Digital Abuse: Social Networking Safety

LOveIsFebruary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Love is Respect continue to educate teens, parents and communities on dating violence.  We live in a world of technology where today it’s not only about physical and verbal abuse, people are suffering with digital abuse.

What is digital abuse?

You deserve to be in a safe and healthy relationship, both in person or online. If your partner is digitally abusive, know their behavior is not acceptable and could be illegal. Check out our tips below for staying safe on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others.

  • Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control.
  • Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly, and things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school.
  • Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
  • You can keep your passwords private — sharing passwords is not a requirement of being in a relationship.
  • Don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t in person. It may seem easier to express yourself when you are not face-to-face, but online communication can have real-life negative consequences.

Learn more – visit www.loveisrespect.org

Advertisements

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.

Teenager Creates A Family Holiday Video

Just when you think that teens can be rude and disconnected from their families – check out how this teenager made his family feel special this holiday season.

Great American Smokeout November 21st

My Hand My Reason is this year’s campaign!

Did you know about SWAT?

Students Working Against Tobacco!

SWAT is Florida’s statewide youth organization working to mobilize, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. They are a united movement of empowered youth working towards a tobacco free future. There’s a group of people on one side selling a product (cigarettes, cigars, hookah, chewing tobacco and more) that some teens are using. Those products are highly addictive and many teens that begin using them are never able to quit. On the other side, groups like SWAT and Tobacco Free Florida, are working to make sure as many teens as possible never start using tobacco.  Learn more!

Sticks and Stones: New Program Designed to Bring Parents and Teenagers Closer

bookSticksStonesThe Sticks & Stones Seven-Week Program bridges the communication gap between parents and teenagers. The Program helps parents and teens learn how to work together to communicate more effectively and build a stronger bond.
Parents are always looking for new and creative ways to get their teens to communicate with them. Author Meaghan Roberts has just released her new program designed specifically to help parents create an environment where teenagers feel comfortable opening up. The Program consists of two eBooks, Sticks & Stones and My Rock. Sticks & Stones is a self-help guide for teens concerning daily issues they deal with such as bullying, self-esteem and peer pressure. The guide is also an e-journal where teens can privately write their thoughts, feelings and questions. The purpose is to create a safe outlet for teens to express themselves. They will read one chapter a week and spend the remainder of the week reflecting and writing about what they learned. My Rock is a supplemental guide that gives parents insight on what their teens are reading each week as well as communicative skills to help facilitate a conversation with their teens. Each week, a day prior to reading a new chapter, parents and teens will meet to discuss what their teens have learned and any questions they have.

The Program is safe, secure and private.
Meaghan developed the Sticks & Stones Seven-Week Program because traditional parenting books offer advice to parents but none to teens. When parents apply the advice, their teens have no idea where the change is coming from. Teenagers are no longer children and can no longer be treated like children. The only way a parent-teen relationship can develop is if both parties are involved. The Sticks & Stones program encourages parents and teens to work together to build trust as well as prepare teens for conversations they will have with their parents.
The Sticks & Stones Program is available only at www.mysticksandstones.com
Contact Information
Meaghan@mysticksandstones.com
www.mysticksandstones.com

Teens and Data Plans: Do They Need Them?

CellphoneappDoes your teen have a data plan on their cell phone?  Who pays for it?

Teenagers in today’s society have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Just by using a web-enabled cell phone, they have access to everything the internet has to offer. News outlets across the United States have reported the unseen dangers, but many parents remain unaware of the trouble that can result.

Here are ten reasons you might want to consider canceling your teen’s data plan.

  1. Difficult to Monitor – Despite the parental controls that some service providers offer, a tech-savvy teen can still hide their tracks on a mobile device.
  2. Sexually Inappropriate Content – Not having a data plan makes sending questionable images to another cell phone much more difficult. The lack of online capabilities can greatly reduce the access your teen has to sexually inappropriate content, whether that means pornography or sharing ill-advised photos of themselves.
  3. Bullying – The bullying epidemic among older kids and teens is no secret. Limiting the capabilities of your teen’s cell phone can help protect them from some forms of bullying, or prevent them from being a bully to others.
  4. The Distraction Factor – Today’s teens spend an enormous amount of time using social networking sites from their phones, leaving them completely distracted from the world around them. Not having the ability to access such sites at their fingertips throughout the entirety of their day forces them to interact with their surroundings; everything from their grades to the conversation at the dinner table can improve when there’s no media plan available.
  5. Cheating – Having access to search engines during a difficult test can tempt even the most honest teen. Removing that temptation can help steer your teen away from making a decision that can have an adverse effect on their academic future.
  6. Usage Fees – The charges for data usage can be exorbitant, especially if your teen is downloading music, games and ringtones. Opting to have data usage disabled can save a small fortune, especially if you have more than one teenager on a family plan.
  7. Driving Dangers – While disabling data use doesn’t prevent texting, it can limit the available distractions. Have a talk with your teen driver about the dangers of texting while driving, but it might be a good idea to also consider dropping the data plan from their line for this reason as well.
  8. Peer Pressure and Risky Behavior – Today, everything from nudity to fighting is encouraged among groups of teens, simply for the purpose of recording and sharing the photos and video footage. Limiting the capabilities of your teen’s device can curtail his or her involvement in such risky or illegal behavior.
  9. Spreading of Harmful Rumors and Gossip – Though most wouldn’t use the term “blackmail,” that’s exactly what some teens are doing when they use photos and video caught on a cell phone to torment a classmate. Though disabling your teen’s data usage won’t protect them from being the victim of voyeurism, it will prevent them from sharing embarrassing footage of others.
  10. Too Much Information – Many social networking sites like Facebook offer the ability to “check in” from a mobile device. This publishes the user’s current location, sometimes complete with a map. For naïve teens, this doesn’t seem like an issue, but it can be dangerous if their privacy settings allow strangers to see the information.

Simply restricting your teen’s access to these services won’t keep them safe from the dangers of our high-tech society. It’s imperative to explain your reasons for not allowing mobile web access, and to have a conversation about the behaviors that a cell phone simply documents.

Source: Phone Service

Join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

Building Self-Confidence In Your Teenager

SelfWorthHelp! My teen is hanging with the wrong crowd!

This is a common statement from parents when their child is starting down a negative road.

Your child’s self-esteem is an important part of his self-image. It helps him feel he’s worthwhile just as he is and helps him feel good about his choices and decisions. A healthy self esteem doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that is nurtured and grown throughout a lifetime, and something that the important people in his life have a chance to help cultivate.

Here are some tips for boosting your child’s self-esteem.

Give your child choices throughout the day. A big part of healthy self-esteem is feeling capable. Offering your child choices about what outfit to wear, what to have for a snack or for lunch, or if he should pick up the play room before or after going to the park will give your child practice making good choices. When offering young children choices, the key is being comfortable with whatever the child chooses. The goal is to help him think about both sides and make a decision that he feels will best satisfy his needs.

Avoid generic praise. Parents want kids to feel good about the things they do and to encourage them to repeat the types of behavior they value. So parents often say things like “Great job!” after everything from finishing vegetables at dinner to putting socks on in the morning to going down the slide at the park. While generic congratulations feel good to a child for a short time, after too many times it becomes meaningless. In fact, congratulating a child for things that don’t require real effort can make a child lose trust in the parent’s honesty.

Use specific praise generously. It’s helpful to a child’s self-esteem to hear from parents and other adults about their accomplishments, both big and small. Instead of using generic praise, let your child know how much you admire and appreciate his specific behavior. Phrases like “I appreciate your help in picking up the play room this afternoon. It means we have more time at the park!” or “Eating your vegetables will help your body grow strong and healthy. I love your willingness to try new things.” or “I’m so proud of how you climbed to the top of the tower. That took strong arms and great balance!” will help your child feel good about his abilities and choices.

Avoid negative labels. Most of the way we communicate with others is based in lifelong habits. Unfortunately some unhealthy habits may find their way into your parenting or caregiving vocabulary. Labeling a child as being mean, lazy, uncoordinated or hyperactive, or calling him a whiner, liar or babyish can negatively affect his self-esteem. Children are sensitive to what the people they love think about them and words can have a huge effect. Choose your words carefully and talk about challenging behaviors or traits in positive terms.

Become a great listener. Giving your child your full attention and truly listening to what he is saying and how he feels is an immediate self-esteem booster. When you turn off your phone, the TV and the computer and fully engage with your child it shows him that you really care about him and that you’re interested in what he has to say. That kind of undivided attention is rarer than it should be these days and will make your child feel valued and loved.

Model healthy self-esteem. Your child looks to you for clues about how to think, act and feel. Make sure you’re sending the right message. Invest in developing your own healthy self-esteem and you’ll be on your way to helping your child develop it too. Have a positive body image, be confident about your abilities, and don’t let petty criticisms from the outside world make you feel bad about yourself and your choices. If you struggle with esteem issues, talk about them with your child in an age appropriate way and show him the steps you’re taking to develop a healthy self-esteem. Showing your child that you’re not perfect, but that you’re working towards being better, gives him the freedom to accept his flaws too.

Teach problem solving skills. Teaching your child how to objectively assess a situation, brainstorm solutions, and put a plan into action is a proactive way of building self-esteem. Children who feel able to handle challenging situations, who recognize that when they get knocked down they can get right back up and try again, and who are confident that every problem has a solution have a strong sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an important part of a child’s healthy emotional development. It acts like a suit of armor for your child, protecting him from many of the bumps and bruises that come with everyday life. It also gives him a strong foundation to build life skills on.

Source: Babysitting Jobs

11 Facts about teens and self esteem are listed on DoSomething.org and are very interesting including:

  • 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel good about how you look (compared to 54% of girls with high self-esteem).
  • Teenage boys can be prone to obsessive exercising, binge eating, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, steroid abuse and diet aid abuse.
  • One of the main factors in teen promiscuity is self-esteem. When a teen has little or no self-confidence, he or she will use sex as a means to build confidence.

Do you feel your tween or teen is struggling with low self worth, starting to go down a negative path. Don’t let it escalate. Be proactive and reach out for help. Finding a local adolescent therapist can sometimes help. If it has gone too far, you may have come to a point where residential therapy is the answer. You can visit www.helpyourteens.com.

Join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.