What I Know One Year After Giving My Teenager an iPhone Contract

Would you give your child an iPhone for Christmas? What if it came with a strcit contract?  We posted a blog from the Huffington Post earlier this morning about a mom that did just that, and here are her reflections and what she learned one year later. 

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

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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Digital Parenting: A Guide To Facebook Training Wheels

Your child has been begging for a Facebook page and you have finally decided you are ready to let them have one.  The thought of them having their own account can be overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to start.  Everyone wants their children to be safe on the internet and in order to get them started its important you tread lightly. Below are simple steps you can take as part of digital parenting in order to prepare your child for their first Facebook page.

Keep it only family – It is important that in the beginning children keep their page with only family and close friends on their 'friends' list. This will lower the risk of cyberbullying.

Teach them about cyberbullying – Let them know that cyberbullying is not ok and to let you know if anyone is harassing them on the internet. This will also let them know that it is not ok to do it to others.

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Teens Who Sext Are More Likely to Engage in Other Sexual Behaviors

Think your 7th grader isn't sexting? Might be time to think again.

A new study was published online today by the American Academy of Pediatrics about the sexting habits of at-risk seventh graders.

Here are some of the most shocking statistics:

  • 22 percent of at-risk seventh graders participated in sexting.

  • 17 percent sending texts only.

  • 5 percent sending texts and photos.

  • Higher perceptions of approval for sexual behavior from parents, peers and the media, higher intentions to engage in sexual behavior, lower emotional awareness, and lower emotional self-efficacy.

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Parental Intelligence: Understanding Text Bombing

In 2011, a fifteen-year-old girl was released from the hospital following a failed suicide attempt. However, when she got out of the hospital, the girls who had been bullying her by using a text bombing website to send her multiple text messages, picked up right where they left off.

Her second suicide attempt was successful.

An important part of parental intelligence is understanding what text bombing is, and how kids are using it to cyberbully and harass each other. With new apps being developed every day, it doesn't matter that the Google App store has banned two of the apps responsible for allowing kids to demonstrate this type of behavior - SMSBomber and SMSBarrage. 

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Teens Creating Fake Facebook Profiles

This article originally ran on Sue Scheff's Blog, Navigating the Internet in Safety.  We appreciate the kind words, Sue!

I was tired of reading the articles about teens exiting Facebook.  I am sure the studies are done efficiently, but I still know that teens will be teens.

Recently I wrote an article for Huffington Post Parents, “Are Teens Really Leaving Facebook?

As I said, I doubt it — it is more likely they are creating alias accounts to escape the prying eyes of adults, specifically their parents.  Maybe they don’t have anything to hide, but they simply want to express themselves without having to explain themselves.

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Digital Parenting: Top Educational Websites for Kids

The age of information has paved the way for several technological advancements, but none of the ground-breaking changes have been more impactful than the resulting birth of the new league of connected kids. Today's connected kids seemingly enter into the world with the ability to operate technology, which is proven by babies swiping tablets. Even so, the most connected of the connected kids should have special areas that are designed just for them. This area must be conducive to learning and should supplement the information that is learned through the classroom curriculum. As a digital parent, if you are concerned about creating a learning environment for your young Einstein, the following educational websites are specifically designed for the connected kids in your life. 

Suessville 

While your child learns reading, writing, and arithmetic in elementary or middle school, Suessville offers your child valuable lessons about life. Since the 1950s, Dr. Suess has been finding ways to deliver valuable life lessons through memorable stories and characters, such as:

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas teaches children the value of materialism 

  • The Lorax teaches your children the importance of taking care of the environment even when industry moves in and takes over. 

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The Latest Mobile Cyberbullying Tactic of Teens: Text Bombing

Earlier this month, a 15-year old from St. Petersburg, FL was arrested for sending “hundreds of threatening text messages” over the course of eight days to former friends. Some were even death threats. The suspect used a smartphone app called Kik Messenger, which happens to be the cyberbullying app du jour, also used in the Rebecca Ann Sedwick cyberbullying case that contributed to her suicide. Kik allows users to send text messages from an Internet Desk Top to cell phones.

The tactic is called “text bombing”

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Digital Parenting: Best Apps for Homework Help

In today's world, if it isn't digital, it isn't going to last. We live in a high-tech, fast paced world where everyone is trying to make normal day-to-day tasks more convenient and less stressful. With children as young as six playing with iPhones, iPads and other electronic devices, companies are coming out with new and improved ways to manage your life by utilizing your gadgets!

As a digital parent, don't punish your child for spending too much time on electronic devices -- instead, take advantage of these products by urging connected kids to start using apps that help them with their homework and can increase their grades! App developers have been hard at work over the past decade trying to keep up with the constantly changing technology market. Every day, new applications are released for electronic devices that are designed to simplify your life and help you prioritize what matters. Connected kids who are hooked to their electronics can start to use their devices to help with school and homework- transforming their phone or tablet into a portable tutor and making digtial parenting easier.

Apps designed to help connected kids with their homework are becoming popular across all platforms. These apps are typically subject specific and are a great way for your child to learn outside of the classroom. Admit it parents. Sometimes, we don't have all the answers! With homework help apps, students can take their education more seriously and benefit from a wealth of knowledge- all at their fingertips.

Best Apps for Homework Help

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Digital Parenting: The Top 5 Apps Every Digital Parent Should Have

Do you wish you could allow your child to have more freedom, but feel uneasy at the prospect of not knowing his whereabouts? Do you worry that your child is sending or receiving inappropriate text messages? Thanks to recent innovations in digital parenting, you can put your mind at ease while allowing your child to be independent. There are thousands of smartphone apps to help keep track of your child's location and secure his safety, but the following five are must-haves.

 1. uKnow Mobile

Designed by uKnowKids, a leader in digital parenting technology, the uKnowMobile app is arguably the most comprehensive child monitoring app on the market. It automatically compiles all of your child's activity from social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and Instagam and displays it on an easy-to-navigate dashboard. This allows you to check up on your child with just a quick glance. Never again do you have to step out of a meeting just to see what your child is doing. If your child has an Android or iPhone, uKnowMobile also collects his sent and received text messages and application downloads so that you are instantly aware of any bullying situations, covert plans or undesirable application use.

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Digital Parenting- Best Pinterest Boards to Follow

As a parent, how often do you wish that your child had come with an instruction book? Parenting isn’t an easy job. It can involve challenges at any age and leave parents looking for advice and answers for many questions about raising their children.  In the past, many parents relied on their parents, friends and family to help them. However, in the age of digital parenting, parents face many issues that their parents never had to cope with. One of the best resources available to parents today is Pinterest. With an ever growing compilation of boards with information for parents on such topics as bullying, education, digital safety, and more, Pinterest can be a priceless source for digital parenting.  To get you started, here are ten awesome boards for parents on Pinterest. 

  1. Parenting Advice - PTPA – with over 75 pins on topics ranging from self-esteem to bullying, this board has advice for parents with kids from birth to teens. They have collected pins from around the web to help parents deal with topics such as divorce, temper-tantrums, and discipline. They also have some interesting pins for dads as well as moms from experts in many fields. 

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Sexting Warning: New App Defeats Snapchat's Purpose

A new app has been designed that permanently saves your pics and screws over serial sexters. SnapHack Pro, designed for iOS 7, is an app that saves images without the sender's knowledge, and is sure to annoy the makers of the wildly popular disappearing photo and video sharing tool.

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Digital Parenting: Setting Goals with Your Family

In a culture where both kids and parents are tied to their devices, no one can deny that technology has also changed the way our families interact and communicate. It can be tough to embrace technology as a family without encountering one of two extremes: the family that is never offline or the family that enforces restrictive, alienating rules. One way that you can overcome the “rule” barrier is by using parental intelligence technology that enforces the rules for you. Beyond the governance aspect, though, it may be helpful for your digital family to set goals for how you will take a stance on technology. Setting goals for your digital family’s technology use will not only make your family feel  more positively about  what could be viewed as more restrictive ideas, but the concept of family goals also provides a great forum for family discussion and bonding. Here are some ideas to consider including in your family’s list of technology goals:

  • We love technology: If your digital family loves to play with the latest gadgets, embrace that! Make it a family tradition to wait in line together for the latest technological toy or for a great sale on a device you all love

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Download The Newest Infographic From uKnowKids!

Do you know what your teen is sharing online?

Let's face it, your kids are using social media. Whether it's for educational purposes or just for fun, their personal information may be accessible by just about anyone, anytime. The latest statistics have yielded shocking results about our nation's teens (and even adults) and their online activities.

Download this infographic and find out:

  • the percentage of teens post videos of themselves online.
  • the percentage of teens with Twitter make their profile private.

  • the percentage of teens that post their cell phone number online.

  • the percentage of adults are worried that the government monitors their internet use.

  • the percentage of adults that have had their privacy violated online.

  • the percentage of teens that limit what their parents can see online.

  • and more!

Download now to get the full infographic! Feel free to share this great information with family and friends or repost on social media sites or blogs. 

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What I'm Reading: Sex, Teens And Social Media

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post by Sasha Belenky.

1. 'Social Media Is Destroying Our Lives'

Nancy Jo Sales, who wrote the Vanity Fair article that became the major motion picture "The Bling Ring," is back in the magazine with a look at teenage relationships in the age of social media. Adults may be shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that teens today are obsessed with sex. And Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder and other online tools are seemingly robbing America's youth of meaningful, loving relationships.

“We don’t date; we just hook up,” one girl in L.A. tells Sales. "Oral is, like, the new kissing,” says another girl in New York. Boys pressure girls to send them nude photos. “They’re definitely more forward to us online than in person,” says one girl, Zoe. “Because they’re not saying it to our faces.”

A group of friends at the mall sums up the Catch-22: “Social media is destroying our lives,” one girl tells Sales. “So why don’t you go off it?” Sales asks. "Because then we would have no life,” another girl responds.

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How to Set Certain Mobile Boundaries with Your Teens

The adoption of smartphone among teenagers has significantly increased over the past few years. According to the 2013 Pew Internet study, nearly 80% of American young adults now own a cellular device. One in every four is a heavy internet user who would rather go online on their mobile device than a traditional computer. For academic pursuits, having a portable internet device is indeed very beneficial, since it aids them in their doing homework and research.  But how can you ensure that they are not spending too much time with their gadgetries? What about their exposure to restricted online content? As parents, an effective solution to avoid your teens turning tech-obsessed is to set certain mobile boundaries.

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How to Tell If Your Child Is Involved In Cyberbullying

Gone are the days when you knew your child was safe because they were home with you. With social media, smartphones, tablets, laptops and wireless Internet everywhere, there is almost nowhere your child can hide if someone wants to bully them. The wonders of our modern age have opened up a whole new world for bullies and victims and the terrain is frightening and dangerous.

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