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Does Bullying Impact Your Child's Developing Brain?

By Tim Woda on January 16, 2015 at 12:00 PM

To many, bullying is still considered a “soft” form of abuse because there are no visible injuries. After all, only our feelings are hurt. 

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3 Major Reasons to Act on Your Teen's Technology Addiction

By Tim Woda on January 5, 2015 at 2:54 PM

As a parent of a teen, you already have to deal with teens testing limits, staying out past curfew or maybe even experimenting with sex and drugs. Some parents turn a blind eye when their teens are always on their phone- texting or on social media. After all, there are many worse things to worry about, right?

Wrong. Technology addiction in teens can create the same consequences as drug experimentation or getting in with the wrong crowd. It could prevent a teen from developing into a mature, well-rounded adult. It could mean that you’ll have your teen around for much longer than expected because he can’t concentrate enough to stay in college or have enough patience or will to keep a job.

Turns out, teenage tech addiction has become so damaging that some parents are having to send their kids to technology addiction rehabilitation centers for a good helping of support groups and cognitive behavioral therapy.

What could be so bad about my teen playing video games and texting for hours if he’s already done his homework for the night, you may ask? Here are three major reasons to act on your teen's technology addiction. 

1. Attention deficits. Teens, these days, have three forms of technology in front of them sometimes while doing homework- a smart phone, a laptop or computer and a TV buzzing in the background. Many teens, tweens and millennials take pride in constant multitasking. Over time, their brains have been rewired to create easily distracted people who have a hard time focusing. 

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The Risk of Facebook Depression in Teens and Tweens

By Tim Woda on December 31, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Providing children with Internet security does not only entail keeping them safe from obvious dangerous such as sexual predators and scams. It is also important to note that there are side effects of the Internet which children should be protected from as well. Sadly, some of the things that children may need to be protected from are self-inflicted. 

Facebook Depression

Facebook depression is a phenomenon that has sprung up as a result of Facebook and other social networks. Since Facebook is the most popular social network, it was the one on which the term is coined. A good explanation on why this is a worry comes from parenting.com,

Teen development is, in large part, about separating from parents and gaining peer acceptance, and social networking sites allow them to do both. But if online harassment or rejection occurs, such as “de-friending,” symptoms of depression may be the result.

Why Facebook Depression Exists 

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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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Social Media and Distorted Teen Body Image

By Steven Woda on November 23, 2014 at 9:36 AM

The parents of young people invested in digital social media need to keep out front of technology the best they can. Issues with eleven-year old children viewing pornography for free online, tweens trying to acts grown up by sexting, kids developing negative attitudes about themselves and their body images are in strong competition with the widespread issues of bullying peers in school environments.

Teen Body Image

What is body image? Do you know the term "thigh space"? Where do teens begin to get distorted ideas and negative feeling about their young, growing, healthy bodies? 

In today's social focus on outer beauty, no kids are insulated from feelings of inadequacy and despair. Parents concerned about their child's body image must become educated regarding the realities of what kids are faced with on the internet relating to teen body image.

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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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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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The Selfie Culture: Should We Be Worried?

By Steven Woda on October 16, 2014 at 5:36 PM

You can hardly go onto Facebook, Instagram or any other social media site without being inundated with selfies. A recent PEW study found that a whopping 91% of teens have reportedly posted a photo of themselves online. With this kind of statistic, odds are that your teen has already taken and posted at least one of these instant self-portraits. 

For most teens, selfies are a harmless bit of adolescent fun, no more dangerous than other passing fads. Actual damage by selfie is rare, but it does happen. As a parent, you need to be aware of these risks and become equipped to discuss them with your teen.

Selfies and Self-Esteem

One risk factor for selfies is that the act and obsession with taking them can lead teens to the development of poor self-esteem. There has been some speculation about whether self-portraits help or hurt self-esteem. Out of the few studies that have been conducted on the matter, the verdict on the effects of selfies on teen self-esteem is somewhat conflicting.

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9 Games and Apps that Encourage Kids to Get Physical

By Tim Woda on September 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Physical activity for kids is extremely important to overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest children (and adults) get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day; but this is easier said than done. The problem is that kids today are not the same as kids were 20 or 30 years ago.

Times Have Changed

Older generations of children spent most of their time outside playing, while kids today, no matter how old they are, have access to smart phones, tablets, video games, computer games, and other electronics. Technology has a widely-known correlation with childhood obesity and this correlation is especially present in the US. Although this concern is not 100% off-base, technology is not completely to blame.

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How Social Media Can Help Your Teen or Tween Flourish

By Tim Woda on September 5, 2014 at 2:38 PM

When parents think about social media in the hands of their teens and tweens, it is easy to automatically jump to the negative. While there are some negative aspects of social media, there are plenty of very positive aspects about it as well. Recent research suggests that social media, when used appropriately and responsibly by tweens and teens, may actually be incredibly positive. 

Social Media Can Increase Confidence 

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Does Tech Really Impact Obesity Rates in the US?

By Tim Woda on August 25, 2014 at 2:41 PM

If you've ever had to persuade your child to put down the game controller and go outside -- or if you have to coax them away from their smartphones to eat a well-balanced meal -- you already understand the impact that technology can have on physical activity and diet. While modern innovations make academic research easier than ever, they also come with a whole host of health risks, and teenagers face a bigger threat than anyone else. 

It's no coincidence that obesity rates have skyrocketed in the United States right alongside innovation. While great thinkers can harness new technology to make the world a better place, there are downsides to modernization too.

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Too Much Tech: Preventing Digital Addiction in your Tween-to-Teen

By Steven Woda on June 25, 2014 at 5:27 PM

As an adolescent counselor, most of my time is spent talking and connecting with text-happy, Instagram-snapping, YouTube-watching, Halo-shooting, iPhone-obsessed middle- and high-schoolers and their parents.

Recently, I received a call from a parent who said, “My 13-year-old is absolutely addicted to technology. If she’s not texting, then she’s emailing. If she’s not emailing, she’s on YouTube or Instagram. If she’s not doing that, then she is playing with a new app. I really don’t know what to do. Help!” 

I get it. I really do. I have three tween-to-teens of my own. So, when it came to writing an article on digital addiction and adolescents, I didn’t have to look much further than my own house. Seriously, it was in my own house. 

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Live Offline: Tips to Live Away From the Internet

By Steven Woda on June 15, 2014 at 12:24 PM

The beginning of summer brings with it more than warm weather; it also brings the summer break from school. This means that not only will the kids be sleeping in late, but once they wake up they will have a lot of free time on their hands and it's best to make it both fun and productive. Some kids will be destined for a couple of weeks of summer camp, some will enjoy a few educational day camps, and some will just be off!

Regardless of the situation your family finds itself in, many hours will have to be filled with some sort of activity. Altogether too often the kid's first choice will be electronic amusement like video games and particularly the Internet. While a little of this is alright, too much means a deficit in physical activity and not enough interaction with the family.

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Teen Prescription Drug Abuse: It Happens More Than You Think

By Tim Woda on June 3, 2014 at 11:04 AM

It's no wonder that parents spend so much time contemplating illegal drugs, given the large number of horror stories on the news every night. But as you weigh how to talk to your child about heroin, pot, and meth, an equally dangerous drug lurks in your medicine cabinet. Prescription drugs pose serious dangers to your child, and it's just important to protect your child from these drugs as it is to protect her from illegal street drugs.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that prescription drug abuse is now the single largest drug threat to teenagers. While illicit drug and tobacco usage rates have remained relatively stable, prescription drug abuse rates among teenagers have increased 33 percent over the last five years. A study commissioned by MetLife in 2008 found that one in four teens had abused a prescription drug at least once.

But teenagers are often blind to the risks of prescription drug abuse. Fifty percent of teens believe that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, and between 60 and 70 percent of teen drug abusers rely on prescription drugs as their primary means of getting high.

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Technology: A Health Threat to the Developed World

By Tim Woda on June 1, 2014 at 12:44 PM

If you've ever had to persuade your child to put down the game controller and go outside -- or if you have to coax them away from their smartphones to eat a well-balanced meal -- you already understand the impact that technology can have on physical activity and diet. While modern innovations make academic research easier than ever, they also come with a whole host of health risks, and teenagers face a bigger threat than anyone else. 

It's no coincidence that obesity rates have skyrocketed in the United States right alongside innovation. While great thinkers can harness new technology to make the world a better place, there are downsides to modernization too.

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Is Technology Harming My Teen's Physical and Mental Health?

By Tim Woda on May 29, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Technology today is reaching a critical mass stage where new products and ways of sharing are found and implemented at lightning speeds. There was a time when telling your child that they were not allowed to watch TV or have friends over was a huge punishment. In this modern age, there is a whole bucket list of things that are necessary to control.

Television, iPods, cell phones, video games, Internet…the list is staggering. Our children can reach out to others in more ways than you can think possible. As a parent, the number one issue surrounding all this is trying to understand the gravity of technology’s impact on pysical and mental health. Open any newspaper or magazine and you will find articles that both praise modern technology and also condemn it. So what is the real story here? 

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9 Educational Apps that Are Actually Fun

By Steven Woda on May 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Like most parents, you're probably worried about your kids' brains frying over the summer holiday. Research has shown that all kids experience learning losses when they are not engaging in educational activities during summers. With technology being a major pastime of kids, tweens, and teens, it is even more disconcerting to think that they could spend the next few months sitting on the couch consuming mindless screen entertainment.

While technology has many "mindless entertainment" options available for all age ranges, it can just as easily be used educationally. Avoid the pitfalls of summer learning loss by combining technology with learning through encouraging the use of educational apps

The key in finding mentally constructive apps that your kids will actually use is to make sure that they're entertaining. Help your kids foster their interests and expand their knowledge and creativity with these great apps:

  1. Stack the States is a game that makes learning about states fun! Kids can play the

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Does Social Media Use Impact My Kid's Self-Esteem?

By Steven Woda on May 21, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Yesterday we posted an article about how kids, teens, and young adults typically have high numbers of Facebook friends, yet most don't have actual, one-on-one interactions with more than 3% of their "friends". Do follower and friend counts among social media profiles serve more as a self-esteem boost and status symbol than as an actual indication of one's popularity? What do social media sites actually do for teens' and kids' self-esteem?

In the past few years, you may have heard one or two conflicting studies reported on the subject of social media's impact on self-esteem. A variety of research centers and psychologists have come to a multitude of conclusions on the matter. Since social media is still relatively new, it is difficult to find a concise answer about the direct implications of social media. Here is a brief synopsis of released studies on the subject:

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5 Methods to Limit Screen Time in Your Home

By Tim Woda on May 17, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Let's face it: most of us spend too much time in front of screens. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that kids and teens ages 8-18 spend about 7.5 hours using entertainment media daily. Kids and teens aren't the only age groups that spend too much time in front of screens! In 2013, Advertising Age magazine concluded that adults in the U.S. spend approximately two and a half hours a day online, nearly the same amount of time on mobile devices and smartphones, and another four and a half hours watching TV. 

While, at best, screens can be educational, entertaining, and convenient, there's a fine line that exists between screens adding value to our lives and where they begin to negatively impact our health. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no one should spend more than 1 or 2 hours in front of a screen daily. Excessive screen time has been

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Surprise, Surprise: TV Time Linked With Less Sleep For Kids

By Steven Woda on April 30, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Yet another study has been released that indicates the harmful effects of excessively watching television. This article was originally published on the Huffington Post by Amanda L. Chan. 

TV time could be putting a damper on your child's sleep time, according to a new study.

Researchers found an association between increased TV time and less sleep in kids.

"Overall, each additional hour per day of average lifetime TV viewing from infancy through mid-childhood was associated with seven fewer minutes per day of sleep over the same period," the researchers wrote in the Pediatrics study. The effects seemed to be especially pronounced in boys, compared with girls.

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