Empowering Kids through Media Literacy

Empowering Kids through Media Literacy

By Sarah Moore



As kids engage more and more with various media online, it becomes incredibly important for both parents and kids to be media literate. From videos to social media to advertisements, everything is designed to capture the consumer’s attention. Media literacy is the ability to understand how and why the media can influence us. Having media literacy empowers kids because it enables them to decide for themselves how much of an influence media will have over them. Kids can develop media literacy by developing skills such as:


• Critical Thinking: The ability to step back and ask what an advertisement is doing and how it is doing it naturally creates a distance that reduces the subconscious influence of most advertisements.

• Deconstruction: Taking apart an advertisement and looking at its individual parts lessens the overall power of the intended message.

• Self-worth: As an understanding on their own self-worth grows, kids (and adults!) are less likely to be influenced by the many advertisements that use aspirational characters.

Developing these skills takes practice, practice, and more practice! We’ve developed a series of short interactive lessons that can be done alone or with a parent or teacher to help kids become more media literate (you can find our Kids Page here). These lessons do this through:

• Repetition: Each lessons has a set of three similar advertisements to work through, thus reinforcing the ideas being taught.

• Discussion Questions: Certain aspects of the advertisements are highlighted with accompanying questions. These can be used as prompts to start a discussion between kids and their parent or teacher, or kids can click on the suggested answers for self-guidance.

• Specific Tools: Each lessons tries to teach specific tools that can be used later to deconstruct other advertisements kids may encounter in their day-to-day life. These range from things as fundamental as design elements to ideas as difficult as aspirational characters.

Hopefully after enough practice kids—and the adults doing the lessons with them—will begin to automatically analyze the media they encounter everyday. Developing a habit of medial literacy will protect kids from unwanted influences and allow them do decide who they want to be for themselves.


Check out our Kids Page and keep an eye out for our upcoming book, Petra’s Power to See, A Media Literacy Adventure, coming out this fall.

When Your Child Has a Porn Habit

When Your Child Has a Porn Habit

By Josh Gilman

When my wife and I were expecting our first child, she would sometimes ask me, “Do you ever get scared of raising a child in this society?” To which I always responded, “Are you kidding? As soon as our kid is born we are AMISH!”

While that was obviously a joke, the reality is that it’s often intimidating to be tasked with the wonderful responsibility of parenting in today’s culture. But we don’t have to freak out. Not even if we find out our kids have a porn habit. And I tell you this because I’m living proof of it.

I was that kid. I was the kid from a great family with loving parents who did their very best to protect me, but I still fell prey to the reality of today’s internet and ended up with a nearly crippling porn habit. By every definition of the word, I was an addict. And yet here I am to tell you that a porn habit doesn’t mean your kid’s life is over. Your dream of having a happy healthy child who can grow up to become a loving father or mother isn’t dead. Calm down, take a breath, here is what you need to know:

Don’t shame them. The first thing you need to know is that your child needs you to not freak out. The truth is that nobody enjoys porn. Yes, it fires off dopamine like crazy, and yes, their brain is demanding that they watch it again. But every person who watches it also has that uncomfortable feeling in their stomach. As violent and disturbing as today’s porn is, despite every craving, there is also shame, and when you freak out you are only falsely confirming to them that they are shameful and they are disgusting.

Use positive reinforcement. Instead of scolding, you have an opportunity to come alongside your child and say “Does porn make you uncomfortable sometimes? That’s good! That’s right! I’m proud of you for feeling that way.” As Tim Challies has said, “We have few opportunities to plead with our children, discovering their porn habit gives us one of those opportunities. To plead with them and say, out there, are people who don’t care about others. They want to use people, consume them like product, and they want you on their side. Let’s be different. Let’s fight together for love, for truth. I can help you” (2014).

Offer direction. After we’ve started the conversation, we then have the opportunity to capitalize on this moment to parent our children how we’ve always dreamed, to offer them a different way to live. For the parent of faith, you will not have a better opportunity to contrast the love and forgiveness and freedom they can experience with God versus trying to do it all on their own. For the parent who would like to live a less digitally dependant life, this is when you can seize the moment and clearly explain why you believe that trips to the grand canyon are better without cameras and selfies.

To the parent who finds out their child has a porn habit, don’t panic. You will never have a better opportunity to be the parent your child needs than at that very moment. Use it. It could change their life for good, forever.

For more ideas on this challenging subject, check out our book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Pornography, available here: http://amzn.to/1OjQKfA. It includes simple discussions and a RUN plan for younger kids as well as thought-provoking discussions and ideas for older kids.

Josh Gilman is the Executive Director of Strength To Fight, a Canadian-based organization that equips men & women, boys & girls to live porn-free lives and build porn-free communities. He has told his story across the country so that many others trapped in porn addiction can change their story, and that children can have a life-story that never has pornography in it in the first place. His biggest goal is that his 3 children will grow up with a different internet than the one he grew up with.



Challies, T. (2014, April 14). Help! My Kids Are Looking at Porn! Retrieved July 8, 2017 from https://www.challies.com/articles/help-my-kids-are-looking-at-porn/.


Sex Talks and Sexual Assault…

Sex Talks and Sexual Assault…

This is part two in a two part series focusing on survivors of sexual assault. Here is part one.

By Michelle Harkey, LMHC

Having a child be sexually assaulted is one of a parent’s worst nightmares. Unfortunately, it is far too common, with about one out of three females and one in five males being sexually assaulted. Assisting your child(ren) through the very challenging times ahead may seem daunting. Know that it is worth the very best effort you can put forth and can make a tremendous difference in how well your child recovers.

It becomes even more complex when you, yourself, have also been sexually assaulted in the past. This scenario can be debilitating for you and is much less talked about, so let’s address some of the potential difficulties as well as some ways to help yourself.

It is possible to trigger your own trauma in the midst of helping your child. You may suddenly find that your own thoughts and maybe dreams are dominated by your own sexual assault, or perhaps what is your history and your child’s history gets all mixed up in your mind. It may be that you are feeling more or strangely anxious or depressed, as if from an earlier time. Maybe the amount of uncontrollable rage you are feeling is so much you fear you may do something to hurt yourself or others.

Conversely, you may feel quite removed emotionally from the situation. Maybe you sense that all of this is happening to somebody else entirely or that you’re a spectator in your own life. If your reaction to the revelation of your child’s sexual assault is nonchalant or somewhat muted, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing some form of dissociation. Dissociation was a valuable tool to get through your sexual assault, but it is not so helpful now.

Both of the above opposite reactions can be signs of your own trauma coming up for a deeper (or perhaps first) chance of healing.

Try This: As miserable as this may seem, you can embrace this opportunity for healing yourself. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your child. Your own healing will help your child heal as well. Check your local library for resources on healing your own childhood sexual assault (CSA), like Courage to Heal. Better yet, contact a therapist or counselor who is familiar with healing from CSA to help the entire family.

Additionally, your own shame or guilt about your sexual assault may come up as you are helping your child work through the effects of his or her sexual assault.

Try This: Recall that your reactions and feelings are not necessarily the feelings and reactions of your child. Your informed support can decrease the likelihood of your child experiencing shame or guilt. Brene Brown’s book can be helpful.

You may be tempted to downplay your own difficulties. Don’t. Just don’t. While it is true you’re your child needs and deserves your time and attention, you also need to have support. Healing from sexual assault is a big task and you’ll benefit from a cadre of supportive people.

Try This: I strongly recommend investing in a professional helper, like a counselor or therapist, who has experience in helping people resolve sexual trauma. Where available, a sexual assault support group is typically one of the best ways to heal from sexual assault of any kind.

Friends and family who understand are valuable, and you may get to train them to be even more helpful. The Allies in Healing book will be useful for this training, especially for your spouse or partner.  Try to limit your contact (at least for a while) with those who are judgmental or demeaning of you or your child in your healing process.

Learn as much as you can about healing from sexual assault. This may be a lot or it may only be this article. Sometimes learning about it can be difficult and/or triggering though, so pace yourself.

Most of all, seek to take care of yourself as best you can. Yes, right now the emphasis is appropriately on your child, but caring for yourself is an important way to make it possible for you to show up in a supportive role for your child. It’s okay to ask for what you need.

There are many resources available online and in print. Try some of these:




If this rings true for you or your family, it is time to start the conversations with your children today. These conversations should be open and safe for your child to ask questions and speak openly. For more information about how to talk to your children about sex check out our book 30 Days of Sex Talks(available for 3 age groups: 3-7, 8-11, and 12+). Other books that will help you with this critical subject are How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and 30 Days to a Stronger Child. All titles and many others available on Amazon.

Michelle Harkey helps men and women release tension and trauma from their bodies so they can live a fuller life in fulfilling relationships. To do this, she specializes in body-oriented (somatic) psychotherapy/counseling and body-connection coaching. She is also the mother of five children. In her self-care time she enjoys sitting in hot springs while reading; competing in triathlons; and has recently decided to try scuba diving. Michelle has a MA Liberal Arts and a MA Counseling.

The Super Power of Fathers: Helping Kids Weather Negative Influences

The Super Power of Fathers: Helping Kids Weather Negative Influences

By Trishia Van Orden

I recently heard a “Story Behind the Song” segment on the radio where the artist was sharing some of his greatest fears as a father. The artist shared that he wrote his song as a way to help his children and others know that they are perfect the way they are and that they do not need to try to fit into some mold that people create.

After hearing this, I contemplated some of the challenges kids face in our culture and how their fathers can help them overcome these. With so many loud voices in media, social media, and other influences telling our kids what they should look like, what they should wear and how they should behave, I realized how incredibly important good fathers are to their children.

A father has the capacity to influence their children for good or bad. Their influence impacts all areas of a child’s development including; self-worth, prosocial development, education, and emotional and physical development (Osborne, Dillon, Craver, & Hovey, 2016). They are one of the keys to how their child will handle the messages and ideas that they see and hear from others around them.

This can sometimes seem hard as we often have no idea how to help our children see just how perfect they are. The good news is, fathers have time to help their children see just how wonderful, smart, and beautiful they really are!

Here are some ways that fathers can help build their child’s self-worth:

  • Remind your child that they are beautiful.
    • My husband tell our little girls that they are beautiful every day no matter how silly they are dressed, how messy they look, or anything else. He knows and reminds them that beauty is something more than an image. It is the true essence of who we are. Because of his influence, my children our learning to see themselves as beautiful.
  • Stay involved in your child’s life.
    • Many times we get so carried away with our lives that we sometimes forget to be part of our children’s lives. Do you truly know your child? Take some time to play with, talk to, and have one on one time. Get to know your child and what is happening in their life. This is the best way to tell your child you love them,spending time together–without screens.
  • Never tell your child that they are something negative.
    • Many parenting books, studies, and websites have said that when a parent tell their children that they are something, the child internalizes it and essentially becomes it. This means that if you tell them that they are dumb, ugly, bad, or any other negative adjective, they will end up trying/becoming what they are told they are. Instead help them see the good in them. If they are misbehaving simply refer to the behavior and not the person.   
  • Help your child see the good in life.
    • According to the National Eating Disorders Association, people who have positive views on life are less likely to be dissatisfied with themselves and their bodies. Fathers can help their children develop this positive outlook by being optimistic. Point out the good, smile, and set an example of being happy. Doing this will encourage your children to do so as well.

In the end there are many things that fathers can do to help their children, but being involved is most important! Show your children that you love them and care for them and they will be more open to your influence. You are so important to them. Just remember to smile, love them, and have fun.

Happy Father’s Day!!

For amazing discussions and activities that help connect you to your kids, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child, available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1TEMnUr. The book includes great questions, lessons and challenges to help your kids learn to fill their emotional, intellectual, social, physical and spiritual “accounts.”


Osborne, C., Dillon, D., Craver, J. W., & Hovey, I. (2016). Making good on fatherhood: A review of the fatherhood program research. The University of Texas at Ausin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Ausin: Child and Family Research Partnershi. Retrieved May 25, 2017, from http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/135704/CFRPReport_MakingGoodonFathers_ReviewofPgmResearch.pdf?__hssc=162717731.5.1497333636244&__hstc=162717731.23b1eddfb3dc9816615e74b9abf67dc7.1495731962316.1495731962316.1497333636244.2&__hsfp=2219875683&hsCtaTracking=c8c4


Trishia Van Orden and her husband, James are the parents of three amazing little girls ranging from 3 ½ years to 3 weeks old. Trishia received her bachelor’s from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Marriage and Family Studies. She has a love for psychology and one day wishes to open her own Family Life Education Center where she lives. She also dreams of getting her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Trishia loves to go outdoors and spend time with her husband and little girls.

Soul to Sole

Soul to Sole

By Tina Mattsson

I remember my daughter’s first dance recital. She was 3. I sat in the audience and cried. Something about seeing her move her body so carefree and comfortably moved me to tears. As Mary Bawden, founder of Soul to Sole Choreography (http://www.soultosolechoreography.org), puts it, “there is a beautiful integration of mind, body, and spirit in dance.” But as she points out in her blog on her website, “It’s the 21st century, and the cultural dance environment has morphed into 2 distinct options for children: healthy versus unhealthy dance.”

Bawden has had dance in her mind, body, and spirit from a young age. She grew up dancing, but ultimately decided not to pursue a career in dance. She instead became a teacher and taught high school. But after a few years, the call to dance became so powerful she couldn’t ignore it any longer. So with the support of her husband, she went back to school and got a BA in Modern Dance from UC Riverside. Slowly doors kept opening until she was invited to start a dance ministry.

After becoming discouraged at the increasing hypersexualization of young girls in dance, Bawden created an initiative called Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited (DA:NCE) http://www.soultosolechoreography.org/dance-awareness-2/. The purpose is to “bring greater cultural awareness and education around the growing use of sexy, age-inappropriate costumes, music and choreography in children’s dance and how this is distorting the art and activity of dance for kids.”

The research is pretty clear here. Hypersexualization of young girls at an earlier and earlier age has damaging long-term ramifications. The American Psychological Association defines hypersexualization as “occurring when a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior to the exclusion of other characteristics” (De Melker, 2013).

In 2010 the UK government commissioned a review called Sexualization of Young People Review by Linda Papadopoulos. She found that “exposure to the sexualized female ideal is linked with lower self-esteem, negative moods and depression in young women and girls” (Lister, 2013).

Also, the American Psychological Association says research shows that the sexualization of girls negatively affects them in many ways including: (“Sexualization of Girls is Linked to Common Mental Health Problems in Girls and Women”, 2007)

* Cognitive and Emotional Consequences: Sexualization and objectification undermine a person’s confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety.

* Mental and Physical Health: Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women–eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.

* Sexual Development: Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

Bawden says while there are people in every culture who are truly evil, the majority of the people are unaware or uneducated. And they see something that makes them uncomfortable, such as a young girl dancing provocatively, but they don’t know what to do or say because they have no research or tools, so they say nothing. DA:NCE aims to change that.

On the DA:NCE website is an intriguing and informative video (http://www.soultosolechoreography.org/dance-awareness-ppt-video/) that traces dance and widens the net to show how unhealthy dance is connected to normalizing children to be used for pornography. In other words, “grooming girls to be objects and encouraging young men to view girls as objects.” Bawden is quick to point out it’s not the kids’ fault. It’s the culture and many other issues, one of which is money in the pornography industry and the availability of the Interne to make this happen without people realizing what’s going on.

Bawden feels strongly about children experiencing the beauty of dance like she did and that mind, body, and spirit connection. And she feels strongly about keeping kids safe in this endeavor. So she has made the video and PowerPoint presentation available for free on the site for people to use to help educate their communities.

For more ideas on how to help your child develop a strong body image and to talk to your child about their bodies check out our books 30 Days to A Stronger Child and 30 Days of Sex Talks. Also, check out our website for more information on media literacy and digital citizenship.

For more information and links to many more organizations with information on this topic, check out the resource page for DA:NCE. http://www.soultosolechoreography.org/links/

Tina Mattson has a BA in Journalism with a Minor in English. She is a mother, writer and advocate for children’s safety and education.


De Melker, S. (2013, December 21). Researchers measure increasing sexualization of images in magazines. Retrieved November 08, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/social_issues-july-dec13-sexualization_12-21/

Lister, L. (2013, June 27). Hyper-Sexualization of Girls – Dove Self-Esteem. Retrieved November 08, 2016, from http://selfesteem.dove.us/Articles/Written/Hyper-Sexualization-of-Girls.aspx

Sexualization of Girls is Linked to Common Mental Health Problems in Girls and Women. (2007, February 19). Retrieved November 08, 2016, from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2007/02/sexualization.aspx

Simple Ways to Teach Positive Body Image to Your Kids

Simple Ways to Teach Positive Body Image to Your Kids

By Trishia Van Orden

Have you ever wondered why children become more and more obsessed with their bodies as they age?  From infancy, children explore their bodies trying to understand what it is and how it works. As kids age, they start to notice how they look, feel, and act, sometimes comparing themselves to others. They start to develop a body image that is all their own.

Our body image is how we see ourselves. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself, what do you see? The image that you created in your mind is your body image. You can have a positive healthy body image or a negative damaging one, depending on how you see yourself. This view of self is influenced by many factors including; media, family and friend’s, personal expectations, and past experiences. Each thing that we have experienced in our life has somehow affected how we see ourselves.

As parents in this digital age we watch our children grow, we see that they too take in messages from external sources which tell them how they should look, act, and think. Sometimes these sources are parents and sometimes they can be media. It is important as parents to ensure that our children understand the information fed to them every day. Recent studies have shown that people who identify with characters in the media–for the purposes of this article we will define media as TV, magazines, videogames, or online– tend to have a negative body image. (Beth Teresa Bell, 2011) Developing a negative body image can lead to several problems including eating disorders, unhealthy exercise habits, depression, behavioral problems, and unhealthy understanding of sex . (Morry & Staska, 2001) (K.A. Earles, 2002)

Parents are the link to helping children see through unhealthy messages and helping them see what an amazing thing a body is. Some ways that you can help your child develop a good body image is;

  • Be the example: Provide your children with an example of someone who loves their body and all the things that it can do. Ask yourself what you say about your body or physical traits when your child is around?
  •  Help them see their true beauty: Remind children that they are amazing the way they are. Help them see their wonderful talents, skills, and personality. Beauty is never just skin deep.
  • Sincerely compliment your child: Provide your child with lots of positive feedback on how they look, think, act, and behave.
  • Help your child develop positive affirmations that they can remind themselves of when they are down (e.g. I am smart. I am creative etc.)
  • Start the morning by reminding your child who they are and what they stand for.
  • Help your child develop a good understanding of the media–media literacy. Teach them to be skeptical of what they see and hear in the media, especially when it comes to images. (This can be done by teaching them media literacy and digital citizenship.)
  • Teach your child about their body and how it works. Help them realize how special their body really is no matter how it looks.

As you work with you child on these skills they will learn how to better understand their bodies and the wonderful things that it does. Developing a positive body image will help them as they enter school and grow to be teenagers. They will be better aware of who they are and what they really can do.

For more ideas on how to help your child develop a strong body image and to talk to your child about their bodies check out our books 30 Days to A Stronger Child and 30 Days of Sex Talks. Also, check out our website for more information on media literacy and digital citizenship.

Trishia Van Orden graduated from Brigham Young University, Idaho with a BS in Marriage and Family Studies. She has an amazing husband and two children, with one on the way. Her passions include research and helping families!  She wants to be a family life educator and family therapist someday!


Beth Teresa Bell, H. D. (2011, April 15). Does media type matter? the role of identification in adolescent girls’ media consumption and the impact of different thin-ideal media on body image. Sex Roles, 478-490. doi:DOI 10.1007/s11199-011-9964-x

K.A. Earles, R. A. (2002, Sep). Media influences on children and adolescents: Violence and sex. Journal of the National Medical Association, 94(4), 797-801.

Morry, M. M., & Staska, S. L. (2001, October). Magazine exposure: internalization, self-objectification, eating attitudes and body satisfaction in male and female university students. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science; 269.

Other helpful resources:




New, Family-Friendly Documentary Makes it Easy to Talk with Kids about Porn

New, Family-Friendly Documentary Makes it Easy to Talk with Kids about Porn

Now Available on iTunes!

By Dina Alexander, MS

President, Educate and Empower Kids

I recently had the opportunity to speak with director Justin Hunt about his new, family-friendly* documentary, Addicted to Porn: Chasing the Cardboard Butterfly. Thinking of my kids, I appreciated that there was NO explicit imagery of any kind in the film. And I loved the clear, animated depictions of how addiction works. They truly help kids (and adults) understand how addictions begins and how powerful porn can be to the developing human brain.  

Narrated by Metallica’s James Hetfield, it features powerful interviews with neurosurgeon, Dr. Don Hilton and others researching the neurochemical effects of porn, as well as perspectives from young people in five different countries, and personal stories from those deeply affected by this epidemic.

“At it’s core, it’s a movie that shows an imminent threat to intimacy,” described Hunt.

Another compelling theme in the documentary addresses shame and how it can keep kids from talking to their parents about pornography exposure and keeps those struggling with addiction from getting help. As Hunt explained, ”If we are going to move forward as families and as a culture, we have to get out from under the weight of the shame of it. It is not allowing us to get into the dark places.”

Hunt echoed many of the concerns Educate and Empower Kids has had over the years, saying “We have no public education on porn and no discussion on what intimacy is. We don’t show kids “this is how a relationship is supposed to look and this is how you get there.”

Many of us are still trying to bring simple awareness of this issue into the public eye and bring the very real dangers of pornography out into the light. “We can’t deal with it if we don’t acknowledge it,” said Hunt. “It’s like a cancer. You can’t see it on the surface, but it’s destroying us from the inside. It’s eating us alive from inside out.”

When asked what surprised him during his research and filming, Hunt disclosed, “The commonality surprised me most. How pervasive porn use is and how universally damaging it was.”

“We’re not talking about a small percentage of people. I saw over and over how many people are affected by it and the ripple effects of this. I also saw self-absorbed fathers who were addicted, totally disengaged from their kids and spouses.”

As a father, Hunt has also frequently talked with his kids about pornography and its consequences. “I have many open discussions with them. I don’t baby them. I ask them, ‘What are you seeing? What are the norms? Do your buddies watch porn? Do people try to get you to look at porn?’”

What’s Justin Hunt’s advice for parents?

* Stop thinking “it’s not my kid.”

* Stop thinking “they’re too young (to have seen it or be affected by it).”

* Start checking your kids’ phones

Although the documentary is available on iTunes, you can also book a showing of a PG or G rated version in your community, church or other local event. You may even be able to get the director to come out and discuss the film with your group! Go to https://www.atpdoc.com for more information.

For great discussions about the dangers of pornography for younger and older children, check out How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography available on Amazon. (link: http://amzn.to/1OjQKfA)


*Parents should note that there are two expletives in the documentary.


13 Reasons Why Not…

13 Reasons Why Not…

By Lisa Shanklin, Communications Director, Educate and Empower Kids

The popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” is still trending on Netflix. It was released a month ago and has been trending ever since, and it has a lot of psychologists and parents concerned. It was given a  mature rating for graphic sex and rape scenes, drug and alcohol use, and language.  On a positive side, it is generating a lot of needed conversation on the topics of suicide, cyberbullying, and other teen related topics. The show is based on a sophomore girl (about 15/16 years old) who commits suicide and leaves 13 reasons why she did–holding her bullies accountable for what she felt led to her death. There are hundreds of articles reviewing the show, and there are many efforts being made to focus not on why one would commit suicide–but on WHY NOT to take your life. We have listed our 13 Reasons why our kids mean so much to us and encourage you to give your child their own 13 Reasons why they matter to you:


1 – You are unique.

2 – You have a contribution to make to the world that no one else can make.

3 – You are not alone.

4 – Things will get better.

5 – Feelings change. Situations change.

6 – There are others who can and will help you.

7 – You can help others.

8 – Death is permanent. You don’t get another life.

9 – You are strong.

10 – You can overcome.

11 – You are brave.

12 – You are needed.

13 – Your life is worth the effort to keep trying.

It can be so difficult to see hope and to see one’s own value during dark times. Reinforce in each of your children reasons why they matter to you and how life would not be the same without them in it. Have a discussion tonight. Tell them your 13 Reasons why they matter to you. If you have more than one child, make sure each of them understand why they are important and integral to your family. It is never too late, start today!

If anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8255]) or dial 911. The world is better with you in it.

For essential lessons and activities that help connect you to your kids and create meaningful discussions, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child, available on Amazon. The book includes great questions, lessons and challenges to help your kids learn to fill their emotional, intellectual, social, physical and spiritual “accounts.” Some of the topics include: friendship, respect, positive self-talk, empathy, addiction, gratitude, community, critical thinking, and many more–30 lessons in all.

Lisa Shanklin has a degree in Recreation Management and Youth Leadership from Brigham Young University. She has been an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America and the local PTAs in both Baltimore, Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia. She served as the President and Executive Director of Women for Decency in 2016 and continues to work with families, schools, small businesses and nonprofits in her community to teach internet safety and digital citizenship. She is the mother of five children and now has a daughter-in-law as well. She resides in Johns Creek, Georgia with her two youngest children.

Child Safety Management Apps and Spying Apps

Child Safety Management Apps and Spying Apps

By Stephen Schroeder

This article continues the needed discussion surrounding the ever evolving app list on your children’s phones. For more information on what we’ve deemed the most dangerous apps of 2017, click here.




The difference between Child Safety Management Apps and Spying Apps

On January 18, 2017, The Gazzette published a post about Jonathan Birt, who was jailed for spying on children in the school where he once worked. This news adds to the number of incidents making spying on children an alarming crime. This case also intensifies the discussion regarding the negativity around spying of any kind.

The use of GPS apps to locate children is also seen as a spying tool. People have different thoughts about it and some parents may complain that such apps actually increase threats to their children’s safety. On the other hand there are people that believe such apps are indispensable for helping safeguard their children’s lives.

Even with the continuous debate about children trackers and spying apps, the number of devices and software for child trackers is still consistently growing. With all these apps and products in the market, is there really a good one to use for keeping children safe?

Apps that are meant to spy

Setting aside those spying apps that are crafted by government agencies, let us take a look specifically at those products that are very open in proclaiming their business as children spying apps. These devices or software tell people, especially parents, that there is a need for them to spy on their kids. These spying app companies promote their products by tapping into scare tactic reasoning like early pregnancy, early marriages, reckless driving and drug addictions.


This spying software is claiming to be the only product that can spy on phone calls. The app needs to be secretly installed on the phone of the person being watched. The parent using the app should at least know the password of their kids’ phone to install it otherwise the app is useless. Spyera presents their apps features to include access to photos, videos and audio tracker, phone call tracker, VOIP calls tracker, and VOIP call recording. Remotely controlling a kid’s phone is one of its proud features.


Phone and text messaging play an importance role in teen’s daily lives. Teensafe is a software that can spy on the phone and call messaging. This software must be installed in the child’s phone with the exception that parents have the option to let their children know or not – thus retaining the capacity to install it surreptitiously. They can choose to let them know but it does have the capacity for spying.

Given the two sample products, the element of a spying app is secrecy and infringing on the privacy of children. The more secretive it gets, the more effective the app will be. This secrecy is where the discussion and many opinions about spying apps arise.

Child Safety Management Apps            

The core intent of providing apps for tracking and locating children is to increase their safety as they go about their daily lives. The companies providing these apps know how important children are to their parents. The peace of mind it can give knowing their kids will be safe while outside their home is invaluable.

Child safety management apps often include tracking capabilities, geofencing features and alert systems. Citing some names for child safety and location sharing apps will give us a better view of their usage.

Life360 Family Locator   

This app used GPS to track and monitor children. It has an alert system which tells parents when children arrive at school or exit those premises. It has a one-button panic alert feature, which sends emergency notification to parents whenever the kid is loss or just simply scared for some reason.

MobileLocate Family Locator 

This app concentrates on using mobile phones for location tracking and child monitoring. It also uses GPS technology plus cell network data to function as a location tracker. The app is usually offered by mobile device carriers. The company responsible for the app is boasting their 24/7 customer service and hassle free connection.

Turtler Location Sharing App

This newcomer has a promise of using GPS+ Assisted GPS for a better connection signal. Turtler Ltd. is presenting their app as a quicker, easier to use and more accurate product. Its geolocation connection is assisted by telecom tower triangulation. The app features include 2 way calling and texting, safety perimeter set-up, alert system, flexible communication set-up and group location sharing. A main stand-out differentiation of the app is their industry-leading encryption, authentication and data privacy standards to resist any hacking of their services and loss of data to third parties.

The concluding difference

Child safety management apps main features are geofence creation, an alert system for parent and 2 way communications, while spying app main features are text and call monitoring, phone snooping and location tracking. Child safety apps are installed without violating any privacy of the children.

The big difference of the two app types are that the child safety management app does not monitor children as if they have done something bad or will soon do something that is not conforming to their parent’s interest, which on the other hand is the revolving idea on spying apps. The main focus of safety apps is the security of the child once they have left their home or away from their parents care while spying apps are concerned with judging the social behavior of the kids.

What YOU can do:

With this daunting list, you maybe asking yourself how you can keep your kids safe, here are some tips:

  • Approve every app on your kid’s phone
  • Follow your gut instincts, if something feels off with your child
  • Teach self-monitoring to your children
  • Encourage your children to use technology, including their social media accounts, for good
  • Find out what is popular in your region, different apps catch on in different locations
  • Have regular discussions about phone use, apps, and social media with your kids

Stephen Schroeder is the founder of Turtler and started the company after being dissatisfied with all the available options for keeping connected with his toddler daughter in the busy streets of China. He has previously led the SEIRIM web application and development agency in Shanghai. Prior he worked in journalism, advertising and graduated university in Spain.

“Life After Lust”

“Life After Lust”

Interview with Forest Benedict by Lisa Shanklin


Recently a new book came out titled “Life After Lust” by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP. His passion and dedication for helping others is seen in the life work that he has chosen. I was grateful for the opportunity I had to talk with him about his book, why he wrote it and how it can help all of us. One of his goals in writing the book was to help other parents who might be struggling themselves. He says if parents are hooked on porn, it hinders their attachment to their children, and to help prevent our children from becoming addicted, connection is needed.

Educate and Empower Kids recognizes the need for connection between parents and children. It is our mission to provide resources to parents and educators to encourage deep connection with their kids through media education, meaningful family communication and intentional parenting. We believe this must be done by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online pornography. And Forest is a great example of a father who is teaching not only his children, but so many others about the danger of pornography, the heartbreak that can come from its use and how to deal with it, because it is a part of our world.

In his work as a therapist for Lifestar, he leads several groups for those with addiction, for the spouses of those addicted and for teenagers that are addicted to pornography.  He knows how hard it can be for children to tell their parents about their struggles and for parents to handle things in a helpful way. He says when we find out that our children are looking at pornography, we need to normalize the attraction to it. Children are curious and we need to be open for our children to talk to us. We can teach about how our brains work and what we can do to be healthy.

When we are connected to our parents and feel safe and secure, we are less likely to develop addictions. Forest grew up in a house with an alcoholic father and when he found pornography at age 12, he continued to seek it out until age 24 when he attended an “Every Man’s Battle” workshop. He went through the intensive weekend and has stayed away from pornography use and masturbation since then. He feels blessed to have gone through that experience just two weeks before he met his wife because she did not have to go through the betrayal trauma that many women experience when they find out about their spouse’s porn use, sometimes years later.

“For this generation to stand a chance, we must begin bold conversations about this uncomfortable topic.” We applaud Forest’s courageous efforts to help families start conversations.


To have conversations with our children, we need to be intentional and Forest recommends we pay attention to these four areas:

  • Pay attention to their access
  • Pay attention to their habits
  • Pay attention to their interests
  • Pay attention to their emotions


We highly recommend the book, “Life After Lust” http://lifeafterlust.com as an inspiring tool for all parents and for any man or woman who might be struggling with pornography use.


To help parents start the conversation, we’ve developed a program called 30 Days of Sex Talks  and How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, which is also available in Spanish. Also, check out our Resources page on our site for free lesson plans and much more to help you on this journey.


Lisa Shanklin joined Educate and Empower Kids as the Communications Director in January 2017. She has a degree in Recreation Management and Youth Leadership from Brigham Young University.  While raising her five children, she has been an active volunteer with many organizations including the Boy Scouts of America and the local PTAs in both Baltimore, MD and Atlanta, GA. She served as the President and Executive Director of Women for Decency in 2016 and continues to work with many coalitions for the well-being of our children and families. She resides in Johns Creek, Georgia with her two youngest children.