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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

6 Tips for Better Facebook Parenting


Recently, many people chimed in about the “Laptop Shooting Dad‘s” reaction to his 15-year-old daughter’s Facebook posts. Not only is the subject of social media parenting popular, but his stunt has surpassed 30 million views on YouTube.

While it’s evident that we live in a country of extremes — parents who use guns to make a point vs. parents that find this version of parenting horrific — the bottom line is that we all struggle to find the right balance when helping our kids through their tumultuous teen years.

During a recent #theonlinemom Twitter chat, nearly 400 parents weighed in with what they believed to be fitting alternatives to shooting nine bullets through a laptop. For instance:
  • Donate the laptop to a needy school.
  • Remove her privileges, like cellphone or allowance.
  • Impose an extended grounding.
  • Ask the 15-year-old to “clean the cleaning lady’s home.”
So what to do? 

Fact #1: Parenting experts agree that a child who feels emotionally and intellectually connected to her parents is likely to make better decisions during puberty and adulthood.

Fact #2: 90% of teens with a social networking account have one on Facebook, and 7.5 million kids under 13 are using Facebook to connect and share experiences with friends and family.

Conclusion: Embrace the platform.

Here are a few useful tips to keep in mind, whether your child is just getting started or is already a Facebook power user.
  1. Jump in. If your teen is an avid user and you are not familiar with Facebook, open an account yourself and become familiar with the environment. Ask your teen to help you, to teach you the basics and the settings and to explain why she likes to use Facebook. Remind your teen you’ll be showing her how to drive a car soon — there’s a great quid pro quo!
  2. Understand the importance of the platform. Facebook is not just a teen fad; it has also become an essential business tool. Your kids will need to be extremely savvy using and navigating social networks to stay competitive in the new economy.
  3. Do not post on her wall. If she decides she’s going to friend you, refrain from any comments, offline or online. Do not comment to her friends when they pop by the house. Be respectful of the online space she has created with her friends.
  4. Learn to connect with friends and family. If your teen sees that you are genuinely using Facebook as a way to connect with others, she will be impressed and proud of your ability to embrace a new medium. And believe me, you might just enjoy it!
  5. Keep up. Facebook makes constant changes to settings, formats and even basic design, so stay involved and be aware of the changes. Embrace new apps by discussing them with your child. She will be able to relate to you on this level too.
  6. Talk about it. Talk about Facebook at dinner — it makes for a great conversation. For instance, discuss how Facebook is as big as the third largest country in the world; how different people use it; what constitutes a friend; the FarmVille and Mafia Wars mania; the company’s IPO; where it may be headed, etc.
As your child’s parent, only you can provide perspective that he or she will learn to trust over the years. Treat Facebook as a new environment you can both explore together.

[Source: Mashable By Monica Villa] Monica Vila is co-founder of TheOnlineMom.com, an organization that provides technology education to families and helps moms connect with brands they can trust.

Do you have other tips to share? Add to the conversation in the comments below.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Missing Children Project: You Can Help Make A Difference

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Law enforcement officials identified pictures as the single most important tool in the search for a missing child. Statistics prove that 1 of 6 children featured in a photo campaign is found as a direct result of the photo. The public plays a tremendously important role in the search for missing children, and photographs are the critical link between the public and law enforcement.

TSM Advertising "Missing Children Project" works with Child Quest International (CQI) to locate missing children by showing their images on commercial screens. TSM and CQI have also developed a series of radio commercials designed to educate families about preventing child abductions both on and offline.

The objective of TSM’s and CQI's missing children TV project is to locate missing children by showing their images on commercial screens throughout the United States, thus providing thousands of people with the information necessary to help Child Quest International bring missingchildren home. 

As part of this program, TSM and CQI are looking for U.S. businesses who care and who would like to help us get our message out. By creating partnerships with caring businesses, our project goal is to create a large scale platform to increase missing children awareness by allowing images to be shown on commercial screens. Thus, developing an awareness program designed to deliver those images and vital information about missing children to the general public during commercial advertising time periods. The video commercial announcements may be shown during specific television programming (i.e. CNN Headline News), on retail screens in various locations (i.e. restaurants, supermarkets and malls), in movie theaters, at sporting events and so forth.

When you partner with TSM & CQI with a radio or TV Cause Marketing campaign you get:

  • Advertising that cuts through the media clutter
  • To make a positive impact in your community 
  • To build positive public relations/branding
  • Additional marketing opportunities online
  • Improved customer relations 
  • Improved business

Please contact Tim@tsmadvertising.com to find out how you can help protect kids and reunite loved ones while helping your business at the same time.

Additonally, If you are looking for extra income and would like to be able to work a couple hours a day from home, TSM has an opportunity for you. If selected, you will be responsible for developing relationships with clients who will provide funding for Radio and TV “Child Safety” Public Service Announcements.

You can work when you want to, anywhere in the U.S. Contact tim@tsmadvertising.com for more information.  You CAN help make a difference. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Teens migrating to Twitter: Why? Because many parents are on Facebook, but they don't tweet


Now that so many parents are on Facebook, teens are defying predictions and adding Twitter to their social toolboxes, according to Connect Safely and an article at MSNBC. The newest trends indicate that teens are now using Twitter more than ever since many parents are on Facebook (as evident from the laptop shooting father). Twitter has become somewhat of a "safe haven" (if there is such a thing online) for teen privacy since many parents do not have a Twitter account.  Here is the article from MSNBC:

CHICAGO - Teens don't tweet, will never tweet — too public, too many older users. Not cool.

That's been the prediction for a while now, born of numbers showing that fewer than one in 10 teens were using Twitter early on.

But then their parents, grandparents, neighbors, parents' friends and anyone in-between started friending them on Facebook, the social networking site of choice for many — and a curious thing began to happen.

Suddenly, their space wasn't just theirs anymore. So more young people have started shifting to Twitter, almost hiding in plain sight.

"I love twitter, it's the only thing I have to myself ... cause my parents don't have one," Britteny Praznik, a 17-year-old who lives outside Milwaukee, gleefully tweeted recently.

While she still has a Facebook account, she joined Twitter last summer, after more people at her high school did the same. "It just sort of caught on," she says.

Teens tout the ease of use and the ability to send the equivalent of a text message to a circle of friends, often a smaller one than they have on crowded Facebook accounts. They can have multiple accounts and don't have to use their real names. They also can follow their favorite celebrities and, for those interested in doing so, use Twitter as a soapbox.

The growing popularity teens report fits with findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a nonprofit organization that monitors people's tech-based habits. The migration has been slow, but steady. A Pew survey last July found that 16 percent of young people, ages 12 to 17, said they used Twitter. Two years earlier, that percentage was just 8 percent.

"That doubling is definitely a significant increase," says Mary Madden, a senior research specialist at Pew. And she suspects it's even higher now.

Meanwhile, a Pew survey found that nearly one in five 18- to 29-year-olds have taken a liking to the micro-blogging service, which allows them to tweet, or post, their thoughts 140 characters at a time.
Early on, Twitter had a reputation that many didn't think fit the online habits of teens — well over half of whom were already using Facebook or other social networking services in 2006, when Twitter launched.

"The first group to colonize Twitter were people in the technology industry — consummate self-promoters," says Alice Marwick, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, who tracks young people's online habits.

For teens, self-promotion isn't usually the goal. At least until they go to college and start thinking about careers, social networking is, well, ... social.

But as Twitter has grown, so have the ways people, and communities, use it.

For one, though some don't realize it, tweets don't have to be public. A lot of teens like using locked, private accounts. And whether they lock them or not, many also use pseudonyms, so that only their friends know who they are.

"Facebook is like shouting into a crowd. Twitter is like speaking into a room" — that's what one teen said when he was participating in a focus group at Microsoft Research, Marwick says.

Other teens have told Pew researchers that they feel "social pressure," to friend people on Facebook — "for instance, friending everyone in your school or that friend of a friend you met at a football game," Pew researcher Madden says.

Twitter's more fluid and anonymous setup, teens say, gives them more freedom to avoid friends of friends of friends — not that they're saying anything particularly earth-shattering. They just don't want everyone to see it.

Praznik, for instance, tweets anything from complaints and random thoughts to angst and longing.
"i hate snow i hate winter.Moving to California as soon as i can," one recent post from the Wisconsin teen read.

"Dont add me as a friend for a day just to check up on me and then delete me again and then you wonder why im mad at you.duhhh," read another.

And one more: "I wish you were mine but you don't know wht you want. Till you figure out what you want I'm going to do my own thing."

Different teenagers use Twitter for different reasons.

Some monitor celebrities.

"Twitter is like a backstage pass to a concert," says Jason Hennessey, CEO of Everspark Interactive, a tech-based marketing agency in Atlanta. "You could send a tweet to Justin Bieber 10 minutes before the concert, and there's a chance he might tweet you back."

A few teens use it as a platform to share opinions, keeping their accounts public for all the world to see, as many adults do.

Taylor Smith, a 14-year-old in St. Louis, is one who uses Twitter to monitor the news and to get her own "small points across." Recently, that has included her dislike for strawberry Pop Tarts and her admiration for a video that features the accomplishments of young female scientists.

She started tweeting 18 months ago after her dad opened his own account. He gave her his blessing, though he watches her account closely.

"Once or twice I used bad language and he never let me hear the end of it," Smith says. Even so, she appreciates the chance to vent and to be heard and thinks it's only a matter of time before her friends realize that Twitter is the cool place to be — always an important factor with teens.

They need to "realize it's time to get in the game," Smith say, though she notes that some don't have smart phones or their own laptops — or their parents don't want them to tweet, feeling they're too young.

Pam Praznik, Britteny's mother, keeps track of her daughter's Facebook accounts. But Britteny asked that she not follow her on Twitter — and her mom is fine with that, as long as the tweets remain between friends.

"She could text her friends anyway, without me knowing," mom says.

Marwick at Microsoft thinks that's a good call.

"Parents should kind of chill and give them that space," she says.

Still, teens and parents shouldn't assume that even locked accounts are completely private, says Ananda Mitra, a professor of communication at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Online privacy, he says, is "mythical privacy."

Certainly, parents are always concerned about online predators — and experts say they should use the same common sense online as they do in the outside world when it comes to dealing with strangers and providing too much personal information.

But there are other privacy issues to consider, Mitra says.

Someone with a public Twitter account might, for instance, retweet a posting made on a friend's locked account, allowing anyone to see it. It happens all the time.

And on a deeper level, he says those who use Twitter and Facebook — publicly or privately — leave a trail of "digital DNA" that could be mined by universities or employers, law enforcement or advertisers because it is provided voluntarily.

Mitra has coined the term "narb" to describe the narrative bits people reveal about themselves online — age, gender, location and opinions, based on interactions with their friends.

So true privacy, he says, would "literally means withdrawing" from textual communication online or on phones — in essence, using this technology in very limited ways.

He realizes that's not very likely, the way things are going — but he says it is something to think about when interacting with friends, expressing opinions or even "liking" or following a corporation or public figure.

But Marwick at Microsoft still thinks private accounts pose little risk when you consider the content of the average teenager's Twitter account.

"They just want someplace they can express themselves and talk with their friends without everyone watching," she says.

Much like teens always have.


Do you have a Twitter account? Follow Us @ChildQuest on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Families of the Missing Preyed On By Tormentors


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Feb. 7, 2012 - James Koenig's 18-year-old daughter Samantha Koenig has been missing since Feb. 1 from Anchorage, Alaska. Her distraught father posted his phone numbers on missing person flyers and now he is getting phone calls with fake leads from people looking to cash in on his pain.

"People come out of the woodwork for a reward," James Koenig told ABCNews.com.

The Anchorage Police Department is investigating his daughter's disappearance and is being flooded with calls from "psychics" claiming to have information about Samantha.

"We've never had a psychic lead that turns out to be correct," Anchorage Police Lt. Dave Parker told ABCNews.com.

The targeting of Koenig, the attempts to capitalize on his suffering, the frauds that distract police, the demented late night pranks played on grieving parents are not unique.

Monica Caison, the founder and director of the North Carolina-based CUE Center for Missing Persons, has had clients get terrifying phone calls in the middle of the night with someone wailing "Mommy" and pretending to be their missing child. Caison said the mother had a "complete nervous breakdown" following the call.

Others fend off virtual attacks.

"It's a scary thing when you open up a friend request and it's your kids," Caison said. "For two seconds, your heart drops. For 10 minutes, you wonder if it's the thing you've been waiting for."  

When a person goes missing, devastated family members are thrust into the unfamiliar roles of advocate, investigator, organizer and often suspect. They represent the missing at press conferences and vigils. But away from the public eye, these families become the targets for hecklers and unimaginable cruelties.

The families are tormented by letters from psychics, fake Facebook pages, anonymous letters and mysterious phone calls, among other attacks.

"It's very hard. I went through everything. My son was missing for two years, two months and 12 days," Dwayne Baker told ABCNews.com. "Psychics called me. I even received a DVD in the mail that a guy claimed he could talk to the dead and this was Travis' voice, with no return address. I don't understand why people would want to do that."

Baker's son Travis disappeared on April 14, 2007 in Taylorsville, N.C. He was last seen driving a 1998 candy apple red Camero to a friend's house. More than two years later, his skeletal remains were found and a man was charged with his murder.

"The psychics…" Dwayne Baker, 45, said before pausing to let out a long sigh. "I hate to say how many of those called me and said they knew where Travis was. My mother and wife went to one and paid them $100."

When asked what the psychic told them, Baker said, "Where Travis is at, 'Yeah, he's deceased, by the river, under the rock.' They just have no respect for someone in that situation."

Baker said that sometimes people arrested for other crimes would tell police that they had information about his son's disappearance, in an attempt to avoid punishment.

"That's so hurtful because you may not hear something for a while and then someone gets arrested and does not want to do time and then, all of a sudden, they think they've got a lead," he said. "You never give up hope to start with, but when someone gives you false hope, it's just not right."

Perhaps most painfully, sometimes the perpetrators aren't looking for money or a get-out-of-jail-free card, they are just being cruel.

"We were definitely caught by surprise. We had no idea of the cruelty out there," Karen Bobo, the mother of missing Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo, told ABCNews.com. 

Holly Bobo's Family Tormented on Facebook 

Holly Bobo, 20, disappeared on April 13, 2011 when a man in camouflage dragged her into the woods near her home in rural Decatur County, about three hours from Nashville. Her brother Clint, 25, saw her go into the woods, but mistakenly believed the man was her boyfriend. Police have since called off her searches and have no suspects in her disappearance.

Karen Bobo said that after her daughter's disappearance, people started going on Holly's Facebook and taking photos of her in her swimsuit by the river during her summer breaks. The family later made the account private.

The Bobo family has also received "strange" and "hurtful" emails and letters.

"At the moment when you do receive a letter or something, there's an instant panic that sets in and then you get past that and you have to remember to keep focus where it should be and that's finding Holly," Bobo said. "It's extremely hard for me to comprehend what someone would gain from something like that."

The anguish takes a toll on families already coping with the disappearance.

Lisa Valentino's sister Allison Jackson Foy, 34, disappeared in 2006 and her remains were found with another woman's remains two years later. Authorities are still investigating the case and have had suspects, but no charges have been filed.

Valentino and her family experienced the torment of psychic phone calls, nasty blog posts and cruel emails and it took a toll on her family.

"It tears family apart," Valentino told ABCNews.com, speaking about how the experience affected her and her siblings. "What ended up happening for us is there became a lot of resentment. I never stopped talking to them, but we couldn't talk about the case. It was too contentious."

Even if the family knows the leads won't help, there is the temptation to follow them.

"If you're desperate and you're grieving and someone says they know something, you'll do anything to see if it's true," Valentino said.

Unfortunately, desperate families are all too familiar to Caison. "Families endure a lot behind the scenes that I don't think the general public realizes. People work off the desperation of these families," she said.

Caison guides the families through the disappearance of a loved one, involving herself in every aspect of the case, from the search itself to helping vulnerable families avoid these nasty pitfalls.

The attacks have gotten worse with the advent of the Internet and social media, according to Ernie Allen, the president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The ease with which people can remain anonymous online makes it difficult for families to defend themselves.

"In many ways, this is either simple cruelty for the sake of cruelty or it's just people doing things, mindless things, without really thinking about the fact that there are people harmed by it," Allen said. "The frequency with which this is done to these families is just an outrage."

Families of the Missing Targeted By Cruel Hucksters and Pranksters 

When asked if there are any laws that protect the families of the missing, Allen said this is a gray area because while states do have laws regarding fraud and harassing communications, they don't always apply to this type of activity.

"A lot of this is just simply not traceable and a lot of it doesn't really rise to the level of criminal activity," Allen said. "It's just cruelty and insensitivity." 

Despite the hardships and painful memories, some family members of the missing dedicate their lives to the cause. Dwayne Baker now works with the CUE Center. 

"When I go to search for someone else's loved one, I'll give 110 percent," Baker said. "When I get in the field, I'll be the one that will go anywhere [Caison] needs anytime because I'm going to find that person, if possible, because I know that my boy is looking down thinking, 'Way to go, Dad.'"

Baker uses his own experiences to help families whose lives turn to turmoil when a loved one disappears and his message for others is simple: "Have respect for the families of the missing."

[Source: ABC News By Author CHRISTINA NG / @ChristinaNg27] 

Unfortunately, families do not always have the support, resources, and best practice policies they may need when a loved one goes missing.  It is sickening that these families are being further tormented by the public they are turning to for help.  Left -behind families’ efforts are solely focused on finding a loved one, and it is despicable the lack of humanity these families have been shown in their time of need.  As a society, we need to reach out and help one another.  As missing person agencies, we need to reach out and educate the community on ways we can help locate missing loved ones and in helping these families distinguish reputable organizations from those that are not.  

Our mission is to protect children and reunite loved ones.  If you are a family searching for a missing loved one or know a family that is, please pass along the Child Quest International toll-free hotline number 1-888-818-HOPE (4673). -Keeping Hope Alive

Thursday, February 2, 2012

International Child Abduction: Mateo Hellinger Suro

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Name: Mateo Hellinger Suro
From: Los Angeles, CA
Sex: Male
Age: 6 y/o
Height: 3'8" (112 cm) - At time of disappearance
Weight: 42 lbs (18 kg) - At time of disappearance
Race: Hispanic/White
Eye Color: Hazel
Hair Color: Dark Blonde
Date of Birth: Jan 31, 2006
Date of Disappearance: Jun 09, 2010
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Circumstances of Disappearance:
Mateo was abducted by his non-custodial mother, Maria Elena Suro Azcarraga. She was given permission after her divorce from Mateo's father to travel to Mexico for two weeks and did not return at the end of the two weeks. A felony warrant was issued for her on February 14, 2011. They are believed to be in the Cancun, Mexico region and/or possibly on the island of Cozumel, Mexico.  Mateo has a scar above his left eye. He is Biracial: White and Hispanic. Mateo may go by the name Mateo Suro. The abductor, Maria Elena Suro Azcarraga, may go by the name Elena Suro Azcarraga or Elena Suro.  Picture of Maria available from links below. 


ANYONE WITH INFORMATION IS ASKED TO CONTACT:
LOS ANGELES (CA) POLICE DEPARTMENT 1-877-275-5273 or 1-818-756-4800

TSM Advertising "Missing Children Project" works with Child Quest International (CQI) to locate missing children by showing their images on commercial screens. TSM and CQI have also developed a series of radio commercials designed to drive parents to the CQI website where they’ll find valuable information about keeping their children safe from abduction. 

The objective of TSM’s and CQI's missing children TV project is to locate missing children by showing their images on commercial screens throughout the United States, thus providing thousands of people with the information necessary to help Child Quest International bring missing children home. 

Law enforcement officials identified pictures as the single most important tool in the search for a missing child. One out of six children featured in photo campaigns is found as a direct result of the photo. The public plays a tremendously important role in the search for missing children, and photographs are the critical link between the public and law enforcement.

As part of this program, TSM and CQI will create partnerships with the business community allowing missing children’s images to be shown on commercial screens. Thus, developing an awareness program designed to deliver those images and vital information about missing children to the general public during commercial advertising time periods. The video commercial announcements may be shown during specific television programming (i.e. CNN Headline News), on retail screens in various locations (i.e. restaurants, supermarkets and malls), in movie theaters, at sporting events and so forth.

Thank you to TSM Advertising for partnering with us on the "Missing Children Project" & Keeping Hope Alive for all missing children and their families!