The “Talk”

The crazed time of year of getting everything a child needs for the school year seems exciting and daunting. The one aspect of getting a child prepared is the annual discussion about how to handle social situations… you thought I was going to say getting more pens and pencils? This time of year is the best time to transition conversations that might arise about anxiety.

Addressing situations about how anxiety impacts your child can be handled in various ways, depending on his or her personality, yet here are some back-to-school suggestions to help start the conversation, from the Positive Parenting Blog’s guest post, from The New York Times Best Selling author, Rachel Simmons:

The recent suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, MA has communities around the country reeling. Phoebe didn’t just suffer taunts, mean looks and harassment at school. She was cyberbullied: tortured online and by phone.

Phoebe’s death – and an explosion in cyberbullying worldwide – are telegraphing an emergency message to schools and families: we must take action now. Yet the vast majority of schools decline to intervene with real consequences when cyberbullying incidents occur.

Why? Because school officials say, it’s happening off school grounds. I understand the legal issues involved, but I get really angry when I hear this argument. Schools are terrific at using technology to connect classrooms to the moon via NASA and to students in other countries. Classrooms without borders are swell when they teach – but when students start dehumanizing each other using the very same technology, and it threatens their education and safety at school, well, we can’t go there.

Cyberbullying has intensified the experience of getting bullied by literally shattering the walls between school and home. There is no escape. As Parry Aftab, a leading expert in cyberlaw and privacy issues, has said, “cyberbullying follows you everywhere: home, summer camp, to Grandma’s house.”

Which means that kids are being suffocated and overwhelmed by an onslaught of abuse. They are unable to find refuge from the torment. Suicide, for some, may feel like the only way out.

Fact is, it’s not enough to say to a kid, “So don’t go online. Don’t pick up the phone.” Could you follow that advice? I sure couldn’t. Young people are passionate about their reputations. They’re also developmentally unable to understand that anything beyond their personal hell exists.

With a recent study showing that youth spend nearly every waking moment with a device in their hands, I want to share some of my advice to parents on how to talk with your child about cyberbullying and digital citizenship. If you haven’t had this conversation or one like it, do not pass go. The time is now.

1. Begin with a discussion. Raise the issue by talking about what you’ve heard or read. “It seems like cyberbullying is becoming a big deal lately.” Mention Phoebe’s suicide. Ask your child what she’s seen.

2. Let her know you’re there if she’s in trouble, no matter what – even if she’s partly responsible for a situation. Assure her that you’ll keep a problem between you when you can, and that you’ll be open to discussing it if she doesn’t want you to intervene (never promise that you won’t intervene). Your bottom line: this is a serious issue, and if she’s in trouble, you don’t want her to be alone, no matter what.

3. Ensure her cell phone and computer have screen locks that are password protected. Find other preventative steps you can take to keep your child safe here.

4. Let her know your policy on cyberbullying. For example: “I want to make sure we’re both clear on some rules around your use of technology. I expect you to conduct yourself online the same way you do in real life. That means making sure you treat people with kindness and respect at all times.”

5. Talk about some examples of what breaking the rules might look like. Use some of what you heard in the opening discussion you had to get specific about what’s not okay. Make sure she understands she is expected to steer clear of the following behaviors: She is expected not to use another person’s cell phone or computer without his/her permission; to circulate embarrassing photographs or video about another person; to forward hurtful or embarrassing messages or media; to use anonymous or unrecognizable screen names to communicate; to use foul or abusive language that could embarrass or hurt others. You may want to create an ethical Internet use contract together. See a sample here.

6. Explain your stance. Don’t just say “no;” explain why. Use the conversation as an opportunity to talk about the values that are important to you and your family: respect, kindness, integrity, and compassion.

7. Let her know technology is a privilege. “Being able to have a phone or computer is no different from being able to drive a car. When you get your license, it’s because you’ve proven you’re mature enough to follow rules and take others into consideration. The same will be true for tech use. If you aren’t mature enough to act with respect, you will lose your access.”

8. Emphasize the positive: “I see you as a person with enormous kindness, integrity, and respect for others. I expect you to be that same person when you’re using an electronic device.

It’s never too early to have this conversation. Talk to your kids about cyberbullying, and start talking to school officials about getting involved. South Hadley High School began every day last week with a moment of silence to remember Phoebe. Silence is the last thing we need on this issue. Let’s not let Phoebe die in vain.

9. Encourage empathy. Talk with your kids about what Phoebe may have been feeling when she was being bullied. Many are now identifying with Phoebe in death. By considering her experience before she died, kids can identify with her in life — and reflect on behaviors and situations they have real power to change.

The “Talk”

Consequences after pressing send


By Rolanda Taylor

Cyber-bullying is rapidly increasing in the United States and research has started to prove that the consequences are real. When you’re bullied many can feel insecure and on the defensive, because you are the target of negative actions. Even if an individual isn’t actively being bullied the emotional scars still remain. Bullying has a huge mental and emotional impact. It leaves the victim feeling isolated, unaccepted, angry, and withdrawn.

Children who are victims of cyber-bullying “are likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they use to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.” –

Here are some examples of how bystanders and bullies are impacted:

1.) Bystanders (Children who witness bullying) are more likely to miss or skip school, have increased mental health problems, and have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other substances.
2.) Children who bully others (Children who bully others can also engage in violent and other dangerous behaviors into their adulthood.) Bullies are impacted also if the issues of bullying isn’t properly addressed and can suffer from getting into fights, drop out of school, be abusive towards their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults.

It is important we bring awareness to the consequences of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying isn’t just a “phase” that children go through. The issue can become a “snowball effect”, meaning a situation that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger, and also possibly more dangerous.

Cyber-bullying also has an impact on schools. When bullying takes place and a school doesn’t take action, the entire school can be affected negatively. It impacts student learning, engagement, and parental confidence in the school. This can lead to students disliking their school, feeling unsafe, and the school developing an environment of fear and disrespect.

Now that you have an idea of the consequence of cyber-bullying, how can you prevent it within your community? has resources to help support you when taking a stand against bullying. Work along with us to inform family and friends of the consequences of bullying. This software program can instantly educate youth on how to use it responsibly and hold them accountable for their actions, as we know… there are consequences after pressing send.

Consequences after pressing send

Take Caution Online

With dating apps and social connection apps, such as MeetUp, popping up all over cyberspace today, it can be tempting to connect with others online. Some like to send direct messages through Instagram or Twitter and the Facebook messenger app continually evolves each day. With all of that being said, it can be enticing to try and reconnect with past classmates or old roommates online. However, this puts friendships and relationships in an odd predicament.

There is an adage that some say viewing others’ posts online is the “modern-day equivalent of looking into your neighbor’s yard.” Users with a public Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Tumblr pages know all too well that just about anyone with wi-fi connectivity can take a peek into another person’s life.

And, if a person with a public Twitter page wants to block another user, then all that user has to do is type in the person’s Twitter url into a web page and they can see all of the posts. Essentially this means that the block button on Twitter is virtually useless for those with public pages.

With so many ways of finding others’ online personas, the question of intent comes into play. At first, it may seem great to connect with long-lost relatives or reconnect with that boy you ate lunch with at middle school. On the other hand, there is a reason as to why these folks are no longer in your life. Everyone out there has lost touch with someone whom they thought they would always see. However, life has a funny way of pulling us in all sorts of directions.

In a time before social media, it was nearly impossible to catch up with old colleagues unless you had their address or phone number. Now all those classmates are a click away and it can be tempting to reach out. At the same time, years have passed by. If you were never really close with a person or lost touch with them, then all of that happened for a reason. It is much healthier to let people go and continue forward in life.

Overall, while folks from your past are now more accessible to reach out to, it does not mean that you should. Social media is unhealthy in the sense that it has a way of making people feel as though they are closer to others than they really are. It is important to step back and not look over “suggested friends,” because even if that profile image is familiar, life may have separated two people for a reason.

It is not always necessary to send a direct message because it can be painful if a message is read and not responded to. Instead of following old classmates, try finding inspirational profiles or following leaders who inspire you. Take a step back from the smartphone and ingratiate yourself in a new hobby. Push the pause button and take a break from the technology. Not every message has to be sent.

Take Caution Online

Do You Know How Your Kids Really Interact With Each Other?

There is a saying that charity starts at home. This is true of kindness, literacy, manners, and a whole variety of important virtues. The same can be said regarding practices for online decorum and social interaction. How are your kids interacting with their siblings? Just as children face the dangers of being bullied at school, kids are also at risk of either bullying their siblings or being bullied by their siblings. Once an act of bullying takes place inside the home, then it is important to remedy the situation for everyone involved. Also, if a child is bullying their siblings or being bullied by a sibling, then there is always a chance that that the negative interactions could also occur online, as well as off-line.

In the crazy tech-monitoring world, parents, you might be concerned that you should monitor their text message conversations. Yet, is this a violation of trust? We counsel our parents that you are the parent and not the friend, you are there to offer guidance and protection. The My Social Sitter software allows for trust to be built with a set, customize and protect when there is a problem, so there is not a need to constantly check their phone – you know if anything that isn’t normal or on the “up’n’up” going on without looking at their phone.

It is widely believed that siblings have their own unique communication styles that differ from the ways in which they communicate with teachers, parents, and peers. Regardless, there is still no excuse for any harmful words to be spoken among children.

Some believe it is perfectly fine for siblings to bully each other. However, think of it in a new concept. If your child spoke to a classmate in the same way they speak to their siblings, would you tolerate it? Would you be fine if another child spoke to your kids the way they speak to each other? Biological relation is no excuse for mistreatment among children. It is true that kids will say things as they grow. Again, it is always important to intervene when necessary and cautiously advise kids to speak to each other in kinder terms.

Constructive criticism, when it provides an objective critique that can be fixed, is a way for children to help each other improve. However, baseless insults that are not fixated in any facts are rude, and no child should have to worry about what their siblings might say to them. All in all, bullying is a problem that can be prevented, discussed and identified. At the end of the day, learning to fix behaviors starts at home.

Do You Know How Your Kids Really Interact With Each Other?

Bullying- By Christina Rizzo

In the past few years bullying in the Elementary schools has gone up by a drastic amount. Nine out of 10 elementary students have been bullied by their peers, according to a simple questionnaire developed by researchers at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine. It is sad to hear that at such a young age children have no problem hurting one another, it might not always be physically but it can also be mentally. There are still scars, yes we cannot see them but they are there.

Since this is occurring at such a young age it can affect the child in the future, it can make them less sociable, scared to go to school, not wanting to leave their mothers sides and also can make them depressed. Bullying is starting at a younger age because of social media and technology. More parents are allowing their younger children to have cellphones, ipads, twitter, Facebook, etc. when these things are meant for young adults. To have a Facebook when I was growing up you needed to be 18+, now I see children on there who are 10 years old. It is crazy how young these children are and already know what all this social media is.

Because children are on adult websites already at such a young age means that parents need to keep an eye out. Most parents do not have their children’s passwords to their accounts. This can be very unsafe, why you ask? Because many children get bullied on social media, it could be through instant messaging, written on a picture or even through facetime. I have been babysitting since I was 13 years old, I am 20 now. For the past five years I’ve babysat the same family, I’ve watched these children go form babies to pre teens. I’ve heard all the drama, I’ve seen the bullying and I’ve helped. Their mother had no idea that none of this was going on in their lives. Their mother had no idea that her children had Instagram or Facebook. That’s what worried me, the fact that their own mother had no idea that her kids were using the Internet, even better getting bullied on the Internet. The social sitter is the APP this mother needs to invest in for her children because then she can see what her children are sending out to others and what others are posting on her children’s social media.

If more Mothers across America know about The Social Sitter we can stop so much Elementary school bullying that is occurring. We can save lives and also at the same time make children’s futures brighter. Help us show Mothers across America what they can be doing to help their children, peers and also themselves.

Bullying- By Christina Rizzo

Athlete Maturity And Social Media

Technology and communication have been rapidly advancing at a state that can be quite overwhelming. Adults can get over whelmed with the connectivity of the Internet if they didn’t grow up with the tools to access it. I’m in my twenties myself and even I have trouble keeping up with what’s popular and what do people use to share ideas and socialize over the Internet.

But, what is alarming is even though young adults have essentially adapted this technology as our own, we don’t necessarily mature with it as we grow with age. For a shining example of this immaturity, we don’t have to look far. We just have to look at our favorite athletes on social media. The majority of athletes who play in the professional level are young and may of course have a lot growing up to do, but it is alarming how some of the players seem like they have no filter with their online presence.

An example of this type of debauchery actually didn’t happen to long ago in the case of D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young. For a short synopsis of what happened, essentially Russell caught Young talking about cheating on his celebrity girlfriend, Iggy Azalea. For some reason, Russell decided to film Young and sent the video to Twitter. They were friends on the same team at the time, so why he would do this is puzzling in more way than one, but either way this is a clear case of the immaturity we so too often see when athletes use social media.

The obvious thing that comes to mind is that Russell is still relatively young, so do we blame his immaturity on his age? Teens who grew up with social media may be desensitized to outlandish behavior because of the easy exposure of viral videos on the Internet, so when a particular subset of people who aren’t familiar with these cultural age differences, they may be shocked and alarmed in a negative light.

But there also comes the question of whether society as a whole is immature in general when it comes to social media. Older athletes, like Curt Schilling, have said outlandish things that have made people of all ages and demographics uncomfortable with the things he posts on social media. Some athletes also develop a persona that makes them feel nigh invincible and think their opinion is “the opinion.”

Either way, we as a whole need to understand that just because we are behind a screen, our words matter regardless if there said in person or on social media.

Athlete Maturity And Social Media

The “NEW MEAN” Generation – By Susan Wind from Parents Know More

Mean can be defined as cruel, spiteful or malicious. Social media has brought on the new “mean” for our children’s generation. Why you may ask? People seem to feel more bold and confident putting their feelings out on a computer, text, email versus confronting the person face to face. Revenge is another ugly word that has come into play with this “mean” term. We hear terms like slut shaming, fat shaming, and whatever else shaming we can think of to destroy someone’s reputation. What ever happened to the old saying, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it? That is a joke today!

So how do people become mean? Were they born mean or did they learn to become mean? Most psychologists would agree that mean behavior is a “learned behavior”. Children model this after their parents sometimes or are influenced by peers (usually starting in school). People tend to throw the word “bully” out there very loosely but keep in mind there are different requirements of being a mean kid or a bully. There are more MEAN kids than bullies.

I read an article on line called, “if my kid is being an a##hole, I want you to tell me”. While I respected this mother’s thought process and how sometimes parents do not have any idea what their kid is doing, I would have to disagree with this philosophy. Let’s review. Once you tell a mother/father that their precious child is doing something wrong, hurtful, etc., the initial reaction is to defend and attack! That parent will come right back at you with “well your kid did this, said that, etc.” It is rare that a parent today will side with the other parent and take accountability for their child’s actions.

What happened?

When I was growing up, it was a different world. If a teacher called the house to tell a parent that their child was in trouble, the child would hide! If a neighbor came a knocking on the door to tell a parent what a child did, that child would run! Parents believed one another! Parents worked together to correct the behaviors! Parents held their kids responsible for their actions! Parents even apologized on their child’s behalf! Remember the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Not today!

Let’s go back to the “new mean”. I am approached by people all of the time about my program, parents kNOwmore. Everyone has a story to share. Everyone’s life has been impacted somehow by social media (positive and negative). The main theme that keeps coming up is the inappropriate comments, actions, behaviors by our young people today (AKA MEAN). If a parent is not following their child on social media, how would they know if that kid did something mean? We all want to believe that our children would NEVER do this but let’s get real parents, they do it! Can you blame our kids when a lot of their friends are mean on social media with no repercussions? Look at the political race for 2016 today (mean behaviors on the news daily). Look at movie stars today having “tweet wars” with each other and love to put each other down? This is the new generation we have accepted today!

What can you do?

You can only control what happens in your family – what I was told (to some degree). You cannot control other children. Parents are struggling with this every day. School administrators are spending hundreds of countless hours a year putting out fires because of people being “mean” on social media. People ask me, what is the solution? Schools need to revisit their social media policies (fine tune them). Many of these current policies are not conducive to the social media world our children are living in today. Cybercrimes are also not addressed in these policies (many of which kids are committing).

Parents need to monitor their child’s accounts as well. Do you follow your children on their social media accounts? Kids need to know whatever they put out there in print, they should be proud of it and own up to it. Coaches, teachers, pastors, friends, family are following kids all of the time. What is wrong with parents following them too? Before defending your kid (which is the common theme today), know the facts! It is ok to monitor your kids on social media! There are many apps today that allow you to do this! My Social Sitter is a new app that I just love! It can be used currently for text messaging and twitter!  My Social Sitter provides an instant filter before any social media message goes public.  You can see in detail how this works at There are thousands of key words that are “filtered” including acronyms (remember kids like to hide their messages with abbreviations).  You (as their parent) can also add more key words as you wish with this program! If a child/teenager posts something that is inappropriate, the message will be flagged and rejected. This allows kids to go back and review what they tried to send and possibly think of a better option that is positive vs negative. The parents are also notified via email to see what their child try to text/post. Kids can earn “tokens” to reward them for their positive posts, which can be later cashed in for fun gifts!

Before you want to defend your child, remember you must know the facts and build a solid case. You can get to the bottom of the issue and determine who is being mean by monitoring your child. Hopefully it is not your child that is a MEAN kid!

The “NEW MEAN” Generation – By Susan Wind from Parents Know More