Thursday, February 23, 2012

Internet Addiction: How do you know? Is the Internet the New Drug of Choice?

When you think of drugs, most think of cocaine, marijuana, crack, ecstasy, etc...

But could social media, social networking or the Internet actually be the drug of choice?

Years ago when Facebook hit the scene no one really knew what to expect from the website.

The site was exclusive to college students and allowed them to keep in touch with their friends at different colleges… and that’s it.

Fast forward to today and social media, which has grown far beyond just Facebook with the addition of websites like Twitter and YouTube, has become an addiction that doesn’t just encompass college students, it encompasses teens, parents, and grandparents alike. Even our pets have their own Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.

Don’t believe that social media is a metaphorical type of drug? Let’s compare.

1.     It fills a self-imposed boredom:  How many times have you heard someone say, “well I just get on to [Facebook, Twitter, etc.] when I’m bored”? People spend more time being “bored” than ever before. Instead of getting out and doing something we choose to spend our time inside on a computer checking up on other people’s lives and connecting with our friends through websites. Like a drug taking up all of our free time that could be spent doing something productive, instead we opt to fill our free time with social media.

2.     It gives highs and lows:  What about when you log onto a social media website and see that you have new notifications or connections? There is that instant high that someone has reached out to you publicly on a social media site. We crave social media popularity. It’s addicting. We need the gratification and we get jealous when we see other people are more popular and depressed when no one has tagged us in anything.
 3.     It’s used as a reward:  Finish a project? Check Twitter. Write an article? Check Facebook. Check off items on a to-do list? Check blogs. We use social media as a reward for completing everyday tasks that deserve no reward, tasks that we should be doing because we are supposed to, not because it will allow us to reward ourselves with our next social media high.
 4.     It causes us to have withdrawals:  Maybe the first time you noticed was when you sat at a stoplight and had to log onto your Facebook account from your phone… just to see if anything interesting was happening. Maybe it was when you couldn’t sit through dinner without tweeting something to your followers. Maybe it was the first time you got a pang of longing to log on because you weren’t around an internet. Whatever the cause, we suffer withdrawals from not being able to check in with our social media sites, just like drug addicts long for the next time they can get high.
 5.     It’s a tough addiction to break:  As easy as it is to say that you aren’t addicted to social media as soon as you think about closing your accounts you’re probably met with that same fear that many people feel when faced with the thought of a life without it. How will you function since it’s become such an integral part of your life? Many of us have been addicted for so long that it would be incredibly difficult to make a clean break from the constant routine of checking our varying social media profiles.

Social media may not be illegal and it may not come with serious physical consequences, but it is an addiction that we are facing, and our teens are facing it in an even greater way because they’ve been inundated into the social media culture at a much earlier age than our generation of young and old adults were.

Author Coleen Torres, blogger at phone internet, Save money on home phone, digital TV, and high-speed Internet by comparing prices from providers in your area for standalone service or phone TV Internet bundles.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Smart Teens Failing In School and Making Bad Choices

When your teen is withdrawing, what can you do?
What happened to my teen that as making straight A's always so concerned about getting their homework done on time, participated in school activities and looked forward to family gatherings?

Adolescence? Peer pressure?  Today's society? A school incident such as bullying/cyberbullying?  Teen dating abuse?
Relationship issues? Teacher problems?

Your teen that was always part of your family is now secretive, defiant, non-responsive, snaps at you, is suddenly changing her peer group or worse than that, isolating herself/himself from everyone.  What is going on?

Sometimes it could be something a parent can't detect however they do see their once flourishing child now sinking into a deep dark hole.  They are either gravitating to a negative peer group or withdrawing all together, becoming secretive and actually failing school.  Sometimes skipping classes or not attending school at all.  Do you suspect they are using drugs or drinking?

What is the next step?

Seeking local help and all local resources should always be the first step.  Once you have exhausted all these options and you still see your child is sinking deeper, it may be time to consider residential therapy.  This is a major emotional and financial decision.

This will take time and research.  The Internet will be your friend and your foe at this point.  It is important you understand the difference between Internet fact and Internet fiction. Who to trust and who is simply "selling" you a litany of programs.

For a free consultation on this daunting industry, and a free chapter of my book, Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out of Control Teens, visit

Friday, February 10, 2012

Parent Role Models: Do You Practice What You Preach to Your Teen?

We are always telling our kids and teens what to do.

But do we practice what we preach?

As parents I know we like to think that we do no wrong, but have you ever thought about the fact that kids learn by example?  How many times a day would you say that you get after your kids about something?  Where are they learning those behaviors?  I know we’d like to think that they get it from their friends, but I think if you really thought about it that you might find that they are getting their bad examples from you.
Check out 10 situations where adults often model bad behaviors to kids.
  1. Texting while driving: I know I’m guilty of this.  I think that I only read a text while I’m driving, but I write back when I’m stopped at the stoplight.  Do you think the kids know the difference?  The slight nuance of only texting while you are stopped?  Or do they just see your cell phone in your hand?  If we want our kids to be safe when they become drivers we have to model responsible texting behaviors now.
  2. Road rage: Unfortunately I am very guilty of this one.  I’m always yelling at drivers when they do things that irritate me.  I try not to use profanity when the kids are in the car with me, but I know they are listening because I’ve heard my then six year old telling the driver of the car in front of me to get out of our way because we’re in a hurry.  At the time I think I told her that only the driver gets to do that.  But I was thinking that I was not setting a very good example for my kids.
  3. Playing a game: How many times have you gotten upset when you were playing a game as a family?  This can range from calling each other punk when they play the third draw card in a row while playing Uno to refusing to play the game anymore because you lost.  I’ve seen both of these and many more.  It’s important to remember that it’s just a game and it doesn’t really matter.  If your kids see you losing your cool over a simple card game then how can we get upset with them when they do the same thing at school or with their friends?
  4. Kids Sporting Event: Parents can get so riled up over a what they perceive to be a bad call at a soccer game, football game, insert sport here game that it’s unreal.  We were at a soccer tournament with my 10 year old son.  The parents of the other team got so upset at the officials that the off-duty police officers had to come and escort them to their next game.  They were yelling at our parents as well and it was all we could do to get all of our parents out of there before it came to blows.  The kids saw this happen and we wonder why you see poor sportsmanship on the field.
  5. Waiting in line: Some people are very time intolerant.  They would rather do almost anything other than stand in a long line.  It’s not my favorite way to spend my time either, but it doesn’t bother me.  What kind of behavior are you modeling for your kids when you keep complaining that the line is too long and this is all a big waste of time etc.?  You need to act like you would want them to act.
  6. Eating out: I think we’d all like to think we are raising kids who treat everyone fairly and courteously.  But what kind of example are you setting when you get upset with the waitress for messing up your order?  I’ve seen people get really angry with wait staff if their food is taking too long or if their order is wrong.  First of all, keep in mind that your children are watching you verbally abuse this stranger over food.  Secondly, keep in mind that that person that you are yelling at did not make the food.  They just brought it out to you.  And even if they put the order in wrong, I don’t think any of us can say that we’ve never made a mistake.
  7. Smoking: Every time an adult picks up a cigarette they are modeling bad behavior.  Cigarettes are poison and very unhealthy.  Again, kids learn by example so if you smoke what makes you think that they won’t start that bad habit too?
  8. Drinking excessively: Many times adults will over indulge at home or at a party.  Their kids see them acting in a weird way.  Kids have no idea why mommy or daddy is acting this way.  This can be very scary for kids and it doesn’t send a great message to the kids.  It gives them the idea that to have a good time you need to drink large amounts of alcohol.
  9. Yelling: We don’t want our children to yell at their teacher or us do we?  I’m pretty sure we don’t even want them to yell at each other.  When we yell at our children we are modeling bad behavior.  Again, kids learn by example.
  10. Hitting: It never ceases to amaze me that parents are surprised that their kids hit other kids at the park.  “I just don’t know why Johnny just hit your daughter?  He’s never been a hitter.”  No, but I’m sure that Johnny has been swatted a time a two since the first thing this mom did was smack him on the butt for hitting my child.  I wonder where he got the idea that hitting was the thing to do.
Source:  Nanny Classifieds

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

10 Ways Technology Makes Bullying and Cyberbullying Worse

When we were growing up there were bullies.  Nobody liked to be bullied, but it was a fact of life that you had to deal with kids that weren’t very nice.  Now, schools are so anti-bullying that anything that even slightly seems like bullying is taken very seriously.  At least when we were growing up they didn’t have Facebook to upload embarrassing videos to that would ruin a person’s life.

Check out 10 ways technology makes bullying worse.
  1. Facebook: Embarrassing pictures and videos can be uploaded to Facebook in a matter of a few seconds and ruin someone’s life forever.  Kids do not understand the damage that something like that can do to a person.  People have actually committed suicide because of events like these.
  2. Cell phones: Growing up we did not have cell phones.  Kids these days have the ability to take pictures at a moment’s notice and sometimes not in the most appropriate places.  Nude pictures of students in the shower or in the locker room have also caused suicides.
  3. Texting: Kids can bully by texting now.  They can text everyone else at the same time something bad or embarrassing about someone else.  They can also send pictures over their phone to everyone on their contact list.  Bullying like this can make someone’s life miserable.
  4. Flip cameras: These cameras are used to shoot quick videos at close range and can be uploaded to the Internet.  Kids that want to bully just have to take embarrassing videos of a student and share them with everyone.  Or a video can be sent to a parent as well that would get them grounded or in trouble.
  5. You Tube: A lot of good things have happened to people by posting a video on You Tube, but a lot of bad stuff has happened too.  People love to be the first one to dish the dirt on someone else.  They witness a fight they grab their cell phone and upload it to You Tube.  Or they set someone up and post what they think is a funny video to You Tube, but it’s actually very embarrassing.  People don’t think they are bullying when they do this stuff, but they really are.
  6. Gaming systems: Many online gaming systems allow conversations between the players.  Teens have reported that someone pretending to be them said mean things or embarrassing things to another person.  This kind of bullying is hard to stop and hard to track.  It does however cause a lot of problems for today’s teens.
  7. Blogs: There are teens that create blogs that post the latest gossip about people and will say nasty things about people.  Teens feel that they are anonymous and that no one can tell who is doing the bullying, but there are ways to track down who’s doing it and there are some big consequences.  If the bullying leads to a suicide the teen who is behind the bullying can be brought up on charges and sent to jail.  Lesser sentences are losing privileges to use a computer for 2 years.  Try doing your homework without a computer these days.
  8. Chat sites: Other sites online have chat rooms where teens can go and chat with their friends online.  People can go into these chat rooms and make up a user name and start saying bad things about kids in that chat room.  Many times there is a chat room that the students frequent because all their friends go there so when someone bullies in a chat room a lot of that kid’s peer group could be reading it.
  9. E-mail: Bullies steal identities and will sign into an e-mail account and send damaging e-mails pretending to be that teen.  Inappropriate messages to a female teacher or a nasty message to the principal are all things that can really get that child in trouble and they didn’t do anything.  Remind your child to keep passwords absolutely private.
  10. Instant messaging: Bullies will try to send nasty instant messages threatening to do something to a teen when they see them next.  Or tell them that they are going to make sure that they don’t get something they want at school like a part in the play or a solo in choir.  Bullying can take many forms even if it’s just telling someone that they did a terrible job on their audition or they overheard someone important say that they did a terrible job.  Anything like that is going to put undue stress on that child.  Make sure that your child is aware and being safe.
Source:  Full Time Nanny

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