Social Media Safety Setting Updates You Should Know About

We are glad to see these platforms taking steps to protect our children’s safety online. Here are some safety setting updates on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram that every parents should know about:


TikTok implemented new parental controls in January of 2021. This includes the introduction of “family pairing” which allows parents or guardians to link their account to their teens account. Once this is done, parents are given access to a plethora of parental controls including:

  • Screen Time Management: Decide how long your teen can spend on TikTok each day. You can set your teen’s screen time limit directly from your own account, and if your teen has multiple devices, the set time limit will apply to each device individually.
  • Restricted Mode: Restrict the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
  • Search: Decide whether your teen can search for content, accounts, hashtags, or sounds.
  • Discoverability: Decide whether your teen’s account is private (your teen decides who can see their content) or public (anyone can view their content).
  • Suggest account to others: Decide whether your teen’s account can be recommended to others.
  • Direct Messages: TikTok users become eligible for direct messages at 16. Parents may restrict who can send messages to the connected account, or turn off direct messaging completely. Please note: direct messaging is automatically turned off for registered accounts between the ages of 13 and 15.
  • Liked Videos: Decide who can view the videos your teen liked.
  • Comments: Decide who can comment on your teen’s videos.

Learn more about these updates in our Cyber Safety Conversation in partnership with T-Mobile video here:


Parents will soon be able to choose from three different content settings on YouTube based on their preferences and their child’ developmental stage.

  • Explore: For children ready to move on from YouTube Kids and explore content on YouTube, this setting will feature a broad range of videos generally suitable for viewers ages 9+, including vlogs, tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, educational content, and more.
  • Explore More: With content generally suitable for viewers ages 13+, this setting will include an even larger set of videos, and also live streams in the same categories as “Explore.”
  • Most of YouTube: This setting will contain almost all videos on YouTube, except for age-restricted content, and it includes sensitive topics that may only be appropriate for older teens.


Instagram will be implementing a new Parents Guide in collaboration with The Child Mind Institute and Connect Safely.

  • Will begin restricting direct messaging between teen users and adults that do not already follow that teen
  • Will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to try to more accurately predict user’s age.
  • Will use prompts or “safety notices” to encourage teens to engage in safe conversations with adults they are already friends with on the platform especially if the adult user have been “exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior”
    • These prompts will not only alert the teen of suspicious behavior, but also give them the opportunity to block, report, or restrict the user.
  • They have already implemented new steps for new users who are under 18 when creating an account that automatically prompts them to make their account “private”

Learn more about Instagram safety settings in our Cyber Safety Conversation in partnership with T-Mobile video here:

Thank you to T-Mobile and Connectivity Source for making our Cyber Safety Initiative possible. 

FREE Online Safety Webinars – Crime Stoppers Announces Summer 2021 Calendar

We are thrilled to share that our FREE virtual safety presentations will continue into Summer 2021! Join us Mondays at 10 am for our Safety Actions Valuable Education (S.A.V.E.) Webinars and Tuesdays at 11 am for our Safe Community Program presentations.

Webinar Topics Include: 

  • Tip Line and Anonymous Reporting
  • School Safety
  • Prom Safety
  • Summer Safety
  • Juvenile Rights
  • Child Abuse Prevention
  • Human Trafficking Prevention
  • Domestic Violence Awareness
  • Elder Abuse Prevention
  • Home Safety
  • Summer Camp Safety
  • Animal Safety

How it works:

  1. Browse our presentation offerings in the booklet below (or linked here).
  2. To register for a webinar, click on the link in the presentation description. This link will bring you to a ZOOM registration page. Once you fill out the form, you will receive a confirmation email with the presentation link and passcode. If you do not see an email come through, make sure to check your junk mail!
  3. On the day of the presentation, find your registration link, click to launch ZOOM, sign in and join the conversation!
  4. If you have any questions, please reach out to Mimi Zarenchansky at

Download the Summer Virtual Programs Calendar here!

These presentations are made possible by our generous sponsors!

  • Safety Actions. Valuable Education (SAVE) Webinars are made possible by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
  • Safe Community presentations are made possible by Spindletop Charities, Inc. as well as our Safe Community Program sponsors:
    • Texas Office of the Governor
    • The Hamill Foundation
    • Harris County Commissioners Court – Commissioner R. Jack Cagle
    • The Longenbaugh Fund
    • Houston PetSet
    • Lawrence and Linda Levy

Protect yourself and your family from financial crimes.

March is Financial Crimes Awareness month and we are thrilled to partner with the Houston Police Department (HPD) to bring valuable awareness and education about this subject. In this post HPD discusses what constitutes a financial crime, signs of financial exploitation, and best practices to protect yourself and your loved ones from financial victimization.

What is Financial Crimes? Financial Crimes deal with anything concerning financial crimes; such as Identity Theft, Credit Card Abuse, Theft and Forgery of Governmental Documents. Must of Financial Crimes deal with Identity Theft.

Identity Theft is a common term used by all types of crimes in which some wrongfully obtains and uses another’s personal data in some manner that involves fraud or deception, usually for economic gain. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.

How is Identity Theft Committed? It can be committed by Shoulder Surfing, Business Record Theft, Scamming, Phone Fraud, Skimming, Dumpster Diving, Mail Theft, Steal Wallet or Purse, The information Highway and Spoofing and Phishing.

What are some of the warning signs of Identity Theft?

  • Your monthly credit card and bank statements suddenly stop arriving.
  • You are denied credit for reasons that do not match your understanding of your financial position.
  • You start getting bills from companies you do not recognize.
  • You receive calls from collection agencies or creditors for an account you don’t have or that is up to date.
  • You observe unusual entries on your credit report.
  • Financial account statements show withdrawals you didn’t make.
  • A creditor calls to say you’ve been approved or denied credit that you haven’t applied for or you get credit card statements for accounts you don’t have.

What do you do if you are a victim of identity theft?

  • Contact the companies or institutions where you know fraud has occurred. You should contact their fraud department and explain that you are a victim of identity theft. Ask them to freeze or close the accounts. Then change any logins, passwords, or pins you may have for those accounts.
  • Place a fraud alert with one of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion, or Equifax.
  • Report the incident to your local law enforcement agency as well as the Federal Trade Commission (
  • You should obtain a copy of your credit report and review it. Make note of any accounts or transactions you do not recognize.
  • Stay vigilant! Unfortunately, once your personal or financial information has been compromised there is no way to recall or retract it. You will have keep a close eye on all of your accounts and look for any suspicious activity.

The Balanced Voice Podcast Interviews Matthew McConaughey

In this episode of The Balanced Voice Podcast, Matthew McConaughey challenges us to use life’s hardships to enact change in ourselves, impact the world around us, and propel our society forward. Today on the balanced voice we are thrilled to welcome Texas’s very own Matthew McConaughey. Matthew’s life motto “just keep livin’ is the cornerstone in all he does. From his foundation that aims to keep kids from choosing a life of crime by providing them with opportunities to lead healthy lives, to his ongoing dedication to The Lone Star State, He clearly defines his own non-negotiable. In today’s balanced conversation we ultimately answer this question:

“How do we live in the present, honor the past, and advocate for a better future?”

Watch on Facebook:

Listen on Spreaker.

Encouragement to Our Team:

Our team was honored to sit down with Matthew McConaughey. Matthew was gracious enough to offer words of encouragement to our entire team and members of our board as well as thank us for all we do.

McConaughey told us, “Your work is in the shadows. People want to glance at it but not look too long. Our successes may not be on the front page, but do not let those small victories pass [without counting them]… because they matter.”  He even gives a shoutout to Chief Art Acevedo whom we will miss dearly here in Houston! Listen to the clip here!

We all know him as a movie star, but we learned from our conversation with him that he is thoughtful, wise, and encouraging in all he does. Thank you so much Matthew for spending time with us and for serving our great state of Texas tirelessly.


In his debut book ‘Greenlights’, Matthew bares it all as he walks the reader throughout his unique journey thus far. Personal photos and journal writing are shared along with lessons learned from his real experiences with family, love, fatherhood, and faith. Grab a copy of his book here:

Just Keep Livin’

The Just Keep Livin Foundation was started by Matthew and Camila McConaughey and is dedicated to empowering high school students by providing them with the tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future. In their programs, they encourage students to make positive life choices to improve their physical and mental health through exercise, teamwork, gratitude, nutrition and community service. Participating students have a safe place to enhance their lives with fitness coaches and health experts. The results have been incredible. Participants get in shape and gain confidence while also improving their grades, attendance and behavior. Friendships are built and fears are overcome. At their j.k. livin after school programs, kids learn self-reliance and get a healthy start today, so they can make a better tomorrow.

Visit our show notes:

Be An Advocate for Animals in Harris County and Across Texas

Did you know that animal abuse, cruelty, neglect, and abandonment are crimes that are punishable by law? In 2020, the Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce, an organization that Houston PetSet and Crime Stoppers of Houston helped establish, received 4,881 reports of such offenses.

This statistic is significant not just because it is disturbing that animals are being harmed at an alarming rate, but also because there is a proven correlation between crimes against animals and crimes against humans. According to the National Link Coalition, “animal abuse is ‘the tip of the iceberg’: the way animals are regarded in a family is a window into interpersonal relationships and family dynamics. Investigators who find animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect are rarely surprised to see other issues lurking beneath the surface.”

Unfortunately, animals do not have a voice to use to speak for themselves, so they are an easy target for offenders to begin their abuse with; the offender learns to assert their dominance and, if they are not stopped, can progress to hurting children and other adults. In fact, a 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University found that animal abusers are five times as likely to also harm other humans.

For example, in December of 2019, a Houston man was sentenced to six years in prison for stomping his ex-girlfriend’s cat to death. This came just three years after he was convicted for the injury of an elderly person when he assaulted his 72-year-old great-grandmother.

In a quote from the Houston Chronicle’s article regarding the matter, the prosecuting lawyer stated, “This is a case that shows the direct link between animal abuse and violence toward other people,” Jessica Milligan [head of the animal cruelty section at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office] said. “Someone who can hurt his own great-grandmother, then kill a cat in a domestic dispute is someone who is capable of violent behavior against people, including children, in the future.”

If you suspect you have witnessed animal cruelty, abuse, neglect, or abandonment, please file a report with the Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce at, the Houston SPCA at 713-869-7722, or the Houston Police Department at 713-884-3131. After you have submitted your report, leave the investigation and prosecution to the experts. The location of your report is considered the scene of a potential crime and must be left untouched and uninterrupted.

Each day we are making strides towards strengthening laws to protect animals. If you are interested in learning more about how you can become an advocate #ForTheAnimals, please visit Houston PetSet’s website at