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Mobile and Internet Child Safety: Comparing The Old With The New

By Steven Woda on April 14, 2015 at 3:53 PM

When considering mobile and internet child safety as parents, it may cause you to reminisce. "Well, back in my day this was never a concern."

Don't feel old, we're all working through it. Technology has changed and will continue to. Due to this, considering a child's safety hasn't changed - instead, there's now more to be cautious of. 

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App Trends for Teens & Tweens: What's In and What's Out

By Steven Woda on February 13, 2015 at 2:09 PM

Nowadays, young people spend a good chunk of their free time staring into their screens. Whether it's a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop, the screen gets their nearly undivided attention. Most kids make use of apps on their multitude of screens for entertainment, learning and socialization purposes.

With digital trends going in and out of the door contantly, it's tough to keep of track of what your teens are up to. Let's take a look at some of the apps that are currently in or out of favor with middle school tweens and high school teens.

These Apps are "Out":

  • Facebook: Facebook has lost its luster with youngsters. Only 45 percent of teens use Facebook for social networking. About 72 percent used the social networking service in 2013. That's an alarming drop off. While kids haven't totally ditched Facebook Messenger, it is clear that the decline in use is prominent.

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Photo Leaks: The Latest Scary Digital Trend

By Steven Woda on January 2, 2015 at 3:18 PM

Today, news stories about teens getting caught up in sexting and resulting photo leak scandals are a dime a dozen. As parents, we usually say to ourselves “that could never happen to my child” when we see stories like these, but the truth is that a digital slip-up like a photo leak can happen to anyone.

Just a few years ago, advancements in video, photos and messaging technology all seemed so harmless. Now, sexting seems to be all the rage as teenagers experiment with these advances in technology. Disturbingly, sexting photo leaks appear to be becoming somewhat a trend among teens and, as sexting continues to be prevalent, the images are imprinted on technology forever.

Here are a few synopses of photo leaks that have happened in towns across the US. An especially disconcerting facet about these photo leaks is that each case has occurred in just the past six months:

  • In November, two students from McLean High School in Virginia acquired and organized folders containing compromising photos of 56 female classmates. They passed around the folders to other students in a carefully concealed Dropbox page. The 16 and 17-year-old teens plead guilty to three misdemeanor charges each for distributing obscene material.

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Redirecting Teens and Technology for a Better Body Image

By Tim Woda on December 29, 2014 at 9:42 PM

Technology is great, isn’t it? We can scroll through Facebook and see what our family and friends are doing. We can start a conversation on our desktop and continue on our phone in the woods while we mushroom hunt. Then we can send a picture when we find the biggest one. Technology can help us learn and help keep us entertained.

But can too much technology be a bad thing?

Parents are trying to maintain a respectful distance and still keep an eye on their kids’ interactions and relationships, contending with Snapchat, Face-time, Facebook, Skype, texting and endless selfies. A teen or tween can base their entire reputation on their online social life, wanting to look as good as or better than the images they see.

Even games and movies are filled with unrealistic images of sleek men and women, with size 2 avatars and beautiful, slim princesses dancing with barrel-chested princes. A steady diet can skew a child’s reality of how “normal” people look.

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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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5 Alarming Apps That Your Teenager is Probably Using

By Steven Woda on November 14, 2014 at 3:34 PM

In this technologically advanced world, we understand that almost everyone has a cell phone by now. It isn't uncommon in our era for children that haven't even made it into middle school yet to be seen thumbing it up on their iPhones.  

But, with all of the apps available to kids, with little to no parental consent required, what, exactly, are our children downloading?  We have compiled a list of what we have found to be the top scariest applications available (for free) out in the digital world today. 

SNAPCHAT

Although the app's website states that "Snapchat is intended for use by people who are 18 years of age or older, and persons under the age of 18 are prohibited from creating Snapchat accounts", a whopping 50% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13-17. 

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Worried That You're Oversharing? Try the Empty Case Challenge

By Tim Woda on November 12, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Oversharing on social media can be a serious problem for your kids, as we've posted before. One of the problems with teaching your kids about oversharing online (or for that matter, recognizing if you're doing it yourself) is that sometimes it's hard to recognize that you're doing it.

Posting Without Thinking

Part of the reason kids and adults alike share so many things on social media is that it's so easy. Pulling out your phone to snap a picture, write a post, or click a few "likes" is such a simple action that it quickly becomes habit.

Habits are actions we do without thinking about them, and sometimes even without noticing them. This is great when a habit helps you do something positive, like developing routines to carry you efficiently through the day. It's not good when habits lead you to oversharing and obsessive social media use, because you don't even realize how often you're checking in.

How can you become aware of phone habits, and help your kids learn about theirs? Try the empty case challenge.

How It Works

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Top 10 Trendiest Teen Texting Lingo Defined

By Tim Woda on August 5, 2014 at 3:18 PM

With the advent of the digital age, the evolution of language is happening more quickly, especially among teens. They come up with their own language to express themselves, and often, it's nearly impossible for parents to understand what their kids are saying. Internet slang and lingo cycles so rapidly that it's hard to stay on top of figuring it out, especially when you aren't quite as plugged in as your son or daughter.

To help you understand the latest lingo, we've compiled a list of 10 current slang terms that your son or daughter might be using:

  1. FOMO: This acronym stands for Fear Of Missing Out. This is a form of social anxiety where someone is compulsively concerned about missing out on an event or interaction.

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Bible Apps: Does Tech Belong In Church?

By Steven Woda on July 24, 2014 at 12:49 PM

It’s Sunday morning and time for church. Your pastor comes up to preach the Word. He pulls out his tablet and begins reading the scripture. You look around your church and many of the congregants have their mobile devices as well reading along using their Bible app.

Ten (or even just five) years ago this would have appeared odd, but we have now arrived at a new normal. More and more pastors across the country have decided to forego the leather bound Bible that has passed through generations of their family. They have instead chosen to pick up the modern technology of a Bible app on their mobile device. Yes, tech now goes to church.

A Wealth of Information

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Subtweeting: Inside the Harmful New Social Media Trend

By Steven Woda on June 13, 2014 at 11:36 AM

One of the more insidious digital trends for tweens and teens has been the development of subtweeting. While this may sound like an innocent social media fad, this impression could not be further from the truth. Among digital trends for tweens, this is one of the worst because it is a form of cyberbullying that can be difficult to pin down and combat.

What is Subtweeting?

Subtweeting consists of using social media (Twitter being one example that inspired the name) to talk negatively about or gossip about a person without naming that individual specifically. All that people involved have to do is use descriptions, characterization or some sort of code to discuss the person with impunity. In some cases, this happens without the participants even realizing what they are doing.

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Is This Donut a Secret Message From Your Kid?

By Steven Woda on May 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM

The issue with parenting in the digital age is that it moves at the speed of light, and kids are at the very forefront of it. They know about the latest apps weeks, perhaps months before you do, and they are quietly discussing who-knows-what with their friends via texting apps and Facebook messenger. The age of being able to eavesdrop on a conversation and get all the knowledge you ever needed is over.

While those days are over, we’ve developed a new way to keep up with our kids, and digital parents need digital weapons. With that being said, kids are starting to get a bit wise to the ways of the digital parent.

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Digital Parenting Disconnection: Is Technology Winning the War?

By Steven Woda on May 16, 2014 at 3:02 PM

There is no doubt about it: parenting has changed quite drastically in recent decades. With social networks being the new "must-have", parents must work harder connect with and locate their children online so they can keep them safe and healthy. 

However, parenting with technology has gone even further. Parents use it to keep up with schoolwork, location monitoring, and checking their online activity. Somehow, technology is making being a parent easier, but the workload is harder.  Parents are losing the battle to technology as their children continue to meld into the digital world, and they have no choice but to join it and try to use technology more effectively.

Digital Parenting Challenges

As a result of technology booming, more decisions are made on things that never existed only a few years ago.  Social websites, applications, games, online surfing, cable channels and DVR are coming to light, and parents are faced with the tasks of monitoring many aspects of these activities

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Wearable Technology for Kids Coming From LeapFrog

By Tim Woda on May 4, 2014 at 12:15 PM

This article was originally published by CNN and is written by Doug Gross.

The wearable technology movement is in full effect, and exercise-based activity trackers lead the way. Now, it's becoming child's play.

Leapfrog, the maker of education-oriented tablets and apps for children, has unveiled LeapBand, a wearable activity tracker designed with kids in mind.

Selling for $40 and designed for children ages 4-7, the LeapBand "encourages active play and healthy habits" with 50 different games and other challenges. It will be available in August, the company said in a written release.

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How to Navigate the Internet Radio Service Pandora

By Tim Woda on April 30, 2014 at 4:26 PM

What is Pandora?

Pandora is a free, personalized Internet radio service. Through the Music Genome Project, Pandora identifies what users like and streams similar content so they can create up to 100 personalized “stations” to share and comment with friends.

Is Pandora "social" Radio?

Comments and discussion are encouraged on song pages, artist pages, albums pages, and Pandora's genre station pages. 

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How to Use the Interactive Radio Player Last.fm

By Steven Woda on April 30, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Last.fm Quick Facts:

  • Last.fm has over 47.2 million users

  • It recognizes 45 million unique tracks (songs)

  • Last.fm boasts over 12 million tracks available via their streaming service

  • Last.fm is available on over 600 devices

What is Last.fm?

Last.fm is a personalized, interactive radio player, but it's also full of social networking features designed to connect users with each other to enhance the listening experience. Last.fm recommends new music based on a user's taste and helps them communicate with friends about music and share songs.

Who Uses Last.fm?

Registered users add new music to their playlist by “scrobbling” songs. Their personal music collection is called their Library. All activity in their Library isn't visible to anyone for the first two weeks, but after that point it is open to everyone to see unless a user designates privacy settings – from “everyone” to “nobody.”

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An Inside Look at Picture-Sharing Site Photobucket

By Tim Woda on April 25, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Photobucket is a popular, free photo hosting site for people 14 and up. Users can upload and manage photos and videos, share images on blogs and social networks, and interact with the community of Photobucket users.

How does Photobucket work?

Users can upload and edit their photos and videos through Photobook, and share them by email or linking to their social networking accounts. They can also enter photos in contests, put them in categories of like images with other users, follow other users, or see how many people have looked at their pictures. They can search for images by keyword and leave comments on other users' pictures.

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When an Adult Engages in Cyberbullying Against a Child

By Tim Woda on April 21, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Although it is alarming to learn about adults cyberbullying other adults, it is even more disturbing to hear about cases in which adults cyberbully kids. Earlier this month we posted an article about how a kindergarten girl was cyberbullied following a trip to Walmart. More details on the incident have since been released.

Cyberbullying most often manifests when children, especially teens, use smart phones, the Internet, and social media to torment another child. However, cyberbullying is not exclusively conducted by kids, targeting kids.

One of the first cases of an adult cyberbullying a child took place recently in Seneca, South Carolina. The incident began when an unnamed six year old girl, who appears to be on the heavy side and has some health issues related to her weight, had her picture taken and posted online as a joke. The man who took the picture posted it on his Facebook page with the caption “Honey Boo Boo at Walmart.” The cyberbully in question: Walhalla High School Assistant Principal Charlie Fowler. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Smart Watches

By Tim Woda on March 30, 2014 at 7:37 AM

No one ever said that raising kids was easy.  Raising kids in the digital age presents a unique set of concerns and challenges that your parents never had to worry about. However, what you don't hear often is how technology can actually help keep your kids safe and sound. The advent of smartphones, GPS, and widespread Internet access need not only be a source of fear for concerned parents. These technologies can be used for parental monitoring and peace of mind. There are many examples that can highlight this, but perhaps one of the most exciting examples of this concept is the smart watch.

Smart watches are the latest trend in mobile and wearable technology. New smart watches are in development from some of the biggest names in the industry. This is an exciting and cutting edge trend, but what value does it have for parents? Smart watches with built in GPS and cellular functionality present a great opportunity for parental monitoring.

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Digital Parenting: Are Teens Really Leaving Facebook?

By Tim Woda on January 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post by Sue Scheff.

"Young Users see Facebook Dead and Buried" and "Facebook's So Uncool" are just two recent headlines alleging that kids are leaving the social media site in droves.

Do we really believe teens are abandoning Facebook?

It is true that Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Whatsapp are popular with the kids today, but let's face it, none of them have the functionality of Facebook.

When you compare the other social media platforms, none of them offer the layers of information and capability to create event invitations, groups and lists, among other unique features. While some of the alternate platforms offer a few of these features, Facebook offers diversity and depth the others don't.

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11 Sites and Apps Kids Are Heading to After Facebook

By Steven Woda on September 29, 2013 at 4:34 PM

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post by Kelly Schryver, Senior Content Specialist at Common Sense Media.

Remember MySpace? Not so long ago, practically every teen in the world was on it -- and then many left for Facebook. Now, as Facebook's popularity among teens is starting to wane, you might be wondering what the new "it" social network is. But the days of a one-stop shop for all social networking needs are over. Instead, teens are dividing their attention between an array of apps and tools that let them write, share, video chat and even shop for the latest trends.

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