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Establishing That the Internet is a Privilege, Not a Right

By Tim Woda on April 1, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Something that parents need to establish with their children early is that using the Internet is a privilege, not a right. This is important because if kids get too accustomed to and reliant on the Internet, it will be harder to end their privilege to it if they go against the rules.

In order to practice digital parenting, there has to be set rules that children understand and abide by. These rules vary on a case-by-case basis, but they should require open conversation between children and their parents concerning their activity on the Internet. When the rules are set, parents have to be ready to remove the Internet privilege if their child breaks the rules. It's not just to keep children safe from cyber threats, but also a life-long lesson that they can't take shortcuts and cheat the system.

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Teens Try Virtual Reality Texting and Driving Simulator

By Tim Woda on December 2, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Every generation of teens tends to think that they are invincible. It is part of the exuberance of youth we have all enjoyed. That care-free attitude is much to be envied, unless it leads any young people to assume that the dangers of risky behavior don't apply to them. However, simulation technology gives this generation of teenagers the chance to see how vulnerable they are to the dangers associated with texting and driving.

If you asked most teenagers if they knew that texting and driving was dangerous, they would probably tell you that they did. However, teens texting and driving remains a major problem. The knowledge that they have about the dangers of texting and driving has not influenced their behavior as much as we might hope. Until they experience the consequences first hand, it may be hard to convince them that they should change, but no one wants teenagers to have to get an accident before they make a commitment to keep themselves safe.

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Teens and Social Media: Are Social Skills Slipping?

By Steven Woda on November 19, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Listen to any conversations involving parents and you are likely to hear a complaint about their teens and social media. Often heard is “Johnny never puts that phone down; always on Facebook or Snapchat or something!”

One study reported by Common Sense Media states that most teenagers are involved in some form of social media, the vast majority using social media daily. “Two-thirds (68%) of teens text every day, half (51%) visit social networking sites daily, and 11% send or receive tweets at least once every day”. USA Today expects, “As more generations are born into the social age, social media will continue to be the favored communication form among young people.”

And what of the face-to-face social skills that seem to be lacking when the phone is the eternal attraction? Teens are reported to have accidents both on foot and in vehicles, too concerned with what is coming across the screen. People have even died after being distracted when taking selfies.

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Recent Study Finds Sexting is the New "Norm" Among Teens

By Steven Woda on November 12, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Sexting is the transmission of sexually explicit images through smartphones or other Internet connected or cellular devices like tablets and laptops. Until recently, it was considered a behavior that was limited to "at-risk" teens and a sign of potentially problematic behavior. New research, however, suggests that it may actually be a part of normal sexual development in teens.

Like virtually any controversial subject, however, there are two sides to this argument. Here is the first one:

In the journal Pediatrics, research found that thus far there is a total failure for anyone to prove a link between sexting and any sort of risky sexual behavior. There is also no link yet between sexting and diminished mental health. This was all part of a study that polled over one thousand high school students, and was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas.

Now that you have the "sexting is normal" side of the argument. Here is the counter-debate:

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7 Obvious Signs Your Teen is Suffering From Peer Pressure

By Tim Woda on October 31, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Peer pressure is something that is increasingly commonplace among young people and often it can have a major bearing on how they live their lives. Thanks to social media and improved communication networks, tweens and teens are in constant contact with peers. From updating statuses, looking at photos and instant messaging, children are linked to friends on a 24-hour basis, which has its advantages as well as its dangers.

Peer pressure is a problem that affects most youth to a degree. It can impact the way they dress, the choices they make, the music they listen to or the way they spend their time; but what happens when peer pressure takes its toll and how you can spot the signs of your child suffering under pressure from their friends? Here are 7 signs to look out for:

  1. Behavior changes. Look out for changes in your child’s behavior, especially when they are around certain groups of friends. Watch for the things they say, the way they act and the things they do; if they seem to change around certain people, this is a sign that they may feel under pressure to behave in a certain way.

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Is My Teen Falling Into the "Hooking Up" Trend?

By Steven Woda on July 4, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Although underage sex is an uncomfortable topic to broach, the truth is that plenty of teenagers are “hooking up”. This term refers to having "no strings attached sexual activity" with a partner. Many sociologists argue that the hooking up trend is part of a larger societal movement toward obtaining immediate gratification.

While most parents will argue that it is unacceptable for teens to be having sex, some have accepted it as inevitable. Yet this doesn't mean that the teens should be engaging in sexual activities with people that they hardly know. Herein lies the underlying problem with hooking up.

Today's teens often speak of “friends with benefits”. This is a term that refers to two people engage in sexual intercourse or sexual activity without passing through typical courting rituals or even becoming boyfriend and girlfriend. Research conducted by Students Against Destructive Decisions shows that almost one in four sixth-graders and one in three seventh-graders have engaged in sexual behavior. More than three in four twelfth-graders report the same.  Simply put, teens are jumping to dessert without eating their appetizer and main course.

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How to Stop Your Babysitter from Texting and Tweeting on the Job

By Steven Woda on March 31, 2014 at 9:38 AM

This article was originally published on Common Sense Media by Sierra Filucci. 

It used to be that the worst thing a babysitter could do was raid the refrigerator. But this was before Facebook, texting, social media, and emojis. Today's sitters sneak -- or outright flaunt -- something many of us parents don't know how to deal with: constant texting, Instagramming, You-Tube-watching, you name it. So how do you dole out the rules?

Of course, the most important thing is that your kids are safe while they're under someone else's care. You might think the worst could never happen to your kids, but mobile devices just make getting distracted even easier, and that can have tragic consequences. Less severe than a major accident, but still disturbing, would be finding out your babysitter texted all night and ignored your kids.

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Building Better Digital Citizens

By Tim Woda on February 23, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Co-Authored By HILARY SCHNEIDER, President of LifeLock, Inc. Originally published on the Huffington Post. 

Smart decision-making online is as important as looking both ways before crossing the street. The U.S. recognized its first official Safer Internet Day on February 11, led by ConnectSafely.org. With continued proliferation of the use of technology, the day marked an important time to celebrate and reflect on the role technology plays in our lives. It also stimulated discussion on the significance of encouraging safe, effective use of the Internet, social media and mobile devices, particularly among children and teens.

Research shows that among families with children age 8 and under, ownership of tablet devices has risen from 8 percent to 40 percent in just two years. Between 2011 and 2013, the amount of time children spent using mobile devices tripled. Additionally, 90 percent of teens report that they have used some form of social media and nearly 50 percent indicate that they have a smartphone.

At the same time, parents have expressed concern about how their children manage their online reputation. Nearly 70 percent of parents indicate that they are concerned about how their children's online activity might affect future academic or employment opportunities.

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5 Movies That Teach About Bullying

By Tim Woda on February 6, 2013 at 12:01 PM

In today's day and age, bullying is not only done in person, but via the Internet as well. Physical altercations are just as harmful to a child as verbal ones, and a greater deal of harm can be done online, where there is a large network available for these bullying teens to put down their victims. They aren't just picking on them at school in front of a few others, but they are writing horrible things to them or about them on the Internet, spreading like wildfire, doing damage to the bullied child's reputation and psyche.

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Is Your Child Using Their Phone to Cheat in School?

By Tim Woda on September 12, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Cheating when I was in school usually involved sticking a tiny little crib sheet in your shoe, or taking peeks underneath your sleeve at the answers you'd penned on your arm that morning. But today many teens carry the ultimate technology in academic cheating: their mobile phones.

There are lots of ways to cheat using a cell phone. 16% of teens admit to looking for test answers on their phone, and 48.1% have looked up answers online. Kids can also sneak in modern-day crib sheets (pictures of their class notes,) text friends for answers, or take pictures of the test and send them to others to help them cheat.

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When Normal Behavior Is Labeled 'Cyberbullying'

By Tim Woda on July 25, 2012 at 8:42 AM

Cyberbullying is using the Internet to harm, threaten, harass, or humiliate others. It can be over social networks, email, texting, or elsewhere online. Cyberbullying is a significant part of many of our kids' lives and has a seriously detrimental impact on their emotional and mental health.

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Hypertexting Teens More Likely to Have Sex, Drink, and Do Drugs

By Tim Woda on November 24, 2010 at 3:13 PM

textingDo you know how much texting and social networking your teen is doing? You may want to sit up and play closer attention to how your child communicates online – not just looking for “red flags,” but at the overall amount of time they spend doing it.

Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that excessive texters and social networkers were more likely to drink, do drugs, and be sexually active.

According to the study, teens who sent more than 120 texts per school day were:

    • 3.5 times more likely to have had sex
    • 90% more likely to report four or more sexual partners
    • twice as likely to have tried alcohol
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