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Is Technology Sapping Children’s Creativity?

By Tim Woda on March 6, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Yesterday we posted about the possible effect technology has on childrens' attention spans. Find out what Nancy Carlsson-Paige, author of "Taking Back Childhood", has to say about the effect technology may have on kids' creativity. This article was originally published on The Washington Post by Valerie Strauss.

My 4-year-old grandson Jake who lives in Guatemala recently called my husband in his office on Skype. No one seems to know how Jake managed to get onto the computer and make the call. And, as I sat talking to a friend, her 3-year old somehow found her iPhone and found his way to a video of Cat in the Hat.

A 13-month old uses a iPad. It wasn’t long ago that we were talking about how much TV kids should watch. And now here we are in the midst of a technology revolution that is happening so fast we can barely keep up with the number of devices and the options for screen time available to kids — on computers, tablets, cell phones, iPhones, flip down car monitors, interactive “app” toys, and on and on.

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3 Big Rules Your Kids May Be Breaking Online

By Tim Woda on March 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Check out the three biggest rules that your child may be breaking online according to Sierra Filucci. This article was originally posted on Common Sense Media.

For those of us who grew up with dial-up modems, it can be hard to understand what the digital age is like for today's kids. Access to information is literally at their fingertips. But easy access reduces the time it takes to think through your actions -- and makes it easier to do not-so-great things. Like copying other people's work and calling it your own. Or downloading copyrighted music or movies illegally. And the list goes on. Part of the problem is that kids may not even realize that what they're doing is illegal. Here are the top three online offenses -- and how to make sure your kid's online activities stay on the safe side.

Plagiarism and high-tech cheating

What it is: Copying someone else's work and calling it your own. In Common Sense Media's 2009 study of high-tech cheating among kids 13-17, 38 percent said they'd copied text from the web to pass off as their work. And more than 35 percent said they'd used their cell phones to cheat.

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7 Media-Savvy Skills All Parents Need in 2014

By Tim Woda on February 28, 2014 at 4:30 PM

In an article originally published on Common Sense Media, Caroline Knorr reports seven skills that parents need to learn this year in order to stay ahead of the technology curve.

Instagram. Snapchat. Facebook. Everyday there's some new thing we parents need to figure out. Getting up to speed -- plus giving our kids guidance and limits -- is a daily challenge.

You don't have to become an expert to help your kids make good decisions. Just get involved in their media lives. By engaging with them, you can help them use these tools responsibly, respectfully, and safely. Here are some ways to be a media-savvy parent this year:

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Download uKnowKids' New Identity Theft eBook Now!

By Steven Woda on February 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Did you know that children are being targeted for identity theft 35 times more often than adults? How about that 11.5 million

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Digital Parenting: Apps That Help with Child Creativity

By Tim Woda on February 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

In today’s digital world, you want to feel confident your children are still getting a well rounded experience and if you dare say so, a global education or base of understanding. Here are some apps that will foster your child's creativity and make digital parenting easier.

Toontastic                                                   

Editor’s Pick on Common Sense Media rates high in not only creative quality but, also in learning quality. What could epitomize virtual creativity more than musical scores and cartoon character design? The finished project includes multiple scenes to create a cartoon.

Wreck This App      

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In Defense Of Texting, My Favorite Parenting Tool

By Tim Woda on February 15, 2014 at 12:49 PM

This article is from the Huffington Post by Senior Columnist Lisa Belkin. Check out how one parent feels towards texting -- and why she loves it for her children so much. 

Yes, I know the dangers. That it affects the brain like an addictive drug. That it shortens our attention spans, and reduces our sleep, increases our stress and keeps us from interacting meaningfully with our kids. I have read all the studies and agree we should all back away from our screens, put down our phones and look each other in the eye when we talk.

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Submit The Documentary: Education on The Reality of Cyberbullying

By Steven Woda on February 9, 2014 at 12:20 PM

“If what was going on online was happening in the real world, there would be people marching. There would be social change.” - Mary Kay Hoal, Submit The Documentary

Submit The Documentary is an honest and heartbreaking film that focuses on the raw reality of cyberbullying and the effects it has on America's youth. After watching a news story that reported on the suicide of an 11-year-old boy, director Les Ottolenghi saw the need to encourage parents and their children to stand tall and fight against this epidemic of online bullying.

Production on the film began in 2011 and focused on gathering the perspectives of experts, school administrators, children of various ages, and parents of the victims whose lives were cut short. Each interview supplies the documentary's audience with substantial insight on the truths that surround society's efforts to fight cyberbullying.

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Digital Parenting: 7 Surprisingly Inspiring Kids' Tech Trends for 2014

By Tim Woda on February 5, 2014 at 11:47 AM

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post by Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media parenting editor.

From the iPotty to The Smurfs 2, 2013 gave us some real stinkers. And attention-grabbing stories about cyberbullying and sexting seemed to dominate the news.

But for a lot of parents, the negative headlines don't track with their families' experience of technology. Many folks are seeing their kids learn, grow and benefit from innovations in the tech world.

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Use Your Parental Intelligence to Parent Smarter, Not Harder

By Steven Woda on February 3, 2014 at 11:43 AM

There comes a time in every parent's life, when he or she realizes they start sounding like an old person.  It's a sobering moment.  One when you hear yourself talking about "back in my day" or "when I was your age" and you begin the long and arduous path of beating a dead horse with tidbits of what made your generation better than your children's.

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The Dangers of Online Predators and How to Protect Your Family

By Tim Woda on January 31, 2014 at 3:42 PM

With so many ways to access the Internet, including mobile phones, game consoles, music players and tablet devices, people have unprecedented access to information and computing capabilities. Unfortunately, email, social networking, chat rooms and instant messaging expose kids to online relationships that may be harmful and can turn dangerous when online predators are involved. Families need to be vigilant and understand the dangers and how to protect against them.

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Digital Parenting: Social Media Networks to Watch Out For in 2014

By Tim Woda on January 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Raising teens can be an uphill battle sometimes. You want to be a fair, and respect boundaries. This will give them freedom to make their own choices, and learn from their mistakes. Yet, it's your responsibility as a digital parent to protect your kids as best you can.

Popular Social Media Networks Teens Use

Every parent has heard of Facebook and Twitter. Most even have their own profiles on one or both. But, would you be shocked to find out that your teen is probably using social media networks you probably know nothing about? Here's a list of just some of the most popular social media site teens used in 2013:

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Instagram

  • Tumblr

  • Meetme

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Guest Post: Simple Ways To Make Sure Your Child Is Safe Online

By Steven Woda on January 29, 2014 at 10:53 AM

The endless advancement of Internet technology has put complacent parents on notice. These days, it's not only possible, but actually quite easy, to invite strangers into our homes thanks to the power of social media. Knowing when, how, and with whom our children are interacting during the time they spend online is going to be even more important in the coming years.

It might seem harmless enough to allow children onto their favorite social media sites, but there are a number of important safety measures to take before you allow them access. Here are some cyber security fundamentals to keep in mind.

Social Media Is Only as Private As You Make It

There's good news for parents: social media sites like Facebook have a number of built-in settings to help your child maintain a low profile while they're online. Sit with your child and guide them through the process of setting their profiles to private, including their online photo collection. This is arguably the first and most important step toward ensuring that their personal information stays personal.

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How To Combat Cyberbullying In Online Games

By Tim Woda on January 27, 2014 at 10:13 AM

While “lives” can be gained and lost with the click of a button in the online gaming world, everyday real-world lives are being affected by the things that happen in games. Recently the developers of the game, High School Story, made news by adding a cyberbullying storyline into the game. This was done after a call came into their technical helpline that included a player saying she was thinking about taking her own life. Taking into account the competitive nature of games, it is easy (just as in real world games and athletics) for things to escalate into bullying.

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You Caught Your Kid Sexting, Now What?

By Steven Woda on January 25, 2014 at 1:27 PM

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post by Rachel Busman, PsyD.

I am getting asked more and more in my practice about how to talk to teens about situations that involve racy interchanges on Facebook, sending inappropriate pictures via text, and other Internet situations that spiral out of control. As the social media landscape continues to grow and change, these questions are coming up more and more and parents are looking for answers.

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Digital Parenting: So You Bought Your Child an Android. What Next?

By Tim Woda on January 23, 2014 at 3:39 PM

This holiday season there were reports that “smart phones” beat out “toys” as the top gift request from the 18 and under set. With a lot of new phone users out there, now is the perfect time to set some basic rules of the road with your child and really get to know how the phones work before they become an inevitable appendage of your child (and don’t worry, iPhone buyers – a post for you is coming soon).

Today’s smart phones are the house phone, record player, maps, books, and libraries of parents’ youths rolled up into one device that lives with your child 24x7. Rather than being overwhelmed by this technology, parents need to get smart about how to harness that same power to make sure kids are using the phones in a responsible way.

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Why You Shouldn't Applaud the New NYC Social Media Guidelines

By Tim Woda on January 23, 2014 at 11:17 AM

In case you missed it, the New York City Department of Education released some guidelines for social media use. Here is an article from Rebecca Levey, co-founder of KidzVuz.com about why parents shouldn't be so quick to embrace these guidelines. It was originally published on the Huffington Post.

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Guest Post: What to do When Your Kids are (Web) Smarter Than You

By Tim Woda on January 21, 2014 at 10:45 AM

My niece has a smartphone.

Up until a year ago, I had a flip phone. And the screen didn’t even work. Once I finally upgraded, my niece had to sit me down and explain all the features of my new phone. Sound familiar to you?

If you’re a parent who still fires up the PC, or thinks they’re tech-savvy because you use a laptop, or even if you navigate well through your apps and smartphone features, beware: Your kids learn faster than you do, especially when it comes to managing their digital footprint on the Internet.

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Every Parent's 3 Biggest Facebook Fears -- And What To Do About Them

By Steven Woda on January 18, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Check out this article written by Dan Tynan, and featured on Yahoo! Tech.

Despite its many flaws, Facebook is a pretty cool way to reconnect and stay in touch with long lost friends and relations. It’s also a relatively safe environment for teens to learn the ropes of digital citizenship – safer, at least, than many of the alternatives.

But parents often have the wrong idea about Facebook and social networks in general. In fact, they have two wrong ideas.

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Digital Parenting: Is This Bold Parenting Move a Yes or No?

By Steven Woda on January 16, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Here is the story of one mother that took to the internet to publicly shame her daughther to teach her a lesson about....publicly shaming. One mother found out her daughter had been cyberbullying peers on the Internet and the following was her response. 

This morning, a young girl is getting a taste of the abuse she was apparently serving up to her classmates, thanks to her innovative mother.

Yesterday, reddit user AngryCOMMguy posted a photo (pictured) of a downtrodden young girl holding up a yellow sign. The young girl - who identifies herself as Hailey - is a cyberbully. At least, according to her mother. Apparently, Hailey's mother discovered that her daughter was abusing fellow students (at least we assume it was fellow students and not just some random people), via the Internet. As a result, Hailey's mom decided the best course of action was to have her daughter sell her beloved iPod and give the proceeds to Beat Bullying, a charity that works to combat bullying in all its forms.

Taking a break from this story, I think it's safe to say that this is a time-tested parental move: if your kid acts like a jerk, you take something away from them. Make them feel the sting of their malfeasance.

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Is My Child Ready For Their First Phone? Ask Yourself the Following

By Tim Woda on January 15, 2014 at 11:36 AM

If the talk about cell phones hasn’t come up, it will.  There comes a point where you can't say no anymore.  Making that determination depends on whether you feel your child is ready to handle this important step and maturity has a ton to do with it.  Here are some questions to help you out. 

What reason do you have to buy your child a cell phone?  Great reasons include sports practice, living in a two family household, dropping landline for cell phones, emergency purposes and your child being old enough to stay at home until you come back from work.  If the reason is just as important as those listed a cell phone may be in the cards.  Giving your child a cell phone for no reason is not an option. 

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