Respecting Your Child’s Privacy While Protecting Them from Online Dangers

Trust is one of the most universal components of modern society. Trust can permit someone a driver’s license, trust can build a relationship, and trust can end a war. Where trust matters most to the everyday person however, is in their personal lives. The expectation in society is that as a kid grows from a child to an adolescent that the amount of trust within the relationship will grow with it. This begs the question though, how far should this trust stretch? In the age of technology, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to accept that they cannot control everything that their children do online. In an effort to take back that control, many say that monitoring kid’s phones is the best way to protect them. The underdeveloped state of a child’s brain, the potential for internet addiction, and the constant dangers of online and texting mistakes are reasons why some monitoring of a minor’s use of their phone is necessary.

On the most fundamental level, the brain of a child or teenage is still maturing. Their ability to think critically about a situation and make a good decision quickly is lacking and it can lead to devastating results. During these critical years of a young person’s life, their brain is creating more and more grey matter which is used to process information. Through experiences and learning, the grey matter will thicken and the child will learn to make logical decisions faster.

An example of this inadequate thinking ability could be seen in 2014 when a young girl was kidnapped on her way to school because of unsupervised usage of a messaging application on her phone. When twelve-year-old, “Jane Doe”, never made it to school one morning, her mother was quick to call for a search party. During the investigation, the detectives found that the child and her suspected abductor had been chatting for a while on the “Kik” application, a social media platform. Which, in a conversation with another person, Jane Doe says she couldn’t tell her mother about her scary conversations with her future abductor because “[She was] not supposed to have [Kik] so [she] would get in big trouble”. While in captivity, this girl reflected on how she had learned her lesson of using apps like that without her parents’ consent. Being so young, Ms. Doe did not think about the possible consequences in time to avoid this tragic event. Had her mother been active in monitoring her phone, Jane could have reduced the probability of harm from occurring.

Coinciding with the developing brain of a child is the higher risk for addiction. Not only has this been seen with drugs and dangerous substances, but also with technology and the internet. Children, teens especially, are at the greatest risk for addiction and research shows that the earlier a person begins to use an addictive substance, the more likely he or she is to develop serious problems. As much as a brain or apathy can be blamed for this problem, much of the problem can be attributed to the intent of app creators. From the design of the logo to the function of the app itself; creators of such apps intend it to be addictive. According to Tristan Harris, an Ex-Google Employee, smartphone applications are made to be similar to slot machines. “When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got. When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got. When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next”.

Allowing children to spend more than two hours every day in constant connection with the internet can lead to unfavorable psychological effects. Many studies have reported associations between Internet addiction and psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-efficacy, etc. among adolescents. It is less likely that you will see children playing kickball in the front yard and more likely that they will be killing enemies in Call of Duty, a popular first person shooter game. Along with monitoring what they do on their cell phones or online and controlling the amount of time they are on them can increase their chances at a happier and healthier life.

The purpose of keeping an eye on a child’s online and personal interactions is to protect them and should be done with their complete knowledge. To make all rules and provisions clear, many families have turned to the idea of a technology contract. These lay out specific guidelines that often provide reasonable expectations for both the child and the parent. By placing limits and rules for both parties, it will make the younger party feel more responsible and in control, which often leads to better decision making. The monitoring of a child’s phone and online activity should be implemented but with reasonable limitations and respect for their privacy.

 

The Best Places to Sell Kids Stuff Online

By Kathy Schultz

baby-stuffEvery parent remembers the excitement of expecting their first child and the literally carloads of items needed to prepare for the big day. Cribs, baby monitors, changing tables, car seats, high chairs, clothes, linens, toys, nursery décor, swings and a host of other necessities filled the home and made baby’s first year or more much easier. But all too soon they’re outgrown or no longer needed, and often while they’re still in excellent shape.

Many families are able to hand down items or donate them to a charity. However, a lot of families really need to get a return on their investment to help afford the necessities needed in the next stage of childhood.

While consignment shops and garage sales are one way to earn back some of the money we’ve spent, in most cases these methods only get us a minimal return on our investment. For items that have barely been used and are still in great condition, why settle for pennies on the dollar? Savvy parents have learned one of the best ways make the most money on kids’ items is to sell them online.

There are many sites on the Internet that help you to sell gently used items. A little research will uncover where you can maximize your return on your dollar. Here are a few I recommend:

CraigsList

Selling on CraigsList is a great way to avoid shipping costs and seller fees on larger, high ticket items or very common items that fill consignment shops. With a presence in over 700 “cities” in 70 countries, it’s likely this site will help you connect with a buyer in your hometown. Criagslist makes it easy to upload items yourself, and users say that depending on the product, they can get as much as 50% of the item’s original retail price. On big ticket items like furniture and electronics, that can make a big difference. Be sure to include photos and use those keywords to maximize your chances of a sale. www.craigslist.org

Lolly Daisy

So what about those cute items that are personalized or monogrammed that, while still in excellent shape, are outgrown physically or emotionally? This is where LollyDaisy.com shines. New to the scene this year, Lolly Daisy connects you with buyers of new and gently used personalized items (clothing, backpacks, step stools, bedding, dishware, accessories, furniture, toys, art, etc.). On LollyDaisy.com, buyers can search by name or initials to find a match and even sign up to receive email alerts when you place a new listing on the site that matches the name and initials they seek. This means if someone is waiting to buy something with your child’s name or initials, they’ll know the moment you list. www.lollydaisy.com

Just Between Friends

If you are looking to sell off items like toys and baby care items in bulk, check out Just Between Friends. This company hosts large consignment sales events all over the country on specific dates throughout the year. Sellers sign up online, find the location and date of the event in their town, use online information to prepare and price items, then drop off items at the sale. A couple weeks after the event, your check shows up in the mail for the items that were sold, and they’ll even take unsold items to charity for you. This site is great for folks with little time to do the selling. www.jbfsale.com

ThredUP

ThredUP focuses on helping you sell kids and women’s clothing. A great alternative if you don’t have much time, this company will send you a self-addressed pre-paid bag for you to fill with the gently used clothes your kids have outgrown. Just drop off the bag off at your nearest UPS or FedEx location. You can choose to have them sell the items outright, or consign them. ThredUp will then upload and sell your items online for you. Once an item sells the company will pay you up to 40 percent (upfront payment) or 80 percent (consignment payment) of the sale price. www.thredup.com

Time is precious when raising children. Why waste it while trying to find the right buyers for kids’ items? Let these companies do the work for you and maximize the return on your investment. This will give you the time and money to get the next round of necessities for your kids. And maybe even a new pair of shoes for you.

A Different Kind of Gift!

As the holiday season is approaching, many of you are probably starting to think of gift ideas for the people on your list. If you are anything like me, you always want to come up with something different than everyone else will think of and really be enjoyable for your gift recipient. I came across an idea that I think is really awesome-a fun gift and you don’t even have to go to the store to buy it! I checked out both of these and loved everything about them. A nice, sturdy box filled with quality items that were well thought out. Whether buying for a fellow parent or a special child, this is a great way to go!

For a parent:

googaro Googaro

Googaro is a subscription box service that delivers the highest-quality, full-size products for children 0-3 years of age. For $35 a month, Googaro helps new parents find the most beneficial products for their baby that are organic, BPA-free and eco-friendly, and is the perfect gift idea to make a mom and dad’s job just a little bit easier.

Every month, subscribers will receive a care package with 4-5 full-size products that are the perfect blend of practical, safe, stylish and fun. Each box is carefully curated with new and exciting high-end toys, books, snacks and household products that are tailored to a child’s age and gender, with the occasional surprise thrown in for mom and dad.

Three, six and twelve-month subscriptions are available at googaro.com for newborns to toddlers age 3. A three-month subscription retails for $35/month, a six-month subscription retails for $32/month (with ½ month free), and a 12-month subscription retails for $32/month (with one month free). Check it out at www.googaro.com.

For a child:

thehappytrunkThe Happy Trunk

Creativity in a box! The Happy Trunk is overflowing with surprises including arts & crafts, science experiments and creative play items. You have two trunks to choose from: one for 3-7 year olds and one for 8-11 year olds. Each box comes with all the materials and instructions! The best part – you don’t have to go anywhere to pick it up. Imagine the excitement on your child’s face when they receive their own mail! You can purchase The Happy Trunk as a one-time gift or sign up for a monthly subscription. Prices are 20 dollars/month. Peek inside The Happy Trunk at: www.thehappytrunk.com.

Could Your Child Be a Cyberbully? Warning Signs and Prevention Tactics

“No, my child would never do that.” Would this be your response if your child were accused of being a cyberbully? If so, you’re not alone. For one thing, no parent wants to believe that his or her child is capable of teasing or harassing other youngsters. For another, cyberbullying is, by its very nature, a relatively easy behavior for youngsters to keep under wraps: With the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger, the evidence disappears. And most concerning of all, it’s easy for kids to get caught up in this destructive behavior without initially realizing how dangerous and hurtful it is.

“Like it or not, the rapidly expanding digital landscape has allowed bullying to spread beyond playgrounds and school hallways to computer screens, smartphones, and more,” says Amy Lupold Bair, author of Raising Digital Families For Dummies® . “Since this is a pressing issue that can affect any family, it’s crucial for parents to be able to recognize the signs that their children may be cyberbullies, and to know how to handle and prevent this behavior.”

Specifically, Lupold Bair says, tweens and teens (and in some instances, even younger kids) who are engaged in cyberbullying often exhibit behavior changes, just as victims do. Watch for the following signs:

• Your child may stop using the computer when you come into the room or quickly change screens or tabs.

• Your child may sharply increase time spent on the computer or on a smartphone.

• Your child may appear stressed or secretive when using these devices, and may become anxious, upset, or excessively angry when you limit or take away access.

• Your child may be spending more time with a new group of friends, or might no longer interact publicly with a long-time friend.

“Regardless of whether your child’s behavior fits into any of these categories, it’s a good idea to proactively bring up the topic of cyberbullying,” Lupold Bair says. “Make sure your kids know what cyberbullying is, why it’s harmful, and what your expectations are for their online conduct. By keeping an ongoing dialog going, you’ll not only gain insight into the digital world in which your kids live, but you may also discover warning signs that your child’s online group is participating in these types of activities.”

Specifically, Lupold Bair recommends discussing the following topics with your children:

• Joking vs. harassment. The line between harmless joking and mean, harassing behaviors can often be a fine one, and younger children especially may have trouble recognizing when they’ve crossed it. Explain to your kids that any online behavior that makes another person feel upset, threatened, hurt, mocked, etc. can be considered bullying. If your child knows that one of his peers is uncomfortable with a specific online interaction—or if a particular online behavior would make your child feel upset if the shoe were on the other foot—it’s best not to participate.

• Appropriate online communication. While it may seem obvious to many adults, kids frequently don’t understand that what they write or share in a digital format can often be forwarded, saved, or accessed by others. On a continuous basis, talk to your kids about what is appropriate to share online and what is not. Put a special emphasis on why it’s important to keep friends’ secrets and personal communications private and where it is and isn’t safe to discuss these things.

• Standing up to bullies. Teach your children how to stand up to their friends to discourage bullying behaviors online, if they’re comfortable doing so. Make sure they understand the importance of not standing by while others are being bullied and help them find the words to tell their friends that they refuse to participate in these bullying actions.

• Limiting contact with bullies. Cyberbullying is often a group occurrence with more than one child playing a role and different participants contributing varying levels of bullying behaviors. Make sure your children know that they can often use blocking features on social media and chat sites to avoid online contact with bullies. Explain why being associated with a cyberbullying incident can have serious consequences, even if your child wasn’t the ringleader or even an active participant.

• Informing adults. Encourage your kids to talk to teachers, coaches, and friends’ parents if they don’t feel comfortable coming to you with concerns about their own online behavior, which may have potentially crossed the line into cyberbullying. Also, encourage them to inform authority figures if they know another child is the victim of cyberbullying. Tell your kids that if they’re uncomfortable coming forward because they don’t want to attract the bully’s attention themselves, an anonymous note left on a coach’s or teacher’s desk, for example, can still be a tremendous help.

“Don’t just assume that your child’s online activities are harmless, even if she’s generally a ‘good kid,’” Lupold Bair concludes. “Be proactive about discussing why cyberbullying is a major issue and how you expect your child to behave on all digital platforms.

“In fact, I recommend creating and having your kids sign a document called a Digital Family Policy,” she adds. “It should include rules and expectations for all technology use. Be sure to include information regarding how you define cyberbullying and what the consequences will be if your child crosses that line.”

Defining Cyberbullying: A Parent’s Guide

From Raising Digital Families For Dummies®
by Amy Lupold Bair

teen-phoneWhen most of today’s parents were growing up, bullying was largely limited to in-person interactions. For that reason, it can be difficult to intuitively and fully understand what our children are facing as they navigate the digital landscape.

In essence, cyberbullying comprises any digital communication, typically from one minor to another minor, with the purpose of frightening, threatening, embarrassing, or harassing a person. The most common form of cyberbullying is sharing a private text message, e-mail, or instant message (IM) with someone else or through a public posting. Cyberbullies’ tools are computers and smartphones and they plague victims via text, e-mail, IM, chat rooms, social media, and blogs.

Examples of cyberbullying behaviors include:

• Using websites to rank or rate peers according to criteria such as looks and popularity

• Publicly blocking someone’s participation in an online group

• Tricking someone into sharing embarrassing information with the purpose of sharing it digitally with others

• Creating a website with the purpose of harassing someone

• Creating a fake social media account to pose as another person and post untrue things about that person

• Sending threatening or mean e-mails, text messages, and IMs in chat rooms

• Posting embarrassing pictures of someone on a social media website

The effects of cyberbullying can be far more devastating for victims than traditional bullying because:

• Cyberbullies often remain anonymous, making victims unsure of how to protect themselves and whom to trust

• Victims often receive bullying messages via their home computer, taking away their feeling of safety within their own home

• Victims may be affected both at school and online, taking away two primary locations where teens socialize and interact

• Cyberbullies can reach a large number of people easily and instantly, making it possible for the entire world to see the behaviors and shared information about the victim

• Because cyberbullies don’t face their victims, the bullying behaviors are often more extreme than traditional bullying

• Cyberbullies can attack their victims frequently on multiple technology platforms

Many states have laws regarding cyberbullying, but current laws vary by state. To see where your state stands regarding cyberbullying legislation, visit www.cyberbullying.us/Bullying_and_Cyberbullying_Laws.pdf.

Teens Take BIG Risks Online

Teens Take BIG Risks Online, New Study Says

“The Secret Online Lives of Teens” Reveals Dangerous Behaviors and Online Trends

Teens Risks Online

A shocking new report released called “The Secret Online Lives of Teens” is a revealing peek at just how much our kids risk when they interact online, and one expert believes it’s more than just a wake-up call.

The study, conducted by Harris Interactive for McAfee, asked 955 American teens (including 593 aged 13-15 and 362 aged 16-17) about their attitudes on Internet privacy. The results are troubling for any parents of teenagers.

  • 69 percent of teens freely divulged their physical location
  • 28 percent chatted with strangers

Of those who chatted with strangers, defined as people they do not know in the offline world:

  • 43 percent shared their first name
  • 24 percent shared their email address
  • 18 percent posted photos of themselves
  • 12 percent posted their cell phone number

What’s more, girls make themselves targets more often than boys: 32% of the girl respondents indicated they chat with strangers online vs. 24% of boy respondents, according to the survey.

Mary Kay Hoal, a concerned mom and global media expert who addressed her Internet safety issues by creating a social network exclusively for kids and teens – www.yoursphere.com – believes that this is more than just a wake-up call for parents and teens.

“This study is Pearl Harbor in the war against Internet predators,” she said. “While the headline always changes from cyber bullies to privacy issues, what remains constant, and will continue to, is the risky behavior teens can participate in. If you don’t want your kids participating in certain behaviors offline, why would you permit them online? If you tell them not to talk to strangers at the mall, why allow it on the Internet? Parents need to take notice now, and they need to teach their kids about the dangers of predators. It’s very real.”

Hoal has been studying this issue for more than 4 years, having created Yoursphere as a response to her own daughter establishing profiles behind her back on social networking sites. Her goal is to create a positive place for kids and teens that offers all the best the Internet has to offer, without the dangers of predators, bullies and others who seek to use the anonymity of the Internet to victimize children.

“As parents, we need to do three things right now,” she said. “We need to learn about the online dangers for kids and teach our kids about them, just as we’d talk to them about drugs, sex, learning to drive a car or ride a bike safely. Next, we need to show our kids how to protect their online and offline privacy, so the predators and bullies are less capable of taking advantage of them. Finally, we need to set up a set of rules for our kids for their online lives that match their rules for their offline lives. The most effective litmus test is this: If the activity or behavior in question is inappropriate offline, then it is inappropriate online, as well. The combination of anonymity and technology that exists online can create a wide variety of hazards for teens, getting in the way of all the good things that exist for them on the Internet. We need to be able to use basic, common sense safety guidelines to help clear that path.”

About Mary Kay Hoal

A proud wife and mother of five children (both biological and adopted, ranging in age from 6 – 19 years old), Mary Kay faces the same challenges every parent does. After researching the disturbing landscape of social networking sites — including endless inappropriate content and thousands of predators targeting youth — Mary Kay conceived and founded Yoursphere.com, a free and positive place for kids and teens online as well as YoursphereForParents.com, where parents can find tools and information to create a safety-first experience for their families.

Teen Internet Use on the Rise

Teen Internet Use on the Rise

The 2010 Pew Research study reveals some staggering facts about teen internet use. While we know teens will be spending much of their free time online, it is important to keep tabs on your children and make sure that their internet use is monitored and safe. Knowing some of the facts about teen internet use, may help you understand what is typical and what to look for. Internet use is a great place to build and establish trust and responsibility with your teen by setting boundaries and teaching your teen to set her own as well. This is an area where she can show you that she can be trusted and that she will not abuse her time online.

According to the Pew Research Study:

  • there was a 20 percent increase in teen (ages 12-17 years) internet use from 2000 to 2009.
  • Seventy three percent of teens went online in 2000 versus 93 percent (20 percent increase) in 2009;
  • Nearly 73 percent of teens go online for social networking reasons, compared to just 55 percent of teens who did so three years ago;
  • Sixty-two percent of teens use the internet for news and politics;
  • Seventeen percent go online to gather information on topics that may be too “uncomfortable” to broach with a parent or guardian, such as issues relating to drug use and sexual health;
  • Thirty one percent of teens get health, dieting or physical fitness information from the internet and;
  • Only 14 percent of teens blog, compared to 28 percent three years ago.