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Online Safety

Digital Parenting Challenges

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 30, 2017  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

“Everything has a time and place.” This familiar saying is a popular motto for juggling life’s demands and pleasures. We can also apply this mantra to managing the abundance of today’s technology with our children. Somewhere among the love and hate relationship with social media and homework searches, we must find a healthy balance in regards to our children’s technology use. To help us on this journey, we need to consider what teens are doing online, if we should be monitoring our children’s Internet activity, and ways we can curb overuse.

What Are Teens Doing Online?

It’s no secret that our kids rely heavily on their devices, but as parents, we often find ourselves wondering what is so compelling to keep their attention fixated on glowing screens for hours and hours on end. We know they enjoy scrolling through social media, taking selfies, posting funny DubSmash videos, or streaming videos. Afterall, these features have made digital devices an indispensable luxury for our kids.

However, lurking behind all of the merriment is a dark side to our daughters’ and sons’ digital activity. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to recognize all the scary situations awaiting our children just by glancing at their screens. No, these scenarios can range anywhere from oversharing personal information to cyberbullying to interacting with online predators. Up until a few years ago, these topics were foreign and completely left out of parenting guidebooks.

Consider how a recent study found that 87 percent of our kids have encountered cyberbullying as witnesses or victims. These numbers are up from around 28 percent just a little over a year ago, which means rates of cyberbullying have basically tripled. This is disheartening on many levels, because cyberbullying has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts in our children.

In addition to cyberbullying, sexting is so commonplace that experts see these behaviors as normal and many teens view sexting as a safe alternative to sex. This might be true when it comes to pregnancy and disease, but if kids are underage, the simple act of snapping a provocative selfie is considered child pornography. Sexting, even if it is consensual, will be prosecuted as distributing or possessing child pornography. In addition to legal battles, this can open kids up to digital exploitation, bullying, and harassment.

Should You Monitor Or Not?

Realizing our children might be participating in risky online behaviors is frightening, but we need to realize that 70 percent of our kids actively seek ways to hide their online activities from us. This is only compounded when our sons and daughters are plugged in an average of six or more hours every day. Which can lead many of us to contemplate spying or using monitoring to stay on top of our children’s digital presence. Afterall, anything posted online has the potential to be made public.

Typically, experts warn spying should be avoided, because these behaviors have the potential to ruin parent and child relationships. Monitoring, however, doesn’t rely on sneaking around or hacking devices. This technique can range from simply following a teen’s social media accounts or openly installing software to compile a complete picture of a child’s texts, social media apps, contacts, and locations. If done correctly, this method offers opportunities for open dialogue while protecting a teen’s privacy.

How Should We Handle Constant Device Use?

To help parents overcome modern digital parenting challenges, please check out the following seven tips:

Begin an ongoing conversation about developing a healthy balance of technology in our lives. 

Teach social media etiquette early and build on topics as a child ages. 

Institute a “blackout policy”. An example of this could be powering down all devices from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. to allow a break from technology.

Limit the amount of data a child has access to on their Smartphones or tablets. 

Provide opportunities for children to log off for a few minutes daily. Reclaim family meals, sign up for extracurricular activities, or dust off the old board games for an alternative to pixels and selfies.

Reinforce a child’s good choices. Give them feedback to show that you notice their good choices.

Create a technology contract for the family that clearly lays out all expectations and consequences.

How does your family manage digital parenting challenges?

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The Connection Between Online Safety and Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 19, 2017  /   Posted in Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Anita Brikman

As parents of teenagers, we know that it’s not unusual for teens to spend time online chatting with friends, visiting social networking sites, following sports or celebrities and – hopefully – doing their homework. While this might not seem worrisome, the digital world is a space where anyone can say anything, and teenagers don’t always evaluate whether the information they are exposed to is true or false. There are many dangers lurking online, including websites that promote how to abuse over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to achieve a “high.” In fact, there are online communities in which users share and glorify their medicine abuse experiences, which may influence teens to engage in this dangerous activity.

It’s impossible to be aware of all your teen’s online activities, but you can help reduce the risk of your teen being exposed to the promotion of OTC cough medicine abuse by taking the following actions:

Educate yourself on the issue:

It is important to first understand the dangers and warning signs of OTC cough medicine abuse. Look out for pro-drug sites that promote and provide instructions for the abuse of dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in many OTC cough medicines. These sites spread false information about DXM, leading teens to believe it is safer to abuse than illicit drugs. Stay alert for internet orders, the arrival of unexpected packages and unexplained payments.

Educate yourself on the space:

Teens are quick adopters of new platforms and technology, which can make it difficult to keep up with their online lives. You can better recognize dangerous online communities by knowing what platforms your teen is using as well as how these platforms are used. You can learn more about the number of websites and online communities that promote OTC medicine abuse here.

Talk to your teen about internet safety:

Once you have a firm grasp on the issue of medicine abuse, visit and discuss websites like WhatIsDXM.com, drugfree.org and StopMedicineAbuse.org with your teen. This way, your teen has the facts about substance abuse and knows where to access credible information. Teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs. Having regular conversations with your teen can make a big difference.

Connect with your teen online:

Follow and connect with your teen on social media. They may not be open to this initially, but they might be more accepting to the idea if you assure them that you’ll respect their space. This will also open up an opportunity for you to model good online behavior to you teen.

Spread the word:

Share what you learned about OTC medicine abuse with other parents and members of your community. This will enable others to have these important conversations with their teens and, in turn, ensure that more teens are practicing safe behavior online.

Even though it might not seem like it, teenagers look to their parents for support and guidance. Setting up guidelines around what behavior is and is not acceptable online will help ensure your teen is being smart and safe no matter what new media comes along.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Teens Are Live Streaming More Than Ever: The Security Risks

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 14, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens

teenlivestream

Livestreaming allows the world to be everyone’s stage. Events can be watched in real-time as the action unfolds. From a baby’s first crawl to a violent police arrest, the world watches and waits for more.

The danger, however, is that once an event is streamed live for the public, there is no going back. Adults understand the boundaries, but teens—with their brains still developing—struggle to always understand the harmful repercussions of the live stream.

Teens and tweens live online. Their world is posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…all the social media forums. Today’s generation of e-centric kids don’t know the meaning of true privacy. They share. Too much and too often.

The harm of livestreaming is numerous. Not only are kids and teens putting their image out for the world to see, but they also document moments that should remain private. Secrets that friends disclose might find a way online. Fights at school, also are popular via livestream.

The cell phone is Pandora’s Box. Capable of shooting pictures, capturing video and posting everything online. The boundaries blur. Teens don’t know when not to hit send.

teenlivestream2In June 2015, two teens from Utah were arrested for burglary and theft. They decided to break into an ice-cream truck and steal the ice-cream. Of course, they taped their shenanigans and livestreamed the whole crime.

A few months ago, three teens allegedly live streamed intimate acts on Facebook. In another twisted case, a girl was accused of livestreaming her friend’s rape. Both cases resulted in police investigations.

For parents, the trouble with technology and live streaming lies in the naivete of kids. Teens, tweens and younger kids do not have the capacity to always make great decisions. Their minds are in the midst of developing…they are in a mental war about right and wrong. Impulse, unfortunately, usually wins out in the fight.

Parents must talk to their kids about personal boundaries, private information and what can and should be shared online. A teen might think that a fight is cool, and because it seems cool then it should be shared. Parents need to be prepared for their kids to be in these situations…with their cell phones.

Fights, abuse and crazy things have always happened. Today, the issue is that these things are easily documented, and teens are often the ones documenting them. Fifteen years ago, teens were not all armed with individual recording devices. Now they are, and parents must prepare them for the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with technology.

Role playing is a great way to teach kids responsibility and help them understand how to respond in a tough situation. Parents should make up cards with scenarios on them depicting scenes that a teen might see at school or in the world. Have the teen choose a card and then act it out.

When role playing, discuss how technology plays a unique role and how the consequences of an action can magnify online. Discuss with teens what is the right and wrong action according to laws in the state. Always educate teens on the laws; they must abide by them, and they can absolutely be prosecuted under them.

Use the controversy and the popularity of live streaming to also discuss personal and private information. Set boundaries as a family about what information can and cannot be shared online. Talk about oversharing. Discuss respect and what it means in friendships and families.

Teens and tweens are very much guided by their peers. However, they look to their parents for support and security. Many teens have found legal troubles from live streaming. Be open with kids about the dangers and harm of sharing too much and using the world as a stage.

Once a video live streams online, it can never be taken back. The internet is forever, and the results can be life changing in the worst ways.

*****

amywilliamsContributor:  Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education.

Follow her on Twitter.

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5 Ways to Protect Your Teenager Online

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 14, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

TeenOnlineSafetyAn astonishing 75 percent of teenagers have access to smartphones and 24 percent of teens go online “almost constantly.” As a parent of a teenager in this constantly evolving cyber world, it’s overwhelming and frightening thinking of all the potential threats compromising your teens digital and physical security. A Pew Research study found that 90 percent of children have witnessed or experienced cyber bullying within the last year and a study by Drexel University found that 54 percent of minors have reported sexting.

Here are five ways to protect your teenager online:

Take Advantage of Smartphone Applications

There are a variety of free and paid applications that provide parents with a wide range of access to their teenager’s mobile phone activity.

If you’re concerned about your teen stumbling upon adult content, K9 Browser is a free application that blocks adult content and is available for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. For more thorough access to your teen’s activity, the Norton Family Parental Control application’s paid version allows parents to see the sites their teen is visiting from the computer or mobile device but also allows you to block sites and see text messages.

Create a Contract

Before your teenager receives their first mobile device or personal computer, create a contract spelling out each of your expectations. According to the Family Online Safety Institute, almost 50 percent of teenagers are not concerned that their online reputation today will hurt future goals and 58 percent feel it is safe to post photos or intimate details online. A written and signed contract makes it very clear to your teenager what your expectations are in regard to online activity.

Stay Informed & Up-to-date

Setting up guidelines, boundaries and privacy software is not enough. The Internet and cyber criminals are changing so fast that as soon as you have a grasp on the newest social media or application and its potential threats or privacy terms, it has already evolved. To stay up-to-date on the latest cyber security news and tips, bookmark LifeLock Unlocked.

Mark All Profiles as Private

The most important takeaway for your teenager, is that nothing is temporary online. Even if they delete a post, a photo or an account, it can be easily retrieved and anyone can copy or save it. Besides filtering what he or she posts, ensure your teenager’s online profiles are private. Do not rely on the site’s default settings and adjust settings accordingly. Stress to your teen that this does not mean what he or she posts is now “safe” but it does make it more difficult for individuals to access.

Safeguards Passwords & Change Them Frequently

Identity theft is just as much of a threat for your teenager as it is for adults. Teach your teen how to choose safe and secure passwords that are changed every three to six months to ensure maximum security. Advise your teen not to share passwords with anyone besides parents or guardians.

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Teens and Cyber Safety and Online Privacy

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 01, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens

TeensonlinefriendsParents know the things to do keep their kids safe around home, like keeping an eye on them outside, teaching them stranger danger and to travel in groups. But what about in the virtual world? It’s shown to be just as dangerous, and if certain information gets in the wrong hands, your child, your family, and your identity could all be at risk.

The Web offers a plethora of fun and educational things for kids to do, plus all the social networking that is huge for tweens and teens. But along with that comes plenty of places for danger. Just as parents need to talk to their kids about safety in the everyday real world, they also must discuss safety precautions related to the Internet, and make sure their kids get it.

What can parents do? How do they start the conversation? It is important to cover the dangers – all of them – in age-appropriate language to help kids understand the dangers of giving away information online.

Talk, Talk, Talk

The most important thing parents can do is talk to their kids, tweens, and teens. Make sure they know the dangers that are prevalent online, whether sexual predators, those that want to steal identities and financial information, and any other type of cybercriminal. Make sure to keep lines of communication open so kids feel comfortable talking about anything relating to the Internet that bothers them.

Set Clear Internet Rules

Depending on the kids’ ages, parents may have different rules. Young children should never even give out their name. Once kids get older and more into social media, reinforce the importance of careful posting and sharing – what goes on the Internet is there forever! Nothing personal should be posted or shared, like address, phone number, or credit card information.

Identity Theft

When it comes to personal information, it’s easier than most think to get other’s information. If a site looks fishy, it probably is. Parents need to make sure their kids understand to never give out personal information like credit card numbers, bank accounts, or social security numbers without parental permission, even if they are buying something.

If a child sees something like “accepts credit cards” or “enter information here,” he needs to let a parent know and stop what he’s doing. Once credit card information or other personal numbers are in the hands of others, it’s tough to reverse the damage. The best rule is never give it out.

ParentTeen2How to Start This Conversation

Start talking about Internet safety when kids are young. Keep the computer in family areas so activity can be monitored. As kids get older, reinforce these topics. Let them know age-appropriate instances of what can happen if things like cyberbullying or credit card theft happen. Parents need to let children know that they are always available, even if mistakes are made, so they can solve things together.

The bottom line is: Don’t give out information! Whether it’s social, personal, or financial, kids need to keep this to themselves. Parents should stay tuned in to not only what goes in the world of online security, but also what their kids are doing online. Awareness is key. And, parents, keep reinforcing how important it is to your kids!

Your constant and consistent offline conversations helps keep your teen safer online.

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Talking Sexting With Your Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 28, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

SextingDid you know that according to research, one out of five parents send sexual and/or intimate images of each other (considered sexting)?

Of course we aren’t judging parents, we only need to understand that teens are experiencing and experimenting with their sexuality, however at their age, there could be potential legal consequences. It’s never too late to start your sext chat offline to be safer online.

Tito de Morais, The Internet Safety Guy, recently said in a forum, “Kids that are at risk offline will be at risk online, as questionable conduct in the physical and digital world is not mutually exclusive.” After collaborating on several other articles, including the “Cyber-Shield” series, I was thrilled to be a part of Sue Scheff’s most recent contribution to the Huffington Post, Sext Education: Sexting = Cyberbullying. Together, we believe in making a difference by educating students, teachers, parents, and communities about cyberbullying prevention.

In the recent article, we discuss the implications of sexting among teens, and how sexting and cyberbullying = are essentially one and the same. Because of the evolving nature of the online realm, sexting isn’t just confined to text messages: teens are able to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social networks to spread sexually illicit messages.

SextingAlertParents and other adults can make a difference when it comes to building awareness of sexting’s dangers, and it all starts with having the “sext chat” with your children. Here are five tips to get this conversation started:

  1. Start talking: Use current news stories to spark conversation with your kids. Make it relevant to their lives. A recent journal Pediatrics study on teens that sext is a good tool to review.
  2. Just do it: There might never be an optimal time to get the gears moving on the sext talk, so it’s crucial to hunker down, move past any embarrassment, and bring up the topic.
  3. Make it real: Pose the question, “How would you feel if your grandma or grandpa saw that picture message?” We’re all accountable for our actions online and off, even though that notion slips by many teenagers these days.
  4. Address peer pressure: Emphasize that it’s OK for your child to be their own person and not worry about what their peers are doing, especially in regards to sexting.
  5. Give them control: Encourage your children to make the right decisions when they receive a sext. They have the ability to stop the communication right in its tracks.

Now that sexting has extended its bounds from cell phones to social networks, take the time to check out MySecuritySign’s excellent #TakeNoBullies digital responsibility and anti-cyberbullying resources that tie-in directly to sexting.

Contributor: Mike Miles formerly managed social media at SmartSign, a New York City based ecommerce sign retailer and creator of #TakeNoBullies, an anti-cyberbullying and digital responsibility campaign, through its site MySecuritySign. Mike is passionate about writing, digital citizenship, and advocating for a safer internet.

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Social Media & Drug Abuse: How Can You Help Your Teen Stay Straight?

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 26, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

TeenLaptopAccess to technology means solicitations to try drugs are no longer confined to school yards and parties. Ninety-two percent of teens go online daily,Pew Research Center reports, and social networks provide myriad opportunities for your teen to be exposed to nicotine, alcohol, marijuana and other controlled substances. A study conducted in 2014 by the Journal of Medical Internet Research concluded young people are especially responsive to influences via social media and often establish substance abuse habits during these formative years.

For teens who already struggle with substance abuse, social networking may prevent them from recovering. A 2012 study of teens receiving substance abuse treatment at a behavioral health services center found 66 percent reported that drug-related content on social networking sites made them want to use drugs, as reported by Psychiatric Times. With Pew Research Center finding 71 percent of teens use more than one social networking site, it’s vital for parents to monitor their teens’ social media behavior, while also giving children the ability for self-exploration and personal growth. Here are ways to be proactive without being overbearing.

Create a Digital Contract

Determining when your teen is ready for social media is dictated both by your comfort and by social network guidelines, since most social networks don’t allow users younger than 13. Before your children get online, discuss what their goals are with the networks, and run through scenarios they may encounter that would have you concerned. Talk with them about how you want them to handle those situations and set up guidelines for what they need to keep you aware of. The Family Online Safety Institute suggests visiting drug abuse websites with your teens so they are aware of the dangers of drugs. You could also speak with a parent specialist at 1-855-DRUGFREE to get tips for talking with your teens about drugs before they enter the online sphere.

Make sure your expectations are clearly outlined by creating a digital contract you and your teen understand, with consequences for breaking guidelines. Explain to your teen just like you get to know their offline friends, you also want to get to know their online contacts. Pew Research Center reports the average teen on Facebook has 145 friends, which means lots of opportunities for your teen to learn about drugs via photos, articles and messages their friends share.

Keep your teen’s computer in a central location in the house to keep their interactions open, and determine whether they’ll have access to their mobile phone only when they’re away from you to use in emergencies, and if you’ll have control of it at home. Consider requiring approval for all mobile device applications your teen downloads, since applications such as Snapchat destroy messages after a certain amount of time and prevent you from being aware of what it being discussed. The Dish Insider’s Guide suggests constantly evolving your guidelines based on your teen’s age and level of responsibility; while strict monitoring may work for you and your teen during the early teen years, an older teen may insist communication between them and their significant other or best friend are off-limits. Transparency and clear expectations are key to maintaining trust between you and your teen.

Tools for Parents

If discussing your teen’s social media usage isn’t enough to assuage your concerns, there are technological tools that can help you monitor and control what your teen is exposed to. A program such as NetNanny filters offensive material, gives you access to parental controls on your teen’s device, sends you email alerts when your teen visits inappropriate sites and enables you to monitor your teen’s Facebook posts and chats. For mobile devices, applications such as My Mobile Watchdog can bring you peace of mind and allow you to address concerns based on your teen’s interactions.

Learn about the technologies your teen has access to, since hidden dangers may fall in the realm of video game devices with Web browsers or in online games your teen may be playing with chat functionality. Delve into the parental control capabilities of the devices your teen is using, and establish usage boundaries and expectations on how your teen will use their devices and social media.

In all your communications with your teens, talk to them from a source of empathy and caring. Tell them you have their health and best interests in mind. Encourage them to talk with you about whatever questions they have, and make drug education something you and your teen work on together.

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Disclosure:  We do not endorse or promote any digital products, apps or services.  This article is for educational purposes only.

If you believe your teen is struggling with Internet addiction or substance abuse, and you have exhausted your local resources for help, contact us for options on therapeutic boarding schools. These have been extremely successful when parent’s have reached their wit’s end at home.

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Teens and Online Gaming

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 27, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

OnlineGaming2It’s not Game Boy and it’s certainly not simplicity of the game of Operation.  Yes, I said the simplicity of it, since compared to today’s digital gaming, Operation was a walk in the park.

Online gaming is not only fun and thrilling for the player it can be addictive as well as risky if they are not careful.

Why?  They are interacting with virtual strangers and they have the common sense and maturity to know when to click-out if you feel uncomfortable.

When you look in your living room, are your teens and tweens immersed in a video game on a console, computer, or cellphone?

Chances are, the games they’re playing have online connectivity. Gartner reports that a large portion of the $111 billion video game market consists of online games. 38 percent of minors enjoy video gaming as a hobby, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and there’s plenty of benefits to encouraging them to play online enabled games.

They provide your kids with entertainment, socialization, computer skill development, and brain stimulating activities. Unfortunately, these socialization elements also open your tweens and teens up to certain risks and dangers, such as becoming a victim of hacking or social engineering.

Knowing how to protect your tweens and teens and developing their own risk- aware skills is an essential part of safe online gaming.

VideoGamesChecking Appropriate Content

Online games span many genres, from a hidden object game by iWin to MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. Pay close attention to the rating and types of content and concepts presented in the game your teens and pre-teens are playing. Consider playing along with your children to see exactly what information your kids are picking up, as well as steering them to age appropriate games if the content is not suitable for them. The Entertainment Software Rating Board handles video game ratings, starting at EC for early childhood and going up to AO for adults only.

Checking for Chat Rooms

Many online games have chat rooms or messaging functions to provide social interaction with other gamers. Online games with parental controls allow you to filter out bad language, block private messages, and control whether your child gets chat room capability or not. This is another way of ensuring your kids aren’t exposed to inappropriate content. Some games also allow you to mute specific players if a particular individual is harassing your child.

Time Monitoring

The allure of online gaming makes it easy for your children to spend many hours playing all of the games at their disposal. Track the amount of time that they play through parental monitoring software. Some games, such as World of Warcraft, allow you to prevent an account from being played past a daily or weekly amount, or restricting the time of day that the child can log in. This helps you keep your kids happy with their favorite activities while not allowing it to take up all of their free time.

Avoiding Hackers

Online gaming portals provide hundreds of games through a single website. Some of these games play directly in the browser, while others are downloaded and installed on your computer. Keep the computer anti-virus running to avoid downloads and browser plugins with viruses and trojans attached. Read through gaming portal reviews to find legitimate sites, or check gaming magazines and blogs for this information. Check for https encryption when your child logs into the site, and handle downloadable game installations yourself to stop companion software, such as toolbars, from getting installed.

Check Game Emails

Some online game services send out emails informing players of new developments, specials, and updates. Phishers take advantage of this by posing as official game representatives and tricking users into providing account information. Monitor the email address your child used to sign up with a service, and screen any emails for phishing attempts.

OnlineGamingWant to know if a game is age appropriate for your child?  Visit Common Sense Media for a ratings review.

If you suspect your child is addicted to video games, don’t hesitate in getting help.  If they refuse to attend or it is doesn’t seem to be helping, please contact us to determine if residential therapy would help.  There are digital detox programs.

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Should You Read Your Teen’s Text Messages or Emails?

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 25, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

TeenWritingGenerations earlier the question would be, should you read your teen’s diary or journal?

In today’s digital lifestyle, some may not even know what a diary looks like.  This is sad since a diary has many benefits for youth.  There was recently an article about why all children should keep a journal, and most importantly, it does take them offline and keep their information private.

Either way, the question is the same, when is it appropriate to invade your child’s private space?

It always comes back to when safety trumps privacy.

Our teens deserve to be trusted unless they give us reason to suspect something is wrong.

Here is a review of some warning signs.

  • Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a gut feeling something is deeper than a secret and you are not satisfied with the answers they are giving you, trust your gut.  A parent’s intuition is usually pretty good.
  • Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however if it becomes extreme, it might be time to dig deeper if they are not opening up to you.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? Is your once goal oriented good kid now gravitating to a negative peer group? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
  • Is your teens eating habits changing?  Not eating with the family or barely eating?
  • Is your teen sleeping a lot? Or rarely sleeping?  Spending a lot of time – connected digitally?  Bloodshot eyes?
  • Do you suspect drug use?  Maybe drinking?  Is there an odor on their clothes or them?
  • Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries?
  • Are they overly protective of their cell phones or computer?  Always covering their screens when you are around, or clicking out?
  • Do they hide their cell phones? Or completely attached to them?
  • Are they anxious when at their computer, seem fearful, attempt to hide their incoming emails?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?

TeenTexting5Like with determining if you should invade their privacy with their journals or diary, unless your teen or tween gives you good reason to read their text messages and emails, as parents, you should respect their privacy.

When it comes to younger children, especially under 10 years old, parents should always be allowed to see what they are doing.  Most younger children are usually not as protective as teens or tweens.  As a responsible parent, you will know when there are red flags or warning signs and you need to step in.

Keeping an open dialog with your tweens and teens is critical.  Letting them know you are there for them as well as talking to them about the issues of sexting, cyberbullying, predators and other areas of concern.

Be sure you are updated with the secret language of texting!

Should you read your child’s emails or text messages?  Only you can answer that.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer children.

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Text Lingo: Secret Language of Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 10, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens

TeenTextLingoIn reality, net lingo also known as text lingo, is not a secret.  Parents can go to several websites including search engines to try to decipher what their teen is saying on their cell phone text messages or social media sites.

Their net-code-language can take time to unravel and you have to be up-to-date with their slang to know what is going on in their lives.

It can be overwhelming to parents, however it is important to keep up with their digital lives.

Here are some that are frequently used by teenagers today:

  • 8 – Oral sex
  • 1337 – Elite -or- leet -or- L337
  • 143 – I love you
  • 182 – I hate you
  • 1174 – Nude club
  • 420 – Marijuana
  • 459 – I love you
  • ADR – Address
  • AEAP – As Early As Possible
  • ALAP – As Late As Possible
  • ASL – Age/Sex/Location
  • CD9 – Code 9 – it means parents are around
  • C-P – Sleepy
  • F2F – Face-to-Face
  • GNOC – Get Naked On Camera
  • GYPO – Get Your Pants Off
  • HAK – Hugs And Kisses
  • ILU – I Love You
  • IWSN – I Want Sex Now
  • J/O – Jerking Off
  • KOTL – Kiss On The Lips
  • KFY -or- K4Y – Kiss For You
  • KPC – Keeping Parents Clueless
  • LMIRL – Let’s Meet In Real Life
  • MOOS – Member Of The Opposite Sex
  • MOSS – Member(s) Of The Same Sex
  • MorF – Male or Female
  • MOS – Mom Over Shoulder
  • MPFB – My Personal F*** Buddy
  • NALOPKT – Not A Lot Of People Know That
  • NIFOC – Nude In Front Of The computer
  • NMU – Not Much, You?
  • P911 – Parent Alert
  • PAL – Parents Are Listening
  • PAW – Parents Are Watching
  • PIR – Parent In Room
  • POS – Parent Over Shoulder -or- Piece Of Sh**
  • pron – porn
  • Q2C – Quick To Cum
  • RU/18 – Are You Over 18?
  • RUMORF – Are You Male OR Female?
  • RUH – Are You Horny?
  • S2R – Send To Receive
  • SorG – Straight or Gay
  • TDTM – Talk Dirty To Me
  • WTF – What The F***
  • WUF – Where You From
  • WYCM – Will You Call Me?
  • WYRN – What’s Your Real Name?
  • ZERG – To gang up on someone

TextLingoSheetBe an educated parent – you will have safer teens!

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