Keeping Tabs On Your Teens' Virtual Social Life
by Regina Lewis
(NAPSI)-These days, your teens' friends aren't just the kids hanging out in your kitchen and family room; they're hundreds of contacts on their "friend" and "buddy" lists.
More than 50 million teens are online worldwide, and the average number of "friends" is 130. It's not unusual to have hundreds of friends and thousands of photos.
So how can you realistically keep up with your child's vast circle of friends and ongoing status and photo updates? Consider these tips:
1. Become a "friend" online. Just don't comment too much or embarrass your child. Remember, his or her friends can see what you write.
2. Delegate your chores and have family fun doing tasks online. Planning a family vacation? Looking for driving directions with best gas prices? Assign the project to your cyber-savvy teen.
3. Set rules and warn about dangers. Make sure your teen knows what she's allowed to do on the computer.
4. Keep communication lines open. Let your teenagers know they can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors they encounter on the computer.
5. Use technology to learn what your teens are doing online without looking over their shoulders. Many kids prefer you take this route. One new tool called Safe Social sends parents an easy-to-read report card providing a 360-degree view of their child's social networking--what they're saying and doing and who their friends are.
6. Watch their friends. Predators, bullies and sex offenders often masquerade as friends. The Safe Social search engine helps unmask them.
7. Focus on flagged language and photos. The system's specialized search engines can also flag specific words that may come up in strings of posted conversation--sex, drugs, alcohol, suicide and so on, and suggestive or violent language.
8. Don't let things get out of control. Teen and preteen online behavior can be unpredictable and have devastating consequences. Specialized search engines can archive posted conversations and all tagged photos of your child, including those posted by others.
9. Don't discourage social networking, monitor it. Overall, social networking is an integral part of many teenage lives and an opportunity for your kids to learn to express themselves in a creative and responsible fashion. It's too big a trend to ignore. You can embrace it with these new tools on your side.
10. Learn more. For more information, visit www.safesocial.com and www.reginalewis.com.
• AOL Consumer Adviser Regina Lewis is a national TV and radio contributor and Internet trend expert. She knows the tips, tricks, secrets and shortcuts for making technology work for you.
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Audio Features More Important In PCs, Students Say
(NAPSI)-The way today's college students use their computers for entertainment is changing what's considered a standard feature.
According to a recent study by Penn Schoen Berland, 61 percent of college students use their computer most for entertainment. Seventy-seven percent listen to music on their PC and 70 percent like to watch videos.
In fact, 94 percent of college students and 89 percent of the general population think that crisp, clear audio is important to the entertainment experience on their computer. As a result, high-quality audio is an increasingly important feature.
Sound is such an important component of the entertainment experience that students are willing to invest in PCs that have premium audio technology inside, as well as in a good pair of headphones or a set of good external speakers.
A popular way to enhance audio on PCs is through technologies from Dolby, which has leveraged its audio expertise in movie and home theaters to shape the way sound is delivered for games, connected devices, mobile phones and PCs. PCs featuring Dolby deliver vibrant surround sound and allow users to enjoy the full quality of movie soundtracks, music and games. Experts recommend these computers for the best audio experience on a PC:
The Acer Aspire 8940 features Dolby Home Theater, a built-in, high-def webcam and a CineSurround sound system with integrated speakers and one Acer Tuba CineBass booster supporting low-frequency effects.
The HP Pavilion dv5t features Dolby Advanced Audio and comes preloaded with Media-Smart software for enjoying movies and music, editing videos and uploading to the Web and sharing photos while on the go.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t is a netbook tablet, featuring Dolby Headphone, a 10" touch screen and the ability to access photos, videos, music and favorite apps with a single touch.
The Sony VAIO F Series features Dolby Home Theater, and select laptops feature TransferJet, a Sony innovation letting users transfer photos from compatible cameras to the F Series laptop by placing the camera on the laptop's palm rest.
The Toshiba Satellite A665D features Dolby Advanced Audio, true stereoscopic 3-D multimedia playback capability, and Toshiba Sleep-and-Music for enjoying tunes from an MP3 player while the laptop is off without having to power up.
For more information, visit www.dolby.com/PC.
Recent research suggests a trend toward using computers for entertainment and a greater focus on audio quality.
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Adding Up To Math And Science Success
(NAPSI)-It’s not quite as simple as one plus one equals two, but a good look at how some schools teach math and science may prove inspiring to parents, teachers and administrators across the country. That’s one reason a major American tech company has come up with programs to award excellence in math and science.
Intel believes that a strong foundation in math and science education for today’s youth is imperative for future innovation and economic growth. As part of this belief, the Intel Schools of Distinction program recognizes innovative teaching and learning environments that exceed national mathematics and science content standards. Winning the top prize this year was Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago.
What It Takes To Win
This year, all the winners had four things in common:
• They make math and science a real-life experience. Students are engaged in project-based learning and inquiry-based learning.
• They set high expectations for all students. This may include differentiating instruction, studying data to see where students need help and engaging students in intensive, small-group work.
• They have strong emphasis on teacher training including mentoring and peer support as well as additional teacher education.
• Strong leadership from parents, teachers and the community. They go after grant funds to make unique learning opportunities possible. They challenge the local district or state to implement innovative programs.
This year’s Intel Schools of Distinction are:
Elementary School: West Elementary, Wamego, Kan.
Middle School: M.S. 223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, Bronx, N.Y.
High School: Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Chicago, Ill.
Elementary School: Westdale Heights Academic Magnet School, Baton Rouge, La.
Middle School: Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, Roxbury, Mass.
High School: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.
To learn more about the Intel Education Initiative, visit www.intel.com/education and the CSR@ Intel blog at blogs.intel.com/csr. To share your story and spur others to take action in education, visit www.inspiredbyeducation.com.
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Keeping Up With Today's High-Tech Kids
(NAPSI)-Most kids today are natural technophiles—gracefully and enthusiastically adopting technology into their everyday lives. In fact, a recent study showed that, on average, today’s school-aged children are consuming and using media about 7.5 hours a day.
From first graders to high schoolers, technology is not something children “turn on” after school or on the weekends but is now more than ever an integral and organic addition to life. As their children move seamlessly from computer screens to video games, many parents ask “What is the appropriate level of ‘screen time’ for my child?”
It’s all a matter of balance. According to Janeal Roberts, vice president of education for Champions, a national provider of online tutoring and before- and after-school programs, “Technology is a powerful tool that can and should be adapted to education and learning—in a way that is appropriate and even more exciting for your children.” In a controlled environment, such as under parent supervision or within a classroom or after-school program, technology lets parents and teachers tap into the ways children love to learn today.
Today’s technology has amazing and productive applications in education. The key for parents is understanding how and when to use technology to spur their child’s interest in learning and discovery.
Roberts suggests parents consider the following guidelines for bridging technology to education:
• Designate computer time with your child. Carve out 30 minutes or so to explore the Internet together. Whether to conduct research for a homework assignment or to virtually explore far-off locations, use the time to navigate the World Wide Web together.
• Encourage creativity. Take photos from a weekend trip to the zoo or museum or from the last family vacation to create an e-book or online slide show that you can share with friends and family.
• Explore the universe. Go beyond the boundaries of planet Earth with online applications that allow you and your child to learn about the sun, moon, stars and more. For example, make a map of the solar system or look up satellite imagery, maps and three-dimensional views from galaxies in outer space. You can even go on a “geocaching” adventure—an online treasure hunt activity using GPS technology.
• Collaborate with your child’s teachers. Talk to your child’s teachers about what subjects are currently being taught or those that are forthcoming, so you and your child can spend time researching the topic and connecting classroom learning with discovery at home and out of school.
• Visit sites associated with national organizations. Organizations that focus on education, research or nutrition often house content-rich information on their websites that appeal to children. As an example, visiting NASA’s website lets your child access the Kids’ Club. At the USDA’s site, children can learn about the food pyramid through interactive games.
• Take an online class together at your local library or community center. This will let you and your child learn together and help your child see you as a student as well, open to learning.
• Look for learning-based online programs. To supplement classroom time, look for online academic enrichment programs, such as the Champions Virtual Science Club (www.discoverchampions.com), which lets kids go on a virtual archaeological dig, explore a science laboratory and discover the world of science.
With the growing presence of technology—from video-sharing sites to online learning programs—kids have even more opportunities for constructive discovery and creativity at their fingertips.
Parents and teachers are in the midst of a significant shift in how to inspire children. By looking at technology as a powerful partner, they have an opportunity to incorporate the tools that really interest and excite kids into their everyday learning.
Instead of asking yourself “How much technology is too much?” consider the important balance between uninspired screen time and guided discovery time. Whether it’s conducting research for a homework assignment, creating an e-book or sharing the results of an online science experiment, kids have the interest and the motivation to learn through technology.
Parents and children can learn much and enjoy more when they navigate the Web together.
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101 For The College Undergrad:
Tools And Tips To Help College Students Save On Everyday Expenses
(NAPSI)-One of the trickiest trades for college undergrads is personal finance. Many students are managing their own money for the first time, making it easy to overspend. With the help of some simple tools, any college student can save that hard-earned summer job cash for the fun stuff throughout the year. Though cell phone bills can run up fast when students move away from home, many are turning to programs such as Skype in order to pinch pennies.
Since Skype works on many cell phones, including 3G smartphones from Verizon Wireless, anyone can make free Skype-to-Skype calls. According to Skype spokesperson Brianna Reynaud, “Skype mobile™ for Verizon Wireless smartphones delivers a wonderful, integrated and always-on experience, letting you spend more time laughing with friends and less time in front of a computer.”
Skype can also be used to make cost-effective international calls, with subscriptions starting at $2.99 a month. Studying abroad this spring? The Unlimited World plan costs just $13.99/month for calls to landlines (and some mobiles) in more than 40 countries worldwide.
Traveling to visit friends back home or at another university can eat up precious savings. Rather than spend a chunk of change traveling to visit, video calls are the next best thing to being there. By investing in a compact HD webcam solution like the FREETALK® Everyman HD ($59.50), students can make free face-to-face video calls from anywhere on or off campus.
Add a FREETALK Wireless headset ($68.00) for high-quality audio-even several feet from a computer—to virtually visit as often and as long as desired for less than the cost of a round-trip bus ticket.
Another unexpected consumption of a student’s budget is coffee. Even a once-a-day latte habit can add up to more than $1,000 during the school year. Buying a coffeemaker (less than $50), ground coffee and milk can save scholars hundreds of dollars annually.
While coffee runs can be costly, late-night snacking is another financial pitfall that can eat up cash. Instead of snacking at a campus café, purchase a mini-fridge for about $100 and stock it with healthy snacks to save some money. Students can buy easy dorm-room food, such as bread, peanut butter and jelly, while they are already at the grocery store buying their coffee!
With a little advance planning and smart investments, the average college student can survive the year without overdrawing his or her bank account.
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Teens And The Internet: Tips For Playing It Safe
(NAPSI)-It’s easy for teens to pretend they’re older than they are online, but it doesn’t mean they’re ready for anything the Internet can throw at them.
By monitoring and engaging teens about their online activity, parents can help them exercise self-control, report problems—and make smarter, safer decisions.
Even the best kids from the most loving families take risks and get carried away when socializing or gossiping with friends—and they don’t want you to know about it.
Did You Know?
• 65 percent of high school students admit to unsafe or illegal activities online.
• 30 percent of teens have talked with a cyber-stranger about meeting in person.
• 32 percent clear the browser history to hide online activity from their parents.
• 64 percent post photos or videos of themselves online.
• 73 percent use social networking websites.
Tips for Reducing Risky Behaviors
Be proactive. Don’t wait for a crisis to happen before addressing online safety. Remind your teen about rules and consequences, and stay engaged in the process. Other tips include:
• Explore the Internet together.
• Enforce ground rules and time limits.
• Become their friend on social networking sites.
• Learn about privacy settings and set them appropriately.
• Trust but verify by installing monitoring software on their computer.
Trust, Monitor, Educate, Protect
Knowing what they’re doing online is as easy as checking your own e-mail, with remote monitoring software such as eBlaster from SpectorSoft. It can inform you of searches for topics such as “depression” or “drugs.” It can also warn you if others are teasing them or daring your child to GNOC (get naked on camera).
Whether you’re at home or at work, you receive e-mail reports and instant notification if they’re visiting inappropriate websites, spending too much time on Facebook or taking risks.
For More Information
To learn more, parents can visit www.SpectorSoftSoftware.com.
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What Parents Need To Know To Keep Kids Safe Online
(NAPSI)-Even if you don't allow your kids to use the Internet or join social networks, most can and will get access elsewhere. There's one place your child can access it: school. U.S. Department of Education data indicates that 100 percent of U.S. public schools are now connected.
So what do you need to know to protect your children's online safety? You can check out these helpful tips from the co-founders of socialshield.com:
1. Connect. Sit down with your children and explore the sites they want to be on. Read the privacy policies. Check out the site's features and members.
2. Only Share With Friends. Remind your children to review their account privacy settings to make sure they're only sharing their profile and pictures with people they know.
3. Password 101. When your children set up an account, make sure they pick a secure password that's easy for them to remember but difficult for others to figure out. Write down your child's passwords, in case you should ever need to access his or her accounts.
4. Protect Personal Info. Tell your children to never share their full name, age, address, phone numbers or school name on the Internet, even if they think only their "friends" can see this information.
5. "Friend" Review. Review your children's friend lists to make sure you approve. It's good to know who talks to them online.
6. Never Meet Face to Face. Tell your children to never accept an invitation to get together with someone they met online.
7. Be a Photo Editor. Make sure your children are selective about what photos they post online. Warn them of the permanence of content on social networking sites. If they post a photo, comment or video, it is there forever.
8. Be Mum About Money. Make sure your children don't give personal financial information, such as bank account numbers, to anyone they meet.
9. Play Defense. Tell your children to listen to their gut and report any behavior that makes them uncomfortable.
10. Be Download Dubious. Tell your children to be careful about what they download and warn them to never open files from a strange site or e-mail address.
SocialShield gives parents affordable, easy-to-use tools to help them protect their kids' Internet safety. For more information, visit www.socialshield.com.
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Helping Kids Respond to Mobile Harassment
(NAPSI)-To protect their children from mobile harassment, parents may want to learn exactly what’s involved. Recent research suggests that 32 percent of teens know someone who has been harassed or bullied via text.
Mobile harassment and bullying, which take place on a mobile phone through text messages, instant messages, e-mails and social networking sites, can have short- and long-term consequences, including psychological harm, depression, anger, violence, low self-esteem and even suicide.
While most kids view such behavior as a normal part of teen life, the damage caused can spread with viral speed and may permanently damage someone’s reputation.
Most every teen has at some point seen, forwarded, talked about or otherwise enabled the viral spreading of harassment-type messages. According to the recent “LG Text Ed Survey,” conducted by TRU Research, 43 percent of all teens surveyed have sent, received or forwarded a text calling someone names or putting someone down. Additionally, 41 percent of teens surveyed have sent, received or forwarded a text that contained rumors about someone that were untrue.
“In most cases, senders do not think about the harm or consequences of their actions when they send or forward these messages or photos,” said Dr. Joel Haber, psychologist, bully expert and LG Text Ed Advisory Council member. “The adolescent brain may not be registering the potential damaging impact it may have on its target.”
Fortunately, there are a few ways parents can help teens avoid this type of situation.
• When your children get a mobile phone, tell them about appropriate behavior and let them know when behavior crosses the line and becomes hurtful or mean to others.
• Teach teens to stop and think about what they are doing before they take action on a text message.
• Stress the significance of speaking out against children who hurt others through their mobile phone or online activity or, if this is not safe, providing help to the targeted child in a confidential way that makes him or her feel safe.
• Make sure your teens have someone to go to to report any direct threats—you, their school, a hotline number or the police.
• Make sure your teens know that it is never OK to threaten anyone through their phone, online or offline, make fun of others, post embarrassing photos, impersonate others or forward salacious messages about others.
For More Information
To learn more about this issue and how to talk to kids about mobile harassment, you can visit an easy-to-use, interactive resource, the LG Text Ed website at www.lgtexted.com.
The LG Text Ed Survey is a national snapshot of texting behaviors among 13- to 17-year-olds and the parents of 13- to 17-year-olds. The study was conducted online within the United States among 1,017 teens and 1,049 parents of teens.
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