We’ve put our best stuff, plus a lot of new stuff, in our recently released book. Great as a gift for any caregiver that has to understand the world of our children and youth. In a clear and accessible way, it shines a light on the social and technological environment that parents find mystifying and frightening. It covers a host of important and up-to-date issues including social media, finances and gambling, television, health (alcohol, drugs, vaping, depression, suicide), relationships, bullying, gaming, and many others. The book’s organization into topical chapters allows the reader to quickly find well-researched information on a given issue. A salient feature of the book is that it is largely written by young people themselves who have experienced these challenges yet have done the hard work of thoroughly investigating and reporting each topic. Get it now in Kindle or paperback version at Amazon.com
“Among Us” has officially become the game of the fall season. The game has been around since 2018 but has suddenly taken off with kids and young adults.
The graphics in “Among Us” have a cartoon feel and are more catered to older teens and young adults. Its jump in popularity is partly because it is free on mobile devices and tablets.
The game is simple. Video gamers are put in lobbies consisting of 10 or fewer online players. At least one person at the start of each game is deemed the imposter. The rest of the players are crewmates.
Goals of the game are different depending on your role. The imposter’s job is to eliminate the crewmates, while making sure they do not get caught and voted out. The crewmates’ jobs are to complete a variety of different tasks and determine who is the imposter. Players move a 3D building and don’t see each other when they are out of sight.
Tasks are different each game. They might be connecting the colored wires, clicking one to 10 or a Simon says style minigame.
Although it has a cartoon style, it does get violent when the imposter eliminates crewmates. The animations range from a gunshot to the head to a spear through the head. All of these are violent. This leaves the remains of the character without the top half of their body.
The crewmates must find the body and report it, or if someone is acting suspicious, hit the red button. Everyone must work together and vote someone out.
I’ve played the game many times and I would say this mobile game is not for early teens and younger children. The game feels and looks innocent until the eliminations (bloody deaths). If your teen wants to play it, ask them to let you watch their first game. Then you can determine together if it is appropriate. Remember, the super-violent part doesn’t happen until character gets killed or witnesses a character get killed.
Overall, “Among Us” isn’t a bad game. Lots of my twenty-something-yr-old friends are playing and enjoying it. It teaches you to think of different strategies and has a psychological/manipulative component that is not in a lot of point-and-shoot games. no That makes it a nice change of pace after maybe playing the same games in lockdown for the past half year.
As always, if your kid is a pre-teen or younger, remember – you’re in charge.
Every time I log onto Facebook, I see the daily update my cousin posts about her son.
Parenting has changed drastically since the rise of social media. Today, parents are exposing every detail of their child’s lives. Whether it’s their first steps or their most recent report card, parents are sharing everything with the world.
Instead of enjoying the moment with their children, parents are now pausing to ask themselves “Is this something I want to take a picture of and share?” Then they are grabbing their phones to document the event. This causes them to miss the interaction “in the moment”. They should be having this special time with their kids. They should be enjoying the moment, not documenting it.
Parents also no longer have to go to their kid’s school function or run into another parent to hear all about how their kids got into an honors program or made the varsity soccer team. All this information is now posted on feeds and timelines on various apps.
According to a journal article in “Psychology of Popular Media,” what often happens is that parents compare their own parenting success to other parents through social media. Their own success and failure are now based on how successful they perceive other families are through social media.
Recently, the Pew Research Center performed a study which found that two-thirds of parents in the United States feel that parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago. Many in the group also cited the reasons for this include new technologies, such as social media and smartphones.
68% of parents said they sometimes feel distracted by their phones when spending time with their kids. Younger parents (ages 18 to 49) were more likely to be distracted by smartphones and social media than older parents (50 and older).
Social media has also turned many parents into “oversharers”. Like my cousin, they post about their child far too often for many people’s liking. According to a poll done by The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 75% of parents believe other parents overshare.
There are ways to try to avoid oversharing or from being affected by others’ oversharing. An experiment done in 2016 reported that people who quit Facebook were happier.
While not everyone may want to quit Facebook entirely, reducing the time you spend on social media will reduce your stress levels that are a result of comparing your parenting to others. By setting limits for yourself, like staying off social media when you’re with your kids or before bed, you’ll be less likely to start comparing yourself to others.
Seeing other parents oversharing may make you want to as well, but before you do, make sure you’re posting for the right reasons. Are you posting because you ae truly proud of your child’s accomplishments or because you want to show the other parents on social media that your kid is just as smart or talented as theirs?
When schools abruptly closed in April 2020, and students got two extra months of summer, they never thought returning to school like normal wouldn’t be an option for this fall. Now that school has started this year for your children, let’s check in.
The CDC stressed opening schools quickly and safely this fall for students. However, schools were to make the best decision possible for their students and community when deciding the route for reopening. My sister’s school provided families with multiple different options: all in-person, all remote via the school, or all remote via an outside source. Regardless of your decision, we’d like to help your kids navigate this weird ‘new normal.’
Offer Reassurance and Help
Even if they don’t seem like it, your children actually listen to your advice. If they are stuck on a project and can’t think of ideas, help them! Throw out suggestions and ideas, and just maybe one will stick. Often I find myself texting my mom for ideas and suggestions for papers because I can’t think of anything. Also, keep tabs on their school district’s policies about COVID-19 and everyday maintenance. Sign up for district emails/newsletters, teacher policy updates, and more. The more you know to help your kids, the better.
Find the Good in Each Day
Celebrate little things! Every day after school, especially this year, your child is going to come home (or leave the computer screen) physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. I know I walk away from my computer screen drained every day. It is highly important to find the good in every day. Did your child pass their history test? Make their favorite dinner! Did they attend every online class on time today? Give your child a hug and tell them you are proud. Trust me when I say they need to hear it more than you think.
Talk About Mental Health
Self-care is always important, but even more so right now. Be open with your kids about mental health and how to approach these feelings. The best thing a parent can do when their child expresses feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, or anything else, is to love them and get help when necessary. Helping your children keep a steady sleep and eating schedule and getting regular exercise can help to boost mood as well. And have discussions with others about the signs you need to look for so you know when to get professional mental health help.
Remind Your Kids that Feelings are Valid
Emotions are running at high speed this year for everyone. Remind your children that their frustration over the absence of extracurricular activities is okay. It’s okay to be upset and frustrated that school dances aren’t happening. It’s understandable to be angry that you can’t go watch your friends play soccer or football. They are allowed to have feelings and express them to you. When the “storm” has passed, it will be okay to go back to regular activities. But meltdowns may happen. Just be there.
Probably the best thing to do is just keep learning. Parenting is one of the world’s most difficult jobs. But as Dr. Lauber has always told us, it’s also the toughest job you’ll ever love. Check out our links below.
Have you ever sat down to watch TV with a bag of chips and suddenly half of the family-sized bag is gone before your show has even started? This has happened to me and it probably happens to teens and adults every day. The only difference is that children and teens are still growing, and their bodies require more nutrients to continue that growth.
So, you may be asking, why is overeating such a bad thing in teens considering they need to eat more than the average adult? Well, it all depends on what they are eating. Eating two rows of Oreos from a pack may sound amazing but it holds little-to-no nutritional value.
The bottom line is junk food is calorie dense but nutritionally poor. When you add increased calorie consumption to a developing body it can negatively affect how the body develops, causing obesity, diabetes, nutrition deficiencies, eating disorders, and even depression.
In your teenage years, the habits you develop carry over into adulthood, which is why it is so important to practice good eating habits not only in childhood but your teen years as well. Often teenagers get in the habit of eating junk food. When they go off to college or leave home, it becomes even easier to eat cheap and ready-made junk food daily. Without mom or dad to cook your homemade healthy meals, young adults tend to go for the simpler and more delicious option.
The best thing you can do is teach your kid what to eat and how. How much is too much? Junk food does not have to be cut out entirely. Instead it can be a treat. Tell them they can eat anything, just in moderation.
One great way to teach your child is to teach them to cook too. Maybe try making a healthy meal once a week with your child. That develops their healthy habits. And later in life, they won’t be completely lost when mom and dad are not around to cook for them.
Another method is to teach your child how to meal prep. Try meal prepping Sunday for the week to come. Cut fresh fruits and vegetables for lunches or cook chicken and prepare it in salads or rice. This is an easy way to have a healthy grab-and-go food for busy teens. No need to go through McDonalds drive though when you have pre-made healthy food options sitting in your fridge at home.
It’s not always about what your teen is eating. Sometimes it’s just about “how much”. Do your nutritional research and help your child develop life-long healthy habits so they can be a healthy adult outside of your home.
Fall is in the air. The weather is getting colder, and the geese are booking their tickets south.
Although this fall – like much of the year – will not quite be the same, many Fall activities can still be enjoyed. Of course you’re still concerned about safety. So we’ve pulled together some of the best, and safest, things you can still do this Fall season.
Carve a pumpkin
This is a fun activity no matter what age you are. Most farms are still open but some of them may have restrictions or change their hours, so call ahead.
If your farm is closed or you do not feel safe going to one, do not worry. Many local grocery stores and Walmart’s also carry pumpkins.
There are many kits and videos on the Internet that could help, if this is your first time carving a pumpkin. I think it’s a great activity for the whole family and is a great way to show off your creativity. Maybe there can even be a family competition to see who has the best design.
Navigate a Corn Maze
A personal favorite of my family’s is the corn maze. These are perfect for anyone that loves puzzles and does not mind getting lost once or twice in the process.
Some farms have both pumpkins and corn mazes. Why not knock out two birds with one stone? Out here in rural America often you can finish the corn maze and then relax while taking a ride over to the pumpkin patch to pick your pumpkin.
Play outdoor sports
The weather is cool and it is football season. And many people will go out to toss the pigskin. But that’s not the only sport one can play.
You could toss around a frisbee, or play a round of golf. Maybe try badminton, baseball or tennis, all of which can be played while observing social distancing guidelines.
Did you know there are two other versions of golf?
One is disc golf, which we wrote about in a June 11th article. There’s also footgolf, which we wrote about on Sept. 6th. Both of them are similar to golf but with a twist. Disc golf has frisbees and footgolf has a soccer ball.
Looking at the Fall leaves
Around here the most common Fall activity is to look at the remarkable display of colors that is the forests of Pennsylvania. Thousands of variations of colors like orange, red and yellow. And the best part is it may not cost you any money. Maybe it’s a short drive for you to find your areas Fall display of leaves.
At the least, if gets you in the “Fall” mood to see what nature can create with just the change of the seasons.
When I hear MTV television shows, I usually think of reality television shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom.”
What I don’t think of, and what I don’t think many people think of, are honest and serious shows with an in-depth look into real life.
MTV’s new four-part show, “16 and Recovering,” details the struggles and hardships of teenage addiction, and how parents and caretakers can effectively help teens with addiction.
I think that parents and teens should all sit down and watch this mini-series, whether its together or separately.
The show takes place at Northshore Recovery High School in Massachusetts, where the MTV film crew, including award-winning director Steve Liss, was given an inside look into the lives of teens with addiction, their families and their teachers.
The founder of Northshore, Michelle Lipinski, is not only the school principal but a confidant, friend and even loved one to all of the students. The students not only trust Lipinski but all of the staff at Northshore. They share their struggles, secrets and hardships with the staff members, as they would close friends.
The teachers and caretakers at Northshore don’t punish students when they relapse or make a mistake. They just express their support and love for their students and encourage them back onto the right path.
I think that the way the Northshore staff handles teen addiction is a perfect model for how parents and caretakers everywhere should handle their own teens who may be struggling. By showing only love and support, with no anger or strong discipline, the kids feel like they can always be honest with them, rather than fear them and hide their wrongdoings.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Lipinski spoke about how she did not wish for the camera crew to record the students using any drugs. She said that the show is about teenage recovery, not the drug use.
The show also shows how mental illness and addiction go hand in hand. In one scene, a student named Alba says how depression and addiction go together like “cheese and crackers.” Many of the students struggle with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, on top of the addictions.
While the series shows how the support and love of family and caretakers can help struggling youth addicts, it doesn’t hide the fact that some teens end up giving in to their addiction and are unable to survive because of it.
MTV hopes to lead the change in the entertainment industry when it comes to depicting mental illness on screen.
The show has four parts, each airing Tuesday evenings at 9 pm on MTV. The first episode aired on September 1.
As the summer continues to segue into grey September days, this Autumn feels a little different than usual, especially when it comes to youth sports.
Some states have decided to cancel fall youth sports altogether, while others have given the green flag.
But, whether your kid’s athletics are canceled for the season or still going, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about some different options that they can do to stay active while also staying safe and healthy.
And with social distancing here to stay for the time being, I recommend you check out these sports that can be played while maintaining social distancing:
It’s one of those sports that it seems like you either love it or hate it. It also is something that all you need to get into it is a decent pair of sneakers.
But either way, running and cross country, especially for would-be varsity athletes, really should be a sport that makes a comeback because of COVID-19.
If you are someone who doesn’t necessarily love sports or is a little self-conscious about being athletic, running is a great place to start mainly because it’s largely an independent activity.
It improves cardiovascular health and also reduces the body’s stress hormones, says a Harvard Healthstudy.
I suggest you do make sure you’re kid does learn some safety protocols and procedures, such as running against traffic in highly-visible clothing.
Known as the middle child between traditional tennis and table tennis, pickleball is a similar paddle sport played between two or four players.
In my high school, we had a pickleball tournament every year in gym class. I think one of the coolest things about the game is that so many kids, even the ones who normally didn’t get overly excited about gym class, could get decent at pickleball pretty quickly.
Paddles and balls are relatively inexpensive. And there are more and more pickleball courts in communities today. If your community doesn’t have a pickleball court, you can modify a tennis court by doing the following.
So Footgolf is, as you probably guessed, a combination of soccer and golf. Played just like regular golf or disc golf, it is played by golfers using a soccer ball to navigate the course, working around hazards to get the ball in the hole in the fewest amount of kicks or strokes.
Most footgolf courses are played at regular golf courses, but for a substantially lower price than regular golf. If your kid is into soccer but can’t play this season due to concerns regarding COVID-19, or if they just like kicking things, try taking them to a footgolf course and see how it goes.
If your kid isn’t into running, maybe they’d be interested in one of the best alternatives, cycling. The sport has become so popular since COVID-19 hit back in March, that it’s been difficult to find bicycles to buy at times.
But if your kid already has a bike, or you’re able to get your hands on one, enjoy it. Cycling can be a great, healthy sport that the whole family can get involved in.
It seems like more bike trails are being put in yearly, which gives cyclists a safe place to enjoy biking while seeing the world and nature in a different way than they’re used to.
The sport is also another one that provides cardiovascular benefits, while also helping your kid develop better coordination.
Alright, so I might be a little biased here, but I believe that fantasy sports are a great way for teens to keep in touch with the game while still being removed from actually playing it.
While fantasy football is the most popular and well-known fantasy sport, nowadays there is pretty much a fantasy version for every real sport. There’s everything from fantasy golf, to fantasy NASCAR, to even fantasy cricket.
Fantasy sports can be a great critical-thinking challenge and has various stats and trends to follow. Believe it or not, to be a high-level fantasy sports player, you actually need to be decent at math and statistics.
But there is the other side of fantasy sports, gambling. Quite obviously there is a large amount of luck involved in the game and you can quickly lose your buy-in if you’re playing for money. Warn your kids about playing for money. I’ve written other blogs on this site describing how some of my friends went several thousand dollars in the hole. I suggest keeping it low-stakes and for primarily bragging rights. But remember, kids should be able to enjoy fantasy sports without any betting at all.
If your kids are like me and many others, their addiction to the social media video app, TikTok, has tremendously grown since the beginning of quarantine.
TikTok has been all over the news lately, due to the fact that President Trump plans to ban the app because of its connection to China and its government. More recently he has asked that its U.S. assets be sold to a U.S. company. In the past few days, news has been announced that TikTok is now planning to sue the Trump administration because of all this.
TikTok is an app filled with different kinds of short videos including content such as dancing, baking, crafting, pranking, etc. Many kids are very fond of the dancing videos, following popular Tiktokers like Addison Rae, and, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio.
While dance videos aren’t necessarily inappropriate content, some of the Tiktokers and the dances they come up with are provocative and can send the wrong message to kids.
After these TikTok influencers come up with a new dance, it has the possibility to go viral and be recreated by millions. Kids and teens love to recreate the dance videos made by their favorite TikTok dancers. They post these recreation videos and tag their favorite dance TikToker to try to also become as popular as them.
An example of a new TikTok dance challenge that is not exactly appropriate is the “WAP” dance. This dance became a viral sensation on TikTok after the release of the song “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan the Stallion. I’m not comfortable telling you what “WAP” means in this blog. You’ll have to Google it.
The lyrics of the song are very raunchy, overly sexual and the context of the song is not something that parents might want their kids listening to. The dance involves lots of twerking, simulated sex acts, high kicks and a split.
The dance is not exactly safe either. One person ended up in the hospital after attempting the dance. This Tiktoker landed on her knee while attempting the dance and had to have her knee popped back into place.
An article in Vice, by Rachel Miller, details how to talk to your children about what the song stands for. She consults Erin Harper, a nationally certified school psychologist, assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M and author of Dear Mom, You Don’t Get to Have Nice Things.
In the article Miller and Harper discuss how with adolescents and older kids, the song can actually spark a conversation between parent and child about sexuality and having the freedom to express yourself and to be proud of your body.
Overall, it’s up to the parents to decide what is appropriate or not for their kids’ ears. Even though the song can be a gateway to an open and honest conversation, some parents might not want their kids hearing the lyrics in general.
For younger children, they say that they might be too young to discuss the sexual language and content in the song. Instead, they say parents should tell their kids that the song is “about women who are feeling strong and happy.”
Overall, it’s up to the parents to decide what is appropriate or not for their kids’ ears. Even though the song can be a gateway to an open and honest conversation, some parents might not want their kids hearing the lyrics in general.
Back-to-school season won’t have the same excitement this year for kids and teachers. On top of the normal craziness of a new school year, educators and parents are worrying about how to keep their kids safe if they have to sit in a classroom and learn with other children. Hopefully, our back-to-school tips will give you some ideas on how to do that.
My niece’s elementary school created a hybrid schedule to minimize unnecessary contact between students. The first half of the alphabet goes into school the first half of the week while the other half is remote. Then they swap for the second half of the week. But it turns out that many of her close friends fall into the opposite group as her. This year is going to be hard on kids in a lot of ways.
This is as new for them as it is for you, so I pulled advice from some resources to help you as your kids prepare to step back into the classroom.
Back to School in COVID-19 Times
Check in with Your Child Every Day
Regardless of whether or not your school requires it, take your kid’s temperature each morning when they get up. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you would rather learn they’re sick yourself then getting a call later from a school nurse. Confirm with them that they know to tell you even if they feel only a little bit sick.
Designate a Spot for School Items
Back-to-school season usually stirs up a lot of germs that get brought into your house to begin with, but this year will be even worse. Find a spot in your house where your kid can leave their backpack, shoes, jacket, and lunchbox. A good place is typically right by the front door or garage door.
Sanitize as Soon as They Get Home
Once they leave their stuff at the door, get them in the habit of at least changing into new clothes and washing their hands. If they took any toys or devices to school, make sure those get wiped down before your kid uses them in the house. Same goes for you, parents, if you work around other people during the day.
Regularly Wash Cloth Masks
Don’t let a mask become one of those items that gets lost forever in your kid’s backpack. Create a consistent schedule for washing your kid’s masks. Make sure they have a few comfortable masks they can switch in and out when the others are getting washed. You may even want to put the entire household on the same mask-washing schedule to assure you’re all covered.
Create a Home School Area
If you haven’t already, you may want to have a specific place for your kid to go to do their homework and schoolwork. If they are doing all or some schooling during the day from home, this is essential. Kids have been stuck in their houses for months. It will be helpful for them to have certain places for focused work that is separate from the area in which they can play and have down time.
Going along with that, organize a schedule with them for homework time before they play. Especially if they didn’t have a lot of structure during out-of-school months (did any of us?), they will need help getting back into a routine.
Let Them Talk to Their Friends
I’m thinking about all the kids in a similar situation as my niece. They won’t get to see their buddies much, and socializing is an important part of childhood development. It might mean they’re on their devices a little more to video chat or message each other, but kids communicate differently than when you were a kid.
Take It Easy
On them. On yourself. On others. It’s going to be a big change for everyone.
Support Your Kid’s Teacher
Whether you send in some extra Lysol wipes and tissues or reach out personally, your kids’s teacher will appreciate the sentiment. Everyone is in this together.
While the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic is the top story on most news channels, we need to remember that our nation is facing another crisis: the opioid epidemic.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), during the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of opioid-related deaths.
The AMA said that during this pandemic, more than 35 states have reported increased numbers in opioid-related deaths as well as continuing concerns about substance use disorder.
Reversing the Trend
The Coronavirus has begun to reverse the strides made in recent years to reduce the effects of the opioid epidemic in the United States. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January showed there was a slight decline in overdose deaths. This was the first reported decline in 28 years.
But the pandemic is reversing those trends. This is due to the isolation, quarantine and economic devastation many have experienced during this pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit, some authorities hoped it might lead to a decrease in overdoses by disrupting drug traffic as boarders and cities shut down,” said William Wan and Heather Long from The Washington Post.
But the pandemic brought anxiety and depression, both of which can drive someone to drug use. Because of the pandemic and quarantine, people have been seeking out new dealers, many of whom are desperate for money due to lack of work because of the pandemic.
Also, during the beginning of the pandemic, many recovery programs and treatment centers had to close to enforce the quarantine and social distancing. Locally, some 12-step programs had to temporarily close because the non-profit facilities they were using were closed to all group meetings.
Drug Use and Your Child
If you’re worried that your child may be affected by the pandemic and may turn toward drug use, there are signs to look for. These signs include lack of motivation, lack of communication, hostile or angry behavior, secretive behavior, lack of focus, sudden loss of inhibitions, and periods of sleeplessness or high extended periods of energy, followed by a crash and then more sleep.
Checking their social media is another way to know if they partake in drug use. Their social media posts or their closer friends may point to drug use.
We’re deeply concerned about both the pandemic and the opioid crisis. Please take the necessary steps to keep your kids, and yourself, safe.