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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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Summer Camp Tech Policies: Should Kids Bring Devices?

By Tim Woda on June 23, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Most people think of summer camps as a warm weather break from the activities that typically happen at home. This often means a few weeks or more without technological devices. Asking a youngster to scrap his cell phone and video games for an entire month is easier said than done!

Fun Without The Screen

If you were to ask a random assortment of parents and their kids about the meaning of summer camp, chances are that most answers would be similar. Respondents would say that summer camp presents the opportunity for young people to develop new friendships, learn new skills and enjoy the warm weather. Few people would even think of responding with an answer that involves video games, cell phones, movies, television and other electronics.

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Understanding Cyberbullying: Why It Happens and How To Prevent It

By Tim Woda on June 7, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Recently, the media has exploded with tragic stories and consequences of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that occurs over electronic devices, often through texting, email or through social media websites such as Facebook. Bullies can send hurtful messages to other children, post embarrassing pictures of their peers on facebook, or send hateful email messages.

Cyberbullying takes on the same form as face to face bullying. The cyberbully will have a clear intent to harm the victim (either emotionally or by threatening them with physical harm), perceivable aggression in the messages, and a perceived or obvious imbalance of power over the victim by the cyberbully.

The abuse that children endure at the hands of cyberbullies leave many parents, teachers, and guardians wondering what causes the bullying to happen in the first place. Cyberbullies engage in harmful behaviors towards their peers for many reasons:

  • The cyberbully wants to feel powerful

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Calculator or Hidden App? Teens Are Disguising Content With Apps

By Steven Woda on June 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM

In this day and age teenagers are more tech savvy than most adults. They chat on their smartphones with their peers, download all the popular apps and are greatly familiar with their device settings. Another recent thing that a lot of teens do on their smartphones is hide pictures, messages and apps. Find out how teens are doing this and discover what you should be looking for on teens' phones.

Hiding Apps

The most popular way to hide apps or any other content on your phone is by using an app that does that. Both Apple Store and Google Play have a lot of hiding apps for download and the majority of them are free. 

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What Are Tech-Free Zones and Are They Right For My Family?

By Steven Woda on June 2, 2014 at 10:40 AM

If you're finding that living in the age of digital parenting is a tough task, you are certainly not alone.  Not only are you plugged into work and life at every moment of every day, but so, too, are your kids.  Of course, it's great to be able to have answers to your questions and social interaction at the swipe of a security code, but some families are starting to explore the benefits that can be had from implementing tech-free zones within their homes and daily lives.

Of course, this begs the question: What are tech-free zones, anyway?  It may sound counter-intuitive, since digital parenting is largely built around the idea of being able to connect and relate to your kids via today's technology, but Tech-Free Zones, aptly named, are places in families' lives where technology is simply not permitted.

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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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How To Approach Punishing Your Teen For a Digital Slip-Up

By Tim Woda on May 14, 2014 at 11:05 AM

From catching your teen sexting, to finding out that they violated your phone contract, digital slip-ups are never fun to deal with. It is not surprising that teens and parents often experience power struggles over digital rules and privileges. Teens are often given such high responsibility with technology at such young ages, that it is natural that there are going to be some problems. Digital rule-breaking is still a relatively new avenue of parenting that requires specific attention and action. 

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Kids' TV Time Doesn't Have to be Mindless

By Steven Woda on May 3, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Watching TV doesn't have to be mind-numbing! Make the most of TV time with your kids. This article was originally published on Common Sense Media by Sierra Filucci.

I admit I've thrown on a TV show and plopped my kid in front of the screen when I needed to get dinner on the table. And I've eked out one more hour of sleep on a Saturday morning by turning on PBS and putting out a few bowls of dry cereal.

But on the occasions when I've sat down and watched my kids' shows with them, I've been amazed by how informative and rewarding the experience was.

Take Phineas and Ferb, for example. I never realized how clever it was until I took the time to watch a whole episode with my 5-year-old. And I found so many things to talk about with him afterward. How did the boys solve the problem? (By working together.) Why was Candace so mean to her brothers? (Because she was embarrassed.) Do you think you'd do that kind of thing without asking Mom or Dad first? (No way!)

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Quick Facts About the Xbox Live Gaming Console

By Tim Woda on April 30, 2014 at 3:45 PM

XBox Live Quick Facts:

  • The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft, the first one being just the Xbox.

  • There are over 720 Xbox 360 games now and roughly 7.5 games are sold to every Xbox 360 owner.

  • The top three games played on Xbox Live are: 'Halo 3', 'Call of Duty 4' and 'Call of Duty: World at War' - all of which have a social aspect

  • As well as gaming, the Xbox 360 can also be used for watching movies, listening to music and social networking.

What is Xbox LIVE?

Xbox LIVE is the online service for Xbox 360. With a paid gold membership, people can play games and chat with other players, download games to their console, control avatars in a virtual world, search for entertainment, and watch movies and TV.

At signup, users choose a gamertag by which they'll be known on Xbox live and an avatar, a computer animated figure to be their virtual self.

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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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Utah Mom's Facebook Check May Have Saved Son From Shooting Plot

By Tim Woda on April 11, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Viewing your kids' social media interactions can be life-saving. Learn about how a smart mother was able to avert a possible tragedy by tracking her son's Facebook profile. This article was originally published on The Huffington Post by Ed Mazza.

A Utah woman may have saved her son's life by doing the one thing many kids hate the most: Checking him out on Facebook.

When the mother discovered threats to shoot the teen, she contacted police, according to local media reports.

"She had actually read threats and seen the threat on his Facebook page," Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking told the Deseret News. "There were very specific threats that they were going to go the high school and shoot her son."

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How to Use Media to Raise Resilient Kids

By Tim Woda on April 9, 2014 at 9:25 PM

This article was originally published on Common Sense Media by blogger Deborah Gilboa.

You've heard of helicopter parenting. But how about those parents who don't only hover -- they're out there in front of their kids clearing every obstacle? I call them "snow blower" or "lawnmower" parents, and although their efforts to protect their kids come from a good place, they're not allowing them to develop the skills they need to recover from setbacks -- to be resilient, in other words.

I'm part of a growing movement of what I call "Resilience Parents." We're doing our best to raise kids who can clear most of their own obstacles -- and get back up when they run full speed into one they didn't see.

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How Mobile Phones Are Changing the Way Our Teens Learn

By Tim Woda on March 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM

These days, it seems like everyone has a high tech, feature-rich mobile phone. No matter where you go, chances are you will see someone with their eyes on their smartphone. Some people claim that the prolific use of mobile phones shortens attention spans and decreases learning ability. Others say that having such a wealth of interactive, up-to-the-minute information at their fingertips allows teens to learn more efficiently. Though the dangers of mobile phone use by teens have been noted, it is clear that they are here to stay. So, what should you know about how mobile phones are changing the way that teens learn, for both better and worse?

Interactivity

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How Is Technology Affecting Your Family?

By Tim Woda on March 18, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Read this great article by Jan Cloninger and Rosemary Strembicki from "A place to turn." It was original posted on The Huffington Post.

My son is entering his last year of graduate school. When he was a freshman in college, Facebook was brand new. You could only get an account if you had a college address as a way to connect to others in your classes and campus. 

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Location Monitoring for Your Kids Safety

By Tim Woda on March 9, 2014 at 11:30 AM

As parents, we have a lot of concerns with regards to keeping our children safe and healthy. There is still some controversy surrounding the location monitoring of children. The world isn’t the safe place we all wish it was, and it is your job to ensure you do what you can in order to protect your child. Location monitoring isn’t about spying on them and not trusting them; it’s about much more. It’s about making sure small bad choices don’t lead to serious consequences and having the opportunity to curve wrong behavior before it goes too far. Location monitoring is also about giving you your peace of mind, knowing your child is where they are supposed to be. Also, if something should happen, you will have a head start on knowing the last location of your child. There are too many good reasons for following through with the monitoring of your child.

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5 Tips to Protect Your Children from Dangerous Games on Social Media

By Steven Woda on March 3, 2014 at 5:43 PM

This article was written by Tyler Cohen Wood for Manilla.com and orginally posted on the Huffington Post.

As many of us know, social media changes so quickly that it is often hard to keep up. New videos and games pop up constantly and immediately go viral. The latest craze to hit social media is a game called Neknominate.

How the game works is alarming: Typically, a young person drinks a large amount of alcohol (such as half a bottle of vodka) in a bizarre fashion, like half-naked at a mall or mixed with a dead rat, and he posts it to his social network, usually Facebook or YouTube. After he plays the game, he nominates a friend

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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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Should Teachers and Students Be “Friends” Online?

By Tim Woda on February 27, 2014 at 3:00 PM

A new social network-related issue that has come up in recent years is the debate about student-teacher friendships within online networks.  Find out what happened in this particular instance and learn more about how student-teacher social profile friendships can affect each party.  This article was originally published on Psychology Today.

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Parental Controls are Vital to your Child's Safety

By Tim Woda on February 27, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Parental controls are a vital part of today’s technology for parents.  From smart phones to computers there is a lot of content out there which makes a lot of anxiety for parents. Compared to their tech-savvy children parents often worry they cannot keep up with their use of technology. The reality is that you do not need to be a complete computer genius to regulate your child's technology usage. Below are some tips to do this:

  • Talk to your children about what you think is acceptable. What sites you want them to stay away from and who they are allowed to text. Give them boundaries and let them know if they break those, that there will be punishment for their actions.

  • Monitor what websites they go to.  Pay attention to where they go online and be sure to check their browser history.

  • Make sure your children are instructed to never give out vital information about you or other family members.  This includes names, addresses and phone numbers.

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The Decline of Online Privacy

By Steven Woda on February 19, 2014 at 5:33 PM

High-profile data breaches and issues arising over who actually owns personal data have raised important questions about online privacy and the security of personal information. There is a growing sense of fear and powerlessness among the public as businesses and governments continue to gather more and more personal data. The truth is, digital privacy is becoming a myth and it will take a combination of personal responsibility and policy changes to change the tide.

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