Family Experiment: Cell Phones

Those of you who follow us know we enjoy a good “family experiment” -something you can do together with your kids, that supports connection, generates conversation and develops critical thinking. 

Here’s a short video to watch with your kids who have a cell phone.  Have some conversation after you watch the video, and be sure to listen for what your kids have to say before you share your opinion or observations.   

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Technology Tuesday: Kringl....A 'Won't Believe It 'til You See It' App This Christmas!

Okay…we’ll admit it.  Many of our Technology Tuesday’s are a little scary.  They’re filled with app alerts and statistics on all that your children are being exposed to.  They’re enough to make even Santa’s cheeks turn red.

But this one is different!  It’s one of our favorite Technology Tuesday’s to date!  We recently heard about an app called Kringl.  It’s free on the app store.  And it is one where you film your living room and this magical app sets Santa right in the middle of your video…


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Technology Tuesday: The Self-Control App and More

More and more schools are requiring computers and tablets for their students…at younger and younger ages.  One of the biggest complaints we hear from parents is—

“How do I know my child is really doing their homework when they’re on their ipad?”  

“How do I know they’re not on twitter?” 

“How can I get them to focus?”

As concerned as we regularly are about apps that developers are coming out with that are unhelpful to kids, there are also those that are profoundly helpful in different ways..Continue Reading

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Technology Tuesday: Kids, Tablets, and ADHD

I remember the days when we had an Apple LC computer (remember those?) with a silly game about settling out west on our computer in the lobby.  As a staff we debated if the computer was really a good things for kids to keep them occupied versus interacting as they sat and waited for their counseling appointments.  We would prefer kids to be talking or reading every time.  But, that old computer in the corner was like a magnet.  They’d climb into the wagon and do their best to avoid rocks and outlaws coming after them on their trek west. READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: App Alerts

App Alert with 7 dangerous apps…and a few more NOT to let your kids grow on.

Kristin Peaks has written a fantastic article called 7 Dangerous Apps That Parents Need To Know About warning you of some of the newest and most concerning apps for kids…actually, correction—apps that are appealing to kids and concerning to parents.  As counselors, we’re not often black and white on issues.  But we are on a few when it comes to technology.

Read this article and watch out for these apps!  Check your child’s phone for them today.  If they have any installed, have a conversation about why they chose to download them and why they believe it is important to have them on their phone.  And we really mean a conversation…ask them questions and use the conversation as a learning opportunity for both of you.  If your child is an older teenager, make a decision together about whether that particular app has any value for your child’s emotional or social growth.  If he or she is a younger teenager or pre-teen, we can already tell you…there is none.  It is never helpful for a child to have an opportunity to rate someone else. READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Social Skills Apps

Using the Powers of Technology for Good rather than Evil…

Technology is a powerful force…as we talk about every Tuesday on our blog.  There is a lot out there to be concerned about as a parent.  And a lot we want you to know…before your children do.  But, thankfully, there are also some techie folks out there in the computer ethos who use their powers for good.  They are creating apps who actually help kids with things that matter, more than just climbing or watching whomever else is climbing the social ladder of the hour.

We’ve recently come across a few of these apps.  These, in particular, help kids with social skills—something we feel is increasingly a need in the lives of kids.  Many of them are targeted toward kids on the autism spectrum.  But, we believe that all kids can benefit from lessons in important tools such as perspective-taking, reciprocity in relationship, and reading emotions.  We actually all know a few adults who can, too. READ MORE

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A Non-Technological Technology Tuesday!

I have a friend who texts me every Technology Tuesday.  Here’s what she said recently…

Last Tuesday…

“Technology Tuesday makes me feel insufficient.  I’ll stick with the post about toddlers.  I was good at that!”

This past Tuesday…

“It’s Technology Tuesday and I’m already worried…and you haven’t even posted yet.”

She went on to say “I think it’s indicative of our biggest struggle as parents…the loss of control…My inability to know and control what is going on in their technological world overwhelms me and makes me see how not in charge I am…which is a good thing!  But it’s hard to remember that it’s a good thing!  READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: "Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction"

This is an article worth reading from the NYTimes...

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh’s life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer?

By all rights, Vishal, a bright 17-year-old, should already have finished the book, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle,” his summer reading assignment. But he has managed 43 pages in two months.

He typically favors FacebookYouTubeand making digital videos. That is the case this August afternoon. Bypassing Vonnegut, he clicks over to YouTube, meaning that tomorrow he will enter his senior year of high school hoping to see an improvement in his grades, but without having completed his only summer homework.

On YouTube, “you can get a whole story in six minutes,” he explains. “A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.”

Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning. READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Family Media Contracts

We talk often in parenting classes about the importance of technology contracts.  Contracts accomplish several things.  

  1. They clearly outline the terms of having a gadget or media privileges.  It eliminates a child/teen saying “you never said I couldn’t ________________.”   The terms are clear and we’ve agreed to those terms on the front side.  
  2. Contracts are a way of life.  They prepare kids for all of life.  I signed a contract when I purchased my first car, with the mortgage company when I bought my house, with my employer when I took my first job, with AT&T when I purchased my cell phone, and on and on.  Reading, understanding, agreeing to the terms, and acting within those terms will be a part of our kids journeys all throughout their young adult and adult lives. READ MORE
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Technology Tuesday: can help!

So, you hear all of the time “You need to stay on top of technology with your children.  Be a step ahead of them.”  We say these things in our parenting seminars regularly.  And believe them wholeheartedly.  But, where do you go?  How are you supposed to stay a step ahead of them when every second of their free time is spent getting ten steps ahead of you!  Plus, there are zillions of monitoring softwares and services out there now…which one do you choose? 

Every once in a technology Tuesday, we’ll share with you one we’ve found that we believe is especially helpful.

We discovered when they asked us to make several short videos to help parents with issues kids are struggling with today.  Basically, they monitor your child’s social networking sites…currently, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  There are guidelines and they alert you when various words or phrases come up. READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Creative Tech Parents

Every time we speak at a parenting event, we point out that “It’s not so much that we’re experts.  We just get to sit with kids and hear their hearts every day and learn from them, and then bring what they teach us back to you.”  We learn a tremendous amount from you, as parents, too…even on the subject of technology!

We love when parents use their creativity in a back door way to build boundaries around technology.  Take a look at these two terrific examples of what that can look like in your own home. READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: When Should my Child be Allowed on Social Media?

We are asked constantly about what age is appropriate for my child to have this gadget or that.  We believe that what is most important is twofold:

1) the world your child lives in socially

2) the emotional age of your child.

Something we say constantly in parenting seminars is that you don’t want your child to be the first and you don’t want your child to be the last to______________.  Fill in the blank with anything, including owning gadgets and signing up for social media sites.  If your child is the first, they will often be perceived as faster or wilder or more on the cutting edge of things, which is not where you want your child to live.  If they are the last on every trendy gadget or privilege, they will often be the ones who rebel.  You can choose one or two things to hold out on, but kids often rise to the level of trust we place in them.  You want to gradually expose them to social media and let themselves prove they are responsible... READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Does your child have a secret Instagram account?

I spoke recently with a parent whose 10 year-old had learned about cutting from Instagram.  In the past several months, I have heard of this happening several times.  Parents, be warned.  Your child may have an alternative Instragram, Twitter or Tumblr account.  They create them under different names and post pictures that you never see if you’re only following them from your own phone or computer.  You need to have your child’s password and be checking for alternative accounts, as well.  They have accounts where they show literal photos of their cuts, or swap ideas about eating disorders or obtaining alcohol. 

When your child signs up for any of these social media sites, they need you to help them learn what it means to be responsible. READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: App Alert - Snapbox

We talked in a recent blog about snapchat, where your child can send pictures that are available for the recipient to see from 1 to 10 seconds after the picture is opened.  Obviously, it lends itself to plenty of concerns for parents and plenty of temptations for teens (or even younger children).  We would recommend being very aware of the apps your child downloads.  You can either check their phone or tablet regularly or have them download through your own itunes account.  Or both. 

A new app that I just heard about is called Snapbox.  It is described as “a snaphack for snapchat... READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Time To Think

I recently taught a parenting class on Technology called Taming the Technology Monster.  And, oh, what a monster it is…in many ways.  But there are also ways we can use it to our advantage in the lives of our families.  David talks a bit about that in Parenting In The Virtual Age.  But, this week, I want to talk about one of the disadvantages…and one that we want to safeguard our children against.

Study after study in my research for the class talked about the importance—the necessity of thinking time.  You know…the time we spend on a walk, in the shower, or in the car…those times when we have the proverbial “a-ha” moments.   What the research says is that kids are so glued to their screens they are no longer having a-ha moments. READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Online Monitoring Services

The Internet contains volumes of useful, interesting, fun content, alongside some dangerous, destructive, harmful content.  In order to make the most of this powerful vehicle while protecting our kids from the dangerous places, consider the following resources to support you in the overwhelming journey of navigating technology.  


Window’s Live Family Safety  For PC (Windows 7 or Vista).  Features include whitelisting and backlisting, great content filtering and activity reporting.  

Mac OS X Parental Controls  For Mac.  User-friendly content filtering, whitelisting, access scheduling, and activity reporting.  READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: App Alert- "Hot or Not?"

Just heard about it tonight from a group of high school girls.  An app called literally “Hot or Not.”  As soon as one girl brought it up, the room was abuzz. 

“Everyone was on it at the lunch table today.” 

And you can imagine what it is.  You upload a picture or more to your profile and people have the opportunity to rate you with “hot” or “not.”  And, unless you have your own profile, you only have the opportunity to vote not.  Every girl in my group had heard about it... READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Setting Appropriate and Balanced Media Boundaries

1.  Monitor input.  A good rule of thumb is that kids should never spend more time in the virtual world than in reality.  That simply means that they should never spend more time playing video or computer games than engaging in active play.  They should never spend more time watching sports than playing them (that goes for you, too, Dad!).  They should never spend more time talking to their friends on Facebook, email or texting than having real conversations.

2.  Get online. Parents of preteens should have access to any social networking sites they choose to let their kids participate in or explore.  You should know their password at all times and let them know that you can and will check it.  Require that they “friend” you on Facebook and let them know you check the Internet and device history on any of the computers or gadgets in your home.   

3.  Model Limits. READ MORE

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Technology Tuesday: Parenting In The Virtual Age

“When can I get a smart phone?”

“That is such an invasion of my privacy!

“If I stop the game now, I’ll never get to the next level.”

“I am the only person in my grade without a Facebook page!” 

“Other people text way more of the time than I do.” 

As a counselor, I (David) have heard a parent report one of the above statements over a thousand times.  Parenting a child or teenager in this day and age requires an advanced degree in navigating, negotiating and understanding media and technology.  As much as media and technology can be an invaluable resource to your child’s growing mind, it can also be a debilitating force.  Obtaining this advanced degree involves surveying the options, identifying the pros and cons, and setting age-appropriate media and technology boundaries... READ MORE

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