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

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Cyberbullying Doesn’t Recognize Holidays: Tips to Prevent Online Harassment

CyberbullyingRealLivesLearning that your teenager has been the target of bullies is both heartbreaking and infuriating. The discovery that your child is party to the torment and agony of a classmate, however, can be even worse. No parent wants to believe that a child they’ve raised could be so cruel, but the truth is that bullying is a very real problem. More kids than you might think can be involved in the bullying of their peers, and the practice is not constrained to only the “bad” kids. Even good kids can find themselves swept up in the mob mentality that leads to bullying and harassment. The most effective weapon in a parent’s arsenal is simple prevention. Stopping such behavior before it begins is imperative, especially online.

The Internet has changed not only the way that kids learn and interact with the world, but also the way that they bully their less popular classmates. It wasn’t all that long ago when kids who were bullied could at least enjoy something of a respite when they were away from school grounds. In today’s always-connected world, a group of committed bullies can make sure that the torment is incessant. Cyber bullying is insidious and overwhelming, leaving young victims feeling as if they have no way to escape their tormentors. Making sure that your child is not part of this growing group of cyber bullying teens will require a bit of work and dedication, but it’s far from an impossible task.

Monitor Your Teen’s Web Presence

There is a fine line between respecting your teen’s privacy and willfully turning a blind eye to their online antics. It’s important to provide your child with some semblance of privacy and independence, but it’s equally important to make sure that you’re aware of their habits. Friend or follow your child on their social media sites or have them accept a friend request from a trusted adult. Remember that your teenagers’ brains are not fully developed, regardless of how mature they may seem at times. Your kids need guidance, and they need you to keep an eye on their online behavior. This will not only prevent them from becoming either the target or the perpetrator of cyber bullying, but also ensures that they’re not engaging in unsafe activities that could make them the target of online predators.

Be Conscious of Cell Phone Usage

It seems like modern teens always have a smartphone in their hands. These mobile devices make it easy for kids to stay connected with their peers and explore social interactions, but they also present an almost constant opportunity for cyber bullying. Talk to your teens about how some messages and actions can be construed as bullying, but also make a point of establishing an “open phone” policy. Make sure your kids know that you will monitor their phone use and that any indications of bullying will be met with a zero-tolerance policy.

Talk About Bullying

All too often, parents assume that their teens know what bullying is and know better than to engage in such behavior. The truth is that bullying is a complex problem, stemming largely from the fact that some teens don’t realize that what they’re doing is bullying. Make sure that your teens understand that there’s much more to bullying than simply taunting someone at school or being physically violent. Establish an open line of communication about bullying, making sure that your teens are well informed on the issue. Encourage kids to not only abstain from bullying, but to take an active stance against bullying behavior from their friends and peers.

Consider Your Own Behavior

Just as teens can have a skewed perception of bullying, so can their parents. Think about the language you use during discussions about harassing or bullying behavior. If you’ve held a stance asserting that bullying is the result of “kids being kids,” you’re sending a message of tacit approval to your children. Realize that bullying is more than roughing someone up for their lunch money, and that it’s a very serious issue for today’s teenagers. Online harassment and bullying can have tragic results, and is never just “kids being kids.” Consider the attitudes you’re modeling for your teens and whether or not you’ve been inadvertently sending the message that online bullying isn’t all that serious. Even when your kids become teenagers and seem to disregard your actions and opinions, they’re still looking to you for cues as to how they should react in a given situation. Make sure the message you’re sending is one that openly disdains bullying it all its forms.

Resources:
http://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/what-you-can-do/
http://stopcyberbullying.org/teens/because_i_can.html

Contributors:  WhiteFence.com

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.

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 Runaways: 10 iPhone Apps for Tracking Your Child’s Whereabouts

fbichild1Parenting teen’s today is a challenge.

Every parent frets over their child’s whereabouts, wondering where they are and what they’re doing when they’re away from home. However, with the technology available on the iPhone, you can now rest easy. There are a number of apps that, when combined, will mean you always know your child’s whereabouts. These 10 apps will help you track everything from how fast your child drives to where he’s hanging out on the Internet and for how long.

  • FBI Child ID – This is every fearful parents must-have app. You can keep a store of detailed information about your child, which is instantly accessible at all times. The information that you store can quickly be forwarded to authorities, should your child go missing. With FBI Child ID, if you even lose sight of your child at the mall, you can show security guards a detailed profile that will help track their whereabouts in no time.  The app has a database of hints and tips on child safety, and is free to download, too.
  • Find My Kids — Footprints – With Find My Kids you can virtually track everything that your kids are up to while they’re out of your line of sight. If they are speeding, the app sends you notifications. When they cross a fence, you’ll know about it. The app is completely automatic, so you don’t have to do a thing. Your kids cannot disable the app, giving you full peace of mind. If you wish to, you can also share waypoints with your partner or trusted friends.
  • Family Tracker – If you are concerned about any of your children’s whereabouts, Family Tracker will let them know. The app costs $3.99 and works by sending a repetitive push message every 60 seconds. Once the message is acknowledged, the location of the child is updated on GPS and sent to your device. You can access Family Tracker from either your Apple device or any browser.
  • Life360 Family Locator – Some of the key features of the free Life360 app include the ability to track non-smartphones, safety point and threat alerts and family chat. If your child has arranged to go to a particular location, the app allows you to track their progress and lets you know when they have arrived.
  • Best Baby Monitor – Use two Apple devices with this $3.99 app to create your very own baby monitor. You can hear, watch and speak to your baby from any location that has WiFi. Best Baby Monitor will work with a combination of iPhone and iPad, or iPhone and Mac. If you already own these devices, this is a great way to save on a baby monitoring device.
  • iCam – Webcam Video Streaming – If you’ve ever wanted to install a home surveillance system but found it to be too expensive, iCam – Webcam Video Streaming is the option for you. It only costs $4.99 for the app and can connect to multiple webcam feeds of your choice. iCam will even send you notifications if you are linked to a motion detecting feed whenever there is a potential alert.
  • Alarm.com – Provided you have compatible systems in your home, Alarm.com will allow you to control security cameras, alarms and alerts; switch off lights, set the temperature, and even tell you when the kids get home from school. There are a number of custom features, too, which allow you to set alerts for important reminders, such as leaving the garage door open, or someone changing the temperature on the thermostat. Best of all, the app is free.
  • Mobicip Safe Browser – This is a free browser with parental controls, which allows you to monitor and control what your child accesses on the Internet. Your child’s data is encrypted the moment they log onto an unsecured connection, helping keep them safe from hackers. The app uses a number of filters to restrict access to undesirable content, all of which you can control.
  • SecuraFone – This free app allows you to set boundaries for where your kids go and how fast they drive. As soon as they breach the rules, you receive an automated call letting you know. SecuraFone uses the built-in GPS in your child’s iPhone, and even sends alerts if the phone becomes inactive. Parents can view up to 90 days of data that help you analyze your child’s habits.
  • Game Time Limit – Another great app for keeping track of your child’s virtual whereabouts, Game Time Limit allows you to dictate how long he spends playing games on the phone. Once the time is up, you don’t have to worry finding him because an alarm appears on the phone that only you can switch off with your passcode. The app costs $0.99, however, it is a great way to keep you from having to constantly chastise your child to finish playing games.

Source:  Babysitting  Jobs

Parent Teacher Conference: Tips for Parents

parent-teacher-conference1Now the time is nearing for parents.

Parent teacher conferences are usually set for October.

Are you ready?

Here are some tips to help you get the most from your time with your child’s teachers.

Before the conference:

  • Check grades and teacher expectations. Many schools post student’s grades on their Student Information System. So review your child’s past work. There’s no reason to get caught off guard.
  • Jot questions and prioritize concerns. Take a few minutes to jot down questions for the teacher. Take those with you so you won’t forget to ask. Also, don’t forget to ask your kid if there is anything the teacher might tell you that you don’t know. (It’s always best to not be surprised.)
  • Meet your needs. If you need extra set of “ears” to be with you, you feel intimidated, or worry the teacher may use jargon you don’t understand, bring a friend (a neighbor, relative, older child). If you need a translator (language or sign), call the school to arrange one. Let the teacher know before the conference if you are in a contentious divorce or if your partner requests to come to the conference separately.
  • Block time. The teacher has scheduled only a set amount of time, so you will want to use every second wisely and not be distracted. Arrange a baby sitter for a younger child and allow ample time to get there.

Here are the four areas of learning to discuss during the conference:

  • Academic: Find out what your child’s strongest and weakest subjects are, how he compares to the other students and if he is keeping up with the workload. You might ask: “If you were to evaluate my child now, what would his grade and average test score be in each subject? “If the teacher uses educational terms that you’re not familiar with, ask for a simpler explanation. Ask to see specific examples of any academic problem so you know how to help or if a tutor might be helpful.
  • Social: Find out how your childgets along with others. Let the teacher know of any bullying or repeated peer rejection and create a safety plan. Ask for recommendations for a new friend if there are social problems.
  • Behavior: Find out how your child behaves around peers and adults and if he is showing up on time and prepared to learn. If there are behavior issues, get specifics: what the behavior looks like, the teacher’s discipline approach, any triggers or patterns (when and where the behavior usually happens), and how it is being resolved.
  • Emotional/health: Find out how your child is coping. Explain any home issues that could affect your child’s learning performance (a divorce, deployment, illness of a relative) and any serious allergies, sleep problems, medication, counseling or other health-related issues that the teacher should know about.

If your child is having any kind of problem in one or more of those four learning areas, then discuss strategies you and the teacher can do to help your child by creating common goals. Discuss how you will you know if things are improving or declining and if there’s no improvement, ask what our “next step” will be and how the teacher would like to be contacted.

After your conference:

Go home, share what you learned with your child and parenting partner, and then commit to doing what you discussed. If you see that your child continues to struggle or you do not see improvement in a few weeks, or things get worse, call for another conference. If you still don’t get help, then it’s time to seek the help of the principal, vice-principal or counselor.

BBPS

Order today! Click on the book cover!

Parents, what are your parent- teacher conference experiences? Do you have any tips of your own to share? Please leave them in the comments.

Special contributor: Michele Borba, Parenting Expert and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.

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Back to School: 9 iPhone Apps That Could Be LifeSavers for Teens

appsWith schools now opening around the country many kids and especially teenagers that are driving will begin their independence at school.

Parenting a teen can be very worrisome these days. From news stories about teenagers that have gone missing to the startling statistics on how many accidents are caused by texting and driving, it’s no wonder that many parents sit at home and bite their fingernails until their kids are home again. Since letting kids have some freedom is a requirement if they are to ever lead independent adult lives, one thing that can give parents peace of mind is safety themed iPhone apps that can look out for kids when their parents aren’t there to do so. There are applications that have been created to ensure safe driving, steer clear of predators, find a lost teenager and assist in medical needs. There is even an app for kids who may be suffering emotionally.

Knowing your child has these safeguards and tools at his fingertips can help you breathe easy and offer your teen child some guidance when he is venturing off on his own.

  • Life 360 Family Locator – Life 360 Locator is a must have for families with teens. The app lets the family know where each family member is located. If your teen is missing, you can find out his whereabouts if you have this app installed. They can also find you if they are lost in a large shopping center or amusement park. The app also lets your teen know what safety points and threats are nearby them. Price: Free
  • Canary –  Canary is essential for driving teens and the peace of mind of their parents. This app knows when the vehicle your teen is in is moving more than 12 miles per hour, and it notifies parents if the phone is being used in any capacity during this time. The app also sends parents updates as to how fast their child was driving and where she has traveled.  Price: Free
  • FBI Child ID – This app was developed by the FBI so that parents have a convenient place to store identifying information on their children, such as photos, height and weight of each child. This information can be sent to the authorities with one click if your child goes missing. Price: Free
  • Sex Offender Search – This app will let you know if there are any registered sex offenders in your area or in the neighborhood where your teen is spending time. You can also sign up to be alerted if an offender moves in to your neighborhood. Price: Free
  • DriveScribe – Reward your teen for being a safe driver! DriveScribe is a driving coach that monitors your teens driving and allows you to sponsor them so that they can accumulate points that they can trade in for gift cards. Price: Free
  • Teen Safe – Teen Safe is an iPhone monitoring system that also monitors Facebook and other online interactions. Parents will see all text messages, call logs and contacts. While this might feel like an invasion of privacy, if your child was ever in danger, this would be a good thing to have in order to track them down. Price: Free for six days, then $14.95 per month.
  • Pocket First Aid and CPR Guide – This app shows videos, illustrations and text in order to easily reference adult, child and infant CPR and First Aid. It can be easily accessed in an emergency situation and has a search function to make information simple to find. It also has a medical profile section so your teen can easily access medication, allergy, insurance and doctor information if they need it. Price: $1.99
  • Lock-Screen Pro – In case of an emergency, Lock-Screen Pro acts as a medical alert bracelet. It makes your teen’s home screen wallpaper show pertinent information, such as allergies, emergency contact numbers, and more. This is helpful for first responders in case anything goes wrong when your kids are away from home. Price: $1.99
  • Talk Life – Talk Life is a social networking app for people, mainly teens, who are struggling with mental health or self-harm issues. It is an anonymous site that users use to help one another and vent their hardships. Price: Free

Source:  Babysitters.net