Tag Archives: children

Does technology make parenting harder?

51a241c5ddd8b47e50aa3c59a964910a25464_640Does technology make parenting harder?  This is a question I struggle with every day.  But when I really stop and think about it, I have to say, “Yes! Technology does make parenting harder.”  Some may say it makes it easier too, but that’ s a topic for another day.

The Huffington Post came out with this article today about “How Technology Has Made Parenting Harder.”  Hold on, don’t go read it yet, let’s talk about some ways that this typical every day parent thinks technology makes parenting harder.

The dangers of technology 

Spams, cyber bullying, inappropriate content, stranger danger and viruses just to name a few of the dangers I worry about every time the kids get on the computer, smartphone or iPad.  One day I was letting the 6 year old watch what I thought was a “My Little Pony” video, and well it was and it wasn’t!  Good thing I was sitting right there to change the “channel” fast.   They want to video everything they do and share it with the world.  While I am thrilled at their creativity and self-confidence, I feel like I’m stifling them when I look into their pouty faces and say, “No baby sorry you can’t post that on YouTube.”   Which leads me to the next way that technology has made my job as a parent harder.

But everyone else does it!

The video is made and the children are ready to post it.  “No girls you can’t post that on mom’s work account.”  “Okay we will make our own! ” Which is followed by the discussion that you are too young to make your own according to (insert social media tool here ) rules.  “But other kids do it! My friends all have accounts!” Followed by more pouty faces, flounces and bounces to their room.  However, in a few years I’m sure that flounce and bounce will be followed by a text message, status update, tweet – or whatever it may be called in about 3 years – that “My mom is so mean!” or a similar type comment.  Which leads to the next way that technology makes parenting harder.

Gripes, moans, complaints, half -truths and untruths (lies) 

Now, I admit, I’m a “mean mommy” quite frequently, if that’s what it takes to get the job done. But do children really need one more place to complain about how horrible their life is since mom (or dad) made them do their homework or grounded them from this weekend’s fun?  But that’s just the sugar in the cupcake of all this bit$#ing and moaning.  Next is how mean their teachers are.  How they hate the kid next door. It graduates to making fun of someone because they are different  And, it snowballs from there into lies, cyber bulling and fighting online and off.

How else does technology make parenting harder? Oh let me count the ways . . .

  • Fighting to get homework and chores done.
  • Text talk instead of an actual conversation.
  • Headphones so they don’t even hear me when it is a real conversation.
  • Less exercise.
  • Demands for bigger and better technology/toys and honestly one of the kids sounds like a walking, talking commercial as she shares with me all the reasons I need to buy her X and X.

Now sure there are lots of advantages to technology too.  But we aren’t talking about those yet.  Maybe next week.

But I know for sure, that technology does make parenting harder for me. I have a 25 year old and a 6 year old.  There is a huge difference in how I have to parent now and how I parenting then.

What does all this mean?  It means I have to be a better parent.  I have to be more aware and I have to “step up my game.”  But hey if the kids can figure out my iPad I should be able to figure out how to be a better parent right?

What about technology makes parenting harder for you?


Are Instagram and Snapchat Safe For Kids?

camera wikipedia public domainSocial media networks are a dime a dozen today, and some of the most popular among teens may not be safe. Photo sharing sites such as Instagram and Snapchat make it easy for teens to share pictures, but don’t have enough safeguards to prevent inappropriate shots.

Instagram says you must be at least 13 to sign up for their site. Do they do a good job of enforcing this rule, or are they letting underage kids get in? Well, this depends entirely on the kid trying to sign up. It’s pretty typical for teens and tweens to be good at getting around the internet. Often, kids are the authority for their parents on how things work online, which can put you in a tight spot. Make sure to take some time to get comfortable with how online sites like these work, and don’t rely on kids to show you everything.

What are some of the dangers?

On Snapchat, users are told images will be deleted within 10 seconds, never to be seen again. This will give teens a false sense of security. No matter what any site says, it’s a good idea to keep this rule of thumb in mind: once it’s on the internet, it’s forever.

For example, not long ago Justin Bieber used Instagram to
Continue reading Are Instagram and Snapchat Safe For Kids?

‘Tis the Season for Phishing for Families

Hackers might not take a break from trying to find ways to steal your information and money, but it turns out they do follow seasonal trends. According to a report by Kaspersky Lab, in October, phishing attempts on social networks were down 10%, and they saw an increase in attacks on financial institutions or banks and on online shops. They say that’s an expected trend through the holiday season, based on data from last year.

Summer time bring attacks on kids

During the summer months and holidays, hackers target kids who are out of school and likely don’t know better than to click bad links on social networks. Kids are also more likely to over share private information online, making them a prime target for scammers. Most of the younger generation hasn’t yet learned to be skeptical of deals that are too good, and that can get them into serious trouble. Once school starts again, the phishing attempts via email slow down, while the hackers move toward more promising targets.

Holiday shopping online makes a tempting target for hackers

When the holiday season rolls around, Continue reading ‘Tis the Season for Phishing for Families

Do your kids need a safer email account? KidsEmail.org may be the answer

As parents we have been warned of the increasing risk of identity theft to our children, often because information is so easy to access. But there are also a number of other online dangers that parents need to address as our children use the Internet more frequently. These dangers include cyber bullying, stalking, pornography, spam, viruses and inappropriate email messages and pictures. With children ranging in ages from 17-6 I’ve found that somethings work for keeping the older children safe online and some things work well for keeping the younger children safe online, especially while they are sending and receiving email. One of my favorite tools so far I have found for the younger children is Kids Email.org.

Kids Email is an email system that is designed with kids ages 6-12 in mind, but there is also a teen tool available. Here is what Kids Email does in a nutshell:

We decided to give Kids Email a try, since I refused to give in to the younger children’s request for a cell phone and email is one of the ways that they can easily keep in touch with grandparents which live far away.  Here are some of the features mom liked:

  • privacy, security and safety online
  • filters out all the “stuff” and just offers the kids a clean and easy to use email system
  • several different features that I can tailor towards our family’s specific needs and concerns
  • easy to set up and use
  • free trial with no credit card required
Kids Email.org is easy to use.  You simply register (no credit card required) and then answer some simple yes or no questions about the security settings you want to use.  These questions include things like do you want copies of emails sent and received sent to your email or who do you want to allow emails from?  You can set up more than one email address so you can tailor made your security settings age appropriate for each child.
One of the things I liked about these settings is that I can manage the kids email accounts down to the minutes they spend on there as well as even ground them from their email and set the dates and times of the “grounding.” I hope I don’t have to do that, but it is nice to know that these options are there if I need them.  I can also run reports of the activity on the accounts.
Next the girls got to jump in and have some fun.  They selected from 10 different templates that gave them a specific look whenever they signed into their email.  My middle daughter selected the princess  fairy template which gives her a cute pink and purple background for her email account.   Then the emails began!  Just to test drive they sent emails to grandma, grandpa and dad and once they received responses I think that they were hooked!  (I recommend sending all those who may be getting a message from the kids a message about the new account so that they recognize it and can add it to their safe list).
I like that I can design each email account to do what our family needs it to do for security, safety and fun.  KidsEmail provides a safe way to teach my children about email and Internet responsibility and use as they learn all those rules that even the most mature adult has trouble remembering sometimes, because after all “my friend sent it to me” so it must be safe.
There is a one month free trial available, but after that it is a paid service.  I know what you are thinking, but guess what you don’t have to give your credit card to get the free trial.  That was a big plus for me right at the beginning.  The current price is 13 months with up to six email accounts for $38.95.


Sex Offenders on Facebook and other Social Media

Should sex offenders be allowed on Facebook? That question will probably prompt the obvious response, a loud “Hell, no!” but many organizations are arguing that banning sexual offenders from social media violates the offenders constitutional right to free speech.

Many state laws are in effect that successfully ban or limit sex offenders from using social media.  New York state law demands that registered sex offenders report all of their internet accounts (email, instant messaging, and social networking) and bans social networking for sex offenders convicted fo a crime against minor. NY state law also bans convicted sex offenders from social networking if they were convicted of a crime that involves the internet. Other states have similar laws regarding sexual predators and internet activities.

Facebook has guidelines in place stating: “Convicted sex offenders are prohibited from using Facebook. Once we are able to verify a user’s status as a sex offender, we immediately disable their account and remove their account and all information associated with it.”

John Walsh, spokesman for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said of the internet, “we know that sex offenders target and lure children and how they look at the online community as their private, perverted hunting ground.”

We all want to protect our kids so the obvious answer is to ban sexual predators from accessing them. But by doing so we are also putting our kids at a disadvantage. If we can take away the rights of one individual, we can take away the rights of the many.  The argument that civil liberties advocates use is that social media is becoming an indispensable freedom of speech.

The appropriate question to ask next is “is social media a necessity in this day and age?” The answer can be quite complicated. Most people don’t leave home without their cell phones, iPads or other communication devices. Many of these devices allow access to the internet world. Many people would argue that participation in online discussion is a matter of free speech in its most basic form.

Carolyn Atwell-Davis, director of legislative affairs at the Virginia-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said of the issue, “It’s going to be really, really hard, I think, to write something that will achieve the state’s purpose in protecting children online but not be restrictive enough to be unconstitutional.”

State legislation can help parents protect their children but only to a point.  State’s cannot trample on the freedoms given to citizens.  So in the end the protection of children is really left up to parents and the owners of each individual website. Parents need to be vigilant about the activity of their kids online and social media websites need to make rules regarding what actions they will take when sexual predators register with them. These two actions are the best way to keep children protected from those our society has deemed unfit.


This guest post is by Linda St.Cyr,  a freelance writer, blogger, and columnist. She covers a wide variety of topics from food to celebrity gossip. Read her work at Ecorazzi, Yahoo! Contributor Network, or The Hungry Kitchen.

Facebook age limits lowered?

According to the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, 13 is the official “age of consent” for having a Facebook account.   However, we all can probably name at least one child from our friends and family that are on Facebook and under the age of 13.   Some of these accounts are made with their parents’ permission to lie about their age and some are just created with or without permission as pre-teens simply check the “box” and begin LIKING Facebook.    Recently however, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg thinks that the age should be even lower.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was created to protect children online and requires that certain websites that collect information on its users do not allow children under the age of 13 to use the site.   Zuckerberg wants to change that, citing the “educational” benefits of using Facebook.

“That will be a fight we take on at some point,” Zuckerberg said according to CNN. “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age. Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process. If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.”

According to projections based on its yearly State of the Net survey conducted by Consumer Reports there are:

  • 7.5 million of the 20 million minors on Facebook in the past year were younger than 13.
  • More than 5 million were 10-years-old or younger.

To counter the consumer report one a Facebook spokesperson said Continue reading Facebook age limits lowered?

Want the Best Wireless Hidden Camera for Protecting Your Home?

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Want a Wireless Hidden Camera to Protect Your Home?
Plus 5 Other Legitimate Reasons you Might Want A Wireless Hidden Camera

With new wireless cameras making set up easier than ever, here are five reasons/situations you might want to look into setting up your own wireless hidden camera.

Protecting your home
There are so many hidden wireless camera devices that are made to look like household items.  Even if a criminal or thief thinks they can outsmart your security system, having a wireless camera set up ensures you can catch them on camera, and have proof to hold against them in court.

However, there are also other legitimate reasons for wanting wireless security cameras in addition to protecting your home. Continue reading Want the Best Wireless Hidden Camera for Protecting Your Home?

How can I read the texts that my children are sending and receiving?

This email comes to us from Diann Childress (who has a question about monitoring her children’s texts.)

Hey IDSecrets,
I have been enjoying your articles about the moral implications of whether or not it’s spying to read someone else’s texts. I think it’s interesting moral ground when you’re talking about reading texts sent by your spouse/boyfriend. Surely though, those implications don’t extend to me as a parent, right? I would argue that it’s good for me as a parent to know what texts my children are sending. My question is not whether it’s morally right to do so. I think it’s not only my right, but my responsibility. However, if I do want to “spy”, how can I read the texts my children are sending and receiving?

When it comes to your children, we wouldn’t begin to tell you what to do.

Our personal opinions vary widely.

You could trust them and to text appropriately.  You give your children a lot of confidence when they know you trust them to make good decisions.

On the opposite side of that… there’s a great line in the movie Animal House.

The censored version of the line goes something like “You *messed* up. You trusted me.”

We think trust is a good thing.

Continue reading How can I read the texts that my children are sending and receiving?