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Kids Online Safety Pledge - by Ann M. G. Gray 10/08/2012 @ 14:43

Family Contract for Online Safety

Kids' Pledge

1. I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents’ permission.
2. I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
3. I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.
4. I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
5. I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the service provider.

I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.

7. I will not give out my Internet password to anyone (even my best friends) other than my parents.
8. I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly hurt our computer or jeopardize my family’s privacy.
9. I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.
10. I will help my parents understand how to have fun and learn things online and teach them things about the Internet, computers and other technology.

Found at on October 8, 2012

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Study Tips and Study Skills - by Ann M. G. Gray 10/08/2012 @ 14:39

Study Tips & Study Skills

Students with  better study methods and strategies score higher on their exams.

Everyone is different. Different methods work for different people; the following are only suggestions on improving upon your current studying techniques.

It is best to review the material right after class when it's still fresh in your memory.

Don't try to do all your studying the night before the test. Instead space out your studying, review class materials at least several times a week, focusing on one topic at a time.

Have all of your study material in front of you: lecture notes, course textbooks, study guides and any other relevant material.

Find a comfortable and quiet place to study with good lighting and little distractions (try avoiding your own bed; it is very tempting to just lie down and take a nap).

Start out by studying the most important information.

Learn the general concepts first, don't worry about learning the details until you have learned the main ideas.

Take notes and write down a summary of the important ideas as you read through your study material.

Take short breaks frequently. Your memory retains the information that you study at the beginning and the end better than what you study in the middle.

Space out your studying, you'll learn more by studying a little every day instead of waiting to cram at the last minute. By studying every day, the material will stay in your long-term memory but if you try to study at the last moment, the material will only reside in your short-term memory that you'll easily forget.

Make sure that you understand the material well, don't just read through the material and try to memorize everything.

If you choose to study in a group, only study with others who are serious about the test.

Test yourself or have someone test you on the material to find out what your weak and strong areas are. You can use the review questions at the end of each chapter, practice tests that the teacher may give out or other pertinent materials.

Listening to relaxing music such as classical or jazz on a low volume can relieve some of the boredom of studying.

Don't study later than the time you usually go to sleep, you may fall asleep or be tempted to go to sleep, instead try studying in the afternoon or early evening. If you are a morning person try studying in the morning.

Found at on October 8, 2012

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Safety Tips for Blogging - by Ann M. G. Gray 10/08/2012 @ 14:34

Eight safety tips for blogging

  1. Think carefully about how public your blog is. Think of a sliding scale. The more personal or identifiable the information you share, the fewer people you should share it with. If you want your blog to be public, only disclose what you want everyone on the Internet (the public) to know. Otherwise, keep your blog private.Also, periodically review who has access to your site and make changes if necessary. We all know that friends change over time-for example, you drift apart or experience a rift that breaks the friendship. How will your information be treated then?
  2. Keep identifying details to yourself and close friends.
    A good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t share the info on your blog with a strange guy on a dark street, don’t post it for the public.


    1. Don’t use your real name on your site (or anyone else’s either). Your friends already know the details and its no one else’s business. Create a nickname or screen name that doesn’t attract the wrong kind of attention or help someone find you.
    2. Don’t give information that puts you on the map. Don’t mention such details as your address, school, where you work, even the town name if it’s small.
    3. Don’t reveal any information that gives away your age such as your birth date or year of graduation.
  3. Be smart about the photos you post.
    What does the picture show about you-does it attract the wrong kind of attention or help someone find you?


    1. What’s in the background? Does the photo show your house number, a street sign, a license plate, a clear landmark?
    2. Did you caption your photos with full names or other identifying details? How does the combination of both text and photos (or videos) multiply the amount of personal information that’s displayed?
    3. What’s on your shirt? The name of your school, sports team, or club? Your name?
    4. Who’s in the picture? If it shows friends or family members, you may be putting them at risk, too.
    5. What else do you see? Can you tell the economic status of the individual or family? Does the photo show emotional vulnerability?
  4. Be careful about sharing your feelings in your blog.
    You probably express feelings in your blog through other ways than just writing. The poems you select, the music you list, the pictures you post-all these tell a lot about who you are and how you feel. A snapshot, too, can reval how you feel about yourself-proud of your body, lacking self-confidence, sad, trying to look sexy or cool? All of this is great information to a predator who’s on the hunt and who would be delighted to make you feel important or special.
  5. Check out what your friends write about you.
    In their blogs, they may be announcing that they’ll miss you because your family is going on vacation-and you may come back to a burglarized house. Or maybe they’re giving out your address or real name so someone can find you. Check the comments they leave on your blog, too, to make sure they don’t give away personal details.
  6. Be very cautious about meeting in person someone you only know through blogging.
    Everything they’ve told you about themselves and their motivation for meeting you may be completely true – or none of it could be. They may feel like a close friend, but they are still a stranger, so never go alone to meet.
  7. If you think there’s a problem, report it. Immediately.
    No one has the right to threaten or upset you. Ever. If anyone (even someone you know) sends you something creepy, says something scary, asks lots of personal questions, or tries to meet you, report the problem. (If you’re a minor, talk to an adult you trust.) Every service should make it easy to report abuse function; if your blogging service doesn’t, consider switching providers.
  8. Help your kids blog safely.
    Young bloggers, particularly teens, are at high risk if they make their blogs available to the public instead of to a limited group of friends and family. This is a time when teens are reaching out for new identities, friends, and validation and are less concerned about their overall safety making them relatively easy targets for predators. To mitigate these risks:


    1. Talk frankly about what it takes to stay safer when blogging; the points above are a great place to begin.
    2. Periodically ask you child or teen to show you what they are saying in their blog, what comments they’re getting, and so on.

How blogs expose your information

Safe blogging begins with a solid appreciation of the risks in sharing your information-your nickname, your e-mail address, your profile, blog entries, photos and videos, music preferences, voice clips, lists of favorites, maps, quizzes you take, friend’s comments, and so on.

Understanding how information collects on the Internet is a key part of that appreciation. Think of each piece of information as a drop of water in a bucket. In the past, there was no bucket to store the information and though information was shared, it vanished from memory quickly. Online, however, it collects one drop at a time in a place where it can be recalled and you become more discoverable as the bucket fills. For example.

  • Maybe you gave your first name, your city, and state in your blog profile. You told what kind of music you like and you wrote a bit about yourself-when you graduated from school (now someone can assume your age) or where you work and what you do (now someone can assume your education and income level). Perhaps you also share that your parents are divorced, and your girlfriend’s name is Amie. You post a picture of yourself and you upload a few pictures of your car, your dog, and you and your girlfriend goofing off. If you live in a small town or rural area, this is plenty of information for someone to find you.
  • With each new blog entry you probably add another drop of personal information—how you’re feeling (now someone knows you’re vulnerable to contact), where you went clubbing (now someone knows where you hang out), something about your mother or sister visiting, or that you’re counting the days until your vacation (now someone knows when your house may be empty).
  • When your friends comment in your blog, maybe they call you by your last name (now someone has enough information to track you down or possibly steal your identity). Maybe your friend asks if everyone can pile up at your place to play Xbox on your big screen TV, race bikes with you, or go jet skiing. (Now someone knows what kinds of things may be worth stealing from your house.)
  • Maybe there’s a bunch of stuff about you on your friend’s blogs as well that someone can piece together to get a better “picture” of you.

If the only people who see this “bucket” are those who already know you, then you probably haven’t exposed yourself to any significantly increased risk. If, however, the people who can dip into your bucket of information don’t know you, then you have potentially broadcast information about you, your possessions, and likely your family, to criminals.

Cybercriminals use information they find online to help them pinpoint opportunities. Identity thieves look for sensitive personal information; robbers look for items to steal; scam artists target people who seem susceptible to scams; sexual predators search for victims. Crooks may collect the information on their own, or they may use middlemen. These information brokers help criminals by building catalogs of people and items that might be of interest including information about children, identity data, addresses of homes whose owners are away, and locations of cars and other valuable property.

More things you can do to protect yourself when blogging

Here are a couple more to add to the list:

  • Talk to your family and friends about the kinds of information you’re willing make public and what you’d rather keep private. Everyone you interact with online needs to respect your safety boundaries, and you need to respect theirs. Posting information about others is not okay—in comments, photos, and so on—unless they agree to share that information. And not only should you ask permission, but you should also make it clear who can see your site. In the case of minors, you might need to get their parents’ permission as well.
  • Make sure the blogging site you use has clear privacy and security policies, has a simple way to report abuse, and outlines how the site will respond to reports of it. The site should also offer tools to help protect your safety such as a way to control who has permission to see your blog, the ability to block harassing users and to turn on or off comments, and site monitors.
Taken from on October 8, 2012

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Study Tips for Parents - by Ann M. G. Gray 03/17/2009 @ 08:52

Helping Your Children in School

You can help your children succeed in school by helping them follow these 10 tips.

  • Tip #1: Focus on Homework.  For each subject, whether your children have been given homework or not, make sure they review their notes.  This will mean that when a big test or an end of unit test comes up, they will be prepared to study for it.  Focusing on homework will also help your children be ready for the next lesson, and ready to ask any questions that might have come up.

  • Tip #2: Keep your notes neat and clear.  While your children are applying Tip # 1, they can “kill two birds with one stone” by improving the quality of their notes.  Make sure your childrens' notes contain all the information they need to know.  Have them highlight or underline the most important points.  Notes full of crossed out words and messy ink patches need to be rewritten altogether. 

  • Tip #3: Keep your schoolbag neat.  At least once a week have your children empty their schoolbags to make them neater.  You will be amazed by what they might find!  Often, some “lost” notes or homework will show up just in time.  For this reason, it is best to have your children do this in the middle of the week, Wednesday night is best.  After a little while, your children will become naturally neater.

  • Tip #4: Use your time efficiently.  If your children get stuck on a particular piece of homework, have them leave it and move on to the next piece.  Otherwise, their frustration will rise and make matters worse.  Have your children go back to the piece they left after a while. Things might be clearer then.   

  • Tip #5: Always look ahead.  Your children should use their school planners or their own schedules to anticipate what they will need to be doing soon. Encourage them to do a little bit extra, even when they seem to be finished with the homework for that day.  If a test is coming up, make sure your children don’t leave studying to the last minute. 

  • Tip #6: Do research wisely.  If research is involved in a project, be careful about how your children use the Internet. The Internet is a valuable resource, but it can be very distracting. Your children might get sidetracked and waste time going from topic to topic.  Every now and then, take your children to the library to do their research.  They will find valuable information and learn many useful research skills.

  • Tip #7: Use technology.  Help your children learn to use a computer effectively to apply to their schoolwork.  Let them experiment with PowerPoint, Publisher, Front Page, and other programs.  Help your children learn to type efficiently and use Word correctly.  Install appropriate audio books on their iPods and watch the Discovery Channel and other educational television programs with them.

  • Tip #8: Find your way.  This is going to be trial and error at the beginning, but for any subject and homework assignment, your children will have to find what works best for them.  If positive results are not occurring, there is something they are not doing right.  Some children may have to rewrite their notes to remember facts, others might have to read them aloud, while still others might need to act them out or build something.  Once the right way is found, learning will improve.

  • Tip #9: Prioritize what must be done.  Your children must learn to prioritize the things they need to do.  Schoolwork and extracurricular activities must come first.  Make this very clear to your children and help them stick to this priority.

  • Tip #10: Communicate with teachers.  This applies to you as parents as well as to your children.  If there is any doubt about an assignment, contact the teacher.  Encourage your children to ask the teacher if they find something to be unclear.  Your children can do this after class or the next day.  Doing this will also help your children develop important communication skills and build their self-confidence.

This article was contributed by Florence Bernard, Parental Consultant."

Taken from on 3/17/09

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Tips for Safe Traveling on the Internet - by Ann M. G. Gray 09/17/2007 @ 11:21

Tips for Safe Traveling

Like most parents, you probably have rules for how your children should deal with strangers, which TV shows, movies, and videos they're allowed to watch, what stores they're allowed to enter, and where and how far from home they're allowed to travel. It's important to make similar rules for your children's Internet use and to be aware of their online activities.

You'll also want to make sure that surfing the Net doesn't take the place of homework, social activities, or other important interests. You might even set an alarm clock or timer if you or your child tend to lose track of time. This section offers tips for ensuring that your children have safe, productive, and enjoyable experiences on the Internet.

Interacting with Others on the Internet

Just as we tell our children to be wary of strangers they meet, we need to tell them to be wary of strangers on the Internet. Most people behave reasonably and decently online, but some are rude, mean, or even criminal. Teach your children that they should:


  • Never give out personal information (including their name, home address, phone number, age, race, family income, school name or location, or friends' names) or use a credit card online without your permission.


  • Never share their password, even with friends.


  • Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they meet online unless you approve of the meeting and go with them to a public place.


  • Never respond to messages that make them feel confused or uncomfortable. They should ignore the sender, end the communication, and tell you or another trusted adult right away.


  • Never use bad language or send mean messages online.


Also, make sure your children know that people they meet online are not always who they say they are and that online information is not necessarily private.

Limiting Children to Appropriate Content on the Internet

Even without trying, your children can come across materials on the Internet that are obscene, pornographic, violent, hate filled, racist, or offensive in other ways. One type of material--child pornography--is illegal. You should report it to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children by calling 1-800-THE LOST (843-5678) or going to While other offensive material is not illegal, there are steps you can take to keep it away from your children and out of your home.


  • Make sure your children understand what you consider appropriate for them. What kinds of sites are they welcome to visit? What areas are off limits? How much time can they spend, and when? How much money, if any, can they spend? Set out clear, reasonable rules and consequences for breaking them.


  • Make online exploration a family activity. Put the computer in the living room or family room. This arrangement involves everyone and helps you monitor what your children are doing.


  • Pay attention to games your older child might download or copy. Some are violent or contain sexual content.


  • Look into software or online services that filter out offensive materials and sites. Options include stand alone software that can be installed on your computer, and devices that label or filter content directly on the web. In addition, many Internet Service Providers and commercial online services offer site blocking, restrictions on incoming e-mail, and children's accounts that access specific services. Often, these controls are available at no additional cost. Be aware, however, children are often smart enough to get around these restrictions. Nothing can replace your supervision and involvement.



  • Find out what the Internet use policy is at your local library.


  • Ask about the Internet use policy at your child's school.

Encouraging Information Literacy

Show your children how to use and evaluate information they find on the Internet. Not all online information is reliable. Some individuals and organizations are very careful about the accuracy of the information they post, but others are not. Some even mislead on purpose. Remind your children not to copy online information and claim it's their own or copy software unless it is clearly labeled as free.

Help children understand the nature of commercial information, advertising, and marketing, including who created it and why it exists. Encourage them to think about why something is provided and appears in a specific way. Steer your children to noncommercial sites and other places that don't sell products specifically to children. It is important to be aware of the potential risks involved in going online, but it is also important to keep them in perspective. Common sense and clear guidelines are the place to start.

From on 9/17/07

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