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A Sweeping Look at 2014's Biggest Digital Trends for Teens

By Tim Woda on December 26, 2014 at 2:20 PM

YouTube challenges, hashtags and other digital trends spread like wildfire among the group of children who are in that magic, impressionable age between grade school and high school. Most digital trends are harmless and quickly forgotten; some can be positive, and some are downright bad news. 

As 2014 winds down, now is a great time for parents to reflect on the year's top digital trends. Here is a glimpse of some of the biggest online fads from the past year.

Social Media is Still King. But Which Networks?

Facebook has long lost its groove among those younger than thirty. A social media network where Grandma might leave a sweet message for everyone in school to see isn’t where kids want to hang out. Newer networks like InstagramSnapchatKik, and Vine have blossomed in teen popularity towards the middle and second half of 2014.

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Digital Parenting: Are Your Children Gaming Safely?

By Tim Woda on April 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Have a gaming teen, tween or child in your household?

Parental monitoring and involvement is critical when it comes to helping children game safely. You should take an active interest in the games that your child plays and wants to buy.

We also suggest that research game ratings and content on www.esrb.org. This website is maintained by the Entertainment Software Rating Board which rates thousands of games each year.

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'Eraser Challenge' Game Has Students Harming Themselves

By Tim Woda on April 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM

See what measures that middle school administrators are taking to exterminate a dangerous new trend that is circulating among students. This article was originally published on the Huffington Post and is written by Rebecca Klein.

Students at one Connecticut middle school aren't using pencils solely for taking notes. Some are rubbing their arms with pencil erasers until their skin is mutilated.

School administrators at Bethel Middle School recently sent a letter home to parents and guardians asking they talk to their children about a dangerous game called the "Eraser Challenge."

The game, the letter explains, involves kids “'erasing’ their skin while saying the alphabet and coming up with a word for each letter. Once they get to the letter Z, they stop and then compare the injury to their [friends'],” according to the Bethel Patch.

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All About Yik Yak, the Newest Viral App

By Tim Woda on February 13, 2014 at 1:11 PM

There is a new app on the block for Android and Smartphone users. The app, Yik Yak, allows users to post anonymous comments and thoughts. The app also takes into account the geographical location of the phone, using the location services of iPhone and Android phones to feed users comments that have been posted close by. The purpose of the app is to start anonymous conversation, but in the age of digital parenting it can be seen as far more sinister. 

Yik Yak and It's Growth 

Yik Yak debuted on Google Play in January of 2014, and entered the iPhone market in December of 2013. Since its introduction to each platform it has grown quickly. It is currently listed as the 70th most popular social networking app on the Apple App store. It has been downloaded over 6,000 times from the Google Play store and is growing by 38% each month. The free application offers young adults a platform to comment and chat anonymously with those around them. Because the application uses a phone's location services to find where the comments are being posted from, it also allows users to see comments from people that are close to them, often within a few blocks or even feet from them. The location aspect of the application has made it increasingly popular with young users, specifically those in middle school and high school, even though the application insists it is only intended for people over the age of 17. While the application restricts the age, in theory, the entire interface is skewed towards young users, with a colorful interface, cartoon-like graphics, and an easy to navigate platform. 

Yik Yak's Policies and Guidelines 

According to the rules and regulations of Yik Yak, users are to be aged 17 or older. Bullying, according to the app developers is strictly prohibited, and users are also prohibited from posting full names and phone numbers in their comments. Inappropriate content can be tagged for removal, but opponents of the app claim that content is not being monitored, nor are the users that are currently logged into Yik Yak. If someone wishes to have inappropriate comments removed it can be done in one of two ways;

  • Two users can flag the content for removal. If two flags are received the content is removed.  

  • A single user can send a screenshot to Yik Yak and the team will consider the comment for immediate removal. 

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Digital Parenting: Should Kids Have Set Rules When Using Technology?

By Tim Woda on January 10, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Digital parenting continues to become more complicated all the time as technology become integrated into everyone's lives. Despite some parents finding it a challenge, are they really using technology as a babysitter for their kids? Live Science recently analyzed this idea and found that not all parents are relying on smartphones and the Internet to keep their kids occupied. In some cases, parents use that technology as a way toward reward or punishment for their kids.That Live Science piece also brought up an important point: Digital parenting has become more challenging due to a lack of social rules when it comes to using the technology. Is it possible that a universal set of rules can be set in households so kids use digital technology in responsible ways?

In many cases, kids go on social media on their own while parents are at work and do things under their own accord. If a set of social rules are set early, it's possible those habits could be readjusted.

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Why Every Parent Needs To Know About Text Bombs

By Steven Woda on November 2, 2013 at 1:16 PM

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post by Ann Brenoff.

At the end of last year, a mom pulled my son over and asked him to stop sending gibberish text messages to her kid. The two boys were fooling around, copying and pasting nonsensical messages and texting them back and forth. It was a dual of annoyance, something 12-year-old boys specialize in.

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Is IMVU Appropriate for Your Kids?

By Tim Woda on January 14, 2011 at 3:08 PM

At the top of the homepage is a screenshot of a shirtless man and a busty woman in a bikini top embracing in waist-deep water and staring into each other’s eyes with the phrase “Create your fantasy” underneath.

The website is called IMVU, a realistic Sims-like game and social networking virtual world purported to be for kids ages 13 and up.

IMVU players select an avatar and buy clothing and items to personalize its world. The avatars have adult bodies (not 13-year-old ones,) and virtually all of the female avatars are sexy and large-chested with suggestive outfits to match.

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