Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tips on Keeping Tabs on Your Child's Internet Use

Monitoring a child's internet use is often easier said than done, with many parents finding themselves overwhelmed at the prospect of monitoring online activity. Adolescents and teens are increasingly keeping their internet history private and protected, while outdated filters and parental controls are unable to keep up with the never-ending array of dangerous online destinations. While keeping a child's internet use monitored and secure is a serious challenge, there are several resources available that can help alleviate the pressure of this important task. Use the following tips to ensure your child stays safe and secure online. 

Utilizing System Controls

While filters and controls are not foolproof when it comes to scanning internet content, they can be used to limit time spent playing games and browsing the web. These controls are built-in to many of the world's most popular operating systems and web browsers, making it easy for parents to set limits for their children. While certain web browsers, such as Chrome, can limit the content acceptable for certain users, it is important to understand that no filter is entirely secure. As such, parents need to take addition steps to keep their child from viewing inappropriate content online. 
Consider Monitoring Software

Monitoring software is a touchy subject, as some parents like the power it provides, while others find it intrusive. If you opt to use monitoring software, is best to inform your child of its presence, this will ensure he or she is aware of the surveillance, and does not feel their trust has been violated. 
Providing Physical Surveillance

The easiest way to ensure compliance with your rules for internet use is to be present when the computer is in use, that way you can easily divert attention for unwanted online destinations, and work to ensure your child is protected. This also gives you the power to turn off the machine at any time. 
Participating in Social Media

Social media networks are one of the web's most popular destinations, and many children and teens have accounts on these platforms. While there is nothing wrong with these systems, per se, you need to have access to who your child is speaking with online. Many parents provide a simple ultimatum: full parental access in exchange for social media usage rights. 
Establishing Clearly-Defined Limits

Kids can easily spend inordinate amounts of time online, and rather than simply accepting this as a fact of life, work with your kids to establish time limits in advance, and with many internet service providers, like Bell internet service, you can have a timer set to shut your computer down at a certain time. This will ensure other areas of a young child's life do not suffer because of too much internet use.

Author Bio 

Melisa Cammack has been freelance writing for a number of years, and loves to write parenting, self-help, health, and travel articles. She is a Seattle native, but is currently living in Western Australia with her husband and their three (soon to be four) children.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Teaching Your Children to be Good-Hearted and Charitable

Thanksgiving has passed, which means you're thinking about putting up a tree, buying presents or planning the next big holiday meal. It also means that volunteers will soon huddle outside stores in hopes that you'll donate a little bit of money as you pass them by to do some grocery shopping, or you’ll get a knock on your door from a volunteer from the local children’s hospital asking for donations. As you drop some coins into the canister or pull out your check book, you're helping someone in need and setting a good example for your young children, but this isn't the only way to teach charity to impressionable minds. Consider this list when you need inspiration.

Take time to write thank-you notes

In the digital age, it seems like the written note is all but gone. However, this practice teaches your little ones some great lessons like taking time to personally connect with others, and it also teaches gratitude. Make time to remind your child what she has to be grateful for, and donating time to food banks or soup kitchens can further impress this lesson upon them. 

Honesty is always the best policy

 But it doesn't always come easily, you need to teach children to make it a habit, and you can do this with simple practices. For instance, ask your child whether you're lying when you stand up and say you're sitting down, because these examples clearly illustrate lying and how confusing it is. If you're struggling with explanations, "Franklin Fibs" is a book that shows the consequences of lying.

 Making donations 

 Holidays offer plenty of ways to teach children compassion, and food drives are especially common around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but your local pantry will accept donations at any time during the year. Make shopping for goods to donate a fun activity with your child, and let her pick out her favorite foods to share with someone in need. Starting a family holiday tradition to choose a charity to give to every year is always exciting for children to be involved in, so have a family meeting to discuss which of the many charities to choose from, and get everyone’s opinion.

 Encourage working together 

 Of course there are loads of clich├ęs that express strength in numbers, but sometimes visuals do an even better job. Have your child break a single toothpick, and then hand them a whole stack of toothpicks and ask them to try again to break the toothpicks. She will see that she is unable to break them when they’re all together, so discuss with her why it’s difficult to break them together, and how it’s applicable to everyday life and encourage her to put the lesson into play with siblings and at school.

 Instilling generous behavior 

 Generosity is, perhaps, the most important lesson on this list. Every child seems to go through a stage where all he says it "mine" and you'll want to nip the behavior in the bud, and what better way is there to do that than to show how giving something to someone brings happiness? Simple tasks such as making their sister’s bed just because she forgot, or doing a kind service for a friend or sibling they were having a fight with has a big impact. Teaching them that a listening ear or a hug goes a long way.

 What lessons do you make sure to teach children?  

 This article was written on behalf of The Jason’s Hope Foundation, and for more information on Jason’s Hope, http://www.giveforward.com/jasonshope

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Easy Ways to Prevent Cyber-Bullying in this Internet Age

Cyber bullying has consistently shown to be one of the most dangerous elements of the communications revolution. Cyber bullying can cause depression, antisocial tendencies, and even suicidal thoughts in teens and children. 

What Is Cyber Bullying?

Cyber bullying is bullying that is performed over an electronic media device, such as a cell phone or Internet-accessible computer. A teen with a cell phone may not seem very threatening to parents, but to your child, they can be a merciless tormentor. Access to a teen's personal cell phone number or email allows social enemies to attack and slander the teen via email and text messaging.
This form of social attack is hard to guard against and very hard to trace, as teens are notoriously secretive about their personal lives and possessive of their belongings. However, there are some easy ways to make sure you shield your child against digital attacks by classmates. Here's how. 

Talk to Your Child

The importance of communication in the war against cyber bullying can't be overstated. To make sure your teen is protected, monitor their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. A teen's general sense of self can be easily shattered, so use positive reinforcement to build up their defense against bullying. Remind them that the opinions of others can't hurt them, and are only opinions.  

Understand the Technology Involved

Comprehension of digital technology has never been so important. Whether or not you own a mobile cell phone, it's crucial to understand what devices your teen uses and how often they use them. If you use family plans for your teen's cell phone, make sure you check how many minutes are being used and how many texts are sent. Excessive texts or minutes could mean conflict and suggest a potential online argument or bullying attack. 

Consider Restricting Electronics Use

While the restriction or cancellation of mobile phone and Internet privileges may seem extreme, the plain truth is that a teen can't be cyber bullied if they don't have access to cyberspace. Aside from the obvious benefits of getting a teen off the computer more often, dialing back computer and phone privileges will give the teen less of a chance to be cyber bullied and prevent him or her from receiving hateful or negative messages. This kind of treatment should only be used when you are certain the teen is being cyber bullied, however.

Author Bio

Lyndsi Decker is a freelance writer. She is also a mother of two and often blogs about parenting issues.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Is It Responsible to Let Your Daughter Play With Dolls?

We’re currently living in a time where gender roles are being challenged more frequently than possibly ever before. Almost every week, you’re likely to read an article or watch something on the television about gender discrimination and ways it’s perceived to be damaging our society. Recently, a Swedish toy store had to change their Christmas catalogue after they had been accused of sexism in recent years. The catalogue now shows girls playing with guns and boys nursing dolls in an attempt to redeem themselves after the offense they’ve apparently been causing in the past. But if companies have been under pressure to stop portraying such definitive gender roles, is it time that you thought about stopping your daughter from playing with dolls?

The Positives 

Although many say there are negatives to allowing your daughter to play with dolls, search suggests there are also many benefits that they could be getting from the toys. Studies have shown that playing with dolls help young girls to bond with their mothers, as well as learn about themselves. An investigation which followed a group of chimpanzees in the wild noted something very interesting, the young chimpanzees all used sticks as toys, the male chimps played games where they would hit each other and use the sticks to balance with. The young female chimps on the other hand cradled the sticks and pretended to feed them, much like a human child would do with a baby doll. Scientists who made the observations thought this may be proof that we are hardwired to play particular games as children based on our gender. If that’s the case, dolls may be more nurturing to your daughter than you may have originally thought.

The Negatives

Something that has been extremely contentious issue in recent times is the number of fashion dolls that are marketed at very young girls despite claims that they are grossly inappropriate for small children. Many criticisms have been targeted at fashion dolls; many parents say that the clothes they are usually dressed in are inappropriate, some say that the dolls promote a negative body image whilst others believe that they encourage a consumerist attitude in children who are far too young to even understand the concept. Although it has never been proven by science, many parents also believe there is a link between ultra-skinny fashion dolls and the rise of eating disorders amongst young girls and women over the past few decades. Whether or not this is the case, fashion dolls have attracted a large amount of negative press recently, yet they still remain one of the most popular children’s toys available on the market.


At the end of it all, only you can decide what you allow your daughter to play with, but it would be worth taking her opinion into consideration when making your decisions. It’s likely that most girls would play with dolls and most boys with toy cars if they were given a choice between the two: that’s not portraying negative gender roles, it’s just nature. The best thing to do would be to allow your child to play with what they want; denying them the toys that they are interested in so you can prove a point is likely to damage their development more than letting them play with a doll.