Family over phones: The importance of a technology detox

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“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

Proverbs 23:20-21 (NIV)

The Book of Proverbs isn’t quoted as often as it should be, but King Solomon knew what he was talking about – even if the wine and meat of years gone by has been replaced by technology so addictive it stops our children from ever focusing on anything else.

Our families need a detox program to step away from digital devices and focus on their relationships – smartphone addiction is a very real problem in today’s society, and the sooner families can address it, the easier things will be.

Now, it’s important to remember that we’re not encouraging the elimination of all technology. There are many perfectly valid uses for mobile phones, and teens who think we’re just anti-technology are more likely to rebel than think about improving their relationships. Indeed, Paul himself counseled on this matter, noting “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, NIV)

Instead, we’d like to focus on helping everyone in the family see the phone as nothing more than a phone – it’s not their friend, it’s not important to their self-image, and it’s certainly not worth paying attention to when there are other things happening.

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The Simple Detox Strategy

A technology detox plan should be started as early as possible – if family members are never addicted in the first place, they won’t need to recover from anything! Unfortunately, many families are already past that point, so you’ll have to set a few rules in place. Do not be afraid to set the rules for your family, either – in Proverbs 22:15 (NIV), King Solomon also wrote “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him,” and there are times when some sort of discipline is critical for a child’s development.

Here are some of the things you can do to implement a detox plan:

 

  • Establish Phone-Free Zones: There are times when using any type of phone is completely inappropriate, and everyone in your family should be on the same page here. Phones should not be allowed during meals, at church, during most events, or beyond certain times of the day (such as after dinner). Start thinking of evenings as a time to be together – watching a movie together might be appropriate, but having everyone scattered and doing their own thing is not.
  • Start Small: It can be hard to do a detox all at once, so try creating small goals that you can work on meeting until they become a habit. As always, the earliest days will be the toughest – but once you’ve changed your entire lifestyle, keeping it going will be so much easier.
  • Keep Things Out Of Bedrooms: Few things are more conducive to technology addiction than having all of it in your bedroom! Keep the tech – computers, phones, and everything else – out in public areas. Checking messages should be something done once or twice a day, not every five minutes. In fact, consider setting a specific time to check each day.
  • Stop Using Phones For Everything: There’s no need to document every moment of your life with your phone’s camera. The more each device is seen as a basic tool instead of the solution to every problem, the easier it is to stop picking it up. Try uninstalling every feature you don’t truly need and going without them for awhile.

Smartphones and other pieces of technology should be seen as a privilege, not something we have an intrinsic right to be using every moment of the day – and detoxing from their presence can help everyone start focusing on family again.

Are Your Kids Addicted to Social Media? Start Taking Stock

Did you know Social media is a stimulant and people easily form addictions to the fast paced world of posts? This addiction might be the “new health issue of the 21st Century”, and many of today’s children, teenagers and adults (yes, adults!) suffer from it.

Here are a few warning signs if you think your child is addicted to social media:

  • Does your child prefer keyboards over face-to-face interactions?
  • Do they have “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) anxieties when they aren’t allowed on social media?
  • Have you noticed slipping grades or interest in activities?
  • Do they have trouble sleeping or waking up?
  • Are they withdrawing from family and friends?

If your child is exhibiting a few of these symptoms, he/she may have formed an addiction to social media.

Showing an interest in our children and organizing offline activities may be enough to curb an addiction. Parents can lead by example and reclaim family time. Designate “no phone zones” in the home and keep phones out of bedrooms. Rescue family meals and designate a time to power down every day.

Parents can guide children on the “social playground” by monitoring a child’s Internet usage. Use this time to bond by discussing web sites and apps to reinforce safe social media skills. Hopefully, it won’t take a downed helicopter to notice your children have become addicted to social media.

Safe Internet Tips for Adoptive Families

Adopting families face some special challenges when it comes to using the internet – the rise of social media has made it easier than ever before for birth parents to find and open communication with their children, and that’s not a good thing if there’s a reason to restrict communication. Here are a few tips to help your entire family use the internet in safety.

Getting Started

The very first thing to do is decide how much information you want to put online. The basic rule of thumb is to assume that any information put online will eventually be visible to everyone. Manipulating privacy settings can mitigate this, but it’s too easy to create a digital footprint unless you’re specifically avoiding it.

Names tend to be the biggest part of this, especially if they’re uncommon. Birth parents who want to find their children are likely to start by searching for people with that name, then start by narrowing things down. If the adopted child is going to use their real name online – and 92% of teens do – they should at least specifically disable communications from people they don’t know and come to you for approval of anyone new.

Monitoring Their Online Activities

Some parents are hesitant to monitor their children, fearing that it’s an invasion of privacy – and that’s an understandable concern, especially for adopted children that have trust issues and desperately want to have a place of solitude and safety. However, the digital world is not the best place for that – especially if the birth parents begin to feel guilty about giving their child up for adoption and start trying to take them back.

One solution to this is using technology to monitor their online activities, and some professionals even believe this to be a parental responsibility. The critical point to remember is that monitoring isn’t about making the child feel uncomfortable or somehow invading their privacy – it’s about making sure people aren’t twisting their emotions and leading them into something they shouldn’t be doing.

Keeping It Open

Another good strategy is placing all access points in a family area, facing open space. This helps to prevent the idea of the internet being a private world for children and allows you to keep a closer eye on what they’re doing.

You can also keep things open by setting up special, unique accounts that your child can use to communicate with their birth parents. This allows you to isolate and control the flow of information, especially when used in conjunction with enhanced privacy settings. The birth parents don’t need to learn every detail of the child’s life – in fact, if you want to avoid prompting them into feelings of guilt, they shouldn’t know too many details. Humans tend to get attached to things they know more of, and the adoption process is difficult enough as it is.

Finally, avoid creating the image that you’re a barrier to what your adopted child wants to do. Instead, try to convince them that you’re a solution who can help them get what they want – it’s much easier to keep your child safe when they understand that you’re just trying to help.

Women Campus Safety: Protecting your daughter

 

Teenage girls around the country plan and choose the right school that seem like a great fit for their lifestyle and major of their dreams. After the climax of their senior year, all the pomp and circumstance still doesn’t prepare parents as they  pack towels and clothes for their  daughter’s first semester away at college. Sometimes parents get so focused on housing, financial aid, and scholarship applications that they overlook a major fact of campus life: their daughter’s safety!

Defining The Red Zone

You can imagine parent’s horror when they first read about the “Red Zone”. This is a description commonly used to describe the first few months a college freshman spends on campus. This period earned this moniker, because there is a significant increase in risk for rapes or assaults.

In a 2007 survey it was found that over 50% of sexual assaults in college happen between the months of August through November. The findings also noted that most females are more likely to be victims during the early stages of the their college experience. For some reason, the pamphlets that stuffed our mailbox months earlier failed to mention these statistics.

7 Ways Parents Can Help Keep Women Safe On Campus

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  • Download the free Circle of 6 app for your daughter’s Smartphone. This app allows a user to create a group of friends or family to alert when they need help. This can be as simple as seeking advice, asking for a ride, or terrifying situations where you need to be alerting someone they are in a risky situation. This app is able to send out an exact address and connect to emergency hotlines.
  • Register your daughter on Kitestring. This tool is a “check in” web-based tool that allows people to track a person’s coming and goings. This especially helpful if a girl is going out with a new friend or driving home late at night. The user simply goes online and tells the site how long they will be gone. After the elapsed time, the site sends out a text to check in on her safety. If our daughter fails to respond, an alert is immediately sent out to delegated emergency contacts.
  • Encourage the “buddy system”. Stress that it is important to stay in groups and always stick together.
  • Arm them with tips to keep danger away. Carry keys between the fingers in case a girl needs a weapon to defend herself, use a car alarm on the key fob to alert others if they are being attacked or followed, or give them a whistle to blow for help if there are no blue lights on campus. Many attackers can be thwarted by using noise to gain attention.
  • Keep open lines of communication open with your child. Many college age girls will turn to their friends first when they encounter a problem. Ensure our daughters get the right advice, by being there when they need you.
  • Invest in nail polish that can detect if a drink has been drugged. Merely covering your drink or watching a friend’s glass isn’t enough. A girl can simply dip her fingernail into her cup and if it changes color that indicates her drink has been compromised. This will help her take responsibility and control over situation, just be aware that not every date rape drug will show up with this simple test.
  • Encourage your daughter to allow you to track her cell phone. This will allow you to access her phone’s location if a situation ever arises. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Going to college and being alone for the first time should be an exciting process. By keeping your daughters informed, you will be able to offer them the chance of a lifetime. What tips do you have for mothers to help promote women campus safety for our daughters?