Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cybertraps for the Young: Sext Education and CyberEthics

I was recently introduced to this book and have to share it with everyone.  As technology and social networking expands, so does digital dangers.  I am a big believer that education is the key to prevention.
When parents say that they are going to remove their teen’s computer, take away their cell phone – or have their teen delete their Facebook – it is almost comical.

Do they actually think a teen is not savvy enough to create a new page, borrow a friends phone or even go to an Internet cafe or library?  Parents, you always need to be a step ahead of your kids – you need to show your kids the dangers – the risks – the pitfalls – so they don’t get tangled in the web!  Here is a good start…..

Order today!
Cybertraps for the Young
by Frederick S. Lane


—Leading expert on emerging technology breaks down the implications of technology misuse amongst teens and provides tips on how to monitor online activity in new book

Just how ‘connected’ are today’s youth?
  • The average child possesses their first cell phone before age 10
  • In October 2010, 43% of teen cell phone users reported that their primary reason for having a phone was to text message friends
  • Roughly 50% of teens in the U.S. use Facebook
  • 81% of children between the ages of 12 and 17 own at least one gaming console
  • 23% of children under 5 regularly use the Internet
With fast downloads, mass file sharing, instant uploads, and lightning-fast Internet searches available at the click of a button, a host of new technologies—cell phones, gaming systems, laptops, tablets, and digital cameras—are helping teens commit irrevocable mistakes. As today’s youth continues to be a targeted consumer audience for emerging technology, it is increasingly critical for  parents and educators to identify, understand, and discuss the consequences of technology misuse with children.

In his new book, Cybertraps for the Young, attorney and computer forensics expert Frederick Lane describes the most prevalent cybertraps confronting children today. After outlining the legal consequences which can result from inappropriate online behavior, he provides parents with insightful strategies for discussing safe and ethical technology use with their children.

“Cyber responsibility starts at home and, now more than ever, it’s crucial parents have regular conversations with their kids about online safety,” Lane says. “Children should not get access to powerful communication tools until they understand the risks associated with them.”

Unlike other books on new technologies, Cybertraps for the Young focuses on the serious personal and legal consequences children may face as a result of their online behavior. From the most  common and easily triggered cybertraps, including those arising from new tools like the iPhone’s new live video chat capability, “Face Time,” to lesser-known risks like peer-to-peer file sharing, Lane offers a candid look at how schools, law enforcement agents, and state and federal prosecutors are taking increasingly tough stands against young offenders. Drawing on contemporary news stories, case studies, and personal courtroom experiences, Lane provides a startling investigation of the numerous cybertraps that continue to dominate today’s headlines: oversharing personal information, plagiarism and high-tech cheating, cyberbullying and cyber harassment, libel and slander, hacking, sexting and sextortion, and child pornography on Peer-to-Peer networks.

In addition to the analysis of the cybertraps for parents, Lane stresses the need to incorporate cybersafety and cyberethics lessons into the American education system.  Backed by his decade on the Burlington School Board in Vermont, Lane provides tips to parents on how to approach their local school districts and advocate for cyberethics education at all grade levels.

“We emphasize the practice of safe sex in sex education; we teach gun safety as a prerequisite for a hunting license; and we teach auto safety in driver’s education,” notes Lane. “As technology continues to advance, cyberethics should be a staple in the school curricula.”

In this first book of its kind, Lane delves into:
  • The capabilities of emerging technology, including camera cell phones, gaming systems, tablets, live video chat, and digital cameras, among others
  • How and when to start educating children about cyberethics and potential cybertraps
  • How to monitor children’s online activity—both by physically tracking their conduct and by using monitoring tools and software
  • The legal and personal consequences of specific cybertraps, including sexting, cyber-bullying, and hacking
  • What parents can do to notify their school districts and state legislatures about the need for cyber education
 About the author:
 Frederick Lane is an author, attorney, expert witness, and professional speaker on the legal and cultural implications of emerging technology. A 1988 graduate of Boston College Law School, Lane practiced law for five years before launching his own computer consulting business, a career move which ultimately led him to his current work as a writer, lecturer, and computer forensics expert. Over the past 12 years, Lane has worked on a wide variety of criminal cases, including copyright infringement, stalking, embezzlement, theft of intellectual property, obscenity, and child pornography.

In addition to his professional background, Lane has served on the Burlington School Board in Vermont since October 2001 and served as chairman of the Board for the past two years. He is the author of 5 highly acclaimed books, a number of which deal with technology boundaries. Lane is also the father of two teenage boys.

For more information about Frederick Lane and Cybertraps for the Young, please visit or Cybertraps for the Young will be available on or on Amazon.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Proper Phone Etiquette for Kids Tips

Getting your kids to talk on the phone is not always an easy task.

Sure, teens can talk to their friends for hours - or should we say, text their friends for hours.
But are kids being raised with proper phone etiquette today?

The land-line telephone is quickly going the way of the dinosaur; by the time the toddlers of today are teenagers, home telephone service could very well be a thing of the past. With this changing of the technological guard comes a new set of guidelines; here are seven great ways to teach your children modern phone etiquette.
  1. Lead By Example – Your children will take their behavioral cues from you, so it’s important that you use proper etiquette as well. This means never taking a call in a quiet, public setting such as waiting rooms or elevators unless it’s an absolute emergency. If you feel like you must take an important call, you should answer and place the caller on hold until you step outside. Being the person that everyone rolls their eyes at in the doctor’s office is a great way to teach your children what not to do.
  2. Discuss the Need to Prioritize – When presenting your child with their first cellphone, you should have a conversation about the need to prioritize a call. Explaining to them that the phone was purchased expressly to keep a clear line of communication open between family members and that they should never ignore a call from their parents unless they absolutely cannot speak is a good start; follow with a brief discussion about times when using a cellphone is inappropriate.
  3. Roleplaying – For younger children, teaching proper phone etiquette can be as simple as a roleplaying session. Using phones that are turned off, sit together and mimic a phone conversation; when you feel that they’ve absorbed the basic tenets of polite phone use, let them call Grandma for live practice.
  4. Talk About The Importance of Being Charitable – Explain to your children that having a cellphone is a privilege, and that not all of their peers will be so fortunate. Impressing the importance of allowing a friend in need to borrow their phone to call for a ride after practice is an effective way to continue the lesson you began when your child was a toddler: don’t be selfish.
  5. Use the Opportunity to Discuss Appropriate Behavior – Another way of teaching your child to use proper phone etiquette is to have a conversation about what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Let them know that their phone is subject to random searches, and that they should never send a message they would be embarrassed for you to see.
  6. Ban Phone Use During Certain Hours – Part of your first conversation about your child’s new cellphone should be a clear explanation that their phone will be off limit during certain parts of the day. Enforcing this rule and telling them why you’ve instituted it will send the message that cellphone use isn’t acceptable in some situations, such as mealtimes or family time. This is a great opportunity to discuss other situations that should never include the use of a cellphone.
  7. Open a Dialogue About Bullying – Cellphones can be a powerful tool in the hands of a bully, and your children should be aware that part of being a responsible and polite cellphone user is to never forward harassing messages or embarrassing pictures of a classmate. Your kids should be educated about what bullying is, and that it’s never “harmless.”
The best lessons are taught by conversation, not one-sided lectures. Listen to the questions, concerns and opinions of your child when you have these discussions, and remember that teaching proper etiquette in any area is an ongoing process, not a one-time talk.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Teen Stress: Learning anger and stress management

Holidays: Merry & Bright
by Lori Lite, Founder of Stress Free Kids

Holidays were originally designed to be relaxing, merry and bright, but the reality is that most of us associate holidays with stress. The economy is adding extra restrictions on gift giving and children still have high magical expectations. With a little bit of effort we can turn stress off and turn on deeper connections with our children and teens, good health, and relaxation. We can use this holiday season to shift our focus and bring the merry and bright back into the holidays.

  • Slow down. I don’t know anyone that can rush and feel stress free at the same time. Children are especially prone to meltdowns when asked to rush. Leave extra time for the purpose of moving slowly and focusing on your breathing. Enjoy the moment.
  • Give your family a better understanding of the economic climate and why their holiday gifting expectations may need to be adjusted. Rent Kit Kittredge: An American Girl for a family movie night. Everyone will be reminded to appreciate family.
  • Bring creativity and music into your home. Place musical instruments like jingle bells, maracas, and tambourines on the coffee table. A box of fun hats and reindeer antlers in the living room and let the creativity and stress management begin. Join in the fun and lead a parade around your apartment or house. Laugh and you will enjoy less stress and more joy. Children want your time more than presents. (I have had teens enjoy both hats and instruments and they always film it. Just pretend you are not watching and their imaginations take flight.)
  • Be aware of your language. It is easy to become negative during the holidays. Use positive statements and affirmations like, “I am happy, I am calm, I am thankful, I am healthy.” Encourage children and teens to write their own affirmation and stick it on their pillow or mirror.
  • Cold weather brings lots of opportunities to get outside. Take the kids on a walk to look for elf tracks in the snow. Leave a container of water outside to invite Jack Frost to visit. Use the cold air as an aid to teach children how to use relaxation or diaphragmatic breathing. (Foster sibling bonds by letting your teen take the lead looking for elf tracks. You will be surprised at how much fun they will have when mom is not around.)
Breathing is one of the most effective stress management available to all ages. The following excerpt from my story Sea Otter Cove can be used with your family. Sit outside and pretend you are sea otters…watch your breath hit the cold air and get ready to feel good!

The following excerpt is from Sea Otter Cove: A Relaxation Story. This story is also available on the Indigo Ocean Dreams CD and in Spanish. To see your breath hit the cold air, breathe out through your mouth and say ahhhh….

The sea child told the sea otter to breathe in through his nose and out through his nose.  He focused all of his attention on the tip of his nose.

They both did this breathing together.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose.
In 2, 3, 4… out 2, 3, 4. In 2, 3, 4… out 2, 3, 4.

The sea child told the sea otter that he could breathe this way whenever he felt angry or scared or nervous. He could focus on the air moving in and out of the tip of his nose, and he could feel calm. The sea otter placed his hands on his belly, and felt it lift up and down as the air moved in and out. For a few moments they both did this breathing together.

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
In 2, 3, 4… ahhhh 2, 3, 4. In 2, 3, 4… ahhh 2, 3, 4.
The sea child’s mind began to wander. She imagined that her thoughts were a feather as she blew them away with her next breath out.  She focused her attention on her breath again as she drew in a breath of warm fragrant sea air.
She liked the way it felt to quiet her mind.
She focused on the way the air felt moving in and out of her nose. She felt her belly lift up and down as the sea child and the sea otter continued to breathe together.

Order today!
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
In 2, 3, 4…ahhh  2, 3, 4. In 2, 3, 4… ahhh 2, 3, 4.
In 2,3, 4…out 2,3,4.

Teens can learn deep breathing with Indigo Teen Dreams CD.

Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite has created a line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. For more information visit  Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

10 Quick Travel Tips With the Kids this Holiday Season

Some families stay home for the holidays.
Some families will go the distance.
Some families will venture out and go the long distance to visit relatives!
What will you be doing?

Traveling is one of those things that, in theory, sound like a great idea every time it comes up.
Think of all the places you can show your kids… all the historical monuments… the theme parks…. And all the different states and countries they could see. Think of what a great childhood that would you would be providing them!  This time you will be celebrating holidays and possibly visiting distant relatives!

And then you start to pack. And suddenly that weeklong trip with the whole family gets a little less exciting and a little more stressful. Seeing 18 different suitcases lined up by the front door with all the clothing and knick-knacks that just have to come along is enough to send any parent into a whirlwind.

The good news is that you can take just about everything you need while maximizing space and minimizing items.
  1. Make a list - Be realistic when you’re making your list. A lot of times people tend to over-pack when they’re getting clothes and shoes together to go out of town, taking things that they may need just in case. But let’s be realistic – how often do you really end up using half the stuff you bring along? Seeing what items you need in writing will help reduce this. Instead of just throwing items into a bag, prioritize the things you absolutely need and realistically evaluate what you, your spouse, and your kids will really use on the trip and what is being brought as an afterthought.
  2. Make multiple outfits from the same pieces - Instead of picking out a separate outfit for each day for each person in the family, cut back on clothes by putting together staple pieces that can match different outfits. This way you’ll cut back on how much you’re bringing with you, but you won’t be stuck wearing the same exact thing day in and day out.
  3. Roll your clothing - Next time you go to pack nix the folded clothes and roll them instead. This will not only save on space but will allow you to fit more clothes into odd spaces and help keep things from getting creases in them from being folded during their stay in the suitcase.
  4. Remember there are convenience stores in every city - Before you start to pack all the miniature toiletries that you’ve bought to fit the regulation size, remember that just about everywhere you travel there will be a convenience store that you can buy these items at if where you’re staying doesn’t already provide them. This is an easy way to save on space and you’ll probably spend just as much in another city on those miniature toiletries as you would in your own. Plus you’ll be able to throw them away when you’re leaving so you won’t have to pack them on the way home either.
  5. Figure out what you can buy when you get there - Before you pack two weeks’ worth of diapers and formula for your baby, do some research and locate different stores in the city or town you’re travelling to where you can pick up these items. It’s unlikely that you won’t be able to find these necessities and taking ten minutes to do some internet research ahead of time will save you having to lug around a bunch of unnecessary items.
  6. Limit the number of toys you bring - As much as your kids may want to bring seven different toys with them, they are just going to take up a lot of space that could be utilized for more pertinent items or space that could be completely eliminated. Let them pick two of their favorite toys and then let them pick out a new toy wherever you end up travelling to so that they have some variety without taking up a lot of room. The same goes for books – you may want to bring two or three to read, but you don’t need to bring nine different ones.
  7. Put shoes to use - Instead of rolling up belts and socks and putting them into one of the luggage pockets, stuff them inside of shoes so that you don’t waste that empty space and you leave room for other things that need to be packed. Most people overlook this space, but it’s ideal for smaller items, including jewelry and bottled items like lotion or makeup remover.
  8. Reduce all extra items to two carry-ons - This is a good way to weed out what you need and what you don’t when you’re flying. Designate one bag for you and one for your spouse and then fill one with the different electronic devices you may want to take along such as iPods or tablets and one with books and magazines for reading and snacks you can pull out in a pinch.
  9. Ship before you leave if you need to - If you’re going skiing or hiking or something that requires a lot of gear, but you’re flying out there so you’re more limited on what you can bring with you, you may want to consider shipping some of the bulkier items ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about checking them or carrying them on.
  10. Do laundry while traveling - It may take a little extra time during your trip, but it will drastically cut back on the amount of clothes you need to bring with you if you stop and do a load of laundry here or there. Instead of bringing two weeks’ worth of undergarments you can limit it to three or four per person and just wash them at different points when you reach your destination. The same goes for shirts, pants, socks, etc.
Travelling with kids for an extended period of time doesn’t have to mean that you need to pack up your entire household to take with you; it just requires a little extra planning before you head out.
By condensing items you’ll not only save space but you’ll also probably cut down on transportation costs too since you’ll be able to carry more stuff around with you and utilize public transportation instead of hailing a taxi or renting a car on your adventures. And all that extra money means you can buy more souvenirs, of course!


Remember: It is your 'presence not presents', that count during the holiday time!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!

Friday, December 2, 2011

TV Show Ratings: What Parents Should Know

Households are now capable of receiving hundreds of different channels with the advent of cable and satellite TV. This is an overwhelming number of television shows for concerned parents to monitor. How could they possibly filter out inappropriate viewing for their young children while still being able to watch the more mature shows they enjoy after they’ve gone to bed? In 1997 TV Parental Guidelines were implemented to help parents filter out television programs they don’t want their children to watch.

Here are 10 good reasons parents want TV show ratings.
  1. Helpful tool – Even though these TV ratings are less than perfect, they are a helpful tool for parents to use. By examining what the different ratings are and what they stand for, parents have a starting point to work from when determining which shows they will allow their children to watch.
  2. Watchdogs – The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board are the ones determining how the various shows are rated. This means there is a panel of watchdogs reviewing these programs for the parents. The panel consists of experts from the television industry and public interest advocates and are available to receive complaints from concerned parents who may not agree with their ratings.
  3. Volume of shows – The sheer volume of shows available on television make it impossible for parents to review them all. The ratings system helps to sort through a multitude of programs by age group. For instance, any show with a rating of TV-MA means that it is intended to mature audiences only and not appropriate for children.
  4. At a glance – Once parents are familiar with the various ratings, they can tell at a glance whether the show should be safe for young children to watch or may need further review.  The ratings appear in the upper left-hand corner of the TV screen at the beginning of the program and again after each commercial break.
  5. Saves time – The TV show ratings system saves precious time for busy parents. As mentioned before, nobody wants to take the time to review the massive number of shows available. The ratings are visible at a glance and whole groups of shows can be blocked using the V-Chip technology built into most television sets.
  6. V-Chip – Since the year 2000 television sets have been equipped with what is called V-Chip technology to help parents filter out programming they feel is inappropriate for their children. The V-Chip receives and understands the different ratings and on screen programs can be used to block whichever ratings parents choose.
  7. Can’t always be there – Since parents can’t always be there when their children are watching TV, blocking adult programming gives them some control even when they’re not at home. Although the system isn’t perfect, it can be improved with monitoring and adjustments.
  8. Can be used for discipline – Parents can even use the TV show ratings as a form of discipline. The various ratings can be used for either punishment or rewards. Parents can block violent shows for kids who get into a fight or unblock them as a reward for staying out of trouble.
  9. Flexibility – The seven different ratings and the five different content labels give parents a wide range of flexibility when determining which shows may or may not be appropriate. Each family has different values and concerns. What may be considered taboo for some parents could be ok with others, so these ratings take that into account.
  10. Peace of mind – Parents who are diligent about using the TV parental guidelines can have more peace of mind about what their kids are watching even when they’re not being supervised.
Many television and movie producers use violence, explicit sex and foul language to compete with each other. Parents need to have some form of control to limit the amount of this content their children are exposed to. Very young children are simply not capable of making good distinctions between what is real and fantasy on TV. Although some kids may not be happy about how their parents are using the ratings system to control their television viewing, it’s a valuable tool for families to use.

Source:  Cable TV Providers

Sunday, November 27, 2011

More College Grads Moving Back Home

The number of college graduates who move home is at an all-time high, according to a poll by the consulting firm, Twentysomething, Inc. The survey found that 85% of college grads will return to Mom and Dad’s nest after graduation in hopes of finding a job and saving money. Moving back home and turning to your parents for financial help has become the norm and it really pays off for some.

Although living with Mom and Dad again may not sound very appealing, boomerang kids have the opportunity to save money, learn good personal finance habits, and become more financially secure before moving out on their own. If you’re one of the thousands of college graduates who is moving back with your parents, take advantage of this grace period and start saving and investing wisely.
  1. Save money

    The No. 1 reason kids move back home after college is to save money. Living with your parents allows you to save the money you would normally spend on rent and put it in the bank. Whether you pay the bills or live rent-free, saving is much easier when you live cheaply. The more money you can save while living at home, the better your finances will be when you move out.
  2. Develop good money habits

    Living at home can expose you to good personal-finance habits. Whether you want to obtain a credit card or start investing in a retirement fund, your parents can help you achieve financial freedom and develop good money habits for life. While at home, observe your parents’ financial habits and ask questions to get a good idea of how they spend their money and invest.
  3. Learn the value of money

    Many college students have misconceptions about money and enter the real world with a lack of personal financial knowledge. All graduates, including those who took out loans to pay for school, could use a refresher in the value of money. Living at home can help you learn the value of money because you’ll have less of it to spend and will appreciate the cash you do have.
  4. Financial security

    College grads who live at home have the financial security of their parents to help them stay afloat until they can move out on their own. Some graduates will get a free ride from Mom and Dad, while others will have to pay their dues for living at home. Either way you look at it, you’re getting a good deal. Having the financial support of your parents makes transitioning from college to the real world much easier.
  5. Invest sooner

    Moving in with Mom and Dad after college can make it easier to invest sooner. College graduates can save tons by living at home and the money they don’t spend on rent can be invested into a savings plan. One of the smartest financial investments graduates can make is to start a retirement plan, such as a Roth IRA. These investments will help you manage your cash flow and prepare for the future.
    1. You can learn from your friends’ mistakes

      Living at home allows you to learn from your friends’ financial mistakes. Many college grads jump the gun on moving out because they want their own space and independence. While some friends may live within their means and have no financial problems, many end up overspending and have to move back home. When you live at home, you can be a spectator and learn from your friends and determine the right time to move out.
    2. Pay off student loans

      Living with your parents after college makes it easy to start paying down your student loans. Living at home allows you to save tons, so you can afford to put more money toward student loans. Chipping away at these pesky loans will help you pay them off in a timely manner and free you from debt.
    3. Incentive to find a job

      Considering the current state of the economy and the rising unemployment rate, finding a job is a difficult and often demoralizing task for college graduates. Moving home may be the only option for graduates, but it may also be the ticket to getting a job. Depending on your situation and your parents’ expectations, you may not have a choice but to find work right away. Pestering from Mom and Dad may be just what you need to get serious about job hunting and finding a job. Once you secure a job and get them off your back, you’ll feel relieved and more financially independent.
    4. Build and/or fix your credit

      Living at home allows graduates to establish or fix their credit. It’s important to build good credit or fix a damaged credit score before you move out because many apartment owners and even employers conduct credit checks. If you’ve never had a credit card or form of credit, now is the time to do so. If your credit score is less than stellar, then you can use this time to improve it.
    5. Budget for the future

      It is far easier to budget for the future when you don’t have rent going out the door each month. Use this time at home to set a budget that will help you achieve your financial goals. Budgeting will also give you a better idea if you can truly make it without your parents and how much it’s going to cost you when you move out.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sexual Abuse: Know the Signs - Be an Educated Parent

Sexual abuse can be a single incident or many acts over a long period of time. There usually are subtle signs along the way that can be overlooked. Here are a few possible warnings of sexual abuse. Look for a change in your child’s normal behavior that last or become more intense.

Of course, there could be another explanation but any of these signs should be addressed. If you have any suspicions or a feeling something is wrong, seek help of a mental health professional.

Physical Signs: Bloody, torn, or stained underclothes; pain, bleeding, burning, or itching in genital area; difficulty walking or sitting; frequent urinary or yeast infections; STD or pregnancy
Psychosomatic Signs: Stomachaches, headaches or marked mood swings; nightmares or trouble sleeping; sudden changes in appetite
Sexual Behavior Signs: Uses adult-like sexual knowledge, language or behavior; writes, draws or plays out sexual-type images; frequent use of masturbation
Emotional Signs: Resorts to aggressive behaviors: thumb-sucking, bed-wetting; sudden clinginess; depressed
Behavioral Signs: Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical contact; excessive bathing, poor hygiene; or talks about self as dirty or bad; trouble focusing; seems distracted or distant at odd times; overly protective and concerned for siblings, assumes a caretaker role; talks about a new, older friend; jumpy if the phone rings, a text or email comes in; suddenly has unaccountable money, gifts, toys or mail; runs to mailbox

If there was something your child said or did that made you concerned, ask. Do know that a child may not admit or deny the abuse usually due to fear, humiliation, guilt or shame, but studies show that if asked, kids generally will tell a trusted adult of their abuse.

Special contributor: Dr. Michele Borba

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Parent Peer Groups

The Parent Peer Group (PPG) is an educational support system for parents.  PPGs create fun, frequent opportunities for parents to share thoughts, activities and philosophies on "what works".  

PPGs are guided by the Informed Families' Parent Pilot Kit, a science-based, proactive notebook designed to educate and involve parents of pre-teens and teens in creating a safe, healthy, drug-free lifestyle. PPGs can be organized at a school, house of worship, home or restaurant where parents can be comfortable and speak freely.   
The initial four sessions will focus on four key topics called agendas:
  1. Brain Development - How the teen brain develops and the harmful affects of drugs and alcohol.
  2. Harmful Media - Understanding media (TV, Internet, Radio, Print) messages and changing their impact in your home.
  3. Social Norms - Identifying and changing social norms affecting your family.
  4. Building Parent Peer Groups - How to create and expand the positive impact of Parent Peer Groups in your community.
The goal of a Parent Peer Group is to provide parents the skills to set boundaries and monitor their children's behavior by creating an informal support system with their children's friends parents and in their children's schools. By fostering communication between parents, Parent Peer Groups help parents maintain a healthy environment for their children, keeping them safe, healthy, and drug-free.

See what others are saying about the Media Literacy Agenda.  View the new video version of the Parent Pilot Kit Media Literacy Agenda online now!

If you would like to start a PPG in your neighborhood or just find out more information about attending one, call Informed Families at 305-856-4886.

Attend a Parent Peer Group online.  Informed Families is working to expand the Parent Network.  Look for opportunities to participate in online parent forums and more video based versions of our Parent Pilot Kit (PPK) coming in 2011.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Be a part of your PTA

Why should parents join their PTA?  Why don't they?

"I don't have time!"
"There are other parents that want to"
"It's just not for me"

EXCUSES!  When it comes to your child and their education, teachers, schools and communities, parents need to make the time and become interested in an organization that is targeted at making a better academic life for your child.

Concerns about public schools are much in the news, in recent times. Politicians, business leaders, college admissions officials, and academic researchers, have much to say about the quality, or lack thereof, of teaching methods and subject matter. How can a concerned parent make sense of it all and judge whether their child is receiving a proper education?

In the middle of it all, ignored by many and supported by not nearly enough, are local Parent-Teacher Associations. Local PTAs can and should be a valuable resource for any parent with questions, concerns, or ideas about how their children should be taught and cared for by schools.

Got Questions?

If you want to know how your school compares academically with local, state, and national standards, your local PTA can provide that information for you. If you have specific questions about how your child’s classroom operates, and what teaching resources your child’s teachers have available to them, your local PTA can help you obtain the answers you are looking for.

Your local PTA will be happy to provide informational materials, as well as offering you an ear for specific questions about curriculum and available services that you feel are not being addressed adequately by school administrators.

Got Complaints?

All local Parent-Teacher Associations have members that focus on parent concerns about teachers and/or classroom activities. Quite often, these concerns turn out to be based on misconceptions about classroom activities or one-sided reports from students to parents. If, after attempting to raise an issue with a teacher or administrator, a parent still feels the issue is not being properly dealt with, the local PTA can act as arbitrator or information collector in helping to find solutions.

Got Ideas?

If you think that you have ideas that would benefit your school’s ability to educate the kids in your community, the local PTA is a great place to bring your ideas for discussion. As a group, teachers are eager to hear any ideas you may have about helping them work better with your children. A local PTA gives you direct access to teachers ears, whether your ideas are about general teaching or specific issues with teaching your child.

This is, in fact, the major reasons that PTAs were created; to help teachers and parents work together in answering each other’s questions and addressing the education needs of students.

Got Time?

If you have even a few hours per month that you can devote to increasing the quality and responsiveness of your community’s schools, consider volunteering with the local PTA. I’ve heard other parents speak of Parent-Teacher Associations as if they are purely teacher’s advocacy organizations. That’s not the case. Teachers have unions for that sort of thing. PTAs are set up to foster connections between teachers and parents, to address issues of concern and improve the ability of both parents and teachers to help students achieve and grow.

As a parent, you have the opportunity and ability to get in there and be part of the solutions that help both teachers and other parents understand, improve, and grow in their ability to give students the best possible education. Don’t ignore your local PTA. Support it, join it, help it grow and be as effective as possible in this critical and difficult endeavor.

Source:  Babysitters

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today's teenagers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November is Bullying Prevention Month: Be a part of STOMP OUT BULLYING

STOMP Out Bullying™ focuses on reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country. 

It teaches effective solutions on how to respond to all forms of bullying; as well as educating kids and teens in school and online, providing help for those in need and at risk of suicide, raising awareness, peer mentoring programs in schools, public service announcements and social media campaigns. 


Every one of us are different. Some of us are short, tall, overweight, underweight, gay, straight, transgender, have special needs … we’re all various races, we dress and look differently. Bullying knows no boundaries. Popular kids can be bullied as easily as others. Just look at some of the teens celebrities who’ve been targeted. We can STOMP Out Bullying by being tolerant, kind and respectful and stand up for each other. We all dance to a different drummer – but the reality is we are ALL the same because we are ALL people. No one deserves to bullied for any reason!!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homework Help: Free Sites to Assist Your Kids with their Homework

Is the stress of homework getting you down? Do you need some help studying for that final exam but don’t know where to turn? If so, you will find this list of 10 online homework helper sites is just what you need to get the learning-ball rolling again.

The best part of these sites is that they are all available to you FREE of charge!
  1. Cliff This site is basic and probably one of the easiest to navigate, but don’t let that fool you; there are informational study aides for all high school subjects. Cliff notes: they’re not just for literature anymore.
  2. Infoplease has several interactive tools that will ease your learning. There are calculators for distances, a conversion chart, a place to find latitudes and longitudes, a thesaurus and atlas and dictionary, quizzes and timelines! When it comes to needing homework help and information, this is the place to go!
  3. At Discovery Education you will find multimedia resources to help you complete and excel with those tough assignments. This site also includes a huge assortment of parent and teacher resources, so everyone can find something to do and learn.
  4. Scholastic is not just for book orders. This site has a “homework hub” of activities that reinforce learning, while at the same time allows you to have some fun.
  5. Fact Monster: is a site of lists and lists of facts, but that’s not all; it is brimming with information, quizzes, reference materials, encyclopedia, almanac, and links to other sites. You need it? It’s here!
  6. Even the well known site, Yahoo, can help you with your homework. This site gives you the opportunity to post your question and get a specific answer. The nice thing is that all the other posted questions from the past are archived, so you can go through those questions and answers to find even more information.
  7. The Homework Spot is your homework connection place, with links to hundreds of other sites for information on every subject. Because it is organized by grade level, the homework help you need is easy to find. Help for all ages and subjects are just a click away.
  8. One of the pages that links to is Ed helper . This is a great site where you will find actual worksheets for practicing skills in all areas from pre-k to high school level.
  9. Let’s focus on one subject this time: Math. This site is math, math and more math; everything you’ve always needed to know about math, from practice sets to games, tools and links to online tutors.  This site has it all.
  10. is another one of those sites that allows you to post questions about all subject areas. This site is quite similar to the Yahoo site with one added feature: if you are in a hurry or really don’t “get –it” you can chat “real time” with a tutor who will help.  There is a cost of $.99/minute for this service, which may be well worth the cost!
When looking for help with your homework you might also want to consider contacting your local library. Many libraries have online tutoring/Q and A sessions, all for free.  Also, if you prefer a more one-on-one instructional format for homework help, there are several other sites that will connect you with a tutor for a fee.

Source:  Internet Provider

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stop Drug Abuse with Teens: Red Ribbon Campaign

Did you know:  Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.
SAMHSA invites you to participate in the 26th annual Red Ribbon Week.

Red Ribbon Week—the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the Nation—is a way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs. This year’s theme, “It’s Up to Me To Be Drug Free,” reminds us that we each share individual responsibility in creating a drug-free environment.

It is an ideal way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs. Show your personal commitment to a drug-free lifestyle through the symbol of the Red Ribbon, October 23 – 31st.

The Red Ribbon Campaign was started when drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered DEA agent Kiki Camarena  in 1985. This began the continuing tradition of displaying Red Ribbons as a symbol of intolerance towards the use of drugs. The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment towards the creation of a DRUG-FREE AMERICA.

The National Family Partnership is the national sponsor of the Red Ribbon Campaign. We are helping citizens across the state come together to keep children, families and communities safe, healthy and drug-free, through parent training, networking and sponsoring the National Red Ribbon Campaign.

A theme unifies each year’s campaign and helps to broadcast one message creating a tipping point to change behavior.

Plan a Red Ribbon celebration. Order and display Red Ribbon materials with the National Red Ribbon Theme.  Proceeds from the sale of Red Ribbon theme merchandise helps support prevention programs across America. Order  for your family, students, staff, patients, employees and customers and encourage them to wear the Red Ribbon symbol  during Red Ribbon Week, October 23rd-31st.
Sponsored by National Family Partnership.

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Building Self-Esteem with Teens and Tweens

It is that time again when Dove reaches out and helps inspire young girls to make a difference in the world.

Join the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem and Help Us Create a World Where Beauty is a Source of Confidence, Not Anxiety

Everyone Has the Opportunity to Make a Difference in a Young Girl’s Self-Esteem

Dove® is committed to inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential by caring for themselves and each other. The Dove Movement for Self-Esteem invites all women to join us in creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. There are many ways in which women can take simple actions that build self-esteem in girls. It could be as simple as inspiring the next generation with words of encouragement, spending an hour on a self-esteem building activity, or supporting self-esteem education in her town.

When women join the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem at, they will become part of a community committed to this vision and will receive regular updates on a variety of ways to get involved. Currently, women can participate in the Movement in the following ways:
  • Join the Movement: By adding their name to the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem women can join us in creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.
  • Tell Us “Who Inspired You?”: Our newest effort will celebrate the efforts of women who are leading by example to inspire the next generation to reach their full potential. We invite women to answer the question “Who Inspired You” on Dove online channels: Facebook, Twitter, and, to honor the positive impact someone had on their life. When women share their story, Dove will make $1 donation to support self-esteem education in the U.S.*
  • Download our Tools: Visit to access free tools to take simple actions to build self-esteem in young girls. We have reached over 7 million girls so far, and have set a global goal of reaching 15 million girls by 2015. Together with experts, and key partners we have created self-esteem building, educational programs, and activities for girls, moms, and mentors.
  • Join us for the Second Annual Dove Movement for Self-Esteem Weekend in October: Dove encourages women everywhere to commit to spending one hour on a self-esteem building activity with a girl in their lives during the Dove Self-Esteem Weekend taking place from October 21 – 23.
    About Our Partners: In the United States, Dove supports The Girl Scouts of the USA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Girls, Inc. with after-school programs, self-esteem building events and educational resources. Dove also supports the Alliance for Women in Media.

    Learn more at

    Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month: Abuse Bites

    Abuse Bites was created by Lisa Freeman who is an abuse survivor.

    Many don't realize that bullying isn't just limited to kids and teens.  Adult bullying is more prevalent that many know.

    Abuse Bites Workshops Aim to Educate & Train employers and workers alike how to defeat bullying and make the workforce a more enjoyable, safer, and productive place.

    October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.  Find out how you can help your community combat bullying and learn more about bullying prevention.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Employment Resources for Teens and Adults

    Jobs, careers, employment.....

    Whether you are a parent looking for employment or even a second job, or a teenager wanting to get their first job or considering what they want to do when they grow up, social networking can be a place to go to find out more about you are passionate about or possibly make more money with.

    Social networking sites were originally created to connect people, but today’s sites do so much more. Everyone knows that successful careers are built on who you know.

    No matter what field you’re in, there’s a site for you.
    1. Teachers – TeachersRecess.comA site for teachers, professors and education professionals, TeachersRecess allows educators a chance to communicate effectively; sharing lesson plans, tips and tricks, and finding out what strategies work to help students learn in the real world.
    2. Police Officers – PolicePulse.comA world-wide network of active and retired law enforcement officers, volunteers & supporters, PolicePulse connects officers and their families to local, national and world law enforcement; allowing them to compare tactics, give comfort, and exchange advice.
    3. Nanny/Childcare – NannyIsland.comA social networking site for childcare workers of all types, this site is relatively new but growing. Allowing nannies to come together, share problems, solutions, and discuss issues, NannyIsland is a place for childcare workers to relax, take in the sights, and enjoy a mini vacation from real life.
    4. Real Estate – ActiveRain.comA huge world-wide site for real estate professionals, ActiveRain has many success stories and much to offer. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out in the business or have been an agent for years, ActiveRain can help connect you to a network of dedicated professionals around the world.
    5. Firefighters – – More than just a networking site, FirefighterNation also has news on the latest fires and events, a magazine, job listings, and specialized products for firefighters. Get everything you need in one spot and an easy to use website.
    6. Nurses – - Find friends and former nursing colleagues, network your way to a new nursing job, rate and review top hospitals, schools and more, get nursing career advice and tips, and catch up on the latest nursing topics all on one site.
    7. Chefs – WeAreChefs.comPart of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), WeAreChefs allows food enthusiasts, chefs and other culinary professionals to connect and communicate all over America. Filled with information, recipes and tips, this site is a can’t miss for food lovers.
    8. Physicians – – The largest online network exclusively for physicians, Sermo allows doctors to share insights and learn from colleagues, solicit input and help peers, stayed informed, and even get paid to participate in surveys and focus groups.
    9. Fashion Designers – Fashion-Networks.netUniting fashion lovers and experts from around the world; Fashion-Networks has photos, blogs, polls and shopping from the best brand names in the fashion industry. Tips for great shows, discussions on new fads, and hints on huge sales are just a few of the benefits offered.
    10. Journalists – WiredJournalists.comThis site’s mission is to connect the knowledgeable, expert innovators in online news with journalists of all stripes hoping to learn something new about their evolving craft. The change from traditional to online journalism is happening fast, and those who don’t adapt quickly will be left behind. WiredJournalists offers connections and helpful tips about making the transition.
    All these sites have one thing in common- connections. Every career has its problems and issues, and no one person can do everything.  Communication is a cornerstone of success. You build on those who come before you and help out those who follow behind, that way we can all reach the top.

    Source:  My ISP Finder

    Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today's teenagers.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Prudential Spirit of Community Awards: Teens Making a Difference in Their Community

    Justin Churchman
    As a parent, you strive to raise your children right and you teach them the value of giving.  Throughout the country and the world there are so many opportunities for youth to get involved in and help others. Over the past 16 years, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards have been given to nearly 100,000 middle and high school students across the country for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, and many other volunteer activities. 

    The search is now on to identify thousands more who have made meaningful contributions to their communities over the past 12 months, as the prestigious awards program kicks off its 17th year!

    In honor of this school year’s application period, I had the chance to interview one of last year’s High School National Honorees, Justin Churchman.  Here is what Justin tells us about his experience and why he encourages more teens to get involved with this year’s awards program:
    • What has being part of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards meant to you?
    Being surrounded by other community volunteers for several days was amazing! It give me an opportunity to share ideas, problems and concerns with other volunteers my age. It is inspirational and affirming, at the same time, to see what other teens are doing around the world and to realize that you are making an important contribution as well.
    As a national winner, the experience has been incredible. When you look at the resumes of the teens from throughout the country, you see that kids are not letting anything hold them back - not age, gender, where they live, money and sometimes, adults! We are the generation who will be leading this country and programs like Prudential are making it clear that giving back to the community HAS to be a number one priority.

    Application forms for the 2011 Prudential awards are available now online at and the deadline is Nov. 1. I hope you will encourage your readers to apply!
    • What is the number one reason you would encourage your peers to get involved?
    The world is not going to be a better place if we don’t get involved. People don’t have to go to Mexico and build a house or to India and build a well. They can look in their neighborhoods for a senior citizen who can’t mow their grass anymore. They can walk down the street to a school where kids are working hard to learn to read and spend an hour helping. They can organize trash clean ups or clothing drives. And if everyone would just spend an hour or two, unselfishly being there for another person, they would be amazed at the changes inside them - and they will be back.
    • Has this experience brought about new opportunities for you?
    Being a Prudential winner introduced me to some of the most amazing teens in the country. I’ve met super achievers who are passionate about changing the world and I’ve met regular kids who are passionate about improving a specific part of their city. It has created networks where I can find support - both financial and physical - and a place I can turn to if I need motivation. I have also gotten some support for my favorite project, building houses in Mexico, at, and through my new online site
    • How did you go about selecting a volunteer project?
    I built my first house when I was 12 by joining a school-sponsored project. I knew that was going to be my passion, so I just made sure I stayed involved with Casas por Cristo, the organization building them. In the early years it was tough, fund raising and organizing and convincing adults I could do the job, but now that I have proven myself it is easier. As for other projects, I just look around. Really, every community has the same needs. There is always trash to be picked up or families in need of food and clothing. There are always younger kids who need an older kid to hang out with or to help them with homework. I just see a need and do my best to find a solution.
    • Why do you feel volunteering should be a part of every teen’s daily life?
    I think every teen should be volunteering because we are the next generation of leaders. We learn what we need to in school to get a career and we learn from our families about relationships. We learn from spending time in the community what it takes to grow a community strong and how to find solutions to social problems. Of course, it makes you happy to volunteer, and it rewards you like nothing else can.

    As Justin mentions, the search is now on to identify thousands more who have made meaningful contributions to their communities over the past 12 months, as the prestigious awards program kicks off its 17th year! 

    Get out there and get involved by visiting the official website at or on Facebook at

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Bullying and Gay Youth

    Bullying in Schools: Harassment Puts Gay Youth at Risk

    While trying to deal with all the challenges of being a teenager, gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender (GBLT) teens additionally have to deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them on a daily basis. They hear anti-gay slurs such as “homo”, “faggot” and “sissy” about 26 times a day or once every 14 minutes.

    Even more troubling, a study found that thirty-one percent of gay youth had been threatened or injured at school in the last year alone!

    Their mental health and education, not to mention their physical well-being, are at-risk.

    How is their mental health being affected?

    • Gay and lesbian teens are at high risk because ‘their distress is a direct result of the hatred and prejudice that surround them,’ not because of their inherently gay or lesbian identity orientation.
    • Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

    How is their education being affected?

    • Gay teens in U.S. schools are often subjected to such intense bullying that they’re unable to receive an adequate education. They’re often embarrassed or ashamed of being targeted and may not report the abuse.
    • GLBT students are more apt to skip school due to the fear, threats, and property vandalism directed at them. One survey revealed that 22 percent of gay respondents had skipped school in the past month because they felt unsafe there.
    • Twenty-eight percent of gay students will drop out of school. This is more than
      three times the national average for heterosexual students.
    • GLBT youth feel they have nowhere to turn. According to several surveys, four out of five gay and lesbian students say they don’t know one supportive adult at school.
    Source:  Mental Health America

    Jamey Rodemeyer
    With the recent suicide of 14 year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, it is yet another wake-up call to everyone - bullying kills!  

    Watch Jamey Rodemeyer's last YouTube video - "It gets better, I promise!".

    Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today's teenagers.

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Preventing High School Dropouts

    Parenting teenagers can be a challenge.

    Generations prior finishing high school was never an option.

    Today more teens are opting to drop-out completely or get their GED.  Why?

    Why do students drop-out?

    There’s no single reason.

    Students drop out of school for a number of different reasons—and it’s typically a combination of many issues. Here are some of the top reasons students give for leaving school:
    • Classes aren’t interesting
    • Parents/family/adults have low expectations
    • Poor attendance
    • Failing in school
    • Family responsibilities (work, caring for siblings, etc.)
    • Becoming a parent
    • Too much freedom
    What are some warning signs to look for?
    What to watch for. There are specific factors to watch for in students who are likely to drop out of school. If you see one or more of these signs, get involved! You can give these students the Boost they need to stay in school.
    • They don’t feel challenged in school.
    • They don’t feel high educational expectations from either their family or school.
    • They believe their parents are too controlling and they want to rebel.
    • They have trouble with schoolwork or feel like they are not as smart as other students.
    • They have drug, alcohol or mental health problems.
    • They regularly miss school or are frequently tardy.
    • They struggle with problems at home, including physical or verbal abuse.
    • They feel like they don’t fit in or have friends at school.
    • Their peers or siblings have dropped out of school.
    • They have poor learning conditions at school—such as overcrowding, high levels of violence and excessive absenteeism.
    If you fear your teen is heading down a negative path and you need to get them back on track, visit or for more information.

    Join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Teen Manipulation: Getting What they Want

    On  a daily basis I hear from parents and amazed at the stories their teen comes up with to get what they want.  I also know personally, what my own teenager (now an adult) would do to get her own way.  They stop at nothing…. As their friends all seem to have that curfew at 3am (NOT), our teenager is the only one that has to be home by 11pm (or whatever your curfew is).  I personally believe nothing good happens after midnight.  I recently came across a great article about this topic and wanted to share it with my readers.
    Manipulation in Relational Aggression: Jockeying for the Position of Victim

    By Jane Balvanz

    If manipulation, as a noun defined, is artful or skillful management, and as a verb, means to negotiate, control, or influence (something or someone) cleverly, skillfully, or deviously, then manipulation, as a relationship tool, is just plain scary.  It’s a sideways method for getting what you want instead of using direct, honest communication.

    In one sense, manipulation can be innocuous.  Parents use manipulative techniques to persuade their children to eat healthily.  And who among us hasn’t helped manage some sort of situation to pull off a surprise for someone’s birthday?  Intentions, in these cases, are meant to help or create a pleasant situation for someone else.  Both examples illustrate the sunnier side of manipulation.  But there is a dark side, a very dark side.

    The Shadow Side of Manipulation

    When kids meet and form new friendships, there is joy and abandon.  This is particularly true for our youngest.  Small children form bonds easily with little thought of gain or how a friendship could improve their social status.  They just want to play.  It doesn’t take long, though, for cliques to form and manipulation to begin.

    Kids discover ways to keep others from joining in play.  Changing the truth just a little can keep an unpleasant situation at bay.  Forgetting on purpose can explain away an indiscretion.  And gathering a group together to “explain” one version of a story first before someone else’s opposing view can be told gives a certain stronghold over the most believable version of the truth.

    It’s natural for kids to experiment with manipulation, but it’s a sad place to stay.   With girls and boys equally using it, anyone who continually succeeds through manipulation increases their chances of becoming a manipulative adult.  Spending enough time with a relationship manipulator eventually exposes their MO.  Unfortunately for the manipulator, relationships are shallow and ever changing.  It becomes a heartache for manipulators and their targets alike.

    Victim, Victim – Who Gets to Be the Victim?
    A masterful manipulator knows how to appear as the wronged party.  The best defense is a good offense; that is the manipulator’s mantra.  She knows how to set things up.  Victim is the desired role, because if you are the victim, you cannot be in the wrong.   Let me illustrate through roles and age groups:

    Preschool:  Sarah retrieves a toy Mia has just snatched out of her hands. (Mia, crying to an adult)  “Sarah took my toy!”  Sarah is reprimanded to share.

    Siblings:  Younger Child wants to play with Older Child’s science experiment.  Older Child, not wanting to have the school assignment destroyed, denies the request.   Younger Child cries to Parent that Older Child is mean.  Older Child is reprimanded because, of course, she/he is older and should know better.  (Younger Child smiles at Older Child)

    Grade School:  A group of girls calls Mary names.  Mary, in tears, says she will report the group to the teacher after recess.   After recess, the group reaches the teacher first and reports that Mary has been calling them names.

    Junior High and High School:  Maria and Eve were friends who told each other everything.  Their relationship included privately venting about others and sharing their opinions.  A fight ends the relationship, so Eve seeks “justice” by proclaiming herself Victim while sharing Maria’s private, negative views of others.  As a result, Maria is ostracized, and Victim Eve is embraced.

    Romantic Relationships:  Maggie doesn’t like Josh’s friends, so each time he goes out with them, she sulks for days.  When Josh asks what’s wrong, Maggie responds, “Nothing.”

    Work:  Analise’s boss asked her to do extra assignments without any compensation.  When Analise spoke up to say she would need extra compensation to pay for her babysitter’s additional time, the boss became incensed.  In conversations now, the boss calls Analise his Prima Dona employee.  When others ask about the obvious change in their relationship, he just shrugs his shoulders as if to suggest she is a difficult employee.  His actions cause others to stay away from Analise.

    Character Qualities That Eschew Victimhood and Embrace Self-Efficacy

    To raise a 21st Century Citizen who is able to become happy, self-reliant and successful in relationships and life itself, guide your child to live these five character qualities.  They are the antidotes to manipulation:
    1. Respect
    2. Responsibility
    3. Resiliency
    4. Honesty
    5. Courage

    When you respect yourself and others, it allows you to be honest in your communications and to take responsibility for your words and actions.  Resiliency gets you through the difficult times, and courage helps keep you in alignment with the other character values.

    What gifts you will give your child – your guidance toward characteristics that lead to fulfilling relationships without manipulation and victimhood!

    © 2011 A Way Through, LLC

    Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls Ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

    Join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Teen Drive Smart: Road Show Rally 2011 Video Contest!

    So after months of studying and practice, you passed your driver’s test and finally have your license…nice work! But the hard part isn’t over yet. In fact, it’s just starting. Once you and your friends begin driving, you’ll begin to see that everyone has a different standard of what constitutes “safe driving.”

    Before getting in the car with another driver, think to yourself: would I let my kid brother/sister drive with this person? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t do it either. Teens Drive Smart has put together some ways to help you get out of these rather uncomfortable situations without damaging friendships.

    We know that talking to your friends about driving safe can be tricky, so here are five quick things you can say when confronted with a friend who is driving distracted:
    • Texting: “Do you want me to hold onto your cell phone while you’re driving?”
    • Driving and Overcrowded Vehicle: “Whoa! We all can’t fit. Let’s not get [driver] in trouble. Anyone want to stay back with me?
    • Drinking and Driving: “I’m not feeling well. I think I’m going to call my parents to pick me up. Do you want me to have them pick you up, too?”
    • Treating You Like a Chauffeur: “I can give you a ride but the others are on their own.”
    • Rowdy Passengers: “Hey guys! Not to be annoying, but can you guys quiet down a bit? I’m still getting used to the idea of driving with other people in the car.”
    Now it is time to rally and be part of  a great contest!

    On behalf of Bridgestone Americas,  their Teens Drive Smart Road Show Rally 2011 Tour, a high school grant contest promoting safe driving and the importance of learning these behaviors before a driver sits behind the wheel is on!

    So as you head back to school this fall ask your friends, “Are you ready to rally?” Any individual or group of teens interested in participating in this contest will create a 30-second to two-minute video describing the following:
    • What they have done in their community to spread the safe driving message;
    • What they would like to do in the future to alert others about the dangers of driving distracted;
    • And why a road show rally should come to their school.
    Entrants will be judged by three criteria: Creativity, Need, and Story and are to submit their videos by October 7th. The grand prize winning school will receive the Road Show Rally and a $5,000 donation!

    More information can be found by visiting And while you’re there, be sure to check out Teens Drive Smart on Facebook and Twitter!

    Join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    10 Tips to help your teen secure their cell phones and other tech devices with strong passwords

    With the ever expanding world of technology and the sometime irresponsible world of our teenagers, it is important they learn how to create strong and secure passwords for their cell phones, iPads, computers, social networking etc.

    There may come a time when they lose their phone or other technology devices; help them secure their privacy and safety.  Or maybe someone picks up their phone or iPad and starts browsing it with unacceptable searches or worse gains access to their social networking page and posts pictures or content that are less than acceptable.

    School is opening, more teens than ever have cell phones or iPads that are easily transported with them to school.  Help them create strong and secure passwords and this includes their social networking sites.

    In this day in age it seems like you can’t trust anyone.  It’s kind of sad when you think about it. Every time you log on to a site you have to have a password now.  We all have trouble remembering passwords, but it’s not a good idea to use something easy like your birthday or your kids’ birthday.  These are dates and numbers that hackers and sadly even friends will try.

    Check out 10 tips for stronger, more secure passwords.
    1. Length matters: Longer passwords are harder for hackers to figure out.  Use a password that is at least 8 characters or longer.  Try combining names and dates to make it easy for you to remember, but harder for a hacker to discover.
    2. Change it up: Yep, I want you to come up with different passwords for different sites.  It is possible that your password for one site could be compromised and then they can use your password to access other sites that you frequent.  You may be wondering what are the odds of that happening and while I can’t tell you the exact odds I can tell you that you don’t want someone to steal your identity.  If someone gets your password they can find you on Facebook and see what you are into and then that will give them clues for where else to try to login.
    3. Be different: Use a symbol in your password.  People are less likely to guess a password with an @ symbol in the middle of it.  Or use a capital letter or a number in your password.  The more unusual you can make it the harder it will be for someone to figure it out.  If you use a symbol you can use it as part of something easy for you to remember.  Something you like, Big$$$$$ or something funny like that.
    4. Make up your own acronym: For example, you could do Sghsin1985.  This stands for Sam graduated high school in 1985.  This is a strong password because it’s not easy to guess, it’s longer than 8 characters, it blends numbers with letters and there is a capital letter in it.  If you want to be even cleverer you can substitute the s for high school and use $ in it’s place. (Sgh$in1985)
    5. Hide your passwords: Okay, I know what you are thinking.  How am I supposed to remember what password I used for which site if I’m going to use different ones for everything?  Feel free to write them down, but don’t use a sticky note stuck to your computer.  If someone were to break into your home they could see that and take it figuring that they will continue to steal from you online.  Hide your passwords in your home.  Tape it in the back of a reference book or something.
    6. Beware of the computer you’re using: With cyber cafes out there and libraries that let you get online you need to be careful with how secure the computers are.  Even our home computers might not be as secure with being able to access the Internet through our phones and tablets.
    7. Don’t pick a random word: You may think that just picking some random word that is longer than 8 characters would be a good choice, but it isn’t.  There are programs out there that hackers use that will literally run through all of the words in the dictionary.  Always change it up.  If your favorite word is curmudgeon then use it, but add some sort of number with it either before or after it or a symbol.
    8. Avoid using personal information: One of the biggest mistakes people make when coming up with a password is by using their kids’ names or dog’s name or anniversary date.  All of these things are available for hackers to find and they can use that information against you.  Feel free to use this information in combination with other things though.
    9. Try not to use repeated numbers: You might be tempted to use 8 characters in a row on your keyboard.  (wertyuio)  This looks on the surface like it would be a good idea, but hackers are onto these types of passwords.  That same as 12345678 is a bad choice.  Also, don’t just spell something backwards.  Hackers are onto that trick too.
    10. Test your new password: Once you have done all the legwork and come up with what you think is the perfect password you can go HERE and check the strength.  If you need to make adjustments after that you can.
    Source:  Internet Service Providers

    Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today's teenagers.