Parenting Through Apps Is Our World Today

Let’s face it, kids today are using smart phones day in and day out. And I am here to tell you that they are most likely not being used to call their parents. Apps are the reason most of our kids are using smart phones. The argument that parents have when it comes to giving their child a smart phone is the fact that they want their kids to be able to contact them. That is a true statement, as kids do make an occasional phone call, send text messages and they adore social media and their apps!

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Just last week I had a parent tell me, “My child (11 years old) knows who to use the smart phone, so I don’t have too.” My jaw dropped. Seriously? Parents, wake up! Your kids are sexting, sending obscene text messages and they are not afraid to tell a friend something online that they would not want to say in a face to face conversation. Think about this. You, as a parent, probably have a few Facebook Friends. When you see one of them out and about, do you have a face to face conversation or walk on by? Its important for adults to have those real conversations, so our kids can see how important those face to face conversations are.

Did you know that it is not uncommon for our kids of today to share a nude photo of themselves online? Sexting recently hit the newswire in my hometown, and it sickens me that many parents do not see this as a problem. Seriously? Where is the respect for oneself? It is NOT ok to take nude photos and share them through social media. I cannot bear to hear the words, “It goes away after 10 seconds one more time.” Kids are hanging out on SnapChat because they assume these photos magically disappear. Lesson here- Parents, open up a SnapChat account and follow your kids and their friends.

Boy With Tablet

 

 

 

Instagram is an app that many young kids are flocking too. The best advice I can give a parent that has a child that wants to use Instagram is to follow them and their kids’ friends. I personally had a friend who saved the life of an 11 year old because she was following him on Instagram. His parents were not. In fact, his parents did not know what Instagram was, how to take a Screen shot and that Instagram was an app that their son could use. This 11 year old used Instagram as a cry for help, as he posted a “suicide” note through Instagram. That is reason enough for parents to learn how to use the apps that our kids are using.

Invest in a service that allows you, as a parent, to see where your kids are going online. Yes, this will be an added monthly cost to your cell phone bill, but worth it. If you can afford to give your child a mini computer, you can afford the $9.95 monthly fee (somewhat near that) to keep them safe while online.

I challenge you- be “that” parent! Be the one that is standing up to protect the kids in your community. Someone has to take the lead, why not you?

Your Kids And Online Safety

Each day I hear someone say, “I really don’t know how to handle this.” What makes my head turn is the fact that this person is referring to the internet and social media. The internet is a part of our lives and it is not going anywhere. We all need to step up to the plate and do our part when it comes to keeping our kids safe online.

 

There has been discussion that kids are leaving Facebook, when in fact they are still there and actively involved in several other social media platforms that Mom and Dad do not know exist. Sue Scheff, really dove into the Are Teens Really Leaving Facebook issue. If you ask kids, they will tell you they are everywhere when it comes to social media.

Here are two tips to keep you and your family a little safer online.

#1 Tip: There Are No Do-Overs When It Comes To Online Activity

From words to pictures, once these are posted online they are there forever. Kids like to argue that Snapchat is great because the photos disappear. Keep in mind, there are data bases and screen shots everywhere in our world today. Once it’s online, it’s there forever. This is something our kids cannot hear enough of, it bears repeating day in and day out.

#2 Tip: Know Where Your Kids Are Going Online

Most major cell phone carriers offer parental controls for smart phone users. Parents can follow where their kids go online and help their kids choose smart apps. If your kids are under the age of 13, you may want to think how they will utilize their smart phones. Most social media platforms are not designed for a child under 13 years of age. If you do opt to lie about your child’s age, be sure you have the passwords to all of their accounts. Should a cyber bullying issue come to light between kids, law enforcement often contacts the owner of the account. If you have been an active participant in your child’s online activity, you should have an idea that this visit was coming.  It’s beneficial for parents to understand where their kids are going online and how to use all of the apps themselves. My advice- If a parent does not understand how an app works, there is no reason for a child to have the app installed on their smart phone.

Parents can lead the way when it comes to teaching their kids internet safety. By being active participants with their kids on their smart phones, families can utilize technology in a good way. If Mom and Dad are Facebook friends with their teens, it’s important for Mom and Dad to follow the rules, as well. The same rules apply to Moms and Dads that apply to kids, once it’s online it’s on the internet forever.

So, the next time you decide to post something online, maybe think about the “Grandma Rule.” If you would want to show your post to your Grandma, by all means, post it! If you even have to ask yourself, “Is this post OK?” Do NOT post it!

Are you and your family enjoying your smart phones or are you struggling with how to use them? I’d love to hear about your experiences, as I know we can all learn from each other.

 

 

Tips From The Best Of The Best On Being Safe Online

I recently spent a week-end in St. Augustine, Florida, surrounded with some of the best of the best when it comes to keeping all of us safe online. The community of St. Augustine is blessed to be home to CES (Community Empowerment Series). I wondered if I would come home thinking, ” Should I go offline?” Well, of course not. What it boils down to is being smarter online. When we take the time to educate ourselves, it makes our online experience a whole lot safer.

I am proud to call each of these presenters my friends. These folks are truly the best of the best and they are making a positive difference in the lives of many 24/7.

Stacey Honowitz shared about her passion in keeping kids safe as she addresses stranger danger and sex crimes. Stacey offered great tips for parents on how to address “tough” issues with their kids. These sex crimes can happen on and off line. Stacey Honotwitz  works hard 24/7 to educate families on awareness of a topic that many are afraid to address. Stacey’s books are designed to guide parents as they talk to their kids about sex crimes. Child sexual abuse is the fastest growing crime in the country, which makes child sex crimes a huge national problem.

 

Theresa Payton, author of Privacy In The Age of Big Data.Theresa embraced a nice sized group of people, as they had several questions for her. Theresa is a cyber security expert as she works to keep individuals and businesses safe online. Theresa engaged with folks and answered several questions in regards to being smarter online.

Theresa Payton

 

It’s important to remember to change your passwords on a regular basis. Never share your password with anyone. You would be surprised at how many folks share their passwords on a daily basis. There’s a reason they are called passwords, so make sure you own them, not someone else. Be careful about what you share through social media. If it’s not positive, helpful information ask yourself, “Do I really need to put this out in social media?”

The day moved right along and the topics really flowed together nicely. Dr. Sameer Hinduja, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University, spoke on a popular topic, Cyber-bullying.

Dr. Sameer Hinduja

 

I loved how he shared how kindness works so well online. Social media opens the doorway of anonymity, but everyone needs to realize, once it’s out there online, it’s out there forever. His latest book School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying And Sexting One Classroom At A Time is available and one that families and educators should read.

Sarah Burningham launched her new book at CES, GIRL TO GIRL: Honest Talk About Growing Up And Your Changing Body.

Girl to Girl book

Sarah is a positive role model for young girls and moms looking for advice on the tween/teen years. Sarah is the “dear sarah” advice columnist for the ABC Family Network and is a regular contributor to many major media organizations.

Meet Sarah Burningham
Photo Courtesy of Sarah Burningham/CES

 

Mothers and daughters appreciated the information that Sarah Burningham brought to St. Augustine. I told you that this event had the best of the best…. the day just got better all day long!

Dr.  Michele Borba rounded the day out. Her message in regards to bullying is one that everyone should hear. Bully prevention programs are not working and she is on a mission to help communities change their attitudes about bullying. Take a listen!

Some statistics I took away from Dr. Michele Borba’s session.

  • 85% of students witness bullying when adults are not present
  • Bullies want an audience, it is not ok for bystanders to stand and watch
  • Zero tolerance is not working- empathy is not taught

Can you say wow? Then toss in the online activity and we’ve got ourselves into a mess. One big change that’s happening in our culture is the fact that narcissism is up and empathy is down. We all need to work on empathy, as that’s a HUGE contributor to success in everything we do!

Michele Borba is the author of several parenting books. Take a swing over to Michele Borba’s  website to view her books, upcoming events, and learn more from her.

This is just a small glimpse of my day at CES in St. Augustine, Florida. I wish every community in the United States had the opportunity to learn from these amazing people, under one roof, in one day! I am glad I made the trek to Florida to get to know all of these folks a little better. I learned so much and am much more educated on these serious topics thanks to the folks that put CES together and made it happen!

A special shout-out to my friend, Sue Scheff. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to your community. You are making a difference in the lives of thousands of people! Sue knows all about the good and the bad when it comes to being online. Read Sue’s book Google Bomb for insight into the untold story of the internet.

 

People Or Gadgets?

It’s no secret that I love social media and I know many of you do too. In today’s world we have a gazillion ways to communicate and social media opens up a whole new way of communicating. I still say that the number one way to communicate is through face to face communication. Wow! What a concept, huh?

I see so many young kids that have no clue how to look at someone when they speak to them that it blows me away. Now I do realize that not every child loves to talk like I do, but they still need to know the basic skill of looking at others when they are speaking to them. Many of today’s youngsters, ages 5- 18 only want to text. Would someone enlighten me as to how these folks will ever get along in the real world?

The argument may be given that the kids of the generation of today will be able to order everything they need online. OK- I get that.  I fear that we may be losing the basics of communication due to all of our gadgets. Life is all about relationships, it’s not about the gadgets. Life to me is full of experiences, meeting new people, and interacting with others. It’s enjoying the company of those around you, not a gadget!

People or Gadgets

 

Most young adults will tell you that some of the fondest memories of their youth was when Mom and Dad took the time to spend time with them. That entails putting a phone to the side and talking as a family. Tossing a football or frisbee around in a yard has merits. And we can’t forget our pets, as there’s something to be said about the pet of the family. Our family pets communicate in ways everyone can appreciate and it usually entails eye contact.

Let’s not lose our basic skill of communicating through face to face interaction. Sitting down with someone and sharing eye contact is truly worth its weight in gold.

Social media has its place. It’s great that we have Skype, Google+ hangouts, Twitter, and Facebook to stay in communication with each other, but we all need to remember life is about people, not gadgets.

So, tell me! Is your life about the people or your gadgets? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

The Great Debate: To Lie Or Not To Lie About Your Child’s Age On Social Media Platforms

Social Media is changing how we all interact on a daily basis. What is mind boggling to me is how many kids I see out and about with smart phones.

Now, I’m not talking about teenagers, I am talking about kids that are 8-12 years old.

Most kids in this age group do not have jobs to pay for the phone and/or assist Mom and Dad in paying the monthly data fee. And the other thing that really bothers me is that these kids are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other platforms. These kids are brilliant, and I mean that in a good way!

Our kids are smart and it’s up to us as parents and society to make sure our kids are safe while online. So, my question to all of you is, “How do all of these kids open up accounts on these social media platforms?” I have been told by many that the parents do it for them. I recently posted this question in a Facebook group and two parents responded that they would never lie about their kids’ age to open up a social media account for them. I am assuming I received a low response, as some did not want to admit they had done it. 

Yes, it’s probably poor judgement on the parent’s part. After all, we all make mistakes as parents, as we live and learn. If you are one of these parents that has lied about your child’s age so they can have these social media accounts, I hope you are right alongside them.

Password Information

Make sure you have all passwords to every single one of your child’s social media accounts. Let your child know that you will have access to them 24/7.

Educate Yourself

If you realize you made a mistake by allowing your tween to be involved in social media, you can delete the accounts or educate yourself. You, as a parent, need to know how to use these accounts, as it’s the only way you can help protect your child while online. Here’s a great tip for you, head on over to YouTube and search out the social media platforms your child is on. You must understand them!

Parental Controls For Smart Phones

Check with your cell phone carrier to sign up for parental controls that will allow you access to your child’s cell phone. Most have services that allow you to see their texts, phone calls, and even location monitoring.

Smart phones are changing how we all interact. Make smart decisions when it comes to your kids and smart phones. Smart phones connect people all over the world with the touch of a key. When you give your child a smart phone to use, you are giving them access to the world. Think about that- that’s a LOT of people!

Remember, your kids are watching your every move. When you lie about your child’s age on a social media platform, what message are you sending them? And just because a social media platform says a 13 year old can sign up, that does not mean every 13 year old is mature enough to handle it. Be smart so your family can be safe online.

If you are a parent, at what age have you or will you allow your child to be involved in Social Media? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this hot topic.