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Expert Advice

The Social Media Battle: Examining Its Impact and Helping Our Youth Use Responsibly By Brandy Browne     There is no denying that online platforms have boomed in recent years. In fact, The Mayo Clinic (2022) reports that an estimated 45 per cent of teens ages 13-17 are online “almost constantly”, with social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Snapchat being the most popular.   Social media play a huge role in influencing our youth — both positively as well as negatively, regardless of whether we use it extensively or not.   For example, social media platforms are places where teens can connect with others, and in many cases, find valuable support systems that might be harder to find in person. Teens with chronic illnesses might find online support groups with other teens fighting the same battle. It is also home to a plethora of opportunities to connect with others with similar interests in hobbies, music, television, sports, etc.   On the flip side, it can be damaging at times. Teens often report that social media use is the reason for losing sleep at night and getting distracted from class, homework, or chores. The Mayo Clinic also reports that teens who spend more than three hours per day on social media may have a heightened risk of developing mental health problems.   The issue for teens (and let’s face it, adults as well) is that social media portrays a highlight reel for so many. It’s so easy to look at another person’s Facebook story and think they have it all together, but the reality is that we’re much more comfortable posting our joys for others to share than our sorrows.   5 Tips for Guiding Your Child’s Social Media Use   We want to ensure our youth use social media responsibly, as well as make sure it improves their lives, not makes them worse. Here are some tips to help you get started.   Start a conversation Social media is a powerful tool, so you should make sure your teen knows how to use it responsibly. Set the expectation that it should not interfere with school or responsibilities. It’s also a good idea to set limits on social media use at night (i.e. no electronics after a certain time of the evening) in order to maintain good sleeping habits.   Monitor your teen’s social media accounts This one is controversial. I want to give my eleven-year-old child some privacy, but as her parent, I have a responsibility to keep her safe. Keeping

10 Self-Care Gifts for the Holidays By Arianne Granada   Holiday season is a stressful time of year, especially if you’re running around trying to get everything done. With all the parties and dinners, it can be easy to neglect your own self-care. This holiday gift guide will also help make sure you don’t forget yourself while shopping for others!   Aveeno Calm+Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser The thing is, dry winter months can be a major stressor for your skin. That's why it's important to keep up with your skincare routine during the colder months—especially if you have sensitive skin.  Infused with nourishing oat and calming feverfew, Aveeno® Calm+Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser gently cleanses and hydrates to maintain the skin's moisture barrier. This product gently lifts out dirt and impurities, leaving skin feeling hydrated and healthy. The perfect gift for skin enthusiasts!   Genestra Sleep Gummies The holiday season is a perfect time to bring your loved ones together. But all that travelling and visiting can also lead to some pretty bad jet lag and sleeping problems. So skip the jet lag altogether with these Genestra Sleep Gummies instead! Besides helping reset the body's sleep-wake cycle, these delicious gummies help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer.   24" Rx Matrix Hollow Roller Like you, your family and friends might sometimes find themselves feeling tense and stressed. It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a holiday season and neglect the body's needs. An effective foam roller can help relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, improve flexibility, and promote relaxation. Foam rollers are also great for getting a workout! Everlast's 24-inch Rx Matrix Hollow Roller penetrates deep into muscles for a relaxing massage. It is lightweight and portable, so you can transport it from home to the gym and when you're on the go. By combining a hollow core with a linear matrix design, it provides full-body relief for both large and small muscles.   Jack Black's The Balm Squad The right lip balm is like a best friend—it’ll never fail you, and it will always be there to comfort you. This winter season, Jack Black's soothing Moisture Therapy Lip Balms SPF 25 make a great gift. In addition to providing long-lasting hydration and smooth lips all year-round, these award-winning flavours also protect lips from the sun. Remember to use them daily to maintain smooth lips throughout the colder months.   Tom Ford Oud Wood Candle While you're stressing about what to get your loved ones this holiday season,

7 Ways to Jumpstart Your Holiday Shopping by Rachel Naud   No matter how much you love someone, finding the perfect gift is never easy. And when you're trying to get gifts for the whole family, it can seem downright impossible. Whether you're looking for a gift for your favourite kid or a stocking stuffer for your favourite adult, we've got you covered.   Unique Gifts for Less The holidays can get expensive, which is why the first place to look for gifts is Giant Tiger. There, you can find unique gifts, like these fun light-up gnomes and mystery squishymallows, which are very popular right now. Alternatively, this great cocoa set would make a great stocking stuffer—and it's less than $20 each! It doesn’t matter who is on your list, you can find gifts that say more, for less at Giant Tiger or online at GiantTiger.com!    Charcuterie Boarding School For the person on your list who likes to entertain and put together charcuterie boards, you can get them some pickled veggies to bring their board to the next level! Matt & Steves is a Canadian company that makes snacking social and fun with their pickled veggies and snacks! From their Extreme Pickle Spears that come in hot & spicy and garlic & dill to their baby dills, Asparagoos and Extreme Bean, there’s something delicious for everyone to enjoy!    A Cheers-Worthy Holiday Celebration You might want to give these three brands to a mixologist or someone who enjoys a festive cocktail over the holiday season.   Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry First up is Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry, which is perfect for having an after-dinner sipper because this cream cherry is full-bodied and rich with a mellow sweetness. Serve it chilled, over ice with a slice of orange or mix it in a cocktail. It makes for a fantastic gift for any wine lover with a sweet tooth because it goes perfectly with any sweet pastry!   Stoli Vodka For the cocktail lover on your list, this Stoli Vodka, which has been around for 80 years, is made in Latvia and is a high-quality premium spirit. It's such a must-have spirit to have over the holidays and year-round because it has a perfectly smooth and consistent flavour. You can also use it for martinis or just add a splash of soda!   Kentucky Owl Wiseman Bourbon Whiskey Surprise those whiskey lovers on your list with Kentucky Owl Wiseman Bourbon Whiskey. It’s new to Canada and has hints of maple, pecan and allspice to

Your Picky Teen Will Love These 5 Gifts  By Rachel Naud   Tweens and teens can be the toughest people to shop for. Buy something cringey and cute, and you get the eye rolls! But don’t worry, we’ve got a few gift ideas that are sure to please your pickiest people!   For the Film Fanatic Teen Love going to the movies over the holidays? Make teens' stockings more memorable by giving them Cineplex gift cards that they can use either with their parents or with their friends. Spend $50 or more on Cineplex gift cards (either the plastic card or online) and you'll receive a holiday gift bundle with more than $60 worth of coupons for things like free admission, free popcorn, discounted food, free movie ticket upgrades, and more! With this holiday bundle, your teen can also play games, eat, and be entertained at The Rec Room with friends!  The offer is on now and runs until Dec. 31! You can pick it up in theatres, at cineplex.com, or at The Rec Room or therecroom.com   For the Fashionista Teen These stylish Joe Fresh Knits & Jewelry from Shoppers Drug Mart will appeal to any fashionista on your gift list. Changing up your winter wardrobe is always fun, and this season, Ombre All Day is the theme of this stylish and cozy hat and scarf. These cute toques and mittens will make you smile - especially this pom-pom toque! With everything from bracelets and necklaces to earrings, Joe Fresh jewelry has everything your teen could need to celebrate the holidays in style.    For the Skincare-Savvy Teen Everyone wants to look and feel their best—especially our teens—and this Proactiv system will help them put their best face forward this holiday season. It’s an easy 3-step system—you just cleanse, tone and treat! Dermatologists developed the original Proactiv system to treat existing acne and help prevent future breakouts, which is also important. And to make it even easier, you can unlock exclusive savings when you purchase the 3-step system as a subscription including a free gift. To get more info and to buy the system, visit getproactiv.ca.   For the Glamorous Teen Make the perfect holiday-glam look for the glamorous teen on your list with COVERGIRL Exhibitionist Stretch & Strengthen Mascara! It's formulated with Peptides, Biotin and Pro-Vitamin B5 for a lash extension effect that lifts, stretches, and adds volume all day long! With its wavy bristles and wavy design, the brush reaches every lash from

Gift the Unexpected: 3 Unique ‘Gifts for Good’ Ideas that Help Children Worldwide by Fred Witteveen   My family, perhaps like yours, has an annual holiday tradition. Every year, no matter where we are, we make the same Christmas breakfast. We prepare our special crepes, the recipe handwritten on a stained decades-old 3x6 card. As a family, we have moved often and even relocated abroad for a time. Change is a constant for us, but so are those pancakes. My daughter, now 28, grew up on them; I figure she downed hundreds over the years before leaving her now empty-nester parents. As a result of COVID last year, we spent the holidays miles apart in New York and Toronto. Even quarantine could not stop us; we laughed together as we flipped crepes made with our special recipe over Zoom.   Holiday Traditions Children everywhere love traditions (parents, too), and traditions make memories. Celebrating Giving Tuesday (November 29) is a tradition in our family, too. It marks the largest global movement of generosity and signals the start of the holiday season. If you're writing up your family's holiday wish list this year, consider including some 'gifts for good' that will make a lasting difference to vulnerable children worldwide and create a new family tradition. Children Believe is a charity that supports more than 1.2 million children, youth and community members annually. They release their Gifts for Good catalogue every year. It features gifts that can help break the barriers to education that millions of children, particularly girls, endure in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nicaragua and Paraguay—countries where Children Believe serves. All 54 gifts featured in the Gifts for Good catalogue will support children and their families to overcome the challenges they face, not only during the holiday season but all year long. Here are three of my favourite picks that I hope might make your family’s list this holiday season, too.   Goats – the Gift Of All Time? Being the GOAT – what younger generations recognize to mean the “Greatest Of All Time” – may be an accolade given to sports stars, but we think real goats are the “Gift Of All Time”. Why? Goats have proven to be useful in developing countries as a source of milk, fertilizer, and income for vulnerable families. Parents can use these funds for their children’s  school fees and supplies. You can help a family for a year by giving a goat ($100 per goat, $250

5 Signs of Teen Burnout by Carol Bunting   We all want our teens to succeed in school, but putting them under too much pressure can lead to stress and anxiety. There's a risk of burnout if teens do too much at once—juggling studies, friends, family time, hobbies and chores. If you're worried about your teen's well-being, look out for these five signs of teen burnout.     They're not taking part in their hobbies Hobbies help teens take breaks from their studies and unwind with fun activities. They also often help them to socialize if they're group-based hobbies, and they can offer a creative or physical outlet for letting go of emotions and burning off stress. If your teen is neglecting their usual hobbies, they may be overworked and unable to balance school and fun. They might also not have enough mental energy to devote to hobbies because school consumes most of their time.   They're irritable It's common for teens to lash out or get frustrated with those around them because their moods can fluctuate as a result of their developing brains. However, stress compounds irritability, and if you notice the issue gets worse when there's a lot going on at school, your teen could be experiencing burnout. Perhaps they're irritable because they don't feel they're performing well enough, or because they're concerned about disappointing you.     They aren't eating properly Stress and anxiety can impact appetite. For some, it causes undereating and cravings for sugar and junk food. A change in eating habits could indicate that your teenager is struggling with their workload. It may be particularly obvious that stress is affecting their appetite if there's a pattern in their eating habits. For example, if they don't eat their dinner during the week but tend to eat well at the weekends, they could be feeling extra anxious on school days.   They isolate themselves Due to their irritability and desire for independence, teens spend more time alone in their rooms. However, if they suddenly start spending more time than usual isolated from others, especially if they're also avoiding spending time with their friends, this could be a sign that they're struggling.     They have insomnia Symptoms of burnout include insomnia. Your mind is so busy worrying that you can't switch off and rest. Teens have different body clocks than adults and tend to stay up late, but if the late nights are lasting right until morning every night, there could be something else going on. Look for

Back to School Tips: Internet Safety for Kids by Myla Pilao Now that the fall has sprung, children of all ages have returned to school for the new year. The use of digital technology and the Internet is a normal part of life for children now, at home — but increasingly in school as well. And while long-term trends had already formed, the COVID-19 pandemic saw such changes go into overdrive, with children across Canada spending an average of six hours a day of screen time every day, and some children even spending up to 13 hours per day on screens.     Life in front of a screen According to a recent survey, two-thirds of parents allow their children to use the Internet independently, and over 70 percent have admitted to their children engaging in risky online behaviour. With the increasing daily use of digital technology, it's critical for parents to integrate digital literacy and cyber hygiene into their child’s learning process. The Internet is a powerful tool offering a multitude of positive benefits, but it also has its risks. It is up to individuals to practice safe browsing habits that protect them and their families from malicious actors. This will enable them to enjoy all the positive opportunities that the Internet has to offer. To help improve kids’ safety and awareness online, Trend Micro, a global cybersecurity solutions company, launched the Cyber Academy, which offers 7–10-year-olds a series of video-based lessons and learning materials designed to upgrade children’s digital literacy skills in a way that’s meaningful and engaging. The Cyber Academy consists of Internet safety lessons that focus on passwords, two-factor authentication, security and privacy among others. These free 10-15 minute lessons can be delivered on-demand and are available to teachers in the classroom or a guardian at home. This tool is also available in eleven different languages including Czech, Deutsch, Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Chinese and Arabic. Trend Micro’s Myla Pilao, Director of Technology Marketing and an avid advocate for the safety of children online, has shared a few tips for parents to keep in mind:   Have conversations about online safety in today’s digital world Encourage your kids to ask questions. Make them feel safe to share if someone or something online makes them feel uncomfortable   Practice Digital Empathy teaching kids to be kind to others online and offline is essential. Respecting others’ boundaries and privacy will make them recognize when someone is trespassing on theirs.   Teach children about privacy and password

Virgin River's Jenny Cooper on Juggling Motherhood with Acting by Arianne Granada     You might see her as a familiar face on television. Jenny Cooper has played prominent roles in crowd-favourite shows like Grey's Anatomy, Open Heart, 24, Law and Order True Crime: The Menedez Murders, Scandal, NCIS, and CSI: Miami. Currently, she is starring as Joey Barnes in the Netflix series Virgin River, which is based on the long-running series of novels by New York Times bestseller Robyn Carr. When she's not starring on Virgin River, Jenny Cooper is raising her three kids in Los Angeles with her husband. We had the chance to talk to Jenny about how she balances work and family life, and she gave us some pretty insightful tips for anyone else trying to figure out how to do it all.   Tell us a bit about your character in Virgin River.  Joey is Mel's older, protective sister who, when the series started, seemed like she had it all together and was there mostly to support Mel. But we have seen through subsequent seasons that she was hiding a lot from her sister, including the state of her marriage.    Virgin River has tackled issues like postpartum depression, cancer, sexual assault, pregnancies at an older age, grief, and domestic violence that many women and parents could relate to. Do you think this openness and honesty to real-life situations contributed to the show’s success?     It's so hard to say what contributes to any show's success or failure. In our case, it feels like it was the right show at the right time. There's so much unrest in the world right now, I think our audience wants to believe that a place like Virgin River actually exists, with people who are kind and generous towards one another. And it seems like the larger issues that are tackled in the show work in part because of the beautiful performances of the cast, because of the love people have for these characters, and, as you said, because many of us have experienced these kinds of challenges, so it's always inspiring to see someone work through a dark time and come out on the other side.   Joey is Mel’s sister and go-to person for advice. What can you say about their sisterly love and how do you think they maintain their strong bond despite their distance? I think they have the kind of relationship where they are always at the forefront of each

7 Ways to Combat Mental Health Problems in Teen Boys by Arianne Granada     Talking about mental health with teen boys may be especially tricky because of their age and the way their brains are developing—especially if they're in the middle of a growth spurt. Unlike girls, who tend to talk about their emotions and ask for help, boys are often uncomfortable with these types of conversations because society makes it seem emotionally risky to demonstrate vulnerability. As parents, it is important that we help our teen boys to speak up about mental health issues. We should encourage them to talk to a friend or family member about their feelings and emotional issues ranging from stress at home and school to depression or anxiety. We chatted with Cassandra Simms, a psychiatrist who specializes in an all-boys residential treatment program at Embark Behavioral Health based in Chandler, Arizona, about how to help young men navigate through life with self-awareness and confidence.   #1 Unlearn the stigma  Mental health is still pretty taboo. We’re getting better about it, but for a long time, there has been a stigma around it being something to be ashamed of. This is often transferred down to our boys in society; they think they're weak if they aren't tough and don’t express their feelings. So it's important that we, as adults, don't make them feel ashamed of their emotions. Allowing them to express themselves encourages mental health awareness and makes a big difference in the long run.   Understanding their language Sometimes the kid you’re talking to is just going to be defiant, or they’re going to be resistant to saying anything or they just shut down. Regardless of how long it takes, make sure you let them know you still want to talk to them. They'll realize that pushing away isn't working, and that makes you gain their trust that you're not going to abandon them despite their behaviour. Make sure that you pass that first wall so you can make it to the other side. Using their words when they talk about mental health issues is important so that they know you listen rather than using something you learned from a textbook. I had a young patient who was a baseball player once who described depression as a water-logged ball. As we would talk about it, I would ask “How are you feeling, how’s that ball? Is it water-logged or not?" Because it gives you an idea of

6 Reasons to Visit Mexico’s Marvellous Yucatán State By Rosalind Stefanac   A recent trip to Yucatán State proved that there's so much more to Mexico than sandy beaches and ocean views. In fact, venturing inland on the southeastern Yucatán peninsula revealed so many historic gems, along with scenic retreats that offered a blissful escape from crowds and the hustle of everyday life. In planning your next adventure down south with your tween, teen or solo, here are six reasons to put Yucatán on your radar:     Cenotes are so cool These nature-made, deep-water wells (or sinkholes), surrounded by rock formations, date back thousands of years. They're filled with fresh water fed by rain and underground currents. Most of Mexico’s more than 6,000 cenotes can be found in the Yucatán peninsula. At the Zazil Tunich in Valladolid, you descend 20 metres down into a cavern to reach the cenote where you can swim in the refreshing waters (average temperature 75-degrees Fahrenheit). Here you can opt for a guided tour that includes a traditional Mayan purification ceremony. It’s magical!   It’s Taco Tuesday every day!   All that swimming in cenotes is sure to spark your appetite. Luckily Yucatán is home to some of the best tacos on the planet — at least in my opinion. Be sure to try the cochinita pibil (shredded pork shoulder or loin), a popular taco filling in the region. They usually serve it with lettuce, pickled red onion, tomatoes, avocado and habanero chilli. At the Kinich in Isamal, you can even watch the staff hand-roll fresh tortillas before your very eyes. It doesn’t get fresher than this.   You can be one with nature (literally)   At the high-end Oriundo Luxury Nature Villas, which opened this June in Valladolid, every detail in the guest rooms has been designed to harmonize with the surrounding jungle. Not only are the materials all natural but you’ll find trees growing throughout the indoor space, and plenty of windows overlooking the lush green foliage. If you’re on a tighter budget, the area has plenty of haciendas with accommodations surrounded by lovely outdoor spaces ideal for nature exploring.   The architecture is awesome   In Merida, Yucatán’s pedestrian-friendly capital city, you'll find colonial history evident in most of the colourful and lovingly restored mansions, many of which are open to tourists. I took a guided tour of the stunning El Minaret, which was built in 1908, and is also known as the watchtower of Merida’s centre. Aim to be there