Archive for the ‘Parenting and Social Media’ Category

Our Most Popular Posts: Disneyland, Bullying, Girls’ Sexy Costumes… And Some Truly Obnoxious Commercials

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

It’s always interesting to look at the stats for Parent Talk Today to see the list of the most-popular posts. (If you ever want to check out the current popular posts, just look in the right sidebar.)

As we head into 2011, here are the most-popular posts:

For 2011, what would you like to see us talk about here? This is YOUR place to discuss parenting issues, from pregnancy through college. I’d love to have your suggestions. Thanks for all your support!

White House Employees’ Message to Gay Teens: “It Gets Better”

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

While this country is far from perfect, I am so grateful to live in a place where this video could be made. Watch as these While House employees, who are gay, talk about how they couldn’t imagine, back when they were 13 or 14 years old — or even younger — where they would be in their lives today, both personally and professionally. How they couldn’t imagine how much happier they would be.

I’m happy that President Obama appears in the video, too. We need that kind of support from our president for young people today. If you are a teen who is struggling with bullying or self-doubt, or if you are an adult who loves a young person who needs to see this video, please watch it and share it.

Suggestively Sucking Popsicles — in a Bubblebath With a Friend? Just Another Day in the Life of Some Teens on Facebook

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Wanted to share with you my guest post on about kids giving out too much info on FB…

Do you know what your kids post? I saw one FB profile pic today featuring two young teen girls together in a bubble bath, wearing flesh-colored tube tops and sucking suggestively on Popsicles. Their mothers would be so proud… if they knew.

Make sure you know what your kids are up to on social media — for their safety.

Get Your Free Cyber Security Guide for Parents

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Thanks to the folks at SafetyWeb for providing a wonderful, detailed, new guide for parents, “Cyber Security in the 21st Century.” You can download it as a free PDF here.

One of the most important things to talk about with your kids when it comes to being safe online is sharing personal information and photos over Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thanks to SafetyWeb for allowing me to share these tips for parents, which are also appropriate for kids:

• Don’t post the exact details of your whereabouts before the fact. Announcing the exact dates of a two-week vacation; reporting when and where a child goes to and leaves school; saying anything that tells strangers too much about your location or your kids’ locations should be avoided.

• If you choose to upload photos to a social networking site via a smart phone, turn off geotagging.

• Monitor kids’ networked friends. Be sure they understand that they should not accept invitations from people they don’t know.

• Do not include too many personal details. Birth month and day is adequate, for example, especially for information about children, but the same applies to adults, too.

• Use avatars or pet pictures for kids on social networking sites.

• Understand that Skype and other VoIP software can share too much information, too. Share information judiciously.

• Think before posting anything – pictures, facts or opinions. Privacy is a relative term on a social networking site, and things travel quickly on the Internet.

• Set and maintain your security settings. Do not assume that the site’s default settings are the best for you.

Is Your Kid Sharing Too Much on Facebook?

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Not long ago I saw something on Facebook that parents should know about.

Some middle-school kids, who may not necessarily list where they live on their profiles, are joining Facebook  groups with names like “Run Day at ______ Middle School Sucks.” Or “Swim P.E. at ______ Middle School Sucks.”

Should 12- and 13-year-old kids be on Facebook in the first place? Probably only with their parents’ knowledge and supervision. Why? Because they don’t always think about the logical consequences of their actions.

No child should be this easily identified online, especially when it comes to where they live and what school they go to. I looked at the profiles of some of these kids (many of which were public and not protected; another issue for kids this age), and I was amazed at how much personal information they gave out, either in their profiles or through the groups they joined.

If your kid is on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or some other social-networking site, make sure you check out his or her profile, posts, tweets, etc. regularly. If your child doesn’t want to friend you on Facebook, insist on knowing her password and let her know that you’ll be checking out her Facebook page from time to time to make sure she is not endangering herself or her friends by giving out too much information.

If your child posts videos on YouTube, make sure he doesn’t identify where he lives, where he goes to school, etc.

Talk with your child about being safe on the Web, and about Internet predators. We all watch the news and we all hear about kids being contacted by people who should not be targeting kids.

If you wouldn’t want your 13-year-old daughter telling a 40-year-old male stranger where she attends 7th grade, then you’ll want to make sure she isn’t doing exactly that — without intending to — online.

Guest Post: Letter To My Daughter (In The Wake of a Senseless Tragedy)

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I’m so honored to be able to share with you a guest post from Vicky Bell, who blogs over on Vicky Bell’s Blog. This post really touched me, and I will be sharing it with my teenage son. You might want to share it with your kids, too.

Hello my girl,

I  wanted to say hi and tell you how much I miss you and that I hope your classes are going well and that you are having fun, too. But I also have to have a mommy moment —  bear with me here.  I won’t take long, and I won’t be saying anything I haven’t already said in one form or another, but it is important.

You may or may not have heard about the N.J. college student who killed himself last week because his roommate had posted videotape of him having sex with another guy. A terrible, senseless tragedy.

My mommy job requires that I remind you of two essential things:

One: Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.
Two: Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.

If that young man had only waited a couple of weeks, nobody would have cared. He’d have gotten past it.  People have short memories. Life would have gotten better, much better. His parents and friends? They loved him prior to the tape, They would have loved him afterward, too.  A few awkward moments and then life goes on.

But when you are young, you don’t know that even the awkward moments are fleeting. On this,  you just have to trust the old people. Remember when you were really small and cried and cried over something?  Well,  it didn’t last. That’s kind of what it’s like. Awful things happen, you feel like there’s a rock in the pit of your stomach, somehow time goes by and it gets better. I promise you, it ALWAYS gets better.

The students, a girl and boy who were involved in the taping and posting, are being charged with invasion- of-privacy crimes and possibly other things. Their college life is over.  They will have to live with this death the rest of their lives — and their families are devastated. What they did was so wrong, but also so kid-stupid.  Not to mention mean. And so their lives will be different forever. But even so, their families will love them and they will have time enough to hopefully live in such a way as to make meaning from their mistake.

So, my beautiful girl,  never, ever think something is un-fixable. NOTHING you do will ever keep us from loving you. NOTHING you do could be so awful you can’t get past it.

And if someone is mean to you, and it isn’t something you can ignore, seek out people to talk to about it.  Surround yourself with people who are supportive. If you ever need help and don’t know how to ask, try writing a letter instead. And right now, before you might need such help, think about whom you would talk to if needed. In the midst of turmoil, sometimes we don’t always think as clearly. Having a plan makes it easier to find help in crisis. And remember there are always alternatives. Always.

Finally, don’t be mean. Don’t let other people be mean. Stand up for the underdog, protect those who aren’t as smart or confident or easygoing as yourself. Treat people’s feelings like fragile little puppies. If you play with them, be gentle.

I love you so much and I know you really don’t need me to tell you this stuff… But it’s my job.

Love and hugs,

— Vicky Bell is 50 years old, married to Jim, proud mom of three grown kids, with a newly emptied nest and the sense that life is a grand adventure. She is also the owner of the Red Lion Paint Store on rt. 206n, Branchville, NJ, home of the 2010 “Art is Local” Project.

Blogging Buddies Can Be the Real Deal

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Have you popped over to check out the Ladies’ Home Journal Ladies’ Lounge blog recently? One of my favorite writers, and a blogging buddy of mine, Louise Sloan, has a terrific post, “Best Mom Bloggers (and BFFs!).”

Reading the post reminded me of the fact that I have closer friendships, and more frequent contact, with some fellow bloggers whom I rarely (or never) see in person than I do with some friends who live nearby. What would I have given, back in 1995 when I was the mom of a newborn, to have had these connections, these wise women writers who shared so honestly about the very things I was going through? These women who would be there, at least in blog form, at 2 a.m. when I was up feeding Matthew?

Of course, this virtual embarrassment of riches now stretches far beyond parenting tips for me. From my blogging buds, I learn about everything from how to make the best use of a day at Disneyland to how to organize my finances to how to get the best deal when buying a car.

And sometimes it goes much deeper than the “how-to” stuff: When a child becomes seriously ill and the blogging community rallies around a worried family. When a blogging buddy is walking to raise money for cancer research and we all spread the word and help fill the coffers. When someone takes a deep breath and reaches out to discuss a personal challenge — and receives support from around the world.

With blogging, when it’s done right, we’re not just consumers of information. Those of you who leave comments here become part of a “the gang.” Sometimes we take the conversation to email or phone. And sometimes connections are made that become as valuable and meaningful as any “in-real-life” friendship. Blogging, done right, is a two-way street. And as Louise points out, there are some pretty terrific potential friends waiting for you on your virtual block.

Check out Our New Facebook “Welcome” Page

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

The wonderfully talented Lucy Felton Banta and her creative partner, Alison Pergola Savoie, have created a welcome landing page for our Parent Talk Today fan page, complete with video.

If you’re not already a fan, this link will take you right to the welcome page. If you’re a fan, just click on “Welcome!” in the page menu to see it.

Thanks, Lucy and Alison! And thanks to all of our “fans” out there!

Try ColorSplash on the iPhone for Photo Fun

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I got my iPhone yesterday, and I’m like a kid at Christmas. Almost jumped up and down (OK, maybe I actually did a little) when the FedEx guy showed up.

One of my favorite apps, already, is ColorSplash. It allows you to turn a color photo into black-and-white and then add back just a touch of color to any part of the photo you choose.

Speaking of a kid at Christmas, here’s one of my favorite photos of my niece, after I had some fun with it with ColorSplash.

If you’re a busy parent with an iPhone, I’d love to know what apps you use to save time, stay organized and have fun! Please share your recommendations in comments.

Are You Friends With Us On Facebook?

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

We are having such a good time with our Parent Talk Today friends and fans on our Facebook page, and we just hit 200 friends there! Have you joined us?Lots of fun discussions going on there.

If you’re reading this on the blog, just hit the button on the left sidebar. If you’re reading PTT on your favorite parenting magazine’s website, just go directly to the site and click on “like.” We’ll see you there!