Prepped & Polished Interview with Teen Social Media Safety Expert Josh Ochs

On this episode of Prepped & Polished Radio, I interview Josh Ochs, best-selling author of “Light, Bright, and Polite”. Josh lectures social media safety to schools, parents, and teens nation-wide.

Josh graduated from the University of Southern California. He is the author of the bestselling book “Light, Bright And Polite” & public speaker teaching families to be safe online and combat cyber bullying. Josh lives in Santa Monica, California.

For more information, click on our other article, Social Media and College Admissions.


Hello and thanks for joining us for the Prepped and Polished Radio Show. I’m your host, Alexis Avila, licensed guidance counselor, private tutor and founder of Prepped and Polished LLC, Tutoring and Test Prep in beautiful South Natick, Massachusetts.

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Our Guest

Joining our show today is Josh Ochs. Josh is an bestselling author of “Light, Bright and Polite”, a social media safety and training book for corporations, schools, parents and teens. Josh lectures nationwide teaching families and students to be safe online and combat cyber bullying. As a student at Arcadia High School, Josh was voted Most Friendliest out of almost 1,000 students in his senior class. Josh graduated from University of Southern California, and after living in Hermosa Beach for several years, in May 2009 Josh ran for Hermosa Beach City Council. He was the youngest person on the ballot.

We’re delighted to have Josh on our show today. He’s going to share with us his experiences becoming an expert on social media safety and give us a few tips along the way about how we can keep our social media profiles light, bright and polite. Before we start I just want to make sure our listeners have our contact info.

Our email address is If you’d like to submit a question at anytime, you can use that email address. Often our listeners will have questions as they’re listening or afterwards. We always appreciate hearing from our listeners, so you can email us again at Josh, are you there on the line?


I am.


Thank you so much for joining us. How are you today?


Hey, I’m well. Thanks for having me. It’s so nice of you, Alexis. I really appreciate it.


Sure. Sure. So, I had a chance to look at what you’re doing online, your LinkedIn, your Instagram, your Twitter, and I’ve got to say you have a really great-looking profile. It’s light, bright and polite, at least to me. Is that your intention?


Thank you. Yeah. It is, indeed. I believe that if you’re going to tell people to do something, you better be doing it yourself and be a good example of it so it’s easier to explain to people.


Definitely. Absolutely. So why don’t you start us off by telling us, what does light, bright and polite mean for families and kids?


Yeah, great question and I think that’s really the cornerstone of everything we’re going to talk about today. There are three things that are most important that tweens and teens need to think about. Tweens being eight to 12 and teens being 13 to 18.

First, everything that they post on social media, they need to make sure it’s three things: light, bright and polite. Light means, make sure it’s positive and it’s fun. It all comes back to, “Is this something that’s kind? Am I going to say something that’s nice to others?” and so on, so kind.

Then, bright means, be smart. Think before you tweet, think before you post this picture on Instagram, “Is this is the right thing to do?” Then, last and the most important one is polite. Polite means, are you proud of this when your parents, teachers, your coach, your principal or dean sees it tomorrow or the next day, because they will.

Everything on social media eventually does become public, so you have to ask yourself these three questions, “Is this something that’s light, bright and polite?” Then, if it is, then feel free to go ahead and send it.


That makes so much sense because everything has repercussions today. So that’s fantastic. What are the top three ways families and kids can be safe on social media?


Yeah, that’s a really good question. I’d say the first and the biggest way, and this is really a key takeaway is, a lot of people think that there are privacy settings when you get deep into the tech and all that stuff. I would like everybody to think for just a moment, step back for a second and ask yourself, “Well, do I really need even need to worry about all this technology and being up late at night worrying about how my child is posting?”

So, I teach a lot of tweens, teens, parents and young professionals, if you live a life that is light, bright and polite and that’s all you post – and you think before you post anything, and you’re somewhat kind, smart and polite in all that you do. You won’t have to worry about any of the technology or any of the changing privacy settings, or anything else. I think that’s really key takeaway number one and probably the biggest key takeaway.

Live a life that’s light, bright and polite and then you’re set. Number two is keep in mind that if you have dramatic friends and they tag you in something, not only can they get in trouble and be sent to the school office or detention, but if you’re tagged in it, there’s a good chance you’re going to be called into the office as well.

So, be a good friend. Be vocal with your friends and teach them that they need to be light, bright and polite in social media as well. Then, the last and I think the biggest tip is, if you ever get upset about something, call somebody. Call your BFF, your parents, your teachers. This is what these people are there for. Or text them and say, “I want to chat right now.”

Get it over the phone, a one-to-one conversation. Don’t post that on social media. Call your best friend if you’re upset. Those are just a couple of the tips. Always keeping it light, bright and polite, making sure your dramatic friends are always very safe in what they’re posting and tagging you in, and last if you’re ever upset or dramatic, just call a best friend instead of posting.


Wow. Those tips are invaluable for today’s youth. It’s amazing what you’re doing. What would you say is the biggest careless mistake you see kids doing on social media these days?


Yeah, that’s a really good question. I’d say there’s a lot that tweens and teens, anywhere between the age of eight to 18 these days, they really don’t know a time where social media hasn’t existed in their life. So, if we try and jump into the seat with them and say, “Let’s walk a mile in their shoes,” a smartphone is something they’ve grown up with in a way.

Vocalizing their daily activities and their frustrations is something that every teen and tween feels totally comfortable doing. So I’d say one of the biggest careless mistakes is… Let me speak to families and parents for just a moment.

Families and parents, you really need to consider talking with your teens and tweens about what is good and what is bad to post on social media. It’s very, very important that they have a clear understanding of what’s going to work and not. So talk to them about being light, bright and polite, how to be kind, how to be smart and especially how to be proud of everything they post.

Talk to them as well about what the consequences will be, “Consequences look a little something like this.” A big careless mistake is when you don’t think about the consequences, your child, your teen or tween can’t get into that perfect school, that college. Or perhaps they can’t get into the associated student body as president or they’re not on the varsity football team. Anything can happen.

Or especially, once they become a young professional they can’t get that dream internship, which is really big on a start to their career. So that’s one of the bigger careless mistakes. I encourage a lot of parents to start having that conversation with them and teach them, “This is a dramatic post and this is a good post.” Let kids post, but teach them how to post in a positive way that’s light, bright and polite.


Yeah. That’s a huge tip for these kids. Because in this job market, why would you want to blow everything away by just venting your frustrations? That makes so much sense.




So, Josh, what is one tip for any of us who want to make our online profiles more private or safe?


Yeah, good question. Very good question. I’m going to answer that with two parts, Alexis. Number one, I think it’s really important for people to realize that nothing is private and safe. So live a life that’s light, bright and polite. You’re going to be better off in the long run.

I publicize a lot of my stuff because I realize that I have to live this life. So I make everything light, bright and polite. I have a lot to say, and have a lot of fun with it. So, it’s a good example. You guys can go and research and see some of the stuff I talk about. You can have a lot of fun and still be light, bright and polite and safe on social media.

So, first you realize that nothing is private. Be light, bright and polite in all that you do because eventually it will be publicized. Second, it’s important that you realize that every post you make eventually will be a billboard, and it will be found by people that you don’t want to see it – your teachers, your parents and if you own a company, your clients someday.

Everything is being archived. So even if you are about to graduate high school and go into college, that college can see everything that you post. So make sure it’s not too private. Make sure it’s not too dramatic.

If you look at anything on your Facebook profile – here’s one of the biggest key takeaways that we’ve had – make sure that you can use your Facebook profile as a resume to get into college and to get that internship. It really is important. They’re going to find it anyways. There are a hundred ways to get access to your Facebook page.

It will become public. I can’t reiterate enough. “But, Josh, I have it set to private.” Regardless, we still have a lot of ways, and admissions officers and people at schools are so good at this. So you need to make sure you’re proud of every photo on your Facebook page, your Instagram, every tweet, every snapshot, because a snapshot lives on past video. When you think it expires, it actually goes a lot further.

So make sure that you realize nothing is private, and once you realize that go back to everything you’ve posted and say, “What should I take down?” A key takeaway there is go to a loved one, family member or a good friend that will be honest with you.

Instead of privatizing your Facebook page and really trying to lock it down, ask a friend, “Hey, friend, will you please be brutally honest with me and tell me what five photos I should remove from my profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,” whatever it is. They will come back and they’ll give you those five photos and they’ll be brutally honest because they care about you, and you should seriously consider removing those.

I’ve actually had people do that with me. Even though I live a light, bright and polite life, I still have had some photos that some of my friends have said, “Hey, Josh, you’re a great guy and you’re awesome. But these photos could be misunderstood.” I went, “You know what? That’s a really good point,” and I took them down. So I think that’s the best way to make your profile photos private and safe.


Wow. This is fantastic stuff. I mean, it applies to adults as much as kids. So, Josh, tell me a little bit about what the future holds for your company media leaders.


Yeah. So we’ve got a book coming out next year that’s going to be “Light, Bright and Polite for Families and Kids”. It’s going to help a lot of families to be more safe and smart on social media. That’s going to be a tactical way to show kids how to be kind, smart, and polite in all that they do so they’re proud of everything they do.


Wow. Well, please let us know when it comes out. I’m sure I’m going to find out, and if you can come to Boston, we’d love to have you.


Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.


Well, thanks Josh. I appreciate you coming on, taking some time out of your day to share with us today. This wraps up our show today with Josh Ochs, bestselling author and public speaker. Please visit, to learn more about Josh’s social media safety trainings and to find out when Josh may be coming to your city.

You can purchase Josh’s book, “Light, Bright and Polite”, by going to and typing in “Light, Bright and Polite” into the search bar. Thank you for joining us on the Prepped and Polished Radio Show.

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