Friday, March 9th, 2012
How do you start talking about tough topics like cyberbullying and online safety in an age appropriate way that provides practical knowledge and common sense without making your children fearful? Start slowly and use free resources from reputable organizations that are targeted to their age level. Empowering children against bullying provides them with critical tools and knowledge that not only are helpful against cyberbullying, but are versatile life skills that will serve them well in a variety of situations.
Great for all ages:
- Common Sense Media says that “staying safe is about a child’s entire online experience” and provides reasons why internet safety is important along with internet safety basics that serve as the dos and don’ts of the online world through their free downloadable Common Sense on Internet Safety for Elementary School Kids. Visit the second page of the document for Strategies for a responsible- and safer- online life.
Tweens and Teens:
- Let’s be honest- it can be hard to convey a message to tweens and teens without being preachy. In the world of cybersafety, MTV capitalizes on their ability to reach tweens and teens through A Thin Line. Designed to educate in a hip way that appeals to the current MTV generation, A Thin Line provides parents with tools for starting conversations on digital abuse, gauging your child’s awareness, and also encourages action. Parents of tweens and teens can begin with Get the Facts to brush up on current topics. Know it all tweens and teens will be challenged in their knowledge of what does and doesn’t constitute digital abuse when taking a short quiz. Because there’s a thin line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, A Thin Line will also teach them how to defend their digital domain.
- Tweens and teens who have a firm grasp on internet safety are being called upon to be mentors to others through a user-generated video contest called What’s Your Story. Designed to give youth a voice by educating others about the online safety and digital citizenship in a fun way, What’s Your Story empowers kids to make the internet a safe and secure place for them and their friends. Individuals and schools can enter videos on topics such as taking action against bullying, maintaining a good online reputation, and being cell smart for the chance to win cash prizes ranging from $1,000-$10,000.
Cyber Bullying via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Bullying. It’s a word that makes parents shy away from whether your child is on the giving or receiving end or if the bullying is face to face or occurring in cyberspace. Despite the prevalence of cyberbullying, bullying has been around forever and causes real feelings to be hurt. It’s not something to be taken lightly.
If you’re wary about talking to your kids about bullying, kids of all ages can be empowered to speak up for themselves and their friends. Here’s what you need to know in order to start the conversations in your home and encourage your kids to keep talking about what they’re experiencing regardless of their age to encourage a sense of empowerment.
1. Know what bullying is. If you are ashamed to not be current on all the information, StopBullying.gov has information on what bullying is, recognizing the signs, and how to get help. The National Bullying Prevention Center defines bullying, harassment, and provides 3 steps to take if your child is being targeted through Bullying Info and Facts.
2. Encourage your kids to talk about bullying. Many parents don’t talk about it and that makes kids not want to discuss it. How do you get the ball rolling if you haven’t already? Ask open ended questions to create conversation. Let your children know it is something that you are concerned about and they need to tell an adult. Your kids may not tell you directly but perhaps they will tell another family member, sibling, or peer.
When our son was in preschool and was being called names by his peers, he didn’t come to me or my husband. He confided in his older sister before bed one evening. Being worried, she told me. I was proud that she recognized the importance of the situation and was concerned about her brother’s hurt feelings to tell us so we could have a conversation with the teacher.
3. Listen. Being able to recognize behaviors as bullying is important but so is listening and following your child’s lead. Earlier this year our second grade daughter told me that some kindergarten boys were chasing her and calling her names. We could have easily dismissed this as them having a crush, younger kids being silly, etc. but what seemed to be fun play at recess quickly turned into harassment. Dinner time conversations centered around talk of the boys behavior but she assured us she could handle this on her own. She was annoyed but didn’t want to take any more action than telling the teachers on recess duty.
We listened and took cues from her. She wanted us to have a hands off approach and wanted to handle it on her own. This was difficult especially since she was upset buta t age 8, we made the conscious decision to let her feel empowered. Eventually it progressed to the point where she wasn’t enjoying recess at all that was brought to our attention by a fellow parent who called to tell us that her daughter noticed ours was upset. That was when we knew it was time for us to intervene.
Together we brainstormed about next steps. She decided it was time to talk to the school administration. While the matter was taken seriously and handled swiftly, we let her be the guide, practicing life skills like resiliency while listening and intervening when necessary.
4. Reinforce the importance of being a friend. Getting a phone call about my daughter’s recess harassment from a fellow parent demonstrated how much our community cares and the importance of friends.
Being a good friend is always important but even more so when a child is being bullied. Encourage your child to help a friend who is being bullied by taking a stand to discourage a culture of bullying by telling bullies their behavior is not ok.
If your child needs a tangible reminder, KidsAgainstBullying.org has a pledge accessible by clicking on the treasure chest on their site. They also have a downloadable Kids Against Bullying Certificate when they agree to speak up when seeing others being bullied, reach out to others who are being bullied, and to be a friend whenever they see bullying.
5. Acknowledge that emotional scars that come from bullying are as harmful as the physical ones. While being punched or kicked leaves bruises and scars that can be seen on the outside, the internal hurt from bullying is also real.
Later this week I’ll be sharing age appropriate bullying and cyberbullying resources for parents of preschoolers, elementary, tweens, and teens.
Child sits on stairs holding his head in his hands via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
Earlier this week Tech Savvy Parents provided a look at some of the electronic toys to come in 2012 for the ages 6 and under and am back to share the items that will appeal to the 6 and older crowd.
Nerf FireVision— “Come inside. It’s getting dark!” will be a phrase of the past with the introduction of FireVision technology. Debuting this fall, FireVision Sports Frames eyewear allow kids to flip a switch in order to see reflective graphics on FireVision Sports products like a football, basketball set, and hyper bounce ball. Each FireVision Sports product comes with a set of glasses. FireVision Sports Ball will sell between $9.99-$19.99 and additional glasses will be $5.99. Available August 1, 2012 for ages 6+
The Game of Life zAPPed— Combining an iPad with the game of Life provides a new twist on a classic board game. Purchase the game, download The Game of Life zAPPed app on to the iPad, start the game, place the iPad on the game board, and the game takes on a new life with the integration of over 100 clips from America’s Funniest Home Videos, the ability to create a personalized peg person to travel the game board, and use of a virtual spinner. Other zAPPed games to come include Monopoly and Battleship. The Game of Life zAPPed is currently in stores for $24.99 for ages 8+. iPad not included.
Lazer Tag 2 Blaster— The precision and power of Lazer Tag meets augmented reality thanks to integration with the iPhone or iPod Touch through the Lazer Tag app. iDevices are connected to Lazer Tag blasters which combines the video gaming experience with the real life game. Players can track others at a range of 250 feet and use a virtual leaderboard to keep track of successful missions and gear upgrades. $39.99, available August 1, 2012 for ages 8+
If you’re looking for the electronic toys that will be out for ages 6 and under, take a look at some of the items that were seen at Toy Fair here!
Images courtesy of Nerf, Lazer Tag, and zAPPed.
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