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Sharents: Why You Need To Pause Before You Post

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

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With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

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3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?

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6 Things You Should Do When Your Kid Has a Smartphone

Who’s bright idea was it to think that giving our youth iPhones was a good idea?

And why have we continued to follow along knowing that giving our kids iPhones isn’t smart?

I’m not sure how our family fell into society’s technology trap, but we did. Our teenagers have personal smartphones, but they don’t come without limits, rules, and restrictions.

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1. Have a family cell phone contract

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3 Actions You Should Take During Screen-Free Week

Screen-Free Week brings awareness to the most significant battlefield we face as parents raising children in popular culture today- Technology. However, technology is not the problem- our time and habits on our screens are the real issues.

I know the importance of purposely providing kids with a screen detox. It’s one of the reasons we send our kids to tech-free sleep-away summer camp, and since our teens will soon be living in the woods without their beloved devices, we will not be shutting off their screens this week.

How can National Screen-Free Week empower us to create healthier screen time habits?

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4 Tips For Giving Kids an Allowance 

Don’t pay your kid for scoring goals in a game.

Don’t pay them for achieving A’s on their report card or for eating their vegetables.

Don’t pay your child for doing the dishes, sweeping the floor or scrubbing their toilet.

Instead pay your child a consistent allowance because he is a contributing, valued member of your family and you want to raise a financially responsible person.

The pay-for-performance debate has been a subject of discussion for families for generations. If we don’t tie the money we pay our kids to chores, grades or other accomplishments, then why give them an allowance at all? 

One way we can teach children financial responsibility is through giving them a consistent allowance and then helping our son or daughter learn how to save, spend and give their money away.

4-tips-for-giving-kids-an-allowance

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The Promposal: Is it Modern-Day Chivalry or Nonsense?

It’s that time of year when teenage boys around America are expected to put on a production to ask a girl to the traditional high school dance.

Is the Promposal modern-day chivalry or plain nonsense?

After a long day of school and varsity baseball practice, my son and his friend trudged through our house carrying an armload of art supplies and poster boards.

When my son should be spending time on his physics homework or hanging out with his grandparents who are visiting from out of town, he has to design a sloganed poster to invite his girlfriend to the upcoming junior prom.

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My parents, who attended high school prom together, can’t believe this is what’s going on today. Knowing teenage boys don’t naturally do this sort of thing, my Dad asked his grandson and his friend if they feel like decorating posters? 

“Not really. But, the girls want us to do it.”

Sure they like the girl. Sure they want to take her to the dance. It’s been a high school rite of passage through the generations. Neither my Grandpa, my Dad nor my husband ever had to invite their date to prom with anything other than their words, so why are our sons now expected to conjure up a themed presentation to ask a girl to the dance?

As if teenage guys don’t have enough on their plate today, they must now come up with a cheesy proposal production as is the societal norm. He’d better not think of asking a girl to the dance without at least a decorated poster board in hand or he would be considered unthoughtful, uncaring or rude.

Why are our sons expected to put on a proposal production to ask a date to prom?

What happened to just a good guy asking a sweet girl to the high school dance?

How come that’s no longer acceptable?

Why do we insist on turning what should be a simple invitation into a production today?

Because there wouldn’t be anything post-worthy for social media if there weren’t a production, and we all know how much everyone loves a good curated photo for the feed.

And forget the decorated poster board. Some take it to another level buying oversized teddy bears, shoes, jewelry, and the list goes on. I’m sure the bigger, the better. Check out this post or your kids’ social media feeds if you don’t believe me.

The promposal production seems like another great way to try and one-up each other too. Oh, your guy only decorated a poster for you? Well, check out what my man (or his Mom) did for me…. and the comparison game is on. Just what our youth need.

I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around the concept and why we’re accepting this nonsense to be commonplace now.

What type of marriage proposal are girls going to expect one day if they need a song and dance to accept an invitation to a high school dance?

Our daughter said she thinks the promposal idea is “cute.” I explained to her that it’s adorable when she and her girlfriends make posters for one another’s birthdays and bring them to middle school to celebrate. There is nothing cute about expecting a young man to design a presentation to ask you to prom.

Let’s stop putting pressure on kids to have to put on a post-worthy show for what should be a simple invitation to a timeless high school event.

Let’s put our efforts into raising confident and kind young men and women who don’t need a showy production to feel good about themselves or to enjoy their lives.

Let’s begin to tell our kids that a post-worthy promposal production is not necessary.

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9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

Childhood is short.
Summer is even shorter.
Eighteen summers are all we get.

How will your family spend this precious summer season?

While June, July, and August may be perfect for lazy days and relaxation, we mustn’t make the mistake of aimlessly drifting through the summer months without purposely making a proactive plan for our family.

What exactly is it that you want and need?

I love that summer provides my teenagers mornings to sleep in and time to rest and recover from their normally stressful high school scheduled programming. Yet, more downtime equates to more screen time if we’re not mindful.

How can we get our kids off screens and make this summer count?

I know this 17th summer of ours matters yet how do we make the most of it despite our realities and circumstances?

We must decide to deliberately design our summers.

9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

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The Matheny Manifesto Book Review and Giveaway!

“You have to read this book,” said the parent sitting next to us on the sidelines of our daughters’ soccer game.“THIS is what we need more of in youth sports today.” He handed me this book and it quickly became one of my favorites.

Want to make a bigger impact on the children you are parenting, teaching or coaching?

Read The Matheny Manifesto and then act on the principles inside.

The Matheny Manifesto is a call to action for those of us leading children today.

The book is based on St. Louis Cardinals manager, Mike Matheny’s expectations, standards and beliefs that he wrote for the parents of a little league team he had signed on to coach. If he was going to lead this group of kids, he wanted the parents to know the value system and moral code that he would be coaching from.

What if we all took the time to think through what we believe and the intentions we have to lead the children in our care and then wrote out our own manifesto?

A manifesto is a statement where you can share your…

– Intentions (what you intend to do)
– Opinions (what you believe, your stance on a particular topic)
– Vision (the type of world that you dream about and wish to create)

What is The Matheny Manifesto?

Want to write your own manifesto?

“Let’s not sell ourselves short with regard to the impact we can have on the people who look up to us every day- our own kids and the kids we teach and coach,” says Matheny.  “They’re looking for someone to stand up for what is right and to make a difference in their lives. That’s what heroes can do, and it starts with having the courage to do things differently.”

Mike Matheny doesn’t believe sport is more important than family.

He doesn’t believe that every child deserves a trophy.

He believes in teaching kids reality. He believes children need to fail. He believes young athletes should be playing more than just one sport. He believes parents should be a silent source of encouragement and let the coach do his job.

How do I know this? Because Matheny took the time to write, share and live out his manifesto.

Matheny’s old school advice is a powerful reminder of what sports can teach us about winning on the field and life. This book is full of wisdom of how we can better lead our youth today to more than just personal success.

I received an email from the book’s author, Jerry Jenkins after he read one of my blog posts. He encouraged me by telling me that he had raised his three sons the same way and that I may enjoy one of the books he’s written- The Matheny Manifesto. Little did he know that his book sits on my shelf as one of my favorites!

Jenkins so graciously sent me a signed copy of The Matheny Manifesto to give away to one of you lucky readers! Since baseball season is underway and Father’s Day is just around the corner, June seemed the perfect month to give away one of my favorites.

Comment below on why you need The Matheny Manifesto for your chance to win! One lucky winner will be chosen at random on June 11. Must be a US resident.

Order a copy of The Matheny Manifesto from my Parent on Purpose Amazon store today!

www.MikeMatheny.com

www.JerryJenkins.com

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Why You Need to Buy that School Yearbook

Sure it may seem like a waste of money.

Maybe our kids don’t seem to care if we purchase one or not.

It might appear as a material item that will just sit around and collect dust.

Does our child really need another school yearbook?

School yearbook sales are in significant decline today. Students seem disinterested in the costly product. Mom and Dad don’t want more stuff hanging around the house either, so they are choosing not to buy.

Is the yearbook a dying American tradition or does it still have value?

I relish this time of year when my kids bring home their yearbooks. Perhaps I have an affinity for the product because I was Editor in Chief of mine as a high school senior, but more so, it provides me parental value today. 

Those of us still buying yearbooks know we are investing in a keepsake that our child will hopefully treasure in the future. We understand that social media posts will eventually be lost yet an analog book of memories is forever. We’re also supporting and funding a group of students’ creative, hard work throughout the school year. 

What if you buy the school yearbook simply as a way to get your family members connecting today?

The hardcover edition of my children’s most recent high school yearbook sits on our coffee table surrounded by our comfy sectional couch. The book sits right where family members slowly gather around the television throughout each evening.

At this time of year, I strategically seek out an open area on the couch and begin to flip through the pages of the yearbook.

“Oh, he looks cute,” is usually all I have to say to get my freshman daughter to bound across the room to squeeze up next to me to see who in the world I could be talking about. 

“Uh, Mom. No. He is so weird. He’s in my biology class.”

Oh ok. Well, what about him? I say while pointing to a different picture. And our bonding begins….

There’s something magical about a school yearbook that allows normally off-limits conversation between my guarded daughter and myself. I can’t ask her about a friend’s Snapchat or Instagram post without coming across as intrusive or annoying. Somehow the compiled photos and stories wrapped up in this yearbook are fair game.

“Do you know her? She looks nice.”

“That doesn’t look like Michael. He has changed so much since elementary school.”

Organically the brothers can’t help but get in on the action too. They squeeze in wanting to add their personal two cents to the conversation. And the dialogue opens up between sister and brother, who typically pass in the high school hallways without even saying a word to one another.

I learn who is funny in my child’s eyes. Who’s smart. Who’s mean. Who cheats. Who Juuls. Who kisses in the hallways. Which teachers they want for next year and which ones they hope to never see again.

The school yearbook allows us a window into our kids’ world that we may never gain access to otherwise. It is a private space somehow made public in the beauty of this hardbound memory book.

The purchase of the school yearbook may seem like a waste of money unless we understand it’s potential in the present. The compilation of photos, stories and memories inside can be a key to unlock your child’s world if you are willing to sit down with it and begin the conversation.

“He looks cute…”

Let the school yearbook be a simple and effective tool for strengthening relationships and communication in your home. We parents must purposely seek out ways to get our children off screens and into real conversation and the school yearbook is a perfect way to achieve that this time of year.

I hope that my children will value their books in the years to come, but I know I will always treasure the moments we spent laughing and talking our way through the pages year after year.

The annual school yearbook is one investment I will continue to make during this precious season called childhood and my hope is that you will too.

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3 Things to Do if your Son is Obsessed with Fortnite

My son was never a gamer. He played sports, hung out with friends and did typical dirty boy stuff.

Enter Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The popular video game is now my son’s competition of choice and playing Fortnite is his way of hanging out with friends. Even though it makes me out of my ever-loving parental mind watching my offspring sit there with headphones on shooting at animated characters on a screen, I’m allowing it in our home, but not without limitation.

Playing video games should be an earned privilege, according to Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy.

Is playing Fortnite an earned privilege in your home?

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As summer approaches and more downtime is on the horizon, I urge my fellow parents of Fortniters to begin to set family guidelines around gaming now.

FIRST UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR SON PLAYS FORTNITE

Belonging

Kids naturally have a need to belong and be part of the group. Playing Fortnite fulfills the human need for attachment to other people. The team approach of the popular video game is like being on a playground with friends.

It’s Addictive

There is the ability to have rankings and feel accomplishment and status, so it’s exciting…. and addicting. We must be careful that video games are not medicating our children, just as we adults might turn to alcohol, shopping or other deterrents to mask our reality.

It is ‘Free’

Battle Royale is a free game yet comes at a cost. “There is always a trade-off for the free video game, says Dr. Strohman. “It costs our child no money to begin playing, yet Epic Games collects all of our kids’ data.” Fortnite generated $223 million in one month alone. What appears to be free at the onset, is costing our kids along the way.

All the Cool Kids are Playing

It doesn’t help that our sons are watching their heroes play Fortnite in their downtime. “The game industry is very savvy bringing in the celebrity aspect to further entice our kids and create even more frenzy around it,” says Dr. Strohman. “They want to see who they can rub elbows with. Of course, our teenager would love the opportunity to take Rapper Drake down.”

Parenting the Fortnite Addict in the New York Times

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3 THINGS PARENTS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FAVORITE FORTNITER

1. Communicate about healthy consumption

According to Dr. Strohman, parents must treat technology the same as they do food. “We would never allow a steady diet full of sugar, so why would we allow a steady diet of video games and technology? she says. “If you saw your children eating gummy bears for breakfast, you would sit them down and talk about how it is unhealthy.”

Parents must do the same thing when it comes to video game consumption. We must talk to our child about why a diet full of screens isn’t healthy and then we must be willing to set firm boundaries around gaming in our homes.

2. Create opportunities to build empathy

How are these first-person shooter games affecting our kids?

There is no research to show that first-person shooter games, such as Fortnite, creates actual violence. “But, what it has shown is escalated aggression,” said Dr. Strohman. A heightened alert system increases aggressive tendencies which reduce empathy in our kids. The concern is that this is becoming habitual.”

The world needs us to raise empathetic humans. Parents must mindfully create plenty of opportunities for our children to learn empathy through real-world experiences in our families and communities. Especially if we know that video games are numbing our children to this critical value.

4 Technology Battles Parents Must Fight

3. Write out your parental expectations for earning the privilege of gaming

How does your child currently earn the privilege to play video games in your home?

I asked Dr. Strohman if the list I gave my teenage Fortnite playing son was perhaps over the top? Was I crossing the line from a firm and loving authoritative parent to a demanding authoritarian parent with my expectations?

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“Your list is absolutely awesome,” said Dr. Strohman. “If your son isn’t responsible enough to wear his retainers then how can he earn the privilege of playing video games?”

Nothing like an expert to tell you that your parenting tactics are spot on. Sorry son….

Decide what boundaries you need to place on video game play and overall technology use in your home.

It’s okay if our kids think we’re crazy, mean or super annoying. It’s fine if our expectations make our child temporarily unhappy. It is our job to teach and lead our children to a life of significance and meaning and I can guarantee you too much time on an addictive video game is not achieving that goal.

Have you set boundaries on your son’s Fortnite play? What’s working for your family?

Want more wisdom from Dr. Lisa Strohman? Check out her website here!

To learn about Dr. Strohman’s book Unplug and other books on parenting our kids on screens check out my Parent On Purpose Amazon store!

Parenting-Author-Dennis-Trittin-Amy-Carney-Parenting-For-The-Launch
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Parenting for the Launch Book Review and Giveaway

It’s that time of year when high school and college graduation announcements arrive in our mailboxes and social media feeds. What an exciting time as we get to honor and celebrate friends and family who are about to launch their precious child into the real world.

Few transitions bring as much joy, tears and anxiety to parents as when their children graduate from high school and head off into the “real world.” It’s a strange concoction of emotions that is one part reflection (the memories), one part conviction (did we do everything we could?) and one part wonder (how will they do?).

This is exactly what compelled authors Dennis Trittin and Arlyn Lawrence to write their book Parenting for the Launch-Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Their book is a roadmap to help bring clarity to your parenting goals and offer direction and strategies to achieve them.

Are you preparing today for the upcoming launch of your child?

Parenting-For-The-Launch-Book-Dennis-Trittin

Parenting for the Launch is directed toward the parent and gives a global framework for how to approach and execute the launch. What I Wish I Knew at 18, on the other hand, is messaged directly to the teen. It has the nuts and bolts of the successful principles you’ll want to communicate before your son or daughter leaves home.

In these books, you’ll learn to prepare your child for key life decisions, build an enduring relationship and move confidently as a parent from the driver to the passenger seat.

Dennis-Trittin-Amy-Carney-Parenting-Author

A friend introduced me to Dennis’ first book What I wish I Knew at 18, as they knew I was writing my book on a similar message of parenting from the end. Dennis and I connected on Twitter and were able to get together recently in Arizona to chat about his books and how parents can begin to prepare for the launch of their child now. (See there are some positives of social media!)

In Parenting for the Launch, you will find strategies that will help you prepare your teen to soar into adulthood- to parent with purpose and to let go with confidence.

Want to win your own Parenting for the Launch/What I Wish I Knew at 18 combo? Leave a comment below on why you need these books NOW and be entered to win. TWO lucky readers will be drawn at random on May 18 to win their very own copies of Dennis Trittin‘s books. Entrants must be a US resident to win.