I specialize in writing researched interest pieces trending for popular audiences, as well as blog posting for weight loss.
The following article was written as content for InterestBeat, a company similar to Buzzword. They are no longer in business.
What age should I let my kid do social media?
I have a child that is nearing 13 years old and has been asking me for a couple of years when she can have a Facebook account, or YouTube, Instagram, Kik, etc. This was a tough subject for me, because I'm on a lot of these networks and quite frankly there's a lot of content on them that I really don't want my 12 year old exposed to just yet. What also makes it difficult is this stuff wasn't really around when I was her age so I can't really use the example of my mother for making decisions.
Allowing children into social media can definitely have positive effects. It gives them an outlet to express themselves, it allows them to keep in contact with friends and family members, and it can help them to find themselves. However, there are also a lot of negative things that can come from social media. Things that include cyber-bullying from school mates, possible exposure to sexually graphic material, releasing too much personal information or questionable photos of themselves, and even unwanted sexual advances either from people they do or don't know.
SO WHAT'S A PARENT TO DO? Well, there are a few things to consider when trying to figure out when is a good time to allow your child to join the world of social media. The choice I made is not necessarily popular with my child, especially since so many of her friends are already on a lot of these social networks. However, the first thing I looked at was, what does the social network say about how old they have to be in order to join? I also thought about why did they set that age limit in the first place?
AGE LIMITS Social networks (and websites in general) have age limits set because of COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Permissions Act) enacted in 1998 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The problem with it is there isn't really a whole lot that can be done to enforce it when it comes to the users. Kids are resourceful and can either lie about their age when they join, or simply not tell their parents that they have done so. There are some parents of course who are aware of their usage, but have allowed it anyways. The following social networks say that the participant has to be at least 13 years old in order to join their network in accordance with COPPA (just to name a few)...
But there are some that take a different route. For instance, YouTube says that users have to be 18 in order to have an account, however if they have parental permission they can begin their own account as early as 13. WHY WAS COPPA PUT INTO PLACE BY THE FTC IN THE FIRST PLACE? According to TechTarget, COPPA was enacted due to a large number of web sites that began targeting children with their marketing techniques, and collecting data without knowledge of the parents. The reason why this was an issue is because children didn't understand that there could be negative outcomes to sharing information. For instance, if the child shares their phone number and agrees to be bombarded with sales calls.
What many parents don't know is that under COPPA a parent can contact a company asking for username and password of their child's profile, and the company is obligated to provide access. In addition, parents can also request to have information deleted from the profile, but they cannot alter the information. However, COPPA is meant for children under the age of 13. I am unclear if this still applies for a child between the ages of 13 and 17 and was not able to find an answer in time for this post.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND MY CHILD I took a look at the different social medias closely, the types of interactions that are involved, and how much I could do as far as monitoring. The first one that we dipped our toes into was Instagram. She is still 12 (but turning 13 in a couple of months). I like Instagram because it gave her a lot of power over her account. She could choose who to receive messages from, who was allowed to follow her, what content she wanted to display, and how searchable it was by others under privacy controls. But we needed to have a talk about it all too.
I spoke with her about what info was appropriate for social media: She shouldn't give out her phone number, where she lives, or general information about the area we live in or her family. In addition, she shouldn't even necessarily give that info out to people she knows. Even if she has talked to that person regularly via the internet for months, if she has never met them in person she doesn't really know them. As a parent, you have to drive that point home with them again and again. They don't always remember.
I spoke to her about what images are appropriate for social media: She shouldn't post pictures of herself or send pictures of herself to her friends without clothing, or with clothing missing. (I don't believe she would do this, but if you don't say it, they won't necessarily know they shouldn't or that images like that could easily be passed from student to student or worse.)
I told her to keep me informed if someone else sends her inappropriate things: If someone texts her or sends her inappropriate pictures, or says anything inappropriate to her; she needs to tell me - immediately. (Surveys show that a lot of kids are actually pretty good at handling this type of scenario but they rarely tell their parents about it.)
I told her to keep her account set to private: Therefore the only way people find her are the ones she personally gave her username or email account to (i.e. her friends and family). Anyone who wants to follow her, has to get her permission to do so.
I put her account on my phone too: So, I get notifications of every picture she posts, and each time she is texted by other people. I don't make it a point to read all of her texts. I may periodically check. But I try to give her some privacy as far as that goes. But the biggest thing as a parent, is keeping apprised of the apps that she is using and making sure that I understand how they work. This only works so far though. There's nothing to stop your child from opening a secondary account without your knowledge. Just as they have to work to build trust with you, you also need to work at building trust with them. That means when friends post things on their wall or text them things like swear words or off-color jokes, it's your job not to blow up at your kids. Doing that will only result in them hiding things from you.
When she turns 13, am I going to allow her into the rest of the world of social media? Probably, but not all kids are created equal. Sometimes, you have to make an assessment on their maturity level, and decide if you think they are ready. Will they handle it responsibly? Basically, I need to know that she is ready to handle what is thrown her way, and that she makes good choices. But she can only do that if I keep talking with her about these things, and what can happen if she isn't careful. To all the parents out there who have children approaching teenage-hood, my heart goes out to you. I wish you all good luck as we enter this new age together.
This article is not all inclusive. There is a ton of information out there that can help you wade in. But if you would like to read more on the subject of safety for children with social media, or the web, here's a few more places you can check out. It is also where I got information for this article.
The first Thanksgiving in America occurred when Wampanoag Native Americans offered some food to the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in 1621. But what most people don't know is that it was actually a three day festival.
The first Thanksgiving was very different from how we celebrate today. Turkey wasn't the main course, there was no pie, and no cranberry sauce or stuffing! According to the Smithsonian, the pilgrims provided fowl such as swan and passenger pigeons, the Wampanoag provided five deer, and also "Indian corn." Turkey was present, but it is believed that this feast also included eels, lobster, clams, mussels, chestnuts, walnuts, beechnuts, beans, cranberries as well as other berries, pumpkins, and squash. However, pie would not have been on the list because the colonists didn't have access to butter or wheat flower for the crust.
President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 to be a day of "public thanksgiving and prayer." You can read the original proclamation for that day HERE.
The reason we celebrate Thanksgiving to this day is due to the 30 year efforts of a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale (she is most known for writing "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She petitioned 13 presidents for teh holiday (including Abe Lincoln) saying that the holiday could be used as a way to unite the country even while in the middle of the Civil War. She fought for it to be a nationally recognized holiday from 1827-1857.
Sarah Josepha Hale was the editor of a popular women's magazine Godey's Lady's Book, and she was considered a trendsetter for how women should run their homes. During her fight to get Thanksgiving to be a nationally recognized and celebrated holiday, she had spent years publishing recipes for women to cook on Thanksgiving. She is a big part of the reason why we now use Turkey, stuffing with safe, and even mashed turnips which eventually developed in mashed potatoes (although potatoes were considered exotic back then and mostly were not in America yet.)
In 1863 Abe Lincoln announced Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the final Thursday of November every year.
In 1939, FDR decided to move the celebration of Thanksgiving up a week in order to help retailers make more money for the depression era Christmas shopping season. This move was highly criticized by the public. It resulted in FDR signing a bill to keep Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November permanently, a practice still done to this day.
In 1989, the first turkey was pardoned by President George H. W. Bush and put into retirement on a farm where it would never be eaten. As a result, this gesture has become a tradition for every president in the Oval Office. (This statement is true as of 9-21-2018.)
Does your family do the wishbone tradition at Thanksgiving? When the turkey has been cleared of meat, the wishbone is removed and allowed dry. Two people each grab an end of the wishbone. When it breaks, whoever gets the larger piece will have their wish granted that year. This tradition supposedly goes back to Etruscan customs where they believed the collarbone of a chicken was sacred. They would set it out in the sun, and once dried, people gathered around it and made wishes. Roman's also picked up this tradition, as well as England. It is believed that the Pilgrims would have brought this tradition with them when they arrived on Plymouth Rock.
This is an example of a blog post I've written for my weight loss website. You can visit the actual website HERE.
Sorry, Oprah - I Quit
Between 2011 and 2015, I would have told you that I absolutely loved Weight Watchers. I had successfully lost 85 pounds on it! I was so proud of myself. But…life happened. Really strenuous, frustrating, soul-crushing events. I was trying to graduate from college, work full time, wrangle two kids, dealing with stressors in my marriage, and then my dad got cancer. It was something he didn’t survive, and neither did my will to keep eating properly and keep the weight off I had lost. I needed to keep doing all the other things. I needed to keep my head above water and not have a nervous breakdown. For the sake of sanity and dealing with grief, I said screw it. I’m eating whatever the hell I want, however much I want.
During all this time, I was still tracking my weight. I was still exercising regularly. I kept doing all of those things. But I didn’t care about what I ate. Before I knew it, I went from 185 pounds to 273. I hated myself. I hated that I wasn't strong enough to handle it all. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I felt embarrassed whenever I ran into people from before when I had lost the weight because generally their eyes got really big for a moment and then would refocus suddenly as they remembered to be polite.
TURNING POINT pt 1
In October of 2017 I decided I was going to try and get back in the saddle. Pay attention to what I was eating, exercise and do 8500 steps a day. But I just did not have it in me to do Weight Watchers. I didn’t want to go through learning the new points again and again, and not really knowing where I was supposed to be at calories wise. It was frustrating, and I was just done with them. I really felt like since Oprah had taken it over it had become more about making money than actually helping you lose weight. I mean I used to love watching the Oprah show when I was younger, don’t get me wrong. But WW just didn’t seem to be working out well since she bought it. Sorry, Oprah. I quit.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
I tried MyFitnessPal. I figured, ok it’s free. But I can pay for the premium service which was only $50 for a whole year and see what it would give me. I would lose about 6 or 7 pounds, but then gain it back. Lose 6 or 7 pounds and then gain it back. I just wasn’t seeing the kind of results I knew should be happening. Again, I was frustrated because I didn’t want to have to sit there and figure out what was going on. I kept doing more exercise, and seeing no results and not understanding why.
I wanted more structure. I kept hearing coworkers who were going to gyms and getting personal trainers. This is something I’ve never been able to do. In my head I felt like if I go, people are just going to stare at me and judge me because I feel like I’m the size of a house and I can’t stand how I look. And if the trainer has never been fat, if they have never had medical problems, how can they possibly know what will be best for me?
One day scrolling through Instagram, I kept seeing these ads for Noom. The tag line was, “You aren’t using MySpace anymore, so why are you still trying to lose weight on Weight Watchers?” Best advertising campaign I've ever seen. Ha ha. The price tag though! I couldn’t get past that for something I wasn’t sure was even going to work. Finally, I saw an offer that said try two weeks for $2. I figured in two weeks, I’d have a pretty good understanding what the program was about and whether or not it would work for me.
I liked the fact that they assigned you a coach to text with you weekly for game plans, that you also had a group of people you were assigned with who were starting out just like you, as well as a group coach to keep things going in the community and to bolster your enthusiasm about your accomplishments and setbacks and asking everyone else to support you when you need it. Before the second week was done I knew I wanted to do the full 16 week program.
BREAKING PAST 7 POUNDS
I was thrilled when I saw myself losing weight for three weeks, four weeks, five weeks in a row! I was ecstatic when I hit ten pounds lost and actually made myself a freaking motivation chart that I get to color every time I lose a pound. In under six weeks I hit 18 pounds lost and the whole time I kept thinking when do I hit the plateau. Just as these fears were crossing my mind, Noom actually did a little article about it in my daily homework assignment. It explained what is happening, why it’s happening, things you can do to break past it, and explaining it isn’t anything you are doing wrong! It is merely your body becoming more efficient at running on less calories. Then we came up with a game plan and what we can do for when a plateau hits. This was mind-blowing for me, and incredibly reassuring. I have not hit my plateau yet, but I’m so thrilled to know that I have options to help me figure it out now. 😊
FROM HERE AND BEYOND
Working on my health and my eating habits with Noom over the last 6 weeks has really helped me come a long way. I'm down 18 pounds, and I really feel like I can do this again. I can accomplish my goal. I still have a long ways to go. But my first big goal is to lose about 10% of my beginning weight of 273. So I want to lose somewhere between 27 and 30 pounds in 16 weeks. This blog is going to track a lot of that progress. Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions. I would love to hear from you. :)
This is an example of one of the bulletins I used to regularly write to my collection development team at the Victoria Public Library to keep them aware of their progress on selection, applaud them on what they were doing right, and encourage them to keep going when we still had more to accomplish before the end of the fiscal year.
Hello Selectors! I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July! I know the big question on all your minds is how are we doing? I’m going to get to that in a minute. The important thing to take away from this month’s News Flash is that we are fast approaching the end of the fiscal year and we need to kick our selecting into high gear! That way we can go out with a bang! (Yes, I really did just use that horrible pun – Happy 4th of July!)
AREAS TO FOCUS ON Music CDs/DVDs/Audiobooks: If you select for these areas you only have until the end of July! The cutoff date is August 1! The reason for this is because outsourced processing takes a month on these items, and we don’t get invoiced for them until they are shipped to us. So the sooner we get the orders selected the better and we can make sure to pay them in THIS fiscal year! Juvenile DVDs still has $800 to spend. Adult music, you still have more than $900 to spend. Adult movies you have more than $1300 to spend! Some of this can be taken care of with replacements, but we still need selection of the NEW STUFF too! Tech Services is working to help out with the replacement part, but please be diligent in your selecting!
Nonfiction 000s, 500s, 600s, and Adult Spanish: These areas have significant amounts of money to spend between now and September 1! This is our cutoff for when you need to have your orders submitted to the Admin account. The 600s section is probably my biggest concern because it has more than $2300 to spend!
You have been rallying hard all year long, and I have no doubt that you can do it. Remember your advanced search tactics from our training sessions, use your pro books, use the e-publications from Baker and Taylor as well as the Best Seller lists they offer, search by Dewey, search by BISAC subject. If you were slim on selecting last month you can always set your search parameters to go back in pub dates 30 or 60 days, etc. If you can’t remember how to do this, please feel free to get in touch with me. I will help you in whatever way I can and make time for it!
KUDOS Ok, here’s where we talk about how we did last month! Our goal for last month was to get the available percentage of money down to 10%, and though we have some areas in red and yellow, the overall percentage for Adult, Young Adult, and Juvenile is GREEN meaning ALL AT 10% OR LESS!!!! Yay!!! Woooo! Hooray!!! You’re soo sooo awesome! I am so incredibly proud of each and every one of you!
Juvenile and Young Adult especially – you selectors did a top notch job this year. I especially want to highlight Yvonne, she not only met her goal for picture books, readers, and JSeries, she went above and beyond helping out her fellow selectors doing an additional $2000+! You are a rock star this fiscal year!
Orange! – We have several collections that have gone past green and made it to Orange which means they have spent all their money! Congratulations to the selectors in these areas!!!
While I am super thrilled with our progress, I want to point out we are not out of the woods yet! We still have $22,808.26 to spendbetween now and September 1 a portion of which needs to be spent by August 1 (CDs, DVDs). Please keep your momentum going and I know we can reach this goal! You are definitely SUPER SELECTORS this fiscal year and I am so incredibly thrilled at the progress!