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Monthly Archives April 2018

Tips To Keep Your Teen Safe Online without Being Intrusive

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 30, 2018  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Internet Safety

Can You Monitor Your Teen’s Internet Use without Being Intrusive?

The internet is a great source of information and entertainment. It’s how we shop, how we research, and how we connect with other people. Adults aren’t the only ones spending time online, though — pre-teens and teens use the internet and online apps to communicate with others online, and they use them a lot.

According to a 2015 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 92% of teens report going online daily, and even pre-teens and younger kids have started using connected devices in higher numbers. So as your kids spend more time on the internet, how do you make sure they stay safe online without overstepping healthy boundaries?

The four tips below can help you teach your children how to use the internet safely and responsibly.

  1. Create a Family Media Plan

Talk with your teens and tweens about setting up a family media plan. This includes discussing screen-free areas in your home, acceptable screen time and unacceptable screen time, and appropriate online behaviors. Here are a few examples of common family rules:

  • Phones are turned in at night
  • Screen time isn’t allowed past a certain time
  • Phones aren’t allowed at the kitchen table
  • Computer time is allowed only after homework is completed
  • Certain information shouldn’t be shared online
  • Apps should be downloaded only with a parent’s permission

These rules can not only help your tween or teen be safer online, but give you a great opportunity to model good online behavior. By showing your kids that good online safety practices apply at all ages, you can make it clear that you aren’t enforcing unreasonable or overbearing rules.

  1. Teach Responsibility and Good Judgement

Teach your children to set limits and create boundaries for themselves on the internet. If kids are taught early on that internet use should come secondary to family time and school time, they will be less likely to abuse the web as they approach their teen years.

Remind your teen that using the internet responsibly means thinking before you post — they shouldn’t post their location, address, money information, or any other personal information. Teach them that quizzes and giveaways are often used to capture personal info, for instance, so they should never click on those types of pop-ups or ads.

Also, be clear about what appropriate online time looks like and how they should manage their online time. If your child has a test coming up the next week, help them plan their prep time and internet time so they can work hard and have some screen time during their downtime.

  1. Install and Use a Monitoring App or Filter

If you’ve decided that an internet monitoring app or a web filter is the best way to track what your teen or tween is posting to social accounts or texting their friends, it’s important to follow a few basic guidelines when you start:

  • Inform your teen or tween that you’ll be using a monitoring app or internet filter, and explain how it works. Being honest with your child from the start will help them avoid any feelings of you going behind their back.
  • Install a parental control program that is only as strict as is necessary. The program should run in the background on your child’s phone or computer, and your child can use their device as they normally would.
  • Review habits and behaviors with your kids. Taking time to review messages or internet use with your teen can help you identify how your child is spending time online and make sure they’re not receiving any dangerous messages or being bullied.
  1. Help Them Set Social Media Preferences

If your kids share pictures, videos or messages on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or other social media platforms, they may be unclear about who can see their posts. Take a moment to help your tween or teen set their privacy settings so they can easily restrict who they let see their information.

This simple step will help your child establish who can contact them, who can view their info and photos and who can see the messages and posts they publish.

Most tweens and young adults use social media and technology responsibly. They’ve grown up surrounded by the internet, but often, their technical knowledge can far exceed their judgement. By following these tips, you can help your children be better educated on how to conduct themselves online and you can keep a watchful eye on them without being too intrusive.

Contributor: Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate. 

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How To Prevent Teen Distracted Driving

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 24, 2018  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

How to Prevent Teen Distracted Driving

Teenager drivers have increasingly become the major victims of road accidents today. This has been majorly due to extreme carelessness and unremitted distractions. Since the law allows teenagers to acquire driving license at an early age, the best alternative for curbing this menace is championing the various ways on how to prevent teen distracted driving.

Parents are usually the best teachers for their children. However, external enlightenment for teenagers is always provided by other organizations and groups.

Distractions that might overwhelm teens include personal grooming while driving, eating, and talking to passengers in the back seat. Besides some teens watch videos in the car and are often distracted by road maps. Additionally, loud music is rarely considered though deadly distraction for drivers. Distracted driving is causing more car accidents.

The Deadly Impact of Distracted Driving

Here are the major ways on how to prevent teen distracted driving. Parents are usually vested with a natural authority to help implement these methods.

Limiting cell phone use while driving

Messaging services and social media are usually the favorite phone applications for teens. They always feel compelled to update their peers constantly about their welfare. Though they have little driving experience and have spent fewer hours behind the wheels, they adamantly refuse to put their phones away.

However, teens should be reminded to always keep their phones off or on silent mode while driving.

They should not carry familiar passengers in the back seat

With friends at the backseat, stories always keep getting interesting. However, as the conversations continue, the driver gets distracted and is prone to lose control of the vehicle. Nevertheless, it is the role of parents to enact strict rules prohibiting their children from carrying friends in the back seat.

No driving under the influence of alcohol

Teens should not be allowed to go partying with their cars. They should use public transport instead. Alcohol causes disorientation and hallucinations that can be very detrimental while driving.

Grooming and eating before driving

This requires efficient time management skills so that teen do not multitask while driving shifting of attention can lead to serious fatalities.

Regulating the use of music

It is important to regulate the volume of playing music to increase concentration. Additionally, you should not keep on changing stations and selecting songs.

The overall effects of distracted teen driving are way more deadly. It is this reason that this article proves to be very important. However, you can get information to prevent distracted teen driving by consulting on legal implications from a car accident attorney.

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Just Because Your Teen Needs Help Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Parent

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 03, 2018  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

What would you do if you found out your normally good teen was engaging in risky behavior? Maybe you’ve been ignoring signs of substance abuse. Making excuses for their erratic mood swings. Suddenly they are becoming withdrawn, failing in school and unrecognizable — but you figure, it’s a typical teenager, or is it?

In these times of uncertainty, are we caught questioning our parenting skills?

From the moment a child is born many of us are filled with unexpected overwhelming feelings. An unconditional love that we only heard about from friends and family, but never imagined until we held our own infant.

We’re prepared for those terrible two’s, which are not so horrible in the scheme of life. We’re possibly a bit tired running after a toddler, however the rewards of watching them go off to pre-school then kindergarten are so exhilarating.  Proud moments.

We start the sports, maybe dance and in my situation, gymnastics with my daughter (soccer with my son). Never a dull moment. Many parents soon find out what their mom and dad went through being a taxi-parent.

Yes, this is bliss — raising our children (capturing the memories like our parents did and quickly realizing it’s gone before we know it).

Then the tween and teenage years begin.

The child we used to know

We raise our children with a foundation to be good and hopefully, respectable people. Many families schedule meal times together at least a few times a week, some are dedicated to their religious beliefs and have somewhat of a stable home environment. It’s more common today to have a single parent household, like mine, but I don’t feel that’s a handicap. It’s a way of parenting that only requires adjustments compared a two-parent home.

It doesn’t matter the shape or size of your family, sadly it won’t prevent good teenagers from landing in hot water.

What to do you do when your angel that you raised from birth (or possibly adopted at birth) is suddenly someone you no longer recognize? The child you used to bounce on your knee or cheer on at baseball practice or clap for at dance recitals? The son or daughter that used to be part of the family — part of your life and most importantly used to be happy.

Good teens, bad choices

You’re suddenly  faced with a defiant, angry and rebellious youth. You suspect they are experimenting with drugs, something they swore they would never do — and you had so many discussions about this. They drop out of their favorite activities, they’ve always been a good student however now barely passing and you realize their peer group is changing.

What do you do when you feel like you’re being held hostage in your own home? Locking your own bedroom door – checking your medicine and liquor cabinets and walking on eggshells with how you communicate with your teen for fear they may explode with you?

For almost two decades I’ve helped parents of at-risk teens who are facing one of their biggest fears – they failed as a parent.

The majority of parents  that contact me have already exhausted all their local resources such as therapy, out-patient and sometimes even short-term in patient. In some cases they have even sent their teen to live with a relative in hopes that it would make the difference.  It doesn’t.

What do you do when you’ve reached your wit’s end?

Here are a few comments parents have made to me over the years. Does any of it sound familiar to you? The names have been changed for privacy:

 

My 17 year-old son who has a bad attitude about school, even though he is smart, is hanging out with the wrong friends, has been caught drinking and smoking pot with friends, doesn’t play sports anymore. – Debbie, Bradenton, FL

 

My daughter is 15. Defiant and starting using drugs. She will not listen, she sneaks out at night and has gotten two curfew tickets. – Kelly, Dallas TX

 

My 16 yr old son is very bright and articulate. He does drink, smoke pot and take mushrooms, has a violent reaction to being asked to help do anything around the house, has a superiority complex and feels he knows more than anyone. -David, Seattle WA

 

Chelsea was a good student until sophomore year.  She was bullied by a group of girls and beat up and then neglected from her group of friends and has steadily declined.  Quit sports/poor grades and now as freshman in college, I believe she is doing drugs and admitted to high alcohol consumption. -Terri, Peoria IL

 

Trevor 16. Since last summer, he’s been smoking pot but denies current usage.  He’s intellectually bright and musically gifted, but grades in HS are down the drain–3rd quarter: 2 F’s and 2 D’s in his academic subjects. -Andrew, Greenwich CT

 

Mark 15. We’re tired of being held hostage in our home–can’t leave him alone, afraid to say anything that might cause him to “snap” and go ballistic. – Linda, Richmond VA

 

Jeffrey was a victim of bullying for several months until he had enough and got into a fight at school and got suspended. He pretty much “beat the other kid up” for lack of a better phrase. Lisa, St. Louis MO

 

14 year old daughter. I feel like a hostage most of the time and forced to emerge through a mine field never knowing when I am going to be blown up with her mood swings.  I am frightened for her and for us. – Leann, Laguna Niguel CA

 

My daughter is 13 years old. She’s in such a rage. The heart that use to be in her chest is now just a black empty hole. She doesn’t care who she hurts both mentally and physically. Samantha, Westchester NY

 

16 yr old son. We need something that he can’t just walk out of. My Wife and I are extremely stressed and it is getting worse. We feel like hostages in our own home. That is not healthy. -Bruce, Denver CO

And then there was me

My kids grew up in Broward County, only minutes from Parkland in Weston, Florida where you would never imagine the unthinkable could occur — until it does.

Living in areas like Parkland or Weston may seem like living in a bubble. What many don’t realize is what goes on behind these gated communities and inside some of these big homes is the same as what is going on everywhere. Parents are looking for answers as to how to raise difficult teens.

Many remain silent because of judgment they receive from others. Maybe instead of pointing fingers or shaming each other we should start talking and helping our neighbor when we realize they have a teen in trouble.

It’s easy to sit back and say this could never happen to you, especially if you never had a child, or your child is still young — however teen-hood has a way of playing tricks on your predictable life. Although many have had the typical ride of a bumpy teenager – some of us had to take the hard-way around.

It’s okay, we paved the road for you to learn from.

I had a good teen – she was/is my everything. She made some really bad choices. I had to make the leap to outside help after exhausting all my local resources (and her short stay at grandma’s).

Making the decision to send your child to a residential therapy is not easy. You don’t give birth to your children with the expectation that you will be sending them away before their college years. You feel, as a parent, like a failure.

I made a lot of mistakes that I hope parents now are learning from. With the conversation rising on mental health, don’t be afraid to advocate for your teen if they need the extra step that mine did.

By Sue Scheff, Founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts and author of Wit’s End: A Mother and Daughter’s True Story (HCI, 2008) and Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness & Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, Oct 2017).

 

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