July/Aug. 2011 - Parents Admit Shortcomings When It Comes to Protecting Their Children on Social Networks
CF Special Report
According to the studies, over 69% of parents with children ages 10 – 17 say they are concerned about their children visiting social networking sites, with their biggest fears being, in order, contact from strangers, information being displayed online that shares their child’s physical location, postings that could tarnish their child’s reputation, and their child getting cyberbullied.
However, the data also shows that most parents do not take the proper precautions to ensure their child’s safety when visiting social networks.For example, even though 68% of parents believe that daily monitoring is a must because news on social networks spreads fast and needs to be resolved quickly, only 32% of parents say they actually monitor their child’s social networking activities every day, and 28% of parents admit they only occasionally, rarely or never monitor their child’s social networking activities.
Meanwhile, 66% of parents believe they should monitor all of their child’s Facebook activity including emails and chats, yet the most common monitoring technique stated—“friending” their child—does not allow the parent to monitor email, chats or many other activities where dangers could lurk. Even if a parent were to “friend” their child, it would be practically impossible and extremely time-consuming to monitor what all of their child’s friends are doing, especially since the average teenager has more 200 friends on social networks. Many parents don’t realize that the greatest danger posed to their child on social networks isn’t what their child does, but what others do to or say about their child.
“Almost all parents agree that they have a responsibility to look out for their kid’s safety and well-being while they’re on social networks, but there is a serious gap between what most parents believe is sufficient monitoring and what they are actually doing, which in most cases is far from sufficient,” according to George Garrick, CEO of SocialShield. “Our goal is to evaluate every friend request, every comment, every photo and all other activities regarding our customer’s children—including by all their friends, which typically number over 200—so that we can alert the parents if there’s anything suspicious. It’s ironic that so many parents insure their cellphones or protect their computers with anti-virus software, yet fail to properly protect their children from potential threats that can be both physical and psychological.”
Unfortunately, suicides by teens who have been cyberbullied on social networks are a fact of life today, as are incidents of predators stalking and contacting young teen girls, with such contact often leading to tragic outcomes. About half of young people have experienced at least some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center, which also found that cyberbullying victims are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide compared to youth who had experienced no cyberbullying.
Since using a social network essentially requires the use of your real name and identity, many people (younger, more vulnerable teens in particular) often post excessive amounts of personal data including their daily habits and locations, not realizing they are leaving a real-life trail of who they are, what they do, and where they can be found.
Other findings from the report include:
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April 18 - Is Your Tween Ready to Be Home Alone?
By Jody Johnston-Pawtel
There is an unwritten, unspoken "law" among social service and law enforcement professionals that no child 9 years old or younger should be left home alone – no matter how mature. Older children who are immature or irresponsible should also not be home alone.
By the age of 8, parents need to be teaching children skills in responsibility and independence. These skills make parenting easier and children misbehave less, make more responsible decisions and are more resourceful in solving problems they face when alone.
To prepare children for being home alone, teach them:
Before leaving a child home alone with younger siblings, consider these issues:
• When the youngest child is about 7 or 8 years old and the oldest is at least 13 years old, it is safer for them to be alone.
• How well do the siblings get along? Does one torment the other? If so, they shouldn’t be alone together without an adult present.
• How many children would the older sibling be watching? No minor should watch more than three or four children under the age of 10. Younger children (ages 11 to 13) should only watch one or two children who are older than toddlers.
• Children should be at least 13 years old to care for infants and need special training. They should know how to handle incessant crying without resorting to spanking or shaking, which many younger children will naturally do due to inexperience or lack of knowledge. Let these children help with the baby while the parent is present, to coach them before leaving them alone.
• No visitors. It’s too tempting to experiment when a peer is present. Also, the absent parent may be held legally liable if something should happen in their home, even in their absence.
• Depending on the neighborhood, children should stay inside. At the least, encourage them to stay on their own property where they have access to a phone to communicate with parents. If older children (13+) are allowed to go places, they should let the parent know where they will be. Parents also want to be sure there will be adult supervision and have a contact number to reach the child.
• No phone calls or limit all calls to 15 minutes so parents can reach the child.
• Decide whether the child is allowed to answer the phone. If the home has caller ID, the child can answer calls from familiar callers rather than not answer at all. Parents can also have a signal (two rings and they hang up) so child knows when to answer.
• Keep doors and windows locked, depending on the weather/climate, air conditioning and neighborhood safeness. Teach children what to do if someone comes to the door and what to do if it is a stranger. Not answering is the best policy. Children should also have a way to watch what the stranger does. If they act suspiciously, they should call the police.
• No cooking on the stove until they are experienced cooks, usually around age 13 if parents have been teaching and supervising them from about age 8 or so.
• Obvious things like no smoking, drinking or girlfriends/boyfriends.
If children act irresponsibly or are unwilling to follow these rules, they need to have a sitter for a brief period. Then get agreements and give them another chance to show they can be home alone safely.
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FEB. 2011 - How to Help When Your Child Is Struggling In School
By Dennis Garlick, Ph.D.
Because of this, it is important to recognize a child’s effort, even if the outcome is not what parents may have been hoping for. On the one hand, if a child’s efforts are recognized despite a lack of success, then the child is likely to continue to work hard and try to succeed. On the other hand, if hard work leads to limited success, and this limited success leads to no rewards, or even punishment, then there is no incentive to continue to work hard.
A better way is to say that a certain amount of money will be put toward the reward, based on how they perform at school. An A may be worth $50, and a B worth $25. Or, to really reward extra effort, the scale could be $50 for an A and $10 for a B. If certain subjects such as mathematics are perceived as being more important for a future career, greater rewards could be given for those subjects than other subjects. The important point is that there is an incentive to work hard even if the child thinks that this hard work will not necessarily result in an A.
However, there is another learning process that occurs in the brain, especially over childhood. This is a gradual process that prunes the neural connections in response to experience. It leads to a child’s ability to understand the world around them. Unlike the process responsible for memory, it takes much longer to occur, and depends on many examples or experiences.
This tells us that repetition of experiences can be crucial in childhood. If something is not understood, a child should not give up trying to understand it. Instead, more and more examples should be undertaken so that it can eventually be learned. Rather than concentrating on what a child is good at, it can be more important to concentrate on what he or she is NOT good at. Through increased experience and repetition, a child can become better at something that they are initially struggling with.
For instance, children will often complain that they will not need to use Pythagoras’ Theorem or the Quadratic Equation later in life. Ironically, they are often right in this claim. Parents themselves typically rarely use these formulas. It can then be difficult to convince children that it is important to learn formulas like these. What parents need to do is emphasize that a mathematics education is not important because of the specific formulas that are being taught; rather, these formulas are being taught so that children can use formulas in general. Many examples of the use of formulas in adulthood can then be given, whether it is a formula to calculate the passage of air over a wing, a formula to calculate the value of a stock based on its dividends, or a formula to calculate the expected sales of a new product. The essential point is that school is important not just for learning specific facts and formulas, but also for general abilities. These general abilities are often what will determine success in later life.
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NOV. 2010 - Bridging the Communication Gap Between School and Home
Now that your kids have settled into the school year, you may find that dealing with your child's education can sometimes be a bit unsettling. Whether it's a new year with a new teacher whose communication style leaves you wanting more or dealing with major issues from grades to behavior, having a solid working relationship with your child's school can be as critical as their daily attendance.
We live in a real-time society where instant access to grades via the Internet and to your children via cell phones is the norm. Parents are continually looking to bridge the gap between school and home.
"The reality is that teachers have so many students and so many constraints on their time that they simply cannot give an adequate amount of attention to communicating home to the child's parents," says Dr. Mike Papadimitriou, headmaster for the Academy of Science in Conroe, Texas. The key to success for parents, he says, centers along creating the appropriate and acceptable lines of communication with the school and with their child.
"The best way to keep abreast of what's going on at school is to get involved," says Dr. Marv Abrams, an adjunct educational professor for Argosy University, Orange County, and an educational professional with 20 years teaching and 14 years administrator experience. "Whether your child is young enough for you to volunteer in the classroom or whether you join the good old PTA, you're gaining access to knowledge about how the classroom and the school work and gaining access to school administrators that can be very useful for staying in tune with your child's education."
Another critical component to keeping your child out of trouble and focused on studies is to know your child's friends. "Parents should always be monitoring their child's friends," says Abrams. "Know who your children are hanging out with, texting and talking to on social networking sites and what they are doing with them. Kids are attracted to people just like them so if you find they hang out with a 'bad crowd' the reality is that they are the 'bad crowd' and you may need to intervene."
Kids who stay active are kids who stay out of trouble, both Abrams and Papadimitriou agree. Whether it's a school club, the band or athletics, the more time kids spend in the presence of an adult engaged in something positive, the better off they'll be.
When your child faces trouble, socially or academically, staying neutral is the key. "Parents can lose objectivity when it comes to their children. They send their children to us as their most prized possessions and can forget that their children, like us as administrators, sometimes make mistakes. Nobody is perfect -- the goal should be to focus on the problem at hand and correcting the situation, not on identifying blame with either the child or the school," says Papadimitriou.
While many parents consider themselves as much a friend to their child as a parent, setting clear boundaries for yourself is as important as getting involved. "Allow your child to work through the issue on their own," says Abrams. When they come to you with an issue, ask what they are doing about the problem and how they can resolve it. Offer advice that can help them work it out for themselves. Papadimitriou agrees and adds, "If that doesn't work, then you communicate with the teacher," he says.
If the issue is academic, Abrams recommends getting to know the learning environment better. "Ask the teacher how he or she is teaching the content standards and when they are teaching which subjects. Ask for additional work and/or resources to help support your child's learning. Stay focused on your child and not on telling the teacher how to run the class or how to work with other kids.
"Never criticize the teacher or school in front of your child," says Abrams. "It forces your child to choose between the authority of the school and your authority as a parent and only sets them up for further conflicts in the future. If you need to discuss an issue, you talk to the teacher without your child knowing. That gives you the opportunity to partner with the teacher to find a solution and sets your child up for success in the future. It also sets you up to be able to reinforce the work the teacher is doing."
"While a child is never expected to adjust to an abusive situation," says Papadimitriou, "sometimes children just have to learn to adjust to different ways of doing things and to different personalities. The less critical and the more cooperative you are as a parent, the more positive impact you can have on your child's education."
– Source: ARA Content
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JULY 2010 - Why Kids Struggle to Learn, and What Parents Can Do
A CF Special Report
A math and science tutor for many years and co-founder of the online tutoring service Virtual Nerd, Leo Shmuylovich recommends that parents first observe their child to assess the problem. “Parents are in a unique position – they can sit down with their child, one-on-one, and devote extra time at home to understanding their child’s needs.Teachers in a busy classroom don’t always get that opportunity or it can take longer in school to identify the student’s need,” says Shmuylovich.
Summer provides quiet time for parents to work with their children on these issues.
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