Teaching Our Kids Body Gratitude: A Critical Skill in Our Image-Saturated World

Teaching Our Kids Body Gratitude: A Critical Skill in Our Image-Saturated World

 

By Haley Johnson

We’ve all been there. Our mother, our friend, or a peer has said something that has caused us to look at our bodies and think, “I don’t like this. I don’t like me.” Casual comments can turn our favorite outfit into the trash because we can’t stand the idea that someone else thinks that dress or that shirt makes us look bad in some way. And now our young daughters are coming to us, telling us they can’t wear a certain outfit because it makes them look “fat.” They ask to borrow makeup so they can look “prettier” for a boy they think is cute or want to buy new clothes so they can look just like Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lawrence, or some YouTube celebrity. 

Why does it seem most kids struggle with poor body image? Think for a moment about what our teenagers and children directly consume every day from television, billboards, social media, YouTube, or other internet sites. “We live in a culture where thinness and beauty are highly valued…Media images of ridiculously thin women are everywhere – television shows, movies, popular magazines” (Farrar, 2014). The idea that thinness is the standard for beauty is everywhere! We need to teach our daughters to be confident, happy, and self-assured no matter what kind of body they are living in. We want them to recognize true beauty does not come from societal standards but instead, is set by an inner barometer. This lack of body love and gratitude is even starting to affect our sons as well. 

Here are some helpful tips that can help us teach our kids how their bodies are amazing despite what they may see or hear from media and others. 

 

Teach them about body gratitude. 

Did you know the system of blood vessels that runs your body, which includes arteries, veins, and capillaries, is over 60,000 miles long (Amazing Heart Facts, n.d.)? That’s amazing! Does your child know how their body functions and how hard it works to run itself with relatively little effort from the child personally? Let’s teach our children about their arms, legs, organs, and more. 

The human body is simply incredible. It: 

  • Works most major body functions on its own. 
  • Grows and heals itself. 
  • Can be used to provide comfort to others by hugging and touching and talking. 
  • Adapts based on what we ask of it. 

As human beings, we use our bodies every single day. Without a body, we are without being here on this earth. We need to be grateful for it, no matter what others may say or think about our personal body. 

 

To help your child really understand body gratitude, try a simple exercise to find out what makes them happy about their body by asking these questions: 

What do you love about your body? 

What can you do with your body that makes you happy? 

Can you use your body to help other people? 

Do you like the way you feel when you run? 

What do you appreciate the most about your body? 

Do you appreciate that your legs carry you wherever you want to go? 

Take a few moments when your child is down or feeling less confident to remind them what they love about their body and how to overcome those who would make them feel negatively about it. 

 

Praise wisely, and give them a strong emotional base

There is a lot of talk lately that praise is bad for your child (For more information on this, check out what Alfie Kohn has to say about the way we praise). It’s true that too much of the wrong kind of praise could negatively affect the way your child sees themselves and the world around them. However, we do want to help our child gain confidence from a trusted source, which is us. So let’s talk about the helpful, constructive kind of praise. 

A lot of times we compliment our child based on something completely out of their control, such as having a clear complexion. We might say something like, “You are so beautiful. Look at your clear skin.” While this isn’t necessarily “bad,” compliments like this can bring on a false sense of security. What happens when your young child goes from having clear, shining skin to a teenager with tons of pimples? Are they still beautiful even though they have acne? Well of course, but they may not see it that way. They make think that because of their pimples, their beauty has diminished. So instead of compliments on physical characteristics, which are constantly changing, or natural-born abilities, focus your compliments on effort-based praise. 

“Look for opportunities to compliment the way your child is approaching a task. Effort-based praise lets you tell your child you value not only him, but also his willingness to take risks and his determination to work toward his goals” (Morin, n.d.).

This is a wonderful way to boost your child’s confidence. If you tell her you see how hard she is working, or you notice she is making a deliberate effort to improve in some area, that is a powerful form of praise. For example, if your child plays an instrument, and you have seen them practicing and improving, let them know you have noticed their hard work and can hear a difference for the better. Or if your child is working hard to learn a difficult subject at school and is spending lots of time trying to conquer that, tell them you have watched them working and striving to be better, and you are proud of how hard they are working. 

Your child will know you notice and care about who he is, but in addition to that, he will recognize some of his own strengths. He will get to see he is the one who changes his life for the better or worse, not other people. He will also see that YOU as his parent are going to be there for him and are willing to support him. 

Teaching your kids about body gratitude and praising them wisely are two critical steps you can take as a parent to help your kids love their bodies for exactly what they are–which is a living, breathing, beautiful miracle.  

It can be challenging raising kids in our image-saturated world, but you are not alone. Looking for more resources, especially on teaching kids how to love their bodies? Check out our books, Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story and Messages About Me: Wade’s Story, to find more ways to help our children understand how to be grateful for their bodies.

 

Haley Johnson has a Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She is passionate about learning, especially when it comes to relationships and family life. She hopes to one day be able to educate on a worldwide setting in regards to promoting goodness in the family and destroying ideals that hurt society. 

Citations: 

Farrar, T. (2014). Body Image of Women. Retrieved from http://www.mirror-mirror.org/body-image-of-women.htm

Amazing Heart Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2018, from http://www.arheart.com/heart-health/amazing-heart-facts/.

Morin, A. (n.d.). The Power of Praise. Retrieved from http://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/empowering-your-child/celebrating-successes/ways-praise-can-empower-kids-learning-issues

 

 

Dads Kill Porn

Dads Kill Porn

 

By Tim Rarick, PhD

“What’s Porn?”

One evening about two years ago, my family and I were enjoying a delicious dinner at home together when my then 8-year-old daughter, blurted out, “What’s porn?”

 

My wife and I have four children, and this child is number three of the four. Her older sister (age 10 at the time) turned to me in surprise and anticipation of how I was going to respond. My son (age 13 at the time) practically choked on his food.

My first thought was that she had heard about “porn” at school, or worse yet—online. Then I realized that she was staring at my Fight the New Drug “Porn Kills Love” t-shirt. Two things quickly became apparent to me at that moment.

*In a Fight the New Drug video, the narrator asks “when was the last time you had a dinner conversation about the good old topic of porn? Yeah, it just doesn’t happen right?” I realized that it actually happens in my home!

*The other realization was that I had not spoken with this daughter about pornography. We had discussed intimacy, anatomy, and other related topics in a developmentally appropriate way. But not pornography.

Do Daddy-Daughter Relationships Matter?

You are probably wondering at this point how my wife and I responded. I’ll get to that in a moment. But I want to pose a different scenario for you. What if my wife were wearing the t-shirt (she does own one) and I wasn’t around? What if I were too busy with work or hobbies? Or worse yet, what if I had simply left after my daughter was born? In short, if my daughter were like the nearly 20 million children in the United States growing up without a father in the home, would my wife’s answer suffice? The answer is both yes and no.

Let’s ask the question in a different way: Does a father offer a unique contribution to his child’s sexual, romantic, and moral development?

All of the scientific evidence appears to answer a resounding: “YES!”

Dad’s Bit of Magic

Dr. Vaheshta Sethna claims that “even good mothering, for all its many benefits, [isn’t] a substitute for dad’s added bit of magic” (Sethna et al., 2017). Here is a sample of the research illustrating some of that magic:

  • The earlier father absence occurs, the earlier onset of puberty (Culpin et al., 2014)
  • Greater father-daughter warmth and cohesion predicts later pubertal development (Ellis, 2004) (Chisholm et al., 2005)
  • Better marital quality is associated with later pubertal development in daughters (Ellis, 2004)
  • Father absence after puberty increases risky sexual behaviors and teen pregnancy (Alvergne, Faurie, & Raymond, 2008)

In sum, a dad’s warmth and consistent presence appear to have a protective impact on his daughter’s sexual development and activity. Conversely, a fatherless daughter may experience sexual development that can far outpace her emotional, social, and neurological development.

To make matters worse, our over-sexualized (i.e. pornography) culture offers a terrible roadmap for navigating such sexual and emotional drives. But that is not all! We dads have an enormous impact on our daughter’s self-esteem, body image, and romantic relationships with men (Sarkadi et al., 2008). (Just think about how all of those areas are related!)  

Professor Linda Nielsen summarized this in one profound declaration:

“The father has the greater impact on the daughter’s ability to trust, enjoy, and relate well to the males in her life.”

An Unhealthy Substitute for the Fatherlessness

I recently conducted a qualitative review of the stories of many women who call themselves “survivors” of the porn industry—women who, for many years, helped create sexually explicit material and have since managed to walk away. It was striking to see that the vast majority of these women come from father-abusive or father-absent homes. Most spoke of the love and attention they had always wanted from men and felt they finally had found it in “performing” for men. Now, these are some of the more extreme examples; even so, several studies have discovered there is an empty spot in a girls heart made for dad, and when he or other positive father-figures do not fill it, she is likely to go to other sources of connection and intimacy to fill it for her (Weisfeld & Woodward, 2004).

So, does this mean that moms don’t have an impact on her daughter’s understanding of boys, sex, or intimacy? Absolutely not! Mothering and fathering are like a well-balanced meal where each offers essential but different nutrients for healthy social, physical, cognitive, and relationship development. (Popenoe, 1999). And if you are a single parent—mother or father—raising a daughter, be assured that these studies aren’t giving an inevitable life sentence to your daughter. But it is important to be aware of this information in order to be better prepared to address any potential issues or deficits.

Still, this is a Father’s Day article after all, and in our world today, father’s are often viewed and portrayed as the inferior, optional parent which is certainly not the case!

Advice for Dads

Let’s bring this back to answering my daughter’s question. What is porn? How can my daughter really understand any answer my wife and I give if she has never felt real love, true connection, and healthy intimacy from my wife and me? My answer at the dinner table won’t matter all that much if I’m lacking any of the following:

  • Integrity, authenticity, and unconditional love
  • A healthy relationship with my wife in public and private
  • A strong connection and relationship with my daughter
  • An ability to listen to others and recognize my own shortcomings
  • Developmentally appropriate and evidenced-based information such as 30 Days of Sex Talks that can enable a dialogue rather than simply “the talk”

Dads, let’s be more proactive about addressing these sensitive issues. Plan and go on daddy-daughter dates. Hug your daughters. Tell her about your hopes, dreams, and fears and listen to hers. Overcome any pride or awkwardness to equip your girls with the best chance to form healthy relationships with boys and men. Studies have found that not only is it moms who are most likely that talk with their daughters about sex and intimacy, but that daughters wish their dads made more of an effort (Nielsen, 2014).

John Mayer may have said it best:

“Fathers, be good to your daughters,

“Daughters will love like you do.”

If you are a single mom, of course, you still can be a safe and effective source of all things related to intimacy, sex, and pornography. You can find other ways to give your daughters positive male role models.

Men, if you’re invited by a single mom to participate as a role model for her daughter, you should be honored by that trust. Know that you can make a real, positive difference. I personally know a woman who was beaten and abandoned by her father when she was young. She hated men growing up. One day she met a good man at a local church who became the father-figure she always needed. Gradually, her heart changed and today she is married to a wonderful committed husband. While she may have made these changes on her own, her path toward healing and wholeness was certainly smoothed and aided by this man’s encouragement and kindness in her life.

This fathers day, let’s remember and encourage the unique power that fathers can wield for their girls. Porn may kill love; but a loving, informed father can kill porn…and sexual exploitation.

For more conversations that you can have with your daughter see our new book Conversations With My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age. There you will find help with essential conversations that will help your child grow and bloom into a great and informed person.  

 

Tim Rarick, Ph.D. is a professor in Family Studies & Child Development at BYU-Idaho and an EEK board member. He has spoken on family-related topics in Asia, Central America, Europe, all over the U.S., and 8 times on the topic of father-daughter relationships at the United Nations in New York City.

Dr. Rarick and his wife have been married for 19 years and have one son and three daughters.

Citations

Alvergne, A., Faurie, C., & Raymond, M. (2008). Developmental plasticity of human reproductive development: Effects of early family environment in modern-day France. Physiology &
Behavior, 95(5), 625-632.

Chisholm, J. S., Quinlivan, J. A., Petersen, R. W., & Coall, D. A. (2005). Early stress predicts age at menarche and first birth, adult attachment, and expected lifespan. Human Nature, 16(3),
233-265.

Culpin, I., Heron, J., Araya, R., Melotti, R., Lewis, G., & Joinson, C. (2014). Father absence and timing of menarche in adolescent girls from a UK cohort: The mediating role of maternal depression and major financial problems. Journal of Adolescence, 37(3), 291-301.

Ellis, B. J. (2004). Timing of Pubertal Maturation in Girls: An Integrated Life History Approach. Psychological Bulletin, 130(6), 920-958.

Nielsen, L. (2014). Young Adult Daughters’ Relationships With Their Fathers: Review of Recent Research. Marriage & Family Review, 50(4), 360-372.

Popenoe, D. (1999). Life without father: Compelling new evidence that fatherhood and marriage are indispensable for the good of children and society. Kessler.

Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008). Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta
Paediatrica, 97(2), 153-158.

Sethna, V., Perry, E., Domoney, J., Iles, J., Psychogiou, L., Rowbotham, N. E., (2017). Father-Child Interactions At 3 Months And 24 Months: Contributions To Children’s Cognitive
Development At 24 Months. Infant Mental Health Journal, 38(3), 378-390.

Weisfeld, G. E., & Woodward, L. (2004). Current Evolutionary Perspectives on Adolescent Romantic Relations and Sexuality. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent
Psychiatry,43(1), 11-19.

Masturbation and Kids–Moving Beyond the Shame!

Masturbation and Kids–Moving Beyond the Shame!

By: Anonymous

 

I started masturbating when I was in 8th grade. I’m not sure about the exact moment, time, or location, but I do remember what started it. I watched a movie and in it the girl masturbated. I’d heard about masturbation from guys around me, but I’d never tried it myself. In this movie, the girl seemed to enjoy it, so I tried it. It was something foreign that I hadn’t learned much about, but I’d heard it was enjoyable. The first time I did it, I liked it. After the initial sensation, I felt guilty. I knew I wasn’t supposed to masturbate because I had been taught that at my church, but in the moment, it was pleasurable and I liked it. My parents never talked to me about masturbation and because of that I didn’t feel like I could tell my parents about this event.

It didn’t stop there. I continued to masturbate into and throughout high school. The guilt turned into shame and self-loathing. I felt like I was a terrible person and an anomaly to be quite honest. I thought I was the only girl struggling with this. I felt so out of place and that I couldn’t tell anyone or they wouldn’t want to be around me or associate with me anymore. I was afraid of others knowing or somehow finding out. Guys in high school would ask girls if they had ever masturbated—of course I know now the question was inappropriate, but at the time, I thought that it was something people talked about in was high school. I would always get super embarrassed, but then I would say, “Oh no, of course not.” I tried to play it off like the thought of masturbating never crossed my mind. All of my girlfriends would say, “Ew, no, that’s gross” and things of that nature. Their reactions just made me feel worse. They made me feel even more like I was abnormal.

The shame I felt from masturbating was a psychological effect and not a physical effect (Haber, 2016). In my case, that shame was compounded by my religious life. While my religious worship often provided me with positive practices as well as a caring community, the shame I felt regarding masturbation stemmed in large part from the way in which my religious community spoke about it. Researchers have found that those who were more religious and attended religious worship often had higher rates of shame, guilt, and negative attitudes towards masturbation (Hungrige, 2016).

I continued to masturbate when I got to college. The frequency decreased, but it still happened occasionally. I still hadn’t told anybody at this point. I started dating my husband and about three weeks in, he shared personal information about his past. He opened up to me in a way that I’d never experienced before. I felt so close to him and like I could trust him with anything. I decided to tell him about my struggles and I also told him how they had made me feel growing up. He helped me realize that it’s perfectly normal to experience desire. He also helped me realize that acting on that desire through masturbation is not the most terrible thing in the world. I had always felt like a bad person, but he let me know that I was not a bad person for having sexual desires. Although it seems common sense to acknowledge the existence of sexual desire in humans, for me, understanding sexual desire as an integral part of my own human nature was incredibly important for my overall health.

I associated guilt and shame with masturbation from a young age due to the fact that the only places that I heard the topic discussed—in my peer groups as a teenager, and at my church—were places that likewise viewed masturbation as something unnatural, unhealthy, and shameful. The point here is not that my friends and my church were bad, evil, or uncaring: it’s that I didn’t have a safe space to talk about masturbation, and that the resulting shame and guilt produced an enormous burden that I didn’t know how to deal with in a healthy manner (Haber, 2016).

Why do I tell you this story? I want to make sure that no kid ever has to feel this way again! You, as parents, can help with this! It starts with teaching your kids about masturbation. Yes, I know, it’s an uncomfortable topic for both the parent and the child, but it’s also an extremely important topic. Discussing masturbation in a calm, thoughtful, and non-judgmental manner with your child is the first step to ensuring that your child understands that they have a safe space to process and understand their own feelings and to develop a healthy approach to human sexuality.

There is no “one way” to talk about masturbation with your child. You may understand masturbation as completely natural and healthy and simply want your child to understand the appropriate social boundaries (e.g., masturbation is something that is not done in public). You may also understand masturbation as normal, but wish to express to your child your desire that they refrain from masturbating for a variety of reasons (to help them focus, to honor their faith, etc.). It is important, however, that your child understands that masturbation is ultimately a personal, private choice and that it is never something that is unforgivable, or something that would cause you to stop loving them and respecting them.

Masturbation is defined as the self-stimulation of the genitals, commonly done by touching, massaging, or stroking the clitoris or penis, in order to be sexually aroused, usually to the point of orgasm. Masturbation is a common behavior across cultures and genders. It is usually the first sexual act that males and females experience. In one study, they found through reports that 95% of males and 89% of females have masturbated. Even as adults, it is difficult at times to talk about masturbation as a normal sexual act—many of us carry with us ingrained responses of shame and guilt to the topic of masturbation. Help your children avoid the burden of unnecessary shame by empowering them with facts grounded in scientific studies. Some of these studies have even found masturbation to be healthy (Your Guide to Masturbation).

You and your family should decide how to approach masturbation.  Masturbation can become addictive, like any other behavior, something that gives us another reason to talk to your kids about it. Let them know they can come to you. Give them good alternatives to do when they feel the impulse to masturbate if it’s an act that interferes with their ability to engage and participate in their normal family, social, and school life, or if it is something you prefer they avoid.

If they feel the urge, here are some helpful, alternative coping skills for older kids:

Go for a run

Go for a walk

Read a book

Write in their journal

Call a friend

Hang out with a friend

Redirecting younger kids:

Give them a toy

Play a game

Sing a song

Play outside

They need to engage in an activity that is entertaining and uses their mind enough that it will keep them from masturbating (Scaccia, 2017). In my personal experience, redirecting my attention away from masturbation, even when it was a behavior I wanted to avoid, was difficult. It couldn’t just be any activity, it had to be something that made me focus intensely. My focus would stop being on not masturbating and turned to whatever activity I was engaging in.

Masturbation is a discussion that you need to have with your kids from a young age and continue to have with them as they grow. When they are younger, you can talk to them about their anatomy discussing their specific body parts and how they differ from the opposite sex. You can teach them how their body functions and discuss their curiosity regarding their body (Alexander, 2015).

Around the ages of 8-11, depending on when you are comfortable, you can start the conversation by discussing your views on masturbation. Talk to them about when it is an appropriate time and place to do so. Everyone has different views about masturbation. Some may think it is totally fine, while others may think it isn’t. Talk about the impulses kids start having around the time they start puberty and how these feelings are normal. Teach them what to do with these impulses and how to handle them. The most important point to get across is that they are loved and that they don’t have to be ashamed of the natural feelings of desire and curiosity. Whatever your personal feelings regarding masturbation, it isn’t beneficial to create guilt and shame regarding this act and doing so can have negative psychological effects (Alexander, 2015). 30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 8-11 provides a guide to discussing sensitive topics like masturbation with your kids.

Here are some questions you can discuss:

As your child matures, you can discuss masturbation in more depth. Discuss your family views and religious views (if applicable) about masturbation. Talk about how puberty plays a role in the desire to masturbate. Ask your child about their own questions and answer them honestly and with compassion and care.

What constitutes masturbation?

Do you think that masturbation is or can be healthy? Why or why not?

What have you heard about using masturbation as a coping mechanism or escape?

What happens if masturbation becomes a habit, are there any consequences?

Do you think it can be a healthy habit or is it always wrong?

Should it replace a relationship?

Should you feel ashamed if you masturbate?

Does masturbating make you a bad person?

Do you believe that masturbating is a sin (If religious)?

These are all great questions you can discuss with your children about masturbation. It will help both the parents and the child to achieve a better understanding of what they believe and what they’ve heard (Alexander, 2015). It will help to create open communication and hopefully prevent your children from going through what I went through in high school. The loneliness and self-loathing I felt during that period associated with masturbation is something that I will always remember. Luckily, I’ve been able to discuss it with people and overcome a lot of those negative feelings. I hope the same for your children if they struggle!

For more information on how to talk to your kids about masturbation, their bodies, healthy sexuality, and much more, check out our 30 Days of Sex Talks books. There are three available. One for ages 3-7, ages 8-11, and ages 12+.

Looking to prepare your kids for the challenges they face in the digital age, check out our newest book Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age.

Citations:

Alexander, D. (2015). 30 Days of Sex Talks: Empowering your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy. Lexington, KY: Educate and Empower Kids.

Alexander, D. (2015). 30 Days of Sex Talks, for 3-7 year-olds: Empowering your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy. Lexington, KY: Educate and Empower Kids.

Alexander, D. (2015). 30 Days of Sex Talks, for 8-11 year-olds: Empowering your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy. Lexington, KY: Educate and Empower Kids.

Haber, D. (2016, May 21). Why Do I Feel Intense Shame and Self-Hatred When I Masturbate? Retrieved May 30, 2018, from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/dear-gt/why-do-i-feel-intense-shame-and-self-hatred-when-i-masturbate

Hungrige, A. (2016). Women’s Masturbation: An Exploration of the Influence of Shame,  Guilt, and Religiosity (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://twu-ir.tdl.org/twu-ir/bitstream/handle/11274/8755/Hungriged2.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

Scaccia, A. (2017, June 05). Masturbation Side Effects and Benefits. Retrieved May 30, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health/masturbation-side-effects#sexualsensitivity

Your Guide to Masturbation. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/masturbation-guide#1

 

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2019

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2019

 

By Trishia Van Orden and Melody Bergman

 

Cooking? Cleaning? Losing weight? Wasting time in the grocery line? There’s an app for that!

Each year, hundreds of new applications spring up in our digital app stores. Many of these apps can help improve our daily lives, from organization, hobbies, and shopping to medication, health, and wellness. While many of these apps are useful and safe, many are not.

We know you don’t have time to sift through them all. (We’re busy parents too.) So our team at Educate Empower Kids has done some of the legwork for you. We’re here to help!

Over the last several years, we have discussed several apps that pose risks to children. These applications cover a variety of genres including social media, gaming, chat rooms, rooting and anonymous apps. Some apps we have included in our past “Most Dangerous Apps” articles include Twitter, Facebook, ASKfm, Tinder, Tumblr, Snapchat, Yik Yak, and hiding apps. These applications still pose a threat to kids and teens, especially when privacy settings and monitoring are not in place. However, for this year’s list, we wanted to bring some dangerous applications to light that might not be as well-known.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA APPS

We all use social media these days. Almost everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram account. But did you know there are other, less known social media networks? Many of these platforms are unfiltered or have very loose regulations.

While some people use social media as a way to reach out and connect, we need to be mindful about the choices we make in these virtual spaces. If we aren’t careful, social media can open the doorway to harmful content such as porn, self-harm, eating disorders, and questionable celebrity role models. It can also expose our children to bullying, negative self-treatment, trolling, identity theft, and predators. The less regulated the social media site, the more risk it poses.

 BYF – Unfiltered Social Media Platform: A social media app that offers people an unfiltered experience. There are no restrictions or filtering, which means unlimited access to pornographic images and conversations. This app also poses a risk for cyber-bullying, trolling, and encouraging self-harm.

 Comvo – The Free Speech Social Network: A platform that offers unfiltered posting. The makers encourage users to speak freely and post whatever they want. This app also allows users to “expire” their posts so they cannot be accessed after a certain date.

 Social Media Freedom: This application is rated M17+, but there is nothing stopping those younger than 17 from downloading the app. Users can “mark” their favorite locations, which makes them an easy target for predators. Also, all messages “self-destruct.”

 Look: A live video and text messaging app that is unfiltered and contains inappropriate content. It also encourages users to connect with strangers nearby.

 ASKfm: A social media app that allows users to post in a Q&A form. It is well known for cyber-bullying, trolling, swatting and encouraging suicidal behaviors and should be avoided at all costs.

 9GAG: An app that encourages users to upload and share “user-created” funny content with little or no filtering. This app has a history of swatting, trolling, and cyber-bullying, and should be avoided at all costs

 

VIDEO CHAT APPS

Chat apps cover anything from messaging via text to video “snapchatting.” Many of these chat applications connect users with others who have similar interests and locations. Some apps even allow users to rate other users as hot, sexy, or not. Most of these applications contain mature content and are filled with predators waiting for fresh prey. Live-streaming is especially dangerous because pornographic/harmful content can be distributed instantaneously without any filtering or mediation.

 BIGO LIVE: A live-streaming video social media network. The main focus of this app is to gain status and money through views and advertising.

 TikTok (formally Musical.ly): The purpose of this app is for users to create and post “real short videos” and messages. It is notorious for mature/pornographic content.

 HOLLA: A video chat application that allows users to post random videos and connect with strangers in their area. It is easy to fake age and can put children at risk of meeting and interacting with predators.

 Blendr: A video chat room where you are encouraged to “chat, flirt, and meet” with other users in your immediate area. People are rated by their “hotness.” There is no age restriction for this app.

 YouNow: A live stream video chat app where the user broadcasts live to “fans” who they may or may not know. (It is possible to view as a “Guest.”) We read several reports about “perverts” trying to get young girls to expose themselves on camera. Apparently, it is a big problem in this app.

 Periscope: An app that allows users to create, live-stream, and watch videos from their mobile device.

 Houseparty: An application that allows people to video chat and text 2-8 people at the same time. You can connect with your friends and friends of friends. You can create a “live” place where you can connect on and off throughout the day and meet people secretively.   

 

GAMING APPS

There are many gaming applications out there that can pose a risk to children; however, the following applications have caught our attention due to the risks they pose. Any gaming platform with a live-chat feature or community attached poses a risk, as predators and cyberbullies thrive in these environments.

 Twitch: This application allows users to watch and comment on live streams of videos games. You can also create your own live stream that others can comment on.

 Discord: A video game chat application that allows users to log in and join other gamers while playing a video game. This application has mature content and privacy settings that are easily changed.

 ZEPETO: This is an avatar-based game that allows users to chat and meet others via the game. Users do not need to know each other to interact.

 IMVU:  A social game that allows users to create a 3D avatar and then interact with other people, even complete strangers. This game allows people to “have sex” and encourages stereotypical body images for women and men.

 

JAILBREAK AND ROOTING APPS

Jailbreak and rooting applications are used to remove restrictions and limitations on a phone, tablet, game console, or computer so the user can install apps, extensions and other software prohibited by the manufacturer. This puts the device at risk for hacking, malware, theft, and stalkers.

 Cydia: A jailbreak/rooting app mainly used for iPhones. This app doesn’t have an age restriction.

Jailbreak: A jailbreak/rooting application used by Android and iPhone users alike. There is no age restriction to download and use.

 

ANONYMOUS MESSAGE APPS

These applications allow users to start conversations with other users (close and far) while remaining completely anonymous. This puts users and non-users at risk of bullying and harassment. Below is a list of some of the more popular anonymous apps.

 Lipsi: According to the creators this app allows you to connect with your friends and be open and honest with them while protecting your identity.

 Tellonym: This app is much like ASKfm in that it allows users to post questions and get answers. The main difference is that Tellonym allows users to post and answer completely anonymously.

 Whisper: This app was created to share secrets and discover what others really think. It is essentially a social media app that connects you to others in your location. Everything is done anonymously and there is not much if any filtering.

 Sarahah: An app where users can pass anonymous “notes” to each other giving feedback about their strengths and weaknesses. Users do create a profile which they can connect to Snapchat.

PHONE APPS

Phone applications allow users to make and receive phone calls and text messages without using their phone carrier. While these apps are great if you are in a pinch for money they can also be dangerous–especially for kids. Many phone apps are not monitored and “throw away” all proof of contact after the call/message has been sent. Therefore, if a child is sending or receiving harmful material (especially from a bully or predator), there is no way to protect them, and there is no way to prove it.

 WhatsApp: An online phone that is unmonitored. Comes with unlimited talk, text, video and picture sharing. However, you do need a phone number to sign up. Difficult to control and monitor.

 LINE: An instant messaging app that allows you to make voice and video calls to anyone worldwide without using your mobile carrier. You can also text and share files, and join a group message with up to 200 people.    

 

For more information about apps that pose a risk to kids and teens:

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2018

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2017

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2015

 

Also, check out these great resources to help your kids use digital devices safely and responsibly.

Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good, is a great book on using social media and other technology to spread kindness and good in the world.

 

Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Discussions for the Digital Age provides you with information and topics, including social media and using technology, that you should talk to your children about.

Social Media and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online proves you with information on how to stay safe and smart while using social media.

Social Media and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online

 

Trishia Van Orden has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She has a love for psychology and hopes to one day open a Family Life Education Center where she lives. She is currently writing for Educate Empower Kids and working as a volunteer in a girl’s youth group program. She is a wife and a mother of three beautiful girls.

Melody Bergman is a mother and step-mom of three awesome boys, co-host of the Media Savvy Moms Podcast, and blogger at MamaCrossroads. She is also a member of the Safeguard Alliance for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and facilitator for the Virginia Alliance on Sexual Exploitation. Melody has a bachelor’s degree in communications and has been writing and editing since 2002. Her mission is to motivate leaders and community members to educate and protect children and families.

 

The Power of Moms: Raising Responsible Tech-Positive Kids

The Power of Moms: Raising Responsible Tech-Positive Kids

 

By: Ariane Robinson

 

Last Sunday as I sat down to relax and read a favorite book, I heard the familiar sound of arguing between my kids. Then the rush of little feet coming down the stairs one after the other as my daughter yelled at my son, “I’m telling Mom!” and he promptly yelled back, “No, I’m telling Mom!” The daily race was on to determine who could reach me first and plead their case. As they reached me, talking a mile a minute and making accusations about the mean things the other child had said to them, I chuckled to myself. Then without a thought I heard my mother’s own words roll off my tongue: “If you two can’t say something nice to one another, then you shouldn’t say anything at all!”

In that moment, when I morphed into my mother, I considered not only my own mother’s influence on me, but also my influence on my own children. What legacy and actions will my own children find ingrained in them because of my example?

We live in a digital age, and being a great example for our children presents certain challenges that mothers of the past have never had to face before. The way we handle these challenges will have a big influence on the behaviors and attitudes of future generations, and shape how technology impacts their relationships. As mothers, we must do our best to make sure that our words match our actions, especially when it comes to our own technology use.

Here are 5 ways we, as mothers, can model healthy tech habits for our kids:

Limit Your Screen Time. This is something that we are constantly preaching to our children, but are we doing it ourselves?  Are we glued to our phones? Texting while we are playing with our kids, or during meal times? Don’t let every second of your day be consumed with technology. Find some time where you are not distracted by your device to talk with your child and have some time together.

Quality time does not have to be elaborate or planned weeks in advance. It can be as simple as taking a walk together or playing your child’s favorite game. These small acts lead to a beautiful deepening bond as parents share their child’s excitement and enter their world. This leads to greater empathy between parent and child, and can help children to overcome frustrations and anxieties. Simply put, spending time with our children lets them know they are important to us. As mothers we would be wise to remember that our children are young for such a short period of time. Let’s put our phones down and make some happy memories!

Follow the Tech Rules You Have in Your Home. If the rule in your home is that no electronic devices are allowed in the bedroom at night, then make sure you set a good example for your kids and follow that rule as well. A recent study showed that it is easier for kids to follow household technology rules when families develop them together and when parents live by them as well (Nauert, 2016). Respecting the rules in your home will help your child to not only take them seriously, but to also have greater respect for you. They willview you as someone who is authentic and means what they say. When our children respect us, they are more likely to come talk with us when they have concerns or worries. Love and respect are the foundations of a healthy parent-child relationship.

Don’t Overshare on Social Media. Social media can be a great place for moms to connect with family and friends. Mothers can also find wonderful support from other moms via social media sites. However, as moms we must remember that our social media accounts should not become our diaries. Experts are reminding parents that “sharenting” can put your children at risk even when they’re older. It’s impossible to know who may be Googling their names and checking out social media accounts down the road. So, even if your child is young consider whether you’re providing too much info when it comes to your children. Because, remember, the internet never forgets (Scileppi, 2018). It can also be very embarrassing to our children if we share things that they are not comfortable having published on the internet.

Post Real Images Online. We live in a world where we feel pressure to edit or alter our images to what we think is our “best selves’ instead of our real selves.” One study found that “nearly 60% of parents with children under 18 edit their pictures before posting them on social networks”(Renfrew Center, 2014).  As mothers we want to be cautious of sending the message to our children that the way they look must be altered or changed.

Instead, we want to help them to recognize that there is not just one type of beauty and that we love them for who they are right now. This will help them to develop a healthy body image, and avoid the depression and insecurities that can develop when we obsessively compare ourselves to others. We should make sure that our children know through our language both online and offline, that we support and encourage other women and mothers. As mothers, it can be easy to get caught in the comparison game, but we should do our best to avoid unhealthy comparisons and speak positively about our own bodies and the bodies of others.

Use Technology to Learn and Improve Your Life. As mothers we can teach our children that technology can be used for more than just gaming and social media, and that there are lots of educational resources available online. For example, most colleges and universities offer online classes that can be taken to learn new skills or improve upon the skills we already have. There are also many free or low-cost resources such as Khan Academy  and Massive Open Online Courses. As mothers we can help foster a love of learning in our children as they see us seek out and use technology to learn new things. We can teach them that technology can be used as a tool to better ourselves and the lives of those around us. We can show them how to use technology to fill their hearts and minds with goodness rather than gossip or harmful images. We can teach them how to control technology, instead of allowing it to control us.

This Mother’s Day, take some time to thank the women and mothers in your life who have inspired and guided you. But also take time to reflect on your own example and to evaluate how it is affecting the next generation. As we focus on deliberate, intentional parenting in a digital world, we can influence our children for good!

For  fun, simple ways to begin the conversation about how to use tech for good, and the importance of healthy tech habits check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story about Using Technology for Good.

 

Or Check out Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age–A simple, super-helpful guide that gives YOU the words to talk about tough, timely topics of today (like racism, integrity, agency, healthy sexuality, LGBTQI issues, social media, and more).

Ariane Robinson is the mother of five children. She has a degree in Marriage and Family Studies and is a certified facilitator with PREPARE/ENRICH, a program designed to help couples develop skills to improve their relationships. She enjoys working with families and helping to strengthen their relationships.

Citations:

Renfrew Center (2014) Afraid To Be Your Selfie? Survey Reveals Most People Photoshop Their Images. Retrieved on August 29, 2018 from http://renfrewcenter.com/news/afraid-be-your-selfie-survey-reveals-most-people-photoshop-their-images

Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Kids Expect Parents to Follow Technology Rules Too. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 29, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/03/09/kids-expect-parents-to-have-strong-technology-etiquette/100225.html

Scileppi, T. (2018, March). The dangers of parental oversharing on social media. Retrieved August 29, 2018, from https://www.nyparenting.com/stories/2018/3/dangers-of-parental-oversharing-on-social-media-2018-03.html

 

Uso excesivo de la tecnología y crianza perezosa: una combinación mortal

Uso excesivo de la tecnología y crianza perezosa: una combinación mortal



Por Marina Spears

 

Traducido por L. Antonio Mayen Castellanos

Estoy segura de que todos estamos familiarizados con la siguiente escena: un niño pequeño llora y se queja en público, el padre saca un teléfono inteligente o una tableta, se conecta a un juego, el niño se calma y todo está bien. ¿Pero es de verdad? Muchos maestros, administradores y profesionales de salud mental escolares están preocupados.

En una entrevista reciente con Sarah McCarroll, MS, psicóloga escolar de Pensilvania, durante dieciocho años expresó las preocupaciones que ella, sus colegas y los funcionarios escolares están experimentando en todo el país. Están notando los efectos de la tecnología de “uso excesivo” con los niños y lo que ella describió como una “reducción significativa en la inteligencia emocional”.

La inteligencia emocional es “la capacidad de comprender la forma en que las personas se sienten y reaccionan y de utilizar esta habilidad para hacer buenos juicios y evitar o resolver problemas” (Cambridge University Press, 2018). McCarroll explicó que cuando la tecnología reemplaza la crianza activa, como tomar el tiempo para enseñar habilidades de afrontamiento, los niños se saltan pasos importantes para aprender cómo manejar las emociones de manera saludable. Este tipo de “crianza perezosa” es perjudicial de varias maneras:

  • Disminuye la capacidad de un niño para aprender la autorregulación. Cuando un niño juega videojuegos o usa las redes sociales, el cerebro libera dopamina, que está conectada a los sentimientos de placer. Cuando un padre usa este mecanismo para ayudar a un niño a sobrellevar la situación, los sentimientos de frustración nunca fueron tratados realmente, solo se cubrió con una distracción que “se sintió bien”.

  • Crea patrones malsanos. El uso excesivo de la tecnología en momentos de frustración creará un patrón de comportamiento que utiliza la tecnología como un escape de sentimientos incómodos.

  • Puede llevar a la adicción. Cuando se usa la tecnología de esta manera, los niños pueden desarrollar la sensación de que la necesitan para “hacer frente”, lo que puede llevar a la adicción.

Por otro lado, cuando un padre se toma el tiempo para permitir que el niño sienta la emoción y enseñe habilidades de afrontamiento, el cerebro del niño está trabajando muy duro y está creando nuevas conexiones que le permiten al niño manejar sus emociones en situaciones futuras.

McCarroll también explicó que “necesitamos usar la tecnología de manera inteligente” y, con demasiada frecuencia, los niños pasan más tiempo interactuando con un iPod que en las interacciones cara a cara con sus padres. En 2016, la Academia Americana de Pediatría anunció nuevas regulaciones de medios para el uso de los medios por los niños. Una de las autoras principales de las recomendaciones, Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP, declaró lo siguiente: “Las familias deben pensar de manera proactiva sobre el uso de los medios por parte de sus hijos y hablar con los niños al respecto, porque el uso de los medios puede significar que los niños no tienen suficiente tiempo durante el día para jugar, estudiar, hablar o dormir “.

¿Entonces, qué podemos hacer? La tecnología funciona para calmar a un niño; funciona para tener un momento de tranquilidad mientras estamos cenando después de un largo día. Es importante recordar que estas son soluciones rápidas. A la larga, todos queremos una fuerte conexión con nuestros hijos. Queremos poder impartir lo que sabemos y proporcionarles todas las herramientas que necesitan para tener éxito. Y eso no vendrá de ser un campeón en Subway Surfers.

Aquí hay cuatro sugerencias para ayudarnos a encontrar un equilibrio con la tecnología:

1) Tecnología ahora, habla más tarde. Si usó una “solución rápida técnica” para evitar un desastre en el supermercado, asegúrese de comentarlo más adelante con su hijo, averigüe por qué estaban molestos, hable sobre las formas en que pueden manejar sus sentimientos y cómo puede ayudarlos.

2) Tomar descansos. Crea “tiempos libres de tecnología” con tu familia. Estos pueden ser comidas, viajes en auto, domingos por la tarde, o lo que mejor funcione. La forma de hacerlo no es tan importante como garantizar momentos de interacción cara a cara.

3) Tiempo de calidad. Si es posible, tome tiempo cada día para pasar tiempo individual con cada uno de sus hijos. Asegúrese de apagar los teléfonos, iPods y cualquier otra pantalla durante ese tiempo.

4) autocomprobación. Debido a que los niños siguen nuestro ejemplo, realice una “autoprotección” a menudo. ¿Nos estamos perdiendo los momentos de enseñanza con nuestros hijos porque solo queremos llegar al siguiente nivel en Candy Crush?

Asegurémonos de que cada día hagamos todo lo posible para conectarnos con nuestros hijos y usar la tecnología para ayudarlos a no obstaculizarlos. Echa un vistazo a nuestros recursos aquí, hay actividades, lecciones y temas de conversación para que nuestros hijos tengan las herramientas que necesitan para tener éxito en este mundo digital en constante crecimiento.

¿Se siente motivado para hacer algo en este momento sobre el uso digital en su hogar? Haga clic en este enlace para ver una lección descargable para discutir este problema. ¡Con esta lección y aproximadamente 15 minutos de su tiempo, puede hablar sobre adicciones digitales y mecanismos de afrontamiento más saludables con sus hijos, directamente en la mesa de la cena esta noche!

¿Listo para hablar con sus hijos sobre temas difíciles pero importantes? Echa un vistazo a 30 Dias de Charlas Sobre Sexo, edad 8-11 anosCómo hablar con tus hijos sobre la pornografía


Marina Spears es madre de cinco hijos y pronto se graduará de BYU Idaho con un título en Estudios de Matrimonio y Familia. Le encanta leer, hacer jardinería y pasar tiempo con sus hijos.

Sarah McCarroll, M.S., obtuvo su título en la Universidad de Pennsylvania y ha sido psicóloga escolar durante 18 años, trabajando con estudiantes de secundaria y preparatoria durante gran parte de su carrera. Está casada con un profesor / entrenador de secundaria y es madre de 3 hijos, que también están en los niveles de secundaria y preparatoria. Ella cree en abogar por los estudiantes con discapacidades y sus familias a través del trabajo en equipo con maravillosos educadores. Es cofundadora de STARs, un programa dirigido a las niñas en riesgo, para reducir la violencia entre las niñas mediante la promoción de la hermandad positiva.

Citaciones:

Prensa de la Universidad de Cambridge. (2018). Diccionario de Cambridge. Obtenido de Cambridge University Press: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/emotional-intelligence

Kent C. Berridge, K. C. (1998). ¿Cuál es el papel de la dopamina en el impacto hedónico de recompensa, el aprendizaje de recompensa o la prominencia de incentivo? Brain Research Reviews, 309-369.

Academia Americana de Pediatría. (2015, 21 de octubre). La Academia Americana de Pediatría anuncia nuevas recomendaciones para el uso de los medios en los niños. Obtenido de la Academia Americana de Pediatría: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for -childrens-media-use.aspx

 

LECCIÓN: Hablando con tus Hijos sobre el Consentimiento

LECCIÓN: Hablando con tus Hijos sobre el Consentimiento

 

Traducido por L. Antonio Mayen Castellanos

Es absolutamente imprescindible que su adolescente sepa lo que significa dar su consentimiento. Ellos necesitan saber que si alguna atención no es deseada, debe detenerse. Enseñar esta lección no sólo los empoderará con más confianza, sino que también los ayudará a protegerlos de los depredadores sexuales.

El consentimiento es dar permiso o acuerdo informado, claro y consciente. Es crucial que los adolescentes comprendan qué constituye el consentimiento en lo que respecta al sexo, tanto para ellos como para los demás, para que sepan cuándo “sí” realmente significa “sí”.

Download the Lesson Here!

Todos estos se pueden encontrar en 30 días de Charlas Sobre Sexo, empoderar a su hijo con conocimiento de sexualidad en Amazon.

Pornografía, El respeto, Creando una relación sana, Límites de relación, Autoestima y Sexo, y más.

 

How are Kids Hiding their Online Activity? More Ways Than You Can Count

How are Kids Hiding their Online Activity? More Ways Than You Can Count

By Jamie Siggard

 

Gone are the days when parents could check their child’s internet browsing history to see all the websites they’ve been to. While that’s still a worthwhile practice, it’s only a small piece of the pie. Kids are on to their parents and have found new ways to hide their internet activity. At the beginning of this article, you’ll find potential ways kids hide their internet activity, be sure to read to the bottom though, you’ll find ways to counteract these attempts. With that being said, first and foremost, be sure to have open, candid, yet compassionate conversations with your child in regards to technology! Seek to understand them and be on their team.  

Private Browsing

Private Browsing, Privacy Mode, and Incognito Mode are privacy features that disable browsing history and the *web cache. This allows a person to browse the Web without storing local data that could be retrieved later.

Google Chrome – Incognito Mode

Internet Explorer – InPrivate

Safari – Private Browsing

Firefox – Private Browsing

You may wonder if these modes are truly private. Nope. True privacy on the internet is hard to achieve. These privacy modes don’t hide browsing history from employers, your internet service provider, and the websites visited– however, that doesn’t give you, as the parent, access to this browsing history.  

So, what’s a way around this?

The tech-savvy folk at ITECHTICS give pointers to simply just disable the privacy modes

TOR Browser

“The Onion Router” (TOR), is comparable to a VPN. However, one of the key differences is that there is not just one “middle man”. The data goes through layers of encryption and decryption, which makes the data and location inaccessible to anyone and nearly impossible to track.

TOR browsers can be downloaded on computers, smartphones, and tablets.

Proxy Sites

Similar to a VPN, proxy sites are one way of hiding the activity from sites you visit. The history and ISP records will show the innocent proxy site rather than, hypothetically, www.pornography&terriblethings.com. There are lots of proxy sites, paid and unpaid, and they are incredibly easy to access.

Here are a few proxy sites to be mindful of should they come up on your kids’ internet history or through your monitoring software:

www.proxfree.com

www.proxyboost.net

www.hidefap.com

hide.me

*Keep in mind there are TONS of proxy sites….some words to watch for in *URLs on your internet history or monitoring software are: proxy, hide secret, or anything else seemingly suspicious

Proxy sites can hide activity for a time and help kids get around parental blocks, however, they’re generally not reliable or even safe.

Different WiFi

Internet access is everywhere! When your kids are out and about, they have many opportunities to either use other devices or connect to a wifi network. Starbucks and McDonalds, are among a variety of public places, which have little to NO blocks or controls on their wifi, which allows kids to access anything! Libraries and schools also offer wifi, perhaps with some restrictions, but needless to say, the control is not in your hands.  

That’s not all, if they think you are monitoring their activity, they can access a neighbor’s wifi and fly under the radar even at home. Wireless routers are capable of beaming signal a few hundred feet, which depending on the proximity of your neighbors home, could give your child reliable wifi within your own walls. Even if your neighbor’s wifi network is locked, it’s easy for your child to spend some time at their house and ask for the password which will then allow them continuous access. Some networks are not secured by a password which makes access even easier.  

Fake Educational Sites

There are sites that sound fun and educational but perhaps deserve a closer look. For example, if your child asks you if they can spend some time doing math online, be aware of the sites they’re using. While coolmathgames.com or physicsgames.net aren’t inherently bad, these platforms are about entertainment and have very little educational value. The names of gaming sites may put on a facade which will help kids hide their internet activity from you. Arcade and other mindless games that these sites offer don’t deserve the attention we sometimes permit our children to give to them.  

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

For those tech-savvy kids out there (which is most kids!), they may have beat the system and installed a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service that allows you to access the web safely and privately by routing your connection through a server which hides your online actions from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Essentially, the ISP data is gibberish if obtained.

A common reason kids use a VPN is to get around parental controls. VPN’s are used for other reasons such as to guard privacy or connect to a work-related server. If you have any suspicions your child may be using a VPN it is essential to inquire (with love and understanding) and remove it from their devices.

Snapchat or Other Messaging Services

There are various means of activity for hiding messages. Some kids will intentionally delete messages upon arrival and others use self-destructing message apps. Below are a few common self-destructing apps:

Snapchat

Snapchat isn’t inherently good or bad, but you should be aware of the potential dangers. Snapchat is an incredibly popular app for exchanging self-destructing photos with short captions – videos can be exchanged as well. Because of the self-destructing feature, Snapchat is popular for *sexting.  

Telegram

“For those interested in maximum privacy, Telegram offers Secret Chats. Secret Chat messages can be programmed to self-destruct automatically from both participating devices. This way you can send all types of disappearing content – messages, photos, videos, and even files. Secret Chats use end-to-end encryption to ensure that a message can only be read by its intended recipient” (Telegram LLC).

Wickr Me

Wickr is one of the free Self Destructing Message Apps for iPhones. It enables you to send text, picture, audio and video which will delete the messages after a short delay.

*There are TONS of self-destructing apps, far more than we can list, however, here’s a few more to be aware of:

CoverMe

Secret for iMessage

DatChat

Dust

Secret Picture Apps or Photo Vaults

There are secret picture apps and hidden photo vaults. Pictures and information are hidden in these apps only accessible by password. These apps may be disguised as a calculator or something else rather innocent. Seems fishy, huh? If kids are wanting to hide their activity, this is a brilliant way because most parents would be completely unassuming about what appears to be just a calculator. And those that may stand out a bit more as photo vaults, as mentioned, are password protected, so even if you were to come across it, you wouldn’t have access without the password.

Here are some apps and photo vaults that kids may be using to hide information and pictures.   

Private Photo Vault

Best Secret Folder

Keepsafe Photo Vault

Secret Calculator

Secret Photo Album

Hidden Folder – Built-in to phone

Close or Minimize Browser When Parents Are Near

This one goes without explaining, but is important to remember as it is the easiest and most commonly used method of hiding one’s internet activity. Can you sense discomfort or secrecy when you are around your kids and their devices? With this one, as well as all other ways we’ve listed, don’t jump to immediate conclusions. Be respectful and kind to your children, but proceed with alertness, follow your gut, and don’t be afraid to do some investigating.

Bypass Through Other Means

Interestingly enough, kids can hide internet activity by using Google Translate, Google Docs, and Google Drive. I won’t dive into these but the point is, there are so many ways kids can hide their activity. If they’re determined, they’ll find a way!!!

What Should You Do?

Talk about it!

The importance of communication cannot be stressed enough. Have open, candid, and compassionate conversations with your child in regards to technology. Seek to understand them and be on their team. Talk to them about the harmful effects of pornography and what to do if they see pornography. Discuss the importance of time limits and rules when using the internet and technology. If you are concerned about their online behavior, talk to them about it. These conversations about technology should be ongoing, not just “one and done”.  

Monitoring Software

Consider investing money into monitoring software. There are many softwares to choose from with varying features, but the main gist is that activity from the connected devices is monitored by the admin (in this case, you, as the parent) to help safeguard and protect users.

pcTattletale

“The pcTattletale Activity Recorder is designed to monitor Computers, Smartphones & Tablets.

Once installed, pcTattletale records every click, tap, and keystroke.  Captured Recordings can be viewed, remotely, from Anywhere, at Anytime, from Any Device.”

Webwatcher

“Log into your risk-free account and select any device (Android, iPhone, PC, Mac or Chromebook) to monitor discretely from your secure online account. All products install easily in 5 minutes or less, are discrete and thus tamper-proof, and all recorded data is sent to a secure web-based account which allows you to monitor remotely from any device at your convenience.

View all Recorded Data or leverage our Alert Log, which highlights only items identified as Risky Behavior. Either way, Webwatcher helps you become a responsible digital parent by protecting your kids against all online and offline dangers.”

McAfee Safe Family

“We encourage positive parent-child interactions and help establish trust and peace of mind in an ever-mobile, ever-social, ever-changing world.  

McAfee Safe Family is a comprehensive parental control app that enables you to monitor your kids’ phone activities and protects your children from exposure to inappropriate digital content. It sets up a child lock that blocks inappropriate apps, monitors your kids’ cell phones, locates their position with a GPS map using the phone tracker feature and limits their screen time.”

Kidguard

“The KidGuard Phone Monitoring service is a cell phone tracking software provided to parents to “spy” on their kids text messages, monitor GPS location, track phone logs, chats, allowing the parent to stay on top of issues such as cyberbullying, online predators, teen depression, and other risks to their children arising from the internet.”

Covenant Eyes

“Covenant Eyes’ revolutionary new Screen Accountability™ service monitors what you do on your computers, phones, and tablets, whether you’re using a web browser or on an app or even offline completely. We take periodic screenshots and analyze them for explicit content. These highly blurred screenshots are sent in a report, as well as a sampling of other screenshots. That way you can have a conversation about what your kids actually saw on their devices.”

Set Parental Controls

On Apple devices, Parental Controls, also known as Restrictions, allows you to set what your kids can and can’t access on their phones and tablets. With Parental Controls, you can lock out Safari, Camera, FaceTime, Siri, AirDrop, iTunes, Podcasts, or App Stores (including in-app purchases), as well as content by age rating, and the ability to make changes to accounts and other app settings. Basically, these controls allow you to block anything you deem as inappropriate for your child based on their age and needs.  

If your not an Apple family, Google Play often used with Androids has similar parental control options. Be aware and utilize the parental controls on Netflix, Youtube, and other services your kids use, as well.  

Extra Info: If you restrict Safari, be sure to restrict “Installing Apps” as well. It is easy for children to simply just download another internet browser if Safari is restricted. This applies to many other restrictions as well such as FaceTime, Podcasts, and Camera.

Random Phone Checks

At unpredictable times, ask your kids to turn in their electronic devices to you immediately for a random phone check. They may hesitate and tell you they will give it to you in a few minutes, but require that it be immediate so they don’t have time to delete or hide anything. Spend some time checking their apps, messages, and phone logs. Check to see if a VPN is running. Check for any evidence of TOR. Keep an open dialogue with your children and let them know that you do this to keep them safe.

Stay on your kids’ team. Engage in conversation frequently and help them understand the importance of using technology responsibly. Check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good to help facilitate more conversations about technology and its effects.  

Or check our latest book, Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age. Full of lively, timely discussions about changing technology, social media, using tech for good, and so much more!


ISP: Internet Service Provider

Sexting: sending (someone) sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone

URL: the address of an internet page

Web cache: A web cache (or HTTP cache) is an information technology for the temporary storage (caching) of web documents, such as HTML pages and images, to reduce server lag.

 

Jamie recently graduated with her degree in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University – Idaho. She currently lives in the greater Seattle area and works as a nanny. Seeking adventure, truth, and strong relationships are her recipe for happiness, and she hopes to help others find similar joy through her writing.  

 

Our Newest Book That Every Parent Should Read

Our Newest Book That Every Parent Should Read

 

Introducing Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age

By Dina Alexander, MS

Parenting in the digital age has never been tougher. It seems the world is changing around us at an ever-increasing speed with new technology, massive amounts of information, and new dangers lurking everywhere.

At school and in our communities our kids are talking about BIG topics and they have questions. Whether it is about technology, racism, feminism, LGBTQI issues, terrorism, the environment, social media, or whatever, it’s time for us as caring adults to combine our wisdom and their savvy to strengthen and empower one another.

To address these newer, more challenging concerns, Educate and Empower Kids has created a brilliant new resource for parents and teachers, Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age.

Comprised of five sections (Technology, The World Around Us, Relationships, Self-Improvement, and Deeper Topics) with 30 unique topics, Conversations gives you the words and handy discussion questions to have meaningful talks about the real issues of the day. Addressing tough topics on an ongoing basis strengthens kids, brings you closer together, and opens the door when your kids need to tell you something REALLY important.

The 30 Conversations include the following:

Changing Technologies

Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Healthy Sexuality

Marriage, Family & Divorce

LGBTQI Issues

Overcoming Fears

Finding Real Joy

Agency

Integrity

Racism and Tolerance

Social Classes: Rich and Poor

Terrorism

AND MORE!

Every kid is faced with a huge variety of pressures on every side: to conform, to lose hope, to give up, to push down feelings, to escape hard work and challenges, to not stand up for themselves and others, and to avoid following one’s heart and mind, among others.

We can help our kids face the challenges of the digital age by connecting with them in deep, meaningful conversations about important topics, including some of the struggles they now face or will in the future. This is what inspired us to write Conversations!

Connecting with our kids begins with simple, daily interactions. Use these simple conversation starters to talk about deep issues. Have fun as you tackle these topics, even the heavy ones. Find the humor in tough talks and learn to lighten up as you help your kids face life’s challenges.

Ready to start talking? Find Conversations with My Kids on Amazon.

Check out all of our amazing resources to help you be the parent your kids need as they navigate the digital age!

Educate your kids. Empower them. Prepare them for life.

 

Dina Alexander is the founder and CEO of Educate and Empower Kids, an organization determined to strengthen families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online porn. In the last year, she wrote the children’s books Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure and Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good, and co-wrote Messages About Me: A Journey to Healthy Body Image.

For adults, she and her team created How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and the 30 Days of Sex Talks and 30 Days to a Stronger Child programs. She received her master’s degree in recreation therapy from the University of Utah and her bachelors from Brigham Young University. Dina has taught in various capacities for the past 20 years, including marriage enhancement, art for small children and group fitness. She has also worked with teenage girls in a residential treatment setting, adults with drug addictions and special needs children. She is a dedicated, wholehearted mom of three children and loves spending time with them and her amazing husband. Together, they live in Texas.

 

4 Simple Ways to Work Together With Our Kids for a Healthy Body Image

4 Simple Ways to Work Together With Our Kids for a Healthy Body Image

 

By Courtney Cagle

 

Most of us have struggled with body image at one point or another. I remember struggling a lot my first year of college. Being away from home, around lots of other beautiful girls, and not receiving the compliments about my looks that I received often at home was hard for me. I started to feel that I wasn’t pretty enough, my legs weren’t skinny enough, my breasts were too small, and the list goes on and on. So, how did I overcome this? Well, I didn’t completely–I don’t think anyone ever does. I still sometimes struggle with body image, but it’s something that I’m getting better at.

Parents often worry about body image when it comes to their kids. But don’t worry! We can help our kids feel better about their bodies, but it does take some mental work from them and lots of love from us.

Here are 4 ways you and your children can work toward healthy body image:

1) Make a list of all of your wonderful attributes (at least 10!). If you make a list of the qualities and attributes that you possess that aren’t related to your looks, it will make you feel more confident in yourself and your abilities. You are unique and have so much to offer that isn’t related to the way you look. Understand that looks aren’t everything.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

What is something you are good at?

Why am I loveable?

What are all the ways that I help others?

2) Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself just the way you are. This might feel silly at first, but I promise that it helps. It’s prevents you from looking in the mirror and criticizing yourself and instead helps you to accept yourself. At first, you won’t believe yourself, but over time, you actually believe what you’re saying in the mirror.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

When you look in the mirror, what do you usually say?

How does it make you feel?

When you look in the mirror and tell yourself you love yourself, how does it make you feel?

3) Be media literate and deconstruct images you view. Media literacy is defined as the ability to analyze and evaluate media. Being media literate helps kids and adults to understand what the media is trying to portray. When we deconstruct images, we take them apart and evaluate their purpose. This helps us foster a positive body image because it allows us to see the tricks the media uses and makes us realize that many of the images we see are unrealistic.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

Look at an ad with your child. What is it trying to sell? Why do ads try to sell perfection?

Look at a magazine together. Does the person on the cover look like any real people you know? Why or why not?

Visit our Kids Activity Page for related exercises!

4) Accept your strengths and weaknesses. We ALL have weaknesses. We ALL have strengths. It’s good to recognize your weaknesses, but don’t dwell on them. Focus on your strengths. Understand that it’s okay to have weaknesses because we all do, but don’t let that fill your mind with negative thoughts. You have wonderful strengths that you can utilize. Maybe you don’t see them at the moment, but you will (Halsted, 2016). Ask a family member or a friend to list a strength they see in you, then hold onto that and remind yourself. Don’t focus on the way you look or the way others see you. Instead, focus on the strengths you have and what you bring to the table.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

What are some of your perceived weaknesses ?

How can weaknesses help to make you stronger?

Do I focus on my weaknesses too much?

What are some of your strengths?

How can you use them in your life?

Teach your kids that they have much to offer besides their body. Our bodies have many abilities that have nothing to do with our size, shape, or the way we look. We can work through negative body image by using these steps and applying them to life on a daily basis. Help children to understand this and if you are struggling with body image, use these tips in your life too!

For more information on teaching your kids about body image, check out our books on body image. To discuss this topic with boys, check out Messages About Me: Wade’s Story, A Boy’s Quest for Healthy Body Image. To discuss this topic with girls, check out Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story, A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image.

For more ideas about discussing media literacy check out this podcast or our read-along book, Petra’s Power to See.

Courtney is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho graduating in Marriage and Family Studies. She loves kids and wants to help create a safe environment for all children to learn and grow.

 

Citations:

Alexander, D. (2018, April 24). A Lesson About Media Literacy. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from https://educateempowerkids.org/lesson-media-literacy/?nabe=4694234694418432:1,6638898712412160:0

Halsted, E. (2016, February 22). How to Have a Positive Body Image. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201602/how-have-positive-body-image

Wardenburg Health Services. (2018, January 16). Healthy Buffs: Developing a positive body image. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from https://www.colorado.edu/today/2017/11/15/healthy-buffs-developing-positive-body-image