Thank You for Your Time (Without Your Phone)

What happens to us when face-to-face interactions become less important? What happens to our marriages, families, and communities? Sherry Turkle says our smart phone devices “…not only change what we do, they change who we are.” We deny each other of our full attention and we end up hiding from each other. We prefer interaction through technology because it can be more controlled than face-to-face, which is happening in real-time and can’t be edited for better presentation. What is happening is that we are losing confidence in each other and looking more to our technological devices to really “be there” for us.
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Categories: Family, Holidays, Managing Media, and Personal Growth.

Empowering the Bored Child

“I’m bored.”  It doesn’t take too long before this statement is heard in the summer.  Its a monotone, depressing complaint.  It can trigger anger in parents to hear this, or at least mild irritation.  Boredom by definition is a feeling of weariness with one’s present task or lack of interesting pursuits.  Its something everyone has experienced.  Its a feeling we have to live with sometimes as its part of normal human existence.  Unfortunately, with Netflix and video games this generation of children can pacify their boredom without truly overcoming it successfully.  The result is a low-grade boredom, like a lingering
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Categories: Childhood Disorders, Children, Family, Managing Media, Mental Health, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Parenting Guidelines for Social Media

Parents today are truly pioneers in parenting during the internet age.  I imagine that parenting faced a similar challenge when paper and pen became readily available, and again when the telephone became a ubiquitous household item. Now, we face a new challenge with how to wisely use social media.  Why this is a unique challenge is that parents are learning these rules for themselves at the same time they are setting guidelines for their children.   Parents are realizing that rules around social media are needed because even though it’s in “cyberspace,” what is said and done there has real-life
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Categories: Children, Family, Managing Media, and Parenting.

Tech Free Summer

Imagine that a typical kid from 1975 is suddenly transported through time to the present moment.  He’s walking down a neighborhood street and sees cars going by that look futuristic to him, but otherwise he is reassured that things look pretty much the same.  He keeps walking around neighborhoods and occasionally he’ll see cars drive up to a house and see adults and kids walk quickly inside while looking at some device they hold in their hands.  He thinks this is strange.  This kid starts to wonder if there’s been some government order to stay indoors.  Finally with some relief,
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Categories: Family, Managing Media, Marriage, and Parenting.

Is Your Teen an iZombie? Dealing with Smartphone Addiction

        This picture is a testament to the ubiquity of the smart phone. Most of you who are reading this article probably have your smart phone within arm’s reach right now! It’s the reality of our age that smart phones are integrated into our daily life. The question we have to explore about our relationship to our smart phones is this; are we in control? For some the answer is yes, they use their phone within appropriate limits to communicate, to find information, to provide healthy entertainment and so on. For many others the answer is no,
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Categories: Children, Family, Managing Media, and Parenting.

Helping your Kids (and yourself) Cope with Rejection

There’s no question about it; successful people are those who have learned to cope with rejection.  Milton Hershey had three failed businesses before his milk chocolate candy took off.  KFC’s founder Colonel Sanders was rejected over a thousand times before he found financial support for his chicken recipe.  JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by twelve publishers!  Imagine a world in which these three successful people allowed a few rejections to stop them; no Hershey kisses, no KFC, no Harry Potter. We have all experienced rejection in many forms.  It’s a universal dynamic in a relational society.  Since
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Categories: Children, Family, Managing Media, Mental Health, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Family Camping: It’s Joys and Sorrows (Ignore the Sorrows Part)

Camping with the family, woohoo!  Our family loves to go camping. If you haven’t tried it, maybe this story will motivate you.  A couple of summers ago my wife and I decided to take our kids to Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park for a couple of nights of camping.  I’m talking about tent camping.  The “deluxe” tent camping spots have wooden decks for the tents.  So we merrily ambled down the hillside to the decks and pitched our tent, which was difficult because you can’t put tent stakes into wood decks.  Meanwhile, our two oldest kids (12 and 10 at
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Categories: Family and Managing Media.

The Cell Phone Contract for Parents and their Kids

The Cell Phone Parent-Child Contract The majority of the U.S. population has smartphones now, and more kids know how to work smartphones than know how to tie their own shoes according to TheAtlantic.com.   We’ve entered a new era, parents!  It’s an era in which parents must step up and hold their children accountable for the privilege and responsibility of either using your smartphone, or owning their own smartphone.  According to recent surveys, 40% of U.S. teens own their own iPhone! To address the issues brought about by teens with smartphones, a mother recently developed the following “service contract” with her
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Categories: Children, Family, Managing Media, and Parenting.

Summer: Give Your Kids Some Free Time!

Summertime is upon us.  With summer comes a relaxing of the schedule – more time to lollygag and slow down the pace of life.  At least it used to be that way!  When I was a kid, I rode my bike all over town.  I spent days at the city pool.  Some days I was bored out of my mind, though.  Now that you’re a parent, do you see your kids lollygagging through summer the way you did as a kid?  Probably not. There is a growing trend in middle-class America towards structured activities and programs for children; from sports
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Categories: Children, Family, Managing Media, Mental Health, and Parenting.

Managing the Media in your Home

What would your life be like if television, the internet, and computers suddenly didn’t work anymore?  The amount of uneasiness you have in reaction to that question is a good indicator of how influential electronic media is in your life.  Most of us remember the days when there was no Internet and the television offered about 12 channels.  What is more, we had to get up and change the television channels manually!  Now the choices for what to watch are overwhelming. The influence of media in the home, and especially with children, is something that concerns me very much.  How
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Categories: Family, Managing Media, and Parenting.