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
These are all things that come to mind when thinking of popular video games. Computers and consoles are becoming more advanced too, making games look like the real world.
One thing to keep in mind if your child does play video games are the effects of playing too long. Your child may spend less time socializing with friends and family and develop poor social skills. It could also result in poor grades says the American Academy of Childhood & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).
Do you ever thing, “this game does not seem very child friendly” or “should my child be playing this game?”
If so, I may have the answers you are looking for.
Read the ESRB label
This is the first thing every parent should look at before deciding if a game is suitable for their child. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) handles all games found in stores and most found online. There are currently six different ratings that can be put on games: Rating Pending (RP), Everyone (E), Everyone 10 plus (E10+), Teen (T), Mature (M), and Adults Only (AO).
Those ratings can be found at the bottom left corner of every game box. If you are unsure what the rating is, check https://www.esrb.org/. Type the title into the search bar and all the information will be available. Remember to view the label before purchasing.
View the gameplay beforehand
Besides reading the label, it is best to watch some gameplay before buying the game. A quick Google search will lead to dozens of videos and hours of content.
Sometimes the ESRB rating can be lower than it should. And every parent is different. Do you want your child playing this game?
Some parents may be accepting of their child playing rated “T” games when they are 13. Others may wait until their child is 15 before playing those games. It should be you making that determination. Not the ESRB. They provide only a rough guideline. So, watch the game.
Do not give into temptation or “kid” pressure
Arguably the most important suggestion on my list is not to give into temptation. I am sure most parents have heard their kid provide a “compelling” reason why they should play a violent game. “My friends play it all the time.” “If their parents let them play it, why can’t I?” I remember using those “compelling” reasons myself. But there is a good way to control the problem.
I suggest not getting really mad at this kind of situation. It could cause more problems if a screaming match breaks out. I suggest calmly handling the problem. Dr. Lauber suggests reminding them that you are the parent and you are in charge of this house and the toys you bought. For older children, you might want to negotiate some sort of compromise if there are other games you will allow.
I hope these tips helpful. I know I put up a fight when my parents didn’t allow me to play certain games. But I now see they were wiser than me. Your kids will feel that way too.
Coming back to school can be a difficult thing to adjust to. You know what is harder? Coming back to a computer screen for classes. Online schooling has recently become the new normal for students across America. Either that or taking extra precautions for in-person classes, like wearing masks and carrying hand sanitizer at all times. It can cause a lot of stress and be extremely overwhelming. Luckily for you, I have a few tips and tricks that can help ease your child of the pain of online schooling.
Wake up early
This one may sound simplistic, but it is more helpful than you think. I am personally not a morning person, and the thought of getting up early on purpose everyday is not something I choose to do, but it has proven to be helpful in beginning to make a routine for the day. You can start by making your bed, brushing your teeth, and having breakfast. Think of one of those movie moments where the main character wakes up and the shots continue in a montage of happy morning moments. Sounds pretty nice right? The most important outcome of establishing this morning routine is that in a short period of time it becomes the norm, and your body adjusts.
When I am taking classes, I feel like the work begins to stack up, layer on layer…on layer. Did I mention that I think there are many layers? Sometimes it stacks so high it looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, ready to topple over. I try to do a million things at once and get stressed out when I cannot complete everything in one sitting. It was not until I dug myself too deep in the work – hole that two important words engrained themselves in my brain. Slow. Down. I know it can be frustrating when it feels like the workload is never – ending, but taking your time to complete tasks is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it is the best thing to do. Scratch that. I think it is the ONLY thing to do. Part of pacing yourself is setting up a schedule before you get bogged down. Working to complete a task in small interests over a period of time is so much better than waiting and letting things pile up. Time management is essential and the secret to getting things done without that last – minute stress. This is not always easy, and many students need help planning this type of work schedule, especially at first, but once they have learned how to pace themselves, it is a tool that will be helpful throughout school and beyond.
Find Time for a Break
Times right now are tough, and putting too much pressure on yourself can be tiresome. Take some time for yourself to do something fun. Whenever I have a break in the day, I make sure I go to the nearest coffee shop so I can drown myself the biggest cup of iced coffee I can find (and I might even go back for more). As something as simple as a coffee break can brighten my mood and relax me. Find something that makes you feel that way. Reward yourself. It can be something as simple as playing on your phone for a little while. Look at Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. You can pull Netflix up, watch an episode, work some more, and watch another episode. It does not matter what it is as long as it makes you feel more relaxed and level – headed when you get back to working on things. You can even schedule these break times into your work routine.
Unwind at the Day’s End
After working all day long, you need time to relax at night. This is the opportunity for you to really unwind and pat yourself on the back for achieving everything you set out to do. Watch a movie or eat a bowl of ice cream. Allow yourself to feel satisfied that you have accomplished a great deal during the day and look forward to a new start tomorrow. Get a good night’s sleep and begin the next day rested and relaxed.
While not completely guaranteed, these few simple tips will give your children a push in the right direction. You can even try them out yourself! Children typically learn by example, so if you have a positive attitude towards these steps, and even model them in your own hectic life, they most likely will too. The results could be a more productive, successful, and stress – free life for the whole family.
“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.