How to Avoid Getting Bling‘ed by Social Media Sneaks

You may not be statuesque like Audrina Patridge, dashing like Orlando Bloom or wealthy like Paris Hilton, but a moment of carelessness could put you in one unfortunate category occupied by all three: crime victim.

Patridge, Bloom and Hilton were among the celebrities who had their homes burglarized by the so-called Bling Ring, a group of fame-obsessed Hollywood teens whose crime spree inspired a film that debuted in mid-June. In some of the break-ins, the young burglars cunningly turned their victims’ use of social media against them.

The recent premiere of The Bling Ring has sparked a number of dialogues touching on everything from the empty culture of celebrity and materialism to the alleged sense of entitlement rampant among members of “Generation TMZ.”

How far will young adults go to emulate the flashy lifestyles of the stars they admire? Are famous people grateful for any kind of attention, even if it involves a visit from police detectives?

As a parent, you probably have little interest in wading into a sociological debate. You’re more interested in practicality — namely, finding out what steps your family can take to avoid the home security threats lurking on the Internet.

Don’t overshare on social media

The Bling Ring had a key accomplice. It has many aliases, but you probably know it as the Internet.

Some of the celebrity victims made themselves easy marks by sharing their whereabouts on social media. Even Paris Hilton, obviously not the most self-aware star in the Hollywood galaxy, has acknowledged the fact that she made herself vulnerable by constantly posting about her activities. Of course, the victims’ habit of leaving their doors unlocked also had something to do with it.

By tweeting about their plans to attend the latest blockbuster premiere or uploading Instagram photos of themselves (aka “selfies”) at a trendy new club, entertainers are effectively announcing to the online world that their homes are unoccupied. When the Bling Ring saw openings like these, they very often capitalized on them.

Even if you don’t live in a Hollywood mansion, discretion on the Internet matters. Home security experts like Chris Wiley of
Security Choice advise that famous and non-famous alike to refrain from exposing potentially compromising information on social media websites. The list of no-no’s includes:

  • Making your address visible in your public profile
  • Accepting “friend requests” from people you don’t know
  • Announcing your vacations plans, especially when they’re accompanied by the dates you’ll be out of town
  • Posting photos of all the cool (and possibly expensive) holiday gifts that you and your family exchanged.

After all, members of the Bling Ring aren’t the only suspicious characters who troll the Internet looking for information they can use. Most of these crooks would be perfectly happy to target the house of an everyday person like you.

It may not be Hollywood, but it is your home

The loot stolen by the Bling Ring has become nearly as famous as the people they stole it from. Over a period of about one year, the burglars got away with more than $3 million worth of jewelry, designer clothes, luggage, a laptop and more.

Just because your life doesn’t have the same material trappings as those of a celebrity doesn’t mean that you have less to protect — quite the contrary. Anyone with a home and a family has the desire and the obligation to protect it all. The Bling Ring may have been busted, but there are plenty of less-fashionable crooks left to contend with.

MamaBear App’s Top Three Tips for Summer Safety

summer safety for kids

It’s Summertime! When most of us were kids there was no holding us back from summer fun and extra time for discovery and exploration. Even in a world that’s way more complex than ours was, every year summer still means more free time for millions of kids.

Here are our top summer safety tips for and ways MamaBear can help you be in the know and keep the family safe.

1. Water Safety

Teaching your kids how to swim is number one. Then all of the water safety precautions will follow – wear sunscreen, no wrestling in the water, know where the lifeguards or parents are, look out for each other.

2. Camping Safety

Parent chaperones are always best. Nonetheless being prepared with a first aid kit, bug spray and sunscreen are good ideas. Location devices can also be very useful when camping. Installing MamaBear on a camper’s iPhone or Android Smartphone can give kids quick access to parents in case of emergencies while offering parents and chaperones up to date location information about the kids.

3. Safe Road Trips

The freedom of summer usually means some form of travel. This can mean single day trips to local destinations for some, or longer road trips for others. MamaBear’s sound advice is to make sure your kids have a smartphone, a car charger for it and a regular charger. Smartphones are one of the best tools to help kids stay safe on the road – but NO texting and driving. Kids can use a smartphone for directions, travel tips, taking pictures and certainly checking in with mom. MamaBear can let parents monitor trip progress and driving speed, as well as offer children an easy to use option to contact parents if there is an emergency on the road.

These favorite summer activities will give our kids such wonderful experiences. We encourage loosening up the boundaries with the help of technology to ease our minds! MamaBear can help parents with summer safety for kids and provide a variety of ways to keep tabs on our children’s whereabouts and activities. Location monitoring, social media monitoring and driving speed alerts means kids can explore and parents can still work. Let us help you keep track of the kids this summer by downloading MamaBear from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Safeguarding Children: Knowledge for Parental Control and Reassurance

android and iphones for kids

Our children are growing up surrounded by technology, with smartphones, online gaming, texting, and social media available at every turn. Intended to make communication and everyday life easier, the modern technology that is now available offers fantastic opportunities, but with these opportunities come risks.

Smartphones, social networking, and the wider Internet have, especially in recent years, been associated with many dangers that we strive to protect our children from. We’re all aware of the problems associated with technology; cyber bullying, online abuse and grooming, as well as the potential risk that our children are being exposed to inappropriate content, ranging from pornography to self-harm, are incredibly daunting and can become an overwhelming battle to fight. This battle seems even harder when we are faced with the facts; 7.5 million children under 13 are using Facebook, despite the sign-up rules stating that you must be 13 or older. Add to this the fact that ½ of all children aged 8 and under regularly use devices that are capable of accessing the Internet and most of us break out in a cold sweat.

As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure our children are safe at all times, on and offline. So, how can we safeguard our children and keep their use of technology appropriate and safe?

We must first teach children the skills to stay safe online and when using smartphones to communicate, as well as encouraging not only safe, but responsible use of technology.

The following tips are a great place to start when allowing children to use any digital device:

  • Explain the importance of keeping personal details private.
  • Explain the dangers of online contacts to your children so they are aware that people may not always be who they say they are.
  • Highlight the dangers of meeting people with whom they have connected with online.
  • Talk to your child about what they should do if they become worried or concerned about anything regarding their use of technology, especially inappropriate or abusive conversations.
  • Teach children to avoid spam links or adverts.
  • Make sure your children are aware of and understand the implications of cybercrime; including illegal downloading, viruses, and Internet scams.
  • Advise children to log out of computers or accounts when they are finished, even at home, and teach them not to share passwords.
  • Ensure that children who are old enough to use social networking sites are aware of the dangers of accepting friend requests from people they don’t know.

Explaining these aspects of technology use to children at a young age will set a foundation for safer use of technology when they are old enough to begin using devices unsupervised. Whilst children are younger it is advisable that whenever they are using technology they are supervised, for example, rather than allowing children to use a computer in their bedroom place the device in a shared family room. Try to limit use of technology also, allowing set hours for doing things like surfing the net.

Making children aware of the potential dangers they face whilst using technology and taking extra precautions will provide you with peace of mind, but what extra protection is available?

With advances in technology have come welcome developments in protection from the potential risks associated with using digital devices. Parental controls give parents the extra reassurance that they need and come in a variety of forms. For example, most web browsers and operating systems have their own parental control settings that will allow us to limit access to specific types of content, set time limits on use, and monitor activity. These types of parental controls are also extended to televisions, allowing control and monitoring of what children are viewing. If the basic parental controls are not sufficient, extra software is also available for computer devices that can monitor and intervene when certain pre-set words are used, perfect if you have concerns about chat services or social networking sites.

More sophisticated forms of parental controls are available as apps that can be downloaded onto tablet devices or smartphones. Not only can parental control apps pinpoint the specific location of your child, keeping parental anxiety at bay, you can also monitor their social media use. You may feel you have done everything within your power to teach your children appropriate ways to behave when connecting with others on social networking sites, but the only way you can really be sure they are safe and behaving appropriately is through monitoring their usage.

Using a parental control app to monitor social network use will save you time, rather than checking your child’s accounts regularly you will be informed of anything deemed to be important. Apps like MamaBear will alert you when new friends are made on Facebook, or your child is tagged in a photo, post or location, as well as providing information about who posts on their wall and alerting you to the use of restricted words.

Armed with the correct knowledge we can use parental controls to feel completely reassured that our children are safe, no matter what they are doing.

About the Author:

Ryan Burch a proud member of the team at High Speed Training Ltd, one of Europe’s leading e-learning providers. We actually formed in 2007 as a specialist consultancy in food hygiene but have since grown our offering considerably and now have over 42 high quality online learning products, created in partnership with a specialist company in each relevant field.  You can view the full range of career courses here.

The article above was from a MamaBear guest blogger. The MamaBear blog is now accepting guest post from reputable bloggers on a variety of subjects. If you are interested in guest blogging for MamaBear simply contact us here.

Teenage safety tips on their first independent vacation

track your teenager

It’s hard enough when your child starts leaving the house without you – not to be filled with worry. But when your child is old enough to go on their first independent holiday, it can be difficult to avoid the temptation of frequently calling them up and checking that they’re OK.

I mean, let’s face it – there are plenty of things that could go wrong on vacation and even though it’s unlikely anything bad will happen, as a worried parent you’re much more likely to be focusing on the bad things than the good things. But stop right there.

There are things you can do, and things you can put into place before hand – that will not only put your mind at ease – but that will ensure the safety and well being your child too.

The likelihood is, for their first independent holiday your child is going to be around 16-20 years old – as this is when most children decide they’d rather explore the world with their friends than with their parents – and that’s fine. You can’t argue against this – you were probably the same at their age (even if you’re denying it all these years later!). First things first, you need to give your child acceptance and be encouraging about this big step. While it should be your job to ensure you have measures like this in place – the main outcome you want from this vacation is that they enjoy themselves and they don’t come back afraid to take such an important step again. Independence is hugely important when growing up and venturing into adulthood – and the last thing you want is to scare them away from it.

So how can you rest easy knowing they’re safe?

Here are a few teenage safety tips while traveling:

1. Book a package deal

Book your child’s holiday vacation with a package deal operator, where most things are included – such as flight transfers, hotel, breakfast and even dinner. That way you know that all those little details are being taken care of – and you know that they’re getting a good meal every day. Always book through a trusted provider too, and if you like – you could even tell the travel agent or booking agent that this is their first independent vacation and that you’d like someone to keep an eye on them. Just don’t tell you child you’ve arranged that – as it takes away the fun from their point of view!

2. Don’t let them go solo

Traveling independently for the first time is pretty nerve-wracking, and even if your child is putting on a brave face, the chances are they’re also feeling a bit apprehensive. I’d always say that for the first independant holiday, your child should be going somewhere with one or two friends – never solo. Traveling solo is daunting for even the most seasoned jetsetter, so make sure they have company. There is also safety in numbers here – as the chances are – if they get lost – at least one of them will know how to read a map, or speak the language, etc.

3. Get a money passport

Most banks now offer money passports, where you pre-load currency onto a debit card – which you can then use freely when you’re abroad without getting fined of charged fees. Not only is it hugely convenient, but you also get given 2 cards (one for safe keeping) and an online log in. So should your child run out of cash half way through the vacation – you can simply load more currency onto the card from home online 

4. Pay for Roaming Charges

If you’re really worried about keeping in touch with your children – then for your own peace of mind it may be better to allow you child to use the mobile internet on their phone while abroad. That way, they can update their Facebook status, tweet, email you photos, etc – all of which are signs they’re OK and doing well – without you hounding them on the phone every hour. Failing that, schedule a quick Skype call every couple of days, so you can at least check in with them to make sure things are alright. If you are looking for even more security then you can purchase a GPS tracker app which will allow you to check your child’s every move and location.  Some people may see this as a little too much, however the apps tracks geographical location so if anything does occur then you know exactly where your child is located.

5. Lecture them on the do’s and don’ts 

As with all children the last thing you want to do is lecture them – but this is one occasion when that’s OK, and years later they’ll appreciate it. Sit them down one night over dinner and chat through their plans, safety precautions and other things that are bothering you or might trip them up. It’s a good idea to research tourist scams in the area they’re visiting so they can brush up on them and avoid them successfully. It’s also a good idea to remind them of the basics – such as only using registered taxicabs, etc. Things like this slip your mind when you’re an excited teenager – so just take the time to remind them. This should also include the laws – like drinking and smoking. Make sure your child knows what is breaking the law in this new country.

 6. Print out important documents

This is especially important if your child is going somewhere a bit further afield. Many children choose to venture off to Australia or Thailand after their final high school assessments on a ‘gap year’ which can be a culture shock if they’ve never been anyone alone before. Because of this, make sure you’ve got paper evidence of sections of their trip, so a printed booking of the flight, the hotel, the address (with map) and even printed insurance documents and photocopies of passports. Things like this will come in handy and will stop them from either getting lost or being unprepared.

 

About the Author:

Ryan Asia Rooms

Ryan is the resident blogger at AsiaRooms. When Ryan is not working he spends his time travelling the globe, drawing on his travel experience and passion for travel to spread the good word. Ryan is also a social monkey and can be found lounging around on Twitter & Google+ and loves to interact with other travel bloggers.

The article above was from a MamaBear guest blogger. The MamaBear blog is now accepting guest post from reputable bloggers on a variety of subjects. If you are interested in guest blogging for MamaBear simply contact us here.