Internet Addiction of the Young and Not so Young

AddictionParents today have no shortage of things to worry about when it comes to the online world in which their kids are growing up. From online predators, to scam artists and explicit pages, the web houses many threats to today’s youth. However, in addition to these known digital dangers, parents should also be wary of the long-term damage their children are doing to themselves every time they place themselves in front of their laptop, tablet, or other mobile device.

With the average U.S. internet user spending 32 hours online per month, it’s evident that the digital revolution shows no signs of slowing anytime soon, and sadly, our children’s minds and bodies could eventually pay the price for it. Read on for an overview of just some of the effects our children—from toddlers to teens—may have to deal with in the future.

Impaired Vision

Sure bad vision and corrective eyewear are by no means new concepts, but unlike past generations who only had to worry about genetics or age sabotaging their sight, adolescents now have to consider how their extended periods of screen time might affect their eyes. Bright, beaming screens reflecting onto our faces for the majority of the day is far from healthy. Recent studies suggest that approximately 17% of all eye exams performed in a year were initiated due to indicators such as light sensitivity, double or blurred vision, eye strain and even dry eye—symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome. Sure, the majority of us are all exposed to inordinate amounts of digital screens daily, but today’s youth have never known a world without it. Cell phones, tablets and laptops have always been a part of their life, and most likely always will be, leaving them with an entire lifetime of eyestrain and exhaustion.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Another physical impairment the children of today have to look forward to in the future is the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. Characterized as a nerve dysfunction, symptoms include numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the hand, wrist and fingers. Hours of typing away on keyboards, phones and other gadgets is one of the main causes of the wear and tear. Numerous people already show signs of the disorder and as time goes on it’s likely only to get worse—as time spent online increases. Before, it was bad enough that someone was subjected to this from 9-5 while they were at work, but now everything from classes to games and even meetings are conducted via virtual means and require us to subject our and bodies to this overuse.

This is especially hard on children who have been dealing with this since these advancing methods since they could read and write. Time will only tell how soon they will start to feel the effects of this excessive action.

Inactivity

There’s no denying that the more time we spend sedentarily staring into a screen, the less time we are allowing ourselves to exercise and be fit. Sure some people are still disciplined enough to unplug, get up and DO SOMETHING active, but, obviously this isn’t always the case. And children will follow your lead, so if they see you coming home from work and planting yourself behind a sea of screens rather than enjoying the day, odds are they’ll do the same. This can be detrimental to your child in the long run—not only will they increase their chances of gaining weight, they will also risk weakening their bones—which can prove problematic the older they get.

Overview

Now, this is not to say that all online activity or screen time is a bad thing; it can actually be quite helpful and efficient. The digital revolution has streamlined many activities and practices, we just have to maintain a healthy balance and not abuse our gadgets and technology. As our children and teens age, their bodies will and minds will face obstacles with which we never had to deal—which may cause issues in terms of insurance coverage and health care in their adult lives.

As more and more schools and businesses move online and embrace the digital age—it’s important to give yourself time to unwind, or risk becoming a liability.

Contributor: Carol Wilson

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

Be Nice: It Is A Choice

just-be-niceIt is such a simple word, kindness.  To be kind to one another seems like such a simple task, yet on almost a daily basis we hear about peer cruelty online (both adults and kids) that will use keystrokes as their weapon of choice to hurt others.

Recently I was at the movies waiting in line.  There was young girl, she couldn’t have been more than 12 years old.  She complimented me on my necklace.  I thanked her.  It was so genuine and nice of her.  I thought, wow, this is strange, since tweenagers usually are not so cordial to older people (umm, not that I am “that old”).  Then she was at the window buying her ticket and she complimented the ticket attendant on their shirt and how she really liked the color.  Kind words.

These are all small words of kindness that can really change the day a person is having and put a smile on someone’s face.  The girl’s mother was with her and I wanted to go up and commend her for raising  such a thoughtful child, but I didn’t. I wish I had.

Instead, I am writing about this event in hopes all parents will remind their kids that words can be used to lift people up as much as they can be used to break people down.

This goes for adults too.  I am now going to make it a mission to compliment others on  daily basis, from our grocery check-out person, to you bank teller and your neighbors.

Let’s be real.  Most people are on social networking most of the time.  Take the time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever you are cyber-surfing to spread kindness.

Be kind online and remember parents, your children are watching you.  If you are gossiping (even in your kitchen) your kids will be mimicking your behavior.

The biggest secret to kindness is that it also makes you feel so good!

Go ahead, pay it forward ~~ be kind online and in person, you will be amazed at your attitude change!

Let’s spread kindness today and everyday.

Teens Struggling with Substance Abuse

With summer about here and teens with more free time, parents need to be aware of what today’s latest statistics are with drug use.

Yes, teen substance abuse, according to the latest study, is up 33%. TeenSubstanceAbuse

What does this say to parents of teenagers?

Are the parents too trusting of the teens or are the teens too smart for the parents?

Are you still digesting that?

Let’s understand this.

One in four teens (24 percent) reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime (up from 18 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2012), which translates to about 5 million teens. That is a 33 percent increase over a five-year period.  -According to Drugfree.org

That is a lot teens using illegal prescription drugs to get high or alter their moods.

Where are they getting these drugs from? 

Parents, grandparents, a friend’s home or simply buying them off the street.   This isn’t  blame game it is time to get a grasp on it and communicate to your kids about the risks of prescription medicine when it is not taken for the reasons it is prescribed for by a doctor.  Sometimes it takes a near death of a friend to make your child wake-up, let’s just hope it is not the end of someone’s life.  The attitude that it can’t happen to me is common, and it is followed by a parent’s denial that their child would use drugs.

Communication and education.

This is a nationwide problem.  Go to www.drugfree.org/medicineabuseproject and educate yourself and your family. Take the Pledge with your family to end medicine abuse, before it’s too late.  Then go to www.stopmedicineabuse.org and educate yourself and your kids about the dangers of over-the-counter medicine (OTC) abuse.  OTC are potentially deadly can be extremely harmful to your teens also.

Have a conversation with your teen, don’t wait for a confrontation.  As the report also stated, parents seems to lack concern about prescription drug use in comparison to getting caught or using such drugs as crack or cocaine or other illegal drugs, as follows:

Almost one in four teens (23 percent) say their parents don’t care as much if they are caught using Rx drugs without a doctor’s prescription, compared to getting caught with illegal drugs. – According to Drugfree.org

 

Drug use (substance abuse) is a serious cry for help, and making your teen feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teenager is abusing drugs and alcohol are:

  • Violent outbursts, rage, disrespectful behavior
  • Poor or dropping grades
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions, track marks
  • Missing curfew, running away, truancy
  • Bloodshot eyes, distinct “skunky” odor on clothing and skin
  • Missing jewelry, money
  • New friends
  • Depression, apathy, withdrawal, disengaged from the family
  • Reckless behavior

Tips to help prevent substance abuse:

  1. Communication is the key to prevention.  Whenever an opportunity arises about the risks of drinking and driving or the dangers of using drugs,  take it to start a conversation.  Remember parents, it is important to be a parent first – friendship will come in time.
  2. Have a conversation not a confrontation.  If you suspect your teen is using drugs, talk to them.  Don’t judge them, talk to them about the facts of the dangers of substance abuse.  If your teen isn’t opening up to you, be sure you find an adolescent therapist that can help.
  3. Addict in the family?  Do you have an addict in your family?  Sadly many families have been effected by someone that has allowed drugs to take over their lives.  With this, it is a reminder to your teen that you want them to have bright future filled with happiness.  The last thing you want for them is to end up like ____.
  4. Don’t be a parent in denial.  There is no teenager that is immune to drug abuse.  No matter how smart your teen is, or athletic they are, they are at risk if they start using.  I firmly believe that keeping  your teen constructively busy, whether it is with sports, music or other hobbies they have, you will be less at risk for them to want to experiment.  However don’t be in the dark thinking that your teen is pulling a 4.0 GPA and on the varsity football that they couldn’t be dragged down by peer pressure.  Go back to number one – talk, talk, talk – remind your teen how proud you are of them, and let them know that you are always available if they feel they are being pressured to do or try something they don’t want to.
  5. Do you know what your teen is saying?  Listen or watch on texts or emails for code words for certain drug lingo. Skittling, Tussing, Skittles, Robo-tripping, Red Devils, Velvet, Triple C, C-C-C-, Robotard are some of the names kids use for cough and cold medication abuse.  Weed, Pot, Ganja, Mary Jane, Grass, Chronic, Buds, Blunt, Hootch, Jive stick, Ace, Spliff, Skunk, Smoke, Dubie, Flower, Zig Zag are all slang for marijuana.
  6. 6.     Leftovers.  Are there empty medicine wrappers or bottles, burn marks on their clothes or rug, ashes, stench, etc in their room or if they own a car, in their car? Teens (and tweens) either take several pills or smash them so all of it is released at once.  Be sure to check all pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, under beds, etc. for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use.  Where are your prescription drugs?  Have you counted them lately?
  7. Body language. Tune into changes in your teen’s behavior. Changing peer groups, altering their physical appearance and/or lack of hygiene, eating or sleeping patterns changing, hostile and uncooperative attitude (defiance), missing money or other valuables from the home, sneaking out of the house, etc.
  8. 8.     Access to alcohol.  Look around your home, is there liquor that is easily accessible?  Teens admit getting alcohol is easy-and the easiest place to get it is in their home.  Know what you have in the house and if you suspect your teen is drinking, lock it up!  Talk to them about the risks of drinking, especially if they are driving. 
  9. Seal the deal.  Have your teen sign a contract to never drink and drive. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) www.saddonline.com provides a free online contract to download. It may help them pause just the second they need to not get behind that wheel.
  10. Set the example, be the example.  What many parents don’t realize is that you are the leading role model for your teen.  If your teen sees you smoking or drinking frequently, what is the message you are sending?  Many parents will have a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, however the teen needs to understand you are the adult, and there is a reason that the legal drinking age is 21.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.