Summer and On: Outdoor Family Activities

As a parent, raising children through the teen years can be perplexing and difficult. Almost overnight, our sweet boys and girls morph into young adults. Unfortunately, this transition is complicated and often accompanied by slamming doors and unpredictable swinging moods. Suddenly, we are back to square one when it comes to navigating our teen’s emotions and needs.

This period of development can easily lead to a disconnect in the family if we are not careful. We need to remember that just because our kids have a deeper voice and can legally drive a vehicle, they still need a relationship with us. We need to look for new activities that can help us bond and build upon the foundation we layed when they were younger. This can be more difficult now that our kids are older, but it isn’t impossible.

8 Teen Friendly Family Activities to Try This Summer

To help us during this unique parenting phase, we have compiled the following list of eight summer and outdoor family activities to try with our teens:

Go camping. Teens may balk at leaving the modern comforts behind, namely their electronics. However, spending a few days and nights in the great outdoors provides ample opportunities for the family to connect while exploring new environments. Evenings spent around the campfire talking or telling stories will be something they remember forever, plus it gives us some one-on-one time without interruptions from friends and technology.

Embrace frisbee golf. Many local parks and state recreation areas have built elaborate frisbee golf courses for public use. On a beautiful day, take the kids out for an impromptu round and enjoy the company. If your family enjoys this game, join a league or register for a tournament together.

Grow something together. Our children are more than capable working alongside us as we grow a garden or tend a section of plants. This will give them something to nurture during the warmer months and they will reap the rewards of their efforts in the form of healthy veggies, brilliant fruits, and beautiful flowers. Use guides to choose the right plants for the zone you live in or to find flowers that have special meanings. Kids might balk at the idea of weeding or pruning, but ultimately they will enjoy sharing their harvests with neighbors, donating to the local food pantry, or canning their yields for the winter months. This will give our kids a better appreciation of knowing where their food comes from and the effort it really takes to put a meal on the table.

Hold on tight. If you have an adventurous teen, consider visiting an ATV course or try your hand at white water rafting. Just remember to learn how to safely operate the equipment and wear appropriate safety gear. This just might be the experience of a lifetime!

Create large yard versions of their favorite board games for endless fun. Help them channel their inner child and revisit classic games like Jenga, Chess, or Kerplunk for the outdoors. If you don’t want to try your hand at crafting these grown-up recreations, bring out lawn golf, croquet, or badminton for games to involve the whole family. The main idea is to get everyone outside and playing together.

Have an outdoor movie night. Revisit the nostalgia of drive-in movies with a sheet and a projector in your own backyard. If you don’t have access to a projector, your teen can put their engineering skills to work and build a makeshift projector using a shoebox and Smarthphone.  Finally, choose a classic or modern film that everyone can enjoy, buy some bug spray, and pop some popcorn for a night spent watching movies in the backyard.

Go star gazing. We always tell our kids to dream big and shoot for the stars. Literally take this sage advice and spend the summer nights gazing up at the heavens. Find a book or app to locate constellations and track the movement of the night sky. It doesn’t matter if you have a telescope or just lie on your backs, you will be taking in Mother Nature’s beauty while creating new memories.

Create a family living space outdoors. As a family, design a space outdoors that extends the family’s living space outside. Make sure you have plenty of comfortable seating and shade to keep everyone healthy. Consider adding a firepit, hammock, or water feature. This will make it a more enticing area for everyone to gather for dinner, s’mores, and games in the evening.


How do you plan on keeping your teen enjoying outdoor family activities this summer?


Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.



How Pets Are Helping With Multiple Mental Health Issues

We’ve long known that animals and pets have helped us in a number of different ways, especially from an overall health standpoint. They reduce stress, lower our heart rate and may motivate some of us to exercise more. Therefore they can extend our overall life expectancy with their contribution as our companions. But they also assist in other roles that lead many of us to live better, more fulfilled lives as service dogs, especially for those who struggle with mental health issues.

Do animals possess a unique skillset that humans just can’t offer to those with conditions like depression, anxiety or even epilepsy? We’ve all heard about dogs that have “sniffed” out cancer in their masters and science simply can’t explain this ability beyond an animal’s heightened sense of smell. Is it delivered through specific breeding since some like the Norwich Terrier are better “ratters” and hunters or bloodhounds are better trackers compared to others? Does this give our four-legged friends an ability to sense something like an oncoming seizure, or does it come from a bond they form with their masters?

Teenage Trauma And A Kid’s Companion

Although usually associated with raging hormones and coming to grips with becoming a young adult, adolescents can feel separated from their peers during this difficult time in their life. Often bonding with a pet will help them to feel like they always have at least one friend in the world who is always there for them, won’t judge them and is simple available to be their companion.

Important Answers

According to sources, who have studied how animals have helped those who are suffering with depression and anxiety, some solutions are more simplistic and straightforward. For example:

  • Since animals need to be fed, cared for and exercised regularly, this can give those caregivers struck down with depression or anxiety an incentive to be more motivated.
  • Some who have mental health issues may feel easily threatened by humans, but animals offer unconditional love along with a complete lack of judgment, leaving them with a sense of ease and comfort.
  • Animals also help those who feel cut off from others due to the grip of their mental illness and the type of connection they feel with a pet helps to bridge this gap, especially given the presence of the internet and other technological forms of disconnection.
  • For those who may have problems with paranoia or the onset of panic attacks, an animal’s natural protective instincts keep those intruders at bay, regardless of certain people who may have innocent intentions.

Think of it this why, providers of service animals always warn the general public not to pet or interact with these animals while they are at work. They’re performing a job, and this type of distraction can be dangerous to the animal and their master, depending upon the circumstance.

Service With A Smile

Often when we think of a service dog, we may imagine an animal assisting someone who is either wheelchair bound or those canines engaged with a military or police career. But these larger breeds aren’t the only ones who help those in need. Regardless of their size, a larger German Shepherd in full commando mode can be just as helpful to a police officer as a tiny terrier could be to someone suffering from something like PTSD (or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

As a matter of fact, when it comes to dealing with PTSD, groups like K9 For Warriors are filling a much-needed void with matching veterans with service dogs that help them tackle this type of debilitating dilemma. Sometimes a flesh wound will heal much faster than damage to a dedicated, disciplined soldier’s brain, their mental state and overall well-being.

When these soldiers return home, they may experience little support from the government, some of them feel disconnected with their families and friends. But a furry little companion will give them the hope, strength and connection they need to move forward with their lives.

Along with some recent unrealistic and bias stigmas that are often attached to those suffering from mental health problems, it’s time to put these antiquated illusions to rest. Sometimes a companion animal, a furry, happy little face, along with everyday examples of unconditional love can do wonders for people regardless of their mental state.

Author_Amy_2Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.



Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

by Fernanda Barragan, Crisis Services Associate


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

It may be surprising that 1 out of every 3 adolescents in the U.S. has been a victim of abuse from a partner. Too many times we equate dating violence with physical abuse, when in fact there are many other ways that a person can harm someone.

By educating ourselves and being vigilant, we can fight dating violence together.

Types of Abuse

  • Physical: Non accidental injury.
    • Ex: Hitting, kicking slapping, punching, burning, pulling hair, chocking, throwing, and shoving.
    • Actions including kicking or punching, walls, doors, and other objects, or destruction of property are also a part of physical abuse.
  • Emotional: Actions or statements that exploit another’s vulnerability or insecurity.
    • Ex: Name calling, spreading rumors, criticizing, confusing, disregarding, ignoring, neglecting, and attacking self-worth and self-esteem.
  • Verbal: Any abusive language to denigrate, embarrass or threaten. Similar to emotional.
    • Ex: Name calling, yelling, screaming, shaming, criticizing, threatening, and negative comparisons.
  • Control: A way for someone to maintain dominance.
    • Ex: Monitoring phone calls, controlling freedom (hair style, clothing or makeup), showing up unexpectedly, and not allowing someone to have space or alone time.
  • Isolation: Separating someone from everyone else.
    • Ex: Keeping someone from want to do, seeing who they want to see.
  • Sexual: Any non-consensual sex act.
    • Ex: Fondling, penetration, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, and forced observation of sexual acts. Also referred to as sexual assault, or rape.

Sometimes it is important for people to have alone time, and it is ok to want alone time. It is also ok to want to spend time with loved ones, and no one should make you feel like it is wrong or stop you from doing that. It is not ok for a person to make someone else feel bad about themselves, in healthy relationships people should love and bring each other up, not put each other down.

No one has the right to touch you if you do not want to be touched. You are not obligated to be sexual with anyone even if you are dating. You have the right to say “no” at ANY TIME.

Parents and Friends

It is important to have open conversations with your children and/or friends about healthy relationships and the things to watch out for in unhealthy ones.

Healthy relationships, not just romantic ones, include these core values: Communication, Respect, Trust, Equality, and Personal Space. You can learn more about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships right here on our website.

If you’re worried about someone, ask questions. Assure them that they can talk to you if they need help establishing what behaviors make up a healthy relationship.

Finally, pay attention to behaviors.

Things to look for.

  • Partner is possessive or extremely jealous.
  • Unexplained marks or bruises.
  • Excessive phone calls, emails, and texts.
  • Anxiety or depression.
  • Withdrawal from interests and extracurricular activities.
  • Declining grades.
  • Doesn’t spend time with loved ones.
  • Dresses differently.

How YOU can Help:

There are a variety of ways to help your loved ones. Ask, listen, and support them through this hard time. It is very important that they know that what is happening to them is NOT their fault.

  • Trust that they are telling you the truth, abuse is a hard thing to talk about and it takes a lot of courage to say that someone they love is hurting them physically or emotionally.
  • Show concern. It is ok to tell them that you are worried about them and want them to be safe.
  • Talk about the behaviors that are happening, rather than putting their partner down.
    • It is important to remember that the partner may still be someone they love, and those feelings should be respected.
    • Teenagers sometimes have a false picture of what makes up a relationship. Explain that abuse is not love.
  • Ultimately whatever decision is made, it must come from them.
    • The victim must decide what actions they want to take, but share your thoughts on how you feel they should be treated and respected.
  • Educate yourself on teen dating violence. Learn what resources are available in your community.
  • If you are scared for the immediate safety of a loved one, call 911.

For more information on how to help a teen in your life, visit or The National Crime Prevention Council.


Reaching out is hard, especially when the person who is hurting you is someone you love. Remember that in healthy relationships there is respect, boundaries, and support. If you are unsure if you are in an unhealthy relationship, you can read up more on how to proceed on our website. And you can visit for more information.

If you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, and you need help, please reach out. You are worthy, it is not your fault.

There is help and there is hope.

Teen Lifeline is here to listen and help. 602-248-TEEN (8336).

10 Ways You Can Help – Part 2!

We’re continuing our series on 30 ways you can support Teen Lifeline during our 30th anniversary year!

This time we’re taking a look at 10 more ways you can support us, based on if you’re a teen or an adult!

10_ways_to_help_v25 Ways You Can Support Teen Lifeline (as a teen!)

1. Reach out to a friend and suggest they call Teen Lifeline!

One of the most important things you can do if you’re worried about a friend, is to reach out to them and suggest they call Teen Lifeline if they’re struggling. Check out some of previous blog posts to learn how to learn more on what to do if you’re worried about a friend.

2. Volunteer to be a Peer Counselor!

Are you the type of person everyone confides in? Do you enjoy helping others? Want to help people on a bigger scale? Then consider joining the Teen Lifeline family and becoming a Peer Counselor! Learn more HERE!

3. Invite your friend to volunteer at Teen Lifeline with you!

Signing up to volunteer? Bring your best friend along and help save lives together!

4. Buy/Sell Teen Lifeline Bracelets!

We have opportunities available where you can buy/sell Teen Lifeline bracelets in your school. Some restrictions may apply, so contact Nick at if you’re interested!

5. Invite your friends to a Teen Lifeline event!

On Friday, September 9th, we’re holding a FREE community rally in support of the Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Bring your friends and stop by Tempe Marketplace where they’ll be live music from 3NATIONS, drawings, giveaways and the chance to learn more about resources in the community and how YOU can save a life.

5 Ways You Can Support Teen Lifeline (as an adult!)

1. Invite our Prevention Team to share lifesaving info at your child’s school!

IMG_7290Want Teen Lifeline in your son or daughter’s school? Contact your school administrators and encourage them to reach out to us! We provide a variety of FREE presentations to help students  with stress/coping, grief/loss, depression/suicide and a variety of other topics.

2. Place a link to Teen Lifeline in your e-signature

Whether business or personal, add “Proud to Support Teen Lifeline!” and a link to our website ( in your email signature!

3. Share Teen Lifeline’s info with your own mailing list

Do you own an e-mailing list? Share Teen Lifeline’s information with your recipients!

4. Show some love on Social Media!

Let people know YOU support Teen Lifeline by linking to our Facebook, Twitter,or Instagram accounts!

5. Donate your services for auction items or for use at Teen Lifeline’s facility.

Are you a graphic designer? Own your own carpet cleaning business? Drive a limo? Whatever your field of service is, consider donating some of your time and/or services for auction packages at our events! Contact Amanda Dailey at for more information!
For any other general questions about ways you can help Teen Lifeline contact our Donor Relations Coordinator, Nick Shivka, at!

10 Ways You Can Help!

10 Ways to Help

We get asked all the time, “How can I help?” “What can I do to support Teen Lifeline?” 

It’s true that monetary donations do keep our doors open and allow us to provide a connection of hope to teens in crisis.

But, there’s so much more!

In honor of our 30th anniversary, we’re going to take a look at 30 ways that YOU can support Teen Lifeline, starting with these 10, in no particular order:

1. Donate Prizes

September is Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness MONTH. During this time we, along with other area organizations, visit schools across the state, provide information, and showcase lifesaving resources available for teens. In order to help make it even more fun, we hold raffles and give out prizes that include backpacks, gadgets, and other school supplies. YOU can help us by donating some of these items!

2.Donate Auction Items

At our Connections of Hope gala and the annual Firetag Golf Tournament we hold live and silent auctions. Because of this, we’re always in need of great auction items! Whether it’s an all-expenses paid vacation, restaurant voucher, or professional services, we use it all! Proceeds from these auctions are what really generates the revenue that helps us answer the nearly 16,000 crisis calls we get every year! To learn more or to donate an item for an auction, contact Amanda at

3. Donate In-Kind Items

Do you know we have a “Wish List”? It includes a variety of items that we need and/or “wish” to upgrade, but helps with the daily operations of our organization (including some incentives for our awesome Peer Counselors!).

4. Donate Unused Gift Cards

Have a gift card to AMC you just won’t use? Or maybe something to a local grocery store or shop around town? We can use those! Sometimes we use them to recognize the amazing efforts of our Peer Counselors, and sometimes we use them for giveaways when we are out in the community. So if you have a gift card you don’t want, donate it!

5. Organize a Community Awareness Event

There are still many teens and adults that don’t know about the resources available to them in the community. Start a block-party or other awareness event and help spread the message of hope to your friends, family, and community!

6. Write a review on Great Nonprofits

Have you seen first hand the positive impact Teen Lifeline has made on the community? Tell everyone about it! Head over to Great Nonprofits and write a review!

7. Connect with us on Social Media

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. LinkedIn. We’re all over trying to spread our message of hope. Connect with us and SHARE our positive message with your network. You never know, it could save a life!

8. Share Our Newsletter

Encourage your friends and family to sign-up for our newsletter! They’ll receive tons of information on teen mental health and get the latest updates on what our organization is up to!

9. Host a Parent Education Session

Host a brunch with your friends and tell them all about Teen Lifeline and our services. You can even invite us out and we can answer any questions first hand.

10. Include Teen Lifeline in Conversations

Communication is a powerful tool in helping prevent teen suicide. Talk to your friends and family about Teen Lifeline and help spread our message of hope!

If you want to learn more about these, or other ways you can help support Teen Lifeline, reach out to our Donor Relations Coordinator, Nick, at 602-248-8337 or!

Making Sense of Snapchat Dangers Facing Our Kids

snapchat blog

With all the negative headlines and scary scenarios swirling around about social media, raising children in today’s digital world can be intimidating. Afterall, our sons and daughters are encountering a plethora of emerging dangers that were unheard of when we were young. Back in our day, we were concerned about teasing our bangs to unnatural heights or finding the perfect Kaboodle to stash our collection of lip gloss. However, our kids are facing social media oversharing, cyberbullying, sexting, and online predators.

Our digital natives might not bat an eyelash at these dangers, but all of this swiping and sharing is new to many of us who still remember when telephones had cords tethered to a wall. As we join the social media bandwagon by joining sites like Facebook or downloading other apps, our children are turning to the fast paced world of disappearing messaging apps. One popular social media app that our children are utilizing is Snapchat.

Understanding Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the leading disappearing messaging apps that continues to grow in popularity with our kids. It allows users to send images, photos, videos, or messages to select friends that automatically disappear after the receiver views the “chat”. The fleeting messages are a major draw to children, because many believe that it promotes more authentic forms of communication without creating a massive digital footprint full of selfies and memes.

For a more detailed account of the ins and outs of Snapchat, please watch the following informational video:

Making Sense Of Snapchat Dangers Facing Our Kids

The self destructing message feature offers users a sense of security, but we do need to sit back and really analyze if this app is safe. The promise of disappearing messages can encourage children to take risks they would never attempt on regular social media or in real life. In fact, Snapchat is widely becoming known for cases of cyberbullying and sexting.

It is believed that almost 90 percent of our children have encountered digital bullying and 54 percent of surveyed students openly admitted to sexting before they turned 18. Widespread bullying is concerning, but we also need to realize sexting is now considered a normal part of development in adolescence. It’s the new version of “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” for modern children.

This makes it vital for parents to monitor a child’s technology use. We need to stay on top of our child’s Smartphone, device, and interactions while teaching them appropriate social media etiquette skills. In addition, we need to challenge ourselves to begin an ongoing conversation about social media and the role it plays in our lives.

How do you protect children from disappearing messaging apps?

hilary smith“Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.”


Emotional Emergencies

pexels-photo-27967-largeWe teach our sons and our daughters that when there’s an emergency, when someone is physically in danger, that they should dial 911. We ingrain it in our children at an early age until it becomes second nature to them as they grow up and become teens. Even when you feel like they’re at that stage where they might not be listening to you, you can have peace of mind that they know what to do in a physical emergency.

But what about an emotional one?

What about when your son or daughter is stressed out about their grades and homework load at school? What about when your daughter breaks up with her high school sweetheart? What about when your son feels like they are “letting the team down”? Or they’re constantly feeling bullied and unsafe at their school?

What do they do when they begin to feel isolated, withdrawn, misunderstood…or all alone?

What do they do then?

All of us at Teen Lifeline, we believe that every teen, every one of your sons and your daughters and their friends, should never feel alone. If they do, we want them to know that there is a place, a number, which they can turn to and call. A place that they can feel connected to someone who understands them. A place where someone can help bring perspective back for them; to connect them to resources and people in their own life that they can trust. We call it a “connection of hope”.

Our crisis hotline and the Peer Counselors that staff it, are here to listen and help every teen that reaches out. But it takes your help.

It takes your generosity to train Peer Counselors, to operate our hotline, to send our prevention staff into the community. It takes your donations, 3rd party fundraisers, social media shares, and all around support to help us reassure our youth that they don’t have to face these struggles on their own.

So, while your children know to call 911 in an emergency, help them to know where to turn for an emotional one.

i need help


The three small words appeared on the screen. Jesus, a Peer Counselor for two years, immediately texted back a message and waited.

It was the first text message that Teen Lifeline would receive, marking a new era for our organization.

Because of the generosity of YOU and the community, Teen Lifeline was able to soft launch our new text messaging service, the first new program in 20 years, on December 14th, 2015. It’s a program that gives us a chance to really connect with teens on their level.

Ted, another Peer Counselor that helped clinical staff test the new service, said, “In many ways, texting for a teen is less intimidating than talking on the phone. We hope that using texting will appeal to a wider range of teenagers who might really need our service. They can text with a Peer Counselor just like they would a friend, getting the same care that they would if they had called.”

IMG_9341Jesus added, “It’s a pretty easy transition for the Peer Counselors, too. We’re using the same exact skills we learned for the hotline.”

Jesus would go on to have a back and forth conversation with that very first texter over several hours. They were feeling suicidal, but Jesus and Teen Lifeline were able to provide them with the resources and hope needed.

Since then, each new day has seen a gradual influx in texts.

“I think there are probably many teenagers out in the community who would really benefit from our services,” Ted explained, “but they just aren’t yet comfortable calling the hotline. This is a great way to get them to test us out.”

Ted said that while the hotline is 24/7, texting will only be available between 3pm and 9pm every day. During that time, any teen in Arizona can text the hotline number (602-248-TEEN) and have another teen answer. As always, all messages will be monitored by one of our Master’s Level Clinicians.

Clinical Director, Nikki Kontz, further said, “We definitely want to encourage the teens that text to eventually call the hotline because things can be better assessed and done faster. But, including text messaging will allow us to reach those teens that are scared or hesitant to call a crisis line.”

Ted believes the new texting service will have a huge impact on the community. “I think that expanding our services to include texting is an amazing tool to aid in prevention… and [because of it] we will continue to save lives and prevent more teen suicides.”

30 Years of Help and Hope

The original logo.

It all started with Molly Ringwald and Zach Galligan in a 1985 made-for-tv movie called Surviving. It was the first time teen suicide had been discussed on a national level, and the film kick-started the notion that something needed to be done.

Enter Teen Lifeline in 1986.

The concept was simple. Studies had shown teens first turn to other teens to talk about their problems. So, Teen Lifeline set out to train teens aged 15-19 to take calls and provide hope and help to their peers.

Now in our 30th year, our mission has remained unchanged; to provide a safe, confidential, and crucial crisis service where teens help teens make healthy decisions together. Our vision? To prevent teen suicide.

It has been with the tremendous support from our community that we have been able to grow and reach hundreds of thousands of teens across the state of Arizona.

YOUR support helped build a peer-to-peer crisis hotline that provides 24/7 service with Peer Counseling from 3-9pm every. single. day.

YOUR continued commitment has helped Peer Counselors save over 175,000 lives! We’ve been able to reach over HALF A MILLIONpeople throughout Arizona with our prevention messaging through schools and other youth organizations.

YOU have truly become part of the “connection of hope”.

And 2016 is shaping up to be our biggest year yet!

Not only are we expanding our 602 number to include a texting service but we are also excited to be expanding our Community Ed department! This year we’ll be able to provide better coverage in reaching communities in Northern and Southern Arizona. (We’ll have more details on this expansion soon!)

So, as we reflect on 30 years of help and hope, we want to thank YOU! Your support matters. Whether it’s  donations, volunteering, holding those 3rd party fundraisers, or simply sharing our message on social media – together we’re bringing hope to our children.


Digital Safety and Teenagers


As parents, we have prepared our children to handle peer pressure, underage drinking, and sexual exploration. While we have had many heart to heart talks on these issues, chances are we have addressed them to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, the world our sons and daughters are living in is evolving with digital advances. These changes mean that we might be missing an important conversation with our children in one key area: digital safety.

Why Digital Safety Matters

It is imperative that we challenge ourselves to instruct our teens on digital safety to prevent their exposure to some very negative scenarios lurking behind the screens of our beloved devices. Here is a sampling of the most common pitfalls our teens may encounter: cyberbullying, oversharing, identity theft, sexting, and online predators. Up until a few years ago, many of these subjects were unheard of and completely off a parent’s radar.

Take for instance the case of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has been linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. If that isn’t bad enough, recent research unveiled digital aggression is so common that 87 percent of our children have encountered this trend. This is appalling on many fronts, but these statistics show within the last year cyberbullying rates have tripled!

While technology has provided easy access for bullies to their victims, it has also opened an avenue for sexual exploration. The digital world has led to a revolution of sexting and sharing racy images. Children who sext are opening themselves up to cyberbullying, harassment, exploitation, and prosecution for distributing or possessing child pornography. In fact, sexting is so commonplace that experts are now declaring it a normal part of development.

Those are frightening realizations for many parents, especially when we consider that 70 percent of teens take measures to hide their online activity from us! Children need to understand how their social media presence can impact future goals and opportunities. Employers, colleges, scholarship committees, and even possible offspring will be able to view what is posted online years from now.

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Nine Ways To Embrace Digital Safety

Thankfully, parents have the power to take an active stance in regards to a child’s digital safety. Choosing to be involved allows us to instruct children on the correct ways to handle our devices. By reducing a child’s risks, we can ensure they have the opportunities to live a healthy and happy life enriched, not hindered, by technology.

Listed below are nine practical ways to embrace digital safety within our families:

Help teens set their privacy settings and passwords. One of the easiest ways to keep children safe online is as simple as using adequate privacy settings. Take a few minutes and check to see if a child’s privacy is protected and encourage them to never share their passwords.

Tell children to “friend” or follow people they actually know. Cyberbullies and predators are notorious for creating fake accounts which they use to gain access to their victims.

Limit data to prevent oversharing or sexting. Studies show that the greatest deterrent to sexting is as simple as limiting their data plans.

Track your child’s online activity. Be aware of how your child behaves online by knowing the sites they frequent and who their friends are.

Encourage a teen to seek help from an adult if they witness or receive menacing messages. Data shows that only one out of ten kids will do this! Surprisingly, when an adult intervenes the bullying will stop within ten seconds.

Develop a technology contract. As a family, create a list of expectations, rules, and consequences concerning the role of technology. This should help prevent future problems and arguments.

Teach social media etiquette and build on this as a child ages. In the beginning, stress to post only things they would feel comfortable with Nana or Papa seeing. As a child matures, include sexting and oversharing.

Understand how social media sites address cyberbullying or inappropriate conduct. Know the correct ways to report, block, or stop cruel digital activity to protect kids.

Utilize monitoring software that allows you access to deleted texts, web browser history, social media sites, and text messages. Teens are notorious for hiding their digital activity so it is essential to gain an accurate picture of how a child is behaving online.

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As our children age, they might act like they don’t need parental input. However, they still need our guidance to safely navigate the digital world as they are coming of age. Parents need to take these advancements as an invitation to teach digital safety. What is one thing your family does to ensure a child is protected online?

Author_Amy_2Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.