5 Unsafe Habits Social Media Is Teaching Kids

SocialMedia25The Internet is here to stay and only expanding by the day!

The social media heyday shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, and likely will just continue to gain speed and momentum as it appeals to younger and younger audiences; however it can’t go unnoticed that the values it’s teaching our children are less than ideal, especially in regards to unsafe internet habits. As social media becomes more prevalent, so do our kids apparent lack of regard to what is considered over-sharing and what isn’t. Social media has made it completely acceptable to engage in the following less-than-safe behaviors:

1.     Checking into places – It’s become commonplace to check into places once you get there; whether it’s the gym, a restaurant, or even a different city or state from the one you reside in, you’re now able to post onto your social media sites where you are, and are even rewarded with badges for checking into places regularly. However while the badges and upgrades to “mayor of the city” may make kids feel cool, it’s also alerting anyone and everyone that they’re not at home and where you can find them, something that seems less than stellar from a safety standpoint.

2.     Posting provocative and risqué photos – Scantily clad pictures, pictures showing drug and alcohol use, and pictures of people in risqué circumstances routinely grace Facebook walls, get uploaded to Instagram, and find their way onto Twitter. All this does, however, is encourage risky behavior, prompting teens to engage in it and even challenging them to outdo their friends,as well as appealing to predators with questionable motives, making it easy for them to identify easy targets.

3.     Putting your address, phone number, and email address online – While this type of information may be posted innocently for friends and family to easily find, kids tend to forget that the internet is not a private forum, it’s very public. Posting this information makes it easy for scammers, spammers, and predators to prey on unsuspecting victims, which is why this information should never be made publicon the various social media websites.

4.     Demeaning others – Bullying others online has become the new social norm. This kind of cyber-bullying has had an overwhelming effect on kids, leaving them feeling depressed and hopeless. When kids are unable to achieve any respite from the constant demeaning of their peers the effects can be monumental, with self-mutilation, uncontrollable anger or depression, and even suicide or harming their peers being the fallout.

5.     Encouraging hazardous games – Remember the choking game that encouraged kids to hang themselves to get high? These types of dangerous games are a result of social media allowing them to spread like wildfire, and the results are often tragic because kids don’t realize how dangerous they really are until it’s too late.

Social media, while it is many wonderful things, has its drawbacks as well. The younger the audience allowed to interact on it, the more unsafe it becomes, especially because they don’t yet understand that for every action there can also be a tragic reaction. This is why it’s imperative for parents to be vigilant in teaching their kids safe internet habits and to monitor what their kids are doing online.

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Digital Parenting and Your Teen’s Social Media Profiles

SocialMedia25It’s eight o’clock on a school night; do you know where your kids are? In our constantly wired world, you not only need to know whose house your kids are visiting, but also where they’re hanging out on the internet. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube are great ways for kids to keep in touch and connect with the world around them, but they can also be ideal settings for inappropriate content, bullies, and even sexual predators.

Many parents are friends and followers on their children’s social media sites, but should you go a step further and have direct access to their accounts? 

Pros:

Having the login information for your kids’ social media profiles grants you access to their friends, their conversations, and their pictures. It allows you to see who your children are communicating with and what they’re saying, which can help hold them accountable. Even more importantly, you can control the privacy settings on your kids’ profile and block certain users from contacting them. This enables you to censor questionable subject matter and have meaningful conversations with your children about Internet safety. In the long run, paying more attention to your kids’ friends and interests could help you form a stronger bond with them. 

Cons:

On the other hand, being able to log in to your children’s Internet accounts can undermine any sense of trust that you’ve worked to establish with them. If your kids know that you can sign on to their social media sites, it might lead them to create alternate profiles (and engage in risky online behavior). Additionally, when you have unlimited access to your children’s information, it’s tempting to overstep your boundaries by posting embarrassing content or telling other parents what their kids are doing online. This can strain your parent-child relationship and alienate your children from their friends. Also, when you take total control of your kids’ accounts, it doesn’t help them learn how to responsibly manage social media.

Whether or not you choose to have access to your kids’ profiles, you should still be aware of their Internet activity. If possible, keep the family computer in a central location (not kids’ rooms), and check in on your children frequently when they’re on the Internet. Visit the websites that they’re talking about with their friends, and be on the lookout for increased Internet use or changes in mood, which could indicate that they’re getting into trouble online.

Before you allow your children to set up social media profiles, make sure you sit down to have a conversation about appropriate use, and set up rules for sharing information on the Internet. Remind them that it’s hard to control (and remove) content once it’s posted online and that there can be real world repercussions for their online behavior. Keep the line of communication open so that your children feel comfortable coming to you when they need advice or if they encounter a problem on social media websites.

Special Contributor: Stephanie Marbukh

Cyberbullying and Your Teen: What Parents Can Do To Help

CyberbullyingRealLivesIt may seem harmless to see your child engaged in the latest social media application. She may be snapping pictures to her friends on Snapchat or posting funny status updates on Facebook to stay in touch with her classmates and friends. However, when social media posts and tweets take a turn for the worse, your child may experience the devastating effects of cyberbullying, ultimately damaging her self confidence, self esteem and mental well being.

Defining Cyberbullying

According to Dr. Kate Roberts, Boston-based psychologist and cyberbullying expert, cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, hurt, embarrass, humiliate or intimidate another person. “Targets are the same students who are bullied in person,” says Roberts. “They are vulnerable, have difficulty reading social cues and they are often alone and socially isolated.”

Unfortunately, cyberbullying is able to occur 24/7 with the help of cell phones, instant messaging, mobile devices and social networking websites. “According to recent studies, almost half of middle and high school students have experienced or witnessed cyberbullying,” says Roberts.

Kids respond differently to abuse from others, says Jennifer Hancock, author of “The Bully Vaccine.”

“Parents need to understand that cyberbullying isn’t happening in isolation,” says Hancock. “It is a part of a larger pattern of harassment, that in the adult world would be considered stalking – and it is as emotionally damaging as stalking – so take it seriously.”

Knowledge is Power

Today’s parents consist of the first generation that has had to contend with this level of cyber harassment, says Roberts. Parents, however, can arm themselves and their children with knowledge when protecting their children against cyber bullies.

  • Have the ‘Cyberbullying’ Conversation: Children don’t like to talk about bullying, but according to Roberts, “the reason for this is they have likely bullied themselves, been bullied or been a bullying bystander and the talk brings up these memories and feelings of shame.” Parents need to have an open conversation and respond without judgment as their children open up about what they know.
  • Explain How What You Don’t Know Does Hurt You: Some kids minimize or justify cyberbullying by saying that the target didn’t even know what was said. Roberts suggests explaining to your kids that it still hurts. “Use their life experiences to illustrate how badly they feel when people talk about them negatively,” she says.
  • Set Cyber Safety Rules: Whenever your children interact online, remind them that they never really know who is on the other end of cyber communication. With that in mind, Roberts recommends enforcing the guideline of “don’t do or say anything online that you wouldn’t do or say in person.”
  • Monitor Online Use: Know what your children are doing online to help them prevent cyberbullying and cope with it. Limit time spent on technology to naturally minimize access to and involvement with cyberbullying, suggests Roberts.

Helping Your Child Cope with Cyberbullying

Your child’s school may be the best advocate for prevention of cyber bullying and, more importantly, enforcement of cyber bullying school policies, especially if your child is a victim. If you fear that your child is a target of cyberbullying, Roberts suggests getting to know the school administrator in charge of overseeing bullying.

“If you discover that your child is being cyber bullied, save the URLs of the location where the bullying occurred and document it by printing the e-mails or web pages,” says Roberts.

Many school districts enforce a “no tolerance” bully policy that now includes cyber bullying. In addition, school officers and law enforcement officials often monitor the social media accounts of middle and high school students to prevent cyber bullying.

The best thing you can do, as a parent, is engage your child over time to develop a strategy with them and make reporting a central part of that strategy, says Jennifer Hancock, author of “The Bully Vaccine.”

“Whatever strategy you develop has to be comprehensive and your child has to take the lead on it with your support and assistance to report any incidents,” says Hancock. “They probably won’t be willing to disconnect entirely, but perhaps you can convince them to ban certain individuals from their Facebook stream so that they don’t see the content anymore.”

Unfortunately, many kids do not tell their parents about cyberbullying because they fear the parent’s first response is to get rid of the child’s access to the Internet. Be more creative, says Hancock. “Help them keep their access to the Internet but eliminate the people harassing them,” she says. “That works to instill trust and helps your child come to you for help in the future.”

Seek help from outside resources, too, such as your child’s peers, friends and neighbors, and ask them to inform you of any cyber bullying that may be occurring and affecting your child. In many cases, children who have been bullied – either online or offline – may benefit from sessions with a family therapist to discuss coping methods.

ADHD: Mental Disorders and the Forgotten Children

When it comes to mental disorders, 10% of our children are falling through the cracks.

There are roughly 315 million people in the US with 1/4th of the population under the age of 18 (About 78 million children). 1/5th of those have a mental disorder (about 15 million) and 1/2 of children with mental disorders will never receive help (about 7.5 million) – that’s 10% of children and 2.5% of the population.

Forgotten Children
Source: TopMastersinEducation.com

Childhood mental disorders can include:

Major Depressive Disorder
Dysthymia
Bipolar Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Social Phobia
Specific Phobia

These disorders in children can lead in adulthood to:

Substance use, abuse, or dependence
Sexual risk-taking behavior
Criminal behavior
Poor coping and social skills
Suicide

Percent of children ages 3-17 who currently have a mental disorder:

AD/HD
6.8% 4,188,000
Behavioral or conduct problems
3.5% 2,156,000
Anxiety
3.0% 1,848,000
Depression
2.1% 1,293,000
Autism spectrum disorders
1.1% 678,000
Tourette syndrome
0.2% 99,000
Illicit drug use disorder
4.7% 1,155,000
Alcohol use disorder
4.2% 1,028,000
Cigarette dependence
2.8% 691,000

An estimated 40% of children with mental disorders have more than one.

Mental disorders are among the most costly conditions to treat in children. The cost of mental disorders among persons under aged 24 in the U.S. is $247 billion. (including health care, use of services such as special education and juvenile justice, and decreased productivity)

ADHD

4-6%: percentage of the U.S. population with ADHD.
2-5% adults
3-7% children estimated to have ADHD / 8-10% for school aged children
There is a 25-35% chance of having ADHD if a family member has it, compared to 4-6% without a family history.

Overlooked Adults

• 1/2 – 2/3 of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms into adulthood.
• 50% of the doctors said they do not feel confident in diagnosing ADHD in adults, here’s why…
• Adults consider their problems to be the result of character flaws.
• Patients who live with AD/HD or ODD tend to assume that it is normal.
• Many people presume that ADHD is a male disorder in childhood.
• Everyone exhibits some of these symptoms some of the time.

Overlooked Girls

• Boys are 3x more likely to be diagnosed than girls.
• Men are 2x more likely to be diagnosed than women.
• Females are more likely to go undiagnosed because…
• ADD is still presumed to be a male disorder
• Girls are more likely than boys to suffer from inattentive ADHD, which includes poor attention to
detail, limited attention span, forgetfulness, distractibility, and failure to finish assigned activities.
• Boys are more likely to have Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD
• Girls exhibit hyperactivity differently than boys: a boy might shout, tap his feet or bang things
while a girl might just talk a lot.
• Thus, disruptive boys are noticed for evaluation before ‘chatty’ or inattentive girls.

Overlooked Children

• Symptoms of ADHD are often mistaken for other behavioral disorders.
• 50% of children with ADHD also exhibit negative, hostile and defiant behavior
• 40% of children with ADHD also exhibit destructiveness and aggression towards people and animals.
• 25% of children with ADHD also experience anxiety, depression, and some type of communication/learning disability.

Debunking myths about child mental health is key:

MYTH: A child with a psychiatric disorder is damaged for life.
Truth: A psychiatric disorder is by no means an indication of a child’s potential for future happiness and fulfillment. Early intervention can help.

MYTH: Psychiatric problems result from personal weakness.
Truth: It can be difficult to separate the symptoms of a child’s psychiatric disorder from a child’s character. A psychiatric disorder is an illness not a personal flaw, just like diabetes or leukemia.

MYTH: Psychiatric disorders result from bad parenting.
Truth: Parenting isn’t to blame. Anxiety, depression, and learning disorders often have biological causes.

MYTH: A child can manage a psychiatric disorder through willpower.
Truth: A disorder is not mild anxiety or a change in mood. Some parents resist mental health services for their children because they fear the stigma attached to diagnoses, or they don’t want their kids dependent on psychiatric drugs.

MYTH: Therapy for kids is a waste of time.
Truth: Research has shown that treatment interventions have the best results during the first few years when symptoms of psychiatric disorders appear.

MYTH: Children are over-medicated.
Truth: Skilled psychiatrists use great caution when deciding on a treatment plan that includes medication, which usually involves behavioral therapy. Medication is not the norm. Only 5% of children with psychiatric issues take medication.

MYTH: Children grow out of mental health problems.
Truth: Children are less likely to “grow out” of psychiatric disorders than they are to “grow in” to more disability.

Teen Driving: What Parents Need to Know

  1. TeenDriver533 percent of deaths among 13 to 19-year-olds in 2010 occurred in motor vehicle crashes.
  2. 16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.
  3. 56 percent of teens said they talk on the phone while driving.
  4. Statistics show that 16 and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger.
  5. Only 44 percent of teens said they would definitely speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them.
  6. Teen drivers with involved parents are twice as likely to wear seat belts.
  7. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  8. Talking on a cell phone can double the likelihood of an accident as well as slow a young driver’s reaction time down to that of a 70-year-old.
  9. In their first year of driving 1 in 5 16-year-old drivers has an accident.
  10. 56 percent of teenagers  rely on their parents to learn how to drive.
  11. Crash risk for teens increase incrementally with each mile per hour over the speed limit.

Source:  DoSomething.org

Teens and Cell Phone Boundaries

CellphonesDoes your child really need a cell phone?

84% of teens have cell phones today – but do their parents set boundaries?

Cell phones are those fancy devices our children beg us for. The big question for parents is should you give in and give them a cell phone. Just like everything else in life, there are good reasons and bad reasons. Here are a few points to consider before making your decision:

Need:

Plans Change- This more beneficial for you more than your child. If soccer practice ends early this is a great way for your child to get a hold of you and let you know.

Save Money-Chances are you and your spouse have cell phones and most of the time you can lower your cell phone bill if you add an additional phone. This can be a way for you to cut costs on your monthly bill, by adding a line for your child.

Responsibility-What is a better way to start teaching your child about responsibilities, handing them over a cell phone. They will learn the value of owning expensive property and their duties in owning it.

Safety-There have been a few stories around the country about strangers getting scared off by the fact the child had a phone and was trying to take their picture. Not only is it a good device to possibly ward of predators but if something were to happen on the way home from school, like an injury your child has the ability to call you immediately.

Tracking- Most cell phones now come with a GPS tracker in the phone. You are able to view where your child is specifically. Or if your child loses the phone or it is stolen, this is a great feature to find it!

Do Not Need:

Texting- Your young child has no reason to have a cell phone to text fellow classmates or friends. There are plenty of court cases and news articles you can read right now about the ‘trend’ of sexting. Your child may be not partaking in sexting but keep in mind you can’t control what is sent to them and what they could possibly read or see.

School- Schools do not allow students to have their cell phones on during school and some schools do not even allow cell phones on campus. If your child says they want it for school, keep in mind they will not be able to use it until school is closed.

Late Night- Didn’t your mother tells you nothing good comes after midnight? This old adage stands true today. If your child has a cell phone in his or her room, that leaves them with the ability to call, text, surf whatever and whomever they want. This could be a potential problem when you are not able to monitor what is happening.

For the most part cell phones are a great idea for your children, however be aware of the possible dangers and trouble they could cause. There are companies that make cell phone for kids, where they have GPS trackers, the inability to text and the function to only make calls to mom or dad and no one else.

Talk to your child about the responsibility’s that with the phone and give them a trial run, you may be surprised of the outcome.

Source: Phone Service

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Teen Drivers: 15 Blogs with Tips for Safety for New Drivers

TeenDriver5Thinking 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.

Source: Babysitting Jobs