Pimps hit social networks to recruit underage sex workers

"I was just, 'oh, he's cute, I'll accept him,'" a 22-year-old called "Nina" recalls.

She was 18 at the time, and didn't imagine that clicking "accept" would start her on a path to four years of prostitution across the country. "Nina" is a pseudonym; CNNMoney agreed to change the names of the victims in this article to protect their privacy.

Upper middle-class and college-bound, Nina had her plans derailed in her senior year of high school after her mother was sentenced to two years in prison for financial crimes. Lonely and looking online for male attention, she started messaging back and forth with a man who said he was falling for her. They talked about trips they'd take together as a couple, and about marriage, maybe kids.

"He sold me the biggest dream in the world," she says. "I thought he really did like me and we were going to live this fairy-tale life together."

They exchanged online messages for about a month. That September, while Nina's friends went off to college, she traveled the two and half hours from home to meet her Facebook beau in person.

The fairy tale ended fast. Almost immediately after she arrived in Seattle, he dropped her off on a street where prostitutes troll for customers and told her she was going to "catch dates."

via money.cnn.com

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I was floored by this article. It is hard to believe that this stuff can happen in the USA, but unfortunately, it does.

Parenting is hard. Digital parenting is harder. uKnowKids makes digital parenting easier, and keeps kids safe from bullies and bad guys online and on the mobile phone. uKnow is the world's first Parental Intelligence system for the parents of digital kids, and you can try it for free at http://uknowkids.com

Stricter COPPA laws due in July to govern underage kids on Facebook, Tumblr

By July, Facebook, Google, Tumblr and others will likely be forced to remove photos, audio recordings or other personal identifiers of children — or else face stiff fines, thanks to updates to a 15-year-old law.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was enacted in 1998. In 2011, the FTC beefed up the measure, preventing sites from collecting personal information from kids such as name, location and date of birth without a parent's consent.

This July, new amendments for kids under 13 will go into effect, approved by the FTC in December. The rules are targeted at sites that market specifically to kids. However, even a site like Facebook could be fined for allowing minors to post self-portraits, audio recordings of their voice, and images with geo-location data.

There are also new restrictions on tracking data, with cookies or a unique identifier that follow registrants from one site to another.

via www.foxnews.com

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Digital Parenting: Engage

Digital parenting is one of the hardest parts about being a modern day parent; the possible dangers that come with digital interaction, especially when unmonitored, are well known thanks to news articles and TV specials.

To help parents raise their children, companies have produced plenty of products meant to keep children safe, from filters to site blockers to parental intelligence systems. Parents often develop their own systems to keep children safe online; they may put a limit of the amount of time a child spends online or prohibit the use of a computer in a child’s bedroom.

I believe that it is important for digital parents to avoid creating restriction upon restriction. According to Connectsafely.org, based on surveys of 25,142 families of 9-to-16-year-olds in 25 countries, researchers came to the conclusion that parents' active engagement with their kids' Internet activities works better than restricting them.

"For parents, talking to their child about the internet, encouraging them to explore alone but being nearby in case they are needed and talking to them about what they do online are all ways in which they can reduce online risks without reducing their child's opportunities," said EU Kids Online research director Sonia Livingstone in a press release.

This is not to say the resources available online should be ignored. However, perhaps before jumping to block every single site on the Internet, a quick conversation is all that is really needed. Calmly explain to your children that there are dangerous people online, and that nothing online is truly private. Motivate your children to think: Is this something I want people outside of my house to see? In short, teach them to use the Internet safely and responsibly.

Remember: giving children guidelines is more effective than enforcing restrictions; as tempting as it is to create rule upon rule for your children, encouraging open dialogue between you and your children will lead to a more trusting relationship for both parties, and as a result will let parents talk to and monitor their children with less resistance.

Related resources:
uKnowKids Parenting Blog & Resource Center

 

D.C.’s Newest Tech Accelerator “The Fort” Debuts Inaugural Batch | TechCrunch

Hot, new Washington D.C. tech accelerator known as The Fort is debuting its inaugural class of startups today. The organization grew out the efforts from early stage VC firm Fortify Ventures LLC, also known as Fortify.vc (that’s its URL, too), which had previously invested in nearly dozen D.C.-area tech companies.

Over the past 9 months, The Fort’s co-founders, Jonathon Perrelli and Carla Valdes, have been busy trying to spark innovation in the nation’s capital. They set up the fund, invested in group of startups, created the accelerator, hosted a pitch competition called “Distilled Intelligence” which handed out $25K to winners, and selected a dozen more startups for The Fort’s first program.

“D.C. is not a place where people are always working together,” says Perrelli of the group’s efforts, “but now there is this uprising. People are trying to build something here.”

via techcrunch.com

It is great to see the startup vibe growing in DC. Jonathon Perrelli and Carla Valdes are doing a nice of leading here. Well done everyone.