Dangerous Organizations Exploiting Social Media

Social life for children in this and future upcoming generations has become more problematic than it used to. Due to the interconnectivity of the Internet bringing individuals closer together on modern platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, relationships have become rapid fire and instant. While this is beneficial to society in spreading news and social awareness, there are some pitfalls that have emerged for children who have access to the Internet. Children are curious by nature and the way social media markets certain groups is by targeting and exploiting certain interests that will some people want to click on ad bait webpages. What if a child stumbles onto a web page that specially advocates their harmful message to young people? Will they know what to do?

Terrorist organization cells like ISIS have took notice to current trends in our society and have made a great interest in getting the web presence across through platforms like Twitter and Facebook. ISIS uses sleek and eye-catching designs specifically to have the modern youth identify and associate with their group. This is done through a well disguised marketing campaign employed by ISIS that includes videos highly stylized with recruitment techniques that make the viewer believe that by joining ISIS a sense of community with a sense of purpose can be achieved if you join them. According to an article by The Atlantic, there is even an app for the savvy tech user that can be downloaded and is promoted by top ISIS supporters.

Due to the easily accessible way harmful organizations are targeting the youth, how can the modern parent prevent their child from getting involved with this groups?

Track your child’s online presence:

Surely it can be an arduous task in tracking where your child goes on social media, but My Social Sitter can quickly help remedy the cautious parent.



Dangerous Organizations Exploiting Social Media

One Step Forward, Two Quick Steps Back

Online connectivity comes with many pros. Communication through long distances are practically instantaneous, allowing friends and family to stay in touch with each other through social media. But with every new advancement in technology we make, a part of our modern culture gets adversely effected in ways that we can’t predict until it happens.

Teens growing up now have the advantage of talking to theirs friends anytime they want through video calls, texts, and sites like Facebook, but that prompt connection could be used in ways that are harmful to the growing teenager. Gossip, whether true or false, can be posted online at a moments notice. Instead of just a few people learning of a particular rumor, anyone with Internet access who doesn’t personally know the involved parties can see the rumor and spread it for others too see. If it is a particular rumor that catches people’s attention, it can go viral and be seen by millions. Of course this is a worst case scenario, so I’ll go into describe a more common instance of misuse of social media.

Hypothetically let’s say a female teenager misses a week of school because she received a vicious case of a viral infection. A rival takes advantage of her absence and spreads a rumor that she is pregnant on social media. People comment and speculate, but the rumor has been spread and the damage has already been dealt. All of her friends ask her if it’s true and she has to constantly refute their questions.

The speed at which rumors are spread doubly apply to how fast someone can get emotionally scarred online. We need to educate teens on basic online ethics to make the social media environment safer to socialize in.

One Step Forward, Two Quick Steps Back

Bridging Your Children’s Communications Gap in a Digital Era By Jane Genova


In 1995, psychologist Daniel Goleman stunned parents. He told them their children’s success in work and in life depended more on their Emotional Intelligence (EI) than their Cognitive IQ.

A major part of EI is communications know-how. The immediate challenge for your children is this: Their reliance on digital devices can limit their ability to listen, have a face-to-face conversation, and read non-verbal cues. Here are three tips how you can help them bridge that gap.

Know You Are Setting the Example. From the time we exit the womb, we learn how to navigate the world by imitation. That means that your children are internalizing how to interact by observing you. Therefore, no matter what you might be feeling at the time or how tired you are, the burden is on you to set the example. That’s the model they will follow in formal situations, ranging from school to applying for their first job.

Make Listening Fun. Part of the epidemic of short attention spans is the lost art of listening. Many parents complain children are too consumed in their little worlds to even hear, “It’s dinner time” or “The school bus is here.” One way to break through this compulsion is to make listening a game. Material for this ranges from commercial films to simply overhearing conversations. Have contests about identifying the messaging, who’s getting it and who’s missing it. Your children can post on social networks or blogs their ah-ha moments. They can also publish an e-book. Explain how this could lead to fame.

Unleash the Dramatic. It’s by acting out all the wrong facial gestures and body language that your children will get down cold what not to do. Organize neighborhood mini theatrical productions featuring these lessons. Post the photos and videos on social networks. Who knows, maybe a talent scout will spot your children’s talent.

In the process of passing on superior communications skills to children, you are bound to raise the bar for your own. Do not be surprised if good things start happening. Those could be a promotion in work or being elected to head a parents’ organization.

Jane Genova (http://janegenova.com)

Bridging Your Children’s Communications Gap in a Digital Era By Jane Genova

Do You Know About TBH – (To Be Honest) Rates? by Melissa Anthony

TBH & Rates have been around for a while. So, for those of you, not new to the social media craziness, “no, I didn’t just find out about this, I just thought we should let others into our inner circle of knowledge.” That being said, and solidifying my, “in the know” status, let’s get on with explaining.

TBH, is the acronym for, To Be Honest rates, means you rate someone’s picture, from 1-10. Since this generation is all about meeting new people through people they know on social media, this is a normal practice.

Regular comments on a selfie tagged, TBH & Rates are; “TBH you are so cute, I think we should hang out 10” and “TBH I don’t know you but you look like such a fun person, hmu 8”. Do you see how this works? Of course, there can be negative comments as well.

The biggest problem I have with with TBH & Rates (I have a long list, but importantly), this is just another form of that focus. Girls worry about how many likes they get on a pic or how many views and now rates? Body shaming and messaging this way is rampant on Twitter.

Social media makes it even worse because they cannot escape it. We can tell them that TBH & RATES don’t matter though. We can reinforce beauty everyday and remind them that, daily, they grow a little more, and not to give other people the power to decide whether they are beautiful or not. Learning that goes a long way, from self esteem, to relationships. It’s always nice to receive a compliment and it’s great to give them as well. TBH & Rates is not the way to achieve it though.

My Social Sitter is a way for parents to know if their child is sending TBH messaging that is just not “honest” but mean and considered bullying.

Do You Know About TBH – (To Be Honest) Rates? by Melissa Anthony

My thoughts about Cyber-Bullying by Lexie Zorbas

Social media has become such a central part of everyday life. It is used by business professionals, celebrities, athletes, news reporters, students, parents, teachers, and anyone who has access to these channels. It is what enables us to catch up with an old friend or read about a breaking news story halfway around the world. Sounds great, right? Well, not entirely.

While it’s true that the development of these networks has led to technological advances and innovation, it has also sparked an entirely new phenomenon that generations before us had never seen. And no, I’m not referring to Apple’s new iWatch. It is something so ugly and so abhorrent that it has claimed the lives of countless victims around the world.

Cyberbullying has become the newest fad, and sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram give bullies a way to prey on innocent victims at their leisure. Won’t they get in trouble, you might ask. This also makes it easier for bullies to carry out their ruthless tactics, and for others to join in.

Another factor that poses a problem is the victim’s willingness to report the bullying. In a 2014 survey, more than half of the participants said they never confided in their parents when cyber-bullying happens to them (http://nobullying.com/cyber-bullying-statistics-2014/ ).

Young people especially, are embarrassed by the things that are said about them, and don’t feel comfortable talking to adults about this issue. This is why as parents, it’s important to look out for warning signs of bullying in your kids. In a world where technology is a fundamental aspect of life, it’s easy to forget the negative consequences that can come from it. The fact that cyber-bullying has become so prominent over the last decade is problematic. It has been linked to low self-esteem, depression, and other psychological issues.

While awareness for cyber-bullying has increased, the matter is still far too prevalent. It’s not something that can be eliminated overnight, but with the help of companies like My Social Sitter, we can work together to take down the bullies, identify and educate communication that is discovered to be harmful.

My thoughts about Cyber-Bullying by Lexie Zorbas

Three questions with a Federal Law enforcement official

We sat down with a Federal Law Enforcement Official and got his perspective about http://www.mysocialsitter.com:
*His identity must not be revealed due to the nature of his special agent status

Q1. After learning about our subscription software, what do you think about this tool?

I believe it is a great tool that parents, schools and individuals can use to monitor their behavior online, and even more so as an anti-bullying tool. What I think is very valuable is the real-time prevention. Kids are learning programs from our outreach program to not just be a by-standard if bullying occurs. Those situations happen in person, but this tool helps with cyber-bullying that goes undetected until times become too late. Nowadays, kids cannot go through education without being or knowing about bullying.

Q2. How do you see parent’s involved in this type of software?

Kids use social media as an expression of bullying and with this tool, it allows parents to see what is happening because a lot of times, parents don’t know the signs of bullying or how to check on a daily-basis what is happening in social media. It is an education tool to encourage positive communication and that is what I like most about it.

This tool will help parents be better parents. There are so many mental health issues that go undetected, but using this program would help instantly. We’ve seen kids internalize a lot and reaching their lowest point without any assistance. There is a culture to not tell people what’s going on. Everyone wants to show they are strong, but any resource that can help parents, administrators identify both sides can help.

Q3. After knowing the school and cyber-bullying environment, what do you think http://www.mysocialsitter.com can help this national issue?

Even though my identity cannot be revealed in this interview, due to the nature of my under-cover and special agent position, I urge parents to get the MySocialSitter software to get peace of mind. As as a law enforcement official, I would strongly encourage parents to get this software and be pro-active in their child’s safety.

Three questions with a Federal Law enforcement official

The Relationship Between Cyber-Bullying & Self-Esteem by Dr. Melanie Hetzel-Riggin

Cyber-bullying, or the mistreatment of others through digital means, can cause significant damage. While cyber-bullying can negatively affect a person in a number of different ways, I want to focus on the relationship between cyber-bullying and self-esteem. Self-esteem is a person’s belief that they are a worthwhile person, or the degree to which a person has a positive attitude towards him or herself. Numerous research studies have shown that cyberbullying can lead to decreased self-esteem in the target of mistreatment (Chang et al., 2013; Nixon, 2014; Wigderson & Lynch, 2013). Cyber-victimization by known peers can augment or replace traditional, face-to-face mistreatment, which has consistently shown to lead to lowered self-esteem and self-image. Additionally, cybervictimization by anonymous perpetrators can be just as damaging. The anonymity of the internet can allow perpetrators to be crueler and more relentless in their mistreatment. In addition, if a target is called names or threatened by people he or she does not even know, that can further support perceptions that the target is a damaged, worthless person—the interpretation by the target is often, “there is something wrong with me”—especially in adolescents who already may have a more fragile sense of self. What is even more troubling is that factors that seem to protect victims from traditional, face-to-face bullying (life satisfaction, social support from peers and family) are not as effective in buffering the effects of cyberbullying on a target’s self-esteem (Ubertini, 2011). As a result, targets may experience an increase in depression, anxiety, and suicidality because of the related decreased self-esteem.

Those who perpetrate cyberbullying also often have poor self-esteem. Empirical research has linked low self-esteem to increased risk of more frequent and more severe peer victimization (Nixon, 2015; Patchin & Hinduja, 2010). Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja (2011) suggested that cyberbullying perpetration often occurs because of increased strain on the individual—when someone has increased negative emotions due to threats to one’s self-esteem, he or she is at an increased risk of engaging in cyberperpetration. Recent research on cyberbullying behavior within a video-game milieu showed that males who were less proficient at a game were more likely to be hostile and engage in bullying behavior than males who were skilled at the game (Kasumovic & Kuznekoff, 2015). It is likely that the less proficient players also had lower self-esteem, and the cyberbullying behavior was their attempt to cope with that low self-esteem by trying to increase their sense of power over others.

Given that low self-esteem is associated with both cyberbullying victimization and perpetration, it is important to implement intervention programs that address self-esteem. Teaching youth ways to improve their self-esteem by changing their cognitive appraisals of situations, improving emotion regulation skills, and engaging in activities that provide success and mastery can increase self-esteem—and therefore reduce cyberbullying. Increased skills in empathy and perspective taking, often taught through mentoring and other community connections, can also improve self-esteem as well as interpersonal and emotional expression skills. Educators and parents should also be on the lookout for changes in self-esteem in youth as a potential red flag for both cyberbullying victimization and perpetration.

Melanie D. Hetzel-Riggin, Ph.D.
PSU Associate Professor of Psychology


Chang, F. C., Lee, C. M., Chiu, C. H., Hsi, W. Y., Huang, T. F., & Pan, Y. C. (2013). Relationships among cyberbullying, school bullying, and mental health in Taiwanese adolescents. Journal of school health, 83(6), 454-462.

Kasumovic, M. M., & Kuznekoff, J. H. (2015). Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour. PloS one, 10(7), e0131613.

Nixon, C. L. (2014). Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health. Adolescent health, medicine and therapeutics, 5, 143-158.

Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2010). Cyberbullying and self‐esteem. Journal of School Health, 80(12), 614-621.

Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2011). Traditional and nontraditional bullying among youth: A test of general strain theory. Youth & Society, 43(2), 727-751. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0044118X10366951


Ubertini, M. (2011). Cyberbullying may reduce adolescent’s well-being: Can life satisfaction and social support protect them?(Order No. AAI3431797). Available from PsycINFO. (882110639; 2011-99120-196)

Wigderson, S., & Lynch, M. (2013). Cyber-and traditional peer victimization: Unique relationships with adolescent well-being. Psychology of Violence, 3(4), 297-309.

The Relationship Between Cyber-Bullying & Self-Esteem by Dr. Melanie Hetzel-Riggin