Teen Internet Addiction: Facebook Addict – Warning Signs and Treatment Tips

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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Teens, Tweens and Social Networking

It is simply a fact, your child today, no matter what their age will be involved in some sort of social media and social networking.

Just like you will be discussing the birds and the bees you also need to discuss Internet safety.

Here are some quick tips to remind them as they begin their cyber-life:

Be nice online. Or at least treat people the way you’d want to be treated. People who are nasty and aggressive online are at greater risk of being bullied or harassed themselves. If someone’s mean to you, try to ignore them – often that makes them stop. Use privacy tools to block them from viewing your full profile and contacting you.

Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends.

Passwords are private. Don’t share your password even with friends. It’s hard to imagine, but friendships change and you don’t want to be impersonated by anyone. Pick a password you can remember but no one else can guess. One trick: Create a sentence like “I graduated from King School in 05” for the password “IgfKSi05.”

Read between the “lines.” It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that, while some people are nice, others act nice because they’re trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship or romance.

Don’t talk about sex with strangers. Be cautious when communicating with people you don’t know in person, especially if the conversation starts to be about sex or physical details. Don’t lead them on – you don’t want to be the target of a predator’s grooming. If they persist, call your local police or contact CyberTipline.com.

Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you’re both in the same location, so – to be 100% safe – don’t meet them in person. If you really have to get together with someone you “met” online, don’t go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring some friends along.

Be smart when using a cell phone. All the same tips apply with phones as with computers. Except phones are with you wherever you are, often away from home and your usual support systems. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.

Online Predators: Knowing Where Your Teens are Surfing Online

“Your teen comes home from school and goes up to her bedroom, closes the door and goes online.” – ScreenRetriever

As a parent of a teenager in today’s digital society it can be difficult to keep up with the ever changing Internet.  It can be more challenging to keep your lines of communication open with your teen to insure their safety both online and off, however it is a priority for parents.

Stats parents should know:

What Parents Can Do:

  1. Self education- Learn what kids may be exposed to online – Learn what the risks are.
  2. Communitcating, educating, e-mentoring your kids about:
    • Online risks
    • Chatrooms, game site risks
    • Predators and to be aware of manipulative behavior, gifts, requests for nude pictures, grooming.
    • Predators don’t look scary, they look like you or I, or the person down the street.
    • Teaching your child that if they get in a situation that feels uncomfortable, that they should and can always come to you and that they won’t get in trouble if they do.
    • Only friend people they know on Social Networking Sites
    • Never meet someone they’ve met online without talking to an adult first.
    • Turn off webcam when not in use

3. E-mentor kids online especially when they have a computer in their bedroom. ScreenRetriever enables parents to monitor children’s computer activity live where ever the child’s computer is located in the home including who your child is communicating with using their webcam.

4. Set limits and ground rules about what your child is allowed to do online, sites they visit, information they post, who their friends are on social networking sites, who they are chatting with. Go over the ScreenRetriever tips before they are allowed on the computer.

5. Learn the language your kids use on the computer and cellphone, like A/S/L or GNOC.

6. When your child comes to you with a problem, be there for them, and don’t over react. Many kids don’t tell their parents when they have a problem online because they are afraid they will lose computer privileges.

7. Start e-mentoring early when kids go on the computer so that your family values and rules are ingrained early.

One child caught in the manipulative trap of a predator is one too many.   This can be prevented when parents “parent online” and “e-mentor”.

An added tool for assistant and protection for your teens and children, parents may want to consider ScreenRetriever.  (Watch the video).

ScreenRetriever gives you peace of mind.  Screen Retriever is the only supervising software that follows the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Sign up today for your free 2-week trial period.  No credit card is required for this trial period.

Need help installing it?  Yoursphere for Parents is a click away with user friendly instructions!

You can join ScreenRetriever on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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Facebook and Kids: Parents You do have Options for Social Networking Sites for Kids

Is Facebook really for kids?

What kids do online have real world consequences – do they realize that?

The answer is probably not surprising to many parents.  Most kids and teenagers do not think of the consequences when they post what  they believe are silly comments or funny photos today.

Everyday a parent somewhere is faced with a question from their child – “Can I join Facebook?”

Facebook was originally created for college students in 2004. Ever since then the once small private website has grown to over 800 million uses. Not only is it for college students, but for parents, companies and children. According to Pcworld.com, 7.5 million Facebook users are under 13, and two-thirds of those kids are under 10.  It’s becoming a huge debate among children and parent; to join Facebook or not to join is the question. [See options for younger kids at the end of the article].

The current legal Facebook user age is 13 years old. Any child younger is discouraged to log on, but of course there are plenty ways around that. It is really simple for a child under the age of 13 to get on to Facebook. All you need is a name, email address and a fake birth date.

Before you let your kid log on there are a few things to consider before allowing your child on Facebook:

Facebook is relatively safe. You have many options on the level of privacy and protection you want to set on your page. But keep in mind that your child is always susceptible to online predators if they are online. Whether it is Facebook or online gaming, predators are lurking everywhere. The ‘checking in’ feature can be dangerous in the sense anyone can know where your child is once he or she check in, whether that is at school or at a movie theatre.

Not only is it dangerous it can be a huge distraction. According to heathland.time.com, “Research has found that students in middle school, high school and college who checked Facebook at least once during a 15-minute study period got lower grades.” Facebook is just one more distraction for your child.

There are over millions of Facebook users and just like surfing the web there are things you may not want your child to see. You may be in some control of what people can see your child do, but you can’t control what your child may see or read from another user.

Probably the most news making problem with kids on Facebook is the amount of cyberbullying that is occurring. There are dozens of news stories, books, news articles and movies based on this growing epidemic. Cyberbullies are other kids that harass and bully children using technology like Facebook, Twitter, texting and blogs. Cyberbullies are able to hide behind their computer without thinking about the consequences their rumors, teasing and mean words are doing. Cyberbullying is serious; studies show that 42% of kids have been bullied while online. 1 in 4 have had it happen more than once. (For more statistics information visit http://www.isafe.org/.)

When Facebook is used appropriately it can be a great way for your child to keep in contact with friends and family members. If you choose to allow them to log on, it’s suggested to closely monitor your child’s Facebook by logging on for them, keeping the password safe until you feel they are able to handle it.  Monitoring their page and having access to their page will help with possible dangers. Remember to set your child’s page to private and be sure that comments and photos are on the settings you want.

Source:  Internet Service Providers

Meet Yoursphere for YOUR kids today!

Now when you are faced with that question, “Can I join Facebook?” from your child – you can offer a safe, fun and exciting option!

Yourpshere.com is one of the fasting growing social networking sites for kids.  The benefits are endless, their priorities are the safety of your child and their information.  The founder, Mary Kay Hoal, a mother of five children, created Yoursphere.com as well as Yoursphere for Parents which is full of educational materials and information to keep you up-to-date on today’s gadgets and how to keep up with the ever changing privacy settings of the Internet.

Watch this video on the  as an introduction to Yoursphere!

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NO BULL Challenge Campaign: Get Your School Involved

Bullying and cyberbullying has become a cancer that potentially has a death sentence.

Florida is not a stranger to tragedies related to bullying incidents and suicides among tweens and teens.

The NO BULL Challenge is the largest, youth-led national campaign in America’s history to combat cyberbullying.

Murray Middle School in St. Augustine is home to Girls CircleGirls Circle is a support group for middle school girls. It is designed to foster self-esteem, help girls maintain authentic connections with peers and adult women, counter trends toward self-doubt, and allow for genuine self-expression through verbal sharing and creative activity.

Girls Circle are diligently preparing to be part of the NO BULL Challenge.  This campaign is open to all middle and high school students. (Watch the video ).

Fifteen finalists will be invited to attend the star-studded NO BULL Teen Video Awards in San Francisco.  Our community is behind our students and just making the effort to show your support to put an end to bullying and cyberbullying is a step in a positive direction.

Do you want to know how you can enter?  Click here for FAQ.

Important dates to know for this challenge:
January 15, 2012: NO BULL Challenge Begins (12:01 am PST)

March 15, 2012: Video Upload Deadline (12:00 am PST)

March 15, 2012: Voting begins

April 15, 2012: Voting ends to select top 100 most popular videos

May 17, 2012: 15 finalists chosen from top 100 favorites

July 21, 2012: 8 Winners announced at NO BULL Red Carpet Awards Event in San Francisco

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Sexting: What parents need to know

Online safety of teens and kids of all ages is a priority as well as cell phone safety.  This brings us to a very hot topic which a guest writer has asked me to post his recent article to help parents understand how important it is to understand what sexting is and how they can take steps to help keep their children safe virtually.

Sexting has become a recent trend with mobile users, as nearly 40% of teens reporting sexting at least once or consistently. Sexting is when one person sends a nude, or sexually suggestive picture/text of themselves to another person or a group. The consequences of sexting range from nothing, to serious. For parents, the worries are real and dangerous.

Child Pornography

The primary concern for parents is sexting that involves suggestive photos, especially nudes. Several teens have been charged with ownership of child pornography. That’s because even if two students under age 18 are dating, possession of nude photos of individuals under the age of 18 constitutes child pornography. In some cases, teens who have snapped pictures of themselves have been charged with “manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography.” Those receiving the pictures have faced, and been sentenced, to charges of possession. Convictions lead to life-long registration on sexual offender lists.

Digital World

Once the pictures have been taken, parents have more issues to worry about, namely digital records. After pictures have been taken digitally, they immediately enter a digital world where they can become permanent. One person can send the picture to another and so on until it’s been shared across the digital world. It can all start with one phone. With chat rooms and other websites, it’s easy for pedophiles and other predators to misrepresent age, sex, and location. Teens and kids are constantly connected to the web. Not only can those pictures make their way to illegal websites, they can also make their way to strangers.

Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and other social media sites are like online directories for everyone and anyone. It can be easy anyone to assume a false identity. With a couple clicks on the phone, a picture gets into the hands of the wrong person.

Psychological Factors

There are many reasons why teens take part in sexting and most of them are a new take on the old world of flirting and courting. Many teens send the texts as flirtatious messages, to boost popularity, or because of peer pressure. They can also include forms of sexual harassment, or bullying.

The ramifications for of this are undocumented in terms of sexting, but the potential psychological issues of self-esteem are wide and concerning. Adolescents and teens are entering a stage of life where body-image and self-esteem are developing. Bullying, harassment, and derogatory comments can degrade and damage morale. The effects of this can last for years or decades.

By sexting, teens put their bodies out there to be judged and critiqued. While their bodies may be healthy, teens use any chances to tease or insult another, especially if it means a chance to elevate themselves in a social clique, or in popularity. The self-esteem issues created by pictures, or suggestive language, being misconstrued, getting into unwanted hands or from unwarranted comments, can devastate teens and lead to suicide.

Cautionary Steps

Beyond eliminating and forbidding the use of all digital devices, there are other measures that parents can take to protect their teens.

The first is establishing a good relationship. Studies consistently show that parents who foster good relationships with their children have more influence on them than the media or peer pressure.

A strong relationship makes it easier for parents to approach kids about sexting and its consequences. Being honest with children about the potential legal consequences, psychological factors, and personal ethics and morals behind sexting is a good way to help them understand its seriousness.

To instill that seriousness, parents should monitor their child’s activities and friends. Much of sexting in teenagers is caused by peer pressure or social interactions. Supporting them in making the right decisions, and spending less time from those who are sexting, may be the best way to keep them safe.

Special contributor:  Steven Farrell is the administrator of ReversePhoneLookup.org, the best reverse phone directory online.

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Teaching Your Teen Respect Both Online and Off: Being a Good Cyber-Citizen

How do you treat others – online?

How do your teens treat their friends – online?

Teaching our kids and teens respect starts from a young age, however when it comes to technology, parents need to understand it is just as important to continue the lesson of respect digitally.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month! In honor of this year’s theme, “Our Shared Responsibility,” JustAskGemalto.com compiled a list of 10 ways to be a better cyber citizen and help keep you and your family secure online.

1.       Understand the technology available to protect you and your family’s digital identity: Digital security devices give you the freedom to communicate, travel, shop, bank and work using your digital identity in a way that is convenient, enjoyable and secure.  What digital security tools are you already using every day?

Consider using a personal security device when going online: Having a personal security devicein addition to a password better secures you and your sensitive information.  Learn more about how this concept is a lot like your ATM card.

3.       Use antivirus and antispyware software: To prevent spyware or malware, use one or two anti-spyware programs in addition to your anti-virus software, and keep them up to date.

4.       Teach family & friends about the importance of strong passwords: Passwords should never be family names or numbers that are easily found out like a birthday, address or phone numbers. Do you follow the criteria for strong passwords?

5.       Get involved in your child’s online life: Start young and introduce them to kid-friendly sites you and they can find valuable.  Be sure to take the time to discuss the risks associated with social media with your children.

6.       Report cybercrime:If you are being phished, spammed, or a criminal is attempting to commit a crime through email correspondence with you,it’s important to know the steps you need to take if you think you may be a victim of cybercrime.

7.       Protect your home or small business Wi-Fi network: To make your home or small business Wi-Fi network safe, the single most important thing to do is implement the authentication security capabilities built into your Access Point and Wi-Fi adapters.  Learn how you can easily implement these security capabilities.

8.       If you’re a parent, consider parental control systems for Internet access on 3G mobile phones: All service providers offer parental control software. The systems are free, easy to install, and give you a choice between several levels of control.

9.       If your bank does not provide a smart bankcard, know the other safe ways to shop online: PayPal is a good way to pay online because you do not have to give private credit card account information to an Internet retailer that is unknown to you.  Learn more about other safe payment options.

10.   Don’t share information with web sites you don’t trust: If you’re not sure if you can trust a website, look to see if it is certified by an Internet Trust Organization.

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