Selfie Boom: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Wondering how the "selfie" became a social epidemic? Get the fact here.

The following post is a guest blog from Amy K. Williams. Amy is a journalist specializing in parenting, social issues and communication. She lives in Southern California, where she spends her time writing, cooking and volunteering. You can follow Amy on Twitter at: @AmyKWilliams1

As parents, we could have never conceived that taking photos of yourself and uploading them online would turn into a hugely popular trend…. But for kids and young adults today, it has, in the form of “selfies.” Selfies first became popular during the days of MySpace, but they really took off when the iPhone 4 was released in 2010 with a front-facing camera. Aside from being slightly obnoxious, is there anything really wrong with this fad?

According to the infographic below, there seem to be some mixed opinions on the subject. While there are those who believe selfies promote a healthy self-image, others think that frequently snapping photos of oneself only breeds narcissism and a preoccupation with self. So which is it?

At the end of the day, it comes down to your child and knowing what they’re like. If you find that selfies are instigating poor personality traits, it might be time to have a little chat and let your child know some of the drawbacks of this trend. Because unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

Selfie Boom: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Selfie Boom: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

7 Fall Driving Safety Tips

7 Fall Driving Safety Tips

The following post is a guest blog from Jason Fidishun. Jason loves working with John’s Driving School, a company dedicated to teaching residents of Lower Bucks County proper driving techniques for over 40 years. When Jason isn’t teaching, he enjoys spending time with his family and traveling.

7 Fall Driving Safety Tips

Throughout the fall and into the holiday season, thousands of parents pack their college students up to move to a university, while other residents head out on the roads to visit family and friends. Roads and highways quickly become over-crowded, so it is important to drive with caution on the roads. Heed these driving safety tips to lessen you or your young driver’s chances of being involved in an accident on the highways this fall.

Buckle up.  Whether you are coasting around your favorite mountain town or cruising down a highway, it is important to always wear your seatbelt. Make sure that children are safely buckled into the backseat, and that infants are tucked into properly secured car seats. Wearing a seatbelt can mean the difference between life and death in a car accident, so be sure to buckle up when heading out on the road.

Check tires. Give your tires a thorough inspection before heading out this fall. Test the air pressure, and inspect for any leaks or punctures that could cause problems on the road. Ensure that there is a spare tire in your trunk in case anything goes wrong during your travels.

Service your vehicle. Before taking any kind of road-trip, it is a good idea to have your car inspected to ensure it is running properly. Have your oil changed, tires rotated, and battery checked to prevent breakdowns on the highways.

Observe speed. It is extremely important to monitor your speed at all times while operating a car. This is especially important when driving on major highways, and through towns where the speed may only be 25 miles-per-hour. Make yourself aware of the speed limit in the area you are in, and pay attention for changes in speed throughout your travels.

Have patience. You are more than likely to experience traffic when traveling this fall, especially on the weekends. Just remember to take it easy, and do not rush or drive erratically. It is better to arrive late to your destination safely than to never get there at all.

Watch out. Pay attention to the road and the things surrounding your car at all times. Avoid looking away from the roads and becoming distracted by texting or searching for good music. Be especially careful of other drivers around you, as they may not be paying close attention to you or your vehicle. Also watch out for pedestrians attempting to cross the street, as they have the right of way at crosswalks.

Be prepared.  Keep your vehicle stocked with items to use in case of emergency. Have a first aid kit handy, as well as items like flares and reflective traffic warning triangles to warn other vehicles in the event of a breakdown.

In order to arrive safely to your destination, heed these driving safety tips.

photo credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli via Flickr cc

YouTube Parental Controls and What Every Parent Needs to Know

Guest blogger Sandra Mills, a freelance tech and online safety writer discusses YouTube parental controls and internet safety tips. | MamaBear App

The following post is a guest blog from Sandra Mills, a freelance tech, online security, and online safety writer. She is passionate about keeping kids safe when they are online.

What Every Parent Needs to Know About YouTube

Not only is YouTube the number one online video website, it’s the second most popular U.S. search engine, only falling behind Google. Chances are, you’ve visited the site yourself, and it’s very likely your child is spending time on there as well. But since you can’t be looking over their shoulder at every moment, the question remains: What are they watching? And even more importantly: Are they posting videos of themselves? To protect your child, there are some things you need to know about YouTube, in terms of what they have access to and who has access to them.

Questionable Content

YouTube is a great place for viewing all sorts of valuable content. But let’s be honest. In their free time, your children probably aren’t using YouTube to learn how to solve an algebra problem or watch legendary orators deliver powerful speeches. They’re probably looking for something more entertaining: something silly, weird, or downright shocking. There is a lot—a lot—of content on YouTube, and for every video with a wholesome message, there are hundreds more that would make a parent raise an eyebrow.

Consider these statistics from 2013, provided by Media Smarts, Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy:

  • There are more than 1 billion unique visitors to YouTube each month.
  • Every minute, 100 hours of video are uploaded to the website.
  • 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month.

With numbers like that, there’s no questioning that your child runs the risk of stumbling across videos they probably shouldn’t be watching, even if they aren’t seeking out the type of content they wouldn’t want to watch with you looking over their shoulder. It’s entirely possible for them to click on a music video by their favorite artist that may turn out to contain questionable material.

Moments in the Spotlight

Just like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube is a social media site. When a user posts a video, they can enable options that let other users comment on it and “like” it. This can quickly become a negative space, where a child places their self worth in the number of likes they receive on a video or a comment that is directed towards them. If this becomes the case, and you see your child has become to victim or even the aggregator of hurtful language, it’s best to shut down their account, and have a discussion about Internet bullying.

While YouTube may be a difficult place to engage socially, it can be a great place for children to express themselves creatively. But have a conversation with them beforehand about what sort of things are appropriate to post. Common Sense Media suggests talking to your child about why they’re motivated to post videos of themselves online. Is it because they want to feel famous, or because they want to feel accomplished? Can they differentiate between those two things? And, most importantly, would they want you to see what they’re posting?

YouTube Parental Controls: A Step Further

If your child uses YouTube for any reason, consider laying down some ground rules. The site itself has its own rules of regulations in place, but users can find ways around them. Some videos require the viewer to be 18 to watch, but children can easily work around that by doing some simple math and “verifying” their age with the correct birthday.

Don’t forget to take advantage of privacy settings—they’re there for a reason. Make sure that, if your child is posting videos of him or herself, that they never use their real name, where they live, etc., and be smart about who they add to their friend list. You can also make sure that their channel’s privacy settings are set such that only friends can see their content.

Additionally, there is a YouTube safety mode parents can activate in an account that filters search results, but those filters only apply when you’re logged into the account. It’s a good idea to take parental controls a little further. Keep the family computer out in the open, and limit YouTube use on smartphones and tablets.


Helping Your Teen be Safe on Social Media

social media safety for teens

About the author: Naomi Broderick is a professional writer who loves being a parent and everything that goes with it. When she’s not having to watch her three children in the front yard she loves to cook and keep updated on the most recent technologies and ways of keeping children safe in the home and the neighborhood.

In our current culture, there are more and more ways that people, especially teens, can connect with one another. We now live in a digital world that is the preferred method of connecting and communicating with others. While today’s teenagers may seem that they are growing up more and more quickly, and seem more digitally savvy than their parents, they are still young. They lack the maturity and life skills to get themselves out of trouble in these new social settings. Helping them to prevent dangerous social interactions in the first place is the ideal thing to do. Here are some tips to help your teen be safe on social media.

Use Privacy Settings

Not only are there worries about having to having to keep your family safe in the real world, but in our current culture there are now worries about having to protect your family and teens online. One of the best ways to do this is to have your teen use the privacy settings on social media sites. Keep your teen’s profile private so that only family and people you know and trust can see photos, important dates such as birthdays, and other information. It would be best if they didn’t put any personal contact information such as phone numbers, home addresses, or other information on their social media sites. Also, make sure that your teen has a strong password that cannot be guessed easily and that they change it fairly regularly (approximately every 3-4 months). Making sure that your teen does not accept any friend requests of people that they do not know will help give you piece of mind knowing that strangers are not able to access your teen’s profile.

Have Open Discussions with Your Teen

There is one thing that any parent has to accept: teens are going to experiment and try new things. But, if you want your teen to be open an honest with you about what they are doing, you need to have an open dialogue with them. Parents need to be ready to actively listen and talk with their teen about what is going on in their life if they want the teen to come to them more often for help and guidance. Help them get over the situation but make sure that they learn from their mistake.

No Compromising Photos or Videos

Help your teen be smart about what they post online. Everything that they post on social media sites can be shared with the entire world and could hurt their integrity. If teens that are underage post sexy or nude photos of themselves not only they could get in trouble but parents as well. The parents are responsible for the original sender and could face jail time and be required to register as a sex offender. Teens could also be asked to leave sports teams, humiliated, or lose future educational opportunities. Talk to your teen about being smart and using good judgment about taking and posting photos, and that they know the serious consequences of what can happen for both them and you if the pictures are inappropriate.