Why Isn’t Your Toddler Paying the Mortgage?

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Mila and Emma are two breakthrough stars of a new class of social media celebrities: young children who appear in viral videos. In many of the most popular clips, these whippersnappers engage in adultlike conversations, amusingly given their babyish voices. The videos can be incredibly popular. And marketers have noticed.

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Co-Parenting With Alexa

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By the next morning, Alexa was the first “person” Grace said hello to as she bounded into the kitchen wearing her pink fluffy dressing gown. My preschooler who can’t yet ride a bike or read a book had also quickly mastered that she could buy things with the bot’s help, or at least try to.

…Today, we’re no longer trusting machines just to do something, but to decide what to do and when to do it. The next generation will grow up in an age where it’s normal to be surrounded by autonomous agents, with or without cute names. The Alexas of the world will make a raft of decisions for my kids and others like them as they proceed through life — everything from whether to have mac and cheese or a green bowl for dinner to the perfect gift for a friend’s birthday to what to do to improve their mood or energy and even advice on whom they should date. In time, the question for them won’t be, “Should we trust robots?” but “Do we trust them too much?”

The Love Lives of Digital Natives

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The topic of teenage romance and sex has always been charged, but today’s pervasive digital technology has succeeded in turning up the wattage. Some parents have an easy and open channel with their adolescent around all things amorous while others find the subject painfully awkward and try to avoid it altogether. Regardless of where you and your teenager sit on this spectrum, the digital world puts a new spin on some of the timeless challenges of coming of age. When you’re ready to talk, here are some points to consider.

Curiosity, for better or worse, will be satisfied online…

Dating violence can be digital…

Relationships can become round-the-clock affairs…

Parents’ social media habits are teaching children the wrong lessons

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Many of today’s young teens were born in an era before social media. By the time they entered preschool, most of their parents had Facebook accounts. And many parents — new to social media — excitedly shared their children’s personal and embarrassing stories. I have written in the past about how parents must consider the effect this sharing has on a child’s psychological development. Children model the behavior of their parents, and when parents constantly share personal details about their children’s lives, and then monitor their posts for likes and followers, children take note. While most parents have their children’s best interests at heart when they share personal stories on social media, there is little guidance to help them navigate parenting in the digital age.

The Biggest Parenting Mistake In Modern History

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Let’s get straight to the point: the Parental Control concept is the biggest parenting mistake in modern history. Sounds too aggressive? It’s not, and here’s why.

Good parenting is about teaching our kids to think on their own — letting them make the right decisions while guiding them in the process, teaching them to practice good habits, and leading by example. It’s about communicating what’s right and wrong to our children, and exerting some control only when necessary. Apply too much control and you defeat the purpose of teaching them how to survive and thrive on their own.

Parental Control solutions are promising an easy fix. They are telling us that It’s all about us, the parents, controlling our kids, that you shouldn’t ask your kids for their opinion. After all we bought them the phone or the tablet. All you need to do is install a “little app” or buy a new router, press one button, and Voila! Their internet will turned off, and life is back to normal!

The reality is a far cry from this promise.

Google’s New Parental Control App Has a Flaw: Puberty

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But if you sign up for Family Link, which is Google’s new parental controls software for managing children’s Android phones, Google decides for you. At the age of 13, a child can choose to “graduate,” as Google calls it, or lift restrictions, getting the keys to the internet kingdom and all the good and bad things that come with it.

That’s too bad, because at first glance, Family Link has all the hallmarks of a winner. It is free, well designed and packed with thoughtful features for regulating a child’s smartphone use, like the ability to monitor how often a game is played or even to lock down a device during bedtime.

Yet nearly all of those benefits are undermined by Google’s decision to let children remove the restrictions the instant they become teenagers.

Everyone Makes Mistakes: Teaching Kids How to Fix Things When Texting Goes Awry

Instagram, texting, kids and cellphones, tweens and smartphones, friendship

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As parents or teachers we can get too focused on PREVENTING digital mistakes that can ruin friendships and reputations. We need to offer mentorship to our kids on how to repair things (when possible). We can model this in our own social media lives.

In my student workshops, I ask kids to brainstorm about how to correct such a mistake. A common problem is an “overshare,” where they have shared something too personal about themselves. Another is when your child shares a friend’s good news—or even a secret.

They know that they can’t put the overshare or secret “back in the box,” but kids’ instincts are to try to limit the damage. Quickly. In these workshops, they suggest taking down the offending post, deleting the picture, and apologizing, or at least letting people know that it was a mistake.

But how can they make it right? In many settings, from youth groups to religious schools to public schools student propose solutions that are concerning or ill-advised. For example,  many kids will try to “spread some lies” to cover up when they’ve shared someone’s secret and that person is upset with them. Another bad idea: “I’ll let them get revenge.For example: I’ll let my friend spread a rumor about me. As a parent and educator, I find myself shaking my head! But,  when embroiled in a social error, kids feel an urgency to take further steps to fix it “for good,” quickly.

These problem-solving techniques came from 5th and 6th graders who are just learning how to negotiate complicated social relationships. Many of these kids are just getting their first communication device, which adds another layer of complexity to the equation. It is important to look at where these kids are developmentally when we consider getting them a smartphone.

We have to help kids understand that rumors, lies, and revenge strategies just exacerbate the situation. Kids are focused on the immediate issue, and often have trouble seeing the larger picture. Sometimes when the parameters of trust in a relationship change, it takes time to fix—and your child can actually make it worse by trying to fix it in one gesture.