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Twitter’s Transparency Center Reveals Where Enforcement Stands

Many parents are pressing social media companies to clamp down on cyberbullying and misinformation and most social media sites give lots of lips service to the fact that they are doing more about it or stepping up enforcement. But what does that actually look like? Take a look at Twitter’s new Transparency Report with sections dedicated to various elements of enforcement. Over the most recent six months, Twitter has been working to enforce various elements of concern, including discussion around the #BlackLivesMatter movement, misinformation around COVID-19, and controversial, divisive political content - including commentary from the US President

TikTok On the Way Out?

Chinese-owned ByteDance has until Nov. 12 to divest its U.S. TikTok operations, per an executive order by President Donald Trump. TikTok, the personal video sharing site, is particularly popular with tweens and teens. In issuing the order, which also requires ByteDance to destroy all data on U.S. TikTok users, Trump said, "There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance ... might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States." The question for parents, of course, is what app will teens and tweens put their energy into if TikTok goes away.

Social Media Fuels Change in History Lessons

High-school students across the country are signing petitions and addressing school boards and leaders to demand changes to how Black history is taught, and increase diversity in reading lists with more books written by people of color. Social media has helped fuel the student activism, with protests spread across the US. Schools are expecting social media is going to continue to be a conduit of students protest and activism as the elections approach.

Misinformation Complicating the Fight Against COVID 19

Public health officials and health care professionals say their advice is being undermined and their jobs are complicated by rampant misinformation on social media about the novel coronavirus. A study estimates that at least 800 people worldwide died in the first quarter of this year after following advice on social media to drink highly concentrated alcohol to kill the virus, and physicians say patients are demanding unproven treatments and accusing them of lying. Keep talking to your kids about misinformation online and how to vet and evaluate sources.

Almost Half of Teens’ Romantic Relationships End in Online Harassment

Sadly, 48% of US teens who have been in a romantic relationship say they have been stalked or experienced harassment after the relationship ended. The rise of social media seems to play a huge role in this alarming stat because it presents so many more communication channels for harassment and/or virtual stalking. Lessons for parents? Pay attention to what’s going on, and be there to guide tweens and teens if there are signs that a relationship is becoming unhealthy.

Kids and the Pandemic: Digital Device Use Continues to Rise

Kidsay, a market research firm specializing in brand engagement for kids, tweens and teens, has a new report entitled Devices and Digital Engagement: The Impact of COVID-19 (So Far) on Device Use of Kids, Tweens and Teens that you can access for free if you sign up. Some takeaways include that smartphone use (and ownership) is on the rise, especially in the 5-to-7-year-old demographic and that 74% of tweens and teens say that they are using their favorite devices more often during COVID that they were pre-COVID. Predictions for the future in the report include: eSports will continue to grow its youth base, animation will become even more prominent in kid-centered content (since it does not require filming on location the way live action does), and TikTok and Instagram will continue to rise since they deliver the connection and content kids seek. Kidsay also says that in the near term, kids will continue to have an unprecedented amount of free time, causing increased parental concern for the amount of time they spend on their devices.

Keeping Tabs on TikTok

With talk about whether TikTok is going to be sold or banned, it is important to remember what the debate is all about – privacy. Read this quick update on the status of the complaints against TikTok (written for teachers but relevant to parents) because with kids online more this upcoming school year, it is important to know what privacy concerns on this popular app are at stake.

FBI Warns of Sites that Sell But Don’t Deliver

With even more purchasing being done online, the FBI is warning online shoppers to be on the alert for fraudulent e-commerce websites that offer what appear to be great deals but never deliver the merchandise. The sites are typically accessed through social media or search engine shopping pages, and have privately registered domains with URLs ending in .top or .club. Take a look at the FBI posting to for tips on how not to get scammed and ideas on what to do if you have an issue with one of these sites.

Ready for a Pandemic Gaming Party?

Party Place is a new feature on Roblox being beta tested that allows kids to create private, mini-social networks exclusively with friends to chat, hang out, and plan which games to play. The venue itself doesn’t offer any activities or games, but rather serves as a private place for Roblox users to gather — for example, for a virtual birthday party, a remote learning activity with classmates, for virtual playdates, or anything else. From Party Place, the group can chat and hang out as they decide which Roblox game they plan to play next.

For today’s younger players, platforms like Fortnite and Roblox are becoming their own version of a social network. The kids don’t just go online to play. They socialize, chat and hang out with a mix of real-life friends and virtual ones, blurring the lines between online and offline in ways that traditional social networks, like Facebook, do not. Of course this also opens up another avenue for cyberbullying, so as with all forms of social media be sure to monitor for the symptoms that your child may be a target.

“Our Kids are Walking Around with Slot Machines in their Pockets”

Former Democratic presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang wants to see technology and media companies accept more responsibility for their impact on children, even if we don’t yet have research showing exactly what that impact is. Yang, in particular, calls for the government to drastically fund more research and step in, if needed, to incentivize tech companies to educate children, rather than entertain them and  collect ad dollars. (The children’s digital advertising market is expected to be worth $1.7 billion by 2021, according to a report from PwC.)

“Right now, the interests of parents are directly at odds with the interests of the technology companies,” writes Yang in “Our Kids are Walking Around with Slot Machines in their Pockets.” “They’re monetizing our attention and profiting off of our time. As they say, the addictive nature of smartphones is a feature, not a bug. We parents are outgunned and at a total loss.”