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Teens and Tech

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

Back-to-School Survival Kit by Rachel Naud   It's back-to-school time!  Teens everywhere may be dreading the start of another year, but we've got some good news: it's easier than ever to make your teen's back-to-school experience enjoyable! Check out our list of essential items that will help make the transition into the new school year easier for both you and them.   For Taking Notes   Remember during university days and not wanting to write or jot notes in your textbooks so you could keep them pristine and sell them afterwards? Post-it® Notes are perfect for this job! They are handy for making study notes as well as jotting down quick ideas and tasks to help keep you organized.     These Post-it® Super Sticky Notes have two times the sticking power compared to the original Post-it® Notes. They’ll not only stick to most flat surfaces but also come off easily and cleanly! And, of course, who doesn’t love the fun new colours they’ve launched this year?    For Scratch-Free Dorm Rooms     If you have a university student moving into a dorm, they’ll want to keep Scotch® Wall-Safe Tape on hand. In most dorms, you're not allowed to nail anything to the walls. This tape is ideal for displaying posters, photos, and more. As an added bonus, Scotch® Magic™ Tape is invisible, which makes it perfect for school projects, crafts, or simply mending torn pages!    For Managing Finances   Does your teen have expensive taste and you want to teach them how to effectively manage their money? Get them started with Hero Financials and teach them financial literacy. It’s a reliable tool that helps tweens and teens understand and manage money efficiently and effectively. Your kids don't need a new bank account! Just sign up at herofinancials.com, and you can load money on it and use a variety of features, including a budgeting tool, recurring allowances, and block lists, to help them budget for what matters most to them. It comes with a physical SideKick Mastercard, which can be used anywhere a prepaid Mastercard is accepted in-store or online. Hero has some incentives going on at the moment for new signups, so make sure to visit Hero Financials to check it out.     For Easy Organization     Want to teach your teen the art of time management? The Echo Show 15 has widgets that are Alexa-powered to help keep your teen on track with shared calendars, personal sticky notes, to-do lists, shopping lists, and assigned reminders. Not only that, but they

Video Games for Teens: Our Top 5 Picks of Each Console By Arianne Mae Granada noob no more—ever wondered about what video game is the best fit for your teen? With the pandemic forcing us to stay cooped up inside, adults and teens alike have reached for their gaming consoles for some sense of escape. This caused the gaming industry to witness massive growth during the past two years. Video games have always been part of a teen’s life — but not all video games are created equal. Some are tailored to certain gaming consoles to provide your teens with a more unique experience. Whether your teen has developed an interest in world-building games or he/she gravitates towards fantasy action adventures, there will always be a video game suited for your teen gamer’s taste and platform. Spare them the video game talk and don’t even sweat about the research because we’ve rounded up our top picks of video games for teens. #1 Sony PlayStation Video Games Game title: Spider-Man: Miles Morales Available in: PS4 and PS5 Age restrictions: 13 and up Game description: Inspired by the 2018 animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, this action-adventure game is about teenager Miles Morales following the footsteps of his mentor, Peter Parker, into becoming his very own Spider-Man. With trouble underway in his hometown, Harlem, it’s up to you (or your teen, rather) to save the neighbourhood! Spider-Man: Miles Morales is another fine addition to the plethora of superhero games that are making a resurgence in the past few years. This one is guaranteed to tickle that web-swinging itch. #2 Xbox Series X Video Games Game title: Halo Infinite Age restrictions: 13 and up Game description: The latest installment in Master Chief’s saga has been nothing short of mind-blowing. Taking place well after the events of Halo 5: Guardians, Halo Infinite aims to end the informal “Reclaimer Trilogy” in style. Halo Infinite has brought back nostalgia adorned with all the newest bells and whistles. Open world Halo? Yes, please. #3 Nintendo Switch Games Game title: Ring Fit Adventure Age restrictions: 7 and up Game description: Work up a sweat while traversing various dungeons to defeat the bodybuilding dragon named Dragaux. This exercise role-playing game makes use of real physical activities using a Ring-Con Accessory that senses the player’s movements. Think it’s time for your teen to get moving? This game may just be it. #4 PC Games Game title: The Sims 4 Age restrictions: 12 and up Game description: This timeless classic has only gotten

10 Ways to Keep Your Teen Safe on Social Media Kids are spending more and more time on social media these days. With that comes potential dangers like cyberbullying, exposure to questionable material and increased screentime. It’s not that social media needs to be off-limits to kids and teenagers, but there definitely needs to be some parental supervision and guidelines set to ensure your kids are staying safe. How can parents best achieve this? Dr. Fumi Stephanie Hancock, PsychDNP, is the CEO of POB Psychiatric Health and a bestselling author of 24 self-help books. She says nowadays in her practice, more parents are expressing concerns to her about the impact of social media on their children’s mental health. So, what can parents do? Dr. Hancock offers these 10 tips. Keep it in Perspective It can be tough for all of us when we compare ourselves to others. This is especially true for children and teens. At this critical and impressionable age, many young people feel devastated because they don’t feel that they measure up with others. Social media can magnify this feeling. Not only are they seeing the wonderful things that people they know are doing, but also seeing kids the same age from around the entire world seemingly living thrilling lives of adventure. Make sure that you help put all of this into perspective. First, everyone is different and individual. You can only be yourself and being yourself is awesome! Second, what you are seeing online is usually not anything like real life. You might be seeing one photo taken completely out of context with filters and maybe even photoshopped backgrounds. An online photo reveals nothing about how happy that person is or what problems they may have. Learn to regard social media as little more than a pleasant distraction, not the standard that everyone should live by. Practice What You Preach If you don’t want your kids to become overly involved with social media, start by setting a good example. Even if you are the last one to know, kids emulate their parents. If they see you on your phone for hours at a time or if you always need to keep your followers up to date on every action you take, don’t be surprised if your children want to follow in your footsteps. Be the Guardian at the Gate Trust is important for families, but there are too many threats online to simply take your children’s word for

Online Resource Helps Parents Talk to Kids about Digital Safety Thorn, a technology non-profit dedicated to defending children from online sexual exploitation, launched Thorn for Parents to help parents have earlier, more frequent and judgment-free conversations with kids about digital safety. The need for these conversations is more critical than ever as kids grow up online, which impacts how they experience transformational phases like puberty and what normative sexual exploration looks like. Thorn’s research shows that digital safety conversations need to start much younger than parents might think, between the ages of seven and nine. Thorn for Parents includes resources, discussion guides, and recommended timelines to help parents address these serious issues in an approachable, digestible, and supportive way. “Kids are growing up online and digital safety is a huge issue. Thorn for Parents will guide parents through these essential conversations by offering topics, conversation starters, timelines and more,” said Thorn Co-Founder Ashton Kutcher. “Developmental behaviours coupled with constant connectivity can be dangerous. We have to educate our kids to keep them safe.” Thorn spent the past three years understanding how kids themselves feel about these issues and what motivates their online behaviors. Thorn developed Thorn for Parents after surveying thousands of youth and parents, and identifying several important findings that all caregivers need to know: Kids report being asked for nudes by strangers online as young as nine years old. Many kids are having online sexual interactions with peers and adults at almost the same rates, and 40% of kids ages 13-17 agreed that “it’s normal for people my age to share nudes with each other.” As many as 1 in 5 nine-to-12-year-olds (26% of girls and 27% of boys) report having had an online sexual interaction where they were asked to send nudes of themselves, “go on cam,” sent sexual messages, or had nudes of an adult or other children shared with them. Online interactions have different boundaries for kids. Children are regularly connecting with people they know only online through mutual friends, shared interests and games — and they don’t consider them strangers. Among kids that had shared nudes, research shows that nearly 40% had shared them with someone they had never met offline. Additionally, 25% of kids report they had experienced a sexual interaction online with someone they believed to be an adult, and these numbers are even higher among vulnerable groups like LGBTQ+ at 32%. Shame is the biggest obstacle to seeking help. Kids are hesitant to disclose online sexual interactions with parents or other trusted adults, especially when the experience was someone they thought was an adult. According to Thorn’s research, while

I Found Porn on my Teen’s Phone and Handled it All Wrong I made a deal with my 13-year-old son. He could have Instagram but ONLY if it was also attached to my phone so I could see what he was sending and receiving. Yes, his account was private, but having his profile on my phone also allowed me to keep tabs on randos trying to add him or inappropriate accounts sending him messages. At times, having his account on my phone was overwhelming. Do you know how many messages teens send per day?! But, still, having access to the messages-by-the-minute gave me peace of mind that he was being safe online and acting appropriately with his friends online. One day, in one of his group chats with three other boys in his class, in the middle of their conversation about basketball and the Playstation game du jour, there it was. A screenshot from PornHub! One of his buddies had sent it in between “Do we have pool tomorrow?” and “Want to play basketball after school?” I’m pretty sure when I saw the picture, I gasped out loud. I was shocked and disgusted. Who was this punk sending naked pictures of women in, may I add, unattainable positions? My knee-jerk reaction was to shut the whole thing down. That’s it. I was going to delete his social media account, take away his iPad, buy him a fleecy onesie and force him to watch the Disney Channel with me 24/7. And then I noticed something else a bit disturbing. A seemingly non-reaction from my son. Had he seen this stuff before? Why wasn’t he as shocked as I was that his friend had sent this image over. He didn’t even acknowledge the image, which I saw as maybe good and bad. Good that he didn’t want to bring focus to it in their conversation and bad because…. why wasn’t he surprised?! So, I handed the message over to my husband because I just thought ‘he’s a guy and he could give me a penis-centric POV.’ Was this just a case of boys being boys? My husband tried to reassure me that it was just a normal part of boyhood and told tales of him sneaking Playboys under his mattress or something similar in his teenage years. So, for the next couple of days, I decided to bury my head in the sand and pretend like nothing happened as I

How to Create Consequences with Your Teen   By Delaney Ruston, MD Originally appeared on Screenagers Tech Talk Tuesday blog In a recent blog, I wrote about how to effectively say “no” around screen time and I promised to write more about accountability and consequences when rules are broken. Enforcing rules is by far one of the hardest things we do as parents, especially with teens. There is so little written that gives example consequences and yet getting ideas is so important as a parent. So, after you read this, share what you do in the comments section below — that would be a real gift. Knowing I would write this tonight, I decided to clarify with my daughter, Tessa (who is in Screenagers — and now in 11th grade), the consequences regarding the rules (that she helped create) around screen time at night. Sunday through Thursday night, at a time we agreed upon she hands my husband or me her phone, or she or she plugs it in to charge in the corner of my bedroom. The rule includes not using her computer for socializing after that time as well — i.e. no instant messaging or Instagram on the computer. I asked her for ideas for consequences if she did not turn in the phone at the agreed upon time. Her first one was that if she breaks the rule, she would not have access to her phone for the entire following day. I responded “really?” — with a tone that implied that maybe that would be too harsh. And then, she quickly came up with something a little less harsh, “I can’t bring it to school the next day.”  We agreed that made sense. Next, we started brainstorming ways she would succeed with the rule. I asked if she thought it would help her to put an alarm on her phone for the time that she is supposed to put it in my room. She said, “Yep, that makes sense, I will set it for five minutes before to help remind me.” Setting fair consequences, that our youth help set (when possible), is a gift we give our children. It is a lot easier to “check out” and just let kids and teens sort out for themselves what, when and how long they want to use screens. But, of course, that is not the solution. Frankly, that approach would prevent many kids from reaching short- and

5 Ways to Get Festive with the HP Sprocket Printer The HP Sprocket Printer is one of the season’s hottest gifts for teens. And, while it’s perfect for printing photos and sharing with friends, there is more you can do with the HP Sprocket Printer than just print and share photos.  For the ultimate in festive fun, here is 5 ways you can spread the holiday cheer with your HP Sprocket Printer. Sweet Treats. If you’re gifting a jar of your famous shortbread or Christmas bark to friends and family, use your HP Printer Sprocket to make a very personal label! Maybe it’s a picture of your bestie enjoying your treats? Or perhaps it’s a snapshot of the two of you together? Either way, they’ll be sure to love the package as much as what is inside. String it up. Whether you’re decorating for a party or want to add some flair to your bedroom, the HP Sprocket LED String Light Clips lets you deck your halls with memories of friends and family throughout the holidays! Throughout the year, you can swap out the photos each season! Put together a holiday bullet journal. Bullet journals are the latest trend wherein practicality meets creativity. Part To-Do Lists, Part Planner and Part Diary, these all-in-one organizers are ideal for keeping your tasks on track while writing down your deepest thoughts or sharing life’s happy moments.  A reminder of an upcoming New Year’s Eve party can be heightened with photos printed from your HP Sprocket Printer of all the fun you had at the party once you get home! Map it out. Are you travelling over the holidays? Tape a map to your wall and print out photos from your journeys. Dot the map with memories of skiing in the West Coast or sipping frosty mocktails poolside in Cancun. Better than any passport stamp, your HP Sprocket Printer photos will brighten your map while taking you down memory lane every time you look at it. Tag. You’re it. Need a creative tag to put on a hostess gift? Or meeting up to exchange gifts with friends on Boxing Day? Instead of sticking a generic tag on a present, print out a photo of the two of you and attach it to the gift for a personalized festive touch.

5 Last-Minute Christmas Gifts for Your Teen by Rachel Naud     Teens can be the trickiest people to buy for because they can also be the pickiest! With trends, coming and going every day, finding that perfect gift can be daunting. But don’t worry. Rachel Naud, the editor of INBETWEEN magazine, has got you covered with a selection of gifts any teen would love to receive this Christmas.   New England Patriots Toque, $27.99, nflshop.ca     The perfect stocking stuffer, this New England Patriots toque will keep their heads warm this winter while letting them show their pride for their favourite team!   2nd Edition HP Sprocket Printer, $159.99, hp.ca If your teen is into tech and loves to take selfies and photos with their friends (basically every teen out there!), you’ll win major cool parent points with this 2nd Edition HP Sprocket Printer. It’s about the size of a cell phone, so they can take it with them when they’re hanging out with their friends, and up to three devices can connect to one printer so they can all get in on the fun when they’re all together! Once connected with the app, they can have fun customizing their photos with colourful filters, frames, text and stickers! Afterward, they can also use the pint-size pictures to decorate their spaces or share with friends and spread some holiday cheer.   Dermalogica Smooth Skin Favourites, $47, dermalogica.ca     The teenage years are an ideal time to get into a skincare routine because it sets them up to learn how to properly care for their skin, which is especially important when they’re often going through hormonal changes that can cause acne. And during the winter, when the weather is dry and cold, you want to really pamper your skin, which is why this Dermalogica Gift Set is great. It includes everything they will need to cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate their skin and give them a glowing complexion for the New Year!   Hidden Gems Bath Bomb, $49.99, shopatshowcase.com     Being a teen is stressful and taking hot baths is a great way to de-stress and more importantly unplug! While every teen knows about bath bombs, these Hidden Gems are extra special! Inside they’ll find an extra special surprise — a piece of jewelry! And the really fun part about it? The jewelry inside can be worth up to $5,000!   E310 Explorian Series Vitamix, $419.95, vitamix.ca     This gift is perfect for that athletic teen that is always up early and out the door

How Instagram Led to one Tween's Passion Project My tween helped both of us to find inspiration through Instagram. It all started when Penny got an iPhone. My stepdaughter was nine at the time, which may seem young for a phone of any kind, but my husband and I had decided, back when she was eight, to start her with a BlackBerry Bold, as a way to keep in touch with her when she wasn’t with us. The BlackBerry Bold 9900 debuted in 2011; getting one in 2016 is not exactly a tween’s dream. Its only purpose is for talking. Texting is nearly impossible and forget about apps or games. So there was no real worry about her spending too much time on it. When she was at her mom’s house she could call us to say good morning and we could call her to say goodnight. She said “Thanks” with very little enthusiasm when we gave it to her for her birthday. My stepson, who is two years older, had about the same level of enthusiasm when he got a similar BlackBerry Bold when he turned eight. But she knew the drill. Don’t lose or break the retro phone, and when you’re nine you’ll get upgraded. And she did it. So a year-and-a-half later she scored my old iPhone 5S in rose gold. And with it, she had access to the world of Instagram, Snapchat and every other app out there. Within minutes she asked if she could get an Instagram account. Initially, we said no. We were already aware of our friends’ opinions about our decision to allow our kids to have phones so young, and we were conscious of the pressure it can put on other parents when their kids come home from school saying that other kids in their class have phones. Trust me, I get it. And if my stepkids lived with us full-time, we definitely wouldn’t give them phones. My son, who is four, is certainly not getting a phone when he’s seven, or eight, or nine, or even 10. But if you are divorced, and even a day goes by where you don’t see your kids, then you get it. The phone was our lifeline to Penny. But the apps? That, we weren’t sure about. And yet, neither of us wanted to ban it. I follow the theory of “everything in moderation” in both my own life and parenting and social