The times of day when your kids need you to disconnect

Originally posted on Quartz:

It’s the parenting paradox of the moment: never before has it been so easy to stay connected to our families through technology—at the same time, we find ourselves too distracted by our smartphones to interact with them in person.

The everyday choices we make about using our cell phones or working on screens when our kids are present can significantly affect every aspect of their health and development.

For my book The Big Disconnect, I’ve interviewed more than 1,000 kids from kindergarten-age through high school who described having to vie for attention with their parent’s cell phone. They felt their parents were “missing in action,” routinely engaged in conversations, texting, emailing, watching shows, or using apps.

The ripple effect on relationships is equally worrisome. When we drop everything to tend to our phones we’re sending the following message: “It’s okay for me to just check out on you—you are…

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Gifts from the Enemy

Originally posted on Children's Books Heal:

Gifts from the Enemy9781935952978_p0_v2_s260x420Gifts from the Enemy

Trudy Ludwig, Author

Craig Orback, Illustrator

White Cloud Press,  Biography, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Alter Wiener, Poland, Jews, Holocaust, Survivor, Courage, Kindness

Opening: “There are those who say that what I’ve lived through never happened. But I’m here to tell you that it did. My name is Alter Wiener and I am an ordinary person with an extraordinary past.”

Synopsis: Alter Wiener was a 13-year-old boy living with his family in Chrzanow, a small town in southwest Poland. His home was filled with love, laughter, food and books. Every Friday they shared their Sabbath dinner with a student or homeless person. When the German Nazi soldiers invaded and occupied Poland in 1939, Hitler ordered his army to imprison and kill millions of Jews. Alter’s father and older brother were taken when he was 13. The Nazis came for him when he was 15. He was moved to…

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3 Hot Teen Trends in Social Media

Years ago MySpace gave way to Facebook.  Now we have many social networks out there such as Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and more.

It is important that teens understand how to use their privacy settings in all their social media sites as well as never to give out their passwords.

Common Sense Media reminds parents of the current apps that teens are using today:

Grownup Bullying: When Adults Act Badly

The 2014 Workplace Bullying Institute survey (PDF) was released.

37 million workers reported being subjected to “abusive conduct” and 65.5 million are affected by this behavior. Whether it was those abused or people that witnessed it, peer cruelty is happening in workplaces across our country.

We often discuss children when it comes to bullying and cyberbullying. Sadly adult bullying topics are rarely in the headlines.

This is not to diminish the fact that our youth are important, the fact they are killing themselves over words of hatred and learning to treat each other with such cruelty is despicable.

We have to take a moment to realize, does it start at the top?

Parents, teachers, coaches and all grownups, especially those in the workplace should be people that our children respect.

The recent PSA released by VH1 is a reminder that the very people may be making fun of today could end up being your bosses for later. Like with many ad-campaigns, it can be extreme. Sadly the fact that many kids are tormented and harassed is true.

Is the PSA tasteful? There are many opinions. The message is there, and that is what needs to be heard.

No one is immune to bullying. At any age it is not right. Kindness will always take you so much further in life.

Connecting the Generation Gap: Students Making A Difference

A great way for students to make a difference!

Cyber-seniors are now experiencing a new world thanks to students taking time to teach them about the Internet.

Learn more.

Microsoft Making A Difference In Social Media Online Safety

With over 112K followers on Twitter and 1.3M on Facebook, there is cause for celebration!

Parents, teachers, community leaders and people are learning from Safer Online by Microsoft.

I was thrilled and honored to be included as one of their key influencers!

Listed among people I highly respect, I love Microsoft and Safer Online for continuing to reach out and educate people through different mediums.  They offer a variety of resources such as articles, contests, books, quiz’s, video’s and fantastic educational and information websites.

Smartphones, iPhones and Teenagers: Is Your Teen Ready for One?

TeenSmartPhone6Summer is approaching and many tweens and teens will be spending more time on their cell phones – and if they have the luxury of a smartphone or iPhone, are they ready for the responsibility of one?

  • Do children really need Smartphones?
  • Can Smartphones be beneficial to their learning alongside school?
  • Are Smartphones a fashion statement?
  • Is it fair if all families cannot afford them?  Peer pressure to those that can’t have them?

Pew Internet tells us 77% of US 12-to-17-year-olds now have cellphones and 23% Smartphones, so if your 12-year-old tells you “everybody has a cellphone,” s/he’s less and less far off the mark. But when to get a kid his or her first cellphone is very individual too, based on how s/he handles technology, people, and responsibility!

Cons: Smartphones can be used to bully other children through advanced messaging features which are available on smartphones and also apps which can be downloaded.

Pros:  Parents can track their child to make sure they are safe while they are out playing with friends or going to school.

An excellent article was recently written: Five things to do before giving your teenager a Smartphone – definitely worth the time to read if you are considering purchasing a phone for your child this holiday season.

Cellphone Safety Tips from Connect Safely:

Cellphones are increasingly full-blown handheld computers, and everything that can be done on the Web via computer – photo-sharing, Web browsing, game playing, tune-swapping, real-time text chat, and (oh yeah) talking – can be done on a phone. Here are some basic ideas for keeping mobile phone use safe and constructive:

Smart socializing. Use the same good sense about what you post from your phone as from a computer. Once they’re posted, text, photos, and video are tough to take back, can be copied and pasted elsewhere, and are up there pretty much forever. Think about the people in them (including you!). Reputations are at stake – even more so if racy photos are involved. Just best not to go there.

Phones are personal. Letting other people use your phone when you’re not around is like letting them have the password to your social network profile. They can impersonate you. Which means they can play tricks on you that could really become a problem. It’s a very good idea to lock your phone when you’re not using it.

Bullying by phone. Because people socialize on cellphones as much as online, cyberbullying can be mobile too. Treat people on phones and the Web the way you would in person, and the risk of being bullied goes down. Be aware, too, of people randomly taking pictures at parties, in locker rooms, etc. – you may not want to be tagged in their social-network photo albums!

Sexting: The vast majority of kids – 99% – are smart and don’t take, send, or post or even store nude photos of themselves or peers on their phones. People who do so can be charged with production, distribution, or possession of child pornography, a serious crime. They can also be subjected to jokes, bullying, blackmail, expulsion from school, loss of a job, etc. and the images can circulate forever. Just don’t go there.

The value of “presence.” If you do a lot of texting, consider the impact that being “elsewhere” might be having on the people around you. Your presence during meals, at parties, in the car, etc. is not only polite, it’s a sign of respect and appreciated.

Down time is good. Constant texting and talking can affect sleep, concentration, school, and other things that deserve your thought and focus. You need your sleep and real friends understand there are times you just need to turn off the phone – harassment can happen between midnight and morning too.

Social mapping. Most cellphones now have GPS technology and there are a growing number of services that allow friends to pinpoint each other’s physical location. If you use such a service, do so only with friends you know in person, and get to know the service’s privacy features!

No texting while driving! Research shows that texting while driving can significantly increase the risk of a crash or near-crash situation. Silence your phone in the car, pull over if you need to use it, and of course follow your state’s hands-free laws for mobile phones in cars.