted by Thomson Reuters, this is a comprehensive guide to US laws regarding data protection. A dense read, but offers essential information for those wanting to know policy specifics.
  • Gigalaw - A law firm focused on protecting its clients from online threats, from copyright infringers to counterfeiters. The firm’s blog, run by founder Doug Isenberg, is highly regarded and recognized.

Government Websites

Academic Research Guide and Link Portal

EducationalDatabase header

There’s no feeling like the trepidation one experiences at the outset of a large research project. Where does one begin? What is the best sequence of steps to take in completing the research? Using the internet to do research poses some issues: while it may seem that having so much information at one’s fingertips should make academic research a less time-consuming endeavor, the sheer amount of stuff out there can make it hard to know which sources to fully trust.

In this guide, we’ll explain the most efficient way to conduct online research, how to assess the legitimacy of sources, how to cite them the correct way, and conclude with a broad list of resources spanning a multitude of fields. No sense in getting lost in the quest for citation-worthy academic sources, it’s all right there in front of you..

Selecting a Topic

The research topic you choose has a huge effect on the outcome of your assignment: select a topic that’s broad and well trodden and there will be little to distinguish your work from others, while if you select a topic that’s too obscure, and it will be a struggle to gather relevant research.

The correct path lies in the middle ground: the right balance of background resource availability and uniqueness.

Here’s a sequence of steps to get you on your way:

  1. Pick a field you’re intrigued by and read some background information on it. If you pick a topic you have little interest in, it will be hard to stay focused. Read an encyclopedia (or even wikipedia) entry on your topic to gather general knowledge.
  2. Based on what you’ve gathered from preliminary research, zero in on a specific focus. Reading an encyclopedia entry on your topic will allow you to sharpen your focus on a more specific aspect of the topic. If your given assignment limits you to a particular style of argument, this may be even simpler.
  3. Choose several major areas of research relevant to your topic and sort your research into these categories. Filing your research into categories based on main keywords will simplify your task.
  4. Don’t be afraid to switch gears. If you struggle to find relevant information on your chosen topic or articles that back up your argument, pivot to a different topic that is better supported by the research you are doing.

Getting the Most Out of Search Engines

First of all, for general searches, always use Google. Unless you are in China where the site is banned and you do not have a VPN subscription (in which case, you’ll have to use Bing), Google will bring you the best results.

A few tips on improving your Google searches:

  • Visit here for some shortcuts on how to refine your searches.
  • Place exact quotes or phrases within quotation marks to drastically reduce search results.
  • Enter in “All in text:” before your topic to filter out irrelevant results. (example: “all in text: victorian vampire novels”)

Of course, if you are looking for academic resources, i.e., psychological studies, mathematics papers, etc., a Google search won’t cut it. You’ll have to choose an academic search site focused on a specific field of study. Quite a few of these websites are listed below, sorted by field.

Choosing and Vetting Online Sources

Over twenty years into its existence, there’s still a bit of a “wild west” feel to much of the internet, where a lot of information presented as credible is actually inaccurate, or from dubious  sources with certain agendas.

Generally, if you stick to the databases and archives listed below, and cite from peer-reviewed sources, you’ll be okay. To be sure of the credibility of a source, Google search it to gather background information that can verify its legitimacy.

Another thing to avoid is predatory open access publishers running low quality journals that charge fees to hopeful authors without granting them the resources or clout associated with legitimate journals. Using sources from these types of publishers begets an unethical practice.

Go here to find a list of predatory journals.

Using Sources Properly

When you use information from a source in your work, even if it’s paraphrased (phrasing the information using your own words), you must cite it, or else what you are doing qualifies as plagiarism.

Best to err on the safe side: some professors are extremely strict about plagiarism, and being accused of the practice can have serious consequences, including suspension or even expulsion.. When in doubt--even if the material reads like general background information--cite your source.

Furthermore, you should be careful about reusing material from previous essays you’ve written. Self-plagiarism is a real thing, and if you repeat yourself without citing the previous work, you are guilty of it.

Run your work through this free plagiarism checker to be sure you are in the clear.

Citing Sources

When citing sources in your work, it’s important to be consistent and stick to a specific citation style throughout the work. Likely, your teacher or professor will prefer one of three main styles be utilized. These styles are the American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA) and Chicago styles. The rules for each of these styles is extensive, and citations will vary based on the type of source cited. It’s best to follow a thorough guide for each. Here’s one for each style:

Research Links

This list of research databases and other helpful sources should be a boon to any young researcher. Some sites require a subscription (which may be granted to you simply for being a student), while others are free for anyone to use.

Search Engines and Databases

  • iSEEK Education:  A great academic resource search engine with an “authoritative” setting that returns only articles vetted by universities, noncommercial providers, and government organizations.
  • Google Scholar: Google’s own scholarly material search engine that extends a vast reach across a wide ranges of databases, returning full articles or metadata as well as lists of citations and related links.
  • JournalSeek: JournalSeek claims to be the web’s largest free collection of journal information, with a collection of over 40,000 titles. The searchable categories are vast and include arts and literature, economics, and all of the branches of physical science.

Books, Libraries and Archives

  • Google Books: The search giant’s Books project has spanned over a decade, with the expressed purpose of scanning and making available every one of the estimated 130 volumes around the world. Right now, the number’s around 30 million.
  • jSTOR: A vast archive of academic journal material and the #1 go-to for university students and educators, alike. Much of the content is free, although full access to the archive costs $19.50 a month. Many students will be granted free access based on their enrollment, alone.
  • Project Gutenberg: A huge database  compiled by thousands of volunteers of over 57,000 free eBooks that have found their way into the public domain.
  • Catalog of U.S. Government Publications: The U.S. federal government’s official catalog of publications from congress and other sources. An excellent resource for firsthand sources and academic research.
  • Library of Congress: All manner of media, including books, videos, images and sound recordings are available through the Library of Congress’s website, as well as information about upcoming exhibits, and more.
  • The National Archives: A boundless source of records and data, including genealogical information, military enlistment records, and documents detailing labor strikes and work stoppages stretching back to 1800.
  • The Internet Archives: Another terrific nonprofit online catalog of all manner of media and texts from a dizzying array of sources. One of the most interesting projects is the Wayback Machine, which began in 1996 and is dedicated to documenting the history of the internet.

General Reference

  • The World Factbook: Providing detailed information and statistics on 267 “world entities” (their words), few sources can be more trusted for information gathering than the CIA.
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary: The online version of the premier U.S.-based dictionary. Beyond the comprehensive dictionary and thesaurus, there are also articles discussing the history of the usage of certain words currently trending in the zeitgeist.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: No encyclopedia is more respected than the Britannica, and now all volumes are available online. Full access will cost you, but the seven-day free trial is worth checking out.
  • References: A massive compendium of great reference links categorized in dozens of categories. Claims to be the web’s largest.
  • Thesaurus: The go-to online thesaurus. Entries include a word history as well as a list of antonyms for your viewing pleasure.
  • Literary Encyclopedia: A frequently updated, expertly maintained catalog of articles covering literature and culture, with entries on works, authors, styles, and historical context. Visitors are allowed one free article per day, while an individual subscription costs $9.95 a month, or just $18.95 for a full year.

Journalism

  • AP Archive: One of the most trusted news sources, the Associated Press’s archive of news stories and media spans back all the way to 1895, with tons of new content added daily. The organization’s partnership with other networks like ABC enriches their video library.
  • The New York Times Times Machine: The Newspaper of Record’s archive of just about every single news story they’ve ever printed in the past 150 years. An excellent research resource for discovering how historical events were covered contemporaneously.
  • Google News Archive: Google’s predictably exhaustive collection of scanned copies of hundreds of newspapers from around the world which, in some cases, date back to the early 19th century.

Health and Medicine

  • PubMed: A U.S. National Library of Medicine sponsored collection of over 28 million biomedical literature citations. In some cases, full text articles are available, while other times only the citations are available.
  • Mayo Clinic: One of the nation’s most respected hospitals also hosts a website with a ton of information about various medical conditions, their causes and symptoms, and possible treatments.
  • The British Medical Journal Archive: The premier UK medical journal’s full archive spanning back to 1840 won’t be cheap to access, at 138 pounds a year (about $180), but for medical students and researchers, it’s worth it.

Science

  • Science.gov: The official government portal that you can use to search over 60 databases and 2000+ websites for scientific research material.
  • Worldscience.org: Another great search tool for finding scientific research and development material. This site provides results in many languages owing to a partnership between organizations from countries around the world.
  • NASA: One of the best sources for the latest astronomical news and discoveries. NASA’s wonderful gallery of satellite images is unparalleled, and a major draw for visitors of the site.  
  • Science Magazine: Journals: The archive of one of the world’s leading academic journals, with access granted to subscribers. A year subscription is only $25 for students.
  • Astrophysics Data System: Run by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and paid for by a NASA grant, the ADS may look like a website from 1998, but it contains over 14 million records from publications in Physics and Astronomy.  
  • Genetics: For students of biology, the journal Genetics is a must-read, covering the major developments in a field whose knowledge base is exploding and which will have major ramifications for the century ahead.

Engineering and Technology

  • IEEE Xplore Digital Library: An online library of literature covering the fields of technology and engineering dedicated to “advancing technology for the benefit of humanity”. Subscriptions are purchased by institutions, so you may already have access, depending on which school you attend.
  • Technology in Society: An international journal dedicated to discussion on how technology shapes and affects the world around us. Submissions to the journal are more philosophical in nature than others.
  • Engineering.com: A nice site of media and resources for engineering students with games, utilities, and an archive of journals.

Social Sciences

  • Current Anthropology: One of the best anthropology journals around the world published by the University of Chicago. Subscriptions are relatively affordable and can be purchased by both individuals and institutions.
  • American Psychology Association: A necessary website for psychology students that includes an archive of back publications, up-to-date news, and general information on the practice of psychology.
  • American Sociological Review: A leading sociological journal that can be accessed through a subscription to SAGE Publications, a publisher of over 1000 journals, worldwide.

Politics and Law

  • Law Library of Congress: The Law Library of Congress website has an absurd amount of available information, include the constitutions and law codes of just about every nation in the world.
  • Congress.gov: The site where you can view all of the latest legislative action taken by Congress, as well as a schedule of upcoming meetings of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
  • Harvard Law Review: Few student-run organizations carry as much prestige as the Harvard Law Review; it’s weighty journal published monthly from November to June prints articles by experts in the field of law.
  • Find Law: A great resource for both contemporary legal news and searching for cases and decisions posted by courts around the country. Visitors can search by topic or jurisdiction.

Economics and Finance

  • Economics Search Engine: Utilizing a beta version of the Google Custom Search Engine, the ESE allows visitors to search over 23,000 economics websites for the material they’re looking for.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration: A government-sponsored site that serves as both an informational resource, and a directory of government offices and sources of funding based on one’s needs and status.
  • FRED: Hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED is a great source for finding all manner of economic data and information.

History

  • Smithsonian Institution Collections Search: If you are unable to visit the Smithsonian in person, no matter, you can still search the museum’s online record, which includes over 14 million records of museum objects and exhibits, including 3 million images, audio files, and videos.
  • Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Scholars of ancient history will love this site, which hosts primary sources from all of the major ancient civilizations, from the Mesopotamians to the Romans of Late Antiquity.
  • Digital History: Covers American History from a number of angles and spans all time periods. Hosts a huge library of primary source documents from the Revolutionary Era to the present.
  • HistoryNet: The website of the world’s largest history magazine publisher. Visitors can read (and cite) articles from all nine of the publisher’s magazines.

Mathematics

  • zbMATH: zbMATH is the top search site for finding papers published in leading mathematics journals. Visitors can also search for specific software and formulas, which you won’t find in databases of other fields.
  • CIS - Current Index to Statistics: A library of the core contents of 160 statistics journals dating back to 1975 (or before, in some cases). Since the beginning of 2017, CIS has been open to the public.

Arts

  • Yale University Library Art & Art History: A broad index of art history literature and images of artworks. Visitors must sign on through their academic institution.
  • Web Gallery of Art: Need a high res image for your art history paper? Look no further than the Web Gallery of Art, which has been up for over 20 years and contains over 46,000 reproductions. 

Kids Research and Education Links Database

kids research database

More than ever, teachers necessitate internet research as a required component of out of school assignments, even at the elementary and middle school levels. With the amount of inaccurate and out of date information on the internet, finding the right websites to use when writing papers or working out tough math homework can be a difficult proposition, particularly for young students without a lot of experience navigating the web.

Which websites should students grades 1-8 use for research?

While Wikipedia is a great site for finding out some quick information or building your general knowledge base, the overwhelming majority of teachers will not accept it as a valid source in assignments due to the unverifiable nature of the info.

How about a Google search for finding websites to use as resources for a specific topic? 

This could work sometimes, but isn’t the best approach. Again, the web is full of pages with misleading, inaccurate information and poorly written articles that come up even on the first page of Google search results.

What are the best sources for elementary students to use for research?

The best sources for elementary students to use are those connected with a major academic institution, like a well-known university, a government sponsored agency or institution, like the CDC or NASA, or a website connected to a highly regarded organization or museum. Websites sponsored by such organizations are best trusted to provide accurate and up-to-date information on a given topic.

To help out, we’ve created this database of links to trusted sources dedicated to helping kids find assistance with their homework, research their papers, or just unwind with some games after finishing their workload for the evening. There are many of collections of research links with kids in mind, but a substantial portion of them haven’t been updated in years and are full of broken links, or just plain ugly, out-of-date websites.

Not the case with our database. We’ve ensured that each and every link in this archive is valuable and satisfies its purpose, whether that be to help with statistics homework, or write a paper about trailblazing, underappreciated women in history. Additionally, we’ve included resources for parents and teachers, as well. We hope that you all get the most out of this database.  

Arts and Entertainment

Film and Theater

  • All Movie - A database of practically every film ever made, as well as the people that made them, along with reviews and recommendation lists that young fans of every genre can browse for hours.
  • Reader’s Theater Scripts and Plays - A great collection of short scripts for teachers and young lovers of the stage for grades K-3.
  • BBC Bite Size: Musical Theatre - A BBC site with a wealth of information on 20th century musical theater, including a glossary of terms and breakdowns of a number of popular musicals.

Music

  • Brain Pop: Melody and Harmony - Brain Pop’s page dedicated to teaching kids about the musical concepts of melody and harmony through a slew of entertaining videos and interactive games.
  • New York Philharmonic Kidzone - The New York Philharmonic’s kid-friendly site does a great job of introducing the seemingly uptight world of classical music to kids, with great animations and a bunch of flash activities.
  • Piano Nanny - Piano Nanny is a huge collection of online piano lessons for all skill levels, appropriate for absolute beginners to virtuosos-in-the-making.
  • Musictheory.net - Learning music theory is daunting for any budding musician, but this site makes it easy, with lots of free content, and in-depth material for premium subscribers.
  • Exploratorium: Science of Music - This fun site breaks down the how’s and why’s of music through a number of online exhibits and fun experiments. Why does singing sound so excellent in the shower? Visit this site to find out.

Visual Art

  • Tux Paint - Tux Paint is an excellent open source drawing program dedicated to teaching kids ages 3-12 the basics of drafting and shading.
  • Garden of Praise: Famous Paintings - An extensive, if old-fashioned looking, online database of some of the most highly-regarded western artworks, along with information on the artists and the process that went into the works’ creation.
  • Easy Drawing Guides - This site hosts tons of drawing tutorials, including guides on drawing your favorite animals and objects in a somewhat cartoony style.
  • Artsonia Kids Art Museum - A massive online museum of over 60 million works of art done by kids ranging from elementary to high school age.

Biography

  • Enchanted Learning: Biographies of Great African-Americans - Enchanted Learning’s compendium of biographies of storied African-Americans is a great place to start for exploring Black History.
  • Mr. Nussbaum: Presidents of the United States - Need to freshen up on your presidential facts? Look no further than this terrific website with information on every president from Washington to Obama (sorry, still no Trump update yet!).
  • The Nobel Prize Internet Archive - The Nobel Prize is awarded to worthy candidates from around the world in literature, physics, chemistry, and peace. Every winner since 1901 can be found in this interactive archive.
  • Mr Nussbaum: Biographies for Kids - A huge archive of bios sorted in several categories, including, most notably, pirates.
  • Biography.com: People - Biography.com has bios on everybody: from historical figures to contemporary popular actors and everyone in-between. A great source for school reports, no matter the subject.
  • Biography.com: Groundbreaking Women - One of the best subsections on the Biography.com website, the Groundbreaking Women portal sheds light on oft-overlooked trailblazers in science, the arts, and political activism.
  • Notable Female Scientists - As this site proves, women have made their mark in the sciences over the years. This site includes brief biographies of some of the most notable female contributors.

Fun Stuff

  • PBS Kids - A fun site with a ton of games starring popular characters from PBS kids shows. You shouldn’t expect any less from PBS.
  • Fun Brain - Fun Brain hosts enough online games, books, and science activities to keep kids from grade 1 all the way to grade 8 entertained for hours and its flash design is really marvelous.
  • NIH: Kids Environment Kids Health - The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences hosts this site dedicated to teaching kids about serious subjects like pollution and recycling in a fun fashion.

Hobbies

  • Stamp Collecting World - There’s gotta be more than a few stamp collecting kids still out there, and this is the site for them, with a listing of stamps from all over the world spanning centuries.
  • Beckett - Long the leading authority on sports card collecting, Beckett has a website that should keep any avid baseball card collecting kid enthralled for hours.
  • Sports Reference - If kids love sports, they probably love to read stats. This portal of statistics of every popular professional sport in America has just about every stat that you could imagine.

Crafts

Animal Care

  • SPCA Kids: Animal Care - Kids must learn that caring for a pet is a huge responsibility. This site teaches children how to care for just about any type of animal, including hedgehogs.
  • American Kennel Club - For dog-loving children, the American Kennel Club includes information on a ton of breeds, as well as expert advice on how to care for your dog.
  • Breeds of Livestock - Some kids just love horses, while a select few are lucky enough to be able to ride them regularly. For this type of kid, Oklahoma State provides info on an exhaustive list of horse breeds.
  • Animal Planet: Pets - A very fun, kid-oriented site with fun facts on various pets, advice on how to care for them, and some games, as well.

Health

  • Kids Health - A great resource of health information for both parents and kids. Answers health questions that you may be afraid to ask parents or teachers.
  • Go Ask Alice! - This site provides health advice tailored towards older kids middle school and up and may not be appropriate for elementary school children.
  • CDC: Bam! Body and Mind - The CDC’s kids portal really knocks it out of the park when it comes to teaching children about important subjects like nutrition, fitness, and illnesses.

Nutrition

  • Dole: Superkids - A fun site with a ton of healthy recipes that kids can make, featuring--you guessed it--Dole fruit and other products.
  • Mayo Clinic: Children’s Health - Kid’s nutrition advice from one of the top health clinics in the country.

Fitness

  • Active Kids: Fitness for Kids - A great resource listing activities that will keep kids fit and active, as well as listings of local organizations that they can join up with, where ever they live.
  • Super Healthy Kids: Kid Fitness - Gobs of fun activity lists categorized by themes, age groups, and seasons of the year.
  • Healthychildren.org: Fitness - One more terrific kids fitness resource, providing instruction on basic exercises, to more complicated and exciting games.

History

  • BBC: History for Kids - The BBC’s excellent kid-oriented history site covers all regions and time periods with a focus on the British Isles and should be a great resource for homework assignments.
  • National Women’s History Museum - The interactive exhibits alone make this a great site to visit for kids interested in women’s history.
  • History for Kids - A wonderful history resource for kids with very specific subjects, including articles on the daily life of Ancient Romans and Ancient Chinese architecture.
  • Kidspast.com - Another archive of history articles for kids. This site’s draw is its excellent illustrations that put it a notch above more dull-looking sites.
  • Ancient Civilizations for Kids and Teachers - Ancient history is a never ending source of fascination for all age groups, and this site caters to both kids and teachers with articles and lecture powerpoints.
  • NeoK12: Ancient Egypt - Ancient Egypt is one of the most interesting, inscrutable ancient civilizations, and this site directed towards older kids does it justice.

American History

  • Civil War Websites for Kids - Wonderfully designed with a variety of great resources, the American Battlefield Trust’s Civil War history website is one of the best around.
  • American History for Kids - Broken down into various time periods, this site is an excellent site for children boning up on American history.
  • American History for Children Video Series - While many kids history videos on Youtube are amateurish, this series is wonderfully entertaining and educational.

Religion

  • URI Kids: World Religions - Religion is a topic that can be difficult for a kid to parse, but this site goes a long way in explaining the beliefs of the major world religions in a child-friendly way.
  • Study.com: Religion Lesson for Kids - A great little lesson on religion that starts with the basics and works its way up.

Math and Science

  • Kids Try Science - Kids Try Science is a fantastic site with experiments in just about every branch to get kids excited about STEM-related fields.
  • How Stuff Works: Science - Regularly updated with tons of fascinating articles on breaking scientific discoveries, this is a great site for grades 6-8 science-loving kids.
  • Bill Nye Official Website - Bill Nye has been getting kids interested in science for decades, and his fun, interactive website should not disappoint.

Astronomy

  • NASA: Kids Do-It-Yourself - With up-to-date space news and interactive activities, NASA’s kids website is one of the top astronomy sites around.
  • ESA Kids: Technology - The European Space Agency’s kids site. Not as fancy as the NASA site, but with a good amount of educational articles and news in its own right.

Mathematics

  • CoolMath4Kids - Math can be a bore, but CoolMath4Kids makes it a blast by teaching math concepts and offering practice through a diverse set of games.
  • Varsity Tutors: A Plus Math - Having trouble understanding a math concept? Varsity Tutors comes to the rescue with a wealth of resources, including homework help and tutorials.
  • NeoK12: Statistics for Kids - A great site designed to teach kids from all grade levels about statistics, through instructional videos starring actual children and teens.

Physics and Chemistry

  • Top Chemistry Projects for Bored Kids - A site with a bunch of fun chemistry projects for kids that won’t cause you to blow up your house or endanger your pets.
  • Real World Physics Problems for Kids - This site succeeds in presenting how physics can help us solve day-to-day problems outside of textbooks and the classroom.
  • Optics for Kids - Optics is one of the more fun and fascinating branches of physics, and this site from the Optical Society does it justice through a host of activities and resources.

Geography

  • Geography for Kids - A site using games, songs and videos to teach kids about geography.
  • Science Kids: Geography - The Science Kids geography site leaves no stone unturned, with info on every geographical feature, along with games and experiments that you can try at home.

Biology

  • Biology4Kids - Biology can be one of the most fun science topics, and this proves it through fun articles and great visuals.
  • Kids Biology - Biology games so fun that they will trick you into learning about cells, and every system of the human body.

Genetics

  • Love to Know: Genetics for Kids - Genetics is not an easy subject for kids to understand, but this great site starts with the basics and is an excellent intro into the field for young learners.
  • Genome.gov: Glossary of Terms - A fun, interactive glossary of genetics terminology  appropriate for kids grades 6 - 8.
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory - While the material on the Cold Spring Harbor Lab site may be too advanced for many kids, gifted middle schools with an interest in genetics will find a lot to love here.

Zoology

  • National Geographic Kids: Animals - Definitely one of the best zoology sites for kids, with info and high resolution images of just about any animal you could think of.
  • Dinosaurs for Kids - What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? Not many! This kids dinosaur site has a lot to offer, including worksheets, games and articles.

Reading and Literature

  • Poets.org - A terrific database of poets and poems to get kids excited about poetry. The site features a poem-a-day, biographical information about poets, and materials for teachers.
  • Seussville - Hosted by Penguin Random House, the most beloved author of children’s books gets the website he deserves, with games and activities starring Dr. Seuss’s most popular characters.
  • Spark Notes - Boasting over 500 study guides, Spark Notes can help older kids work through more difficult classic novels, while having them ask pertinent questions about the texts.
  • 50 of the Best Children’s Books of the Last 25 Years - This great list by the Huffington Post puts the focus on more contemporary children’s classics.

Classics

Nonfiction

Fact and Reference

  • 50states.com - Have a U.S. Geography quiz coming up? This site will help you memorize those capitals, along with more obscure information, like the state tree of Rhode Island.
  • Smithsonian Learning Lab - In the Smithsonian Learning Lab, you have nearly the entire collection of the country’s greatest museum at your fingertips, including literally millions of images, sound recordings and videos.
  • Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government - Who better to walk you through the ins-and-outs of the U.S. government but the most colorful founding father himself, Ben Franklin?
  • Britannica Kids - The kids version of one of the most esteemed encyclopedias in existence. Britannica Kids has over 100,000 articles, along with other features like an interactive world atlas and homework help.
  • Kiddle - Another great online kids encyclopedia. This one boasts over 700,000 articles.
  • Wiki For Kids - Wiki for Kids is a search tool that sends back results in simple English, ensuring that kids understand the articles and don’t get mowed over by complicated words and concepts.

Technology and the Internet

  • Tech Age Kids - A cool website featuring gadgets and teaching approaches designed with children in mind.
  • Kids Technology Lab - A site endorsing a program to get kids a head start on important skills for our high tech digital age. It’s never too early to teach youngsters how to code!
  • British Council: Computers and Technology - A fun site designed for younger kids with a host of activities and games dedicated to teaching about all types of tech, including computers and mobile phones.

Web Design

  • Envatotuts+: Web Design for Kids - A terrific introduction to the basics of web design for youngsters, such as HTML CSS, typography, and more.
  • HTML for Kids - A step-by-step, all-encompassing 12 chapter tutorial on how to program HTML that is a great introduction to the platform for any kid.

Parenting and Teaching Resources

Parenting Resources

  • Parents: Family Entertainment - It can be hard sifting through all of the options to find appropriate entertainment for the family. Parents’ Entertainment section does the work for you.
  • Child Help: Parenting Resources - An archive of great books and other resources dedicated to helping parents effectively deal with the myriad issues that arise during parenting.
  • New Parent - First time parents need different advice and resources than experienced parents, and that’s where this online publication excels, with advice for expecting mothers as well as parents of a newborn.
  • Children and Technology: Education and Learning at Home - More and more, parenting has has becoming about choosing which technology is appropriate for your kids to use. This site helps guide parents to make the right choices in the new era.

Lesson Planning and Teaching Resources

  • UK Department of Education: Get Into Teaching - This UK government-sponsored website provides resources and advice for those looking to step into a teaching career.
  • Cast UDL Lesson Builder - The Cast UDL Lesson Builder makes lesson planning a whole lot easier, helping teachers create lesson plans that are fun, interesting and involving.
  • Learn Boost: Lesson Plans - Learn Boost’s lesson planning software is easy to use and looks nice, too. Teachers will find it easy to implement different types of media into their lesson plans.
  • K12 Reader: Lesson Plan Template Readables - An archive of many lesson plan templates for different grade levels and personal tastes.
  • Common Curriculum - While it isn’t free, Common Curriculum is an exciting new tool teachers can use to plan all of their lessons months in advance, while easily keeping track of everything.
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Parents Guide to Online Privacy, Safety, and Security

header_online safety guide_parents

The moment you begin using technology to keep your young children busy, they get exposed to online threats. So it’s never too soon to take proactive measures to protect your children online.

As your kids grow up, they learn to navigate apps, games, online stores, social networks, dating sites, and virtual worlds. By early teens, they become Internet-savvy and self-confident and want to explore more of what the Internet has to offer. That’s when monitoring their online behavior may no longer be enough because they learn how to bypass your safeguards.

You need to teach them privacy and safety basics before they strike out for online independence.

The best way to protect your children online is to equip them with necessary skills and tools and make sure they know what to do – or where to ask for help – when you’re not there to check in on them.

This guide helps parents make sense of the online threats relevant to different age groups – from young children to teens. It also dwells on how families can:

  • Protect their kids online
  • Teach their children safe and responsible online behavior
  • Seek help or report online threats

Online Safety for Preschoolers

Risks

Children are the fastest-growing group of smartphone users

Smartphones are ubiquitous across households and children are the fastest growing group of smartphone users.

But while some suggest smartphone addiction has adverse effects on children’s mental health, others are more concerned about predators, cyberbullying, sexting, malware, identity theft, and inappropriate content.

In-game purchases

Before your child gets her first smartphone (at the age of 10, if stats don’t lie), she’ll be playing and watching videos on your phone.

It makes sense to lock in-app purchases on your devices before you discover your kids have spent a few hundred dollars on Smurf’s Village or Candy Crush.

Apple once got into hot water with parents for not providing enough safeguards against unauthorized use of IAPs by children. After Cupertino had to settle a $100M class-action lawsuit, all tech giants beefed up their safeguards and policies. Therefore, you’re the only person responsible for controlling the money your kids spend on gems, tokens, and crates.

Video games rating

Trust me on this – you can’t entirely rely on Apple and Google to vet games for kids properly at all times. Too many factors are at play here, and what’s been rated as appropriate for all ages may turn out to be a violent game, have explicit imagery, or worse.

Notorious was the Roblox incident when some parents discovered their children were abused online by predators when exploring the open world of a mobile game. Little has changed after the news went viral, and Roblox is still among the top mobile games for kids.

Likewise, games like Kick the Buddy sport 4-5-star ratings on iTunes and Google Play while parents who bothered to check it were awed by the explicit violence it glorifies.

Inappropriate content

70% of unwanted exposure to inappropriate content occurs in the home. When young kids browse the Internet unsupervised, it’s only a matter of time when they navigate to a page full of explicit material.

Camfecting

Camfecting, or webcam hacking, is the reason Mark Zuckerberg covers his laptop’s webcam with non-transparent duct tape. Unfortunately, young children are under a far greater danger of becoming the targets of webcam hackers.

The problem isn’t just in your laptop, smart TV, or a smartphone. Many smart toys and baby monitoring devices come with embedded webcams.

Monitoring devices’ primary purpose is to let you keep an eye on your baby while she sleeps. Unfortunately, developers of smart toys and baby monitoring gadgets rush to push a product onto the market ahead of the competition. Too often, they neglect security, so smart Internet-of-Things gadgets come loaded with vulnerabilities.

DDoS attacks that use IoT microwaves, smart fridges, and CCTV cameras aren’t new. But predators hacking baby monitoring devices to watch young kids make for a far more sinister reality than a DDoS attack.

One Washington family realized their baby monitor was hacked when the hacker spoke to their son through it, saying “Wake up little boy, daddy’s looking for you.” In Indiana, a mother heard “Every Breath You Take” playing through her baby monitor accompanied by “sexual noises.”

What You Can Do

  • Create a separate account with limited privileges if your child uses your device.
  • Lock or disable IAPs altogether until your kids are old enough to use them correctly.
  • Install a parental control app and limit the time they spend playing mobile or computer games and watching cartoons.
  • Set your device to Airplane mode or disable wireless connection when you don’t want your children to access the Internet unsupervised.

Don’t let kids play with devices that store your sensitive information, especially if you use that device under a BYOD policy at work. Kids can download ransomware or spyware that can expose your personal or work data.

Online Security for School-Aged Kids

Risks

Increasing use of the Internet

Sometime between elementary and middle school, most kids learn to rely on the Internet for entertainment, socialization, and help with homework or school projects.

Smartphone or tablet is no longer the only gateway to the online realm. They master other Internet-connected devices such as consoles, smart TVs, computers, and laptops – the threat landscape increases significantly.

But this is also the right time for parents to step up online privacy talks and teach their kids basic cyber security notions.

Socialization and virtual worlds

Online gaming – through consoles, PCs, and smart TVs – have long been the source of parental concerns since many games feature sexual or violent content.

But open-world games, the so-called virtual worlds, where players can freely roam the game’s realm and chat with others, often harbor predators and bullies. It’s not uncommon when kids get cyberbullied or harassed by other players.

Chats and texting

Younger kids might not be overly interested in texting. But by middle school, they get more interested in socializing with their peers.

When chat apps and social networks become a part of your kids’ lives, it’s time to have a talk about “stranger danger online.”

Unauthorized posts on social media containing your kids photos

Let’s assume you control how your children’s photos are shared among your friends and family on social networks. But once your children go to school, you have to rely on their teachers to protect their privacy online.

Sharing photos online has become so commonplace most people don’t give it a second thought, unfortunately.

What You Can Do

  • Monitor

    • Monitor what your kids are up to online and provide guidance.
    • At this age, they’re too young to seek privacy from you. Instead, kids enjoy doing everything with you. So teaching them online privacy and safety is a lot easier than when they turn rebellious a few years later.
  • Teach them about ads and spam

    • Show them how to identify ads, spam and show examples of chain messages.
    • It might be a good idea to have a separate talk about why online ads are a threat in the first place. You may not realize your kid thinks ads are messages from good guys who want to help you (to have new toys, white teeth, you get the point).
  • Introduce them to password basics

    • As they begin to do things independently, help them to set up their account with a gaming or educational website (i.e., Hot Wheels, Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters).
    • As you guide them through the signup process, explain the importance of having strong passwords and storing them in a safe, organized way. Don’t forget to teach them to use different passwords for each account.
  • Play their games

    • You want to know what they’re playing to identify the threats and explain to them before something creepy happens. It’s okay to vet all the apps and games they download at this age. Explain your judgment – don’t just ban something without reason and cause frustration.
    • Remember – communication is key and awareness is the best tool against many online dangers.
  • Bookmark favorite sites

    • Let your kids have a separate browser, where you teach them how to customize their browser privacy and security settings.
    • Also, bookmark their favorite sites and offer help to navigate to new sites. Try to limit the time they spend on the Internet unsupervised.
  • Solving the unauthorized photo sharing problem

    • Unless a photo violates the site’s Terms of Service, there’s little you can do to take down a picture of your kid someone posted online without your consent.
    • Try asking the person who posted it to remove it, crop it, or apply a filter to hide your kid’s face and remove the tag name.
    • If a teacher posted the photo, and you haven’t signed a consent form for the educator or school to do so, you can file a request for removal to your school administration.

Things You Should Know – and Teach Your Kids – about Predators

As a parent, you are your child’s first line of defense against online predators.

Unfortunately, the Internet provides pornographers and pedophiles with an unprecedented opportunity to target victims. No longer do they lurk around school playgrounds because they search for their victims while hiding behind a computer screen, a fake identity, and other anonymizing tools.

Predator profile

An online predator isn’t someone you’d normally view as such. It’s a well-adapted, functional and maybe even successful individual who:

  • Blends well into society
  • Is law-abiding, pays his taxes
  • Has a good job and reputation
  • Engages in charity and volunteer projects often involving children
  • Appears trustworthy

Online predators often introduce themselves to their targets as teens of the opposite gender – someone who the victim would be interested in talking to. They emulate the teen writing style and vocabulary, and have easily accessible images of teens to use as their profile photo.

What’s grooming

Grooming is the process in which a predator gains a child’s trust. It may begin with a child’s favorite sports team, but predators often build it around the teen’s yearning for romance or sexual information.

A predator is an excellent listener; he sympathizes with the child’s problems and supports her choices. At the same time, he exploits a child’s natural sexual curiosities, and gradually introduces the topic into their conversations (via text or pornography).

A predator is generous in sending gifts, money, and attention. But the crucial point of grooming is driving a wedge between the victim and his or her parents (either through promises of an exciting experience or threats and blackmail).

Warning signs

The following red flags in your child’s behavior may signal the presence of an online predator:

  • Becomes secretive, withdrawn, and obsessive about being online
  • Turns off computer or quickly changes screens when a parent enters the room
  • Begins consuming pornography
  • Receives phone calls and/or packages from someone parents don’t know

Talk, explain, but don’t over-react

Did you know that:

  • American children begin viewing hardcore pornography online at an average age of 11.
  • 1 in 7 kids gets a sexual solicitation online.
  • In 82% of online sex crimes against minors, the criminal used the victim’s social media profile to gain information about the target.
  • 14% of 13-15 year-olds accept an invitation to meet an online stranger in-person.

It’s imperative that parents befriend their kids on social networks and keep an eye open on their activities. When a child’s online behavior gets risky (posting sensitive information, chatting with and befriending strangers), it’s high time to have another stranger danger conversation, but this time – the explicit version.

Avoid over-reacting when spotting something suspicious. Instead, ask if their new online friend has:

  • Asked for personal information and pictures
  • Talked and encouraged conversations about sex
  • Sent explicit photos or videos, or links to explicit content online
  • Offered gifts, favors or money

If you suspect your teen might be a predator’s target:

  • Collect evidence
  • Make screenshots
  • Involve law enforcement

Online Privacy for Teens

Reasoning with kids may get tough during puberty. Hormonal changes coupled with a yearning for more freedom, independence, experiences, and privacy may make it difficult for parents to monitor and protect their kids online.

At the same time, teens become increasingly dependent on peer approval and pressure to share. They may engage in risky or regretful behavior to gain popularity.

Cyberbullying

As social networks take center stage in teens lives, enter cyberbullying and trolling. Some engage in cyberbullying, while others become their victims. It’s not uncommon when teens engaging in online harassment become victims themselves.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying occurs across all major social networks and takes many forms:

  • Spreading rumors
  • Defamation, slander
  • Threats via texts, social networks, or email
  • Impersonating the victim and posting embarrassing information under their name
  • Sharing explicit photos without the victim’s consent
  • Posting degrading, humiliating information about the victim
  • Excluding the victim from online activities

Having your most private information posted online for the world to laugh is devastating to an adult, let alone a kid. The consequences can be far-reaching – from health problems to hampered employment opportunities at a later point.

Trolling

Trolling, or making deliberately offensive, degrading, provocative comments is somewhat different from cyberbullying. Whereas cyberbullying is persistent, trolling can be a one-off and aims to incite an emotional response from the victim and disrupt a conversation.

What You Can Do

Researchers state fewer than half of children bullied online share their struggle with their parents. Some are concerned about their parents’ efforts to stop bullying will only make it worse.

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to treat cyberbullying as a serious threat. Again, befriend your kids on social networks and keep tabs open on their timeline and peer comments:

  • Collect details, take screenshots, copy URLs
  • Report cyberbullying to the social network involved
  • Block or unfriend the offender not just on the social network but also block their phone
  • Talk to your kids and see if they show signs of significant emotional distress
  • Seek professional help, if needed

Social Networking Risks

Oversharing and identity theft

The pressure to overshare may urge teens to disclose private information online. There are multiple problems with oversharing on social networks:

  • Peers may use that information to harass the victim or humiliate them publicly.
  • Hackers use social engineering for identity theft (mining personal information from the victim’s social profiles).
  • Burglars may use information about your vacation plans to break in when you’re away.
  • Predators use that information for grooming.
  • The teen loses control of where their pictures and videos are posted, discussed, and shared.

What You Can Do

Teach your kids about safe social media behavior:

  • Explain that everything they say online is backed up on the social network’s servers and other people can take screenshots of it. So being polite online is just as important as good manners in the offline realm.
  • Explain the things they should never post online – full name, phone number, address, SSN, school, or their mother’s maiden name. Vacation plans and details about their home alarm system fall under this category, especially when sharing pictures.
  • Teach them how to disable location services.
  • Help them beef up the privacy and security settings of their social networking accounts, make their accounts private.
  • Help them set up alerts when someone tags them online.
  • Reiterate the importance of verifying the identities of their online friends.
  • Stay involved, be friends on social networks.
  • Help your child report and block offenders.

Software

Vet new apps

Teens are tech-savvy and independent enough to customize their devices and experience without adult supervision. But many apps and games are expensive or too difficult to beat.

Enter cheats, hacks, and doctored software. More often than not, sites distributing pirated software and games also distribute malware, spyware, ransomware, and other badware.

P2P has taken piracy to a new level, but the problem is it’s hard to persuade avid torrenters to stop downloading pirated movies and games.

From installing malware to exposing themselves to offensive content, kids also can get their whole family in trouble with copyright trolls and Internet Service Providers.

Possible solutions include:

  • Teach them to install games and apps only from the official online stores
  • Encourage them to play without installing cheats
  • Limit the time they spend online when inappropriate content takes center stage
  • Show them how to use antivirus, antimalware, anti-keylogging apps, and VPNs

Must-have apps that protect kids’ privacy and security

  • Antivirus, antimalware, and anti-keylogging apps are a good start.
  • Add in a reliable VPN and a firewall that’s easy to customize and block/allow apps from accessing the Internet in the background.
  • Don’t forget to install ad-blockers for all browsers and to disable location services, where possible.
  • Together, go through your kids’ social networks to tweak privacy settings.
  • Introduce your kids to encryption and encryption-based software – secure chatting, emails, and vaults for storing photos.

Parental Control and Monitoring Tips, Apps, and Services

Don’t know it? Learn it

As a parent, you need to understand what your kids are doing online, what games they like and why, and what challenges they face. There’s no way you can do this by simply talking about their online privacy.

You need to participate in their online lives – play their games, try their apps, visit their websites and share experiences. While you do, read the services’ ToS and Privacy Policies.

This way, you know what they’re up to online but also remain in their closest circle of trusted adults.

Monitor your credit reports and bank accounts

As your kids get used to shopping online, it gets hard to resist the urge to invest in a solid identity theft protection service. Otherwise, you need to monitor your credit reports and bank statements religiously.

The selection of anti-identity theft apps and services is ample. The benefits include timely notifications about suspicious charges and a faster way to report stolen cards or hacked accounts.

Teen online dating

One of the biggest issues with teen dating services is the mismatch between how easy “hooking up” is on these platforms and teens’ failure to appreciate the safety risks and privacy consequences.

Stalking, harassment, and sexting are topped by online predators frequenting teen dating sites specifically.

Apps like Yellow, Skout, Meetme, Mylol, Hotornot, Spotafriend and Tinder (yes, teens use Tinder and Badoo, too) have multiple privacy and security issues:

  • Poor or no age verification protocols
  • Explicit content in blog articles and forums
  • Lax privacy protections
  • Extensive use of location services

Parental control and monitoring apps and services

Apps like Net Nanny, Norton Family Premier, ESET Parental Control, Kaspersky Safe Kids, Surfie, and Qustodio allow parents to:

  • Set up web filters to block inappropriate content.
  • Set Internet usage and gaming time limits.
  • Track their kids’ location.
  • Block specific apps, including social media.
  • Alert parents to offensive language and inappropriate content.
  • Monitor their kids’ social networks and contacts, among other things.

Technology, when used appropriately, provides excellent benefits. But when it comes to teaching your kids cybersecurity and privacy, face-to-face interaction is essential because you need to embed trust into your relationship. No parental monitoring app can do that for you.

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