Wednesday, June 4, 2014

TEEN TRENDS: 7 Dangerous Apps Your Tween/Teen May Have On His/Her Phone

If you have been following the news this week, I'm sure you have seen the disturbing story of how two 12-year-old girls stabbed their "friend" nineteen times...all to impress a website character called "Slender Man".  12-years-old!!! 
I have never heard of "Slender Man" or the website, creepypasta, which is where the two girls say they learned of the fictional character, who they believed to be real.  (My oldest daughter, Hollie, says that "Slender Man" is a game. She demonstrated it to me, and as an adult, I don't get it.)  Here is a picture of "Slender Man".

This tragic incident, fictional character, and website got me to thinking:  "how many other potentially dangerous websites/apps are our tweens/teens visiting that we know nothing about?" After doing some research, I came across an article on checkup daily concerning seven dangerous apps that parents need to be aware of:
  1. Yik Yak – This App is new and considered one of the most dangerous apps, because it allows users to post text-only Yaks of up to 200 characters. The messages can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking. Users are exposed to – and contributing - sexually explicit content, abusive language, and personal attacks so severe that schools are starting to block the App on their Wi-Fi. Although the posts are anonymous, tweens/teens start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users.  The GPS tracking makes it easier for sexual predators to locate potential victims.
  2. SnapChat – This App allows users to send photos that will disappear after ten seconds. Once the recipient opens the picture, the timer starts. Then it’s gone from both the sender's phone and the recipient’s phone. However, the recipient can take a screen shot of the photo and have it to share with others. This App enables tweens/teens to feel more comfortable “sexting” with peers.
  3. KiK Messenger – This is a private messenger app and is used by those under eighteen. The App allows tweens/teens to send private messages that their parents can’t see. There is very little you can do to verify the identity of someone on KiK, which poses the risk of sexual predators chatting with your child. And again, this is an easy tool for sexting.  
  4. Poof –The Poof App allows users to make Apps disappear on their phone with one touch. Tweens/teens can hide every app they don’t want you to see on their phone. All they have to do is open the App and select the ones they don’t want you to see. Very scary! The good news is it is no longer available, which isn't uncommon for these types of Apps. But, if it was downloaded before it was deleted from the App store, your child may still have it, and  there are similar ones being created constantly. Some other names include: Hidden Apps, App Lock, and Hide It Pro.  
  5. Omegle – This App has been around since 2008, with video chat added in 2009.  When you use Omegle, you do not identify yourself through the service – chat participants are only identified as “You” and “Stranger”. You don't have to register for the App. However, you can connect Omegle to your Facebook account to find chat partners with similar interests.  When choosing this feature, an Omegle Facebook App will receive your Facebook “likes” and try to match you with a stranger with similar likes. There is a high risk for sexual predators, and you don’t want your tweens/teens giving out their personal information, much less even talking to strangers.  
  6. Whisper – This is a meeting App that encourages users to post secrets. You post anonymously, but it displays the area you are posting from. You can search for users posting within a mile from you. A quick look at the App, and you can see that online relationships are forming constantly on this App, but you never know the person behind the computer or phone. (One man in Washington was convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl he met on this App just last year.)  
  7. Down – This application, which used to be called “Bang with Friends,” is connected to Facebook. Users can categorize their Facebook friends in one of two ways: they can indicate whether or not a friend is someone they'd like to hang with or someone they are "down" to hook up with. The slogan for the App: “The anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night.” Again, this is scary.
As parents, it seems we can never let our guard down, because there is always something (App, website, etc.) that grabs our children's attention.  That is why, as I've said before, we have to regularly check our tween/teen's cellphone (and computer/laptop/tablet or other device) to see what Apps/websites they are visiting. 
"Please note: You can turn location services or GPS off on cell phones by going in to the device settings. This will keep the Apps and photos from posting the exact location or whereabouts of the phone user."
How often do you check your tween/teen's phone or other device?  Comment below! 

*As written by Kristin Peaks, Senior Digital & Social Media specialist at Cook Children’s

Monday, February 10, 2014


Oh my! I didn't realize how long it has been since I last posted.  I finally graduated in April 2013.  I started my new teaching job in August 2013.  I am now teaching special education, K-2, which I love.  One thing I never knew about teaching, though, was how tiring it can be.  I usually get to school between 6:30 - 6:45 and I leave anywhere between 3:30 - 3:45, plus all the planning I do at home.

I also have a new granddaughter, Audrey Rose, who is now four-months-old.  I love being a "nana", but it does take up a lot of my free time, as they are currently living with me, but I love having them.

Now for the question at hand..."am I pretty or am I ugly?"  If you search YouTube, there are hundreds of very young girls, some as young as eight-years-old, asking YouTubers this question.  And my question is, "why are girls so young worried about how they look?"

(This video was posted two years ago, but there were videos that had been posted just three hours before I started searching.)  I watched several of these videos, and some of these girls look really sad, because they believe that they are ugly...and they are so young.

Another thing I must ask is, "where are the parents?" and "do they know their young daughters are posting videos on YouTube?"

I think it is sad that so much emphasis has been placed on "looks", and Hollywood has sexualized girls.  Young girls are bombarded with these images every day, it is no wonder they question how they look. 

I think every mother, who has a daughter, needs to show her the following video.


What do you think about young girls going on YouTube to ask the question, "am I pretty or am I ugly"?


Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last posted on my blog, but I have started a new career...I am now a special education teacher for K-2, and I am excited and nervous.  So, I have spent the summer months planning and planning, and since this is my first year, I have probably over-planned (if that is possible), so several parts of my life have been blog and my house cleaning :)  Since, it is time for school, I thought this former post is very important for parents to read...

August signals back-to-school.  A time for shopping for new clothes, new shoes, and tackling that long supply list.  But, after all the shopping is completed and the book-bag is packed and ready to go, if you are a parent of a tween  or teen, there is an important conversation you need to have with your teen before he/she hops on that school bus (or drives off to school).

Peer pressure is *"social pressure from members of your group to accept certain beliefs or act in certain ways in order to be accepted". Peer pressure can start in early childhood and increases in grade school, but tweens and teens are more susceptible to peer pressure.

Peer pressure is the one thing all teens have in common. It is a fact of life. *"It's normal for teens to want to fit in with others their age, whether through wearing the same clothing, listening to the same music, having the same interests or doing the same things. Being the same helps them feel like they belong to a group and are accepted." This is normal behavior. Everyone (even adults) want to fit in and feel accepted.  But, what is your teen willing to do to be accepted?

All parents worry about their teen being pressured to smoke, drink alcohol, take drugs or have sex, but peer pressure can take on many different forms, both spoken and unspoken, including pressure to:
  • Dress in a certain way
  • Listen to certain music
  • Cut classes
  • Cheat
  • Shoplift
  • Get involved in criminal activities
  • Join a gang 
  • Bully others

There are certain personality traits that make a teen more prone to give in to peer pressure.

  • Low self esteem
  • Lack of confidence
  • Poor academic performance
  • Feeling isolated from peers
  • Lack of strong ties to friends

  • Threaten to withhold friendship
  • Insults or name calling
  • Makes a teen feel he/she has to participate in order to be cool
  • Alienation from peer group
  • Bullying
  • Harassment

  • Develop a close relationship with your teen, so they feel they can come talk to you when they are being pressured to do something they know is wrong.
  • Encourage friendships with teens who have positive qualities.
  • Know where your teen is, who your teen is with, and what your teen is doing at all times.
  • Don't criticize your teen's friends.  Make an effort to get to know their friends, invite them to your house, let your house be the teen "hangout" spot.
  • Teach assertiveness - how to stand up to others.
  • Provide discipline when appropriate, but avoid lecturing (a big turnoff for teenagers), limit privileges instead. As I have always said, the punishment should fit the crime, and always let your teen know why they are being disciplined.
  • Encourage individuality and independence.
  • Have clear expectations and talk about these expectations with your teen.  Talk about the issues of drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.  Studies show that teenagers who talk with their parents about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse and other risky behavior are less likely to participate in these activities. 
  • Be involved in your teen's life; go to ballgames, dance recitals, etc.  Teenagers who have a good relationship with their parents are less likely to submit to peer pressure.
  • Pick your battles - So, you really don't like the music your teen is listening to, but if he/she is doing well in school and is not displaying defiant behavior, then what he/she listens to is really not worth an argument.  *"Your teen will be more willing to listen when it really matters if you avoid nit-picking when it doesn't."
  • Role play - practice different responses to various situations.

  • Say "no" and leave
  • Ignore the person and walk away 
  • Say you're not allowed
  • Give reasons why you can't
  • Give reasons why it is a dumb idea
  • Go hangout with someone else
  • Help your teen figure out where he/she stands on key issues, such as drugs, alcohol, and sex.  If they are prepared beforehand, they will be better able to withstand the peer pressure.
  • Tell your teen to never be afraid to speak up and let others know they have crossed the boundaries.  Again, role play.
Below is a link to a quiz that helps you "role play" with your teen and will help them think through the answers they should give when faced with tough issues: 
*QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEEN: (in a non-confrontational manner - think casual conversation)

  • Which kind of pressure is hardest for you to resist?
  • How can you prepare yourself for these situations?
  • Is it harder to resist friends or people you don't know?
  • Have you ever tried to pressure a friend? Why?
  • Would you risk losing a friend over something you felt strongly about?
  • What consequences are you thinking of when someone tries to pressure you?

  • Age 13 is the common age for first drink of alcohol.
  • In the year 2000, according to the NHSDA, an estimated 46 million teens, age 12 and older, were binge drinkers.
  • In the year 2000, more than 2 million teens, age 12 to 17, reported using inhalants at least once in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 6 teens have been approached by someone selling drugs.
  • According to NHSDA, 2.7 million teens, age 12 to 17, reported that most or all of their friends used marijuana.
  • Approximately 30.2% of teens are given, offered or sold drugs in middle school and high school.
  • The American Lung Association reports 3.1 million teens smoke.
  • Approximately 50% of teens, age 12 to 17, feel pressured to have sex.
  • The Alan Guttmache Institute reports that every year roughly 9 million new STD's occur among teens and young adults in the U.S.
  • The U.S. continues to have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world.
  •  *"In the United States, approximately three-fourths of all deaths among persons aged 10-24 years result from only four causes: motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide.  Results from the 1999 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey demonstrates that numerous high school students engage in behaviors that increase their likelihood of death from one of these four causes, including alcohol and illicit drug use.

Have you had this conversation with your tween/ teen?




Saturday, June 22, 2013



You talk to your tween/teen about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, smoking cigarettes, texting while driving.  You have probably even talked to your child about sex before marriage, unprotected sex, STD's, pregnancy, but have you talked to your tween/teen about human trafficking in America?

The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children.  More than 100,000 children in America are at risk of being sexually exploited each year.  Men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking, including brothels, massage parlors, street prostitution, hotel services, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, health and elder care, and domestic service.

You may be thinking, "not my child".  "She's a cheerleader."  "She's an honor's student."  "I don't have a daughter; I have a son."  It's time for parents to wake up, because it can happen to your child - daughter or son.   Having sex with a child is as easy as ordering a pizza.

HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?   "Many pimps/traffickers often use a “lover-boy” technique to recruit girls from middle and high schools. A lover-boy will present himself as a boyfriend and woo the girl with gifts, promises of fulfilled dreams, protection, adventure – whatever she perceives she is lacking. After securing her love and loyalty, he will force her into prostitution."

HOW IS SHE CHOSEN?  "Age is the primary factor of vulnerability. Pre-teen or adolescent girls (and boys) are more susceptible to the calculated advances, deception, and manipulation tactics used by traffickers/pimps – no youth is exempt from falling prey to these tactics. Traffickers target locations youth frequent such as schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes. Runaway or homeless youth, as well as those with a history of physical and sexual abuse, have an increased risk of being trafficked."

And you may be thinking, "why doesn't she just leave?"  Sharon Cohn Wu of International Justice Mission says, “It’s easy to rescue someone who wants to be rescued. These kids don’t want to be rescued.”  So you think, "why?"
  • Victims are told that traffickers/pimps are their daddies. They are now part of a new “family” that loves them and cares for them. Only the traffickers have their best interests at heart, they’re told; everyone else is against them, particularly law enforcement.
  • Traffickers lie to victims and threaten their families. “If you try to run, I’ll kill your mother. Or your little sister.”
  • Many victims are constantly drugged, further messing up their minds.  Add to that constant inhumane treatment and nightmare conditions, physical and mental abuse, threats (often carried out), and more.
  • Often victims don’t know what city, state, or even country they’re in because they’re moved around so often.
  • Many victims do not even realize they’re victims.
You can join Abolition International  during the month of July for 31 Days of Freedom to help raise awareness about the thousands of women and children, who are enslaved in America and other countries.
I am also hosting a give-away to help spread the word!  All you have to do to enter this give-away is write a post on your blog about human trafficking (it can be as short as a paragraph or two), or post on your Facebook page about Abolition International's 31 Days of Freedom with a link to their web page or tweet about 31 Days of Freedom.  Make sure to leave a link to your blog post, Facebook post or tweet in the comment section below. 
This give-away is not about me gaining followers on my blog, but about bringing awareness to the problem of human trafficking in America.

You will win a Freedom bracelet from Abolition International, plus a Freeset Tote Bag.  (These items can also be purchased here.)

Please join me in raising awareness about human trafficking in America.

Do you feel it is important to discuss human trafficking with your tween/teen?



Picture courtesy of:

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I hadn't realized that it has been almost a month since I last posted, but...what can I say?  Since my mother passed away, I haven't been excited about doing anything.  I did graduate on April 27...finally!!  I also have a job as a special education teacher starting August 1.
I decided to bring one of my older posts to the front line, because it is so important that parents talk to their teens (and I mean more than just a couple of minutes of asking "how was school today?")  If you still have little ones at home, I give tips on starting to talk to your child early. 
I promise I will start to work on other articles to post real soon :)

Talking with your teenager is one of the most important things you can do as a parent.  But, the thought of talking to their teen about sex, drugs, etc. sends some parents into hiding, leaving their teen to figure out these life situations on their own, which means they will more than likely look for answers elsewhere.  But, I'm here to tell you that you can talk to your teen about these issues, plus many more, and survive.

  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Premarital sex
  • Abstinence
  • Safe sex
  • Pregnancy
  • STD's
  • Cheating
  • Bullying
  • Racism/discrimination
  • Dating violence

- Start talking to your child when they are young.
       I started talking to my girls when they were around 3 or 4. I first started talking
       about cigarettes, because they are everywhere - TV, movies, out in public (age
       appropriate talk of course).  As they got older, I started talking about alcohol and
       then drugs.  The older they got, the more I talked.  (Of course, if you didn't start
       talking  to your teen when he/she was young, it is still never too late to start.)
- *"It's better...too much, too soon than too little, too late."
- If you start talking to your child about these issues when they are young, when they become
       teenagers and have questions, it will be second nature for them to come to you.
- Start talking (and demonstrating) to your child about your values, so they grow up knowing
       what you believe and what you expect.
- Ask questions.
       I know "who, what, when, where, why, and for how long" before my girls walk out the
       door.  (Hollie turned 20 in January, and I still ask her these questions.)
- Don't have one big talk, but have lots of small talks...while driving in the car, eating dinner,
       when you're out shopping. If you look for opportunities to talk to your teen, you'll find
       them.  Just be there. Your teen wants your guidance (even though they may not come
       right out and ask for it).  I even have little talks with my daughter's friends, because, it's
       sad to say, but their parents don't talk to them and they have questions.
- One of the most important things to remember is that no matter what you teen tells you or
       how bad the situation is, you cannot yell, cuss or freak out or your teen won't come
       to you again.  Hollie would usually come to me when I was watching a Lifetime Movie,
       and she would say, "momma, I did something I wasn't suppose to do", and I'd be
       thinking "Oh God".  I never knew what she was going to tell me.  Or she would write
       me a letter after I went to bed and leave it on my bathroom counter for me to see
       when I got up.  When I would see that piece of paper on my counter, I would first
       say a little prayer.  Now, April (who is 14) has started leaving me notes on my
       bathroom counter.  (But she is usually apologizing for being sassy.)  Hollie talks to
       her all the time about these teen issues, which has been very helpful.
- It is usually best to wait until the next day to talk to your teen about the situation,
       especially if it's bad.  This gives you time to calm down and think about what needs
       to be done.  Just calmly tell your teen, "we'll talk about this tomorrow", and always
       tell your teen that you love him/her no matter how upset you are.
- As I've said in an earlier post, when talking to your teen, that old saying "do as I say
       and not as I do" won't work.  Believe it or not, you are your teen's biggest role
- But, if you are talking to your teen, and he/she asks if you ever smoked pot, etc. and
       you did, don't lie and say you didn't.  Your teen needs you to be honest with them, and
       your smoking pot is not going to make your teen want to go out and do it.  Explain the
       negative effects it had on you, and explain why your teen shouldn't smoke, etc.  Just
       don't lie.
- According to, "because I said so" actually works when you are being pulled
       into a power struggle in a discipline situation.  You are the parent, and you have the
       final word.  But it is best if you explain your reasoning whenever possible.
- And please, be careful how you talk to your teen. Don't try to hurt or humiliate your teen.
       Hollie's dad thought calling her "fat" would make her want to lose weight or calling her
       "stupid" would make her want to study more. Talking to your teen like this will destroy
       him/her.  Hollie has had so many problems because of this abuse.  (See my post on
       Emotional Abuse.)  And as my mother always told me, "if you can't say anything nice,
       don't say anything at all".  Just walk away.
- During these conversations with your teen, be prepared for your teen to laugh  at you or
       think you're lame.  That's okay.  My girls laugh at me all the time (not in a
       disrespectful way), but the language has changed so much over the years. 
- *Look for clues that your teen needs to talk.  He/she will give hints, without coming right
       out and saying, "let's talk".
  • "You're too young to understand."
  • "If you say that again, I'll...."
  • "I don't care what your friends are doing."
  • "Don't come to me if you mess up."
Of course, a big part of talking to your teen is knowing how to listen.


- Stop what you are doing and give your full attention. 
- Look at your teen while talking.
- Don't judge, just listen.
- Sometimes all your teen needs is for you to listen.
Always make sure that your teen knows that  you will love him/her no matter what they do and that they can come to you at any time.

And again, please remember I am no expert.  These are just things I did as my girls were growing up, and while I'm sure they don't tell me everything, they know they can talk to me about anything.  But I must admit, sometimes they tell me things I really did not want to know.



Thursday, April 18, 2013


I know I have neglected my blog, and I apologize, but I graduate April 27!!!  And I have a job interview, with the special education director of a local school district!!!

In the past, I have promoted Dove.  I love how Dove instills in girls that there is more to a girl than just her looks.  As  women, we tend to be critical of how we look (at least I know I do).  Our teenage daughters are especially critical of themselves, comparing their looks and body to those of TV stars and models.  

Well, Dove did it again.  In the video below, two people describe the same person.  The difference between the two descriptions is remarkable.

I think every mother should sit down with her tween/teen daughter (or even her son) and watch this video together.

How do you see yourself?   How do you think others see you?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Take A "Peep" Into The Past

Who remembers loving marshmallows as a child?  Okay! I'll admit I still LOVE those marshmallow peeps.  So in honor of the "Peep" (and Easter), here are a few facts about Peeps:
  • Marshmallow Peeps are 59 years old this year (2013).
  • In 1953, it took 27 hours to create one peep.  Today, it takes six minutes.
  • This Easter, more than 700 million peeps chicks, bunnies, and eggs with be consumed b y men, women, and children throughout the United States and abroad.
  • Strange things people like to do with peeps: eat them stale, microwave them, freeze them, roast them, and use them as pizza topping.
  • Peeps come in five colors: yellow, pink, lavender, blue, and white.
  • Each peep has 32 calories (160 calories per five-chick serving) and 0 grams of fat.
  • The first Peeps were squeezed one at a time out of a pastry tube and the eyes were painted on by hand.  Now, machines create 3,500 Peeps' eyes per minute.
  • Yellow Peeps are the most popular, followed by pink, lavender, blue, and then white.
  • During Easter, Peeps outsell jelly beans.
  • Just Born's Bethlehem, PA factory makes more than 1 billion Peeps a year - that's 4 million Peeps a day.
Visit the peeps official website for delicious recipes for those leftover peeps.
And I hope everyone has a great Easter full of Peeps!

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