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What You Don’t Know Your Kids Are Doing

Common Sense Media recently conducted a survey to look at how social networks like Facebook and MySpace are affecting families and kids. “The results,” says the Center for Media Research, “illustrate a continuing disconnect between parents and kids when it comes to kids’ digital lives.”

The survey found that parents continually underestimate how much time their teens spend on social networking sites. Fifty-one percent of teens log into these sites more than once a day, but only 23 percent of parents think they do. Just four percent of parents said their children check social networking sites more than 10 times a day, but more than twice that number of teens say they do. And then there are the 12 percent of teens who use Facebook or MySpace whose parents don’t even know about their accounts.

While many teens go online to gossip and blow off steam innocuously, others are engaging in “cyberbullying” or other provocative behavior. Fifty-four percent of teens say they have complained about or made fun of their teachers, while only 29 percent of parents believe their kids had done so. Only 20 percent of parents believe their kids had posted something they later regretted, when 39 percent of teens admitted they had. Thirteen percent of teens said they have sent or posted provocative photos or videos of themselves or others online, yet just two percent of parents believe their kids have participated in such activities.

Many teens are also victims—18 percent have had a humiliating picture of them posted online, 19 percent have been harassed online, and 38 percent know someone else who has been.

Common Sense Media proposes that parents talk to their children about using their sense of responsibility and self-respect both online and offline. Social networks can be valuable for kids to “try on different hats” and figure out who they are, but when teens communicate anonymously or through disguised identities, it can lead to irresponsible behaviors and the feeling that they will not be held accountable for their actions.

“In a digital world,” says Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer, “parents need to play a more important role than ever in ensuring that kids get the best of these technologies and are using them safely.”


Stop Hemming and Hawing!

Procrastination. Most people struggle with it at one time or another. It costs the United States $50 billion in lost productivity every year. If you need more than a simple to-do list to get the ball rolling, you might consider hiring a “professional nagger.” Yes, believe it or not, there are hundreds of professional naggers out there to help you keep your work on track. For $90 a month, ProNagger Rachel Z. Cornell (pronagger.com) will call you up for five minutes a day and nudge you into action. So don’t put your work off until later—get it done now!

Drive Safely This Winter

It’s information we’ve all heard before, but a few reminders about winter driving never hurts. The American Society of Safety Engineers reminds that drivers check forecasts and driving conditions before even getting into the car, and to leave in plenty of time to reach your destination without driving recklessly. Remember to use your headlights when driving in bad weather—even if you can see where you’re going, headlights help other drivers see you. Make sure your headlights, brake lights and all of your windows are cleared of snow—poor visibility causes accidents. The ASSE also reminds drivers to put cell phones away while driving, especially in inclement weather, and above all, do not text from behind the wheel!

Connect Effectively

When dealing with your boss, VIPs or other decision-makers, use their preferred methods of communication. If they tend to send emails and faxes to you, do the same for them. If they use the phone most of the time, give them a call. If they prefer face-to-face interaction, stop by their office. By doing so, you are much more likely to get a timely response.


My Favorites

Sharon Samuels Reed has been active in the Peoria community since she moved here from Texas in 1972. Growing up in the South compelled her to become a leader in providing equal access to all—a quest she continues through her involvement with numerous community organizations. Reed was the first African American educator in the Pekin Public Schools District and is the retired director of fine arts for Peoria’s District 150. As founder and artistic director of the Heritage Ensemble and the Youth Heritage Ensemble, Reed is committed to enriching the cultural fabric of this community. She currently serves as the project outreach liaison for the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, an arts-integrated approach to closing the achievement gap among students in District 150.

5 Favorite Songs

  1. “The Lord’s Prayer” by A. H. Mallotte—My absolute favorite song to sing
  2. “Nobody Knows ‘de Trouble I’ve Seen”—My inspiration and my theme song
  3. “My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me”—Reminds me of Daddy’s favorite song to sing and of the faith that my parents helped to instill in me
  4. “I Won’t Complain”—Helps me to keep things in perspective
  5. ANYTHING Luther Vandross (now deceased)—His music is so soothing and soooo romantic! I love dancing with my husband to his music!

 

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