Estee Cockcroft

21st Apr 2022

Sextortion: The biggest cyber threat to our teens

A top South African school recently experienced the cruel nature of sextortion when a male scholar catfished on Instagram… Read More

A top South African school recently experienced the cruel nature of sextortion when a male scholar catfished on Instagram. The teenager had recently broken up with his girlfriend and first created a large following on his fake account before posting nudes she had sent him during their time together. The girl was shamed and ridiculed. The story leads one to wonder what conversation the estranged couple might have had before the photos were leaked. Where there threats and intimidation? Was the pictures used as blackmail? And who is to blame? 

The Journal of Sexual abuse defines sextortion as: When individuals threaten to spread sexual images and/or videos unless other sexual content, sexual favours, or money is provided.

According to the US Justice Department, sextortion is the fastest growing cyber threat to children in the United States. And South Africa isn’t far behind. learn more

13th Jan 2022

6 Screen checks to do before school starts

With schools reopening and the new year bustling with possibilities, it’s time to spring clean, organise and get ready…

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With schools reopening and the new year bustling with possibilities, it’s time to spring clean, organise and get ready. The same goes for digital spaces.

Before things get busy (and they already are) make sure to run our 6 easy checks over your child’s screen to ensure they are safe and ready to take on 2022.

  1. Have your turned off location services?
  2. Do you have filtering software installed?
  3. Do you have a screen agreement or tech charter in your home?
  4. Have you had the difficult conversations?
  5. Has your child had any digital life skills education?
  6. Do you check their devices from time to time?

Read on for more detail on each:

HAVE YOU TURNED OFF LOCATION SERVICES?

Ensure that location services are disabled on their devices as well as on the apps that they frequent.

DO YOUR HAVE FILTERING SOFTWARE INSTALLED?

The best internet filters don’t only block websites but also provide a way to control the time your son or daughter spends playing games online or surfing the web. Some even send alerts when ‘watch words’ are texted to their devices so you can safeguard them from harm no matter where they are.

There are many filtering solutions and some of them are completely free. The more control you’d like to have, the more options there are for in-app purchases to manage your child’s devices. learn more

29th Oct 2021

5 Ways to keep your child safe from the predator they know

In a recent Llama Mama workshop for parents, I was asked the question: How can I monitor my child’s WhatsApp content?…

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In a recent Llama Mama workshop for parents, I was asked the question: How can I monitor my child’s WhatsApp content? Recent events have been an eye opener to many parents with the need to monitor devices more regularly highlighted. So often we warn our children against speaking to strangers online, but have we really paid attention to conversations with dangerous people they might trust?

MURKY BOUDARIES

Technology has blurred the lines that used to keep adults in authoritative positions and children apart. WhatsApp has become a conduit to forming a close relationship with a child and earning their trust.

The boundaries that used to exist are murky and the devices we hand our children can become the very tool that is used to groom them into dangerous waters.

 5 SIMPLE WAYS TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE

How to we navigate this new terrain? Today Sassy Llama brings you 5 things you can do to protect your child from the devil he knows:

  1. Create a soft-landing space
  2. Check your child’s devices
  3. Use WhatsApp Web to monitor content
  4. Be a constant presence
  5. Teach them the difference between safe secrets and dangerous secrets

CREATE A SOFT-LANGING SPACE

Child predators tend to convince children that they are to blame, that they are also guilty or that they consented. Children are therefore nervous of speaking out as they believe they are the culprits. For example: A child who has sent a nude picture of herself can easily be silenced by the treat of her own wrongdoing. learn more

9th Feb 2021

Fake News & How to spot it

We live in a post-truth era. If the COVID 19 pandemic has proved anything it has proven how susceptible we have…Read More

We live in a post-truth era. If the COVID 19 pandemic has proved anything it has proven how susceptible we have become to the spreading of fake news.

Many stories contain half-truths and images are doctored to support this. With technology becoming more refined than ever, deep fake videos are convincing and easy to fall for. Then there is concerns around journalistic ethics and the fact that every John and his dog is a reporter these days. All of these factors contribute to a world where it has become hard to see the wood from the trees.

So what tricks can you teach your children to spot fake news and to avoid it from spreading?

  1. Critical thinking has become imperative. More than ever before we need to think before we share, react and believe everything we read online. Most fake new stories evoke emotions like anger or outrage. But before you get worked up make sure it is actually true and not just click-bait.
  2. Consider the source. Click away from the article and look at where is coming from. Is it a credible source? How long have they been around? Is anyone else reporting this information? If no one else is-it’s sure to be fake.
  3. Check the author. Is this a credible person? What is their journalistic background? A while ago I checked the credibility of an article that was doing the rounds on Facebook only to find that the journalist who wrote it had only been on Twitter since that morning. This person is probably not even real.
  4. Check your biases. Remember that your own beliefs could affect your judgement and often political propaganda plays on these beliefs.
  5. Read deeper than the headline. Oftentimes headlines are sensationalised to grab attention. Make sure to read the whole article before reacting.
  6. Don’t Take Images or Videos at Face Value. Images and videos can be manipulated to support fake news. Additionally, they can be used out of context. An image of a car crash could be 100% accurate but it can be of a car crash that happened 10 years ago in a different country. If you are unsure about an image do a Google reverse image search to see where it came from and how old, it is.
  7. Check the date. Old news seems to circle back round every now and then to create hype, draw attention and evoke emotion. Be sure it is current new before you spread the word.

Fake News can only be destroyed when it loses its audience. For this to happen us as digital citizens need to know how to spot it, make others aware of it and not spread it.

If you want to become a better digital citizen check out our online courses for kids, teens and parents! learn more

6th Jul 2020

Pornography, Pompeii & Incognito mode

In 2020, the median age for first pornography exposure is 11 years old. However new research from the security technology company BitdefenderRead More

In 2020, the median age for first pornography exposure is 11 years old. However new research from the security technology company Bitdefender, has reported children under the age of 10 now account for 22% of online porn consumption in under 18 -years olds. These alarming figures and the fact that throughout the COVID_19 pandemic our children are more online than ever, prompted us to explore the topic further.

For parents, these statistics can be terrifying, but experts agree that talking to your child about pornography is the first step to safeguarding them. Some even go as far as to say that if you are not ready to talk to your child about pornography your child is not ready to access the world wide web. Viewing pornography used to be more prevalent amongst boys, but recent years have shown less of a difference in the way girls and boys are viewing pornography. learn more

15th May 2020

Lockdown Screentime: Ditch the guilt!

Feeling guilty about the increased time your child is spending on screens during the nationwide lockdown is about as useful as a lace face maskRead More

Feeling guilty about the increased time your child is spending on screens during the nationwide lockdown is about as useful as a lace face mask. We are all in the lockdown boat together and being a full-time teacher, homemaker, entertainer, cleaning service and chef is no picnic. Additionally, maintaining a career whilst children are running amuck has even the most militant anti-tech moms reaching for the iPad.

For some time, media researches have been advocating the shift from screen time to screen content in measuring healthy digital consumption in children. High quality content, such as learning how to play a musical instrument through an app or chatting to a family member on Skype, cannot be placed on par with playing Fortnite or binge-watching You. Similarly, an hour spent socialising on WhatsApp is different to an hour spent drawing comparisons on Instagram. Children gain differently from using various forms of digital media. learn more

26th Apr 2019

Cyberbullying only happens in public schools, right?

Before I had children of my own I was a smug, opinionated, pain-in-the-backside who said things like *insert the voice of Sansa Stark… Read More

Before I had children of my own I was a smug, opinionated, pain-in-the-backside who said things like *insert the voice of Sansa Stark here* “One day, my children will eat all their broccoli” or “I’ll never allow my child to stand on her chair in a restaurant like that” or “If my child is cyberbullied I’ll just put him in a private school.” When I think back on my ignorant, self-satisfied, plump, youthful little face, knowing what I know now, I wish I could roundhouse kick it into next Monday.

Sassy Llama hosts workshops with girls across South Africa, some girls attend because their parents saw it as a valuable investment into their daughter’s future and other girls attend, because we have incredible corporate sponsors that want to make a difference in the world by giving away an entry. We also do talks at underprivileged schools as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility. learn more

4th Apr 2019

Is Monkey.cool safe for Teens?

In our recent workshops a few of the girls mentioned that they were using a new app called Monkey to chat to other teenagers across… Read More

In our recent workshops a few of the girls mentioned that they were using a new app called Monkey to chat to other teenagers across the world.

According to the app’s creators, Monkey is: “The new hangout spot for Gen Z where genuine face-to-face conversations are being fostered, instead of chasing brief and shallow social exchanges like collecting likes on Instagram.”

I liked the sound of this but decided to try it myself in order to give parents an unbiased review of the app.

Let’s start with the age restriction. The AppStore rated it as 12+, I would argue this is too young. I only needed my mobile number to log in and my age was not verified. I posed as a 15-year-old girl and used the username MelCutie. I said I was from South Africa. Monkey is relying on the accuracy of the age the person is entering into the platform when signing up. This can obviously be exploited the way I exploited it, by any creep and his dog. learn more