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Teens and Tech

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

19 Gifts for Every Family Member: The Ultimate Gift Guide By Arianne Granada   Are you having trouble finding gifts for the whole family? We don't blame you. There are a lot of people in your life that deserve to get a gift this holiday season. While we're sure they'd all love an extra pair of socks or another shirt, it's also important to give them something they'll remember and enjoy for years to come. Here are some great choices:   Tissot Bellissima Small Lady Whether your mom is an artist or a businesswoman, a classic watch will always be in style — and this one from Tissot is no exception. The Bellissima Small Lady features an elegant design with a timeless rose gold finish and a custom case back engraving for an extra personal touch. She’ll love its jewelry-like feel and versatility to wear with almost any outfit.   Everlast Yoga Essential Kit Have a sister that's new to yoga and wants to get fit? Maybe she's looking for a way to get in shape that's not expensive and time-consuming but offers benefits such as pain relief, reduced depression levels, and increased muscle mass? This Everlast Yoga Essential Kit might just be the perfect gift. The kit comes with three great tools: a cotton yoga strap; lightweight EVA foam bricks; and a non-slip mat with printed poses on it. The perfect gift for beginning yogis who want to build confidence in their practice as well as more advanced students who want something they can carry while travelling.   Tissot Gentleman Powermatic Open Heart Have you ever wanted to pamper your Dad with a luxury gift? Well, we’ve got the perfect classic and timeless (pun intended!) gift for him. Featuring a contemporary open-heart design, the Tissot Gentleman Powermatic Open Heart is an elegant watch. Its strong curved horns create a harmonious continuation of the watch, ensuring pleasant wear around the wrist. It is a stunning piece that dad will treasure for years to come.   Jack Black Refresh & Restore Set If you have an athletic brother who's always on the go and needs to start taking care of their skin, give them the Jack Black Refresh & Restore set. With a body & hair cleanser, body lotion, and face cleanser, this set meets all his daily care needs. These best-selling formulas provide him with everything he needs to look good, smell good, and feel good all day long.   Eilish Eau de Parfum 2-Piece Holiday Gift Set If you have

10 Ways to Have a Very Techy Christmas by Arianne Granada   Know that feeling when you receive a shiny new gadget for Christmas, and you can't wait to play around with it? Yeah, that's what we'll be like on the 25th.  So, whether it’s your teen who loves gaming, a friend who can never live without music, or even a grandparent that just wants to keep up with the trends—we got you covered!    Acer 317 Chromebook A Chromebook is a great laptop for families who want a simple, yet powerful laptop to use at home or on the go. An intuitive interface is designed to work well for both children and adults. Acer 317 Chromebook is definitely designed for multiple users. Despite being lightweight, this device still packs enough processing power to stream music and shop online without any issues when you're out and about. Using it is as easy as it gets. With built-in Google apps like Gmail, YouTube, and Maps, you don't need to install anything else.   Apple Watch SE If you're looking for the perfect gift for your fitness-crazy teen, it can be tricky. With so many options, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Thankfully, there's one perfect gift: an Apple watch! The new generation of Apple Watch SE continues to deliver the core Apple Watch experience, all at a more affordable price. It includes health and safety features like Activity tracking, high and low heart rate notifications, Emergency SOS and all-new Crash Detection. Powered by watchOS 9, Apple Watch SE delivers more than ever before. Available in midnight, starlight or silver—or even pink!—this is sure to be their favourite Christmas present this year!   Lenovo Duet 5 Now, this little gem is a great option for anyone who wants to share their favourite tablet games with their grandkids. Its touchscreen makes it a great way to play mobile games on a large screen. The effortless navigation also makes it easy to use. This ultra-thin model—with its 13.3’ lightweight display—also makes it easy to carry this laptop anywhere! Whether your grandparent wants to receive and view photos of their grandchildren or watch the news, this Lenovo laptop ensures a bright and clear image wherever they may be.   iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus Christmas is the perfect time to reward your hardworking teen. And we have the perfect gift idea: iPhone 14 Plus! Any teenager will be impressed with the features of this phone because it is the latest and greatest from

4 Fun Winter Advent Calendar Ideas for the Family by Rachel Naud   The cold, dreary days of winter may be coming soon, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! Here are some ideas for your family's winter advent calendar that will keep you and yours entertained!   Guides for Managing Finances With the holidays coming up—and the cost of everything going up—now is a good time to have a talk with your teen about finances. Have a teen that is at that age where they don’t have a job but seems to have expensive taste? Teach them about financial literacy and how to manage their money!      The SideKick Mastercard from Hero Financials is a reliable tool that helps tweens and teens understand and manage money efficiently and effectively. No need to set your kids up with a new bank account, you just sign up at herofinancials.com and you can load money on it and use the budgeting tool to divide the money between pre-created categories: general, living expenses, eating out, travel, shopping, and fun which will help your kids budget for what is most important to them. There’s actually a cash-back promotion on the site right now (sign up for Hero's annual plan and get $50 cash back plus a free upgrade after your first load!), which is super cool and the card can be used anywhere a prepaid Mastercard is accepted–in-store or online.   Hot Meals for Cozy Nights Is there anything better than cooking a delicious, hot meal on a cold, snowy night? Here’s an idea: get your teen involved and celebrate Pizza Fridays! It's so easy to make, and when you use good-quality ingredients, it makes for a great pizza!      To make the sauce, use Mutti tomatoes—it’s fresh just like a summer tomato, even though outside the snow may be flying! Made with 100% Italian tomatoes, this sauce makes for a simple, yet absolutely delicious meal. Fun fact! Some tomatoes are better for certain recipes and to pick the best one for your recipe, Mutti has come up with a handy guide to bring your recipe to the next level—check it out on muttipolpa.ca.      Games for Game Nights When the weather turns cold, don’t you just like to heat up the competition with a family game night? Your family will absolutely love the Nintendo Switch OLED Model because it has a 7-inch screen and the colours and graphics are even more vibrant. With the Mario Kart 8

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