What Every nolaParent Should Know About The Flu!

What is Influenza?  What’s new about this flu season?  Do my children need to get a flu shot?  Do I?  Our friends at Rapid Urgent Care have provided us with some great information about Influenza and the Flu Vaccine!  Take a minute to read about the seriousness of the flu and why it’s so important to get a flu vaccine — and then stop by Rapid Urgent Care in Metairie for your flu shot!

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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?

The Dangers of Snapchat: A First Hand Account

snpachat on phoneThe following is a post from my friend Jennifer in Houston, TX, who has a first hand account of how a predator tracked down her son on Snapchat.  She agreed to share this information because she wants parents to be aware of the dangers of Snapchat and how this app, like others that thrive on secrecy, can put kids in dangerous situations without them even realizing it.  In addition to sharing information on social media and working with a local police officer on her case, she is now also giving Internet Safety presentations to various groups in and around Houston.  If you think she’s alone, she’s not.  Her Facebook page is filled with comments from people who have lived similar stories.  She recommends knowing exactly which apps your child is using and the dangers that might come with each one – and she specifically recommends reviewing www.netsmartz.org and her Snapchat 101 document for more information.

The following is a recap from Jennifer about what happened:

I’m sharing what happened to my 14-year-old son only so other parents can be aware.  He asked for Snapchat claiming that he was old enough, everyone has it, and he would only be friends with people he knew.  I finally agreed and vowed to monitor him as best I could.  I joined Snapchat and snapped with my college-age nieces and followed reputable snappers like JJ Watt and YoungLife so I could see how it worked.

I noticed that my son was chatting with friends I know.  But one week I saw a name I didn’t recognize and asked him who it was.  Their conversation started innocently enough with a “Hey” and “Hey” back.  He was pretty sure that her name was Rebecca and that she rode the bus to school with him.  I checked the conversation the next day and it looked like this:

“Can you snap a pic of yourself?”

“OK”

“You’re Cute.”

I thought it was strange that she wanted a picture of him but then I also thought, like he did, that it must just be a teenage girl with a crush.  I got busy and didn’t check back for about a week but when I did I found pages of chatting that let me know that this was not a teenage girl but a predator who was grooming him.

“We should talk more.”

My son didn’t answer.

“Hello.  Answer Me Please. What school do you go to?”

“Woodlands Junior High.  Don’t  you go there?  Aren’t you on my bus?

He was sent a still shot of a really pretty, sexy high school age girl.  (It was not taken with the Snapchat app, which means it was saved on the conversation screen so I could see it.)  “I go to Woodlands High School.”  Do you think I’m pretty?”

“I’m saying yes!”

“Want to trade?”

My son didn’t answer.

“Do you know what that means?”

“No.”

“We send pics.  Are you in  your room?”

“No.”

“I’ll go first when  you get to your room.”

My son was  talking to what he thought was a beautiful, interested, high school girl.  Before you judge, ask yourself what teenage boy wouldn’t be intrigued?  He followed along with her requests to return the favor and sent similar pictures of himself and they had an ongoing “conversation” for over a week.

He was acting strange when he got home on Friday, April 30.  Before bed he was putting his phone in our office where we require him to keep it overnight, but when I walked in he quickly closed it.  I asked why he was so nervous and then asked for his phone.  He said nothing was wrong and then refused to hand over his phone.  Eventually I got it from him and went to Snapchat only to find this conversation which included photos not “snapped” by this person but taken with the actual phone camera.  This person was not a high school girl but a predator wanting naked pictures of my son and most likely wanting to meet up with him to rape him, take him to sex trafficking (which is rampant in Houston), or perhaps just to kill him and leave him for dead.

I called 911 and eventually landed with the constables office where I filed a report.  They kept my son’s phone so they could download data and try to find this child predator.  This is an actual example of  how a simple “hey” from a stranger on social media turned into asking to share pics which likely would have led to this person asking to meet up.  I posted this on Facebook  to expose these predators, how they work in social media, and how no one is off limits.  I consider myself fairly social media savvy having run a business using this marketing platform but even so this happened on my watch, in my home.

A few parents who also thought they knew about Snapchat responded that this couldn’t have happened because Snapchat doesn’t allow conversations, just “snapping” of pictures and videos that disappear.  So, I created a Snapchat 101 document with instructions on how to find conversations and more.

Here’s the reality:  Social Media is here to stay.  We can’t stop the train because it has already left the station.  But we can be vigilant and have conversations before things like this happen.  Show your kids this story so they know how a simple “hey” from a stranger can really be a test from a predator.  Sexual predators know this age is vulnerable and they know they have a great platform for manipulation.  We have learned from this. My younger sons are now extremely aware of what an internet predator looks like. I attended training at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and now speak on Internet Safety to organizations around Houston. There is something about hearing it from someone who experienced it first hand that rings a little louder than hearing from someone just speaking on the topic. My advise is to have your children read this blog so they can better understand how quickly a person posing as a friend  can turn into an online relationship that is demanding, scary, and intoxicating. It happened to us. It can happen to anyone.

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.

Chelsea Clinton in NOLA to promote new book that encourages 10-14 year olds to make a difference on issues they care about

I have JUST returned from an event at Lusher Middle School where Chelsea Clinton (daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton) spoke to more than 480 middle school students about her new book — It’s Your World:  Get Informed, Get Inspired, Get Going.

If you weren’t one of the lucky people who got to hear her speak and answer questions from the audience, you still have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of her at a book signing tonight at 5:30 pm at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia Street (Uptown).  To buy a ticket to the event, which includes a copy of the book, visit here.

In addition, Clinton plans to stop at Rebuilding Together New Orleans, a non-profit that improves the quality of life of low income homeowners, particularly those who are elderly, disabled, veterans or single head of households with minor children, through home repair and revitalization of New Orleans’ neighborhoods.

New Orleans is one of about 20 cities on Clinton’s book tour, which include stops at local schools, book stores, non-profits and more.

This is Clinton’s first book and is targeted to 10-14 year old readers.  It brings to light some of the challenges we face in our communities today, highlights some of the young people who have taken steps to tackle them, and offers advice on what young people can continue to do to help impart change.

Clinton talked about some of the things that shaped her childhood and what issues would become important to her.  She said that she always loved reading, especially newspapers at breakfast, even at a young age.  Reading newspapers helped her learn about what was going on in the world, how she felt about things, and which issues were most important to her — and all without relying on an adult to tell her about it or shape an opinion.  She also has a love of books, and specifically mentioned “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth,” which helped to outline some of the actions she could take as a young girl to make a difference in the world.  She also mentioned the importance of her Grandmother Dorothy in helping her understand the importance of education and going to school.  These things helped form her book, which shows young children that they can start making a difference now on issues they care about whether they affect family, community or the world.

She spoke of one girl – Haile Thomas – whose father had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  At age 8, Haile wanted to do something to help make her father’s situation better so she started researching and making healthy family meals.  Eventually her father’s diabetes was reversed and her entire family enjoyed a healthy, plant-based lifestyle.  From there she took her knowledge and started spreading the word to other kids about how they can help create happier, healthier family lifestyles.  Now she has a cookbook, a youtube series, a foundation, and speaks around the country about her mission.

I am definitely going to buy the book.  I’m going to give it to my 10-year-old to read and then I’m going to read it too.  I will also try to heed the advice she gave nolaParent.com on what parents can do to help encourage kids to take action and get involved (that story here.)!

 

 

Saints Junior Tee Retrievers, Saints Kids Club, Saints Camp in December and More News for Young Saints Fans!

JrTee Kickoff SMEASEL9-15_FEver wonder how the Saints Junior Tee Retrievers – the kids who run out to fetch the football tee at Saints games – get chosen?  Well, it turns out there is a whole event dedicated to picking these lucky Saints fans and it takes place this Saturday from 10 am to 12:30 pm at Copeland’s in Kenner (1319 West Esplanade Avenue)!

Parents can enter their child for a chance to be chosen as a Junior Tee Retriever – and if you win not only will you be watching your child run out on the field but you will also be watching the game from the sidelines!

On Saturday, kids can also participate in numerous drills and inflatable skill challenges like the Quarterback Challenge, Saints Obstacle Course, Touchdown Dive and the Wide Receiver Drill.

Kids Saints Club

Parents can also register their children for the Saints Kids Club and the Saints Kids Kit, which costs $25, and includes the following:

  • Saints Wall flag
  • Saints and Copeland’s Kids Club Drawstring Bag
  • Saints Arm sleeve
  • Saints Rally towel
  • Official Kids Club Lanyard
  • Official Kids Club Bracelet
  • Eyeblack
  • Saints Sticker
  • Saints Pencil
  • An Official Kids Club Membership card
  • Cameron Jordan Photo with Gold-Foiled Lithograph Signature!
  • Saints Waterbottle

If you’re not going to the Saints/Copelands event, you can still register for the Saints Kids Club online.

On Saturday kids meals are just $1.99 (dine-in only, kids 12 and under, Kenner location only).

And when your child get his/her Kids Club Card stamped five times by dining at any Copeland’s Restaurants he/she will be able to participate in a camp with Cameron Jordan at the Saints Practice Facility in Metairie in December.  (Info will be emailed to qualifying participants the middle of November).

Who knew?!?!  Have you ever gone to Copeland’s Saints Kids Event?  Are you planning to go?  Will you spend $25 to be a part of the Saints Kids Club?  Give us your thoughts and insights!

This is NOT a sponsored story.  We just found it interesting.  Have any other interesting tips, leads, upcoming events to share?  Email us here.

How to consign at the Children’s Clothing Exchange

Childrens Clothing Exchange Collage

This week is the first regular selling week of the Children’s Clothing Exchange – the enormous consignment sale that takes place in a hidden away, old community center (Valencia Club, 1900 Valence Street) in Uptown New Orleans two times a year (Fall and Spring).  For a decade I have heard about it but have never participated in it.  It is steeped in shopping and selling stories.  Some people talk about the riches they made by simply cleaning out closets and playrooms and dropping off their gently used and worn items for others to buy. And others speak of the piles of smocked onesies, blazers, ski outfits, toys, bikes, and other equipment they find for mere pennies.

Two weeks ago I cleaned out our play room and took my toys and other treasures for consignment and below are my notes.  Keep these in mind if you want to consign at the next Children’s Clothing Exchange – and please share your tips and experiences as you shop this week!

Consign early and often. I dropped off Thursday at 930am and Saturday at 3pm and I was able to find parking and a work space to tag my items but I have heard that weekend days and the weekday night time slots are a zoo.

Don’t take your kids with you (but they are welcome). The first time I dropped off I was solo. The second time I was with my kids. It was helpful to have them there to help me carry stuff in but they were not helpful when they realized what was going on and asked to walk back out with two items I was planning to sell.

Ladies in Charge

Come prepared. I bought giant ziplock bags so I could group large items with their accessories. I wrote down very simple content pages – ie Fisher Price Imaginext Batman Cave with cars, accessories, figures – and put them in the bags then zipped them and taped them shut. (The ladies running the show suggested this so that kids can’t get in and play with and/or lose pieces before they are out the door).  I did a little price searching on ebay and came with my own pen and tape even though there are some supplies on site. I used everything and it made it all a whole lot easier.

Use it as reason to clean up and clean out. There are a few options open to you when you consign – donate, pick-up at end, mark for half price days, etc. A friend of mine uses the white tags and doesn’t allow half price selling on her items so that at the end she can pick up her items, see what sold, and then use that info for the next sale. I used the yellow tags so that everything I took in would either be sold or donated at the end. My advice is to use this as an opportunity to clean out and maybe make a little shoe money.

tagged bag

Don’t get overwhelmed. Easy for me to say. I looked at what I had to go through and nearly gave up before I even started. But the truth is that it is pretty manageable and goes quickly once you take the first step. I put everything that needed to go by the front door. My husband loaded it in my car. I easily found a parking place one block away. The first drop off took about 90 minutes but included an entire car full of toys, bikes, etc. The second drop took about 15 minutes because I had one load and knew what I was doing.

Shop Early and Often. The shopping part of the sale officially begins this week – and the half-price sale starts Saturday, September 26 – but what I didn’t realize is that you can unofficially start shopping for toys, equipment and I think some clothes like boys blazers during the drop-off segment.

Was it worth it?  I dropped off merchandise tagged at about $450 so I could make about $225 (they take half), but overall I can’t help but think that it was worth the effort.  After all, despite what I make (which I will report at the end of the month), I have a cleaned out playroom that can now be used as a study and hang out space for my older kids.  I would think it you were a mom with young kids it would definitely be worth your while to check out the sale this week!

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