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Real Safety Solutions for Kids Growing up in a Virtual World

Real Safety Solutions for Kids Growing up in a Virtual World
    From dpape on flickr

    We live in a period where evolution is constant; where new technologies make their way into our lives ever so often, where online trends rise and fall and where almost everybody with access to the Internet is enthralled by the possibilities of the digital world.

    And that includes your children.

    The World Wide Web has opened up a host of possibilities for young minds. Children can turn learning into fun with the added element of exploration and discovery; connecting with interesting peers and understanding cultures from around the world is now possible like never before. Unfortunately, the net is also a landmine of risks for impressionable minds.

    There are two areas that could potentially upset children’s lives: inappropriate websites related to subjects like pornography and graphic violence, and online social networking, where all kinds of people establish and lead digital lives, including cyber bullies, scammers and sexual predators.

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    Mirror your kids’ online habits

    If you have young children or family members, it’s very important for you to understand the internet. How will you know about the dangers that Facebook poses if you’re not on it? Using the internet will help you discover the potential threats that lurk on the web. By setting up online accounts, participating in forum discussions and also mimicking your children’s online habits occasionally, could give you an insight into the what their online lives are like and how you could protect them from the dangers there.

    Besides, being an active user will give you the kind of technical prowess you need to monitor your children’s internet usage.

    Cyber Bullying, Suicide Forums, Online Grooming and other dangerous trends

    Over the last few years, online trends have changed and continue to change rapidly. From social networking to microblogging, you never know what’s going to be the next in-thing. As a busy parent, whose profession may or not involve using the internet, it will be hard for you to know what’s new out there and how it could affect your child’s life, unless you make a conscious effort to keep tabs.

    Dangerous cyber threats have emerged over the last few years with serious online consequences. Our schools have turned into battle fields with hierarchical structures, where the most popular or extroverted kids hold sway; as a result, fitting-in is top priority for most kids. These days, almost 90% of the children who are bullied at school, experience some form of online bullying by the same classmates too. In addition, unrelated cyber bullies prowl the web, pestering children to reveal passwords or battering their self-confidence. Besides, there are hundreds of online forums where unpleasant behavior is encouraged, like physical violence, eating disorders, self-harm and so on.

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    Child grooming, where sexual predators befriend children, earn their trust with the intention of abusing them, has taken an ugly online form. Most public chat rooms for young children and teenagers are frequented by predators. They will almost always lie about their age to earn the child’s trust and try to get to the most vulnerable in the group.

    Parents should join online parent networks or vigilance groups, take part in discussions with other parents on the web or subscribe to newsletters that dispense information about dangerous online trends. Staying in-tune with what’s going on, on the web, can help you watch out for signs of trouble or warn your kids about the same.

    Ask them, ‘Met anybody new on Facebook today?’

    As parents you can take the following precautions:

    • Limit the number of hours your kids spend on the internet
    • Encourage physical activities and hobbies that do not involve the computer
    • Do not permit computers in rooms of very young children
    • Watch out for signs like children switching off monitors or switching screens in your presence
    • Look out for other unrelated signs like withdrawal, unprecedented secrecy, long-distance calls to unknown numbers, calls from unknown adults and so on.

    However, there’s a limit to the amount of monitoring you can do and your monitoring efforts should be complimented with a healthy, trustworthy relationship with your child.

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    You should encourage chats about online safety, the sites your children might have visited and what they learnt from surfing the net that day or a new game they might have tried out.

    These regular conversations could keep you updated about their digital lives, which remain invisible to most parents. Just as you would ask them about their school, ask them if they met anyone new on Facebook that day. In an environment of open, healthy interaction about the internet, children may volunteer information if they have met people who are acting strange or are being bullied online.

    Is Privacy still important? You bet

    Most youngsters, especially teenagers today, are growing up in a world where there’s little value for privacy. With status updates, photo albums, blogging and other forms of online self-expression, most of them do not understand the importance of restraint. Help your children understand why privacy is important. Also, illustrate how online identities can be uncovered, addresses and phone numbers discovered, so they do not take risks on the web.

    Security software, family settings and other tools

    With the unfortunate evolution of online predators and unsuitable sites, technology has evolved too. Thankfully, parents can maintain some control over young children’s online habits with tools devised for this purpose. Family settings are available for internet use, online gaming and video viewing. With family settings, parents can control which games their children play, which movies they watch and even the duration that they can spend on specific activities like gaming or chatting.

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    Similarly, parent control software can help parents block adult sites, public chat rooms and set timers for surfing the net.

    Scammers can reach you through your kids

    Sometimes, it is not just kids but adults too who could be at risk. Ensure that your child does not have your bank details, passwords or other sensitive information. Sometimes, scammers and cheats can try to get to your finances through your kids. Help your children understand what online scams, phishing emails and identity threats are all about.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

    35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

    35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

    Every mature relationship has had a less-than-memorable anniversary. Maybe one of you forgot, or both of you got busy with work, kids, family issues, or something else. Whatever happened, the day came and went without fanfare. And neither of you seemed to notice or much care.

    But for the health of any relationship, it’s important to make important days feel special. Anniversaries offer the wonderful opportunity to relive beautiful memories, practice gratefulness for your partner, and to show your love and strengthen your bond. Make this year’s anniversary with your significant other something special  — one that will bring you closer together.

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    The best way to create a memorable anniversary is to do something new and different together as a couple. Stretch yourselves a bit.

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    While boredom can silently kill a relationship, new experiences reinforce the shared bond you already have and create strong new memories. Just think back to the most significant memories you have right now with your spouse and imagine what new ones you can create!

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    While you enjoy your chosen anniversary activity, be sure to keep a positive attitude and make your partner happy too on that day. Leave all arguments and day to day detail behind. Just celebrate your relationship. Whether you’re going to spend the day together at home, getting away, or having a wild and crazy new experience together, you can have your best anniversary yet!

    If You’re Staying In

    1. Spend an evening with no technology, just the two of you and maybe a board game. It’s hard to keep ourselves away from our computers and smartphones long enough to have a meaningful conversation. Make a rule not to use your tech and you’ll rekindle your relationship!
    2. Make wine or beer together. If you enjoy drinking together, this is a fun activity to try together. Just remember to buy the necessary equipment ahead of time.
    3. Learn something new about each other. With an open mind, try asking some of the New York Times’ 36 questions that lead to love. They’ll help spark intimacy and will lead to some really honest moments.
    4. Have a lazy day. Breakfasts in bed, spend all day in bed talking and napping. Follow breakfast with champagne and dessert! If you feel like getting more active, cook together or play some games. Here’re some simple breakfast ideas for you.
      • Learn to dance at home. This is best for those active couples who work out together and also enjoy learning something new together. Just go on Youtube to find any music with dance tutorials and learn together.
      • Visit model homes or open houses and plan your dream home.
      • Have a special dessert – champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Having an unusual treat makes a day feel extra special. If you want to make the dessert really special, try these tasty dessert recipes.
      • Create a playlist of your favorite songs as a couple. Choose songs that tell your story, and songs that you bonded over throughout your relationships. Here’re some love songs ideas for your inspirations.
        • Write your love story. Write it together or ave each of you write your own and then bring them together in an interesting, both sides of the story format.
        • Get a fondue pot. Fondue is a fun way to enjoy melted cheeses (for savory items) and melted chocolate (for sweeter treats).
        • Decorate! Turn your home into a dressed-up french cottage, a sophisticated restaurant, or simply with flowers. The different ambience will immediately change the feel of your home and make it feel like a staycation.
          • Talk about the future together. It might sound simple and everyday, but imagining how you want to spend your retirement together, or planning future trips can be exciting and romantic.

          If You Want to Get Away

          1. Take a day trip together to your favorite spot. If you live in a city, it can be incredibly refreshing to get away for an afternoon and drink in the outdoors.
          2. Go on a scenic drive and stop at a wine and cheese bar. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have lots of options where you live, try a brewpub. There are tons of small craft breweries with fantastic food options too.
          3. Go camping. Relatively affordable and, if the weather’s right, beautiful and romantic.
            • Take an overnight backpacking trip. For the more adventurous couples, backpacking is an even more intense way to challenge yourself physically while becoming one with nature.
            • Take a wine tasting tour. If you live on the West Coast or in the Northeast, take a drive to the nearest winery. Many offer relatively inexpensive tastings and deals if you purchase a certain amount.
            • Take a scenic train trip. Taking the train means less stress traveling: nobody has to drive, you don’t have to stop for breaks every few hours, and you can sleep if you need to!
            • Save up for a destination vacation. What better time than your anniversary to enjoy the beach at a beautiful resort?
            • Explore a new city. Whether you’re on a budget or have a lot saved up, you can have a great time just exploring an unfamiliar town.
            • Rent a cabin for a weekend away, in the woods or next to a lake or ocean. If you like the outdoors but can only take so much nature, try glamping.
              • Go on a retreat. Yoga retreats, meditation retreats, beautiful natural surroundings … they’re all the rage. Search for centeredness and calm with your partner.
              • Spend a day at a food festival. Many cities have fun and affordable food festivals, occasionally based on a theme. Check out your town’s (or a nearby city) calendar for inspiration!

              New & Exciting Experiences

              1. Go spelunking. Dark, damp, and utterly exciting!
              2. Go on a hot air balloon ride. Because the basket is relatively small, this can be a romantic and deeply personal – and yet thrilling –
                experience.
                • Try sky diving. If you and you S.O. are real thrill-seekers, sky diving can really push you to the edge!
                • Explore the underwater world by snorkeling or scuba diving. This may take you far away from where you normally live and work, which is an added bonus.
                • Experience white water rafting.
                • Drive or hike to the highest spot nearby for a new view of the world. America has tons of beautiful mountains where challenging hikes (or drives) can deliver breathtaking views.
                • Take a craft or cooking class. Up your craft skills or food  making skills, and enjoy something new!
                  • Take a wine and painting class today. These classes are easily found these days and even a beginning painter can create a nice painting. Challenging but relaxing, fun, and you get to go home with some artwork!
                  • Learn to salsa dance. Dancing is a fantastic way to actively get closer and coordinate physically with one another.
                    • Visit a nearby festival you’ve always wanted to go to. Have fun and let go with fellow audience-members!
                    • Spend the day at an amusement park together. Laugh and carry on like teenagers.
                    • Meet new people! At a restaurant, concert, or class, make it a point to meet new friends. Striking up conversation with someone you don’t know – but with whom you have shared interests – can be an adventurous and rewarding experience.

                    Whether your budget is big or small, and whether you have a little or a ton of time together, focus on each other. There are tons of options, in terms of location, level of physical activity, and cost. You can make the day special in a way that’s right for you!

                    Featured photo credit: Photo by Taylor L. Spurgeon on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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