Going Strawless can Make a Big Impact

Join Sundays with Victoria and Grom Social and pledge to go strawless, because even little changes can make big difference.

Single-use plastic straws have become a major environmental issue as they do not break down and are not compostable or recyclable. Plastic straws can make their way into the waterways and end up in the ocean creating a toxic mess and danger for all the animals that call it home and the people who enjoy it. An estimated 500 million (half a billion) plastic straws are thrown away each day in the U.S. alone. That means 182,500,000,000 straws per year go into the landfills, streams, lakes, and oceans!

Not all people can go strawless, especially those with disabilities, but choosing to switch to an eco-friendly alternative in your daily life will help to make you part of the solution, reducing pollution at its source! Together we can make a difference.

What can you do:

Don’t use single-use plastic straws

Find and use reusable straw alternatives at home or on the go

Talk to others about going strawless.

Support organizations that are trying to make a difference like Lonely Whale.

Ready to make a difference?  Silicone straws are great for kids as they are soft flexible and stainless straws are awesome because they almost chill your drink as it is sucked through!

Try these alternative straw solutions:

Parental Text Message Monitoring Isn’t Snooping, It’s About Safety

test message monitoring

For many parents, the idea of  looking through their teen’s phone and text messages feels a little icky. Browsing through their personal messages may feel like reading their diary or invading their privacy.

But, keeping an eye on your child’s text messages isn’t about snooping; it’s about safety.

The Importance of Safety Over Privacy

As children grow up, they seek more independence, privacy, and freedom. It’s natural to let your child take more ownership of their lives, and it’s important to give them their space.

But, it’s just as important to stay connected to their lives.

As a parent, you need to know what is going on with your teen, what is happening in their life, and who they are communicating with. If your teen isn’t forthright about these details, it can create safety issues.

They may be hanging around with the wrong people, connecting with dangerous strangers, getting involved with illegal activities, or even starting to explore drugs and alcohol.

So if you feel like you are losing your connection with your teen, you need to do what you can to keep them safe. That may include checking their text messages.

When, If Ever, Is It Okay to Read Your Teen’s Text Messages?

Reading your teen’s text messages isn’t snooping if it can help keep them safe and protect them from dangerous strangers, bad influences, and sometimes even themselves.

If your teen starts doing any of the following, it may be time to take a deeper look into their lives.

  • Your teen starts to hide their phone or shield their messages from you.
  • Your teen quickly loses friends or joins a new group of friends.
  • Your teen starts sleeping more or spending more time in their room.
  • You catch your teen sneaking out or staying out too late.
  • Your teen stops spending time with family.
  • Your teen’s habits begin to change.
  • Your teen’s looks begin to change.

These can be signs that something bigger is going on with your teen. They may be struggling or dealing with issues that are outside of the scope of typical adolescence.

If you feel like something deeper is going on in your teen’s life, monitoring their text messages may help you find out what is happening and give you an opportunity to provide the help and support your teen needs.

How To Respectfully Monitor Your Teen’s Text Messages

If you decide to monitor their text messages to get a better idea about what is going on in their lives, the MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ can help.

Our app offers a text message monitoring tool that connects parents and teens.

When a teen installs the MamaBear app on their Android device, their incoming and outgoing text messages can be recorded and sent to the parent’s version of the app.

To set up text message monitoring:

  1. Install MamaBear on your teen’s phone. (While Mamabear is available for iPhones and Androids, the teen version of the text message monitoring tool is only available for Androids at this time.)
  2. Install MamBear on the parent’s phone. (The parent version of the text message monitoring tool works for both iPhone and Androids.)
  3. From the child’s phone, go to the profile settings, tap “text alerts.” Tap “Turn On” in the top right-hand corner.

Monitoring your teen’s text messages may feel like snooping, but the upside far outweighs the downside.

By connecting with your teen’s digital life, you may identify and prevent problems in your teen’s life and help keep them safer, happier, and healthier.

Get the MamaBear app now by downloading it for both iPhone and Android devices.

Wait to Update to iOS 9

We’re loving the new iOS 9 features but you may want to wait a while before you update. Since the original release of the new operating system from Apple on September 16, an update to fix “minor bugs” was released on September 23 with iOS 9.0.1.  Yet, Forbes is reporting there are still some vulnerabilities. Perhaps Apple will release another “bug fix” update or we may have to wait until iOS 9.1 which may be weeks away.

MamaBear customers may also be experiencing an app crash if already updated to iOS 9.  We’ll have an app update available in the next couple of weeks to patch up any issues regardless of your operating system version.

If you’ve already updated  or plan to soon, be careful with the Wi-Fi Assist feature.  It automatically allows your phone to download data via your cellular plan when Wi-Fi coverage isn’t great.  This feature is rather helpful, particularly for apps like MamaBear needing the connectivity to provide you reliable information, but it could eat up your data.  Read more at USA Today.

Our recommendation for now is to wait to update.

YouTube Kids App Isn’t As Safe As It Sounds

It turns outs that even when a platform is designed with kids in mind, it isn't always as safe as it seems -- as it was with the YouTube Kids App.

When a website or app releases a new “kid-friendly” version of their platform, it sounds like it should be good news for parents.

With so much content online, managing what kids consume is often a big undertaking for parents. So an app designed exclusively for kids, with guards set up to prevent them from finding inappropriate content sounds like a break for parents.

But it turns out that even when a platform is designed with kids in mind, it isn’t always as safe as it seems — as it was with the YouTube Kids App.

What Is the YouTube Kids App?

Many kids enjoy watching YouTube, which includes a large library of kid-friendly content. But the platform, designed for adults, isn’t an ideal tool for young children.

In February of this year, Google (which owns YouTube) launched YouTube Kids, an app that gives younger kids an opportunity to enjoy their own, age-appropriate version of the video platform.

The new app, compatible for tablets and smartphones, was designed with kids in mind. The dashboard looks like a toy with bigger buttons, easy to navigate menus and intuitive playback options.

As for the content, YouTube claimed to curate age-appropriate videos, channels and playlists.

While YouTube Kids didn’t exactly say there would be only age-appropriate content available on the app, it sounded like it was a totally safe space for children to explore on their own.

But that wasn’t the case.

What Went Wrong?

An article on CNN Money reports that a consumer group has uncovered multiple examples of inappropriate content available on YouTube Kids.

Among the content were cartoons that looked harmless at first glance but were actually discussing playing with matches, tasting battery acid, tying a noose and tasting beer.

The iTunes page for YouTube Kids says that it uses “a mix of input from our users and automated analysis to categorize and screen out the videos that make parents nervous.” But that is in no way a foolproof solution.

Google is aware of the situation and working to resolve the issue; but in the meantime, parents need to be aware of what this means for their children.

Is YouTube Kids Safe For Your Children?

YouTube Kids is a better alternative than standard YouTube, but that doesn’t mean you can leave your child to manage their experience on their own.

Parents should carefully monitor the videos their children discover and report any content that is inappropriate or questionable. They can also use the app’s grown-up-only options to turn off search, limiting the content their children can find.

Related Post: YouTube Parental Controls and What Every Parent Needs to Know 

When it comes to online content, there really is no time when a parent can sit back and expect the platform to monitor the content on its own. Parents always need to remain vigilant of their children’s online media consumption, even when it is advertised as age-appropriate.

In an increasingly complex digital world, parents can use online tools like MamaBear, for Peace of Mind Parenting™ to help monitor their children’s experience with online content. The free app, available for iPhones and Androids, makes it easy for parents to connect with their children’s social media accounts and better monitor their online activity.