I was at a networking event last week where there were two single adults talking about their online dating experiences. Hearing their conversation reminded me of the dangers adults and kids face when online.
Social Media Facts:
Everyone is being told that social media ‘is a must’. As business owners, we’re constantly being told we need a social media presence to engage our customers and find new customers. Our children are feeling peer pressure to use social networking as well. Connecting with ‘friends’, creating and sharing photos and videos and playing games on these sites have all become important aspects of kids’ lives.
What most people don’t fully understand is that everything they say about themselves in their profile, pictures or words will be available for the world to see; and people do see these pages – strangers, college admissions officers, potential employers… Kids are savvy enough to post things, but not always mature enough to understand the consequences of doing so.
Unfortunately, there are cases where child predators have hacked into profiles, pretended to be a child’s friend and invited them to meet, along with other friends, behind the mall. This exact scenario happened to a child of a law enforcement officer in Arizona! People in child trafficking and the sex slave trade set up profiles, posing as young kids. They surf social media sites and pray on innocent, unsuspecting kids; don’t let your child get caught in this!
✓ Facebook and other sites won’t let kids create a profile/page if they are younger than 13.
That being said, kids aren’t stupid, they simply do the math to figure out what year to put so they’ll seem 13 – or older. Check your computer browser histories! If you see a social networking site, then assume your kids have an account.
✓ Check your kid’s profile.
It is best if they use a ‘stage name’ or nickname, anything other than their real name. Be sure they do not include their phone numbers and an avatar or image is better than their personal photo!
✓ Remind them of the golden rule.
✓ Tell your kids to think before they post.
Remind them everything they post can be seen by an immense, invisible audience (friends of friends of friends). Encourage them NOT to use any of the ‘places’ or ‘check in’ applications. These applications post on their ‘wall’ and tell everyone where they are; don’t tip off child predators as to their whereabouts. And, don’t think it can’t happen to your kids!
✓ If they want to meet someone, it had better be in a public place, with you, or at least a friend.
We would all like to think that our kids wouldn’t meet strangers – but sometimes they do. If your kids want to meet an online friend, let them know that you want to meet that friend, too.
Click here for more online safety tips to help protect yourself and your kids when using social media!
“You have how many children?” This is one of the first questions I am asked when people meet me. Five. I have five children. Not twenty. Not forty two. Five. Trying to send your children home with me won’t work, either. I will notice. Especially since I drive a seven passenger van, not a school bus.
It doesn’t help my case when I mention that we also homeschool.While many people are supportive,I have heard statements which are — special.Below,are some of the more memorable questions and statements I have heard over the years.
On having a large family:
- “Five children? Do they have different fathers?”
They do all have the same father. To be honest, though, I am beginning to become suspicious about if I am really their mother.
Yes. I do. Are you asking me to explain it to you?
- Have you heard of the Duggars?
Yes, I have. No, we are nothing like the Duggars.Remember where I said I have five children, not twenty?
The first time I read about the Duggars and how organized their children are,I spent the rest of the day in tears.Meanwhile, my younger boys took this opportunity to conduct an impromptu experiment that involved a full box of baking soda and a full bottle of vinegar, in hopes of creating the world’s biggest experimental volcano.
- At least, you have someone to take care of you when you get old.
Maybe. My children have already discussed it.They think they can trade off on me living with them, but they are still in negotiations about their father. They’re afraid he’s going to eat all their food, run around naked and buy Legos, just so he can spread them throughout their houses. He has already told them that is his plan.
- I couldn’t possibly homeschool. My children need to socialize.
This statement stands out,because it’s always made when my children are playing. Some days I want to say, “It makes them more grateful when I let them out of the basement.”
- How can you stand to be around your children all day?
I can’t. That’s why I hide in my office whenever I get the chance. Sometimes I even run away from home to socialize.
- You’re home all day. You have time. I’m just too busy.
I am a freelance writer, teach my children, referee fights so they don’t turn into boxing matches, make sure my house remains standing and still manage to have time to talk to you. I am so glad I am not as busy as you are.
No matter how big or small your family is, I am sure you have heard many different statements about your parenting choices. What are the most ridiculous comments you have heard?
When it comes to kids and video games, most parents cringe at the thought of what their children are playing and whom they’re playing with online. How does a parent know if the game their child is playing is age appropriate, or a violent, explicit, video game that would make Quentin Tarantino blush?
The video game industry, to its credit, has voluntarily adopted a useful and informative rating system that should be followed when making a decision to allow your child to play. Known as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), it can be broken down as follows:
- EC (Early Childhood) - Suitable for ages 3 and older. Games with this rating are marketed for toddlers who may not grasp most other video games.
- E (Everyone) – Suitable for ages 6 and older. There is an E10+ rating for games designed for ages 10 and older. Basically nothing to worry about.
- T (Teen) – Think PG movies. Games will have mild or non explicit violence and language, only mildly suggestive content, and contain strategies or plots that are understandable and appreciated by teenagers.
- M (Mature) - These games contain mature content such as language, graphic violence, and possibly sexual content that is inappropriate for children. Think R rated movies. Such games should be discouraged for children and never be played without direct adult supervision.
There are some who blame the video game industry for the production and marketing of violent video games to children. There may be some truth to these allegations but the industry has made the ratings as clear as they can be and expect parents to do the job of raising their own children. There are plenty of adults who enjoy playing video games.
There are some really well designed games out there that are not only appropriate for children but can offer enjoyment for all ages. Most games are best played with friends either sitting side by side on the living room sofa or networked across the house or the Internet. One of my favorites games for playing with my own children is Portal 2 from Valve (rated E10+), available on the Xbox360, PS3, and PC/Mac. Portal 2 is a single or multiplayer science fiction puzzle game with a dazzling array of special effects and imagery along with superb voice acting and intense interactive puzzles that require both imagination and teamwork to solve. My other favorite is Minecraft by Mojang (not rated), a superb multiplayer building, survival, and exploration game available on PC/Mac, iOS, and Android that is enjoyed worldwide by people of all ages. Minecraft is a recently released online game that uses simpler block style graphics allowing it to run on older, less powerful computers or tablets. It offers a vast interactive virtual world where your children build or explore cities, castles, tunnels, or just about anything they can imagine while fending off an assortment of not so scary monsters. It’s inexpensive and simple enough to play for the inexperienced parent.
Always be aware of who may be playing with your children online. Game publishers have no way of predicting or regulating what other players might do or say. Getting involved and joining your kids once in a while is essential to being aware of the virtual world they play in. I’m betting if you haven’t tried playing video games with your kids, you’re in for a surprisingly fun treat.
Talk to your children about why they can’t play Battlefield, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and other excessively violent and explicit video games. Instead try to steer them toward something more constructive and creative that you can enjoy with them. Talk to their friends’ parents and avoid the old – “but my friend plays it” – trap that causes many parents to give in. You don’t need to be a gaming junkie to stay on top of your children and protect them from violent video games.
Images of children playing in the sun is often far removed from our concern for effective sunscreen protection, our fears of skin cancer, and our need to protect our children from the harmful effects of the sun.
Each and every day society learns more about just how harmful the sun’s UV rays can be on your skin and your overall health.
The sun increases the risk of skin cancer, and exposure can cause your skin to age beyond its years. Even being out in the sun for 5 to 10 minutes a day or having the window open during your drive to work can cause problems.
While most people know that SunCare is important, applying sunscreen products to protect the skin can be a real pain. It’s not easy to remember to do it. Having to apply sunscreen several times a day seems more like work than a good health habit.
The process becomes even more difficult when you are trying to protect young children.
As a parent, you know that kids are a tough bunch to wrangle. School-aged children are absent minded, easily distracted and against doing anything that doesn’t feel fun. Getting your children ready for school and then reminding them about SunCare will probably elicit groans or sighs, along with a lot of wiggling.
Parents might not feel motivated at all times to get their children to practice proper skin care, because it can be easier to skip the drama than to try to fight with a young’un who won’t sit still.
But you need to try.
Children are in just as much danger from the sun’s rays as you are. Just a little bit of prevention every day will make it less likely that they will one day be diagnosed with skin cancer.
Keeping your kids in the habit of good sunscreen protection now will open the door for them to be more mindful at protecting themselves from skin cancer later on. No matter how much wiggling or dodging your kids do when it comes time for SunCare, the issue is too important for you not to address it.