Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sue Scheff Parenting Online


2009 will be here, as parents, making a resolution to learn more how to keep your child safe online should be a priority. With the ever expanding cyberworld - social networking - texting etc. the time is now to learn more.



You don't have to be a computer expert to keep your child safe online.As parents, we want our children to be safe and responsible while using technology. We will have succeeded when each child can recognize and minimize the three main risks associated with all connected technology (i.e., iPods, instant messaging, chat, computer games, game consoles, cell phones, text messaging, webcams). Read More
For more information:
Hot TopicsVideos & Tutorials

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teen Social Networking and Parenting

As usual, Connect with Kids offers valuable articles for parents. This week they touch on the critical subject of our kids and the Internet. I know first hand the pros and cons of Cyberspace, however the challenge is getting our children to understand how important it is to protect yourself online and know that the Internet has a vast amount of great information but like with many things in life, you need to be aware of the pitfalls that may come with it.

Source Connect with Kids

“I wasn’t like other kids, you know, they had the Internet at home and I didn’t, so I felt like I was being deprived of something.”
– Ashley, 16 years old

Sixteen-year-old Ashley has always been a good student, but two years ago, she became a better student.

“In my history class, where we had to do a lot of research, I went from a B to an A,” she says.
What made the difference? Ashley believes it was her increased use of the Internet. She always had Web access at school but not at home.

“I wasn’t like other kids, you know, they had the Internet at home and I didn’t, so I felt like I was being deprived of something,” Ashley says.

Researchers, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, observed over 800 teens and their parents. The study found that, sure enough, parents think that spending hours online is unproductive for kids. But, the study also found that online teenagers are learning- socially, technologically … and academically.

“They are spending more time looking at text, so certainly they are going to be exposed to more reading opportunities,“ says Christine Colborne, an English teacher.

“You have to read through the websites,” Ashley says. “You have to read through the links and everything like that. So it does improve reading skills. And I think it improves vocabulary.”
But some experts warn parents to be cautious. Simply having online access is not a guarantee your child is learning.

“Many students are on the Internet simply in chat rooms. They are on the Internet looking up graphical material. They are looking up websites that are not text intensive where they are purchasing things or they are looking up pictures or downloading pictures,” Colborne says.

Ashley’s parents have set up filters on her computer that limit her access to inappropriate sites. Still, she says having the Internet at her fingertips at school and at home has opened a world of opportunities.

“I’m able to meet new friends, new people … to explore new subjects that I never knew about,” she says.

Tips for Parents

Another study by Michigan State University found that contrary to popular belief, spending time surfing the Internet can actually be beneficial to children. The study, which analyzed the Internet use of 120 parents and 140 children, found no negative effect on users’ social involvement or psychological well-being. In fact, researchers say that Internet use actually increased the children’s grade-point averages and standardized test scores.

As a parent, you are faced with the monumental task of monitoring the activities of your child in a world of virtually unlimited sources of information. One of the most expansive, confusing and frightening sources of information available to children today is the Internet.

You can take a number of steps to communicate the appropriate use of the Internet and other technologies to your child. The Cyber Citizen Partnership offers these tips for setting Internet limits for your child:

Be aware of your child’s computer skills and interests. Remember that it takes only a little knowledge to wreak a lot of havoc. Often, kids will develop technical skills and look for ways to challenge themselves.

Focus your child’s interests. If you recognize that your child is interested in exploring computer technology, you can reinforce positive behavior and encourage positive applications of this interest. Ideas include encouraging emailing with friends and family to become comfortable with appropriate and respectful online communication; recommending that your child adopt a position of responsibility in school as a computer monitor to assist classmates with computer use; fostering creative computer use by developing a personal or family website; or suggesting participation in school or community programs that teach in-depth technological skills or offer challenging technical opportunities.

Explore the Internet together. Ask your child to teach you about the Internet, visit educational sites, email questions and participate in online discussions together.

Take advantage of teachable moments. ­ When events or activities arise that provide the right time and place to do so, take advantage of these moments to help your child understand the issues involved in good cyber citizenship. For example, take time to read news articles about hacking or cyber crime incidents to your child and discuss the impact it has had on those involved. Use personal situations to frame the context of these discussions (e.g., ask your child how cyber crimes or irresponsible online behavior could affect friends and family). Address cyber ethics messages as your child conducts research online or shares his experiences on computers at school.

References
Cyber Citizen Partnership
Michigan State University
University of California-Irvine

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sue Scheff - Next Generation Parenting


Wow - I recently was introduced to this fantastic up-to-date information for parents on parenting the next generation.


From new parenting techniques, ideas, and how to be a smart parent today NexGen Parenting has it all! They also have a great selection of books and blogs to learn from.

Here is a brief example of their vast information:


Xtreme Parenting


The slacker image that Generation X earned in the early 90s is gone. No longer seen as lazy and directionless, the thirty- and forty-somethings of today are regarded as driven go-getters. Extreme and maniacally focused on everything they do from sports (X games), to work (Silicon Valley pioneers staying up all night to launch new tech products), to parenting. That’s right; GenX is turning out to be some of the most conservative, protective, proactive parents in history. They enact legislation for smaller class sizes, volunteer at school, leave their fast-paced jobs to stay home with their children, and homeschool their kids in record numbers.
In a modern twist, Gen X parents use technology to ensure the safety of their young. Baby monitors with video cameras or alarms that go off when infants stop breathing are immensely popular. Nannycams and Webcams are used to keep an eye on kids in daycare. Parents today purchase swings that play music, voice-activated bouncy seats with bubbling brook sounds, and software to teach phonics to preschoolers. While the last generation of kids begged to carry cell phones and pagers to be cool, Gen X parents insist that their children stay wired and reachable for peace of mind.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sue Scheff: Internet Addiction and Kids

Source: Connect with Kids

“You treat [Internet addiction] by improving the relationships in the person’s life, so that they have another choice of something that is more fulfilling for their heart and their soul to do.”

– Eddie Reece, M.S., L.P.C., Psychotherapist

Just ask any teen - and many will say they can’t live without the Internet.

“I’d say out of any given week it probably takes up more than half of my time,” says Adam Schindler, a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

“It’s a big part of my life,” says 21-year-old Chris Skinner. “And even when we have problems at home, with an internet connection. It’s like the whole world has crumbled, sadly enough.”

Internet addiction. It’s become so common the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto has started a new treatment program for teens.

Experts say signs that your child might be in trouble include isolation, giving up activities he or she used to enjoy and irritability.

”You come in and you are just asking what do you want for dinner, and you get snapped at because you have interrupted their virtual world,” explains psychotherapist Eddie Reece, M.S., L.P.C.

So what should parents do if their child is substituting a virtual world for the real one?

“How about working on the relationship that you have with your children, so that it would be more interesting to them to talk to you, than it would be to be on the computer,” suggests Reece.

He says along with setting limits on screen time, tell them why you’re concerned. “And then you can bring up the conversation of, ‘you know I noticed you haven’t been playing with Billy very much lately, you know what happened there? And then listen.”

“You have to go outside and make that initial approach sometimes,” says 21-year-old Jessica Criss. “And sometimes it’s hard, but it ends up being more fun than getting no new messages for the day.”

Tips for Parents

For many parents, video games are likely to be low on the list of addiction risks for their children. But as the video industry continues to grow, video game addiction is a problem being faced by more and more parents. This is especially true as the landscape of the video-game industry continues to change. Gone are the days of Super Mario and Donkey Kong. In their places are dark, adult-themed games like Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat.

Why has the landscape of the video-game industry undergone such drastic change? According to the Entertainment Software Association, players 18 and older now make up more than 50 percent of the market. And although more games with fast cars and gun-toting villains are being created for a mature audience, these same games also appeal to younger teens. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission found that out of 118 electronic games with a mature rating for violence, 70 percent of them actually targeted children under 17. In addition, the marketing plans for 51 percent of these games expressly included children under 17 in the target audience.

One of the reasons addiction to video games is a reality is because it isn’t viewed as a serious addiction risk by parents. And while video games in and of themselves are not bad, excessive and unobserved game playing can lead to problems. According to experts at the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF), there are steps you can take to lessen the likelihood of your child getting addicted to video games. Consider the following:

Limit game playing time. (Recommended: No more than one hour per day.)
Play with your child to become familiar with the games.
Provide alternative ways for your child to spend time.
Require that homework and jobs be done first; use video game playing as a reward.
Do not put video game set in a child’s room where he/she can shut the door and isolate himself/herself.
Talk about the content of the games.
Ask your video store to require parental approval before a violently rated video game can be rented by children.
When buying video games for your child, it is important to purchase games targeted at his/her audience. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates every video and computer game for age appropriateness (located on the front of the packaging) and, when appropriate, labels games with content descriptions. The ESRB’s current rating standard is as follows:

EC – Early Childhood (3 and older)
E – Everyone (6 and older)
E10+ – Everyone (10 and older)
T – Teens (13 and older)
M – Mature audiences (17 and older)
AO – Adults Only
RP – Ratings Pending

There are also other considerations besides the rating to take into account when deciding whether to purchase a video game for your child. Children Now, a research and action organization, offers these additional tips for helping you to choose the right video games for your child:

Know your child. Different children handle situations differently. Regardless of age, if your child becomes aggressive or unsettled after playing violent video games, don’t buy games with violence in them. Likewise, if your child likes playing games with characters that look like him/her, purchase games with characters that fit the bill.

Read more than the ratings. While the ESRB ratings can be helpful, they do not tell the whole story. Some features that you may consider violent or sexual may not be labeled as such by the ESRB. In addition, the ESRB does not rate games for the positive inclusion of females. The language on the packaging may give you a better idea of the amount and significance of violence and sexuality and the presence of gender and racial diversity or stereotypes in the game.

Go online. The ESRB website provides game ratings as well as definitions of the rating system. In addition, you can visit game maker and distributor websites to learn more about the contents of a game. Some have reviews that will provide even more information about the game.

Rent before you buy. Many video rental stores also rent video games and consoles. Take a trial run before you purchase a game.

Talk to other parents. Find out which games other parents like and dislike, as well as which games they let your child play when he/she visits their house. This is a good way to learn about the games that your child enjoys and those that other parents approve of, and to let other parents know which games you do not want your child playing.

Play the games with your child. Know what your child is being exposed to and how he/she reacts to different features in the games.

Talk about what you see. If your child discovers material that he/she finds disturbing or that you find inappropriate, talk about it. This is a great opportunity to let your child know what your values are as well as to help him/her deal with images that may be troubling.

Set limits. If you are worried that your child spends too much time playing video games, limit the amount of time or specify the times of day that video games can be played.

Put the games in a public space. Just as with the Internet, keep your game consoles and computers in public family space so that you can be aware of the material your child is viewing.

Contact the game makers. If you find material that you think is offensive or inappropriate, let the people who make and sell the games know about it. Likewise, let game makers know if you think that a game provides healthy messages or images. They do care what you think!

References
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
Children Now
Entertainment Software Association
Entertainment Software Rating Board
Federal Trade Commission
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute on Media and the Family

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Sex in the Web and Media

Sex in the Media

Source: Connect with Kids

“Every TV show now has like at least one character who is like a slut.”

– Katie Seewald, 14 years old

Parents have heard a thousand times that sex is all over the media. But is the sheer volume of sexual images harming our children? Or is it something else?

A recent movie, “A Guy Thing,” begins with a bachelor (played by Jason Lee) hurrying a woman (Julia Stiles) out of bed after a drunken one-night stand.

The scene is typical of how casual sex is portrayed on television and in the movies.

14-year-old Katie Seewald says, “Every TV show now has like at least one character who is like a slut.”

A study by the Rand Corporation finds that teens who watch shows with heavy sexual content are twice as likely to get pregnant or get someone pregnant compared to kids who don’t watch those shows. Still, while the study demonstrates a correlation between teenage sexual behavior and television content, it does not prove a cause. Are the higher pregnancy rates the result of TV viewing, or is it simply that kids who take sexual risks and end up pregnant are more likely to watch sexual content on TV? It is not clear.

Experts say one problem with television content is that sex seldom has consequences.

“If they see sex without negative consequences…they may think that having, or engaging in sex, may not have negative consequences,” explains Dr. Gina Wingood, Associate Professor at Emory University.

Bo Brewer, 17, agrees, “You never see abortion in movies or on t-v.”

So does 17-year-old Elizabeth Green, “They want everything to be in the heat of the moment, to flow, and having to stop to go put on a condom doesn’t really flow with the storyline.”

The experts’ advice?

Limit the amount of sexual content your kids are allowed to watch and talk with your children about the sexy scenes they see on TV.

Studies show children are much less likely to be influenced by what they see if they know their parents strongly disagree.

“Teens and young people do care what their parents think. And they do care what their parents’ feelings are,” says psychologist Betsy Gard. “And if a parent expresses very strong dislike of a program and explains their reasons, that’s going to have an impact on the teen.”

“And I think it’s kind of up to parents or some figure like that to say ‘well that’s not the way it is, that’s just the way that it is on that t-v show,” says 16-year-old Mary Cloud.

Tips for Parents

The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested that portrayals of sex on entertainment television may contribute to precocious adolescent sex. Approximately two-thirds of television programs contain sexual content, and adolescents who viewed more sexual content were more likely to initiate intercourse and progress to more advanced non-coital sexual activities. Youths in the top 10th percentile of television sex viewing were twice as likely to have sex as those youths who were in the bottom 10th percentile of viewing.

Adolescence is a key period of sexual exploration and development. This is the time when teens begin to consider which sexual behaviors are enjoyable, moral and appropriate for their age group. Many teens become sexually active during this period; currently, 46 percent of high school students in the United States admit to having had sexual intercourse. Consider the following:

By ninth grade, 34 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse. By 12th grade, this figure increases to 60 percent.

On average, teens watch three hours of television every day.

Watching a program that talked about sex was associated with the same risks as exposure to a program that depicted sexual behavior.

Approximately one in seven television programs includes a portrayal of sexual intercourse.
Television programs with sexual content have an average of 4.4 scenes per hour containing sexually related material.

Youths who watched more depictions of sexual risks or safety were less likely to initiate intercourse.

Watching sex on television predicts and may hasten adolescent sexual initiation. Reducing the amount of sexual content in entertainment programming, reducing adolescent exposure to this content, or increasing references to and depictions of the possible negative consequences of sexual activity could delay when teens embark on sexual activities. A quarter of all sexually active teens will contract a sexually transmitted disease each year. According to 57 percent of adults and 72 percent of teens, the media has given "more attention" to teen pregnancy prevention in recent years.

Remember that as a parent you may be able to reduce the effects of sexual content in the media by watching television with your teenagers and discussing your own beliefs about sex and the behaviors being portrayed. Most parents say they have discussed sex with their teenagers, but far fewer teenagers say they had such talks with their parents. Sixty-nine percent of teens report that it would be "much easier" to postpone sexual activity if they could have "more open, honest conversations" about sex with their parents. In addition:

About 60 percent of teens have a television in their bedroom. The only way to keep parental control of television viewing is to not let your teen have a television in the bedroom.
Unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are more common among those who begin sexual activity earlier.

Two-thirds of sexually experienced teens wish they had waited longer to have intercourse.
Seventy-nine percent of teenage virgins are not embarrassed to tell others they have not had sex.

Youngsters who receive little parental supervision may have more time and freedom to watch sexually based programming and more opportunities to engage in sexual activity.

References
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Medical News Today
Pediatrics
Rand Corporation
Talk With Your Kids
USA Today

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sue Scheff - Cyberbullying


“I’d block them, but then they’d have another screen name and they’d be like ‘you’re a whore, you can’t get away from this’… It would just bring me to tears and I would cry because I couldn’t get away from it as much as I tried.”

– Erica Bryant, 18 years old

Everyday at school, Erica Bryant was harassed. “They’d call me a slut, call me a whore.”

The bullying became too much, so her parents decided to have her home schooled.

“So, sure, a huge part of the problem was resolved in that she didn’t have to face that trauma everyday, she didn’t have to sit in the lunchroom by herself,” explains her mom, Linda Perloff, “but what we didn’t expect was the power of the Internet …we didn’t expect the instant messaging.”

Erica explains her frustration: “I’d block them, but then they’d have another screen name and they’d be like ‘you’re a whore, you can’t get away from this. It would just bring me to tears and I would cry because I couldn’t get away from it, as much as I tried.”

Experts say cyber bullying can be even more painful and pervasive than face-to-face harassment.

“You can never really get away from it,” explains pediatrician Dr. Ken Haller, “because even if you’re not on the Internet checking out what people are saying about you, other people are.”

But, experts say, there are ways to minimize attacks online.

First, make sure your child doesn’t post anything revealing.

“If they’re thinking, I’m just putting this out there for my friends to read, they don’t realize that anyone can pick this up and someone who might be a potential bully would say, ‘Ah! I’m going to use this. This is great’,” says Haller.

Experts say if the cyber bullying doesn’t stop- print the messages out and show them to the bully’s parents. If the messages are threatening, go to the police.

“I always encourage parents to talk to your local law enforcement agency and run it by them,” says Judy Freeman, a school social worker. “Many times they say, ‘well, we really can’t do anything,’ but if it’s - if it borders onto harassment or if there’s some threat involved, they will become involved.”

Erica is now in a new school. The harassment has stopped- at least for her.

“If I see it happen to other girls I’m not going to sit by and watch,” she says. “I’m going to get involved and put an end to it.”

Tips for Parents

Bullying in America has become an epidemic. In fact, with the advent of the Internet, bullies don’t even have to have physical contact with your child to torment him/her. Thus, parents are faced with the monumental task of monitoring the activities of children in a world of virtually unlimited sources of information. Although many parents attempt to regulate the access of their children to the Internet, that access is, in fact, nearly ubiquitous. Consider these facts regarding children, technology and the Internet:

Children are increasingly using new technologies in school, at the library, at home and in after-school activities.
A recent study estimated that nearly 10 million children are online.

Over one quarter of U.S. classrooms have Internet access, and 78 percent of schools have some kind of access to the Internet.

Two out of three public libraries provide computers and Internet access for public use.
Because bullying – including online bullying – can be such an emotional issue, experts say it is extremely important to open the lines of communication with your kids. This can include …

Starting to talk with them early.
Initiating conversations.
Creating an open environment.
Communicating your values.
Listening to your child.
Trying to be honest.
Being patient.
Sharing your experiences.

Also, watch for behavioral changes. Children who are suffering from teasing and bullying may try to hide the hurt. They become withdrawn from family and friends, lose interest in hobbies, and may turn to destructive habits like alcohol, drugs, and acts of violence.

While bullying, harassment and teasing are unfortunate aspects of childhood, you can help minimize these occurrences by raising non-violent children. The American Academy of Pediatrics cites the following tips for curbing hurtful behavior in your child:

Give your child consistent love and attention. Every child needs a strong, loving relationship with a parent or other adult to feel safe and secure and to develop a sense of trust. Without a steady bond to a caring adult, a child is at risk for becoming hostile, difficult and hard to manage.

Make sure your child is supervised. A child depends on his or her parents and family members for encouragement, protection and support as he or she learns to think for him or herself. Without proper supervision, your child will not receive the guidance he or she needs. Studies report that unsupervised children often have behavior problems.

Monitor your child’s Internet use. If your child knows you are watching, he/she is less likely to take part in cyber-bullying. Also, encourage him/her to avoid using chat rooms with violent or derogatory conversations.

Show your child appropriate behaviors by the way you act. Children often learn by example. The behavior, values and attitudes of parents and siblings have a strong influence on them. Be firm with your child about the possible dangers of violent behavior and language. Also, remember to praise your child when he or she solves problems constructively without violence.

Be consistent about rules and discipline. When you make a rule, stick to it. Your child needs structure with clear expectations for his or her behavior. Setting rules and then not enforcing them is confusing and sets up your child to “see what he or she can get away with.”

Try to keep your child from seeing violence in the home or community. Violence in the home can be frightening and harmful to children. A child who has seen violence at home does not always become violent, but he or she may be more likely to try to resolve conflicts with violence.

Try to keep your child from seeing too much violence in the media. Watching a lot of violence on television, in the movies and in video games can lead children to behave aggressively. As a parent, you can control the amount of violence your child sees in the media by limiting television viewing and previewing games, movies, etc., before allowing access to them by your child.

Help your child stand up against violence. Support your child in standing up against violence. Teach him or her to respond with calm but firm words when others insult or threaten another person. Help your child understand that it takes more courage and leadership to resist violence than to go along with it.

References
Kaiser Family Foundation
Talking With Your Kids
British Medical Journal
American Academy of Pediatrics
University of California- Los Angeles

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sue Scheff: What are your kids putting online?


I read this very interesting Blog today on today's kids and what they can put online about not only themselves, but about their parents! Not excluding other family members.


By Eve Tahmincioglu


Are your Internet-crazed kids sabotaging your job search/career?


Who knows things about you that you’d rather not share with the general public? That you drink two or three martinis every night. Maybe you like to call in sick when you’re really not sick to play basketball with the kids. Or maybe you’re prone to punching in walls when you fight with your spouse.
I’ve written a lot about digital dirt lately. You know, the negative information about you on the Internet you don’t want your boss or prospective employers to see.
Well, here’s a minefield you better keep an eye on — Your own digitally savvy kids that seem to spend every waking moment of their lives sending weird things to eachother on Facebook, or MySpace.
The owner of ReputationDefender.com, Michael Fertick, recently told me of a new phenomenon he’s discovered in his quest to help people everywhere protect their online reputations. The company helps individuals by searching the Internet for bad stuff about their customers and then finding ways to get rid of it. Sometimes it’s as simple as calling a blogger and asking that something negative be removed, and in other cases it requires writing lots of good stuff about a client so it drowns out the bad stuff.
The bad stuff usually comes from disgruntled girlfriends or boyfriends; people criticizing something you wrote or a project you worked on; or maybe you got rowdy at a football game and the local paper wrote about you.
But Fertik was surprised when he discovered a new source for the bad stuff — his customers’ own kids.
Turns out some tweens, teens and even 20 somethings out there are writing about private family matters on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, and also sharing their pain on blogs. And they’re naming names.“We’ve seen discussions by kids of parents’ incomes,” he says. For example, ‘Dad makes $75,000 per year’. They also write about their parents’ relationships, “‘Mom and Dad are fighting pretty hard tonight’, of career news ‘Mom didn’t get the promotion she wanted’; and even social habits or qualities, ‘Dad is such a d–k,’ or ‘Dad is a friggin’ alcoholic.’”
Parents shouldn’t be too surprised that their children are sharing this stuff on the Web. Kids have always had to vent about family issues to their friends, but before the Internet, conversations were kept out of the public forum, for the most part.
Fertik’s advice: Talk to your kids and check out their FaceBook accounts now. “Let them know whatever they write is a tattoo that can stain them and you (the parent), possibly forever,” he adds.
We’ve all been so worried lately that our kids may end up writing something about themselves, or sharing suggestive photos of themselves on social networking sites that could end up hurting them when they go out into the job market. None of us thought about what they may be writing about us.
Is there something your kids know that could come back to haunt you?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teens and Internet Safety


In today's society, the Internet has made its way into almost every American home. It is a well-known fact that the web is a valuable asset for research and learning. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous place for teens. With social networking sites like Myspace and Friendster, chat rooms, instant messaging, and online role-playing video games, our children are at access to almost anyone. Sue Scheff, along with Parent's Universal Resource Experts™, is tackling the dangers of the web.

Keeping tabs on our teens' online habits doesn't just keep them safe from online predators. More and more parents are becoming wary of the excessive hours their teens spend surfing the web, withdrawing from family, friends and activities they used to enjoy. Internet Addiction is a devastating problem facing far too many teens and their families. While medical professionals have done limited research on the topic, more and more are recognizing this destructive behavior and even more, the potential mental effects it can have.

Though the web is a great place for learning and can be safe for keeping in touch, it is important that families understand the potential risks and dangers to find a healthy balance between real and virtual life.

The Basics: The Dangers of Teen Internet Addiction
It’s clear that, for teenagers, spending too much time online can really deter social and educational development. The Internet world is such that there is always something new to do and to distract one from one’s responsibilities. We all do it- take ten minutes here or there to explore our favorite gossip or sports site. There is nothing wrong with using the Internet as a tool for research, news, and even entertainment. After all, the World Wide Web is the world’s most accurate, up to date resource for almost any type of information.

But as the Internet evolves and becomes more tailored to the individual, it grows increasingly easier to develop a dependency on it. This is especially true for teens- a group that tends to be susceptible to flashy graphics and easily enticed by the popularity of social networks. In a sense, the Internet is the new video game or TV show. It used to be that adolescents would sit in front of the TV for hours on end operating a remote, shooting people and racing cars. Now they surf the web. Teens are impressionable and can at times be improperly equipped to handle certain situations with a degree of reason and rationality. And although they may have good intentions, they might be at risk of coming across something inappropriate and even dangerous.

Sexual Predators
We’ve all heard the stories about children entering chat rooms who end up talking to someone older than them who may be looking for something more than merely a chat. These tales may sound far-fetched, or to some, even mundane, because of the publicity they’ve received, but as a parent it would be rather foolish to dismiss them as hearsay or as something that could never actually happen to your child. The fact is, these accounts of sexual predation are all too true and have caused some families a great deal of strain and fear. Even pre-adolescents have been known to join chat rooms. The reality is that there is no real way of knowing who might be in one at any given time. An even scarier thought is that these forums are often sexual predators’ main source of contact with young children. In fact, the popular TV show, [To Catch a Predator (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10912603/)], employs someone to pose as a teen and entice these sex offenders. The show profiles the interactions between them all the way up until the actual meeting. Some of the situations portrayed are horrifying. If you’re the parent of a teen or pre-teen, make sure to monitor Internet activity with regards to chat rooms and educate your child on the potential dangers they present.

Sensitive Subject Matter
Human curiosity is perhaps at its peak during one’s teenage years. That curiosity is what aids teens in the growth and development process. It’s necessary for survival as an adolescent and can provide for some great discoveries and maturation. However, teen curiosity can also potentially lead a person into some questionable situations, and the Internet is a prime medium through which to quell one’s inquisitiveness. Let’s face it- teenagers are anxious to be knowledgeable about topics such as sex, drugs, and other dangerous subject matter.

Talking to your teen about these sensitive subjects before he or she has a chance to search online can be a great way to allay his or her need to surf the web for more information. The Internet might be an excellent tool for presenting interesting data, but it can also grossly misrepresent certain issues. If a teenager wants to learn about sex or drugs via the web, he or she might decide to do a search containing the words “sex” or, perhaps “marijuana.” The results your child might find may not necessarily be the type of educational, instructive material you’d hope they would receive. The Internet may be savvy, but one thing it’s not capable of doing is knowing who is using it at any given time and how to customize its settings. Talk to your children about subjects you feel are important before they have the chance to find out themselves. You never know what they might come across.

Limited Social Growth
There is no better time to experience new things and meet new people than during one’s teenage years. Getting outside, going to social gatherings, and just having a good time with friends are among some of the most productive and satisfying activities in which teenagers can engage. While the Internet can provide a degree of social interaction, online networks and connections cannot replace the benefits of in-person contact. Teen Internet Addiction is dangerous because it limits a person’s options when it comes to communication. Much of learning and growing as a teen comes from the lessons one learns through friendships, fights, disagreements, trends, popularity, etc.

The Internet has made it all too easy for teens to recoil from the pressures of adolescence and remain indoors. The lure of the web can often make it seem as though social networks and online gaming are acceptable substitutes for real life. Teens can find acceptance in chat rooms and message boards, while at school they might be complete outcasts. It’s easy for teenagers to rebuff the idea of interacting with their peers and risking rejection when the Internet can provide for a seemingly relaxed environment. Children need to know that Internet addiction and reliance on online forums will only stunt social growth and make life much more difficult in the future.

Sedentary Lifestyle
Internet dependency also inherently promotes a lifestyle that is not conducive to exercise and physical activity. Many teens tend to become so enthralled in games or chats that peeling them away from the computer can prove to be an ominous task. The entertainment the Internet can provide often trumps the option to leave the house and get exercise. Parents should encourage their teens to use the Internet for school projects and some degree of entertainment, but they should also limit the time that they are allowed to spend on the computer. Begin supporting your child’s involvement in sports teams at an early age and make outside activities fun and interesting. The earlier a child is introduced to the mental and physical benefits of outside activity, the more likely he or she is to avoid inside amusements such as the Internet, TV, and video games.

Nowadays it seems our whole lives can be conducted via the Internet. We can order, purchase, and have groceries delivered all with the click of a few buttons. We can play games, talk to people, find dates, and even attend AA meetings online. The Internet may have made our lives and their day-to-day processes exponentially easier to accomplish, but by the same token it has also increased our dependence on the advantages it can provide. The convenience it creates has been known to cause some people to recoil from outside situations, opting to conduct as much business as possible from home. We must be careful of this trend, especially with teenagers, for whom positive (and negative) social interaction help to form valuable personality and wisdom.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sue Scheff: Protect your kids online - ReputationDefender/MyChild!


Reputation Defender has expanded again - Now many people can take advantage of their MyEdge services!
I have used MyEdge for almost 2 years now have been extremely happy with their team of professionals. I was very excited to hear they have recently offered to a wider audience with reasonable costs.
Maintaining your Online Image has become a priority for so many people.


As someone that was nearly destroyed in Cyberspace - I know how critical it is to be aware of what is looming on the World Wide Web.


After winning a jury verdict for over $11M for Internet Damages to my organization, my family and myself online - I will continue to use be a voice for others that are being maligned online - and continue to encourage people to look to the future - and know it will be safer online with services like ReputationDefender on your side.


As a parent advocate, I also suggest parents consider signing up for ReputationDefender/MyChild and start protecting your child's privacy today!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts: Trying to Deal With High-TechBullying


Trying to deal with high-techbullying


By Michele Miller, Times Staff Writer

“YOU SUCK! — I HATE YOU!!!"

The 12-year-old was being dumped. That message, sent via e-mail, was the first indication something was amiss between the two friends who, just weeks earlier, had been enjoying late-night, giggling sleepovers and Saturday night roller-skating ventures.

Then, with the click of the "send" button, it was over.

Well, not quite.

A deeper cyber investigation through MySpace revealed that there were others involved, that my daughter was the planned target of a shunning campaign to commence this coming school year.

Here we go again. Middle school mean girls ganging up. Time to contact the parents, try to work things out or at least get it to stop, help the 12-year-old find the valuable life lessons in all of this.

With friends like these … .

You really don't want to peak in middle/high school.

And the big one: empathy. Yeah, kiddo, now you know what it feels like. It's crummy, for sure, but in the end, this can help make you a better person.

If you don't have anything nice to say … .

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Some call it a rite of passage.

Anyone who has made it through middle school knows that bullying happens all the time.

Just ask any middle school guidance counselor or school psychologist. Traditionally, they are the leaders sponsoring those antibullying programs we read about in the school newsletter.

There have been books written on how to deal with it. School assemblies. There's even an annual national conference.

"Don't be so catty," was how my mom used to warn me when she thought I was crossing the line.

"Catty" was her word for it.

These days, "relational aggression'' is the psycho-scientific name for the girl-on-girl type of bullying that seems to flourish in the tween/teen years. By many accounts, it tapers off when self-assurance kicks in. Even so, the bully mentality often carries on into adulthood.

Yup, some of us never grow out of it.

Think Lori Drew, the MySpace cyber-bully mom from suburban St. Louis. In May, Drew was indicted for allegedly harassing a 14-year-old girl through a fake MySpace page she created.

The girl, who thought she was being dumped by a 16-year-old boy she had developed a cyber crush on, later committed suicide.

And closer to home, just check out some of the nasty exchanges some Times readers submit anonymously at the end of various online news articles. Cyber-bullying, while not the intent, is all too often the result when online publications like this one offer a forum for reader input. And it's not just the girls. From what I've seen, there are plenty of guys getting in on the cyber-mob mentality.

"Really now," I want to tell them all. "Behave yourself. Don't be so catty!"

Or at least exhibit some restraint.

Alas, that "submit" button is so easy to push — especially when you're in the privacy of your own home or office cubicle.

Sure, you are required to give your first name and e-mail address before writing your comment in 250 characters or less.

But who really knows if your name is "Pete" or "Mary" or if you are listing your sister-in-law's e-mail address instead of your own?

Here's an old-fashioned idea:

Write a letter to the editor. You can even e-mail it.

Of course you'd be required to sign your first and last name to that scribe before it would be published. Your phone number, too, so the Times can be sure that you really are who you say you are.

That would take some courage, and perhaps, some real conviction behind those words.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Teen Internet Addiction by Sue Scheff

Introduction
In today's society, the Internet has made its way into almost every American home. It is a well-known fact that the web is a valuable asset for research and learning. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous place for teens. With social networking sites like Myspace and Friendster, chat rooms, instant messaging, and online role-playing video games, our children are at access to almost anyone. Sue Scheff, along with Parent's Universal Resource Experts™, is tackling the dangers of the web.

Keeping tabs on our teens' online habits doesn't just keep them safe from online predators. More and more parents are becoming wary of the excessive hours their teens spend surfing the web, withdrawing from family, friends and activities they used to enjoy. Internet Addiction is a devastating problem facing far too many teens and their families. While medical professionals have done limited research on the topic, more and more are recognizing this destructive behavior and even more, the potential mental effects it can have.

Though the web is a great place for learning and can be safe for keeping in touch, it is important that families understand the potential risks and dangers to find a healthy balance between real and virtual life.

The Basics: The Dangers of Teen Internet Addiction
It’s clear that, for teenagers, spending too much time online can really deter social and educational development. The Internet world is such that there is always something new to do and to distract one from one’s responsibilities. We all do it- take ten minutes here or there to explore our favorite gossip or sports site. There is nothing wrong with using the Internet as a tool for research, news, and even entertainment. After all, the World Wide Web is the world’s most accurate, up to date resource for almost any type of information.

But as the Internet evolves and becomes more tailored to the individual, it grows increasingly easier to develop a dependency on it. This is especially true for teens- a group that tends to be susceptible to flashy graphics and easily enticed by the popularity of social networks. In a sense, the Internet is the new video game or TV show. It used to be that adolescents would sit in front of the TV for hours on end operating a remote, shooting people and racing cars. Now they surf the web. Teens are impressionable and can at times be improperly equipped to handle certain situations with a degree of reason and rationality. And although they may have good intentions, they might be at risk of coming across something inappropriate and even dangerous.

Sexual Predators
We’ve all heard the stories about children entering chat rooms who end up talking to someone older than them who may be looking for something more than merely a chat. These tales may sound far-fetched, or to some, even mundane, because of the publicity they’ve received, but as a parent it would be rather foolish to dismiss them as hearsay or as something that could never actually happen to your child. The fact is, these accounts of sexual predation are all too true and have caused some families a great deal of strain and fear. Even pre-adolescents have been known to join chat rooms. The reality is that there is no real way of knowing who might be in one at any given time. An even scarier thought is that these forums are often sexual predators’ main source of contact with young children. In fact, the popular TV show, [To Catch a Predator (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10912603/)], employs someone to pose as a teen and entice these sex offenders. The show profiles the interactions between them all the way up until the actual meeting. Some of the situations portrayed are horrifying. If you’re the parent of a teen or pre-teen, make sure to monitor Internet activity with regards to chat rooms and educate your child on the potential dangers they present.

Sensitive Subject Matter
Human curiosity is perhaps at its peak during one’s teenage years. That curiosity is what aids teens in the growth and development process. It’s necessary for survival as an adolescent and can provide for some great discoveries and maturation. However, teen curiosity can also potentially lead a person into some questionable situations, and the Internet is a prime medium through which to quell one’s inquisitiveness. Let’s face it- teenagers are anxious to be knowledgeable about topics such as sex, drugs, and other dangerous subject matter.

Talking to your teen about these sensitive subjects before he or she has a chance to search online can be a great way to allay his or her need to surf the web for more information. The Internet might be an excellent tool for presenting interesting data, but it can also grossly misrepresent certain issues. If a teenager wants to learn about sex or drugs via the web, he or she might decide to do a search containing the words “sex” or, perhaps “marijuana.” The results your child might find may not necessarily be the type of educational, instructive material you’d hope they would receive. The Internet may be savvy, but one thing it’s not capable of doing is knowing who is using it at any given time and how to customize its settings. Talk to your children about subjects you feel are important before they have the chance to find out themselves. You never know what they might come across.

Limited Social Growth
There is no better time to experience new things and meet new people than during one’s teenage years. Getting outside, going to social gatherings, and just having a good time with friends are among some of the most productive and satisfying activities in which teenagers can engage. While the Internet can provide a degree of social interaction, online networks and connections cannot replace the benefits of in-person contact. Teen Internet Addiction is dangerous because it limits a person’s options when it comes to communication. Much of learning and growing as a teen comes from the lessons one learns through friendships, fights, disagreements, trends, popularity, etc.

The Internet has made it all too easy for teens to recoil from the pressures of adolescence and remain indoors. The lure of the web can often make it seem as though social networks and online gaming are acceptable substitutes for real life. Teens can find acceptance in chat rooms and message boards, while at school they might be complete outcasts. It’s easy for teenagers to rebuff the idea of interacting with their peers and risking rejection when the Internet can provide for a seemingly relaxed environment. Children need to know that Internet addiction and reliance on online forums will only stunt social growth and make life much more difficult in the future.

Sedentary Lifestyle
Internet dependency also inherently promotes a lifestyle that is not conducive to exercise and physical activity. Many teens tend to become so enthralled in games or chats that peeling them away from the computer can prove to be an ominous task. The entertainment the Internet can provide often trumps the option to leave the house and get exercise. Parents should encourage their teens to use the Internet for school projects and some degree of entertainment, but they should also limit the time that they are allowed to spend on the computer. Begin supporting your child’s involvement in sports teams at an early age and make outside activities fun and interesting. The earlier a child is introduced to the mental and physical benefits of outside activity, the more likely he or she is to avoid inside amusements such as the Internet, TV, and video games.

Nowadays it seems our whole lives can be conducted via the Internet. We can order, purchase, and have groceries delivered all with the click of a few buttons. We can play games, talk to people, find dates, and even attend AA meetings online. The Internet may have made our lives and their day-to-day processes exponentially easier to accomplish, but by the same token it has also increased our dependence on the advantages it can provide. The convenience it creates has been known to cause some people to recoil from outside situations, opting to conduct as much business as possible from home. We must be careful of this trend, especially with teenagers, for whom positive (and negative) social interaction help to form valuable personality and wisdom.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sue Scheff: WiredParentPad by Jamie Pick


With today’s concerns on our kid’s Web Friends, we need to learn as much as we can about the CyberWorld they are surfing in. I recently found a very informational website to help educate parents on this topic.

From http://www.wiredparentpad.com/ - Take a minute to visit this website and learn more.

Jamie Pick, writes WiredParentPad to help parents of teenagers better understand today’s technology and how are kids are using it. Many parents struggle with the things that have become second nature to our kids - the web, social networking (Myspace, Facebook), instant messaging, online gaming, etc. As parents, we can use these tools as a means to communicate and connect with our teens, which we all know, isn’t always easy to do.

With an enthusiasm for technology, ten years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry, and a father of two teenage boys, this area of parenting is a natural point of interest and knowledge for me.

At WiredParentPad, I share my personal experiences, advice, and newsworthy stories related to basically anything we’d consider part of the “information age”. I urge you to leave comments, suggestions, and tips as well. Thank you for your time, I hope you find something helpful here!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Virtual Relationships

Source: www.onteenstoday.com

This is a post by one of our teen writers: Nate is a 16 year-old living in Los Angeles, CA and he writes his own awesome blog at Naterocks.com.

There is a new trend rising up from the scary underworld of technology. What has long been reserved for the supreme losers of the nerd world and is now gaining more and more acceptance in the “real” world. What is this scary trend? It is something called a Virtual Relationship. A virtual relationship can be just like one in real life; the two people call each other their girlfriend or boyfriend, they can talk to each other and see each other, however there is one major catch, they have never met in person. A virtual relationship is taking the saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” to the extreme.

This trend exists in the “grownup” too, but in the teen world it has become an acceptable form of dating. What is often misunderstood about virtual relationships is that the emotions evolved with one can be very similar or even completely identical to ones that take place in the “real” world. While there are many articles written about how it is not a normal relationship, many psychologists who have done research in the area claim that the relationships and friendships are indeed real.

Another reason that virtual relationships are ridiculed by many adults is that the people in the relationship could be lying to each other and one of them could be a predator. However with the introduction of social networking sites like Facebook, doing so has become harder. Additionally, a virtual relationship may be safer than one in the “real” world because the parties involved do not often plan on meeting and there is no chance of getting mono or an STD in a virtual relationship.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

INTERNET LAW - Bullying and Cyber-Bullying Prohibited under Florida Law


Source: Internet Business Law Services


Bullying and, in particular, cyber-bullying is becoming a frequent practice among the American youth. Incidents are reaching such daunting results that state legislatures are rapidly adopting measures. For instance, Florida Legislature adopted an anti-bullying, including cyber-bullying, law on April 2008. The law is called "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act" (Fla. Stat. section 1006.147), named after Jeffrey Johnston, a 15-year-old boy who committed suicide after being the object of bullying, including Internet bullying, for two years. This new Florida law prohibits bullying and harassment of any public K-12 student or employee, and requires public schools to adopt measures to protect students and employees from the physical and psychological effects of bullying and harassment.


The Florida Senate, quoting to a report by SafeYouth.org, stated that "bullying behavior can involve direct attacks, such as hitting, threatening or intimidating, maliciously teasing or taunting, name-calling, making sexual remarks, and stealing or damaging belongings, or more subtle, indirect attacks such as spreading rumors or encouraging others to reject or exclude someone." It also stated that bullies are four times more likely than non-bullies to be convicted of a crime by age 24, with 60% of bullies having at least one criminal conviction.

Thus, this Florida law is considered a safety measure for schools and the Florida community. Section 1006.147, titled "Bullying and Harassment Prohibited," proscribes bullying and harassment in Florida's K-12 public educational institutions; in any educational program or activity conducted by an educational institution; or through the use of data or software accessed by a computer, computer system, or computer network of a K-12 public educational institution. Hence, using the school e-mail network, even while at home, to bully or harass other students is prohibited by this Florida law. The law expressly defines "bullying" as the act of systematically or chronologically inflicting physical harm or emotional distress on a student. The law also provides examples of conducts that may result in bullying:

1. Teasing;
2. Social exclusion;
3. Threat;
4. Intimidation;
5. Stalking;
6. Physical violence;
7. Theft;
8. Sexual or racial harassment;
9. Public humiliation; or
10. Destruction of property.

Harassment is defined as any verbal, written, or physical conduct that threatens, insults, or dehumanizes public school students or employees. Written harassment includes those committed through electronic means and the use of computer software. The conduct must be sufficient to place the student or employee in reasonable fear of harm against him or his property; and sufficient to interfere with the student"s school performance, opportunities, or benefits. The Florida anti-bullying law also penalizes those who induce or coerce others to bully or harass public school students or employees. Students, parents, volunteers, or employees that promptly and in good faith report bullying acts will be exempted from civil cause of actions against them.

The Florida anti-bullying law also mandates each school district to adopt a code of conduct against bullying and harassment by December 1, 2008. This code of conduct must protect all students regardless of their status under the law but the school districts are authorized to create student categories when drafting their school policies. In any event, the code of conduct must include a general prohibition of bullying and harassment; a definition of these terms; an expected student conduct and behavior; description of the consequences of falsely and wrongfully accusing others of bullying and harassment; the procedures for reporting bullying and harassment incidents, including anonymous reports; a procedure for the prompt investigation of these acts; a procedure to determine whether the acts are within the district school system; a procedure to notify parents and criminal authorities; a procedure to refer victims to counseling; among others.

The Florida Department of Education affords an additional protection for victims of bullying and harassment by, first, monitoring district school activities, including transportation, through permanent collection of data (24 hours a day, 7 days a week); and second, enhancing the School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting System (SESIR). This program allows district schools to report bullying activities and conducts an annual database management workshop.

The Florida anti-bullying and harassment law is definitely well received and the first intent to control youth behavior, including Internet behavior. Yet, questions arise as to the consequences incurred when violating this law. It is not clear under the text of this law whether its violation merely includes school disciplinary actions or whether subsequent criminal actions will be sought. This is an important question whose answer is yet to come.

Law and sociology have been close partners for centuries; another important question is where are the parents parenting? A sociological answer to this question might take us to the genesis of most bullying and harassment problems which is essential for state legislatures and school officials.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Impact of Cyberbullying


Victims of cyberbullying may experience many of the same effects as children who are bullied in person, such as a drop in grades, low self-esteem, a change in interests or depression. However, cyberbullying can seem more extreme to its victims because of several factors:

Occurs in children’s home. Being bullied at home can take away the place children feel most safe.

Can be harsher. Often kids say things online that they wouldn’t say in person, mainly because they can’t see the other person’s reaction.

Far reaching. Kids can send e-mails making fun of someone to their entire class or school with a few clicks, or post them on a Web site for the whole world to see.

Anonymity. Cyberbullies often hide behind screen names and e-mail addresses that don’t identify who they are. Not knowing who is responsible for bullying messages can add to a victim’s insecurity.

May seem inescapable. It may seem easy to get away from a cyberbully by going offline, but for some kids not going online takes away a major place to socialize.

Source: National Crime Prevention Council.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sue Scheff: Web Friends Over Real Friends




“All of these kinds of social worlds helps develop their ability to interact with people, and particularly, to do things like post a comment that might be a little controversial for example, and see what kind of reactions they get.”

– Larry Rosen, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

Like many teens, Matt has tons of friends online. “My buddy list is full. It over 200 people in there. And it’s just all these people that have the same interests as me that I would have never met, if I just, you know, that don’t go to my school. They’re just around the country.”

According to a recent online survey, one in four kids say their internet friendships are equally or more important than friends met in person.

“Yeah, I mean, like. Cause of the internet, I’ve, you know, that’s where I found my social group, and I really kinda found out about myself,” agrees Matt.

But are these relationships healthy?

Experts say, on one hand, they give kids an opportunity to try out different personalities without consequence. “Kids are struggling to find out who they are. And who they are is in a lot of dimensions,” explains Professor of Psychology, Dr. Larry Rosen. “Who they are personally, what their skills are, but mostly it’s who they are in a social context, and that’s why these online social worlds like MySpace, all of these kinds of social worlds helps develop their ability to interact with people, and particularly, to do things like post a comment that might be a little controversial for example, and see what kind of reactions they get.”

But, on the other hand, Rosen says, like most things in life moderation is key.

“Because being in the virtual world, being in front of a screen all day is not sufficient for good teenage socialization. You need to have a combination of a screen life, and a real life,” he explains. “And so a good parent will make some sort of boundaries that say okay, you can have screen time, but after a certain amount of screen time you have to have some real outdoor time. Or some real communication time. And you can’t talk on the phone, it has to be face to face. You have to come talk to me, you have to go outside and hang out with some friends – you have to do something that’s in the real world.”

Tips for Parents

Most adults have an Internet-usage history that dates back no more than ten to fifteen years. But those growing up since the emergence of the Internet potentially could have their entire lives documented online. New parents can post online baby books for under $15 annually. Images once stored on a bookshelf at Grandma’s house can be available to the world without password protection. With Bunk1, the same can be said for memories of summer camp.

It is increasingly common for teens to have their own website. Many of these sites have a “blog”, where the owner can post running thoughts on a daily basis. Although some sites, like MySpace.com and LiveJournal.com, require users to be registered, membership is free and easy to obtain. If your child has a blog, encourage them to protect their blog so that can be read only by the friends and family they approve. Consider the following …

Only 10 percent of families posting their baby’s photos have the site protected with a password.
Many employers and colleges will enter a prospective applicant’s name in an Internet search engine to research their web presence.

Remind your child that not only friends and strangers, but also his or her parents, will be reading the blog.

Regularly monitor your child’s blog and immediately discuss any uncomfortable or inappropriate posts with your child.

It is very important to discuss various aspects of safety with your child, including the Internet and availability of information. Cite modern advances that have changed the world within the child’s lifetime and memory. Explain to your child that while your embarrassing photos and writings might be stored in a closet, an attic or even at Grandma’s home, the electronic versions your child might have will be much more accessible to anyone interested. Also, keep the following in mind:

If you do opt to post family photos online, be sure to place the images on a secure, password-protected site.

Search for names on an Internet search engine with your child to show him/her the possible places his/her information could be found.

Show your child how far e-mails, especially jokes and chain messages, can travel.

Monitor your child’s web usage and posts. An online diary usually does not have the same rights to privacy as a bound, handwritten journal because the online version is accessible to members of the public outside your home.

Know what posts, if any, you are able to delete from your child’s blog.

References
A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety
Pew Internet and American Life Project
Kids Help Phone

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teens and Their Internet Addiction


In today's society, the Internet has made its way into almost every American home. It is a well-known fact that the web is a valuable asset for research and learning. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous place for teens. With social networking sites like Myspace and Friendster, chat rooms, instant messaging, and online role-playing video games, our children are at access to almost anyone. Sue Scheff, along with Parent's Universal Resource Experts™, is tackling the dangers of the web.

Keeping tabs on our teens' online habits doesn't just keep them safe from online predators. More and more parents are becoming wary of the excessive hours their teens spend surfing the web, withdrawing from family, friends and activities they used to enjoy. Internet Addiction is a devastating problem facing far too many teens and their families. While medical professionals have done limited research on the topic, more and more are recognizing this destructive behavior and even more, the potential mental effects it can have.

Though the web is a great place for learning and can be safe for keeping in touch, it is important that families understand the potential risks and dangers to find a healthy balance between real and virtual life.

The Basics: The Dangers of Teen Internet Addiction


It’s clear that, for teenagers, spending too much time online can really deter social and educational development. The Internet world is such that there is always something new to do and to distract one from one’s responsibilities. We all do it- take ten minutes here or there to explore our favorite gossip or sports site. There is nothing wrong with using the Internet as a tool for research, news, and even entertainment. After all, the World Wide Web is the world’s most accurate, up to date resource for almost any type of information.

But as the Internet evolves and becomes more tailored to the individual, it grows increasingly easier to develop a dependency on it. This is especially true for teens- a group that tends to be susceptible to flashy graphics and easily enticed by the popularity of social networks. In a sense, the Internet is the new video game or TV show. It used to be that adolescents would sit in front of the TV for hours on end operating a remote, shooting people and racing cars. Now they surf the web. Teens are impressionable and can at times be improperly equipped to handle certain situations with a degree of reason and rationality. And although they may have good intentions, they might be at risk of coming across something inappropriate and even dangerous.

Learn more at Wrapped in the Web.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sue Scheff: Don't Be Cyber Bullied!




Cyber Bullying is social terror by technology ... and it’s on the rise.

When a kid of any age, up to 18 is threatened, humiliated, harassed, or humiliated via use of technology --- this is Cyber Bullying. It’s harmful and it’s dangerous!

This social online terror is used through e-mail, cell phones, pager text messages, instant messaging, Web sites, online personal polling Web sites. It is done by kids deliberately and repeatedly and is used by an individual or group with the intention of harming other kids and teens.

It’s cool to use technology to talk to your friends and make new ones. While most kids use the Internet responsibly, others are using all of this technology to terrorize and Cyberbully!

Cyber Bullying is the perfect way for bullies to remain anonymous.

Cyber Bullying makes it easier for bullies because they are not face to face with their victim(s.)


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sue Scheff: SAFE EYES - Online Protection for Your Kids

Safe Eyes 5.0 Parental Control Software Receives Parents’ Choice Award

Safe Eyes™ 5.0, the latest edition of Internet parental control software from InternetSafety.com, has earned a 2008 Parents’ Choice Approved award from the Parents’ Choice Foundation. The award is the latest in a series of honors for the parental monitoring software, including two consecutive Editors’ Choice awards from PC Magazine.

“If you think your family’s safety requires Internet filtering and monitoring, whatever level, this program provides an array of options to get it done,” said the Parents’ Choice Foundation in its recognition of the Safe Eyes product. The 30-year-old foundation is the nation’s oldest non-profit program created to recognize quality children’s media, including books, toys, music and storytelling, software, videogames, television and websites.

“This commendation from the Parents’ Choice Foundation reflects the growing concern that parents have over their children’s Internet use as well as the wide range of control choices that Safe Eyes offers,” said Forrest Collier, CEO of InternetSafety.com. “Every child and every family is different, so flexibility is essential. The product lets parents decide how their children use the Internet.”

Safe Eyes is a comprehensive program that enables parents to easily block objectionable websites, control Internet use by length of time as well as time of day and day of the week, block or record instant messenger chats, and block peer-to-peer file sharing programs that may expose children to dangerous material. It also allows parents to limit email use to certain addresses, and receive alerts when children post inappropriate or personal information on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.

The software provides broader controls than any other filtering product, including the ability to define which websites will be blocked by category, URL and keyword; receive instant alerts about inappropriate online behavior by email, text message or phone call; and remotely change program settings or view reports from any Internet-enabled computer.

Safe Eyes is also the only program of its kind that can be used in mixed Mac/PC households. A single $49.95 annual subscription covers up to three Mac and/or PC computers with the ability to customize settings for each child and enforce them on any machine. The product’s website blacklist is updated automatically every day, eliminating the need for manual updates. Safe Eyes can be downloaded at http://www.internetsafety.com/affiliate/default.php?id=1044&p=/safe-eyes/.

All Parents’ Choice Awards winners are posted to the Parents’ Choice Foundation website (http://www.parents-choice.org/).

About InternetSafety.com
Established in 1999, InternetSafety.com specializes in providing Internet safety solutions. Its flagship software, Safe Eyes, is the two-time recipient of the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award and was rated as the #1 parental control solution by America’s leading consumer advocacy publication. The company’s Safe Eyes and EtherShield products are providing online protection for PCs and Macs in homes, businesses and schools across more than 125 countries.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Internet Safety and Your Children


This Press Release is posted with the permission of InternetSafety.com - Visit Internet Safety for more vital information to protect your children online.


10 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe On Social Networks

ATLANTA, GA — May 28, 2008 — June is Internet Safety month. With hundred of millions of teens, pre-teens—and adults—around the world using social networking sites, there’s no better time for parents to be aware of the fun, the benefits, the powerful attractions, and the potential risks that MySpace, Facebook and other similar sites offer their children.

InternetSafety.com, the recognized leader in Internet safety solutions, has assembled a list of practical tips parents can use to ensure a safe networking environment for kids:

Show Interest — Ask questions about how your child’s preferred social networking site or sites work. Kids are generally happy to demonstrate their knowledge if you show genuine interest. You can even ask your teen to show you how to set up your own social networking site—a great way to visit your child’s page and see what’s been posted there.


Encourage Instinctive Responses — Kids often can instinctively do the right thing, which makes them their own first defense against those who may take advantage online. Encourage your children to avoid contact with people they “feel funny about.” Tell them to not reveal anything online they would not want a stranger to know. Limit the posting of pictures and remind them that once something is placed online, it can never be taken back.


Know Your Kids’ Passwords — If your child changes his or her password suddenly and refuses to share it with you, that’s trouble. Insist on knowing how to access his or her accounts—then keep their confidence by not sharing the information with their friends or siblings.


Set Hours for When Kids Can Access Social Networks — Late nights are the favorite time for predators to seek out their adolescent prey. Set firm limits not only for the time of day, but also the total amount of time, that your children may access social networking sites.


Be Aware of Alternate Access Points — Kids don’t have to access their social networks at home. Libraries, friends’ houses, even cell phones make the Internet easy to reach today. Keep up with what’s happening on your child’s social networking page and be aware when changes have been made despite the lack of access from home.


Exercise Your Parental Right to Supervise — There’s a difference between being snoopy and ensuring safe activity. You don’t have to read every last word of a personal message your son or daughter sends to a friend. But you do have the right—and the obligation—to see who your kids are talking to, and to know the general subject matter.


Check for Photos — By clicking on the Windows “Start” button, you’ll find the “Search” tool. Click on “Pictures, Music or Video,” the box next to “Pictures and Photos,” and finally “Search”. Ask your child to identify any photos of strangers, or any other pictures you find questionable.


Install Filtering Software — PC products like Safe Eyes allow parents to block or record Instant Messenger chats, limit email use to prescribed addresses, block objectionable Web sites (including peer-to-peer file sharing programs that often expose kids to inappropriate material), and receive alerts when kids post personal information on social networking sites.
Watch for CyberBullying — Encourage your children to tell you immediately if they are being harassed online. Children also need to know that it is not acceptable to be a party to cyberbullying—or to remain silent when they know others are being harassed.


Visit StopCyberBullying.org or StopBullyingNow.hrsa.gov for excellent tips and information.


Don’t Lecture — Finally, if you should find reasons for concern, don’t browbeat, insult or condescend to your child. Have a discussion about values and why they are important. Respect your child but be firm. And most of all, lead by example. Parents have a powerful ability to influence their child’s behavior—and nothing is more powerful than someone who not only talks values, but lives them.


“Parents should never feel that their level of involvement in their child’s social network activity is excessive. Since 1998, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline has logged over 33,000 tips about children being enticed online for sexual acts,” said Shane Kenny, President and COO of InternetSafety.com. “Better that the parent error on the side of intrusion, rather than bear the consequences of doing nothing.”


About InternetSafety.com
Established in 1999, InternetSafety.com specializes in providing Internet safety solutions. Its flagship software, Safe Eyes, is the two-time recipient of the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award and was rated as the #1 parental control solution by America’s leading consumer advocacy publication. The company’s Safe Eyes and EtherShield products are providing online protection for PCs and Macs in homes, businesses and schools across more than 125 countries.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Keeping your kids safe online


On Tuesday, June 17th Dr. Paul featured Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation Defender. If you are a parent of a child that surfs online - this is an important Podcast for your to listen to.



Michael Fertik is a repeat Internet entrepreneur and CEO with experience in technology and law. After law school, he clerked for Chief Judge Danny J. Boggs of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. His company, Reputation Defender, helps parents to know what is online about their children, and provides services to find and eliminate potentially dangerous or damaging content.




On this call, Michael discusses some important information and resources to help parents become more proactive about knowing what is out there about their family, and doing something about it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sue Scheff: Bullies in Cyberspace


By http://www.education.com/

Everyone remembers the school bully in their lives. Maybe they stole your bike, or bloodied your nose, or spread a nasty rumor that had you hiding out in the bathroom. Whatever they did, they made life miserable. But as bad as they were, you could identify them, predict their behavior and try to steer clear.

Unfortunately for your kids, that may no longer be the case. That’s because bullies can still be on the school grounds, but they can also be in cyberspace, lurking where no one can see them.

Cyberbullying is on the rise, and the bad guys are not always who you think. A bully can be a girl spreading rumors about a former friend, or a student trying to get revenge on a teacher who gave them a bad grade, or a group of kids playing a prank on an unsuspecting schoolmate. Cyberbullying is a complex beast. Often it starts with otherwise nice kids from nice families who go online to “have a little fun” at someone else’s expense. But it can get out of hand very quickly.

Bullies are resourceful. With all the high-tech tools out there, they can take their pick from cell phones, pagers, websites, blogs, chat rooms, IMs, or emails. They can go on a site and invite other people in to help bully their victim – by asking them to comment on their picture. They can create a webpage that looks like it belongs to the person being bullied, but is malicious. They can enter an email address and have their victim spammed with messages from websites they’ve never visited. They can put up embarrassing pictures, or even use a tool like Photoshop to adjust a picture and make it look different.

Read entire article here: http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Ed_Bullies_Cyberspace_2/

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Hand in Hand Parenting


Hand in Hand (formerly Parents Leadership Institute) helps parents acquire the skills they need to build and rebuild close connections with their children. We also encourage parents to build close connections with other parents, so they are able to learn and share with others, and work together to build a healthier community.

Visit www.handinhandparenting.com

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sue Scheff: Shoulder to Shoulder, Raising Teens Together



Is your teen pushing your buttons?Not sure how to handle it?


We're here to help you make the most of your relationship, stay ahead of the game and find common ground with your teenager. Shoulder to Shoulder is dedicated to making your job easier by connecting parents and caregivers and sharing the insights of those who have been there before. From written resources and a Blog for parents of teens to relevant research and parenting tips, we hope you find our resources useful as you navigate the teen years with your child.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Internet Predators Target Teens with Depression


By Johanna Curtis


Internet Predators Target Teens with Depression, Acne and Mental Illness

Bipolar, Acne, Depression, Chronic Illness? Your Teen May be More Vulnerable

Net predators mostly target vulnerable teens. Find out which teens are most vulnerable and how to protect them. Acne, depression, bipolar put teens at risk.

It’s not our youngest children, but our teens that are most at risk from internet predators. So say Janis Wolak, JD, David Finkelhor, PhD, Kimberly Mitchell, PhD and Michele Ybarra, PhD, at the Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire. In a study entitled “Online Predators and Their Victims: Myths, Realties and Implications” published in the February/March 2008 issue of American Psychologist, the researchers reveal that it’s vulnerable teens rather than younger children who are the targets of predatory adults. The journal is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

In opposition to popular opinion, adult predators are not posing as teens to attract very young children and they don’t generally abduct or rape children. Instead the study showed that most predators didn’t hide their adult status, only their motivations, and that teens in particular are their intended victims.

In these scenarios they attempted to gain the trust of a vulnerable teen and then seduced them into sexually motivated relationships or meetings.

A considerable amount of time may be spent courting these teens who are often from difficult family backgrounds or vulnerable circumstances. Any teen might be vulnerable but teens with chronic illness, teenage acne, physical disability, bipolar disorder, depression, body image concerns and eating disorders are at particular risk.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of teens who may easily be lured into the web of an online predator. Since the predator may grow to know the teen very well and spend plenty of time talking to them, the teen is often a willing participant in the sexual encounter, seeing it as a blur of romance, acceptance or sexual awakening.

Often the teens have been victims of sexual or physical abuse, marital discord and health problems. Teens also tend to be prone to risk taking in both real life and virtual settings.

One teen was lured into an encounter when he identified with the predator’s fabricated struggle to find the best treatment for adult acne. In this case the teen was looking for advice on treating acne and he found it in this particular online predator.

This endeared the man to him and set the stage for a later sexual encounter. Thus it is possible that your teen starts out sharing a home recipe for back acne treatment and ends up in a scary situation!

In short- teens with low self esteem, body image, emotional and family problems that enjoy the thrill of taking risks are exactly they type of child that an online predator is hoping to find.

Three surveys were conducted by the researchers-two took the form of telephone interviews with 3000 internet users aged ten to seventeen (200o and 2005) and in the other 612 interviews were held with federal, state and local law enforcement officials in the United States (October 2001- July 2002).

The researchers emphasized the importance of the study: “To prevent these crimes, we need accurate information about their true dynamics," said Janis Wolak.

“The things that we hear and fear and the things that actually occur may not be the same. The newness of the environment makes it hard to see where the danger is."

Also important was the finding that social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace did not aggravate predator abuse. Instead teens who spent time talking online to strangers particularly about sexual topics were placed in the highest risk categories. "Most Internet-initiated sex crimes involve adult men who are open about their interest in sex," Wolak said. "The offenders use instant messages, e-mail and chat rooms to meet and develop intimate relationships with their victims. In most of the cases, the victims are aware that they are talking online with adults." "A majority of the offenders are charged with crimes such as statutory rape, that involve non-forcible sexual activity with adolescent victims who are too young to consent to sexual intercourse with adults," she said.

When children are discouraged from sharing personal details and being deceived online it does little to deter these problems the study revealed. Adults keeping constant tabs on internet activities did not prove to be the answer either.

Instead it is suggested by the researchers that parents should spend time teaching teens about the risks associated with certain types of behavior.

This means that parents should be having open and honest discussions about romantic or sexual relationships/encounters with an adult. The risks and patterns inherent in online relationships should be pointed out to the teen without making him/her feel judged. Unfortunately this is often easier said than done.

These families often have considerable communication difficulties already and the teens may not feel respectful or trusting towards their parent or caregiver. In this case other sources could be found that could help provide information to the teen.

The study also revealed that adults do not pretend to be teens very often (5% of crimes committed involved an adult impersonating a teen). Seventy-five percent of victims who met a predator did so on more than a single occasion.

Predators are not usually violent and do not generally force their victims into sexual behavior, instead they attempt to court them into making the decision for themselves. In the mind of the predator this relieves them of some of the responsbility for their crimes. He/she does not seem to consider the naivete or inexperience of the average teen.

It also appears that teens who have been involved in risky online activities reveal that they have received sexual offers over the internet. Risky activities might take the form of spending time talking to or e-mailing strangers, talking about sex with strangers or being antagonistic or nasty to people online.

Homosexual teen boys are at special risk say researchers. This is because they are unsure of their sexuality. One quarter of crimes committed involved boys who were gay or questioning their sexuality.

The best thing parents can do is maintain consistent open communication with their teens about their online activities. If a teen seems secretive about his/her online activities then investigate by searching their computer for any e-mails, chats, instant messages or other risky online activities.

Do not feel as though you are breaching your teen’s privacy. Young boys and girls do deserve some private time and activities, but in this case some well-timed “snooping” might save a life so if you feel at all uneasy don’t hesitate to try to uncover your teens internet habits.

The entire article may be found at: http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/amp632111.pdf