Apps & Adolescence: Is Tech Negatively Affecting Teens?

Nowadays, kids and technology are synonymous with each other.  Rarely do we see a youngster without their omnipresent handheld device. Adults aren’t that much better for that matter, but teenagers are soaking in an alarming amount of screen time daily.
tech and teens

According to some statistics, the majority of children are spending the equivalent of a work day or averaging around eight hours a day behind a screen. Meanwhile, teenagers are really taking a toll on their smartphones, gaming systems, tablets and computers. Studies have shown adolescents are spending almost eleven hours a day playing games, surfing the web, texting, posting and absorbing information from the internet.

More screen time is also leading to less activity that’s contributing to the growing obesity epidemic that our country is currently facing. It’s estimated that one-third of American children and teens are either overweight or obese. These increasing waistlines are being directly tied to a lack of exercise and the sedentary lifestyle that technology is giving to our children.

As parents, we could be worried our kids are suffering in other ways as a result of all this technology. Whether it’s a myriad of different vision problems they could be developing, poor posture from being constantly hunched over their devices, headaches or simple eye strain. There are many downsides to the upswing of today’s technology.

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

Cursive handwriting seems to be disappearing from classroom curriculums as focus is being shifted to keyboard proficiency instead. But being comfortable on a computer is also leading to the loss of some basic skills. For example, mathematical solutions can quickly be found on the internet and with the advent of spellcheck, misspelled words are being automatically corrected.

When it comes to reading and writing, the use of another language of acronyms is no cause to LOL when it comes to forming complete sentences, the proper use of grammar and other comprehensive skills. A teacher in San Jose, California recently shared that she sometimes “hates” the use of technology and how it is affecting our children.

tech and teens 2Helping or Harming

“I don’t hate technology when used to better the student’s education, I hate it when it’s used to distract student from their work,” the high school teacher explained. “Sometimes my students are too lazy to look up how to spell something, but they’re quick to pull out their cell phones and play a game of Fun Run,” a popular racing game amongst teens.

Another teacher offered a different opinion when it comes to using today’s devices in the classroom to improve learning. “Students use laptops with software that helps them learn basic grammar skills,” said an instructor at River Glen Elementary School. But on the other hand, she also shared a negative aspect when she shared, “The same way students can learn on these laptops they can waste their time and learn absolutely nothing.”

Socially Speaking

The Child Mind Institute recently shared an article that examined how social media is affecting our children and claims it’s causing lower self esteem and more anxiety. A clinical psychologist, Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, also suggests that children and teenagers are beginning to lose the ability to read important social cues with the increased use of technology and social media.

“There’s no question kids are missing out on very critical social skills,” Dr. Steiner-Adair shared. “In a way, texting and online communicating – it’s not like it creates a nonverbal learning disability, but it puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible.”

This article was written by nolaParent contributor Hilary Smith (hilary.loren.smith@gmail.com).  Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics. Some of her other articles include the following:

Teens and Technology

What do you think? Is technology improving our way of life or hurting the development of future generations?
  • What do you think? Is technology improving our way of life or hurting the development of future generations?

Everything A Parent Needs To Know About Snapchat

snapchat-photo-2With all of the different apps on the market today, it can be hard for parents to keep up. However, one app that parents should definitely be aware of is Snapchat.

What is Snapchat?
Snapchat, a popular smartphone app among teens, is marketed as a way to send “disappearing” messages to friends. Users can snap a photo or video of themselves, add text or visual effects on top of the image or video, and then choose friends to send it to once complete. Whoever receives the message can only view it once before it vanishes, however it is very easy for the receiver to quickly take a screenshot of the message.

Are teens using Snapchat?
The short answer? Yes! In 2015, research showed that 78% of teens between the ages of 13-17 were using Snapchat. Since it has only grown in popularity since then, it is safe to assume that the numbers have probably risen even higher. Snapchat has even grown to be a more popular social media platform than Facebook for teens.

snapchat photo 1Why should parents be concerned about Snapchat?
The fact that Snapchat is marketed as a disappearing message app should be worrisome to parents. Teens mistakenly feel protected by the assumption that their messages will never be seen by anyone besides the receiver. Because of this, some teens feel free to send sexually explicit photos that they normally wouldn’t share through social media. If the receiver chooses to save the photo with a screenshot, it can easily be circulated to other people and used to bully or tease the original sender.

Who else is on Snapchat besides teens? Predators. Even the FBI has warned parents about the number of predators who are actively looking for teens on Snapchat. These predators take advantage of the teen’s assumption that the messages disappear and use it to obtain provocative photos.

Unfortunately, Snapchat is also used to cyberbully classmates and peers. As seen in the video below from Teensafe, bullies feel safe sending harassing or threatening messages through Snapchat, since the proof vanishes after the receiver views it. Some bullies choose to take photos of themselves hanging out with friends, and then send the message to others to make them feel left out.

How can you keep teens safe on Snapchat?
Are your kids already on Snapchat? If so, follow these tips to keep kids safe on this smartphone app:
· Make sure teens are aware that nothing is ever private on social media. No matter what privacy settings you have on your profile or what an app promises, there is no guaranteed way to keep your information private, so be careful what you write and send.
· Monitor your teens’ cell phone use to make sure they are using good judgment when active on social media.
· Have an open door policy with your teens to encourage them to come to you when they’re facing problems with peers related to cyberbullying.
· Set guidelines so teens don’t spend too much time on Snapchat and social media in general. Create strict policies such as no phones after dinner or no phones in the bedroom to limit their screen time.

The digital world is rapidly changing, so it’s the parents’ responsibility to stay up-to-date with the latest apps and websites that teens are frequenting. Remember, the only way to protect teens is to know what’s going on in the first place!

This article was written by nolaParent contributor Hilary Smith (hilary.loren.smith@gmail.com).  Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics. Some of her other articles include the following:

Snapchat Feedback

  • Have a personal story about how Snapchat or another social media app has had a negative affect on yourself or your children? Share it here. You do not need to include your name. Please note that your story may be posted on our website and/or social media channels.

Expand Your Families Perspectives by Hosting an International Student

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Sitting down to enjoy meals as a family more frequently. Exploring your city and learning about it’s history. Learning and making new memories together. Experiencing a new culture and seeing American culture through new eyes. These are just some of ways our host families have described hosting an international student.

The cultural benefits that come with hosting are very valuable for you and your family. In addition to just learning about other cultures at school or in a textbook, your children can learn first hand the differences and similarities of other cultures. Invite your family to open their minds to new perspectives and experiences. Whether it be tasting foreign food, hearing a different language or learning how teenagers in other countries live.

There’s a specific type of motivation that comes from seeing someone your own age challenging themselves on a personal level. Our students take themselves out of their comfort levels to travel from abroad and study in the U.S. Upon arrival, they are in a completely unfamiliar environment, living with a new family, and learning all their subjects in a foreign language.

Making the decision to open your home to a new family member and a new culture is an experience much like spending a period of time in another country. It’s also something you can do without even having to leave home. Something that sums up the experience for me is this quote, “it’s not about the places you go, it’s about the people you meet along the way.”

Why not create that type of experience for your family?

At gphomestay, we facilitate meaningful cross cultural relationships between international students and warm welcoming American host families. Our biggest concern is that our students be placed with families who will help guide them through their American experience and education. When our students truly become a part of your family than we consider our efforts successful.

To learn more about hosting an international student attending one of our partner schools near you, please contact me.

Amber Perry

aperry@gphomestay.com

410-829-8590

http://www.gphomestay.com

{It Happened to Me} My Child is Gifted

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I have two beautiful daughters, one four and one nearly two. Both are fun, beautiful, smart, curious, determined, energetic girls. I could continue with the adjectives but I think it is clear how in love with and proud of my children I am. My older daughter, C, is smart. Very smart. I know this is something all parents say and my previous string of adjectives may dilute how true this statement is, but early on I realized that she was different than her peers. She started memorizing books around two years old and will correct me if I add or remove a word. She argues with my husband and me and can come up with compelling reasoning why she is right (we still win, we are her parents). When she turned four and began preparing “big girl school.” we took her to get tested for giftedness. Sure enough, she scored in the 99th percentile of children her age and is officially gifted.

Just because a child is gifted, however, that doesn’t mean that they don’t still need their parents. One of the harder things to remember about gifted children, in school and in everyday life, is they need attention like every other child. C is usually a fantastic child, eager to help out and listen, but some days, in daycare (and at home), she starts to act out. This usually happens when she gets bored. It can be difficult for her to sit still and listen to an explanation she has already heard. Also, her teachers know she understands right away so they focus on helping other children learn. This sounds simple and is very understandable, but for C, she gets upset because she wants one-on-one attention too. At home I ask both girls questions: about their days or what they want to eat or who they played with. Anything really. C answers every time. I have to remind C that her sister Q needs a chance to respond. She does not particularly care for this because she KNOWS the answers and loves sharing her knowledge–she wants to talk and interact.  But I want to give Q a chance to speak too and inevitably I spend more time trying to get an answer out of Q then it took for C to respond.

Physically C is exactly where she should be for her age. She started walking early, she loves to dance and sing and play. She has no fear of heights or slides or fireworks. She does, however, get really frustrated when she knows how something should be done but her body cannot complete the task. Potty training was an experience. Starting around 18 months, she would tell her Daddy or me that she had just gone, in complete sentences, but was unable to realize what was happening before she was actually going. It was confusing for us to reconcile how she always knew what happened afterwards but not before. It led to frustration for her because she wanted to use the potty. Physically, the nerves to let her know she had to potty were not developed enough at 18 months.

These small things are examples of the larger, more complex part of raising a gifted child. Although C is very advanced for her age as measured by intelligence, she is right where she should be emotionally. She has her fits and temper-tantrums like any small child and does not yet know how to control all of the emotions she feels. C wants to be independent and do everything on her own but also want me there with her. As her mother, I constantly have to remind myself that this child who speaks so eloquently still has not learned how to control herself.

A dear friend of mine (who has a threenager going on ferocious four-year-old herself) commented on why children like Frozen so much: they relate to Elsa–much like Elsa they are constantly told to act properly, hide what they are feeling, conceal their emotions, etc. This really struck me as true for C. Because she is so intelligent my instinct is that she should understand situations more advanced than she is emotionally ready to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, I know she is still young, but sometimes I think I can explain to her why she needs to do something, like wear long sleeves in the winter, and that she will be ok with it. Just because she understands what I am saying does not mean she emotionally is able to handle the disappointment of not getting to wear a pink sparkly dress. She gets upset, cries, pouts, and generally helps me remember she is four and just wants her way.

Luckily for me, my fun, beautiful, smart, curious, determined, energetic daughter helps me learn every day how to be the best Mom I can be; how to love unconditionally, how to be more understanding, patient, and compassionate, how to relax and enjoy the moment. Because above all else, I want my children to be happy; I want them to know how much I love them, their amazing stories and intense emotions, their warm cuddles and their growing independence.

A new boot camp for a mom like me

Throughout my life, I have dealt with weight issues. After having my beautiful son, I find that the challenges I face losing weight are much different. Nowadays, I am tired, none of my clothes fit, and to make matters worse, I have no motivation. Under these circumstances how am I supposed to lose weight?

Haven’t we all been there?

Currently, I carry a considerable amount of excess baby weight and am clearly out of shape. I woke up one morning and realized something needed to change. My priorities have changed and this weight loss is not just about me, it is about my son. I realized as a parent, I need to be a role model. This is where I am starting my journey.

I wanted a workout program that would challenge me and make me break a sweat. When I read about  Salire’s Boot Camp I thought, “OK. This is it. This is my chance.”

I started at boot camp in City Park mid-way through the month. I went into it with a lot of confidence that I would kick butt. The workout started with different stretches followed by two laps around the track. Half way through the first lap I realized how out of shape I was, but I was determined to keep going. The rest of the workout consisted of arm exercises with weights, a ton of lunges, and ab work.

I finished the workout feeling like a million bucks. It was the kind of workout where you get into your car to drive home and you instantly feel sore. I call it the good sore, the sore that makes your muscles stronger. After the workout I was itching for more!

About the author:  Eliza is 29 years old, born and raised in Tennessee. She and her husband moved to New Orleans from New Jersey and recently welcomed an adorable baby boy. 

Kindergarten Readiness Forum

The Kindergarten Readiness Forum is designed to demystify the kindergarten enrollment process and reduce stress for families going through the application process. A panel of experienced local professionals will discuss the best ways to prepare oneself and one’s child for a successful transition into kindergarten. Topics include:

  • social adjustment to a new school and classmates;
  • what a child is expected to know when entering kindergarten;
  • how to ensure one’s child receives all the services he or she needs; and
  • the testing and acceptance process.

Panelists will be available to answer questions after the program.

PANEL PARTICIPANTS:

Alisa D. Dupre’ – Audubon Charter School, Admission Director/Operations Manager

Deb Marsh – Community Day School, Director of Admissions

Steve Salvo – Director of Admission and Marketing, Trinity Episcopal School

Chris Gogreve – Jewish Community Center Nursery School, Pre K teacher

Janine Murry – Lusher Charter School, Kindergarten teacher

Stacey Gengel, Ph.D – Psychologist

FACILITATOR:

Sharon Pollin, MS, Ed.D. candidate – Community Day School, Head of School

The program is free of charge and open to the public. The Kindergarten Readiness Forum is hosted by the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and the Community Day School and will be held at the JCC’s Uptown campus, located at 5342 St. Charles Avenue.

For more information, contact Adrienne Shulman at 5048970143 or adrienne@nojcc.org.

4 Ways to Improve Your Parent-Child Relationship

As the door slams in your face after another argument, you may be wondering what prompted you to have kids in the first place. The love, pride and joy your children provide seems miles away during seasons of conflict, but all is not lost. No healthy parent-child relationship is without conflict. A few intentional strategies can pump some love back into your relationship.

Type it Out

Communication is a powerful tool, especially when you want to build a solid and strong relationship. Even if your child is still very young, you can communicate and get ideas across that improve your ability to provide a safe and understanding home environment.

According to Dr. Jeremy Jewell, an instructor at Southern Illinois University, you need to keep lines of communication open as an important part of correcting your children when they have mistakes or forget commitments. When your children are young, tell them that they are loved and cuddle with them as often as you can.

As your children get older, it might be easier to communicate by sending an email or text message. It is hard for teenagers or children who are getting close to their teen years to talk about their problems directly, but an email might allow your children to open up about any worries, concerns or curiosities they are developing.

Be a Friend

Set aside time to spend with your children. GlobeNewsWire.com suggests you show an interest in your children’s activities, ideas and statements. Encourage your children to tell you what they want to do and get involved directly by planning family activities that are centered around your children’s interests.

Take time to go to local events, live plays or even watch your child’s favorite TV show together. You can always check out what’s happening in your local newspaper or find TV listings and local event calendars online to see what fun activities are available to enjoy with your kids.

Spend at least one day together as a family or set aside an hour every day to talk, enjoy activities together or simply watch a movie on TV. That exposure to fun as a family can go a long way to making your child feel safe and accepted.

Eat as a Family

Eating dinner together as a family is an excellent time to talk about your day, ask your children about their upcoming events in school or simply enjoy company as a family. During this time, focus on positive thoughts, expressions and ideas, even if you are currently upset with a behavior your child or children have engaged in.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System suggests that constant control and correction can ruin a relationship. Set aside meal times as a neutral period where your children can feel safe that they will not face disappointed expressions, continued lectures or other negative situations.

Provide Positive Feedback

Although it is important to correct your children, you do not want to develop a relationship that is built on power and control. Instead, focus on your child’s accomplishments and improvements. Positive feedback teaches your child good behavior and will reduce the number of misbehaviors. Save correction for situations that are dangerous for your child or broken household rules.

Develop a great relationship with your children by taking a little extra time. By focusing on positives and spending time together, your children will know that they are loved and safe from an early age.

Written by Danielle Hernandez: Originally from Seattle, Danielle moved to Phoenix for love. She enjoys writing about a variety of women’s topics.

IEPs and nat’l reading month: 4 things every parent needs to know

Did you know that March is National Reading Month? Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are intended to help children reach educational goals, including success in reading – but they’re often a mystery to parents. A recent study found that schools nationwide could do more to explain the IEP process to families. IEPs are, after all, a federal right of every student.

Below are 4 pointers from the National Center for Learning Disabilities (LD.org) on how to start the IEP process:

  1. Make a Request In Writing: A comment or request made verbally in passing to a teacher or school administrator technically didn’t happen. Remember always to place requests for an IEP evaluation or changes to your child’s current IEP in writing to the school administrator in charge of the Committee on Special Education (CSE) in the school district – email or a hand-delivered letter is fine.
  2. Know Your Rights: After you’ve submitted an IEP evaluation letter of request, every school district nationwide is required by law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to respond to you within 10 days (school days, not including weekends). The school must provide you with written documentation explaining (1) the parents’ need for consent to conduct an educational evaluation, (2) how the a determination of eligibility will be made, (3) the documentation needed to identify the existence of a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) (if applicable), and (4) confirmation that parents are invited to participate in the IEP process.
  3. Be Patient. Your child’s school has 60 school (or business) days to complete the evaluation, which includes an interview with parents, a conference with the student, observations of the student, and analysis of the student’s performance (attention, behavior, work completion, tests, class work, homework, etc.). Legally the CSE (or IEP team) must include “you” the parent, plus at least one general educator teacher (if your child is in even one general education class) and one special education teacher in the meeting.
  4. Speak Up. The IEP team is charged with developing, reviewing, and revising your child’s IEP at least once a year by law – and more often if you are dissatisfied with your child’s lack of progress. If you’re not satisfied, speak up (and write letters or emails) as often as you feel you need to in order to get results! Remember that you are an equal partner with the school in the IEP process, and the IEP document is intended as a flexible, but binding, agreement that guides everyone involved in the child’s school career to ensure the highest quality instruction and free and appropriate educational services and supports in the least restrictive environment.

For more resources on IEPs from NCLD, check out Tips For A Successful IEP Meeting, Why And How To Read Your Child’s IEP, and IEP Meeting Conversation Stoppers.

cpr. do you know it? you should. and so should your childcare provider.

As a new parent you probably have hundreds of checklists. There’s one for how to decorate the baby’s room and another for what needs to go in the diaper bag. How about a safety checklist? It’s a list of things to you can do to keep your child safe. An important item that should be on this list is CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, training.

CPR is the act of compressing the chest to increase blood flow to the heart and lungs. CPR is done when a person stops breathing and/or the heart stops. Respiratory issues are the number one reason children stop breathing, whereas heart problems often cause an adult to stop breathing. Successful CPR is all about timing and technique. If you initiate CPR quickly and with proper technique you can save your child’s life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly encourages parents to learn infant and child CPR. However, parents are not the only folks that should learn CPR. An important question to ask when touring daycares and schools is if everyone is CPR certified.

There are two options for CPR training:

Option 1: American Heart Association “Family and Friends” Non-Certification class

  • Audience: Parents, grandparents, babysitters
  • Content: focuses on the basic techniques of CPR and choking
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • No certification card is given

Option 2: Community or HeartSaver CPR class

  • Audience: Nannies, childcare workers, teachers, school administrators
  • Content: CPR and automatic external defibrillator, AED, training
  • Time: 3-3.5 hours (depends on the class size)
  • Each successful participant is certified for two years.

Regardless of which class you choose for your family, remember that learning CPR today can save a life tomorrow. There are a few places in the New Orleans metro area that offer the above courses:

  1. Nurse Nikki LLC offers private and public CPR training for new parents, businesses and schools. She will hold a class on March 6, 2013, from 6:30-8:30pm at ZukaBaby.
  2. Tulane Simulation Center offers CPR training for healthcare providers and community workers.
  3. American Red Cross offers CPR training for community workers.
  4. The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital offers the American Heart Association’s “Friends and Family” classat the Metairie location Thursday, Feb. 21 and April 18, 6:30 – 9 p.m. Download The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital 2013 Spring Class Schedule.

understanding your child care options: march 2

Making a decision on appropriate child care for your infant or young child can seem overwhelming as a parent. Kristen St. Onge, founder of Natural Nannies Nola, will share with us the different types of child care options in the Greater New Orleans area at a FREE class hosted by Destination Maternity and East Jefferson General Hospital on March 2 from 2-3pm. Topics covered include:

  • how to find a great daycare or care provider;
  • how to spot bad ones; and
  • how to choose the best type of child care for your family.

This is a Destination Maternity/EJGH class being held at the Destination Maternity location on Causeway Blvd. Across from Lakeside Mall.

No fees – class is FREE!

March 2nd, 2PM-3PM

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