Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Twitter: Bad Habits Your Kids May Be Learning From this Social Bird

Social networking and etiquette.

Years ago raising our children never included teaching them social media manners. Today, however, your social networking etiquette could determine whether you get into your college of choice and land the job you have been dreaming of.

Social media forums have some real up sides, we can’t deny that. When it comes to staying in touch with far-flung friends and family and being up to speed with all the latest and greatest in news and gossip, it’s been a real blessing to have social networking sites like Twitter.

We just wish that some kids/teens didn’t suffer from some side-effects of overuse.

Here are 7 bad habits that kids pick up from Twitter:
  1. Poor Grammar – We’ve seen this from chat room usage, text messaging, and IM’s; so it’s nothing that’s really new. The 140-character limit and Twitter’s wildly popular platform just seem to exacerbate the problem to a far greater degree.
  2. Time Management – Let’s be frank, this isn’t just a problem for kids, but it poses a greater threat to them, since they haven’t yet learned to balance their time between work and leisure to the extent they will need to as adults.
  3. Following Celebrities – On the surface, and with proper balance, there’s nothing inherently wrong with corresponding with celebrities. In fact it’s one of the great things about Twitter. The danger is in placing more emphasis on the posts of the famous, re-tweeting every little blurb as though it were sage wisdom, all just because of the person’s celebrity status.
  4. Public Venting – It’s good to have outlets for our anger and frustration, so long as they are safe and private. The trend these days apparently is to go to your profile and launch into a thoughtless tirade when the mood swings. Not a wise or healthy habit and one that can end up backfiring on you.
  5. Loss of Originality – This isn’t a widespread thing, but it’s something we are seeing more and more often. Re-tweets are another form of showing approval, like a thumbs-up or a like. Used in that way, they’re vaguely useful and certainly harmless enough. The difference is that re-tweets at times almost seem like recitations, with RT’ers supplanting original thought in favor of aping whatever post happens to be popular at the time.
  6. Auto-Following – In this context, it’s more or less seen as a polite reciprocation of a friendly gesture. It can be done automatically with an app, or manually on a tit-for-tat basis. The thing is, following someone should be based on individual merit, as determined by the follower, on a case-by-case basis. Kids need to establish these parameters and values in their lives now, and not toss them aside in a social networking environment.
  7. Blurring the Lines – This is a virtually universal issue, in that it affects people of various ages, backgrounds and occupations. There seems to be little if any distinction for so many of us, between our personal and professional lives, as we embrace these social media sites.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Teens and Volunteering

Especially at the holidays, it is a great time to encourage your teens to get involved with volunteerism. 

Community service hours are usually required for high school graduation, but more important than that is the giving back to others and the self-esteem it can bring to your teenager.

Here are some ideas to give to your teen:
  • Informal volunteering. Your teen watches a neighbor’s kids or joins a group of students who are cleaning up a park.
These activities are the easiest to find. They don’t require a long-term commitment. They may whet your teen’s interest to get more involved.
  •  Formal volunteering. Many teens have a regular volunteer job. They help at a food bank. They tutor a younger student.
These activities teach responsibility—teens have to show up when they say they will. They often help teens decide whether they want a career in this field.
  • In-school clubs. From foreign language clubs to yearbook, sports to music, there are clubs for every interest.
Many schools have clubs that are organized to provide service. Groups like Key Club and student government can help students help others.
  • Community organizations. Many out-of-school clubs offer teens a chance to learn and grow. Most religious organizations offer activities for youth. Teens might also think about Girl and Boy Scouts, 4-H, DeMolay and community sports organizations.
Source © 2013 Parent Institute

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral

Order today!
"Everyone is looking for an answer to the bullying and cyberbullying problem. We know where it can be found: in teens themselves. We’ve met so many who are coming up with creative ideas, and running with them. They are spearheading movements and making a real, measurable difference. And here are some of their stories. Join them, and join us. Words wound, but words can also heal and help. We know it, and you know it - and so let's stop standing on the sidelines. Let's get in there and do something about it."

Justin and Sameer, creators of Words Wound 

Cyberbullying happens every day. Harsh words and damaging photos exchanged through texts, email, or social media can result in humiliation, broken friendships, punishment at school, and even legal prosecution.

In some cases, online harassment has contributed to teen suicide. Faced with this frightening problem, parents, educators, and teens are looking for information and advice. Many books have been written for adults about what cyberbullying is and what to do about it, but nothing has been written specifically for teens to help them to protect themselves and their peers.

Written by the foremost experts in cyberbullying prevention and reviewed by teens, this book provides practical strategies for those who are being cyberbullied, seeing cyberbullying, or who just want to do something to help make their schools a safer and more respectful place. The book includes dozens of real-life stories from those who have experienced cyberbullying, including many who have risen above it to make a positive difference in their schools.

In short, "Words Wound" helps students to be the primary agents of change to "delete cyberbullying and make kindness go viral." Are you ready to join the movement?

Order on Amazon today!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dazed and Confused: Trends in Mental Disability

Nearly 2 million teens, or 8 percent of the adolescent population, experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Trends in Mental Disability
Source: BestMastersinCounseling.com

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Helping Your Teen Avoid Drug Use

Statistics have proven parents do make a difference in their child's decision to use drugs.

Here’s a quiz to see whether you’re doing all you can.

Give yourself five points for something you usually do, zero points for something you never do—or any score in between.

___1. I have talked with my teen about drug and alcohol use. She knows our family’s values.
___2. I know where my teen is and who she is with.
___3. I keep my children involved in positive activities like volunteering and sports.
___4. I know the signs of alcohol and drug abuse.
___5. I am aware of the example I provide.

How did you score?

Above 20 means you’re doing all you can to help your teen avoid drugs and alcohol. A score of 15 to 19 is average. Below 15 means you may need to talk more directly about drugs and alcohol.

Copyright © 2013 Parent Institute

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Teen Text Talk

When it comes to teens it can be more difficult and even more important to be a parent in the know.

Let’s start with 50 Acronyms Parents Should Know: 

(Courtesy of Enough is Enough and NetLingo)
  1. 8 - Oral sex
  2. 1337 - Elite -or- leet -or- L337
  3. 143 - I love you
  4. 182 - I hate you
  5. 1174 - Nude club
  6. 420 - Marijuana
  7. 459 - I love you
  8. ADR - Address
  9. AEAP - As Early As Possible
  10. ALAP - As Late As Possible
  11. ASL - Age/Sex/Location
  12. CD9 - Code 9 – it means parents are around
  13. C-P - Sleepy
  14. F2F - Face-to-Face
  15. GNOC - Get Naked On Cam
  16. GYPO - Get Your Pants Off
  17. HAK - Hugs And Kisses
  18. ILU - I Love You
  19. IWSN - I Want Sex Now
  20. J/O - Jerking Off
  21. KOTL - Kiss On The Lips
  22. KFY -or- K4Y - Kiss For You
  23. KPC - Keeping Parents Clueless
  24. LMIRL - Let’s Meet In Real Life
  25. MOOS - Member Of The Opposite Sex
  26. MOSS - Member(s) Of The Same Sex
  27. MorF - Male or Female
  28. MOS - Mom Over Shoulder
  29. MPFB - My Personal F*** Buddy
  30. NALOPKT - Not A Lot Of People Know That
  31. NIFOC - Nude In Front Of The computer
  32. NMU - Not Much, You?
  33. P911 - Parent Alert
  34. PAL - Parents Are Listening
  35. PAW - Parents Are Watching
  36. PIR - Parent In Room
  37. POS - Parent Over Shoulder -or- Piece Of Sh**
  38. pron - porn
  39. Q2C - Quick To Cum
  40. RU/18 - Are You Over 18?
  41. RUMORF - Are You Male OR Female?
  42. RUH - Are You Horny?
  43. S2R - Send To Receive
  44. SorG - Straight or Gay
  45. TDTM - Talk Dirty To Me
  46. WTF - What The F***
  47. WUF - Where You From
  48. WYCM - Will You Call Me?
  49. WYRN - What’s Your Real Name?
  50. zerg - To gang up on someone
Be an educated parent – you will have safer teens!

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Phone vs Text vs Email

What type of person are you?

Phone vs. Text vs. Email
Source: Accredited Online Colleges

Yes:”The only way to do business aside from in person.”
Sort-of:”It is easier to understand nuances, humor, and intonation.”
No:”Ugh, it’s so stressful having to actually talk to someone. A phone call is an invasion of privacy.”
Yes:”Easiest and most convenient by far.”
Sort-of:”That’s a lot of typing on a small keyboard.”
No: “What’s texting? So unprofessional.”

Yes:”Very clear, easy, and always have a record of the convo.”
Sort-of: “Well you can respond when it’s convenient.”
No: “What’s email? It’s hard to tell what people really mean.”

It probably depends on your generation

The Young Ones
43% of 18-24 y.o.’s think texting is just as meaningful as a face to face conversation.
42% of teenagers say texting is the main reason they own a phone.

Millennials prefer emails and texts to other forms of communication.

29% of Millennials think in person meetings are effective vs. 45% of Boomers
[% of generations that use cell to text]
Millennial: 88%
Gen X: 77%
Boomer: 51%
Silent: 9%
Median # of texts in the last 24 hours of
Millennial: 20
Gen X: 12
Boomer: 5

And at the extreme: Teenagers: 50
It’s part of an ‘always connected’ youth culture.

[% of generations that sleep with their phone]
Gen X: 68%

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Facebook and Kids: What Habits Are They Picking Up?

The Facebook generation – that is the trend of our kids and teens today, but what new habits (good and bad) are they learning from social networking?  Since Facebook is the largest and most used social networking site, let’s see what the top seven bad habits kids are learning from Facebook.

You had to have seen this one coming: kids are picking up bad habits from their extensive use of social media giant Facebook. This can’t come as too big of a surprise though, because it stands to reason that something so popular and fun would be bound to have some ill effects. Not that we’re condemning Facebook, mind you, but there are a few potential pitfalls to watch out for regarding your child’s usage.

The following are seven bad habits that kids pick up from Facebook:
  1. TMI – To be honest, many of us are already guilty of grossly over-sharing our personal lives on Facebook. When you have a place to update your status 24/7, though, it shouldn’t come as any real surprise that eventually one’s entire personal life is right there for anyone and everyone to read on their profile.
  2. Inappropriate Friending – It tends to be an automatic reaction for some to “friend” someone after they’ve added you, accompanied by the friend confirmation request, whether this person is someone you know well or not. While they may not like the idea of saying ‘no’, safety should have a higher priority than popularity.
  3. Posting Inappropriate Photos – Inappropriate photographs always seem to find their way onto people’s Facebook pages. For that matter, taking such photos in the first place is ill-advised, to say the least. Coupled with the prospect of being friended by stalkers and strangers, not to mention being available for any potential employers or school officials, this makes for a very dangerous mix.
  4. Poor Time Management – It’s very easy to lose track of one’s time while socializing on Facebook, and hours at a time can be lost without even realizing it, often at the expense of more important things like homework, chores, etc. It may be wise to install a filter software that can monitor use and block certain sites during specified time periods to ensure that your kids don’t spend too much time on the website.
  5. Indiscriminate Downloading – Facebook is notorious for third party apps that seek to gain access to personal data and the friend lists of members who use them. There’s a large risk associated with accepting gifts via some of these app, unfortunately, that could end up compromising your personal information.
  6. Poor Grammar – As with chat rooms, IM’s, and text messaging, all of which came prior to social media, Facebook posts can tend toward cyber shorthand, whether it’s in the interest of brevity or simply born out of sheer laziness. Although it’s acceptable – even necessary in some cases – to limit character usage, it’s very easy for this habit to leak over to your child’s more formal writing and correspondence.
  7. Not Safeguarding Personal Info – Facebook provides varying levels of privacy settings for its users. Members can share everything with anyone, or limit access to their profile to just friends and/or family. Kids today have become ok and even lax with the safeguarding of their personal information, and identity theft, stalking or harassment can end up being one of the penalties for your child being too open with his or her personal information.
Source:  Become a Nanny

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

National Cyber Safety Awarness Month and Your Emails

Have you ever hit that SEND button then realized it went to the wrong person? After all, especially if you work with an address book, you could have more than one "Sue" in there, and another "Sue" just received my email. Unfortunately, this other "Sue" is not exactly one you wanted to know about the information that was intended for the other "Sue".

Yes, email does have have pet peeves we need to be aware of.

Whether you use email a little or a lot, there are certain things that annoy you about this communication tool. Sometimes the annoyance comes from the way others use it. Sometimes it is just your own frustration in dealing with the software and computers in general that is the issue.
  1. Forwards. It isn't that we don't ever want anyone to forward us a great email message, we just hate it when that is ALL we receive from some people and that we receive them in multiples each day. It doesn't take long for those warm fuzzy messages and all those funny jokes to become very impersonal when that is all a person ever sends. All it takes is two or three email friends that are “Forward Junkies” to keep your email box filled with new time wasting mail every day.
  2. Guilt and Greed messages. You know the ones I'm talking about. A lot of them have really great content in them but when you get to the end they hit you either with greed (send this to at least 10 people in the next 5 minutes and you're wishes will all come true) or with guilt (send this on to everyone on your mailing list if you're not ashamed of Jesus).
  3. Not using bcc. Incase you are one of those who still doesn't know what bcc stands for, it's blind carbon copy. When you send those forwards on to people, don't use the To: or the CC: fields. There is another option, it is the BCC field. This keeps all the email addresses you are sending to hidden from the other recipients. Do your part to help prevent the spread of viruses and spam, use the bcc field when sending to multiple recipients.
  4. Pictures and videos sent to dialup accounts. If you know that one of your email contacts has to access the internet via a dialup connection, have compassion on them. Think before you send them that Youtube video or the ten cute pictures of puppies. It will take forever for them to download at dialup speed and they can't get any of their other email until yours finishes loading.
  5. Receiving files you can't open. Sometimes this issue could have been avoided with a little thought on the senders part, other times it is just a matter of the recipient not having an up to date computer or having an incorrect setting that doesn't allow them to open certain files that others can. If you have the newest version of MS Office, don't assume that everyone else does. Use your 'Save As' function to save the file in a different format that is compatible with a wider range of programs.
  6. Reply All. Although this is a great feature, sometimes it gets used unintentionally and everyone on a list receives a reply meant for only one of you. This can be annoying, and potentially, embarassing.
  7. Fear and hate messages. These are those messages that are intended to stir up fear, anxiety or even hatred. Often times the messages are political, racial or religious in nature. Usually they also mix truth with falsehoods or exaggerations to add to the confusion.
  8. Use of text slang with non-texters. LOL – Does that mean 'Lots of Love'? Btw – Does that mean 'Before the War'? idk, ttyl Translation: I don't know. Talk to you later.
  9. Assumptions that everyone checks their email daily. With so many having continual access to their email via their computers and cellphones, it is easy to assume that an email message will be received and read the same day it was sent. There are those who choose not to open their email inbox daily, either because they don't want to take the time or they don't expect to receive important communication via email on a regular basis. It can be frustrating to persons on both ends when an email regarding important news is not read until several days after it was sent.
  10. Spam. This is the equivalent of electronic junk mail. Emails sent out to email addresses in mass mailings in the attempt to lure you to a website or infect you with a virus. They waste your time and endanger the security of your data. Good virus and anti-spam filtering software can help alleviate this annoying issue.
Electronic mail, we love it and we loathe it at times, but it has become a part of almost everyones life. We might as well learn how to use it in the most beneficial ways possible.

Source: My ISP Finder

I have personally received several emails from people that have "Sue" in their address books. Many were business related messages regarding meetings they were to attend and updates on conferences. I have politely emailed the people back saying they have emailed the wrong "Sue".

The Internet, it is a wonderful tool, you just need to use it responsibly.

Friday, September 27, 2013

15 Blogs with Best Tips for Your New Teenage Driver

Thinking about teaching your teen to drive might be giving you anxiety attacks, but with some careful planning and preparation it doesn’t have to. To help make the process a smoother one, it’s a good idea to start talking to your child about driving well before he’s ready to get behind the wheel. Your child is taking cues from you, so you need to model responsible driving skills, too. No matter how experienced of a driver you are, you’ll want to brush up on safe driving rules and laws before you start teaching your teen, as well as prepare some basic lessons for him once it’s time for him to start learning to drive. To learn more tips on how to teach your teen to drive, read these 15 blog articles.

Set a Good Example
Everyone is susceptible to road rage on occasion, and you’ve likely pushed the speed limit once or twice in your life. Think about your driving habits before you start teaching your teen to drive and fix any bad habits now, because your child is watching and learning driving habits years before he gets his learner’s permit. It’s never too early to start talking about defensive driving tips with your teen, and these five blog entries are full of tips to help you exhibit and teach good driving skills for your child.
Know the Rules
Try to think back to when you took the driver’s test to get your own learner’s permit.  Do you remember the questions on the test?  If it’s been 20 years or so since you took the test, you probably need a refresher. After all, a lot of things can change in 20 years! Check out these five blog posts to learn why knowing the rules is necessary before starting driving lessons with your child.
Plan Out Your Lessons
Before you get into the car with your teen it’s a good idea to plan out what you’re going to teach him. Start slowly by making sure that he knows how to adjust and work everything in the car.  Driving down the road in a sudden rain shower is no place to realize that he doesn’t know how to turn on the windshield wipers. These five blog postings will give you more tips on how you can break up your lessons.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What Your Kids Think of Your Digital Reputation

You know you’re a pretty good parent. Sure, you’re not perfect – but most of the time, you do what you have to do to provide a comfortable, nurturing life for your kids. Most importantly, your children love and respect you.

But because kids are naturally curious, they will start to wonder about aspects of your life that they aren’t familiar with. And since kids are computer-savvy, they’re likely to turn to the Internet to find the answers rather than ask you.

When they type your name into a search engine, what will they come across? Will they discover:

  • Inflammatory comments from you? Did you insult someone on a Facebook thread? Send out a foul-mouthed tweet? Or perhaps you even kept a personal blog at one point that espoused ideas you’ve since “grown out of”? They’re still out in cyberspace somewhere.
  • Embarrassing photos or videos with you in them? Maybe these images depict you drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or consuming illicit drugs. Or perhaps you were wearing provocative or inappropriate clothing. Or it’s possible you were engaging in some activity that would require a difficult and uncomfortable explanation.
  • Photos or videos containing you and other members of the opposite sex? Even innocent photos of you and an ex-significant other can set off a confused train of thought in the minds of (particularly young) children. Especially if you were kissing or hugging someone who isn’t their mother/father. (And God forbid that ill-advised sex tape ever made its way onto the Web!)
  • Negative comments made by others about you? Kids are protective of their parents, so it may hurt them if they see other people saying bad things about Mom and Dad on Facebook or other social media sites, even if they were meant in jest. Especially if they were written by people that the child knows (like family friends or relatives).
  • Your membership in groups that may be difficult to explain? In addition to traditional organizations, this includes online forums, virtual worlds, and even gaming sites. If you are found contributing to a site or group that discusses drugs, weapons, illegal activity, or pornography – even one time – that will probably initiate an awkward parent-child conversation.
  • Complaints or accusations against you professionally? If you are a business owner, lawyer, or doctor, there are sites out there that collect reviews and comments about people in your industry. Practicing good merchant, attorney, or physician reputation management will reduce the odds of your kid seeing someone insult or gripe about their mom or dad.
  • Your criminal record? Sure, those criminal record database sites cost a little money – but that doesn’t mean that your child still won’t get access to them. Even if it was a drug charge, public intoxication arrest, or a misdemeanor assault or theft, any blemish on your past could undermine any moral authority you have with your kids in the future.
You’ve probably already figured out the moral of this story: It is essential that you monitor your online reputation. This means getting problematic content off of sites you control, and even asking other site administrators to remove unflattering material. Because the last thing you want is for some long-ago incident or bad decision to come back to haunt you by jeopardizing your relationship with your children.

Guest post by Chris Martin.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World

By Rosalind Wiseman

Rosalind’s new book, Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Your Son Cope with School Yard Power, Locker Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Realities of Guy World, shows what’s really happening in boys’ lives. It creates a new language and analytical framework to understand the power of boys’ social hierarchies and how these influence their decision-making and emotional well-being.

Order today!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Drive 4 Pledges Day September 19th

A movement is accomplished through the voices and actions of many. That is why four national wireless service providers, spearheading the It Can Wait campaign, are urging people to share their commitment to never text and drive with others on Drive 4 Pledges Day, September 19.

Individuals can now sign up at ItCanWait.com to get resources that will help them share their commitment on social media and personalize the movement on the streets of their communities on key activation days. Aspiring to create a social stigma around this dangerous habit of texting while driving, Drive 4 Pledges Day will focus on getting individuals involved in taking the pledge to never text and drive while encouraging others in their community to do the same. These individuals will join AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Inc., Verizon and more than 200 other organizations by sharing their commitment not to text and drive while increasing awareness of the dangers.

On September 19, Drive 4 Pledges Day, supporters of the movement are called to help spread the word to their families, friends and communities. Advocates will be encouraged to do things like change their social profile photos and banner to It Can Wait graphics, and share their personal pledge stories using the hashtag #ItCanWait. Offline activations will include hosting pledge drives and distributing posters in their schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. All materials such as social graphics and posters will be available for download from ItCanWait.com.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stranger Danger Online: 10 Ways Predators Find Kids Online

With many parents online shopping it also means more adults with not the same motives will be online also.  Do your kids practice online safety measures?

Children today are growing up with the Internet as a regular part of life, yet the World-Wide-Web was fairly new when their parents were young. Along with all the fun and informative things available to children online, a serious danger also lurks. Internet predators like to use the anonymity of the Internet, and are constantly on the lookout for innocent victims.

It’s important for parents to be aware of the ways sexual predators troll for kids online.

Here are 10 things to watch out for to keep your kids safe on the Internet.
  1. Online games – One place Internet predators connect with kids is online games. They will choose games that are popular with the age group they prefer and pose as other kids to foster a friendship with children. Predators will watch for gamer names that indicate the gender, location or other information that is useful to them.
  2. Chat rooms – Sexual predators will pose as kids in chat rooms that are popular with children. This is an easy way for them to garner information and target unsuspecting youngsters. Once they gain a child’s trust, they may try setting up a meeting in person.
  3. Facebook – Parents need to be very careful about whether or not they allow their children to have their own personal Facebook accounts. This is prime hunting grounds for Internet stalkers who target kids. It’s very easy for them to set up fake Facebook pages and “friend” teens and preteens.
  4. Twitter – Social media is a great way for pedophiles to connect with their victims, and Twitter is no exception. Many young people use tweeting as their primary form of communication, and predators know this and go where the kids are.
  5. Websites for kids – Parents may think websites like Disney and PBS Kids are safe for their children to frequent, but predators like to frequent them too. What better place is there to find lonely kids who want to chat?
  6. Instant messaging – Since emails will linger in an account until they’re deleted, Internet predators prefer to use instant messaging that disappears once the window is closed. This makes it harder for parents to monitor who’s talking to their kids and what they’re saying.
  7. MySpace – Some consider MySpace one of the worst sites for online predators who want to connect with children. The online surveys are fun to fill out, but they also provide lots of information that can be used to gain trust with unsuspecting youngsters.
  8. Pictures – Parents need to educate their children on how pictures posted online can be used by sexual predators. It helps them to identify kids who fit their personal preferences, and any picture posted online can be used and manipulated by anyone. Child pornographers are constantly monitoring the Internet for potentially suggestive photos of children.
  9. Target the vulnerable – Internet predators are constantly on the lookout for vulnerable children that they can exploit. Kids that are lonely, unhappy, who are having difficulty with school, or who have poor relationships with their parents are easy targets. They also like kids who are willing to keep secrets from their parents or other authorities.
  10. Use coded language – The shortcut language that kids use for texting makes it harder for parents to readily understand what they’re saying. Just glancing over their child’s shoulder, a text message can look like gobbledygook, so parents need to learn this coded language to help keep their kids safe. You better believe the Internet predators know exactly what texting shortcuts mean and how to use it to gain a child’s trust.
Being aware of the inherit risks that the Internet poses to innocent children is the first step parents who want to keep their children safe need to take. Parents need to educate themselves and their children about the dangers of Internet predators as they teach them how to use the Web.

Establish rules and guidelines for computer and cell phone use, and keep the computer in a common area easily observable by parents and siblings. Use online tools for privacy settings and set up parental alerts. Parental involvement is the key to protecting your children from online sexual predators.

Source: Nanny News Network

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Internet Addiction and Teen Depression

Depression is common among teenagers; each year, an estimated 2 million teens and preteens develop clinical depression, and last year the federal government recommended that all teenagers be screened for depression. So parents may want to note the link between “Internet addiction” and depression, and keep a closer eye on children who depend on screen time as a pacifier or mood stabilizer. A recent study also found a correlation between video game use and ADHD. Like the “Internet addiction” study, no causal link has been proven, but one-third of children exceed the two hours of daily TV and computer screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Setting limits on screen time— and enforcing them—can really help.

Before school opens, sit down with your teenager.  Set limits, set boundaries and most importantly explain to your teen why it is important to stay healthy and how spending extended amount of time in front of a computer screen is not healthy.  Explaining that depression is not only common in teens, it is also a growing problem in adults.  The time is now to take care of their emotional health.

Signs of teenage depression:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens! 

Communication is key! Start talking today!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

30 Blogs to Get Kids Away from the TV

According to the Nielsen Company, the average kid watches approximately four hours of television per day. When you add in computer, tablet and cell phone usage, the amount of screen time goes up to about 53 hours per week. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN has said that excessive screen time is a contributor to childhood obesity and reduces kids’ ability to focus.  Most parents would prefer their children watch less television, but accomplishing this isn’t always easy. Instead of going cold turkey, gradually reduce the amount of time your child watches TV.

These 30 blog articles are full of activities your child can do to replace their normal screen time.

The rise in childhood obesity is one of the major reasons that doctors want to reduce the amount of television time that kids engage in. Instead of watching television, try to get your kids involved in some sort of exercise. Exercising doesn’t have to mean going for a run or participating in a sport; you can get your kids active by encouraging activities like jumping on a trampoline or playing tag in the front yard. Involve the entire family in some sort of physical activity and you can all get fit together. These five blog entries will help get your started.
Outdoor Games
Summertime means that kids have a lot of extra free time on their hands, and if they don’t have planned activities they can end up spending hours in front of the TV. Instead of letting them sit in front of the screen all day, encourage them to get outdoors and play. Take a look at these five blog posts to get ideas for what your kids can do outside.
Craft projects are a great way to get your kids doing something other than watching TV or playing on the computer, and many crafts can be done outdoors. Check out these five blog articles for some creative inspiration.   
Hobbies are a great way to occupy time, whether it’s getting out into nature and bird watching or taking on a new sport. Brainstorm different ideas for hobbies with your kids and find some that fit their interests. For ideas and tips for finding the perfect hobby, read these five blog entries.
Are your kids picky eaters? Do they get bored easily? You can solve both of these problems by getting your kids into the kitchen. There are many kid cookbooks that feature recipes that are easily understood by kids, and spending time in the kitchen can be a fun activity for you to enjoy together. For tips on how to get started cooking with your kids, look at these five blog posts.
Indoor Fun
While the dog days of summer are known for being full of sunshine and hot weather, some days will inevitably be filled with storm clouds and rain. On those days it’s a good idea to have some indoor activities tucked away for the kids to do. Unfortunately there are days that are rainy or just too hot to send the kids outside to play. These five blog posts are full of fun indoor activities; your kids won’t even miss the TV!
Source:  NannyWebsites.com 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Teens and Social Networking Addiction

Does your teen's life revolve around Facebook?

The Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen in Norway has found that Facebook addiction is real, and younger Facebook users, including teens, are the most susceptible to addiction.

Facebook addiction, like any addiction, has noticeably detrimental effects. It interferes with a person’s day-to-day life and causes him or her to neglect responsibilities. For your teen, this could mean that Facebook dependence could interfere with academic performance and have a negative impact on your child’s relationships with family members and friends. With some research linking excessive social media use to depression in teens, Facebook addiction could even take a toll on your teen’s mental health.

The researchers at the University of Bergen have developed a Facebook addiction scale that helps determine whether someone is unhealthily dependent on Facebook.

Here are some of the warning signs that could indicate that your teen is addicted to Facebook, according to their research:

1. Your teen spends an excessive amount of time on Facebook and plans his or her day around using the social media site.
2. Your son or daughter's Facebook use has steadily increased since he or she began using the website.
3. Facebook seems to be a means of escaping from the pressures of everyday life for your teen.
4. When Facebook time is limited, your child becomes agitated and upset.
5. Homework and studying takes a backseat to Facebook, and your child's grades suffer. His or her dreams of getting into an Ivy League college have fallen by the wayside. Facebook is now your teen's top priority.

Since Facebook addiction is a relatively recent phenomenon, there isn't much research that indicates how to treat it. Researchers have been aware of internet addiction, which is similar in many respects to Facebook addiction, for a while.

If you want to help treat your son or daughter's Facebook addiction, you might want to try out some of these strategies, which are based on the findings of internet addiction researchers at the University of California, San Francisco:

1. Sit down with your teen and come up with a list of all of his or her favorite activities that aren't related to Facebook. Take the list out whenever your child has some free time, and encourage him or her to take part in the activities on the list.
2. Set time limits for your teen's internet use. If your teen's only able to spend forty-five minutes on the computer each evening, it'll be rather difficult for him or her to stay addicted to Facebook. If you try out this strategy, you can expect that your teen won't be very happy at first. Just remember that you're the parent, you're in control, and you're doing what's best for your child.
3. Reward your teen for decreased Facebook use. Each week or month your child uses Facebook appropriately, reward him or her with a book, movie, mp3, trip to the museum, or other incentive. This will help encourage healthy internet habits and encourage interest in other forms of entertainment that are separate from Facebook.
4. If your teen's Facebook addiction is particularly worrisome, consider therapy and medication options. Certain types of medication have worked wonders for people with internet addiction. Talk to your family doctor about treatment in the form of medication, and consider setting up an appointment for your teen to meet with a therapist.

Facebook addiction is a real problem. If you think your teen is dependent on Facebook, it's your job to be proactive about it and nip the dependence in the bud. The life of a teenager should be exciting and full of opportunities. So, don't let any sort of addiction hinder your child's growth into a healthy and happy adult.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Teens and Data Plans: Does Your Teenager Need Internet on Their Cell Phone?

Teenagers in today’s society have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Just by using a web-enabled cell phone, they have access to everything the internet has to offer. News outlets across the United States have reported the unseen dangers, but many parents remain unaware of the trouble that can result.

Here are ten reasons you might want to consider canceling your teen’s data plan.
  1. Difficult to Monitor – Despite the parental controls that some service providers offer, a tech-savvy teen can still hide their tracks on a mobile device.
  2. Sexually Inappropriate Content – Not having a data plan makes sending questionable images to another cell phone much more difficult. The lack of online capabilities can greatly reduce the access your teen has to sexually inappropriate content, whether that means pornography or sharing ill-advised photos of themselves.
  3. Bullying – The bullying epidemic among older kids and teens is no secret. Limiting the capabilities of your teen’s cell phone can help protect them from some forms of bullying, or prevent them from being a bully to others.
  4. The Distraction Factor – Today’s teens spend an enormous amount of time using social networking sites from their phones, leaving them completely distracted from the world around them. Not having the ability to access such sites at their fingertips throughout the entirety of their day forces them to interact with their surroundings; everything from their grades to the conversation at the dinner table can improve when there’s no media plan available.
  5. Cheating – Having access to search engines during a difficult test can tempt even the most honest teen. Removing that temptation can help steer your teen away from making a decision that can have an adverse effect on their academic future.
  6. Usage Fees – The charges for data usage can be exorbitant, especially if your teen is downloading music, games and ringtones. Opting to have data usage disabled can save a small fortune, especially if you have more than one teenager on a family plan.
  7. Driving Dangers – While disabling data use doesn’t prevent texting, it can limit the available distractions. Have a talk with your teen driver about the dangers of texting while driving, but it might be a good idea to also consider dropping the data plan from their line for this reason as well.
  8. Peer Pressure and Risky Behavior – Today, everything from nudity to fighting is encouraged among groups of teens, simply for the purpose of recording and sharing the photos and video footage. Limiting the capabilities of your teen’s device can curtail his or her involvement in such risky or illegal behavior.
  9. Spreading of Harmful Rumors and Gossip – Though most wouldn’t use the term “blackmail,” that’s exactly what some teens are doing when they use photos and video caught on a cell phone to torment a classmate. Though disabling your teen’s data usage won’t protect them from being the victim of voyeurism, it will prevent them from sharing embarrassing footage of others.
  10. Too Much Information – Many social networking sites like Facebook offer the ability to “check in” from a mobile device. This publishes the user’s current location, sometimes complete with a map. For na├»ve teens, this doesn’t seem like an issue, but it can be dangerous if their privacy settings allow strangers to see the information.
Simply restricting your teen’s access to these services won’t keep them safe from the dangers of our high-tech society. It’s imperative to explain your reasons for not allowing mobile web access, and to have a conversation about the behaviors that a cell phone simply documents.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Teaching Teens and Kids About Saving Money This Summer

One of the most important skills for an adult to have in order to successfully manage her life and achieve independence is a strong grasp of how to effectively save and manage money. Unfortunately, this is also a skill that many parents find difficult to pass along. In the interest of helping your children grow into financially independent adults that know how to spend money responsibly, it’s essential that you begin instilling these skills at a young age. These hints can help you build the foundation for money saving habits, helping to ensure that your kids gain the skills they need to see them into the future.

Set Savings Goals
It’s tempting to give in to kids’ requests for big-ticket items, but you’re running the risk of instilling a sense of entitlement and passing up a valuable opportunity to foster strong money management skills by giving in to their whims. Instead of rushing out to make a pricey purchase, talk to your child about ways that he can save the money himself and then help him to reach that goal. Many kids operate best when they have a tangible end goal, rather than a vague idea of saving money “for a rainy day.” This also helps kids to understand the importance of not buying things they can’t afford, which can lead to dangerous credit over-extension later in life.
Give Kids a Structured Allowance
Giving kids an allowance is a time-honored tradition, but you can help your kids learn valuable money saving skills by insisting that a certain portion of their allowance be saved, while the rest is available for spending. When the habit of automatically setting some money aside is established early, the concept of saving as an adult isn’t so difficult to wrestle with. This also simulates the experience of paying bills and managing expenses, making that experience a less traumatic one than it would be if those lessons were learned in young adulthood.
Use Cash When Kids are Small
Older kids may love watching the numbers in a bank statement climb, but little ones will respond better to concrete representations of their amassed wealth. Use transparent jars as banks, and actively try to generate excitement as those jars are filled with cash. Depositing the lump sum into a savings account later will help to teach account management, but watching their stash physically grow will be more exciting when your children are too young to adequately grasp the concept of a bank balance.
Take Advantage of Everyday Teaching Opportunities
From talking about big sales to discussing unit price, there are a plethora of opportunities in everyday life that present themselves for the teaching of savings skills. Talking to kids about living frugally and setting money aside is easier when you’re discussing the concept you’re demonstrating. Remember, kids learn more about the world from observing their parents and other trusted adults than most people realize. Discussing how much things cost can also give kids a more realistic view of money as a tangible object in finite supply.
Open Savings Accounts With Older Kids
While younger children will respond best to watching their money physically grow, older kids need to learn the essential skills that are required to successfully maintain a balance in their bank account. Take your child to the bank and discuss the options for savings accounts while he’s there to listen. Walk him through the basics, and make sure that he understands that you’re there to help him. You may be surprised at the insightful questions he asks about account management.
Give Kids Independence Over Their Spending Decisions
In order to truly learn about financial responsibility, kids need to have some measure of independence over their savings. This means that you’ll have to allow him to make a mistake or two in order to learn from them. Don’t berate him for mistakes or jump to bail him out of the mess. Instead, take the time to talk about what went wrong and how to fix the situation responsibly. Remember that every mistake is a learning experience for your child, especially when it comes to money management.

Source:   GoNannies.com

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Teenagers Online: The Challenge of Keeping Them Safe

What can parents do to keep their teens safe online?

 Parenting has been a frightening proposition since the beginning of time, but parents today are faced with challenges no generation has ever faced: raising children who have spent their entire lives immersed in the Internet and social media. Here we take a look at the threats and the safeguards that make a virtually impossible task manageable. The big bad Internet can be tamed, and your kids can  be kept safe. The Teenage Online Landmine

Image source: www.bestcounselingdegrees.net  

Cyberbullying - 88% of teens say they have seen someone be mean or cruel to another person on a social network.1
- 26% of teens and young adults say someone has written something about them on an Internet page that wasn’t true.
- 16% say someone has put up embarrassing pictures or videos of them on an Internet page without their permission.
Take Action:
- Teach kids: don’t respond to online bullying; report it to an adult.
- Change passwords if suspicious activity is suspected.
- Teach kids how to block bullies on various social sites.
- Report harassment to website admins.
- 82% of children claim to be gamers
- 51% of kid gamers play online
- 47%: teens who play online games with people they know in real life
- Fighting Games: middle school boys’ favorite style of game (and girls’ least favorite)
- 13%: percentage of underage teens to successfully buy mature-rated games
- Take action:
- Treat game consoles with the same Internet caution as a computer.
- Limit gaming features: No webcams!
- Avoid using real names in gamertags or screen names.
- Keep the game console out of the bedroom and in an openly observable location in the home.
- Beware of free downloadable games online, which can be packaged with viruses and spyware
- 93% of boys are exposed to porn online before the age of 18.
- 62% of girls
- 70%: percentage of boys who have looked at online porn for at least 30 minutes straight
- HALF of those boys have done so at least 10 times.
- (Compared to 23% for girls, 14% more than once)
- 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen online sex acts involving bondage.
- 32: percentage of boys who have seen acts of bestiality online (girls, 18%)
- Rape or sexual violence: witnessed online by 18% of boys and 10% of girls
- 1 in 7 boys and 1 in 10 girls have seen child pornography online
- 13% of web searches are for erotic content
- Take Action:
- Teach kids never to click on unfamiliar links or search results
- Purchase blocking software and use parental controls for browsers
- Keep computers and mobile device use in readily observable locations in the home
- BE OPEN to discussing anything with your children. Let them know and see it’s safe to talk to you.
- Use Internet accountability services to get reports of online use
- Beware anonymizers, sites that conceal your child’s Internet activity. A good Internet accountability service will recognize them.
Online Predators
- “The offenders lure teens after weeks of conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance, adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to encounters that the teens know are sexual in nature.” Dr. David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes against Children research center
- Most victims of online predators are teens.
- Most victims know they are talking to an adult.
- 50%: percentage of victims who claim to be in love with their predators
- Most teens ignore or delete messages from strangers
- Most sexual predation occurs with someone not considered a total stranger when the relationship begins.
The victims:
- 76 % are between the ages of 13 and 15
- 75% are female
- The predators:
- 99% are male
- 76% are 26+ years in age
- 20 years: almost half of predators are two decades older than their victims
- Chat rooms: the leading initial meeting place (76%)
- Only 5% pretend to be close to the same age as their victims
- Take action:
- Don’t be overly protective to the point of paranoia. Most online activity is fine, and paranoid parents can increase the risk of alienating their children.
- Let your children know what is and isn’t okay to talk about online.
- Look for red flags: increased secrecy and emotional obsession with internet use, withdrawal from friends and family
- Talk openly (not threateningly) with your kids about their online relationships.
- 20%: teens who have transmitted nude or seminude images of themselves
- 39%: teens who have transmitted sexually suggestive messages
Take Action:
- Talk to teens about their definition of privacy: reality TV has completely altered that concept.
- Talk about sexual values and morals
Social Networks
- 55% of kids have a facebook account by the time they’re 12
- 40% of teens have observed illegal or underage drug abuse by their peers on social networks
- More than 1 in 10 teens use social media over three hours a day
- Those teens are almost twice as likely as their peers to binge drink, experiment with drugs, and be sexually promiscuous.
- Take Action:
- Be the decision maker on which social networks your children use and when they’re old enough to join.
- Always be a member of the sites your children join.
- Check browser history for social network use
- Google your child’s name periodically to check for online presence
- Employ Internet Accountability software
- Learn about and adjust the privacy settings on your child’s social networks
- Be clear with your child about what is acceptable to post-make sure they’re sticking to the rules.
- Source: http://www.covenanteyes.com/parenting-the-internet-generation/