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!

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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