Archive for the ‘Cyber Safety’ Category

The Great Influencer in the Anti-Bullying Space

January 12, 2020


The anti-bullying maestro does it again!

Mike Feuerstein, the award-winning filmmaker who travels from school to school armed with his extensive knowledge about empowering children and using the craft of film for the greater good, has struck gold again.

Mike works with classes of non-professional Primary school-aged actors on film scripts that he bases loosely on the real-life experiences of the very children he works with. This makes the final product not only thoroughly entertaining but insightful, relevant and a real game-changer in getting children to reflect on poor habits and the likely consequences of their actions.

In his latest trilogy, Mediasphere, Feuerstein’s focus is social media addiction and the tendency for the fake world of likes and influencer rankings to take over. In the first instalment, cleverly titled Pop Polarity (the other two segments will be reviewed over the next few weeks), a new girl in a school that values social media presence over the real person and the qualities that make them unique is made to decide whether she wants to play by the rules or maintain her sense of self and dignity. This oddball school, where even the Principal is far less interested in academic progress than Twitter followers, cleverly plays on society’s false priorities and allows children to observe how absurd online behaviour can be.

I have had the good fortune to collaborate with and befriend Mike over the last decade and remain a huge admirer of his work. Over the course of my career, I have encountered my fair share of anti-bullying and cyber safety programs. None has come close to Mike’s How to UnMake a Bully series for effectiveness, artistry and student engagement.

Below is the movie. I urge you to show this and all his other movies to your class.



Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.


How Vulnerable are Your Students to Online Predators?

July 20, 2015



Online predators are around and they are very good at exacting personal information. Please share this video with your students and their parents. It just might make all the difference.



Click on the link to read The Truth About Those Internet Safety Myths

Click on the link to read Shaming Students is Never the Answer

Click on the link to read The Perfect Cyber Safety Clip for Parents to Watch With Their Kids
Click on the link to read 5 Internet Safety Rules to Share With Your Kids

The Truth About Those Internet Safety Myths

March 2, 2015


A great article Caroline Knorr on


Myth: Social media turns kids into cyberbullies.

Truth: There are many reasons why a kid might cyberbully, and social media is just a convenient way to do the dirty work.

The reality is that kids who engage in this behavior typically have something else going on that compels them to act out. They might be in crisis — at home, at school or otherwise socially. They may also be bullying in person or they may have an underdeveloped sense of empathy. Awareness of a cyberbully’s circumstances — though not excusing the behavior — can help parents and educators recognize the warning signs and potentially intervene before it goes too far.

Myth: Teaching kids not to talk to strangers is the best way to keep them safe online.

Truth: Teaching kids to recognize predatory behavior will help them avoid unwelcome advances.

In today’s world, where kids as young as 8 are interacting with people online, they need to know the boundary between appropriate and inappropriate conversation. So go beyond “stranger danger” and teach them what kinds of questions are not OK. (For example, not OK: “Are you a boy or a girl?”; “Where do you live?”; “What are you wearing?”; “Do you want to have a private conversation?”). Also, teach kids to not go looking for thrills online. Risky online relationships more frequently evolve in chat rooms when teens willingly seek out or engage in sexual conversation.

Myth: Kids act worse online.

Truth: Most kids say that their peers are nice to each other online.

Newsflash: Most kids want to have fun, hang out and socialize normally online — and in fact, according to the Pew Research Internet Project, that’s what the majority is doing. Check out these comforting stats:

» 65 percent of social media-using teens say they personally have had an experience on a social-networking site that made them feel good about themselves.

» 58 percent say they felt closer to another person because of an experience on a social-networking site.

» 80 percent of teens who’ve witnessed mean and cruel behavior on a social-networking site have come to the defense of a targeted friend.

And how about the kids who’ve fought cyberbullying and used the Internet for a social cause? More and more, kids are harnessing the power of the online world — and busting up a few myths along the way.

Myth: It’s dangerous to post pictures of your kids online.

Truth: If you use privacy settings, limit your audience and don’t ID your kids, it’s pretty safe.

There are two kinds of parents: those who love posting pics of their kids and those who think it’s asking for trouble. Although it’s true that posting anything online invites some risks, there are ways to limit them if you’re smart about how you do it.

Use privacy settings. Make sure your privacy settings are set so only the closest people in your network can view your posts.

Limit your audience. Only share posts with close family and friends. Or use photo-sharing sites such as Picasa and Flickr that require a log-in to see pics.

Don’t rush your kids into social media. Obey the rules about keeping kids under 13 off social media. Once your kids have an online profile, they can be tagged in photos, which magnifies their online presence. If you’re going to upload photos of them, don’t identify them and don’t tag them — that way the photo can’t be traced back to them.

Myth: Parental controls are the best way to monitor my kids’ online activities.

Truth: Focusing on only one Internet safety method lulls you into a false sense of security.

To keep your kids safe online — and to raise them to be responsible, respectful digital citizens — it takes more than installing parental controls. For starters, parental controls can be defeated by determined kids. They also often catch too much in their filters, rendering any Internet search useless, and they set up a “parent vs. kid” dynamic that could backfire.

By all means, use parental controls to help prevent exposure to age-inappropriate material and to manage time limits. But don’t think they get you off the hook. Continue to discuss responsible, respectful online behavior, set rules and consequences for misbehavior and train your kid to manage his or her own usage.

Looking for more information and advice about keeping kids safe online? Go to

Going to the Internet

Q: What’s the right age for my child to start going online?

A: The age they begin is entirely up to you. Lots of kids start playing around online during the preschool years, but many parents wait until kids are in elementary school to get them started. Whatever you choose, these guidelines will give you and your kid a good beginning:

» Sit with little kids — at least at first — so you can explain what they see.

» Find age-appropriate sites with high learning potential.

» Put a time limit on your sessions (instill the idea of balance early).

» Avoid just-before-bed computer time. It can be stimulating and interrupt sleep.



Click on the link to read Shaming Students is Never the Answer

Click on the link to read The Perfect Cyber Safety Clip for Parents to Watch With Their Kids
Click on the link to read 5 Internet Safety Rules to Share With Your Kids

Click on the link to read Introducing the App that will Give Parents Nightmares

Shaming Students is Never the Answer

October 7, 2014



If you really cared about the welfare of your students you would never shame them, even in order to make a point. If I became aware that a student’s profile picture was inappropriate I would deal with it thoughtfully and discreetly.

Not like this:


A 15-year-old says she was humiliated by a teacher who showed an enlarged picture of her in a bikini to more than 100 other students during a school assembly.

Children at Eggbuckland Community College in Plymouth, Devon, were shown the photograph taken from her Facebook profile to illustrate the pitfalls of posting private images online.

Unknown to the schoolgirl, who has not been named, staff had taken her swimwear photo off the internet.

It was blown up and added to a portfolio of other pictures then shown during a packed school assembly.

The shock tactic at the 1327-pupil specialist arts school left the girl distraught.

Her mother, who has now made an official complaint to Ofsted, said: ‘They took the photo from her Facebook profile – she put it on there last year.

‘They used other photos of kids from the neck up but for some reason they thought it was OK to use a picture of my daughter in her bikini.

‘Why did they have to use an image like that to make their point. Then they pointed her out in the assembly. She was really upset.

The teachers should have shown the students this instead.

The Perfect Cyber Safety Clip for Parents to Watch With Their Kids

August 3, 2014


I know I have posted this film before, but with the ongoing issues of social media and child safety, I think it is more apt than ever.


Click on the link to read 5 Internet Safety Rules to Share With Your Kids

Click on the link to read Introducing the App that will Give Parents Nightmares

Click on the link to read Teachers Who Rely on Free Speech Shouldn’t be Teachers

Click on the link to read Bullying is Acceptable when it’s Directed to a Teacher

Click on the link to read Punish Bullies and Then Change Your Culture

5 Internet Safety Rules to Share With Your Kids

July 29, 2013



Courtesy of Millionaire Hoy:


1. Never give out any personal information

The internet can be a very misleading place for a child. When they think of the internet, they think of games, funny video and pictures, and having a great time; not internet predators. Internet predators leverage the happy perception children have of the internet and come off as nice people in order to pry information from unsuspecting children. Let your children know that they should never share their real name, address, school, city, parent’s information, or any clues that can lead an identity thief or pedophile to your child.

2. Downloading is off limits without supervision

Downloading is one of the most popular activities on the internet, but it can be dangerous. Make sure your children understand that while downloading wanted files, they might be downloading unwanted things as well. Virus authors, identity thieves, and online con artists know that parents are hip to most of their tricks and are now targeting free children’s gaming sites, because they can easily fool children. Let your children know that they never allowed to download files unless you are there to monitor their downloading.

3. Strangers are still strangers even if they are online

As I stated earlier, children look at the internet in a very different way than adults and children make friends very easily. It’s likely that your children know not to talk to strangers in the real world, but online adults can pose as children. It may be hard for your children to understand this and they might not even be aware why an adult would want to pose as a child. Let your children know to be suspicious when making friends online and tell them to let you know any time they make a new friend.

4. Keep your passwords private

If your child makes a friend online, they might be led to do things that they wouldn’t do, if not for the sake of friendship. A child might feel that they are betraying their child if they don’t do what’s asked and online predators will take advantage of this situation. It’s important that your child never reveal their online passwords because online scammers can compromise their accounts and gain private information associated with the account.

5. Bring any suspicious or uncomfortable information to your parents

If your child encounters something online that makes them feel uncomfortable or someone that makes them feel pressured, it’s important that they know to bring it to your attention immediately. If your child is sent pictures in poor taste, contacted by someone that’s asking uncomfortable questions, see something disturbing online, or are linked to a strange website, they need to know to stop what they are doing immediately and let you know about the situation.


Click on the link to read Introducing the App that will Give Parents Nightmares

Click on the link to read Teachers Who Rely on Free Speech Shouldn’t be Teachers

Click on the link to read Bullying is Acceptable when it’s Directed to a Teacher

Click on the link to read Punish Bullies and Then Change Your Culture

How Can Facebook Allow James Holmes Tribute Pages?

July 26, 2012

How can we trust Facebook to help us fight cyberbullying if they can’t even ban tribute pages to a murderer? How can we trust Facebook to protect our children from online predators when they can’t stop online propaganda championing a sick murderer? How can we trust Facebook when they claim to be enforcing their age restriction policy when they can’t even take a common sense approach to getting rid of James Holmes tribute pages?

I have no trust in Facebook!

While Facebook pages paying tribute to James Holmes — the alleged shooter in the attacks in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last week during the premiere showing of The Dark Knight Rises— may violate all standards of common decency, they apparently do not violate Facebook’s terms of service.

CNN reported that a “few-dozen” such pages have sprung up over the past week, including one with more than 800 likes.

The social network is caught in a no-win situation in cases such as this: If it removes the pages, it is accused of violating free-speech rights. And if it allows the pages to exist, users complain that it allows distasteful, hateful content on its network.

Facebook Spokesman Fred Wolens told CNN that the pages, “while incredibly distasteful, don’t violate our terms,” adding that “credible threats” against specific people or content with the potential to incite violence would be grounds for the deletion of pages.

The free speech argument must be used only within the confines of common sense. Facebook should be ashamed of themselves!

Click on the link to read Don’t Even Try to Huminise James Holmes

Click on the link to read Teachers Who Rely on Free Speech Shouldn’t be Teachers

Click on the link to read Facebook’s Age Restictions are a Joke

Click on the link to read Facebook and Child Exploitation

Why are so Many Teachers Child Predators?

July 8, 2012

It’s a disgrace that so many predators are registered teachers. Every day at least one pedophile teacher is uncovered.

Take this latest allegation for example:

A HIGH school teacher allegedly obtained naked and semi-naked pictures of two 14-year-old girl students at his school after posing as a teenage boy on a fake Facebook profile.

It is understood police will allege the country teacher pretended to be a schoolboy of a similar age from another regional town in a ploy to prey on the girls.

The students are believed to have sent him naked and semi-naked photos of themselves via the social networking site.

The teacher, who has been sacked and cannot be named for legal reasons, faced court this week on two counts of involving a child in child exploitation.

Until now, The Sunday Times has been prevented from publishing any details of the case.

After successfully challenging the terms of the original suppression order on the case, The Sunday Times is now permitted to reveal certain aspects of the allegations, which have prompted a warning from cyber safety experts for parents to educate their children about the importance of safety settings on Facebook for the coming school holidays, which started yesterday.

This is why I am a strong proponent of the no contact rule in schools. Whilst the vast majority of teachers are good citizens, there are still too many sick, evil predators still to be exposed.

Click here to read my post, “Why Can’t Teachers Touch Kids any More? :O’Brien”.

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