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Digital Parenting

Will Therapeutic Boarding Schools Help Teen Internet Addiction

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 03, 2021  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Addiction

Can Teen Help Programs Help Internet Addiction?

Teen Internet Addiction, Internet Predators and Online Identity Theft

Help Your Teens BigstockMomTeenonCell-300x199 Will Therapeutic Boarding Schools Help Teen Internet Addiction In today’s society, the internet can be a valuable asset and educational tool, as well as a dangerous attraction and lethal weapon. Many teens are turning to social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to make friends, mingle and more. An unfortunate reality is that potential predators can also sign up and chat with your kids.

As seen in Dateline’s Series “To Catch A Predator,” many kids are preyed upon by adults (both young and old), which can lead to trouble for all involved, especially teens.

Social networking are many teens’ ways of communication which can be entertaining and fun; yet, if they are not careful, it can also be unsafe.

Teen Internet Addiction Warning Signs:

  • Your teen may suffer from anxiety. They may use the internet to distract themselves from worries and fears. An anxiety disorder like obsessive-compulsive disorder may also contribute to excessive email checking and compulsive internet use.
  • They are depressed. The Internet can be an escape from feelings of depression, but too much time online can make things worse. Internet addiction further contributes to stress, isolation, and loneliness.
  • They have any other addictions. Many internet addicts suffer from other addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex.
  • They lack social support. Internet addicts often use social networking sites, instant messaging, or online gaming as a safe way of establishing new relationships and more confidently relating to others.
  • They are an unhappy teenager. They might be wondering where they fit in and the internet could feel more comfortable than real life.
  • They are less mobile or socially active than they once were. Some are withdrawing from activies (sports and family events) as well as isolating themselves.
  • They are stressed. While some people use the internet to relieve stress, it can have a counterproductive effect. The longer you spend online, the higher your stress levels will be.

An educated parent is better equipped to help limit potential danger of internet predators and online identity theft, as well as helping them develop a healthy relationship with technology.

Is internet addiction real? YES!

Help Your Teens PexelTeenCell5-300x205 Will Therapeutic Boarding Schools Help Teen Internet Addiction Today we are facing a time when teen depression is on the rise. Young people are struggling with anxiety, stress and overwhelmed by peer pressure. They are completely immersed in their screens without considering their emotional or physical health.

Have you tried:

  • Phone contracts
  • Removing their devices
  • Local therapy
  • Digital detox plans

But find your teen still falling back into their old obsessive patterns?

At P.U.R.E.™ we promote parent awareness to help you, as parents, understand that it’s not about removing the devices as much as it’s about helping your teen learn more about the risks behind the screen. In addition to the consequences of what they post and the impact it can have on their future.

These are only some of the concerns, while the most important issue is your child’s mental wellness. If you feel that it has now taken over their lives – and yours, it might be time to consider outside help.

Quality residential therapy can help students to detox from their screen addiction and learn how to self-regulate, as they participate in individual and group therapy. They will eventually have a healthy relationship with devices. The fact is, technology is only growing – it’s not going away.

P.U.R.E.™ invites you to fill out a free consultation form for more information on finding the appropriate help for your teen.

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Teen Internet Addiction: Developing Healthy Screen Time Habits

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 27, 2021  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Addiction

Curbing Teen Internet Addiction

How your teen can maintain a healthy relationship with screens

Help Your Teens PexelTeenScreen-300x202 Teen Internet Addiction: Developing Healthy Screen Time Habits Teenagers these days are spending more time than ever before interacting with screens. Whether this is through their laptops, mobile phones, or tablets, much of their free time is spent in cyberspace, something that may be concerning for some parents.

Spending time engaged with a screen is not necessarily a bad thing, although most people will agree that there is definitely a point where it becomes too much. On top of this, most parents these days understand that interacting with social media is a part of modern life and is not necessarily a bad thing. That being said, parents still want their children to maintain a healthy relationship with screens and electronic devices. 

Set Some Limitations On Screen Time: Whether it be school, socializing, or extracurricular activities, teenagers spend a fair amount of time out of the house as it is. Still, parents can put a time limitation on their teens when they are at home.

Encourage Sports: An excellent way to get kids to put down mobile devices is to have them engaged in some form of sporting activity. Not only will this result in significantly less screen time, but sports have been known to be a healthy undertaking, both physically and socially, for some time.

Set A No Mobile Device Policy During Dinner: Several studies have shown that children who spend time eating dinner with their family tend to develop more positive social and family relationships as adults. However, if they are spending the majority of their time on their phones, then this shared dinner time will not have much of an impact on them. Parents should try and clarify that dinner time is for talking, sharing, and listening and is meant to keep family members updated on what’s going on in one another’s lives.

Encourage Socializing With Friends: Adolescent psychologists are noticing a trend amongst teens in which they have begun to socialize less and less in-person and more and more online. “Online socialization isn’t an issue, but can become one if it begins to take away from their face-to-face time with their friends,” writes Jeremy Bute, a journalist at Writemyx.com and 1day2write.com.

Turn Off WiFi At Night: If your child relies primarily on WiFi to use their mobile devices, it may be worth shutting the WiFi off at night time. Although this may work for some people, it may not be appropriate for other families, especially if the child has their own data plan.

Help Your Teens PexelDadOnline-300x204 Teen Internet Addiction: Developing Healthy Screen Time Habits Be A Role Model: It’s not just teens who are guilty of spending long periods of time on their mobile devices, adults are as well.

“Many people have jobs that require them to be ready to answer a call, message, or email at any moment. Sometimes, these responsibilities may cause them to spend hours on their phone or computer, something which may signal to teens that it’s ok or normal behavior,” writes Henry Stan, a health writer at Britstudent.com.

Hold Family Activity Times: Less and less families are putting time aside to enjoy one another’s company. In most cases, the only time families spend together is during dinner time, and even that is becoming less and less frequent. One of the best ways to increase communication between family members is by creating designated family activity times.

The activities can be spent outdoors hiking, kayaking, and biking or indoors playing board games. Regardless of what is chosen, it is recommended that these activities be designated a no mobile device time, which will help people stay more engaged and connected and will also give teens a break from their screens. Some parents have had success with stubborn teens by bringing them on hikes or outdoor adventures where cell phone signal is sparse or not available at all.

Don’t Replenish Data If They Go Over: If there is one new argument that has risen over the last decade between teens and parents it’s over data. Teens often feel like they don’t have enough, and parents are tired of their children using it all up before the month is over.

In many cases, parents end up topping up their kids data, which doesn’t teach them to conserve and encourages an unhealthy relationship with their mobile devices. If your child is constantly using more data than they have, consider being firm and telling them they don’t get anymore until the next cycle begins.

Read why removing your teens’ devices isn’t always the answer.

Contributor: George J. Newton is a business development manager at Academicbrits.com and Originwritings.com. He has been married for ten years, perfecting the art of the apology throughout. He also writes for Nextcoursework.com.

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Raising Humans In A Digital World

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 22, 2021  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Internet Addiction, Internet Safety, Parenting Books

Raising Humans In A Digital World

Helping Teens Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology

Help Your Teens BigTeensOnCells-300x197 Raising Humans In A Digital World

Sexting, cyberbullying, revenge porn, online predators… all of these potential threats can tempt parents to snatch the smartphone or tablet right out of their children’s hands.

While avoidance might eliminate the dangers, that approach also means your child misses out on technology’s many benefits and opportunities.

Raising Humans in a Digital World (Harper Collins 2019) is a must read for all parents of connected tweens and teens.

Help Your Teens RaisingHumansFinal-1-198x300 Raising Humans In A Digital World Cybercivics teacher and author, Diana Graber, brilliantly shares with her readers how digital kids (tweens and teens) must learn to navigate through today’s online environment:

  • developing social-emotional skills
  • balancing virtual and real life
  • building safe and healthy relationships
  • avoiding cyberbullies and online predators
  • protecting personal information
  • identifying and avoiding fake news and questionable content
  • becoming positive role models and leaders.

This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine.

Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for—a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

Order your copy today wherever books are sold.

Diana Graber on the Today Show.

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RESET: Summer Digital Detox Program for Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 28, 2020  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Mental Health, Summer Camps, Teen Help

RESET SUMMER CAMP

Serious Help for Technology Addiction

Help Your Teens BigStockTeensOnline-300x189 RESET: Summer Digital Detox Program for Teens Looking for a summer digital detox program that is both affordable and effective?

Welcome to Reset.

Digital Addiction

Today we are facing a time when teen depression is on the rise. Young people are struggling with anxiety, stress and overwhelmed by peer pressure. They are isolating themselves – completely immersed in their screens without considering their emotional or physical health.

Symptoms:

-An obsession with being online
-Frustration, anxiety, and irritability when not able to get online
-Abandoning friends or hobbies in order to stay digitally connected
-Continuing to spend time online even after negative repercussions (such as failing grades, deteriorating relationships, and even health issues)

Getting Help

Reset Summer Camp offers a fully immersive, clinical program hosted on a university campus, providing a fun-filled summer camp atmosphere. Participants are able to detox from their screen addiction and learn how to self-regulate, as they participate in individual and group therapy.

Life Skills

The Life Skills program cultivates responsibility and builds self-confidence, so campers will be prepared to handle their real-world obligations. Everything from healthy meal-prep and laundry skills to basic vehicle upkeep and a healthy sleep schedule.

Therapeutic Setting

Their staff includes experienced youth-development professionals, clinical interns, registered nurses, and private-practice mental health PhDs who work daily with those suffering from problematic use of technology, including gaming addiction and other unhealthy screen-time habits.

With 4-weeks of intensive therapeutic intervention, a full Family Workshop weekend and 12-weeks of individual follow-up with every camper, Reset Summer Camp stands alone as the leader in summer digital detox programs.

Aftercare

Reset Summer Camp isn’t done when your teen goes home. What sets them apart from others is their therapeutic after-care. Counselors will be available to help you, your teen and your family find a healthy relationship at home with technology.

Dates and rates

Click here.

RESET also offers kid sessions (8-12 year-old) at their Santa Barbara location for two weeks.

Contact RESET at 1-775-771-3171 to learn more or email at info@resetsummercamp.com and visit them on Facebook.

Apply now.

As featured on the Today Show:

P.U.R.E. is not compensated by RESET Summer Camp.

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Text Lingo: Secret Language of Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 05, 2020  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens

Teen Text Lingo

Help Your Teens TeenTextLingo-300x300 Text Lingo: Secret Language of Teens In 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.

Frequently used text codes by teens 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

Help Your Teens TextLingoSheet Text Lingo: Secret Language of Teens Be an educated parent – you will have safer teens!

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Cyberbullying: Prevention and Surviving

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 29, 2019  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting

Cyberbullying – Shaming – Online Predators – Sextortion

Did you know that over 59 percent of teens have experienced some form of online harassment?

Help Your Teens DrRobynSue Cyberbullying: Prevention and Surviving

Listen to the podcast here

Help Your Teens DrRobynPodcast2-300x249 Cyberbullying: Prevention and Surviving Did you know that 43 percent of teens consider cyberbullying (online shaming) a bigger problem than drug abuse? Many kids and teens don’t tell parents when they are being harassed online. Learn more. Order Shame Nation book today.

The podcast provides:

  • Tips on How to prevent online shaming. Sue provides guidelines to adhere to when posting online. Such as being mindful of what you post, learn patience, de-clutter your friends list!
  • Tips once online shaming or cyberbullying has occurred.
  • Steps to triumph in the area of online shaming.
  • How to build up and humanize your online persona.
  • How to check-in with yourself- am I representing myself in the way that is genuine and kind?

 

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Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 12, 2019  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Internet Safety

Social Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World

Help Your Teens bigstock-technology-internet-addiction-235925533-300x194 Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World

By Ana Homayoun

Over the past decade, the new language created by social media and technology have ostensibly widened the communication divide between generations. Though students have long managed to find distractions, today’s technology innovations present new challenges for students and adults, and many adults struggle to keep up with what their kids are doing online.

With a proactive, practical approach based on over fifteen years of working with students in private practice and in schools, Ana provides simple, implementable solutions focused around the three main tenets of socialization, self-regulation and safety.

In the face of our “always on” culture, Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World creates a new conversation around social media wellness — one that encourages tweens and teens to think about their own personal values and daily choices, while emphasizing the importance of parental attitude and a collaborative approach in helping all of us build healthier online habits and create more balanced lives.

Solutions for navigating an ever-changing social media world

Help Your Teens BookSocialMediaWellness Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World Today’s students face a challenging paradox: the digital tools they need to complete their work are often the source of their biggest distractions. Students can quickly become overwhelmed trying to manage the daily confluence of online interactions with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and family life. Written by noted author and educator Ana Homayoun, Social Media Wellness is the first book to successfully decode the new language of social media for parents and educators and provide pragmatic solutions to help students:

  • Manage distractions
  • Focus and prioritize
  • Improve time-management
  • Become more organized and boost productivity
  • Decrease stress and build empathy

With fresh insights and a solutions-oriented perspective, this crucial guide will help parents, educators and students work together to promote healthy socialization, effective self-regulation, and overall safety and wellness.

Order on Amazon today.

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Teens Use Burner Phones To Hide Online Behavior From Parents

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 12, 2019  /   Posted in Digital Parenting

How Your Teen Uses Burner Phones to Hide Online Behavior

Are you a parent that believes taking your teen’s device is a punishment?

Think again! This is one of the reasons burner phones are on the rise among young people.

Help Your Teens BigstockFamilyDefiant-300x199 Teens Use Burner Phones To Hide Online Behavior From Parents As a tech-savvy parent, you’ve established rules with your teens about responsible cell phone usage and drawn up a detailed family contract. And by all accounts it seems to be working.

But teenagers can be ingenious about getting around the rules, and many of today’s teens turn to burner phones as a workaround to parental limitations. Here’s how to discover if your child has found this alternative, plus some tips on curbing the habit.

What Is a Burner Phone?

Burner phones are cheap, prepaid mobile phones you can discard once you’re done using them. They offer access to Wi-Fi and a phone number that can’t be traced to the individual using the device.

There are a few good reasons to use a burner phone. If you’re buying or selling something on Craigslist, for instance, having an untraceable number offers a degree of safety when communicating with strangers.

However, their anonymity and low cost make burner phones ideal for teenagers looking for a way to sneak around behind their parents’ backs. And that anonymity can get kids into problematic situations where they don’t have a parental lifeline to keep them safe.

Why Do Teens Turn to These Disposable Devices?

Teens consider cell phones a virtual lifeline, and many experience fear of missing out (FOMO) without them. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found some eye-opening stats about teens and social media:

  • 81% say social media makes them feel more connected.
  • Approximately 2/3 of teens say online friends give them support in difficult times.

 Losing cell phone access as a punishment—and effectively losing access to their online networks—is one reason why teens may acquire a burner phone. But they might also buy second phones to maintain secret social media accounts. A finsta (fake Instagram), for example, is a private account where kids post content that only certain people have access to.

Teens may also turn to burners if they’re engaging in activities they think parents won’t approve of—getting involved in drugs or alcohol, or pursuing romantic relationships.

Some of these habits can be dangerous, putting kids in a place where they can be taken advantage of. Burner phones can also create a space for cyberbullying to go unnoticed, and thus unchecked. 

How Can You Know Your Child Is Using a Burner Phone?

If you’ve ever taken away your teen’s phone, you’re familiar with them pleading to get it back. If they suddenly stop doing so, that’s a hint they may be using a burner phone. Here are a few other ways to discover they’ve gotten a second phone:

  • Look for a dip in data use. Check your wireless carrier for overall data usage and details about specific applications. A decrease in visits to your teen’s favorite social media site may point to use of a burner phone.
  • Monitor your network. Learn how to check your router’s activity log, which shows browser histories and IP addresses that have accessed the internet via your network.
  • Check your child’s other apps. Burner phones aren’t the only way to communicate anonymously; there are multiple apps that let you set up a temporary number. If your child has an app like Burner or Hushed, it’s possible they’re doing something that requires anonymity—which could be a red flag. 

What Can You Do to Manage the Behavior?

  1. Maintain consistent rules of use. If you’ve gone to the trouble of setting ground rules, then stick with them and make sure the consequences for breaking them are fair and applicable to everyone in the family. Consistency equals credibility. 
  1. Help your teen set boundaries. Encourage your child to understand and embrace core values that will drive healthy online interactions. If your child can feel okay about posting online because they always consider how it will reflect upon them first, they’ll have less interest in setting up secret accounts.
  1. Reward honesty. Let your kids know they can come to you when they’ve made a mistake online, such as going to an inappropriate website. Being able to do so without risking punishment will maintain the level of communication that pays dividends in all kinds of parent-child interactions—not just those related to cell phones.

At the end of the day, this burner phone trend is more about behaviors than devices. If you can set clear expectations and have open conversations about smart phone conduct, you’ll see a lot more progress than if you focus solely on managing your kids’ access to a phone.

Read “Why Removing Your Teens’ Devices Doesn’t Always Work.”

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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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iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 25, 2019  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Internet Addiction

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood

Cell phone are here to stay. The smartphone generation.

Help Your Teens BigStockTeensOnline-300x189 iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood

By Cathie Ericson of Your Teen Magazine

Many of us parents, given the option, would snap our fingers and make smartphones—and all their complications—go away forever. But smartphones are here to stay, and your teen is now part of the smartphone generation. As you may already be discovering, there’s an inevitability about teens and phones, so we might as well face that reality head-on.

What do we worry about? Too much screen time, too little face-to-face socializing, and the potential pitfalls of social media. As smartphones become ubiquitous, teens have all the pressure associated with always being “on”—but potentially without the maturity to handle it. And that’s troubling.

Help Your Teens Igen-198x300 iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood Smartphone Generation

As reported in Jean Twenge’s new book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, rates of teen depression have skyrocketed—a phenomenon the author links to smartphones. Boys’ depressive symptoms increased by 21 percent from 2012 to 2015, while girls’ increased by 50 percent. Research supports a connection between this shift and smartphone usage, finding that teens who report more screen time are more likely to be unhappy, compared to teens who spend less time than average with their screen.

Given these findings, why do we even allow our teens to have phones? In many cases, it’s almost as though we have no choice. Pew Research reports that three-quarters of teens have a smartphone, and a whopping 92 percent of them say they go online every day.

Your teens are likely to be among these connected teens—so, rather than “just say no,” how can parents set wise limits?

Easy to Love, Hard to Put Down: Setting Limits on Phone Use

Does it seem like your teen is constantly clicking and scrolling? To be fair, we might be, too. A survey from Common Sense Media found that 78 percent of teens reported checking their phone at least hourly, but 69 percent of parents said the same.

“I like to remind parents that they are the models,” says Dodgen-Magee. “If you don’t think they should use their device at night, then you shouldn’t bring yours to bed either.”

Which brings up one of the most important limits that should be set: Encourage good evening habits so the phone doesn’t interrupt their sleep. “If you only do one thing, keep the phone out of their room at night,” says one expert.

Of course, you know they are going to say it’s their alarm clock. Remind them of this novel invention—an actual clock, which you can find for about $10, says Twenge. “Even if the phone is off, it’s still too tempting to have it at the ready while they’re trying to wind down, or if they wake up in the middle of the night.”

Beyond that, the key is to make sure they are balancing their screen time with other activities. Twenge has found a direct correlation between negative teen mental health and the number of hours they spend on their devices, particularly on social media. While more research needs to be done on phones and mental health to determine exactly why these things are correlated, Twenge recommends parents err on the side of caution and look into one of the numerous apps like Freedom or Kidslox that allow you to set daily limits.

However, you probably shouldn’t outright take the phone as a punishment, as they often need it for homework or updates (like when the next soccer practice is). “It’s more productive to have a conversation about when they should unplug and help them develop a healthy balance.”

Order iGen by Jean Twenge today on Amazon.

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Does Your Teen Have the Tools to Handle Cyberbullying?

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 19, 2018  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Article

Does Your Teen Have the Tools to Handle Cyberbullying?

Help Your Teens bigstock-Teenage-Girl-With-Friend-Being-117510221-300x200 Does Your Teen Have the Tools to Handle Cyberbullying?

We’re living in an age where incivility and trolling is not only common, it’s become the new normal.

PEW Research Center recent survey found that 63 percent of teens said that online harassment and bullying was a major problem, while 59 percent reported experiencing being bullied or harassed online.

It’s a sea of sadness when we read headlines of peer cruelty and youth dying as the word bullycide has now entered our vocabulary.

Digital discourse

Generations earlier, before technology and social playgrounds such as Instagram and Snapchat, kids were teasing and mocking each other in schools, neighborhoods or on their traditional playground with monkey bars and swings.

What hasn’t changed is name-calling.

Being called offensive names is the most offensive form of cyberbullying according to teens in this survey at 42 percent, followed by someone spreading false rumors about them on the internet at 32 percent.

The difference between twenty years ago and today is that with technology, your insults are magnified by a million.

Resilience can be learned

Resilience is a word we’re all familiar with; however, with the rise of online hate and harassment, it’s imperative to discuss how to build digital resilience with our teens.

In the PEW Research survey, teens share that parents are, overall, doing a good job in helping them handle cyberbullying—however, they felt that teachers, social media platforms and others could be more involved.

Digital resilience is a tool that helps people of all ages move through the difficulties of trolling and cyber-combat.

1. Prepare them (and yourself) for the ugly side of the Internet or possibly being upset by what people say. Remind them there could be inappropriate content that slips through filters. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

2. Show them how to block individuals, flag and report abusive content, and when to report incidents. Emphasize the importance of telling someone “in real life.”

3. Show your teen how easily digital pictures can be manipulated. The realization that not everything is what it seems is a useful first step—understanding that life is not as perfect as it may seem virtually. Teens may be familiar with the digital world but less familiar with the motivations for creating ‘fake’ images.

4. Critical thinking. Help them to think through the possible consequences of what they post online. Remind them that there is no rewind: once it’s posted, it’s nearly impossible to take back. Fifteen minutes of humor is not worth a lifetime of humiliation.

5. Encourage your teen to socialize in person with their friends. Communicating solely behind a screen can be isolating. Socializing in person builds more face-to-face contact in helping your child have empathy and compassion towards people.

Getting schools involved

After a cyberbullying episode hit her daughter’s public charter school, parent and video producer Diana Graber developed this program based on the master’s degree she had just received in media psychology and social change. Graber still teaches the course herself, but also trains teachers to run the program at their own schools, providing video and written materials for a fee.

Since its inception, the program has grown to be offered in more than one hundred schools in 47 states and overseas, ranging from Waldorf to public schools.

Sixth graders begin with the basic concepts of digital citizenship, covering digital footprints, what should never be shared online, and antibullying behavior, such as the difference between being an upstander and a bystander. Seventh graders focus on research skills, covering concepts such as keywords, Wikipedia, fair use, browsers, search engines, and privacy protection.

By eighth grade, the students shift focus again to consuming versus producing online content, covering media literacy issues from sexting to Photoshopping to copyright protection. The final exam is a series of questions we adults would likely fail: What are cookies and how do they work? What does URL stand for? What is a spider? What are the eight tips for a secure password?

While much of the same information is on her complementary website, CyberWise.org, Graber ultimately found that approaching the students directly, instead of using their parents as mediators, works best. “Kids don’t want to talk to their parents in middle school,” she says. “The talking is with each other. If we can make safe spaces in the classroom, that is way more powerful.”

Graber knew her message was received when a new girl posted a photo of herself in a bikini, and an eighth-grade boy who’d taken the course scolded her. “You need to take that off your  Instagram,” he told her bluntly. “That was stupid.” Harsh, Graber concedes—but effective. “In a crude way, he was looking out for her. The kids start being each other’s mentors.”

This teacher seems to be making a difference with her curriculum, CyberCivics, that is now spreading throughout the country.

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Is your teen a victim or target of cyberbullying? Have you noticed them becoming withdrawn, nervous when they receive notifications on their phone, loss of appetite, drop in grades? Words can hurt and leave our young people with emotional baggage.

If you have exhausted your local resources, therapy isn’t working, maybe you tried out patient and even a hospital stay — contact us for information on how residential therapy might be able to help.

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