Parents Need to Step Up…

Parents Need to Step Up…

Happy Summer to you all! As you can tell, I have taken a break from my website to enjoy some sun and fun with my family. I hope you are doing the same!

While I have taken a short break from my website, I have still been keeping up with the cyber world and it’s impact on our kids…more importantly MY kids! The younger two love watching Minecraft videos on YouTube, which requires my constant attention. The teen inevitably has a post or two that requires my attention. If it’s not the summer bikini pictures, it’s something else. Granted, it only encompasses about 10% of our summer, but it’s still social media issues to address. Has it been this way for you with the kids home for summer?  

Along with summertime activities, I was recently asked to join a local panel discussing social media and the effects it’s having on our children. I have to honestly confess to you that simply having a blog website (I hate the word blog) about social media isn’t my end goal. Using my website as a stepping stone to other educational outlets is my goal. To see it playing out is a blessing and privilege.

While I was compiling a list of resources for our next meeting, I came upon this article by Tony Anscombe from AVG Blogs. I have shared his work with your before, and today will do so again…because his articles are just that good! In this article posted on July 4, 2014, he speaks to the basic disconnect we face with today’s generation of youth vs. the generation that is parenting and teaching them. He writes:

“I remember when my son reached an age where I had to begin thinking about having those awkward father-son conversations. Older parents will recognize some of them, but parents with young kids will also know that some awkward topics are still just emerging. One of these is Internet safety and how we can keep children safe as they explore the web.

As I mused over how to raise the issue of Internet safety with my son, I discovered that many other parents were hoping that the school system would handle this for them, just like they did with sexual-education. After all it’s a team effort, right?”

Read the full article here. Be sure to subscribe to his articles while you’re there!

Leave me a comment below. I have had so many new user registrations this summer, and would like nothing more than to hear from you even if it’s just a simple “HI” to let me know you’re out there! I’ll go first…”HI!”. Now it’s your turn…

 

Slender Man

Slender Man

As I was getting ready for the day I overheard a conversation on the Today Show about a current online character called “Slender Man”. This horror character was the motivation for young two girls in Wisconsin to stab their friend 19 times. Luckily, the victim is still alive.

The original site for Slender Man is www.creepypasta.com, although he is now on many sites online. You can read the full statement from Creepypasta explaining their reaction to the stabbing, as well as an in-depth discussion about the site and it’s intent. They even addressed parents with young kids. Creepypasta understands many parents are not as technology-adept as their kids. They suggested 2 sites for parents to visit to help with keeping kids safe online or on smart phones: @digitaltrends and @PCWorld. They also quoted Russell Jack, the police chief from Waukasha: ““Parents should not be allowing their children to have unrestricted or unmonitored internet usage –whether it be on their computer on their smart phone on their PlayStation. All of those accesses to the outside world,”.

Unfortunately, parents are learning about certain online dangers because we see tragic situations play out like the one in Wisconsin. These type of online “fads” are going to be thrown at our kids all the time, and since we can’t keep up with it, we can at least teach our kids the difference between online and real world.

Take a few minutes to watch this morning’s segment from the Today Show. 

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

***Update: When I was at lunch with my boys today (the 7 & 8 year olds), I asked if they had ever heard of “Slender Man”. The 7-year-old chimed in with “Oh yeah. That’s Slendy!” I think my heart dropped to my stomach. He informs me that Slender Man is on the app they have on my iPhone. I had him show me the app, and much to my relief, it’s an innocent app where you take care of the character by feeding it and such. The creators just happened to make the character in a Slender-Man-style.  After looking for Splendy on the web, I did see other apps for the real Slender Man. Luckily, my boys didn’t know about the real one, only the cartoon. 

I don’t know… I guess it’s all fine, but it is an example of how easy it is for our kids to have access to things that could potentially be a bad influence for them and we are clueless. Do your kids play the app Slendy? 

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Check out the Make-Over!!!

Check out the Make-Over!!!

So…what do you think about the new Make-Over!?!

Personally, I am giddy with excitement about the new look! I even tweaked the name a bit to “Cyber Forward Moms” as a THANK YOU to ALL the moms that are enjoying this site. You deserve the best while taking the time to care about your adolescent treasures in that great big Cyber World.

Be sure to check out the updated Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook pages… and tell me what you think! PLEASE spread the word and tell your friends to join us in this fun adventure! 

Thank you for all of your support with this site. I can see progress occurring already in just 7 months of being online. It’s exciting stuff! 

Say Bye-Bye to Abs

Say Bye-Bye to Abs

It seems these days just about anything goes when it comes to what is and isn’t appropriate for teens. So when I read an article about Abercrombie & Fitch losing steam due to inappropriate advertising and overall message to teens, I had to share it with you!

It seems the CEO, Mike Jeffries, of Abercrombie & Fitch is back peddling on his advertising platform of abs and only-cool-kids-can-shop-here approach due to a 77% drop in profit. In an article at AOL.com, he was quoted in 2013 saying, “We go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Gusty move that obviously didn’t pay off. (Read the full article here.)

Honestly, I didn’t shop at A&F for my teen because, for starters, I couldn’t get past the inappropriate shopping bag with sexual suggestions between the guys and girls. I haven’t shopped there for so long I don’t even know if they still have the same type of bags. Luckily, my daughter never caught on to the over-priced clothing fad. While I had issues with the teen guys and their abs, I was more irritated by the advertising with guys and girls together in a sexual nature. It suggested a lifestyle I didn’t want my teen to find common place. I voiced my disdain for the advertising to her when she was in middle school. While writing this post, I searched for some images to go along with my point about the shopping bags. Holy Moly! I see they haven’t changed and only got worse. Yikes:

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It was encouraging to read that the profit margin has dropped to the point of forcing Mr. Jeffries to change his advertising tactics. The young models will cover up (but there will still be some abs), stores will turn down the club-like pounding music, turn the lights up so you can actually see what you are buying, and stores will tone down the over-whelming cologne smell.

If a backlash caused Abercrombie & Fitch to cover up their models, perhaps we can pray for the same fate to strike Victoria’s Secret and their nearly naked young models telling our teen girls to be sexy and half-dressed.

Yeah, I’m not holding my breath either.

Here’s one more look at those abs before they say Bye-Bye…

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What are your thoughts? Does your teen shop at A&F? Do you have a problem with the advertising and the message the store sends teens? The beauty about an opinion is that everyone can have one, so what’s yours?

Look Up!

Look Up!

Have you seen this video on YouTube? If not, PLEASE take a few minutes to watch and share with your kids. 

Leave a comment and let us know what moved you most after watching this video.

Then turn off your computer and put down your phone. Go make a lunch date. Call up an old friend. Call your mom. Pray. Do something that doesn’t require a screen.

Graduation & Prom Party Digital Drama Footprints

Graduation & Prom Party Digital Drama Footprints

Check out this great article by Sue Scheff at the Huff Post Screen Sense:

 

Smile, Snap, Click and Post (or Not): Graduation and Prom Party Digital Drama Footprints

 

Yes, it is that time of the year when our teens will be out celebrating. Proms and graduation parties will soon be underway, and many kids are ready to let loose and enjoy the relief that school is nearly over and summer is almost here. Everyone is entitled to a good time and let’s face it, they are also entitled to have memories of it.

However, does the world need to remember it?

Many parents have ‘the talk’ about drinking and driving with their kids, and teens also need to know that buzzed driving kills, just like drunk driving. But in today’s digital world, are you having ‘the talk’ about what they are posting and saying on their social networking sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter? As we inch up to the sizzling times of proms and graduation parties, exactly what will we find online? Your son in a compromising position over the toilet? Your daughter maybe smoking something she shouldn’t be?

And maybe a college recruiter reviewing these social media pages as they’re scouting out their applicants.

Drunk driving literally ends lives. But digital drama can potentially end a bright future for your child and their dreams. As with traveling on spring break and documenting their virtual footprints, which may not be so flattering to the Ivy League school they are applying to, teens need to take the same precautions digitally with their graduation and prom festivities. On the flip side, your child could become the victim of a vicious sexting ploy. Pictures of her/him could be taken out of context and go viral.

What can you do?

 

No, you can’t hide your kid under a rock, but you can read the full article here!

 

 

 

Pinterest Fail. Memory-Maker Win!

Pinterest Fail. Memory-Maker Win!

Now that your kids are older, do you still keep up with Easter traditions? My kids have a huge age gap, so along with the teen we have the 8 and 6 year old. The teen can do without the hype of traditions at her age, but the boys soak it all in. Don’t get me wrong, she still wants her Easter basket!

This Easter I wanted to step up my typically mediocre holiday game so I tried the ever popular Pinterest favorite =Resurrection Rolls. I laid out all the ingredients and the boys and I began the new tradition. The boys joyfully “clothed Jesus”  (aka a jumbo marshmallow) in butter and cinnamon sugar then laid Him in a tomb of crescent rolls…and repeated the ritual five times. I had to call to the teen to come downstairs so she, too, could bury her own white, puffy Savior. Funny, she didn’t have the same innocent joy as the boys. But that’s okay. The memory is there and that’s all that matters.  

Speaking of memories, my kids will get to giggle when sharing their memories of this year’s Easter with their own kids. You see, with today’s Resurrection Rolls, “Jesus” didn’t want to disappear and give the illusion that he arose from the grave. No, He decided to ooze all over the baking sheet. Another Pinterest fail for the books. But that’s okay. I also made a memory. It’s one they will laugh at when they are adults, but it’s a memory. 

What were your traditions when your kids were little? Did you still do them today?

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OMG! Your Teen Actually Talks to You?

OMG! Your Teen Actually Talks to You?

Does your teen talk to you about most anything? Do they feel sensitive topics are never discussed? Have they ever heard about any of your mistakes as a teen? It’s a dynamic of parenting teens that we try to succeed in (and have probably failed in) at some point and time.

My teen and I spent all last week driving around the state to different colleges while she was off for spring break. My boys were at their grandparent’s house and my husband was at home, so it was just the two of us…for hours. Being on college campuses opened the door for many conversations about college life. I was able to tell her about some of my experiences at college. Granted, I wasn’t a crazy college kid, but I still had experiences to share like being homesick, not studying like I should, freshman year room-mate disasters, as well as the fun times, and life long friends that I made. She was able to learn things about me she didn’t know. I wanted her to know that I’ve lived through some of the experiences that are in her very near future. She needed to hear about that side of me.

When I read this article at CNN.com called OMG! Your Teen Actually Talks to You? by Kelly Wallace, I knew I wanted to share it with you since this is all of us right now!  I hope you savor the valuable insight from other parents with teens as much as I did.

(CNN) – They roll their eyes, walk away in a huff, shout “Mom, you don’t know what you are talking about” and then slam the bedroom door — symbolizing the end to any hope of a conversation.

“Teenagers!” parents complain. “Wake me up when they’re in college.” 

[read the full article]

 

The Newest Instagram Trend

The Newest Instagram Trend

Mirror selfies of abs and selfies before going out-on-the-town were once what we expected out of a certain age group, typically those in their late teens and early 20′s. Now it seems the “After Sex Selfie” (#aftersex) on Instagram is the new normal.

I found out about this the while watching ENews this evening. My stomach literally sank when I heard about it. I grabbed my laptop and went to their website to read more about it. I have to say, I usually disagree with some of the opinions on E!, but their article sums up most of my thoughts pretty well: #AfterSexSelfies Are a Horrible New Instagram Trend (That Needs to Be Stopped Immediately). Please take a moment to read the article for yourself. My prayer is E!’s message of disgust will resonate to their young audience and this trend will fall flat on its face.

Moms and dads, please talk to your kids about this trend in case they see these pictures or hear friends talking about it. As if their views about sex aren’t being warped enough by media and entertainment, they now see popular social media channels like Instagram giving sex it’s own hashtag. Our kids need to know this is wrong and not acceptable. When talking with your kids, here are a few points to cover:

1) Sex is precious and PRIVATE only to be shared with their spouse after marriage. People that are posting inappropriate pictures on social media are poisoning the sanctity of marriage, and how God meant for it to be experienced. (Hebrews 13:4 says “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”)

2) The people posting these pictures will never -EVER- be able to remove them from the Internet. Explain to them that while there are many reasons this trend is a huge mistake, one big reason is that anyone can see the photos: future spouses (if this isn’t their spouse), employers that might want to hire them for a job, college admissions, friends, family, and even their own children years from now.

3) Use this as an outlet to talk about poor choices they may currently be making with social media. They may not be posting pictures this deplorable, but they may be posting pictures that show them in a compromising position or less-than-appropriate clothing. I personally tell my teen that full length photos of her in a bathing suit is not acceptable for social media. She has been tagged in one or two over the years and I do what I can do hide them from timelines or delete them. I also tell her she is not allowed to post photos kissing a boyfriend. I feel that kissing is a private matter that a teen girl doesn’t need to advertise on the Internet. Your family may have other areas of concern and this article may be a good segue to discuss those.

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Lastly, let me end by saying I try to post as much light-hearted content as I can on Cyber Forward, but when my feathers get ruffled, my feathers get ruffled and I have to share my views. God lights a fire in me when I see things like this I have to speak my mind to protect our tweens and teens. It’s why Cyber Forward was born: to get the word out to parents that might otherwise never know. It’s also so YOU, the reader, can share with ME! There is so much more out there BOTH GOOD AND BAD. I hope this gives you even more reason to stay and share this blog with other parents of teens.  

 

So, now it’s your turn. Tell me what you think about this new trend and whether you will be talking to your teen about it. 

Is There a Brain in There?

Is There a Brain in There?

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Are there times when you wonder what is in your teen’s head? Surely, there is a brain in there, but what’s in that brain, because Lord knows they are making some crazy choices! Teens (and tweens) can make some of the most irrational choices that leave parents scratching their heads in utter confusion. There had been times when I would have totally believed someone if they told me aliens abducted my teen and stole her brain. It would have been the only explanation for some of the out-of-character choices she was making. If you cannot say your child has displayed these behaviors, then they are either very young or you should play the lottery tonight because you are that lucky! 

All joking aside, there is a legitimate explanation for why teens are wired this way. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is a cognitive neuroscientist, and she studies the human brain at various stages of life. She has done in-depth studies of teenage brains in social settings to explain why they are risk-takers, poor choice-makers, and also why they do not have a fully developed ability to read other’s emotions. 

A nerd I am not, but I do love to learn about brain function as it applies to why teens do the things they do. It truly is not their fault. It’s the fact that their brain has not fully developed to equip them with the ability to think rationally. All the more reason for parents to take a big part in teaching our teens right from wrong in ALL areas of life since they are not equipped enough to do it themselves. 

Take a few minutes to watch Ms. Blakemore’s TED talk from a fantastic article from an equally fantastic website called Parenthetical. 

 

Please be sure to bookmark Parenthetical. It is a dream-site for me because its approach is parallel to the vision I have for Cyber Forward Moms. Their website explains it best: 

“What is Parenthetical?

Parenthetical is a little different than other sites you might visit.  We designed it as a blog, website and social network for parents of tweens and teens.  What YOU contribute to the site through questions, comments and advice is the most important part of Parenthetical.  Our goal is to make Parenthetical a place where you regularly share your parenting thoughts and questions, connect with other parents who are experiencing similar issues, and receive trustworthy information on parenting and teen development.”http://myparenthetical.com/about/