Is it EVER going to get easier?

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I am sitting here during my lunch hour at work contemplating how my husband and I are going to deal/handle yet another “drama” with our daughter Olivia. Just when I think there’s hope, the mask comes off and here comes reality looking at me in the face. So, I decided to type up a contract that basically lists what she is grounded from, lists why she’s grounded and how she can get all her privileges back. One of the items on the list was that I decided to turn off Olivia’s phone until her father and I see changes in her and that she is focused on what’s important, like school!  I understand she’s a “typical teenager” but, after a while, that phrase just doesn’t cut it anymore. That excuse has been overused. I am now ready for the phone call from her as to why her phone was turned off and of course “why”? I have to get ready for yet another battle of “raising teens”.

I am hoping this “contract’ will help Olivia get back on track. She has too many “distractions” and its my job and her dad’s to eliminate them and get her focused.

I wish there was a book that could give you the answers whenever we had issues with our teenagers because raising them is not getting any easier as they get older!

So parents of teens, I ask you.. “Is it EVER going to get easier?”

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Raising Teens Blog Moves

We now have a new web address that will allow us to do more on our site….Please visit raisingteensblog.com!

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Young Teens posting “Am I Ugly?” Videos

Can it be true? Can our young teens have such low self esteem that they are posting videos asking YouTube users to comment on their appearance?

Yes. It’s true and it’s horrifying. There’s a growing trend of teen and tween girls taking to the Internet to broadcast concerns about their looks — and asking strangers to weigh in on these insecurities. These girls look right at the camera and ask, “Am I Ugly?” Click here to see the video.

The Huffington Post points out:  A simple search turns up pages upon pages of similar clips, entitled things like “Am I Ugly?” “Am I Ugly Or Pretty?” “Am I Ugly, Be Honest” and “Am I Pretty Or Not?” One video, posted in December of 2010 has gotten over 3.4 million views and 92,000 comments.

As you would expect, some of the comments are brutal.

As a parent, I see how  fragile kids are at this stage. It’s during the teen years that our kids often care more about what their peers think than their parents. I’ve noticed tons of teen girls post photos of themselves all dolled up and in a sexy pose on their Facebook pages…setting up the stage for others to write…”beautiful” or “gorgeous” under the post. What’s with that?

Some bloggers have taken up the cause, asking YouTube to shut down the “Am I Ugly?” videos. But I think as long as social media exists, teens will use it for validation and open themselves to harsh critics.

What do you think the role of parents is in situations like this?

 

 

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Watchdog over Kids’ Cellphones?

My husband recently sent me this article on  software that will monitor your teen’s where about, calls, texts, etc. I found it fascinating and wanted to share it with all of you. I’m not sure what your teen would think of this, but I can tell you my daughter would think I am invading her privacy. However, like the parents in the article state, it’s our jobs as parents to protect our children. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Software keeps dogged watch over kids’ cellphone activity

By Nicole Brochu, Sun-Sentinel, Staff writer 4:25 p.m. EST, January 14, 2012

When Matthew and Angela Sima bought their middle-schooler her first cellphone, it came with a wake-up call. A stranger started sending their little girl unsolicited text messages.

So, the Jupiter couple took a proactive step: they turned to parent monitoring software to track their daughter’s cellphone activity. Just like computer monitoring software, which became all the rage once the personal computer proliferated in American homes, cellphone monitoring software for parents is growing in popularity in a world where the average teenager has a cellphone within reach 24/7.

Using My Mobile Watchdog in the three years since, the Simas can not only monitor the texts, emails and photos sent or received, the applications downloaded and Internet searches performed on their daughter’s phone, but they can block applications and control the times she uses the phone. Even better, the Simas said, they get instantaneous alerts whenever contact is made by or to a phone number not on a pre-approved list.

“There’s no such thing as privacy in our family,” Angela Sima told her daughter when she objected to the extra set of eyes. “Our job is to protect her.”

A 2010 Pew Research Center study found that 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have cellphones — up from 45 percent in 2004. More of these devices are smart phones, the high-tech variety with Internet access, media players and the amplified cyber-dangers that come with them. “Kids didn’t used to have smart phones. Now, they want a smart phone more than a laptop [computer] or a bike,” said Robert Lotter, CEO of eAgency Mobile Security, the makers of My Mobile Watchdog. “The smart phone market has increased the threat [to children] dramatically, so there is definitely an uptrend” in parents’ buying monitoring control products.

In a July 2011 study, the Family Online Safety Institute found that 25 percent of the parents surveyed used parental controls to monitor their kids’ cellphone use; 44 percent restricted kids’ ability to download games and applications; and 70 percent checked their kids’ cellphone for sent and received text messages. “Our kids are vulnerable. That’s why we protect them,” said Greg Schiller, a Special Victims Unit prosecutor for the Palm Beach County Sexual Predator Enforcement Program. “This kind of software allows parents to be there and make sure no one is taking advantage of their child.”

The idea, too, is to protect kids from themselves. “You hear so many stories about kids going off with the wrong crowd, or sending inappropriate pictures back and forth,” said Mae Belgrave, 33, a Boca Raton software developer and mother of three. “You think you know your kids, but they’re like totally different people when they’re around their friends. So, you just worry about them, and the cellphone gives them so much freedom these days.” Her 12-year-old’s phone has Mobile Spy, which allows Belgrave to keep up with her texts, phone calls and — thanks to a GPS tracker — movements.

“That’s a wonderful feature, to be able to check to see she went where she said she was going to,” said Belgrave, who is even more confident in her daughter’s trustworthiness after a year of seeing nothing amiss via Mobile Spy. “She’s responsible. We just wanted to take that extra precaution.”

Detective Rich Wistocki handles Internet crimes against children for a suburban Chicago police department and, as a private consultant, travels the country speaking to parents about how to avoid cyber-dangers. Topping his list of recommendations is My Mobile Watchdog, which is used not just by parents but by law enforcement agencies that have found it vital in tracking down predators and drug dealers. Wistocki credits the product with helping his department capture about 15 sexual predators and 50 drug dealers in the past three years.

“My Mobile Watchdog allows parents to be in their child’s life,” he said. “Other companies say they do what [My Mobile Watchdog] does, but I haven’t seen it.”

But there are plenty of competitors, mostly spyware companies such as Mobile Spy. Whether one is better than the other is up for the consumer’s interpretation, but there’s no question they offer different products. One of the biggest differences is in the spying. Spyware can be installed on anyone’s phone — a child’s, a spouse’s, an employee’s — without their knowing. My Mobile Watchdog is only for parental monitoring of kids’ phones, and a periodic notification is sent to the kids’ devices telling them they’re being monitored. Lotter said the difference is intentional, because he has a moral objection to spying on anyone, even children.

While some people may think such extensive monitoring sounds intrusive, experts say it’s a responsible, and legally viable, means of keeping close watch over kids, whether parents tell them or not. “One hundred percent,” said David Seltzer, a former cyber-crimes prosecutor and now a cyber-crimes defense lawyer in Miami. “I recommend it to all my clients.”

Stealth monitoring of such activity may be a technical violation of Florida’s wiretapping statute, Seltzer said, but it’s not prosecuted in such instances. “Unless the child is an emancipated adult, you can monitor their activity” on the cellphone without their knowing, he said. Whether parents should tell the kids they’re being monitored, he added, “depends on the child.” Belgrave, though, said she and her husband opted to tell their daughter about the spyware: “If she wanted to have a phone, that was going to be how it goes.”

No matter what monitoring device they use, it’s critical in today’s hyper-connected age that parents stay plugged in, said Mary McLaughlin, a cyber-security analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Computer Crime Center. “Parents need to make sure they are as involved as they can be in their child’s digital life,” she said. “They need to stay on top of what their child is doing.”

 

 

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What are teens being taught in school?

This video freaked me out? What’s going on in America’s schools?

Let me know your reaction to the video — scary, funny, weird, important?

Teens answer questions

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Is your teen’s messy bedroom killing you?

I can’t stand to look at my teenagers’ bedrooms. A mere glimpse in that direction puts me in a horrible mood and turns me into a nagging, screaming, nutcase!

I tell myself I’m going to punish my kids by leaving the piles of dirty clothes, used dishes and crumbled papers until they can’t stand to see them in their room anymore. But sometimes, I can’t stand it anymore…so I go in when they’re at school and straighten it up…just a little bit. I know, what you’re thinking…that I’m an enabler.

I’ve just stumbled onto an article in the Wall Street Journal that nails the dilemma I’ve been having: Bet you’ll love the title: When a Teen’s Bedroom Is Incorrigibly Messy, It’s Time for Extreme Parenting.

Here’s one tactic suggested by parenting expert Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute. He recommends saying, “I’ll take care of it.” Then, get the job done in some way that satisfies you but “creates problems for the kid,” Mr. Fay says. “Maybe you hire a neighbor kid to clean up.”

In another scenario in the article, one parent picked up all the clothes on her daughter’s  floor, stuffed them in two garbage bags and hid them in the attic. When her daughter arrived home from school to a bare bedroom, there was screaming, and shouting, ‘How can I live without my clothes?’ ” The mom required her daughter to earn her clothes back by doing chores.

My mom had her own tactic when I was growing up: When she couldn’t take it anymore, she would wake me up an hour earlier for school to clean my room. That meant the light would go on abruptly at 5:30 a.m. There’s nothing worse for a teen than waking up an hour early in the morning to clean their room!

One family sought help from Douglas Riley, a clinical psychologist, in getting their 14-year-old daughter to clean up her bedroom. Riley, who has worked with families for 30 years, suggested that since she wasn’t bothered by the dirty clothes all over her floor, perhaps the whole family could start using her room as a laundry hamper. Her attitude changed after her parents and younger brother started tossing dirty laundry into her room, including a few soaked and smelly T-shirts and socks

So parents, what strategies have you used? Or do you think the battle isn’t worth it and do you just shut the door to your teen’s room and live with the mess?

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Teens exchange Facebook passwords to show love

Apparently, the new equivalent to teen sex or showing love is sharing your Facebook password.

Why are teens sooooo trusting of each other?

The New York Times reported today that teenagers are sharing passwords for Facebook, Tumblr and/or other accounts in order to show their trust and affection for each other and to assure their boyfriend/girlfriend they have nothing to hide.

NYT reported Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco saying that sharing her password with her boyfriend is “a sign of trust.”  But it can backfire! Emily Cole, 16, a high school junior in Glastonbury, Conn., was a victim of vicious exploitation after her ex-boyfriend read an e-mail she sent to another student she had a crush on. He then spread the e-mail around the school, calling her a “pervert.”

Rosalind Wiseman, an author who studies how teenagers use technology, compares sharing passwords to sex – the pressure in teenage relationships to give up something important ultimately defines how much they love each other. “The response is the same: if we’re in a relationship, you have to give me anything,” Ms. Wiseman said to NYT.

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted a study back in Nov. 2011 that showed one in three teens online have shared their passwords with significant others or friends. That’s 30 percent of all teens with girls being more likely to share their information than boys.

We all know how quickly a boyfriend/girlfriend or just a friend can become a frenemy during the teen years…and how breakups can be ugly, especially when they play out on the Internet. I know my daughter has a few of her friends’ Facebook passwords and I can never understand WHY they give them to each other.

Bottom line: as a parent, you might want to caution your teen —  encourage him or her to make sure showing teen love (or friendship) by sharing a password is worth the price of sharing your privacy.

Readers, what do you think of this new precursor to teen sex? Is it just an innocent way for teens to show love? Do you think it can lead to disaster?

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