Anonymous Unmasked: Using Halloween to Help Kids Understand Digital Identity

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Faith Conversations, Tech Stuff

Halloween_V1Here is a blog by Art Ramford from Fuller Youth Institute.  This is a great post to help us open up conversations regarding social media.  Check out our Parenting Techies workshop where we discuss these issues and do live demonstrations of settings, apps, etc. to help parents protect their children and teens online.

It is always fun to see the way a Halloween costume changes a kid’s demeanor.

Give a boy a set of foam Hulk muscles and he’ll start stomping around and growling loudly. Or put a girl in a princess costume and watch her twirl dramatically, singing at the top of her lungs.

Halloween is a day when we give kids permission to put on costumes and pretend to be someone else—in a fun, safe way.

For today’s parents, the issue of identity is one of the trickier topics to deal with when it comes to how young people use digital media. Halloween can be a great opportunity to talk with your kids about how identity works online.

Younger kids typically use media to play games as avatars. An avatar is something that represents us within the fictitious world of a game. Kids choose a character to “be,” but don’t see that choice as related to who they really are. For younger kids, game avatars are a lot like Halloween costumes in this sense—they just pick a character they like. And change their mind tomorrow.

As kids get older, they start to think more about costumes as personal and social statements. Factors like their friends’ costumes, and how their peers will perceive them, carry more weight as they decide who and what to be. For adolescents in the process of forming their own identities, Halloween represents a rare opportunity to do something that society doesn’t let them do often—“try on” being somebody else.

Young people experience a similar kind of transition as they go from using game avatars to sharing as their ‘real’ selves on social media. The distinctions between childish play and grown-up socializing get murky.[1]

When it comes to the online behavior of both young people and adults, researchers have found that a feeling of anonymity is one of the main factors that cause us to behave badly in digital spaces. Like teens egging a house on Halloween night, we’re more likely to trash somebody else’s walls when (we think) we’re well hidden behind a mask.[2]

One of the really difficult things for adolescents to figure out as they begin using social media is this difference between an avatar and the “costume” of anonymity.

Not all anonymity is bad. Digital spaces are a lot like Halloween in how they provide young people with outlets to explore their identities and have fun with their friends in the process. This is why apps that let users share anonymously are often so popular among teens. But it is important to help young people recognize the boundaries and limits of this. Participating on social media can also feel a bit too much like a game that rewards users for hurting or outdoing on-screen enemies. [3]

If your kids are relatively new to the world of social media, think about using this Halloween as a teachable moment that helpfully illustrates the way we’re able to participate in digital spaces as an avatar, anonymous user, or authentic self. Ask questions like, “What’s the difference between the avatar version of you and the real-life version of you?” “How do you feel about the way you relate to other people online [through gaming or social media], and how they relate to you?” “Are your relationships in real life with these people similar or different? How does that make you feel?” One of the most important lessons for young people to learn is how, unlike an avatar, the actions of a costumed character online have real consequences for the offline people they conceal.

Art Bamford

Photo by ljholloway photography


[1] Livingstone, Sonia. Children and the Internet. Polity, 2009, pg. 12-23.

[2] Wright, Michelle F. “Predictors of anonymous cyber aggression: the role of adolescents’ beliefs about anonymity, aggression, and the permanency of digital content.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 17, no. 7 (2014): 431-438.

[3] Davis, Katie. “Friendship 2.0: Adolescents’ experiences of belonging and self-disclosure online.” Journal of Adolescence 35, no. 6 (2012): 1527-1536.

– See more at: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/anonymous-unmasked-using-halloween-to-help-kids?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:#sthash.KR7Rtx5J.dpuf

 

Using Texts To Connect With Your Kids

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Dads, Heart Connections With Your Kids, Ideas, Tech Stuff, Texting

How many of us have shouted orders to our kids via a text? Something like…

  • “Don’t FORGET your homework!!!”
  • “When you get home: let out the dog, have a snack, clean your room, because I can’t see the floor! Love you.
  • “NO friends over!”
  • “Be home by 9!”
  • “BE QUIET and go to sleep! (Sent from your bed; they are across the house in theirs.)”

Me too.  Guilty.

I have made it a priority to connect with my daughter with at least one encouraging text a day.

Can you imagine if every time our kids receive a text from us, their first thought was, “I wonder what encouraging thing my dad is going to say now?”  What if they looked forward to receiving our texts?

Let’s send at least one encouraging, uplifting, inspiring, funny text every day.  There just isn’t a reason not to use this tool to connect with our kids.

As a reminder, put it in your calendar to repeat every day. (Yes. I do this. Don’t tell my daughter.)

Text them stuff like:

  • “You did great at…!”
  • “Hope you do fantastic on your exam. Praying for you!”
  • “Hang in there. The day is almost over.”
  • An inspirational scripture verse. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Proverbs 13.24 (Just kidding.)
  • “I thought I would encourage you with a reminder that you have the best dad in the whole world! Love ya.”  (With crazy selfie.)
  • “Can’t wait to hear about your day. Love you.”
  • “Excited to spend time with you this weekend.”
  • “Is this a good weekend to wash my car?”

I ran across a picture of my daughter on my pc yesterday and I had this idea.  I brought the picture up on the screen.  Then I wrote adjectives that describe her on post-it notes and put them around the picture and texted it to her.  It only took a few minutes and it meant a lot to her.

2015-03-24 15.16.54

Our kids need our affirmation.  They don’t get a lot of praise for who they are outside our home, so let’s make sure they get it from those who love them the most.

Leave a comment below. I’d love your feedback.

Jonathan

Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads (And Why You Shouldn’t Either)

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Tech Stuff

steve Jobs picIf you fall within the Gen-Y era like us, chances are you’ve given a bunch of thought as to how you would raise your own children in this day and age (assuming you don’t have children already). Especially with technology, so much has changed since our childhoods in the 90s.

Here’s one question: Would you introduce the technological wonder/heroin that is the iPod and iPad to your kids? Steve Jobs wouldn’t, and for good reason too. In a Sunday article, New York Times reporter Nick Bilton said he once assumingly asked Jobs, “So your kids must love the iPad?” Jobs responded:

“They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Especially in Silicon Valley, there is actually a trend of tech execs and engineers who shield their kids from technology. They even send their kids to non-tech schools like the Waldorf School in Los Altos, where computers aren’t found anywhere because they only focus on hands-on learning.

There is a quote that was highlighted in The Times by Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and a father of five. He explains what drives those who work in tech to keep it from their kids. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules…  That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

If our current addictions to our iPhones and other tech is any indication, we may be setting up our children for incomplete, handicapped lives devoid of imagination, creativity and wonder when we hook them onto technology at an early age. We were the last generation to play outside precisely because we didn’t have smartphones and laptops. We learned from movement, hands-on interaction, and we absorbed information through books and socialization with other humans as opposed to a Google search.

Learning in different ways has helped us become more well-rounded individuals — so, should we be more worried that we are robbing our children of the ability to Snapchat and play “Candy Crush” all day if we don’t hand them a smartphone, or should we more worried that we would be robbing them of a healthier, less dependent development if we do hand them a smartphone?

I think Steve Jobs had it right in regard to his kids. So the next time you think about how you will raise your kids, you may want to (highly) consider not giving them whatever fancy tech we’ll have while they are growing up. Play outside with them and surround them with nature; they might hate you, but they will absolutely thank you for it later, because I’m willing to bet that’s exactly how many of us feel about it now that we are older.

Source: SFGate  Photo: iClarified


Speaking of parenting in this technical age, check out our

Parenting Techies workshop.  

Do you know that over 80% of explicit stuff our children are exposed to happens in OUR homes!  And it happens accidentally!!!  
  • How can you set parent controls on your devices and apps?snapchat
  • Which apps are safe and of which ones should you be leery?  facebook
  • How do you talk to your children and prepare them?ask fm
  • How do you set boundaries with your teenager?

 

We do live demonstrations of Apple and Android phones and answer your questions on how to best safeguard these eGadgets.Check out our promo video, fliers, ppt slide, etc to help promote this at your church/school/parenting group.

Have You Protected Your Children On All Devices?

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Porn, Resources, Software, Tech Stuff, Teen Boys, Teen Girls, Teen Guys, Web Stuff

boy-at-desktop-600px

PC, Mac, smartphone, & tablet protection for your children, because it will happen.

The majority of inappropriate material your child/teen will see will be through a smartphone or tablet.

Did you know:
  • 57% of kids have accidentally accessed inappropriate material online?
  • 75% of these young people do not tell their parents about these incidents?
  • Most kids are first exposed to porn at less than 11 years of age?
  • An unsolicited image is the beginning of a long battle with porn addiction?
  • 1 in 5 children ages 10-17 have been approached for sex online?

We all have stumbled upon something inappropriate online.  Keep your curious children from finding it or stumbling upon it!

Homes Devoted is proud to recommend Mobicip, the #1 rated Parental control software that monitors, documents activities, and blocks unsafe materials while allowing kids access to the Internet. 

  • Dynamic content filtering: Offensive material is removed according to your settings
  • Parental controls: Create user profiles to tailor protection to your individual family members’ needs. Control access to set time limits on internet usage.
  • Get email alerts: Have emails sent to you when your child visits inappropriate sites.
  • See website for a full list of features for your device. Purchasing through this link will support Homes Devoted.

TESTIMONIES:

“I can’t say enough about your team or your software. I hope you will continue to offer this program. I stumbled upon it when we were in a very dark place and to have instant support was truly a God-send.  You are good people helping others become better and stronger!  THANK YOU!!!!

Sincerely, Grateful Wife, Mission Viejo, CA”

“You are helping our fears of perps and others who would take advantage of kids. Keep in your hearts you are providing an essential guardian for our children.  ~Frank”

I would highly recommend more parents do this to their kids computers since you can’t watch everything they do on the Internet. Thank God I found this software.  ~Ann”

Where’s My Child? Locator Apps

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Tech Stuff

I received an email a week ago asking if I knew about a good locator app so parents could locate their child’s whereabouts anytime. Has your child ever not called or texted when they arrived somewhere even though you pay for them to have a cell phone?  Ever wonder if they are where they should be?  Locate your child with these apps you can install on their phone.  Besides the obvious fact of seeing that they are where they should be, these apps allow them to check in when they arrive to their destination and can alert you when they are on the move.

If you have a locator app that you use, please let us know what you think about it.  As well an internet filter for phones.

Here are some apps I explored.  I am personally using the Android apps:

1. GPS Tracking Pro (Android and iOS)

This is a good, free app that tells me where my daughter is and sends me an email every time she leaves and arrives home.

Good stuff:

  • The App’s map shows icons of family and friends with their exact locations.
  • There is a panic button as well that will call/text/email everyone in the family and then brings up a button to dial 911
  • The GPS Tracking Pro App can also locate any phone that has been misplaced or stolen.
  • The website map also provides directions that can be printed to guide you to the destination.
  • A child can hit the “check in” button when they get to where they are supposed to be and you are notified.

Downside:

  • Does not offer parental restrictions (which means your kids can log out or delete the app.)  So, trust needs to be in place as well, but it’s a great bargaining factor especially since you are the ones paying for their ability to connect with all their friends at any time.

Cost:  Free (Premium version is $5/month)

 

2.  Footprints  (iOS app)

We don’t have iphones, so I can’t test this app, but here is what the website said.

Good stuff:

  • Let’s you set up Geofences, for instance, your child’s school.  You are notified when your child crosses these “fences.”
  • You can even activate “movement sensors” that will notify you each time your loved ones are on the move.
  • Offers parental control feature
  • Speeding notifications can alert parents when their teenagers go over the speed limit.

Cost:  3-months ($1.99), 1-year ($3.99) or 2-years ($5.99) PER PHONE

 3.  Find my phone  (iOS app)

Ron Uhland told me about this one. He uses it as he travels the world.  He can see where his wife before he calls.

Good stuff:

  • Locate your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac on a map
  • Display a custom message on the screen
  • Play a sound for two minutes at full volume (even if your device is set to silent)
  • Remotely lock your device

 & wipe your device to erase your personal data
  • Lost Mode (iOS 6 or later)
  • Driving directions to device location (iOS 6 or later)

Downside:

  • Does not offer parental restrictions

Cost:   Free

4.  NQ Family Guardian (Android Only)

This app is much more than just a locator tool.  This app is great for controlling and keeping an eye on almost everything your child does on their phone. There is an online dashboard where parents can view their child’s location, all their contacts, phone calls, text messages, web pages visited, and even photos they take!

Good stuff:

  • I can set a schedule when my daughter’s phone can be used.  I turned off the social networking apps from 10pm-7am.  I could even lock the phone all together or set up a schedule for web browsing or texting.
  • Logs all websites viewed and any which are blocked.
  • I can restrict and block apps, websites and even block contacts!
  • It even shows all the phone call logs and text messages to each contact!
  • Geofences.  This allows you to be alerted when they leave the set geophraphical areas you have set up.
  • Children need a password to access the app.
  • There is a panic button if they’re in danger.

 Downside:

  • It “does not block adult content on a non-pornographic webpages” such as youtube or google images.
  • It can be uninstalled without a password.
  • YOU CANNOT trust the browser blocker!  They have not perfected this.  For instance, the second time you try to access blocked content, it will let you.

Cost:  34.99/ year.  No monthly fee…

Stay tuned for content filter apps for phones…

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