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Texting While Driving Still a Dangerous Mix
July 18th, 2011

A recent study says there is no evidence that the recent laws put in place have banned texting while driving; and none that indicates a reduction in crashes.

“Recent studies reported Thursday by the Governors Highway Safety Association say that at least one driver was reported to have been distracted in 15 percent to 30 percent of crashes, and cell phone use and texting increase the odds of car crashes.”

The GHSA study (PDF) suggests there is no evidence cell phone or texting bans have reduced crashes.

An estimated 6,000 people are killed and 500,000 people are injured annually because someone was texting, e-mailing or talking on a mobile phone while driving. As a precaution, and to prevent these kinds of situations from ever happening, parents can monitor their teens SMS messages and emails with WebWatcher Mobile on BlackBerry devices and SMS messages on Android devices to make sure they’re behaving appropriately on and off the road.

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Teenage Smartphone Use Triples in 2 Years
July 15th, 2011

A recent Consumer Reports article stated that “The number of teens who own smart phones has nearly tripled over the last two years, says a new study: About 4.8 million teenagers owned smart phones in April of this year, according to research firm ComScore; in April 2009, only 1.7 million teens owned smart phones.”

This explosive cell phone growth and other technology device usage increase alone make it all the more critical for parents to be cognizant of who and what their child is communicating and with whom. Parental controls and computer monitoring software like WebWatcher and WebWatcher Mobile make it possible for parents to track their child’s activity both on their PCs and on their Smartphones.

Quick Facts on Teen Cell Phone Growth:

  • Boston Globe, states that “currently, 28.7 percent of teenage mobile-phone users carry smart phones, and analysts expect the number to rise above 50 percent by next year, “
  • Nielsen released a study that found 55 percent of new mobile phone purchases by consumers were smart phones. That was up from 34 percent in 2010.
  • Teen study: Google’s Android operating system led the way with 36 percent of the teen smart-phone market owning Android-based phones, according to ComScore.
  • Apple iPhones followed with 29 percent
  • Research in Motion’s BlackBerry phones were third, with 23.8 percent.
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The Importance of Having that Talk: about Sex
July 11th, 2011

It is imperative to have open lines of communication with your children. If communication with your teen is a struggle especially during those turbulent teenage years, there are alternative ways for parents to at the very least have some reassurance in knowing that their teen is experimenting or are involved in sex at too young of an age. Parental controls and computer monitoring software like WebWatcher and WebWatcher Mobile make it possible for parents to track their child’s activity both on their PCs and on their Smartphones.

A public opinion survey from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy provides some important stats on trends here, which highlight the importance of having these open, preventative talks early on with your teens. With One Voice 2010, a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,008 young people (aged 12-19) and 1,000 adults (age 20 and older), found these:

Quick facts:

  • 46 percent of teens say parents influence their decision about sex while only 20 percent said their friends do.
  • 78 percent of teens say they have all the info they need to avoid an unplanned pregnancy but 34 percent said “it doesn’t matter whether you use birth control or not, when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen” and 49 percent said they know “little or nothing” about condoms and how to use them.
  • 80 percent of teens said it’s easier for them to delay sexual activities if they could have more honest conversations with their parents.
  • 63 percent of teens said that they don’t use contraception because they are scared their parents will know.
  • 18 percent of teens want more info about birth control and 9 percent want more info about abstinence.
  • 46 percent of teens and 73 percent of adults wish young people were getting more information about both abstinence and contraception rather than either/or.
  • 87 percent of adults and 93 percent of teens agree teens shouldn’t have sex until they are at least out of high school.
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How To Tell If Your Teen is Using or Dealing Drugs
July 8th, 2011

It’s baffling just how many young teens get sucked into using, and even selling drugs. This is especially daunting with all of the warnings and school drug free programs out there. According to a 2009 survey about teens and drug use from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about seven percent of 8th-grade students, 16 percent of 10th-grade students and 21 percent of high school seniors had used marijuana the month before the survey.

Tips on looking for abuse:

  • Take a closer look at changes in behavior and habits
  • Know your children’s friends
  • Look for missing items around the house i.e. money or valuables, etc.
  • Look for the wearing of new clothes or an expensive piece of jewelry
  • Spending less time at the house and with family
  • Keep an eye on their phone bill i.e. sudden increase in minutes or use a monitoring software like WebWatcher Mobile to see in coming SMS text messages or emails or PC monitoring software like WebWatcher to set up alerts with key words and phrases like drugs or “how to pass a drug test.”
  • Make these observations before confronting the child about your suspicions
  • Always keep the lines of communication open
  • Catching the problem earlier makes dealing with the issue easier
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Let’s Talk About Alcohol, Drugs, Sex and Facebook
July 4th, 2011

From a recent parenting article: “A few years ago an officer from the computer crimes unit did a presentation at Ellington High School. In a few minutes he was able to bring up an Ellington girl’s MySpace page, figure out her full name and where she lived by comments and info on the page and then went to an appraisal site where he could see what her house looked like and even where the bedroom was in the house.”
It’s not new news that children are very tech savvy these and children as young as eight years old are lying about their ages and making Facebook accounts! “Experts who study child behavior say parents can use Facebook to help teach their children about making good decisions. Research indicates that about 90 percent of all ninth grade students are on Facebook.”

 

Tips for parents on safeguarding their children’s online Facebook experience:

  • Do not allow children under age 13 on Facebook.
  • Get your own Facebook account.
  • Learn how to use the tools and the privacy settings
  • Ask your child to “friend” you. If they don’t want to, a red flag should go up.
  • Have your child limit their “friends” to real friends. It is not uncommon for teens to have hundreds even thousands of “friends.”
  • Kids should never “friend” teachers.
  • Give kids breathing room. If you are “friends” try to avoid replying to your child’s status updates and never post photos to your child’s page. Staying quietly in the background is the best.
  • Teach kids to protect their privacy and use those privacy settings as much as possible.
  • Communicate about the dangers and remind your child about reputations. Photos of playing beer pong do not help them get a job or get into a college. Using profanity can also damage the reputation.
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Let’s Talk About Alcohol, Drugs, Sex and the Internet
July 1st, 2011

There are a myriad of social networking sites available to kids these days. The best thing a parent can do is try to be informed about them and be involved with who their child is socializing with on these sites.

One of the very first things we learned when we were young was don’t talk to strangers. But the online world has a host of strangers, and the difficult challenge here is differentiating between friend and foe. Parental monitoring software like WebWatcher and WebWatcher Mobile can help parents ensure that safe socializing on your child’s PC is what is really happening.

According to the FBI the signs that your child might be at risk online:

  • Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night
  • You find pornography on your child’s computer
  • Your child receives phone calls from men you don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distance to numbers you do not recognize.
  • Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you do not know.
  • Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
  • Your child is using an online account belonging to someone else

The FBI suggests ways to minimize the chances of your child being victimized online:

  • Communicate and talk to your child about the dangers
  • Keep the computer in a common room
  • Use parental controls
  • Randomly check your child’s online account
  • Teach your child the responsible use of online resources
  • Teach your child to stay away from chat rooms
  • Teach them to never arrange a face to face meeting
  • Teach them to never upload photos of themselves to people they do not know
  • Teach them to never download pictures from an unknown source
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Tips on Keeping your Social Networks Private
June 27th, 2011

1. Talk to you children about their privacy settings. As school ends for summer children will be home more now to socialize on networking sites. Get to know who they’re socializing with online as well as off line. This makes it all the more important for parents to be aware of what is going on with their child’s social life; both online and offline. Communication with your child is always key, but parental monitoring software like WebWatcher and WebWatcher Mobile can help ensure that safe socializing on your child’s PC is what is really happening.

2. Disable all GPS/Locator Apps and Settings: This is helpful especially if you don’t want people to know your location. Don’t sign up for Google Latitude, which will allow friends insight into your locale.

3. Create an alternate email address for account sign-ups: If you don’t want to be found, sign up for your social networking sites with a secondary or alternate email address, so when people search for you based on the email in their contact list, they don’t find you. Change the default email to the alternate, new one. You may also consider using one email account when you sign up for sites in an effort to keep your social networking organized.

4. Go Invisible or block and group people you don’t want to talk to: Play with your settings! Most major chat clients will allow you to make yourself invisible or block specific individuals. Check out Facebook’s guide to blocking people for support.

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June is Internet Safety Month
June 24th, 2011

As graduation, the school year end, and the summer months draw near, the month of June also closes with a very important reminder of Internet Safety. June is the official month of Internet Safety! 

A recent Huffington Post blog brought up some important reminders as more children celebrate graduation and their summer months off from school and more on to technology and internet surfing to connect with friends and socialize during these off months, parents should take the time to broach the important topic of internet safety:

Quick topic starters:

1. Digital Citizenship

  • Online social behavior and skills
  • Online advocacy and empowerment of causes

 2. Digital Footprint:

  • What goes online, stays online
  • Privacy issues
  • One’s online reputation

 3. Online Risks:

  • Sexting and Cyberbullying (#1 by far!!)
  • Others (ads, mismanaging the digital footprint)

If communication with your teen is a struggle especially during those turbulent teenage years, there are alternative ways for parents to at the very least have some reassurance in knowing if their teen is experimenting or using drugs and alcohol or not. Parental controls and computer monitoring software like WebWatcher and WebWatcher Mobile make it possible for parents to track their child’s activity both on their PCs and on their Smartphones.

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Five Ways Parents Can Fight Facebook Depression
June 20th, 2011

The American Pediatric Association has recently released a report that describes the increase in Internet-related problems for preteens and teens. While the report shows some positive benefits of adolescent use of online social media, they site three worrisome problems: cyberbullying/online harassment, sexting, and Facebook depression.

Facebook depression, according to the report, is defined as “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression. As with offline depression, preadolescents and adolescents who suffer from Facebook depression are at risk for social isolation and sometimes turn to risky Internet sites and blogs for “help” that may promote substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, or aggressive or self-destructive behaviors.”

Psych Central identifies five simple things parents can do.

1. Spend more time—a lot more time—with your kids
2. Create a family tech-room
3. Get a strong Internet safety filter: WebWatcher has a powerful website monitoring and blocking functionality feature that will help to keep your child’s internet activity safe and secure.
4. Set curfews and time-limits
5. Rethink and restructure your family culture.

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Tips on How to Deal with Cyberbullying
June 17th, 2011

5 Essential Parenting Tips from experts who know
 
1. Make sure your kids know cyberbullying is wrong and why.

It is critical to frame how harmful cyberbulling can actually be. Parents should communicate and encourage their children to understand the perils of posting cruel information online and what how it is not the best way to handle a situation. Children “also tend to think that what happens digitally ‘doesn’t count’ and that digital abuse doesn’t hurt.”

2. Take an interest in your kids’ online behavior.
Today, children are far more tech savvy then their parents and it shows. Parents need to spend some time getting familiar with the new “playground,” the new “colloquialisms” of the new social world that their children are beginning to spend so much time in. Parents should get involved in their children’s online behavior: “make sure your kids know how you expect them to behave toward others online; ask them how they communicate with their friends digitally.”

 3. Check school policies on cyberbullying.
“Contact your child’s teacher or a school social worker or administrator and find out whether there is an official policy on cyberbullying. If there is one, read it and discuss it with your kids. If there isn’t a written policy in place, ask about how cyberbullying is handled and whether there are any plans to create an official policy.”
 

4. Set guidelines about cell-phone usage.
“Many parents give their kids cell phones, so they can stay in closer contact with them. But that’s typically not the reason kids want cell phones. Rather, kids use them to surf the Web, send text messages to friends, update their social-networking status, and share pictures and videos.

5. Use Parental Monitoring Software
Parental monitoring software like WebWatcher, and WebWatcher Mobile can help ensure that cyberbullying on your child’s PC is a non-issue. Check out this short video clip for more details:

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