Thursday, July 12, 2018

Charging Station Dock & Organizer for Smartphones, Tablets & Other Gadgets

Too many kids texting under the sheets in the middle of the night and not getting enough sleep. How about a new house rule: all devices get docked at night. Check this one out on Amazon.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Video game addiction

The World Health Organization made it official. Video game addiction is a disease and should be classified the same as a gambling addiction.

Watch the video here:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

5 Tips for Dealing with Haters and Trolls

Haters and trolls are people who go online, often anonymously, and write mean comments, sometimes with the goal of getting a response. Chances are if your kids are online, they'll encounter both. Discover five ways to deal with haters and trolls.


Video: Positively Social

Positively Social is a video about digital citizenship and the positive impact that responsible technology use, and social media, have on youth. It is a production of the Maine-Endwell Central School District.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Sexting Handbook

Download the Sexting Handbook by clicking here

Cyber Safety Training for Parents, Staff, and Students

Even though many of my counseling and technology skills have come in handy over the years, parenting is still a tough challenge. Hands down, no doubt, technology has been one of the greatest challenges over the years as my wife and I have been raising our two boys, Matteo and Giuseppe, now 18 and 24 years old. When they were younger, it seems as if we were approached with questions and requests on a daily basis. From video games to social networks, from mobile devices to new gadgets, making informed decisions was tough. This is especially true because the technological landscape was changing and developing at a dizzying pace. As someone who straddles being a “Boomer” and “GenXer,” and as someone who is focused on helping counselors with their technological literacy, I’ve been keeping up with this crazy technology ride ever since it got good really good in the 1980’s.

One day a few years ago, my wife, Betty, quipped about how grateful she was that I was able to successfully negotiate technology with the kids based on what I knew according to the research (in technology, human development, and change) and best practice. I was already doing a significant amount of work helping kids to make responsible decisions for themselves regarding technology use. What Betty made me realize that day was that I also needed to help the people outfitting their kids with all this power — the parents/guardians. These days, when a school district or other organization calls about cyber training, I let them know that a comprehensive approach is best: getting kids, parents, and educators on the same page. I also let them know that, indeed, the key is education, especially with the end user, and that training should ongoing, not just an event.

Bring Knowledge to your School

If you are a school counselor, leader, or parent and are interested in cyber safety training, here is what you need to know:
The training includes three segments which, together, addresses staff, students, and parents. The goal of this workshop is to help students, parents/caretakers, and educators, better understand the nature of the risks that technology may pose among children as well as the tools and activities they can use to keep kids more safe.
A typical day includes conducting student assemblies in the morning, meeting with staff after school, and then working with parents in the evening.

For Staff

I take a comprehensive and multi-level approach to bullying/cyberbullying emphasizing a multi-tiered model that includes prevention, intervention, and postvention (see below). The workshop is designed as a “launching off point” or beginning for a year long process to help educate students about confronting cyberbullying, using technology responsibly, and being mindful of their digital reputation.
2015-07-30 13_03_24-multi tiered anti bullying handout - Microsoft PowerPoint
All school staff will receive a DVD-ROM including over 2.8 Gb of actual presentation files which includes everything they need to work with students – the PowerPoint, handouts, videos, and links – for months ahead.

For Students

In this one hour (or 75 minute) assembly, students will become more aware of cyberbullying, their digital reputations (public posting of personal/private information), and the “Rules of the Road.” This assembly is customized for either elementary students or middle/high school students. Remember, you can download and preview the actual presentations and accompanying material for review by visiting my GuardingKids website.

For Parents

2015-07-30 15_16_00-Sabella training catalog - Microsoft WordParents and caretakers need to understand how to make informative decisions about how their children use technology, how they monitor, supervise, and provide support.
This meeting will help them to understand the potential risks of technology and several ways to reduce that risk using both human and technological strategies. Click here to download and preview the presentation materials.

Past Workshops

Russ Sabella PhotoI encourage you to check out my comprehensive vita for an overview of my work, particularly the expansive range of topics I have delivered and the number of participants I’ve had the pleasure of working across the United States, and around the world.
To book one or more of these workshops, contact Dr. Sabella directly via email or by completing an online inquiry form.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bullying: How Schools Can Respond

Northern Illinois University's 7th Annual Conference: Bullying: How Schools Can Respond
Handouts and PowerPoints:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Here’s What 7 Mental Health Experts Really Think About ‘13 Reasons Why’

Ahead of the second season, which will be released May 18, the network is working to show audiences that they’ve taken this criticism seriously and will be equipping viewers with adequate resources to help make the show’s impact a productive one.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Instagram will filter bullying comments ...

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Virtual Reality 101: What You Need to Know About Kids and VR | Common Sense Media

As with other forms of technology, VR comes with challenges and opportunities. This report collects the most significant findings to date and sets the stage for the years ahead, when practitioners and the public will need more information about effective VR applications in classrooms, entertainment, social media, and more.

Learn more:

Saturday, March 24, 2018

FOSI and the First Lady

FOSI and the First Lady

Stephen Balkam calls for Culture of Responsibility
to counter cyberbullying and harassment online
Watch Stephen's interview with NBC Nightly News
On Tuesday, FOSI’s CEO, Stephen Balkam, participated in the Technology and Cyber Safety Roundtable chaired by First Lady Melania Trump at the White House.  Six leading tech companies, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Snap and Amazon were also present and discussed a wide range of issues from how to promote kindness online, to the tech tools parents can use to protect their kids and the pros and cons of anonymity online.  
After the First Lady’s remarks, Stephen Balkam welcomed the initiative with this opening statement:
I am a father of two digital daughters and the Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute.  FOSI is in its 11th year and we see online safety as the critical challenge of the digital age.

We must create a Culture of Responsibility in which industry, law enforcement, government, parents, teachers and the kids themselves take responsibility for this challenge.  We need to work together to apply the Golden Rule, treating each other as we wish to be treated in our digital lives.

I have worked with all the companies in this room as well as many more across the Internet ecosystem and I look forward to working with you and your team as you work on this initiative. 

For a more detailed readout, here is the AP story that includes quotes from FOSI’s CEO following the event.

We look forward to doing our part by acting as a positive, nonpartisan force in the online safety field, working with the First Lady and her team as well as the wider community of companies, NGOs, researchers and advocates on this set of critical issues.
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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Netflix: Introducing PIN protection and other enhancements for informed viewing

Introducing PIN protection and other enhancements for informed viewing

At Netflix, we offer a wide variety of series and films catering to an equally broad variety of tastes and sensibilities. With that in mind, we are improving some long-standing Netflix features that provide members with the information and tools they need to make wise decisions about what’s right for themselves and for their families. We’re rolling out these improvements across the many devices used by Netflix members, and across our global markets, in the coming months.
The first change involves introducing a PIN parental control for individual movies and series to give parents and guardians more specific control over what children can watch on the service. ... 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

There’s a Soul Behind That Screen | AT&T Cyberbullying Film for Parents

In 2016 AT&T and the All American High School Film Festival staged a contest for teenagers to create short films about online bullying. This film combines a few cyberbullying contest submissions and tells an important story for parents. For more information and resources for understanding the film, please visit


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What is gaming disorder?


Gaming disorder
January 2018

What is gaming disorder?

Gaming disorder is defined in the draft 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

What is the International Classification of Diseases?

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions.

The inclusion of a disorder in ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends of disorders.

WHO is working on updating of the ICD. The 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) is scheduled for publication in mid-2018.

Why is gaming disorder being included in ICD-11?

A decision on inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 is based on reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of technical consultations undertaken by WHO in the process of ICD-11 development.

The inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 follows the development of treatment programmes for people with health conditions identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder in many parts of the world, and will result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures.

Should all people who engage in gaming be concerned about developing gaming disorder?

Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities. However, people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour.


Also see Scholars’ open debate paper on the World Health Organization ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal | Journal of Behavioral Addictions

Thursday, January 18, 2018

#BeStrong anti-bullying emojis

Want to take a stand to show you are against (cyber)bullying? Offer support and friendship with these Be Strong emojis & stickers. These emojis were chosen by almost 5,000 young people around the world, who identified with them as symbols of compassion and solidarity.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

securly is now free

Securly has rolled out free protection for all Chromebooks with a cloud-based web filter that helps administrators design a more age-appropriate Internet. The filter includes self-harm and bullying detection on social media, as well as delegated admin features. Make your Chromebooks safer here.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Digital Guidelines: Promoting Healthy Technology Use for Children

Today’s children are growing up in a high-tech world. According to a 2015 national survey by Common Sense Media, 53 percent of children 8 to 12 have their own tablet, and 24 percent have their own smartphone. Among teenagers, 67 percent have their own smartphone.1

American parents believe they have an important role to play in helping their children develop safe, healthy habits for technology use.

Read more:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Best Videos About Kindness

"They are impactful for all ages, but sometimes, us adults need an extra reminder. Be sure to have Kleenex readily available, because many of these will have you in tears."


Friday, January 5, 2018

FOSI 2017 Year in Review

FOSI 2017 Year in Review

What a year it was.

Although 2017 proved to be a challenging one for those of us in the online safety community, it also came with its own rewards and new insights.

Twitter changed its content rules.  Facebook confronted fake news.  YouTube Kids dealt with disturbing videos.  Amazon opened its accounts to teens.  And parents continued to struggle with how to balance their own and their kids’ screen time and use.

All of these developments came against the backdrop of a US President’s questionable social media behavior and a #MeToo movement which united survivors and condemned sexual harassment and misconduct on and offline.

Throughout this tumultuous year, FOSI brought people together, researched new trends in our children’s digital lives and educated parents about how to confidently navigate the web with their kids.

Here are some highlights.


In June, we held our annual European event at the GSMA in London.  Our high-level roundtable was called, “Connected Families” and we discussed the risks, rewards and ethical challenges, particularly for children, brought by the Internet of Things, connected toys and devices. 
Following our September move to the WeWork White House office space, we hosted a screening of the documentary, “Cuba’s Digital Revolution” and moderated a discussion with the filmmaker, Samuel George (of the Bertelsmann Foundation), and other invited guests.  
In November, we hosted our 11th Annual Conference at the Newseum in Washington, DC.  Entitled, “Trust & Civility in a Challenging World”, we gathered nearly 300 of the leading tech, government and NGO leaders from around the world for discussions on diverse topics such as hate speech, the ethics of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, how to better serve families with special needs, and the future of online safety. 


A highlight of our annual conference was the launch of our new research report, “Connected Families: How Parents Think and Feel About Wearables, Toys and the Internet of Things”.  This first-of-its-kind study was made possible with support from Amazon. The report explored the types of new devices that families are bringing into their homes, thoughts on how the Internet of Things impacts lives, and parents’ attitudes, hopes and fears for the increasing use of connected toys and devices by children.  


FOSI continued to engage with policymakers in the U.S. and abroad. We provided guidance and expertise, participated in events, raised awareness of  government resources, and offered government officials opportunities to speak at FOSI events to discuss their work and initiatives.

Good Digital Parenting

Our resources for parents- from blogs to tips, tools, resources and downloads - continued to be the most popular offering on our website.  Through the Google for Educators program, we presented to hundreds of ed tech teachers in Boston, Silicon Valley, Chicago and New York. In conjunction with Zift, we launched new digital parenting guidelines for families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  

Membership and Outreach

FOSI welcomed Mattel, Roblox, Snap Inc. and TeenSafe into our membership in the past year.  We continued our work on industry best practices on the Facebook Safety Advisory Board, Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, Comcast’s Safety Advisory Council and AT&T’s Consumer Advisory Panel as well as working with many other companies on challenging issues and exciting new products for families.

We spoke at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, the CES Data Summit in Las Vegas, a Digital Citizenship Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Girl Scouts National Convention and the Facebook Safety event at the US Capitol. 
FOSI appeared on the BBC, ITV, NBC, CNN and CBS Radio.  We were widely quoted in the press including the Washington Post, Bloomberg, USA Today, NY Post, Vanity Fair, Wired, Wall St Journal and the San Jose Mercury News (to name a few). 
We look forward to working with you throughout 2018 and beyond to make the online world safer and more civil for our children and for us all.

Happy New Year! 
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