5 Tips for Talking to Your Kids about Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a powerful force in the lives of our tweens and teens, and once they enter adolescence, it’s likely your kids’ friends will have more influence on them that you will. Parents can take a proactive approach to help kids resist negative influences around them. One of the best ways to do that is to keep family lines of communication open from an early age. Follow these tips to involve your kids in conversations that count:

Talk to your children about right and wrong

Anika DancingWhen parents don’t set moral standards, children are left to navigate a challenging peer culture without direction. Begin speaking to your children about right and wrong even before they enter school and help them understand how to make good choices.  These early lessons will provide a strong foundation when they face ethical dilemmas as teens.

Encourage your kids to cultivate their talents

A child who is involved in fulfilling activities is less likely to be tempted by rebellious pursuits. Let them dabble in the things that interest them when they are young – baseball, ballet lessons, nature walks, arts and crafts. Teach them to express themselves by using their talents in music, arts, or sports as they grow older.

Talk to your kids about their friends and get to know them

Often the first sign that teens are on the wrong path is that they start hanging out with a crowd that uses drugs or alcohol. Get to know your kids’ friends. Make your home a gathering place so you can spot potential problems and steer them away from these harmful associations.

Tell your children that you care, and be there when they want to talk

If kids are assured of your love and support, they are more likely to come to you when they have a problem. Build self-confidence by letting them know what they are doing right. Let them know what you expect of them, but don’t shun them if they make a mistake. Some teens may have to seek help at a and they will need their family’s support, says professionals from a Utah drug rehab center. Going to a rehab center is not something that is easy for the child or parent, but if it is needed, offering support is essential.

Set the right example for your kids

Actions speak louder than words, especially in parenting. Set a good example for your children. If you take drugs or drink heavily at home, your children may be less equipped to resist those influences from their peers. Parents should model strength, confidence, positive thinking and similar attributes that will show children how to face challenges in the future.

Whether your children are toddlers or teens, keep the conversation going so they have the tools and knowledge they need to successfully handle negative peer pressure.

Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She enjoys writing about home and family, finance and much more. This article was written with information from Ascend Recovery.

The Best Gadgets and Apps to Track Your Teen

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

It’s never been easy being a parent, but the last decade has added smartphones, texting, social media, and email to an already challenging task of what to monitor when it comes to your teen. Teens today are more connected than ever before. The Pew Research Center reports 78 percent of teenagers have cell phones, and approximately half of those own a smartphone. Keeping kids safe, and keeping tabs on them, is part of your job as a parent, and these apps and gadgets can help.

iCurfew

iCurfew, created by Parenting magazine, is an app for the iPhone that makes it easy for kids to check in with parents anywhere. Rather than secretly tracking your teen, according to RadicalParenting.com, iCurfew encourages communications between kids and parents, allowing check-ins via Google Maps or email with a single button. Since tracking teens with GPS can feel like you don’t trust them, iCurfew aims to allow kids to change plans, send “pick me up” texts, and show their location when requested.

iCurfew is available for the iPhone for $0.99 through the iTunes store.

MSpy

MSpy is a mobile device monitoring app that boasts a wide selection of features that allow you to track the smallest details of a mobile device’s use. Nothing remains secret when mSpy is installed, as it allows the recording of calls, texts and emails, as well as open access to photos, videos and calendars. Additionally, mSpy includes a GPS feature for device tracking and can restrict calls or websites accessible on a device at any time.

According to its site MSpy.com, the app works with a variety of devices, such as the Galaxy S4 on T-mobile, and through a variety of service providers. Unfortunately for those who wish to install it on an iPhone, such devices need to be jail-broken first. MSpy is available for $39.99 per month.

GPS Location Tracker

App developer FollowMee’s GPS Tracker turns a smartphone or tablet into a tracking beacon. Once installed on a device, it secretly tracks locations via WiFi, GPS service or cell triangulation, and uploads the data surreptitiously. This data is accessible via the Internet through any browser, be it on a desktop computer or a mobile device. As FollowMee.com explains, the standard version of this app is $2.99, while the Deluxe is $5.99.

ITrail GPS Data Logger

For parents of teens who don’t have a smartphone, iTrail’s GPS Data Logger, $189, can serve to track the movements of teens or vehicles by passively logging GPS data. Spy Gear Gadgets explains how you can simply place the device in a bag or car, turn it on, and the Data Logger begins creating data. By connecting the iTrail to a computer, you can view the collected data through either Google Maps or Google Earth. Additionally, you can set “restricted zones,” so it is easy to see when a vehicle or person has entered these zones when running reports on the accumulated data. The iTrail GPS Data Logger is an option that can be openly discussed, or squirreled away in a vehicle. Like all methods of teen tracking, it can’t beat open communication and earned trust, but it can certainly help put your mind at ease.

5 Avoidable Teen Behaviors That Could Result in a Car Accident

When teens receive their driver’s license, they’re expected to obey the law, as well as practice caution and responsibility at all times when they are behind the wheel. Unfortunately, teens may be engaging in some avoidable behaviors that could result in them being injured, or even killed, in a car accident.

Texting While Driving

CAR WRECK IN FRONT OF THE STUDIO, THURSDAY MORNING, 29 JANUARY 2009Technology is extremely popular with teens today, and it allows them to stay in touch with their friends throughout the day. Unfortunately, according to a recent survey, over 40 percent of teens have acknowledged texting while driving.

Texting has been shown to kill more teens than drinking while driving. Because teens constantly have their mobile devices with them, it’s all the more tempting for them to check for texts and emails when behind the wheel of a car.

In some states, like North Carolina, it’s illegal for teens under 18 to use a cell phone while driving. But all too often teen drivers aren’t listening. To help curb accidents caused by texting behind the wheel,  Auger and Auger suggests that parents sit down with their kids and reinforce the rules, both state law and parental guidelines.

A sobering resource parents might like to peruse is “Faces of Distracted Driving”, a video series of stories about teens who were involved in fatal accidents caused by texting and driving.

Excessive Speed

Because teens are young, they think that they are invincible. Teen speeding is often overlooked when parents talk to them about driver safety. Drinking, distracted driving and texting all have taken precedence, but you’ll find that speed can be just as deadly a factor in teen driving. Approximately one third of all fatal accidents involved teen drivers. Among the fatal vehicle crashes involving 16 year old teens with 2 or more passengers in the car, speed was the contributor the majority of the time.

Distracted Driving

Cell phone usage, talking to other passengers, eating, drinking, adjusting the car stereo and grooming were the primary causes of distracted driving accidents among teens. Few teens fail to realize that by taking their eyes off the road for a fraction of a second, they could cause a serious or fatal accident. In addition to injuring themselves, they could harm other passengers and innocent victims on the roadway.

Drinking and Driving

In order to navigate the road safely, teens should be focused and capable of making decisions based on what’s happening around them. Drinking is a serious issue that can impair young drivers and how they handle their vehicle. Unfortunately, few realize this significance until it’s too late. Teenagers may think drinking is cool, but drinking and getting behind the wheel is a form of negligence, the cause of over 40 percent of traffic fatalities across the nation.

Ignoring Seat Belts

State laws are in place to promote seat belt usage, but many teens fail to realize the importance. Most feel that strapping in isn’t cool, and that their vehicle’s air safety bags will prevent them from getting hurt or killed. However, in the majority of teen crashes, the victims who were killed or seriously injured were found not to have been wearing the proper safety belts at the time of the crash.

Before your teen gets behind the wheel of a car, they need to be aware of the consequences of poor judgment. They won’t get a do-over, and killing or injuring a friend, loved one or innocent victim will affect them professionally, physically and mentally for the rest of their lives.

 

Photo Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/louis_z_bickett_ii/3236063121/

 

Should You Install a Speed Regulator on Your Teen’s Car?

Learning to drive is a rite of passage most teenagers today look forward to with the greatest of anticipation. But one of the most difficult aspects of parenting involves trusting teenagers to drive alone. 

Parents may fear that their children–even those who have taken driving and safety classes–are not ready to take on the tremendous responsibility of driving without adult supervision.

Despite these fears, most parents realize that their teens will never learn independence and safe driving skills if they are forbidden from driving without an adult with them. Even so, parents who want to keep their teen drivers safe without riding along may find the idea of installing a speed regulator (sometimes called a “governor”) in the vehicle to be a viable alternative. As they weigh this option, parents should consider several benefits of speed regulators.

Preventing Alcohol-Related Speeding and Reckless Driving

Speed IIMost teens today are aware of the pitfalls of drinking and driving. But despite the prevalence of preventative education courses available to teenage drivers, many teens still give in to peer pressure and drink alcohol when they are at parties or at friends’ houses.

Even when sober, teens often don’t think of consequences, and this lack of forethought is exacerbated when they are intoxicated. A teen driver who has only had one or two drinks is more likely to speed and drive recklessly, putting himself, his passengers, and other motorists in grave danger of becoming injured or even dying in an accident.

It may only take a few drinks to raise your teen’s blood alcohol limit enough in some states to get him arrested. A group of dui lawyers in Virginia say that even the first DUI offense is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12-months in jail, a mandatory 12-month loss of license and anywhere from a $250 to a $2,500 fine.

Placing a regulator on your teen’s car may help him keep from being pulled over for reckless driving and speeding if he’s taken one drink too many, helping him avoid an arrest that could cause him to lose not only his driving privilege but his freedom.

Keeping Insurance Rates Manageable

Many parents are astonished to learn how much it costs to add a teen to their car insurance policies. Adding a teen driver can double or triple parents’ monthly premiums. When a teenager speeds and incurs fines and tickets, insurance companies often react by raising the parents’ premiums even higher.

People who want to keep their insurance rates within a manageable limit may find that they can accomplish this by installing speed regulators in their teenagers’ cars. As the governors make it impossible for the teen to drive above the speed limit, those who drive the regulated cars are ticketed less frequently – and their parents can look forward to lower monthly car insurance rates.

Teaching Teens to Maintain Control

Inexperienced teen drivers may have difficulty controlling their speed while driving. As they learn the ways of the car, teens may speed up, slow down, and find controlling the car’s speed to be challenging.

Driving on the highway in particular can be troublesome for some teenagers, as they might not realize that they are speeding when they try to keep up with traffic. With a governor, teen drivers can learn to maintain their speeds and stay at or below the legal speed limit. Soon, they will be adept at handling their cars and be able to maintain their speed while driving on their own.

Driving is a huge responsibility, and savvy parents and driving instructors want to give their novice teen drivers every opportunity to learn in safety. A speed regulator can be an excellent tool to keep teen drivers safe.

Richard Freeland, a freelance writer and the father of two boys, knows firsthand the worries of a parent with teen drivers.

The Wilson Law Firm, dui lawyers in Virginia, are dedicated to defending those accused of driving under the influence, and will work diligently to help you weather the storm of a DUI arrest.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amalakar/8747066225/

Before They Go Behind The Wheel: 5 Things Your Teen Needs to Know

For teens, getting a driver’s license is a long-awaited sign of freedom, a ritual, and a clear indication of trust that has been bestowed upon them. Even though teens must pass the driving test for them to earn a driver’s license, there are a few things that they need to be reminded before going behind the wheel.

1.    Limit Your Cellphone Usage

There are more than 5000 lives lost every year and more than half a million injuries caused by distracted drivers. More shocking is that most teenagers who text while driving spend nearly 10% of their time outside their lane. It would thus be advisable to divert your calls to voicemail while driving, or you could even opt for a Bluetooth receiver for your cellphone.

2.    Adjust The Mirrors and Wear Safety Belts

teen driverAs soon as you’re inside the car, don’t simply rush for the ignition. Check the car’s mirrors and adjust your seat position so that you are comfortable. Next, buckle up and ensure that all passengers you have onboard do the same. Adjusting mirrors might seem like a lame thing to do, but it might save your skin countless times especially when reversing the vehicle. Safety belts are equally important since they reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 45%.

3.    Know When To Drive

After rocking yourself at a party, you should be keen on who gets to drive the whole pack back home. If you are the designated driver, keep away from alcohol so as not to put your life at risk. Additionally, there is always an option of taking a taxi back home or calling out to a friend to pick you up if you took some alcohol.

4.    Be An Overall Handyman

Flat tires are unpredictable and common among many drivers. A good driver should thus ensure that he/she has a spare tire stocked at the rear of the vehicle along with the necessary tools for fitting in the spare tire. You should also know how to perform other tasks such as checking engine oil levels and how to refill the radiator with water.

5.    Be Gentle With The Accelerator

Speed Kills. Statistics show that speed is the number one cause of death on the road today. This is because high speeds reduce your reaction time to noticing an emergency and they also make it harder to brake. You should thus ensure that you keep track of your speed. If the worst happens and you end up getting in accident.

 

 

 

 

Make sure to get a quality injury attorney like http://www.cartersvilleinjuryattorney.com/services/

How Should You React When Your Teen Breaks the Law?

Few things are more trying to parents than teens who act out by breaking the law. Whether the offense is a minor infraction like petty shoplifting or a more serious offense like the sale of illegal drugs, the way you react can set the tone for either positive or negative future behavior in your teen. Although every situation is different, following the below steps should help guide you and your teen to a positive outcome from a negative situation.

Take It Seriously, But Don’t Overreact

How Should You React When Your Child Breaks the LawIf your teen has committed a crime, chances are the police are already involved. This alone should alert your teen to the seriousness of his actions, but do not underestimate the effect of parental concern. Make it clear to your teen that what he did was not only wrong in the eyes of the law, but also wrong according to the moral code your family lives by. Your goal is to impart the seriousness of the situation and the level of your personal disappointment without trivializing your sentiments in the eyes of your child by overreacting. Teens are more likely to take you seriously if you take a measured approach to discussing the severity of their actions without losing your temper

Create Consequences

Expressing your concern and disappointment are key ingredients, but they will not necessarily curb your teen’s future behavior. Establish firm consequences from the very first legal infraction so that your child immediately has an understanding of the effect of further crimes or misbehavior. You know your teen best, so use that to your benefit in determining what consequence constitutes the greatest loss to them. If your teenager just began driving, perhaps taking away driving privileges will have the greatest impact. Younger teens may be motivated by the loss of a favorite video game or time spent with friends. You should also make it clear that you will not hesitate to report future crimes to the police.

Don’t Blame Yourself

Rather than focusing on fault in these situations, try to focus on who will take responsibility for what caused them. It works best to see the solution as a joint venture between you and your teen. You will take responsibility by counseling your teen and creating appropriate consequences, and your teen will take responsibility by admitting to the mistake, learning to understand why their actions were wrong and correcting future behavior. Your teen is more likely to invest in changing if it’s clear that you will be an active partner in the process.

Is This the Summer for Your Teen to Get a Job?

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Is your teen ready for a part-time job? This summer, millions of teenagers will join the ranks of the employed. From babysitting neighborhood kids and bagging groceries to working at a local restaurant or coffee shop, the two or three months off from school are a great opportunity to get out of the house and earn some money while earning some valuable skills.

Although parents may be unsure when their teens should begin working during their summer vacations, chances are good this May is the time to start applying. If teenagers are old enough to start thinking about what they will do after they graduate from high school, this summer would be an ideal time to start working, points out Parentingmyteen.com.

More Than Just a Paycheck

As the article notes, working during the summer can help teens in ways that go well beyond extra spending money. For a student whose SAT scores are low, a solid work history can be a great way to complement sub-par academic performance. If teens are unsure they want to attend college, working during summer vacations can provide them with invaluable opportunities get an idea of what type of career they will want to pursue.

The Search

To help their teens find a job this summer, parents should sit down with them at the computer and browse through the wide range of jobs online. Websites like Craigslist.com have plenty of job listings that are great for teens who are short on experience but long on energy and enthusiasm. Also, keep an eye out for “Help Wanted” signs hanging in local businesses, and let your own friends know that your teen is looking for work.

Skillsets

While most teens are understandably thrilled with the money they earn during the summer, there are plenty of additional reasons why spending their vacations working is a great idea. An article on Investopedia noted that even the most menial and minimum wage job will provide a teenager with plenty of great lessons he or she can use in real life.

teen jobsAsking customers if they wish to add fries to their order may not require a huge amount of knowledge or training, but the job can definitely be included on future resumes. When it’s time to apply for full-time work down the road, it is imperative that teens don’t have a blank resume. Showing that they held down a job at a fast food place during the summer will be a good sign for future employers.

Teens who work get to be pretty good at managing their time — a skill that will serve them well throughout the rest of their lives. Learning at an early age to juggle work and family and friend commitments through planning and prioritizing will pay off big time later on. If a paid job is difficult to find in the economic environment of your area, consider encouraging your teen to spend time volunteering, which will provide them the same great resume-building opportunities while doing something to improve their community.

ThinkingTeenagers.TV a Great Resource for Teens

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

ThinkingTeenagers.TV is a great resource for teens. I was asked to review the site, having survived three teens already and just beginning the journey through the teen years for a fourth and soon a fifth time. I’m impressed with the positive and inspirational messages contained within the site. It provides a great platform for teens to share experiences, interact with each other.

thinking teenagersMore importantly, however, Thinking Teenagers TV gives parents an opportunity to open the door to conversations that aren’t always easy but are always necessary. The amount of information available in the site is incredible. There are six main categories:

  • Healthy Living
  • Staying safe
  • Getting on in life
  • Sexual awareness
  • State of mind
  • Deing a decent person

Within each of these categories, there are discussions about nearly every conceivable challenge your teen might face, with stories from parents, teens, and families to help inspire and support the tumultuous journey that is the teen years.

I highly recommend Thinking Teenagers TV to any parent of a teen or tween!

MomsGetReal was provided with free access to the Thinking Teenagers TV site in order to evaluate it.

How to Help Your Teen Avoid Cyberbullying

Guest Contributor Danielle Scott

When I saw my teen online last week on his Facebook page, I wondered who he might be conversing with, who his ‘friends’ are, and what he might’ve planned around his online activities. I wonder how many other parents must feel the way I have.

I’ve read stories of parents who somehow hack their way into their teenagers accounts or find out user names and passwords on the sly. I’m not sure I want to be the surveillance company on my own teen, but I do want my son to understand the ethics and responsibilities of being active on the Internet. And I also want him to be aware of the dangers of cyberbullying.

‘Cyberbullying’ happens when teens send hurtful text messages, images, video clips or more to maliciously make fun or embarrass another teen. Some of the online cyberbullying sabotage includes activities like online taunting, name-calling and abusive comments. It can also take shape in aggressive and threatening online tactics, including faking pictures or videos of another teen, and posting them online.

How can parents, teachers and other adult supervisors better protect teens from cyberbullying? Some schools are putting together helpful, anonymous hotlines. One school in Missouri started a hotline to enable an anonymous method that students, parents and teachers could report cyberbullying incidents as they become aware of them without harassment or intimidation.

Parents and educators can heed some of the guidelines raised in October for National Cyber Security Awareness Month. NCSA’s aim includes initiatives to teach and offer lessons in digital security to a new young class of Internet citizens. Using the Internet safely and securely at home, work, and school is a core goal of the non-profit, and it has helped to bring awareness to parents and teachers on how to better protect their teens use of shared digital assets and the networks to which we connect. For starters, here are a few helpful tips.

Stay Web Protected

Teens should understand what security tools are available on the web and on their computers to further protect themselves. Anti-virus programs are available for free or for a small fee. Encourage your teen to use these in daily Internet activities. With your assistance, teens can also opt to use Lifelock services to provide another layer of web protection, with its identity-theft protection services. Having this additional layer of web security helps keep their computers and online identities free from viruses, spyware, and spam, as well as more sinister identity hijacking episodes.

Understand Web Responsibility

Teens have to realize that they’re responsible for their web behavior, and what may appear to be a harmless prank at 16 can still live on the web 10 years later when they have lined up their first big job. Parents can offer guidelines to teens to handle web usage as they would auto usage in the real world. Common sense and extra care during tricky maneuvers are as real on the web as they are in our cars.

Avoid Strangers Online

Teens should only communicate online with those whom they know. With my own son, I’m a hawk when it comes to knowing who he’s communicating with online. I have to trust him but I’m also aware of those that can prey upon our kids. Keep an alert watch on your teens web activities. For more difficult cases, there are parental monitoring web tools available to better oversee any suspicious activity.

Danielle Scott is a MomsGetReal contributor.  When she’s not writing about business, management and operations, Danielle can be found hiking the Appalachian Trail with her Great Dane, Max.

Monitor Your Teens Phone Without Invading Their Privacy

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

How old were your kids when they first started asking for a cell phone? Mine hadn’t even hit double digits.

If you’re wrestling with the decision – and worried about how to keep them safe – here is something to consider: whether or not your children have phones of their own, they are going to be exposed to the technology by friends. You may be better off giving them the technology and teaching them to use it responsibly than being the ostrich parent.

Monitor Usage

You can monitor your teen’s cell activity without overbearing invasion using a service like mSpy, which will allow you to not only see who they talk to but which apps they are downloading.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Not on the phone, but to your kids. Talk to them about sexting, about cyberbullying, about the risks of engaging online with people they don’t know, about sharing their pictures or location with people.

When your kids come to you trying to convince you that 10 is the perfect age for a cell phone, like my son tried to do, then it’s possible it’s time to start at least having the conversations with them that you need to have about cell phone and internet safety. Companies like UKnowKids can help you have the discussions you need to have as well as provide the monitoring you need online to keep them safe.

What age did you let your kids have a cell phone? How do you keep them safe? Do you monitor their usage? What services do you use? Share your advice with us!