Do you know what your kid is posting on Facebook?

Recently a kid named Hannah blocked her parents from her facebook page and then proceeded to post a rant on her page about having to do chores around the house. Of course, her dad saw that rant and made a video response to his daughter.

There has been a huge response from parents everywhere and many of the Wired Moms sent messages to make sure I saw the video too.

There are a number of things going on here.

1. It’s important to have natural consequences for bad behavior – when a child brings home a bad grade the natural consequence would be to impose more study time at home not necessarily to take away their iPod. Removing an iPod does not help your kid get a better grade. This video seems to be a demonstration of natural consequences (even though it is a little extreme ).

2. Technology is a privilege not a right.

3. It is important for parents to be involved with their kids online life. If you have a child over the age of 13 (even though many kids under 13 also get pages) there is a very high likelihood that they have facebook page, a tumblr, a twitter and possibly other pages like MySpace. First of all talk with your kid but then also Google them.

Watch the video and then let us know what you think.

PS Many people have said that the Dad should have just sold the laptop to recoop his software expenses. But after watching the video with my kids they all agreed that this guy could still sell the laptop as is on Ebay and get way more for it than he spent on the software. This laptop is now Legendary.

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Filed under facebook, Internet Safety, wiredmoms

Miss New and Wired Safety Take on Bullying

– By Mary Heston

The Miss America pageant has a long rich history in my own family.  There were never actually any Miss America’s in my family (that I know of ) but we watched the show every year and had our own little talent shows in our living room.  My mom would even dress up as Miss Washington – but that’s another story.

So, you can only imagine how thrilled I was to hear that Miss New York, Kaitlin Monte, (not pictured above) was running this year on a Stop Cyberbullying platform.  It was even more exciting to hear that she had already teamed up with Wired Safety and Parry Aftab to get this message out.  Of course last Saturday we sat on the edge of our seats as final runners up were being called and she was still standing.  One by one they left the stage at the 2012 Miss America pageant until there were just 3 of them standing there.  Then they called her name.  2nd runner up.   She may not be Miss America this year but she dazzled me as I’m sure she dazzled so many other people with her very straightforward answer to what was invariably THE toughest question of the night during the interview segment of the competition.

Check out her personal website HERE.

Cyberbullying is something  that I thought might diminish as we all became more social network savvy and as more education on the topic became available through those same social networks and through our schools.  But the bullies persist and they take on new and more ingenious ways of tormenting their victims every day.

We all need to work together to help get the word out.  CLICK HERE to go to a Cyberbully Census survey.  If you know any students from 3rd to 12th grade please have them take this survey. You don’t need to be from NY to participate.

2012 has already started out with too many Cyberbullying related tragedies – it’s time to take a stand.

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Appy New Year

Yes! There’s an App for that!  This is a phrase we are becoming more familiar with.  My kids seem to know intuitively how to find all these great apps.  I am still relying on the kindness of my friends, associates, and strangers to help me find these spectacular apps.

Over the holidays I heard from a number of moms who had just discovered that the wonderful piece of technology they had just given to their child to listen to music or to read eBooks, also had the ability to surf the internet and download Apps! They didn’t really realize that the gift they had just given their child had so much more functionality than they had planned on.

We have to face it – Apps are part of our world now.

The good news is that we don’t have to figure this all out ourselves OR rely soley on our children as the source of information.  ( I am still reeling from the story I heard from one mom whose darling 9 year old daughter convinced her that it would be ok to go see Hangover II in the theater this last year – that girl has a job waiting for her in some sales department some day.)

As a Wired Mom the only thing to do is to recruit the help of other fabulous, concerned, and in-the-know, people to help us out.  So that is exactly what we’ve done!  This Thursday, January 19th, we will be celebrating the “Appy New Year” with our good friends from Famigo (@Famigo), Ruckus Media (@RuckusMedia), ZiggityZoom.com (@ziggityzoom), Carissa Rogers from GoodnCrazy.com (@CarissaRogers) and our very own @maryheston to talk all about apps. Join this amazing group on Twitter at 9pm EST and follow the hashtag #Appy2012.  Follow us @wiredmom along with the other panelists and join in the fun on Thursday.

Don’t be this guy!  If you have a kid of any age running around the house this is an important twitter party to join.  Bring your questions and suggestions as we spend an hour celebrating this Appy New Year.  Get up to speed on the world of Apps before your kids convince you that the Hangover II app* is family friendly.

You can also get the discussion started early at Wired Moms on Facebook

See you there!  ( IS there an App for that ? )

 

* There’s not really a HOII app that I know of – but we always have to watch out….

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Filed under Apps, Internet Safety, Twitter

What to do about texting and driving

The numbers are in and they aren’t good. People are still texting and driving. More men than women are texting according to a recent report but the overall number is still too high. In a split second tragedy can happen and it is just not worth it.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

The important thing for us to remember is that our kids are watching us to set the example. Some studies show that kids’ driving records can be directly correlated with their parents driving records. This is really interesting because it definitely shows us that it doesn’t matter so much what we tell our kids as it does what we show them.

If you must talk on your phone while your driving – which is still not optimal either – use a handsfree device.

My favorite bluetooth of the year is by far the LG Tone Wireless Bluetooth

It is super easy to connect with your phone and even easier to use. The great thing is that it doesn’t sit in your ear but instead hangs around your neck like a wonderful fashion accessory. When your phone rings the device vibrates just a bit which is wonderful. The ear buds sit in either end of the device and you only put them in your ear when you are actually making a call. The comfort level on this is super high. The voice dial feature is very easy to use. I got one for my husband who had only briefly used a blue tooth once before and did not have a good impression of using a blue tooth device. He is loving the LG Tone.

This is possibly my favorite tech gadget of the year. It still doesn’t solve the problem of people texting and driving. We still have to work on that.

(The only thing is you still have to watch yourself when talking on your phone while using this bluetooth in a public place. People will think you are a crazy person talking to yourself. People are getting used to looking for a blue tooth gadget resting in a persons ear when they see someone talking to themselves in the store – but they are not used to seeing the bluetooth hang around your neck.)

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Join the discussion:  “Like” the Distracted Driving Safety Alliance on Facebook and let us know about your experiences with other people texting and driving. ( a Facebook Like button can be found on the right hand side of this page).

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Filed under Distracted Driving, Mobile, Texting, Travel, wiredmoms

Best Gift for the Holidays

This last year has been an amazing year for new techy gadgets. We tested out a new blue tooth for our smart phone that is amazing. The iPad, Kindle and Nook have all come out with new versions of themselves that are amazing. As an early adopter it is hard to put all these new tablets on my wishlist since I have the original versions and they are all working great. Netbooks have bigger screens, more power and weigh less than ever before. And of course, the smart phones are smarter than George Jetson and Cogsworth would have even imagined.

So, what do you get your socially networked, gadget happy friend for the holidays?

Reach out to someone and send them your love. It doesn’t even need fancy wrapping. In these busy times where we communicate with each other in 140 characters or less, this is a very powerful gift. It is amazing how a person can have over 500 friends and still at times feel alone. Letting someone know that an actual person out there cares is the best gift of all.

( WIRED MOMS pro tip: Don’t send your #love in a tweet or to a bcc mailing list – this should be a one on one thing with an actual message that shows the person you understand them and are there for them when they need you even if it is just virtually there. )

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Keep your laptops off your lap

By Mary Heston

Last week an article was published on Reuters titled, “Laptop Wi-Fi said to nuke sperm, but caveats abound”. The caveats in this article are provided by Dr. Oates, the president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, who told Reuters Health he doesn’t believe laptops are a significant threat to male reproductive health. It is understandable that he doesn’t want parents to be concerned without real evidence and I can fully appreciate this.

At the same time they quoted him as saying that he was able to father two children even though he owns a laptop and an iPad. The point here is that laptops and iPads have not really become popular for in-home use until just recently. Parents today did not grow up having access to these tools until they were heading off to college.

The problem is not even so much the laptop, or the Wi-Fi, as much as it appears to be the heat that is given off by these devices. This heat, being directed right on our young boys mid section, may affect their sperm. The research is not fully conclusive yet and more research needs to be done. The research done in Argentina seems to be a good starting point.

We could, with some certainty, say that if our children would abstain from using laptops until they were in college, like most of us did, then there would probably be no concern about their reproductive abilities. But since our kids are using iPads and laptops as early as 3 years old now, there is reason enough to at least think about what that direct heat may be doing to our little boys.

If your little guy is going to use a laptop or iPad or other heat producing tech gadget it may be good to consider the following precautions:

1.      Get them in the habit of sitting at a desk when using a laptop (even though the name of the devise is laptop)

2.      Have them develop the habit of not placing these gadgets right on their laps

3.      Monitor their time spent on their laptop

4.      If they do want to sit with their laptop on their lap consider getting them a laptop chiller or some other device to keep the heat off of their body

5.      Ensure that they are eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables and getting in regular exercise every day

Eating a healthy diet is the one thing that we do know for sure will positively benefit both our sons and daughters. But until the evidence is clear, I will be making sure that my sons keep their laptops off their laps.

This article was also published on Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act blog

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Watch out for those Crazy Drivers!

On the Information Super Highway you have to look out for the crazy drivers!
by Mary Heston

With four kids in the house who are all approaching or newly driving we have been focusing on teaching them how to be good drivers. And they are. They walk all the way around the car before getting in to make sure there is nothing behind the car before pulling out. They put on their seatbelts. They do not text and drive. They come to a complete stop at the stop sign (something I have to remind myself to do on occasion). Overall, they are excellent drivers.

The only thing is that they are not the only ones out there on the road. Pretty much every time we get in the car my husband drills it into their heads “Watch out for the crazy drivers”. You may be driving along following the rules of the road and minding your own business when some idiot ahead of you falls asleep behind the wheel or decides that it is ok to drive home after that holiday party even though they lost count of just exactly how many drinks they had.

This last weekend we had a little run in with a couple of Crazy Drivers on the Information Super Highway.

For the past 15 plus years our family has been growing up with the Internet along with Parry Aftab, the worlds leading Internet safety expert, at hand to help guide us through some of the interesting and unexpected challenges that have presented themselves along the way. The Internet really just became part of everyone’s world when my kids were very little. And so we basically learned how to drive this highway together.

This last week there were two different cases where my kids pointed out some “crazy drivers”.

VIDEO GAMES and Under age drivers

Tuesday November 8 was not only election day but it was also the midnight release party for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. This is an M rated game and it is pretty violent. It was designed by grown up gamers for a mature audience who like to play this kind of game. It is a game that can be played online with other players around the world. My 20 year old went to this midnight release ( which as we mentioned before was on a Tuesday which is a school night anyway ) and there were some very young kids waiting to buy the game. This was discouraging to my son whose first thought was for himself – the game is way more fun when you can play it as intended and you don’t have to worry about hurting some 11 year olds feelings who is playing the game but really shouldn’t be. And then he thought to himself ‘Wait a minute. It’s a school night and I would have never gotten away with this when I was 11′.

CELL PHONES and the new driver

Giving your teen a cell phone is a big point of discussion that goes on with Wired Moms all the time. It is a great tool but it is also really easy for even a good kid to run into trouble in a blink of an eye. A video can be recorded and uploaded to the Internet before anyone really even thinks about whether or not that was a good idea. Pictures can be forwarded and then get passed along like wild fire. One weak moment with a bad decision could result in months of agony.

This last weekend we encountered a person who is new to the cell phone texting world and sent way too many text messages to one of our family member’s phones. We didn’t think too much of this because we figured we could just block that incoming number. But apparently, that is now a premium service with our phone company which they will gladly provide for an additional charge. In my next post you will get to read the back story and hopefully the resolution to this one.

Technology is changing. Parenting is not. We still have to watch out for our kids and keep an eye out for all those crazy drivers.

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Filed under Internet Safety, wiredmoms