Happy New Year! 2017 was a year of growth for us, and we want to thank all of you who were part of that! We spoke at 15 conferences or parent workshops last year, including several events out of state. We were featured in television news, newspapers, and appeared on several podcasts and blogs with our allies. We are so thankful for every open door to talk about protecting kids online.
In the spirit of reflection, here’s a look back at the stories parents in our online community cared about most in 2017.
This tragic story shows how dangerous social media can be for preteens. Tysen committed suicide in March after a group of students started a rumor about a girl some say was his girlfriend, saying that she committed suicide. It was just a social media prank, but Tysen hung himself that very day.
“As technology develops, the number of children contacted by predators on social media increases,” New Jersey State Police Lt. John Pizzuro said. “Most predators that are going to exploit children are going to reach out through the mediums that they’re already in.” Some apps topping this list won’t surprise you (Kik and Snapchat), but others might. Read more.
This story happens all the time across our country (ask any cyber crime cop) but since a parent was present when the predator actually sent the first messages, it’s made global headlines. Whenever parents ask us if we think Music.ly is safe for their preteens, we just send them a link to this story. (Also, read this article for more in-depth info about the dangers of Music.ly).
Our favorite quote from this article: “A tween’s underdeveloped frontal cortex can’t manage the distraction nor the temptations that come with social media use. While you start teaching responsible use of tech now, know that you will not be able to teach the maturity that social media requires.” ‘Nuff said.
When troubled Danielle Bregoli appeared on Dr. Phil as a 12-year-old, it was clear she didn’t have very many goals in life. But shooting to “Instafame” doesn’t take much, just the right combination of of trainwreck and sexuality. Nancy Jo Sales, the author of this article writes, “The answer becomes clear in a YouTube video posted in February which has gotten over three million views. It shows Bregoli lying on a bed, wearing just a bra and sweatpants, slapping her behind and suggestively panting: ‘Ass so fat, how bow dah?’ Then she’s twerking, then placing a bottle in between her breasts.”
Most parents have no idea what Snapchat offers, other than disappearing messages and filters with puppy dog faces for photos. This article plainly posts actual content Snapchat and their advertisers pushed through the “discover” section of the app (two swipes right from the main screen and you’re there!) Parents just aren’t tracking with the *yuk* kids are bombarded with. (And MILLIONS of kids under 11 are on this platform).
This blog post resonated with parents across the globe, because ALL of our kids love YouTube. It’s already unsafe enough, but in their recent update, they removed the password-protected lock for “Restricted Mode.” There are a couple of workarounds available, so make sure you’re in the know!
Just a couple of weeks before the #MeToo movement broke, Hugh Heffner died. We really wonder how the world would have reported on his death if it had happened after the media actually started caring about sexual harassment and exploitation. The irony of these two events happening so close together can not be missed. This article explains why Heffner is no hero.
The world is starting to (slowly) wake up to the fact that perhaps we’ve been too quick to put the entire Internet-enabled world into our kids hands. With movements like Wait Until 8th swelling in their first 9 months of existence, it’s become clear that parents everywhere are concerned about the mental health implications of social media and smartphone addiction. With so many kids depressed, suicidal, and addicted to pornography, how can we not open our eyes and our mouths to advocate for them?
In October, Nashville’s Fox 17 did an in-depth multi-part series on the issue of kids and pornography, including an interview with Parents Who Fight. We actually have so many incredible people working in the anti-pornography sector in this city, including areas of legal prevention (National Decency Coalition), healing (Samson Society), and education (like us). When we started this fight, we felt completely alone… but one of the greatest parts of this journey has been to discover how many people all around us share our passion to protect kids.
As we approach the year ahead, we can’t wait to see all that’s in store. Thank you for joining us in the journey!