Archive for the ‘Texting’ Category

Sextortion: The Newest Internet Ugly

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

What I’m referring to is sextortion:  sexual blackmail of children and teens online just like you.  Because most teens are extremely trusting, especially when it comes to social networks, you’re an easy target, which makes this an even more difficult trend to stomach.                                                                                                                        

Here’s how sextortion works: Online predators, ex-boyfriends or frenemies get a hold of inappropriate photos or videos of you by way of email, text, hacking, social networks or chatrooms, and then threaten complete humiliation if they don’t get what they ask you for.  These criminals threaten they will post or send the inappropriate content to your parents, friends, family, teachers, coaches or bosses, make demands for money, or even threats of physical harm.  SCARRY!

Sextortionists are experts at getting what they want, knowing that teens will be too afraid to tell anyone what’s happening to them, especially their parents, leaving them in the driver’s seat to get exactly they want. Children and teenagers just like you can quickly become trapped in a silent cycle of online sexual exploitation, every parent’s worst nightmare.

From experience, we already know that every teen is vulnerable to the online “ugly” side of the Internet, which comes with being constantly connected.  As an adult and a cyber safety expert, it’s my responsibility to speak openly about what to do should you ever become a victim.

It’s important for you to:

  • Get informed, ignorance isn’t bliss. Understand what sextortion is, and promise yourself that you’ll go to your parents should you ever become the target of a sextortionist – NO MATTER WHAT.
  • Set all security and privacy settings to private & set alerts. Keep all of your profiles on social networks private, even after you turn 18-years-old.  Creeps never get tired of trying, especially when they can hide behind a fake profile on a social network.  Set a Google Alerts for your name, which will let you know the instant something terrible or embarrassing tagged with your name gets posted online.
  • Messages, photos or videos you send by text are never private. They have the ability to be saved, edited, forwarded, posted onto Facebook or uploaded to YouTube in the matter of seconds, where they sit perfectly poised for Sextortionists to use against you.
  • Don’t trust people online you don’t know! Never trust anyone online you don’t know in real life, and to always report any contact you’ve received from strangers to a trusted adult.
  • Don’t text anything you wouldn’t want your mom to see. I often hear stories from teenage girls about the sexy photo that was sent without a single thought of where it might end up.  And sure enough, the photo was inevitably forwarded out to friends, strangers, predators, parents and teachers for people to pass judgment on and potentially use against them.
  • Be aware. Criminals, online predators and backstabbers can use your private pictures against you.  If you think your sext is only going to be seen by your intended recipient, think again. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for everyone to see.  It’s no fun to be embarrassed or belittled, threatened, or coerced online – especially by those you know, let alone those you don’t.

It’s a fact that social media has become the focal point of your life, and it’s time that we adults face it.  Sextortion is not only the newest Internet “ugly,” but it’s a trend that requires all teens to take seriously, and become aware that Sextortionist experts are out they looking for teens and young children to prey on.

Remember, promises get broken, boyfriends become ex’s, and friends become frenemies. Unfortunately it’s the reality that you live in today, so be careful with who you trust, and don’t record or send anything that can come back to bite you.

Could Your Teen Be Arrested for Sexting?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

It seems like a new sexting story is in the news every other week. Sadly, despite the highly publicized devastation these incidents cause, teens continue sexting. Another such case recently hit the news recounting the story of an eighth grader who sent a nude picture of herself to her boyfriend.  In less than 24 hours, the picture had gone viral in four local middle schools in Olympia, Washington. The county prosecutor charged three students with the dissemination of child pornography, a Class C felony.  Not only was the girls ex-boyfriend, but his friend and the girls best friend. Many parents and students were surprised by the legal issues raised. (Read full article here)


Shawn Marie Edgington is America’s leading Texpert, a cyberbullying prevention expert and your go-to cyber safety mom.  Shawn’s the author of Read Between the Lines: A Humorous Guide to Texting with Simplicity and Style, and the new book The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media, the creator of the One-Click Safety Series and the founder of The Social Media Academy.  She’s the CEO of a national insurance firm, where she provides risk management to clients across the country.

After a horrible, personal experience she had with her 16-year-old daughter being threatened by text and on Facebook, Shawn has made it her mission to show parents how to take the steps necessary to prevent their child’s social and mobile networking from turning into every parent’s one-click nightmare.

Shawn provided her expert advice in the upcoming documentary Submit: The Virtual Reality of Cyberbullying, on Fox Business, View from the Bay, KRON 4 News, The San Francisco Chronicle, CBS Radio, American Cheerleader Magazine, CNN Radio, NPR, and various media outlets across the country.

Meet Shawn or learn more about her new book and to get your free parent resources at:

What Will You Text Your Valentine?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

The day of Love is right around the corner, and what a better way to say I love you then a quick and Sweet Text Message! The best part is its FREE!!! Some of my favorite text abbreviations are:

1)      143 = I love you
2)      823 = Thinking of you

3)      <3 = Heart

4)      @-}—- = A Rose
5)      FIMH = Forever In My Heart

Remember, a sweet text can make someones day no matter what the occasion, but it’s especially thoughtful on days like V-Day! Its Quick, cute and thoughtful. Because we know that you’ve got a great Valentine’s Day Text to share, we’ve decided to have a “Best & Worst Valentines Day Text Message” contest.  Submit your best or worst text message you’ve received on Valentines Day at under the “Contact Us” tab, and win an autographed copy of my book “Read Between the Lines!”

Shawn Edgington


Shawn Marie Edgington is Americas leading “Texpert” and cyberbullying prevention expert.  She’s the author of “Read Between the lines: A Humorous Guide to Texting with Simplicity and Style” and “The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media”, which is slated for release in March of 2011.

Shawn has been profiled in the upcoming documentary Submit: The Reality of Cyberbullying,  Fox Business, Fox News Radio, in the San Francisco Chronicle, View From the Bay, KRON 4 News, NPR, CBS Radio, The Leslie Marshall Show, InfoTrak, The John Carney Show, Mom’s the Word, The San Diego Union, American Cheerleader Magazine, CNN Radio and dozens of radio stations around the country.

After a personal experience she had with her 16-year old daughter being threatened by text and on Facebook, she’s made it her mission to help parents “parent” around technology. Her solution?  Shawn’s created The One-Click Safety Kit, a turnkey program that helps families defend against sexting, online predators, cyberbullies and textual harassment.

Mobile Messaging Offers Student Support in Oakland California

Friday, January 21st, 2011

This week several schools in Oakland, California started a new “text-a-tip” program. The program allows students and community members to alert campus police directly about potential and dangerous problems with cell phone text messages using specialized technology from Guest Assist. If your child is ever caught in an emergency situation, text messaging is the technology you want them to have immediate access to. The technology associated with mobile messaging offers benefits to students and educators that phone calls can’t:

  •  A way to instantly report critical and life threatening information anonymously
  • Concerned friends and parents have a way to report issues about drinking, drugs or violence
  • Harassment by bullies (including cyberbullies) can be reported without concerns of retaliation

Why don’t more schools offer this service?  The cost runs about $2 per student on an annual basis.  For a school with 3000 students, we are talking about $6,000 a year to offer mobile messaging support for our students.  Kudos to Pete Sarna, the Chief of Police for Oakland Public Schools – serious forward thinking that will benefit everyone involved!

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Will Your Child Be a Victim of Sextortion?

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Sextortion; a new term and a growing concern for parents to watch out for occurs when a person uses guilt, power, or knowledge of a certain secret, to force another person into providing sexually explicit photos, having sex or performing sexual favors.

Sextortion is one of the “crimes of choice” that Internet predators use to gain access into their targets personal life.  Predators that practice sextortion pressure their victims to give them sexually explicit photos and/or favors in exchange for their secrecy of previously obtained private information or for a promise to hold off on future violent acts.

Predators generally target teens or young adults on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.  Once they gain trust by pretending to be someone they aren’t, they ask for more: “If you don’t give me more of what I want (sexually explicit photos) or if you don’t meet me for sex, then I’m going to post the sexually explicit photo or information you’ve already given me to destroy your life.”

Take the sextortion case that occurred in the Milwaukee area with, an 18-year-old former New Berlin high school student who is serving 15 years in prison for sextortion.  Anthony, an honor student, got more than 30 boys to send him naked photos of themselves …by posing as a female on Facebook. He then blackmailed several boys into sexual acts by threatening to share those pornographic images if they said “no.”

In 2010, there have been ongoing acts of sextortion occurring at universities across the country.  A predator is preying on sorority pledges by first studying their Facebook profile and then approaches them using Facebook, pretending to be a sorority sister or an alum. The first communications seem harmless to unsuspecting freshman, yet are obvious attempts to gain trust. Subsequent Facebook chats and e-mails get creepy, with requests for naked pictures, followed by threats to reveal secrets and commit violent acts. The dozen or so victims to date attend southwest schools: University of Florida, Florida State University, Auburn University, University of Alabama and Louisiana State University.  So far, several college students have actually provided their assailant with naked photos.  Here’s an interesting stat:

  • Out of the people who report sharing nude photos of themselves to others online, almost a third of them have shared these photos with people they only know online … or with people they’ve never met face-to-face.

What’s important about sextortion is that parents should teach their children:

1. Not to trust anyone they don’t know online,

2. Keep their profile private, even after they turn 18-years-old

3. Make sure they report any online contact they’ve received from online strangers who are asking for personal and/or creepy information.

Most importantly, teens and young adults need to understand that when they take these types of photographs… or if they turn “on” their web camera for strangers, the person on the receiving end can easily record, and spread the information anywhere they choose.

Constant Connection Needs a Break

Thursday, December 30th, 2010
Texting on a keyboard phone
Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that the average New Year’s resolution lasts 72 hours or less – about the same length of time a diet lasts? That means that on or about January 3, most people who made resolutions have forgotten or abandoned their plans for change.  This year, I resolve to exceed the average (how hard can that be?) and keep my resolution of finding a healthy balance between personal sacred time and the constant demands of social media.

No matter who you are, it seems like time is the one thing we can’t get enough of.  Whether you’re a student, a mother, a CEO, or Oprah, we all have the same amount of time:  24 hours in a day.  Everyone seems to run into time constraints, no matter how efficient we are or how many gadgets we’ve purchased to help us stay “in tune” and “on track.”  Now, thanks to the advancement of technology, most of us have the continuous demands of answering calls, text messages and e-mails, updating our Facebook and LinkedIn, and blogging or posting tweets.  All of which seem to steal our valuable and irreplaceable personal time out from under us.  How can we decide what to make a priority and what to let go for the sake of our own sanity?

But first, it’s time for me to be completely honest. I’m addicted to texting and e-mail, which is why I’ve made it my New Year’s resolution to end my ongoing battle of being constantly connected.  I text all the time, and I have to respond to my texts the moment I hear my phone vibrate.  I’ve even written books about mobile messaging, and all the amazing things (and not so amazing) that technology offers… who does that?  When it comes to e-mail, I need to read them the second they arrive.  Does my constant need to check my iPhone interrupt my personal time?  Absolutely! Does it drive my husband crazy when I check my phone on Sunday mornings?  He can’t stand it, and he’s the first person to tell me that I need therapy, if such a program exists.

One thing’s for sure.  The demands of being constantly connected are never ending, and IF we don’t stop to smell the roses and start to “live in the moment,” we might all need to stage an intervention and check our loved ones (or ourselves) into Connective Addictive Therapy. 

How can we take back our personal time?  Do you remember the moment you lost it in the first place? For me, it started about five years ago when I got my first BlackBerry.  In the snap of a finger, I could instantly get my e-mail, text messages and access the Internet – even when I was away from my office.  I felt like I had died and gone to heaven! But after five plus years of being connected 24/7, I often feel like I’ve gone in the opposite direction. 

So, I’ve done what most of us do during this time of year.  I’ve examined my shortcomings and made it my New Year’s resolution to face my connective addiction. I’ve decided to send myself into social media rehab, and enter into the 5-step program that I’ve developed for people like me.  If you feel like you are overly connected and ready to take back the time that you’ve stolen from yourself, here’s how the program works:

1.     Put away your cell phone while you are with others, at work or driving (I keep mine in my handbag so it’s completely out of sight)

2.     Look at your phone no more than five times a day (unless you’re expecting an important call or a message) Once you’ve answered your messages, return it back to where it was.

3.     Limit your social networking time to no more than two sites, and to the amount of time that is right for your personal and professional objectives.

4.     On weekends and vacation time, limit your “constant connectivity” to urgencies and emergencies, so you can really enjoy the ones you choose to spend your personal time with. And don’t forget about “me” time.

5.     Schedule more quality time away from technology driven activities.

We all know it’s impossible (and unhealthy) to spend all of our time staring at our cell phones, iPads and computers AND preserve a healthy balance with our personal sacred time.  Yes, 2011 is upon us, so get with setting realistic goals, work hard to achieve them, and realize those changes you desire.  This may sound like a difficult undertaking, but if it was easy, we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with AND I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

Shawn Edgington is America’s leading “Texpert”, cyberbullying expert and the CEO of a National Insurance firm. She’s the author of Read Between the Lines and The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media, slated for release in January 2011. Shawn’s been profiled on Fox Business, Fox News Radio, in the San Francisco Chronicle, View from the Bay, NPR, CBS Radio, and dozens of media outlets around the country. Visit her at:

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