Parenting

Kids and Technology: Set an Example While They’re Young

Children and Technology

(Photo Credit: Digital Trends)

As most parents know, your kids are watching you all of the time.  You don’t have to sit down and have a formal conversation with them to teach them things; even kids who seem like they rarely pay attention are observing and learning from your behavior.

As your kids start getting their first smartphones, tablets and laptops, you want them to be responsible. You don’t want them to spend all day in front of a screen, and you want them to be kind to others over the Internet.  One of the best ways to ensure that your kids are responsible with their technology is to be a great role model with your own devices.

With this in mind, the following tips can help parents set an excellent example with their use of technology.

One of the best things parents can do to be good technology role models is to turn their devices off as often as possible—and definitely during family time.  While you might be excited about your new LG Optimus or the latest iPhone and all of the features and apps that can help your busy schedule, if you are on it all of the time, then your children will mimic your actions when they get their own phones.

Moreover, each time we take a quick peek at our texts while aiding our kids with their homework, or each time we interrupt them to say, “I’m sorry, I have to answer this email really quickly,” we’re sending a clear message that we prefer technology over people, claims Dot Complicated.

When your children get their own devices, you will still want them to pay attention to you, so when they are speaking to you, make sure to be fully present with them.  Resist the urge to constantly check emails and texts, and instead give them your full attention.  You also can avoid the distractions by setting some family rules about screen time.  For example, no phones or tablets at the dinner table.  Be sure to follow the rules you establish.

Limit Your Game Time

Yes, you’ve been trying desperately to get past level 199 in Candy Crush so you can crow about it to all of your friends on Facebook.  However, as DigiParenthood notes, keep in mind that your kids are keenly observing how much time you spend playing games on your phone.  Show them the importance of discipline, and that work should come before pleasure by finishing your necessary tasks first.  Finish your chores around the house, help your kids with their homework and walk the dog all before sitting down to play a game.

Many time limit apps out there such as TimeLock, allow parents to designate a certain amount of time their child can use the device.  This is a wonderful tool for you to track how long they spend on the Internet each day, and you can set your own time limits to show your kids that you limit your game time as well.

Be a Good Social Media Citizen

We can talk to our kids about the importance of privacy on social media sites until we are blue in the face, but if our Facebook page is full of posts about personal experiences and situations, our words will probably fall on deaf ears.  Use social media very carefully, and never post anything you wouldn’t want your young children to see—because chances are they will.  Also, be kind and polite while online, even when others are rude; this will help to show your kids the importance of online etiquette.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Raise Him Up: A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man: A Review

Raise Him Up Moore

(Photo Credit: BookLook Bloggers)

In Raise Him Up: A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man (2013), Stephanie Perry Moore offers the reader some personal insights about the struggles single black women face rearing successful black boys who develop into men.  Extensive research has empirically proven that black male students academically lag behind all of their peers throughout every level of education.  The narratives of single black women who rear black boys receive limited focus in the professional literature.  This book, therefore, provides a needed account of the challenges and problems encountered by single black women rearing black boys, especially their efforts to rear successful black boys who evolve into successful black men.  Moore contends that using spiritual instruction and guidance available in the bible is essential to producing successful black boys and men.  The author relies heavily on the Book of Acts to support her suggestions and arguments.  She gives the reader prayers they can use in their work with their black male child.  One chapter is devoted to rearing a successful black male student-athlete.

While the book offers important practical challenges and problems encountered by single black mothers rearing black boys, Moore made a poor strategic choice of employing the Book of Acts as her primary source for biblical support for the things she suggested and asserted.  The biblical support is simply forced throughout the work.  The chapter on rearing a successful black male student-athlete appears tacked on and lacks adequate coverage.  The chapter on rearing a successful black male student-athlete would have been better as a separate, standalone project.

Overall, the book leaves much more to be desired.  This book is a classic case of a good idea not executed well.  During the review process of this book, someone should have made a compelling case to Moore to buttress her biblical support for her arguments and advice by choosing more relevant scriptures to enhance her arguments and advice.  Although there are some nice qualities about the book, I cannot highly recommend the book because of its many failures.

BookLook Bloggers gave me a complimentary copy of the book to compose a professional review of it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Posting & Sharing Your Child’s Photos Online: Etiquette & Safety Risks

Kid's Birthday Party

New parents are eager and enthusiastic to share photos of their precious new bundle of joy with everyone they know.  Prior to our digitally dependent culture, baby photographs were mailed to friends and family.  Your loved ones would open the mailbox and be delighted with a beautiful snapshot of your little one.  Now, with the popularity of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, the Internet has made it easy, more convenient and cost-effective to share these prized pictures with everyone online.

Keep in mind these etiquette and safety tips while sharing your child’s photos with the digital universe:

  • Avoid identity theft and safety risks by adopting LifeLock protection as an added layer of online security.  Photos can be exploitative material—just as much as credit card information and personal data.  Ensure that your privacy settings on social networking and photo-sharing sites meet your safety expectations.
  • Keep an eye out for a sinister new type of malware customized to target image files, thus exposing people to identity theft, blackmail and fraud (according to Security Watch on PCMag.com).  Known as the Pixsteal-A-Trojan, the malware locates images on infected computers and transfers them to a remote FTP server.  These files include .jpg and .jpeg files, which are commonly used for photos.  Called “virtual burglary,” “remote burglars” can access financial papers and other confidential documents through a single image.
  • The Mercury News mentioned that parents who snap photos with their cell phone should turn off the device’s geo-tracking feature, which records the date and location of a photo. Therefore, when you post your photo online, it’s free of private information that can be traced back to personal details such as your whereabouts.
  • Using a nickname when posting baby pictures online is an added cautionary measure.  Mercury News shares the story of one mom who explains that you just never know who might see the cute pictures of your child online.  In her case, one of her Facebook friends was a registered sex offender.  Since then, she has been very careful about what she posts.  She also asks friends who repost photos of her children on Facebook to please remove them from their pages.
  • Innocent picture tagging can also lead to potential online threats.  Parents who are hosting a birthday party should be sensitive about posting pictures of other children online.  Avoid tagging other children or their parents on Facebook and using real names unless you have permission.
  • Never post any photo online that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.  The moment a photo is posted on the Internet, you’ve lost control of the hands it falls into.  Despite the most secure privacy settings, copies of your images can be easily shared.  Inform your teens about the dangerous consequences of posting private photos and videos on the Internet.  As an extra safety measure, limit the number of pictures you post.  For instance, share two photos from your child’s birthday party rather than all 60.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Teenagers Need Curfews

Teenagers

If you want your teenagers to stay out of trouble, you must establish a curfew for them.  Teenagers will make many unwise choices when you let them choose when they are to return home.  When you give your children a curfew, it communicates to them you have quality standards you expect them to meet.  Too many parents allow their children to determine when they’re going to come home from a friend’s house.  How much sense does that make?  As a parent, it’s your job to resolve a curfew for your children—it’s not your children’s job.  Be clear about the time you expect your children to return home.

While it’s important to give your children some freedom, you shouldn’t grant them the liberty to decide their curfew.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with hearing how children feel about a curfew.  Parents must, however, be the ones who ultimately create the curfew.

When you set a curfew for your children, this is a great opportunity for you to engender some guidelines for your children to follow when they’re not going to be at home.  Don’t just give your children a specific time they must come home without telling them other essential things they must do before, during, and after they leave home.  Make sure you know where your children are going when they leave home and who they are going to visit.  If possible, drive your children to their destination to enable you to survey the milieu in which they will be meeting their friends.  Warn them against inappropriate behavior and inform them about the consequences of inappropriate behavior.

You need to learn more about your children’s friends.  Meet with their parents to find out what type of people they are and discover their values.  You don’t want your children hanging out with the wrong type of people who may have imprudent values.

Too many children are dying because they lack structure and discipline.  Many parents across the nation have to do a better job of parenting.  It’s the hope of this piece to offer some suggestions for improving parenting.  We need to keep our children safe and establishing a curfew for them is a vital part of good parenting.

Do you feel it’s necessary to give teenagers curfews?  Why or why not?  What are some other things parents need to do to keep their children safe?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Cyberbullying and Student Safety

Cyberbullying

The advancements in technology have been tremendously beneficial.  These wonderful improvements in technology present new challenges for school administrators, however.  Twitter, Facebook, blogs and etc. are constantly frequented and used by numerous K-12 students.  School administrators must handle problems that occur on Facebook and Twitter, which largely occur while students aren’t at school.  Many students across the nation are engaging in cyberbullying, primarily through Facebook and Twitter.  Administrators already have a difficult job of preventing and responding to disciplinary problems that transpire on their campuses; now, they have to think critically about how to address cyberbullying that takes place off-campus.

Social media employed wisely and purposely proves to be valuable.  Unfortunately, too many students use Facebook and Twitter as vehicles for intimidation, hate and aggression.

Cyberbullying is a phenomenon that cannot be simply addressed by administrators—it requires a collective effort.  Parents must do a better job of monitoring their children’s online activities.  It’s not a matter of functioning as “Big Brother” toward your children; it’s a matter of committed parenting.  If you deeply love your children, you will be concerned about how they behave in all spaces, including online.  When parents discover their children are involved in cyberbullying, they need to contact administrators immediately, and they need to take all necessary steps to end cyberbullying.

Students who are interested in maintaining safe schools need to report cyberbullying when they witness it.  Let administrators know when you see activities on Facebook and Twitter that constitute bullying.  If you’re being bullied online, let your parents and school administrators know.  Don’t wait until the bullying gets out of control to inform your parents and school administrators.  You should let them know that you’re being bullied when it first begins.

Your life could depend on you mustering the courage to disclose with your parents and school administrators that you’re being bullied.

If you’re not being bullied online, don’t encourage others to bully people.  Laughing at others who are being bullied is a form of participating and encouraging bullying.  Bullies like attention and when you laugh at what they do, they feed off of your laughter and increase in their intensity.

While it’s important for school administrators to be proactive about cyberbullying, they must understand that they cannot react (or overreact) to everything that’s reported.  It’s not wise to address every ephemeral argument between students on Facebook and Twitter.

More research should be devoted to helping school administrators to fight cyberbullying.  A national think tank composed of administrators, teachers, students, legislators, law enforcement officials, counselors, psychologists, and etc. should be convened to discuss cyberbullying and to establish best practices for combating it.  Scholars need to engage in more research that helps school administrators better respond to cyberbullying.  In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shootings, we must learn valuable lessons about how we have to do a better job of preventing tragedies from happening at our schools.  We will never end all tragedies from occurring, but this does not mean that we shouldn’t do all we can to prevent the ones we’re able to thwart.  If we see the potential of bullying taking place online that could lead to something drastic, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to stop it.

Although the current national discourse about school safety is predominantly focusing on guns, let’s be sure to place a high priority on cyberbullying, especially cyberbullying on Facebook and Twitter.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Open Letter to All Ungrateful Parents

Black Family

Dear Ungrateful Parents:

When you have children who are going great things and you never give them any praise, you deserve to be called ungrateful parents.  You should show your children who are doing wonderful things how much you appreciate them.  You could have children who have dropped out of school, on drugs, selling drugs and/or etc. but they are not.  Don’t simply say the reason they‘re not doing unbecoming things is you reared them effectively.  While you may have done an excellent job rearing your children, this does not mean that they had to make good decisions.  They had free will to make horrible decisions and live a life that would bring you shame.

Too often children who always get into trouble receive the most attention from their parents—while the children who are doing honorable things are overlooked.  This shouldn’t be a reality in many homes.  Take time to show your children you love them and are thankful for the positive things they do.  When your children see you’re not going to give them any special recognition and attention for the noteworthy things they do, then they can turn to doing negative things as a means of getting your attention.  Children know poor behavior gains attention from their parents.  Your children want to know they have your attention.

Don’t work your children like they are your slaves.  Your children are not your slaves!  When they do things around the house to make a valuable contribution to the workload, let them know you appreciate what they do and do something special for them from time to time to prove your appreciation.

When your children bring home good or great grades, this is a big deal and you need to show them this is a big deal.  Don’t simply act like getting good or great grades is what they’re expected to do without truly rewarding them for their grades.  Classroom demands are increasing for students and their great work needs to be acknowledged and rewarded.  Everyone likes to be acknowledged and rewarded at some point.  It’s quite understandable for a child to want to receive praise and incentives for the great work they do at school and home.

Learn to listen to your children before it’s too late.  Your child can be considering suicide and you not even know because you’re too busy fussing and/or cussing at him or her about some inane matter(s).  When you talk to your children, you can learn about their problems, fears, dreams, and etc., which can help you to be better able to lead them on a path to success and aid them in proper development.

After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut that left many young children dead, this should reveal to you how important it is to treasure each moment with your children.  When your child goes to school and you’re at work, it’s not guaranteed that he or she will return.  Every opportunity you have to love on your child should be seized.

Sincerely,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Act Like You Have Children

Too many adults who have children behave in very immature ways that do not set a positive example for their children.  The level of maturity of many of these adults with children makes it difficult to believe they actually have children.  The reality is, however, almost anyone can have a child, but it takes committed, mature, and selfless people to be quality parents.  One would think that once people have reached adulthood they would evince the normative maturity indicative of adulthood.  Unfortunately, too many adults still do many of the same immature things they did as children in elementary, middle, and high school.  Sometimes one has to wonder why God would even allow immature people to bring precious new life into the world, especially when these immature people are going to be responsible for taking care of precious new life.

When you make the decision to have children, you need to understand that your immaturity should end with the discovery that you will now be a new parent.  If you knew you weren’t ready for children, then you shouldn’t have had unprotected sex.  It’s not like you didn’t know unprotected sex leads to pregnancy.

Women, when you decide to have a baby with a man who you know is no good, then you should be ready to suffer the consequences of having to rear the baby alone.  Before you start promulgating all of your frustrations about the challenges of rearing a child as a single mother, think about the foolish decision you made to have a baby with a man you knew was no good before he even inserted his penis in you.  You should have never been under any illusions that having a baby with a no good man was going to change how he acts—no matter what he told you before and/or while you were having the sexual encounter that led to you becoming pregnant.

Men, don’t have babies that you know that you don’t want.  Don’t have babies with women just to attempt to prove your masculinity or hypermasculinity.  One would like to think that bringing a child into the world would cause you to change the way that you act and think.  It would be nice to see you become a much more responsible person when you have a child.  However, many of you continue to allow your own selfish priorities to take precedent over the more important responsibilities that accompany the arrival of your child into the world.  Grow up fast!

If you want to be a real mother and father to your children, you must make a conscious choice to become more mature.  The last thing a new baby needs to be greeted with when arriving out of his or her mother’s womb is immature parents.  Now, you would think that a woman who has carried a child in her womb for nine months would act mature for her child, but many women don’t even begin to change their immature behavior while they are pregnant and after they have given birth.

When you are the mother of a child, you shouldn’t be on Facebook trying to start fights with people.  You should not be spending more time on Facebook than you do rearing your child.  Your Facebook statuses should not be bringing shame to your child.  It would seem that you would think about how you are presenting yourself as a woman when you are using social media.  The way in which you present yourself on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media vehicles can be significantly harmful to your ability to secure employment or advance in your career.  You never know who may view what you have said and/or posted on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

If you are Facebook friends with your parents, you ought to have enough respect for your parents to conduct yourself in a way that demonstrates good character, maturity, and a sense that you have good values.

If you made a mistake and had a baby with one man that you already knew was no good before you had the baby with him, then it’s just stupid to go and have a second, third, fourth, and so on with more no good men and/or the same no good man you had your first child with who has not changed at all.

Although it can be quite unsettling, unnerving, and may even temporarily unhouse you, you need to engage in some deep self-evaluations about why you’re not acting like the responsible adult you should be for your children.  Don’t try to pretend like you’re happy when you know you’re not.  Try to get to the root of what prevents you from being truly happy.  If you know that much of your immaturity stems from low self-esteem, then you need to seek the help you know you need to boost your self-esteem.  However, boosting your self-esteem does not mean getting on Facebook and other social media sites and distracting yourself from the deep internal and external problems you’re experiencing.

If you’re not willing to change for the better for yourself, please change for the benefit of your children.  Your children deserve for you to be at your best.  Be responsible.  Be thoughtful.  Be selfless.  Be mature.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison