Teens Use Webcomics to Reach Their Peers

Over the summer, NetSmartz staff had the pleasure of working with teens from Reach Incorporated, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to develop literacy skills by pairing teen tutors with elementary school readers.

Teens participating in their summer program toured our offices learning about child safety issues both on- and offline, and then set off to create their own webcomics to help teach important safety lessons to kids and teens.

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The NSTeens Head Back to School

It’s that time of year again! The kids are back in school and NetSmartz has you covered with three new, exciting NSTeens resources for intermediate and middle school students.

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3 Actions for Adult Leaders to Keep Kids Safer Online

A guest blog from Irene van der Zande, Kidpower International Executive Director and Founder

As parents, educators, and other adult leaders, our job is to protect children and teens from harm and to prepare them to take charge of their own well-being. Here are three actions adult leaders can take to keep kids safer while they are exploring the Internet, texting, and using social media.

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Trolls: Online and Unkind


If you’ve ever read the comment thread on a news article, blog, social media or video page, chances are you’ve run into an online troll. Trolls try to upset people by posting offensive comments and images. They may not even agree with what they’re saying. Their goal is to get a response – and they pick their victims accordingly.

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5 Things We Learned at the 2014 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit

On Friday, August 15, we attended the Federal Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C. Educators, policy makers, and researchers met to discuss bullying trends and what works in prevention programming. Here are five key takeaways from the event.

  1. Facebook takes teens’ communication styles into account when designing their reporting features. Instead of a “report” button, teens can select “I don’t want to see this” and explain why. Facebook then gives them options to resolve the issue. They call this “social resolution” and hope it opens up communication between teens.
  2. Emotional Intelligence can help prevent bullying. Dr. Marc Brackett from Yale University discussed the RULER approach and how children with a higher EI are less likely to bully because they’re more compassionate.image
  3. During the afternoon session on cyberbullying, high school grad Will Ashe spoke about how teens can positively influence the climate of social media. One suggestion – students can use social media to combat bullying by posting compliments and encourage comments, like these students in the #icanhelp campaign
  4. Bullying is greatly influenced by school climate. Several speakers talked about reforming school climate so that students are more likely to support and respect each other. Stopbullying.gov offers these tips to help educators create safer environments.
  5. Cyberbullying laws vary greatly by state. Check out your state’s bullying and cyberbullying laws on this map. You should also learn about your child’s school cyberbullying policy. If it doesn’t have one, considering working with administrators to create one.

Does sexting lead to sex?


Cell phones allow children access to the Internet and each other with limited or no parental supervision. While some independence is good for children as they mature, it can also give them more opportunities to get into trouble. Children may use their cell phones to cyberbully each other and access age-inappropriate content. And then, there’s sexting. 

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NetSmartz Attends ISTE 2014


Last week, the NetSmartz team was fortunate enough to attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in Atlanta. Each year, ISTE hosts tens of thousands of education technology professionals to share ideas and learn about new teaching tools. We were happy to show our work and discuss how to use NetSmartz in the classroom with all the teachers, tech coordinators, administrators, and media specialists who stopped by our booth.

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In-App Purchases: Play Time with Real Consequences

An anonymous guest blog told in gifs

When I was a kid, an allowance was a big deal. Whatever cash I got was carefully saved for the latest toy or confection creation. 


I’ve had a different experience with my own children. Once again technology has complicated things. 

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5 Things Parents Should Do During Internet Safety Month


June is Internet Safety Month! Kids are gearing up for summer vacation and they’ll be spending plenty of time online. This is a great opportunity to make sure you’re doing all you can to educate them about Internet safety.

Here are five things you can do this month to help protect them online.

  1. Review privacy settings and friends/followers – If your teens use sites or apps like Twitter, Snapchat, or Kik, find out who they’re talking to and who can see what they post. Remind them that nothing is ever really private online.

  2. Play games with them – The best way to learn about the games your kids are playing is to play with them. Explore the settings to see if there are safety or privacy features you can use. If they’re using voice chat to talk to other gamers, listen in to make sure it’s age-appropriate conversation.

  3. Encourage them to be upstanders, not bystanders – Cyberbullying doesn’t take a summer break. Talk to your kids about reporting cyberbullying when they see it and standing up for victims.

  4. Talk about sexting – Most teens aren’t sending or receiving sexual images, but those who do can be humiliated or get in serious trouble. Tell your teens to avoid these kinds of pictures – Don’t take them. Don’t ask for them. Don’t forward them.

  5. Learn how to report – Many sites and apps have ways to report cyberbullies and potential predators. Find out where the report features are and show your kids so they know what to do if they have a problem. You can also make a report to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at www.CyberTipline.com.

School is out soon, but we’ll be around all summer. Stick around for more online safety tips and resources. Have a safe and fun summer!