How to Use Technology to Keep Your Sanity on a Travel Team Trip

Traveling with sport team

Balancing Safety & Independence: 3 Classic Summer Sports Travel Scenarios

This is a collaborative article written by TeamSnap and MamaBear

All-star games and travel team trips define summer for so many of our kids. Families load up the SUVs, fill the car full of snacks and hit the road to stay in hotels with teammates running the halls. The insanity can be fun, but it can also be overwhelming, with so many kids to keep tabs on. The trick is keeping calm and staying prepared.

Here are three no-fail scenarios to be prepared for when you’re on the road and off the field this summer.

Traveling with sport teamIt’s after the game and you’re ready to hit the sack, but the team is hanging out in the lobby and you get asked, “Can I go to the pool with Tommy?”

Things to consider . . . is your child a strong, independent swimmer? Will there be an adult chaperoning?  Make sure you lay down some ground rules like no wrestling or diving, don’t disrupt other swimmers in the pool and put some time constraints around how long he/she can be at the pool. If all else fails, go with them and volunteer to chaperone for 45 minutes. Your child will be delighted, and the other parents will thank you.

The team dinner at the local sports restaurant ends, and here it comes, “Can I ride back to the hotel with Bobby’s family?”

Your initial thoughts: how far is the hotel? Has Bobby’s parents had a beer or two at dinner? Do you trust Bobby’s parents? There are very clear reasons to say no, however an alternative is to invite Bobby to ride back with you and let your son or daughter control the music playlist on the way back. Roll down the windows and rock it out on the way back to the hotel.

Everyone’s starting to settle down for the night, but the kids are too excited at the prospect of all being together in a foreign place to relax. “Can I go to Sam’s room on the third floor with Jack?”

Must-ask questions include: what room number is Sam in? Are his parents in there? Who else is in there?  Then, verify. Talk to Sam’s parents and find out if it’s OK. Evaluate the situation before allowing them to run off.  Express the importance of not disrupting other hotel guests and not to go anywhere else without coming and asking you first. And don’t forget to review the good ‘ol stranger danger rules.

No matter what the scenario, let technology help you.

organize sports teamYou’re kids aren’t going anywhere without their devices, and you can use that to your advantage. Apps like TeamSnap and MamaBear help you keep tabs on the kids while letting them flex their independence simultaneously.

For example, the MamaBear app has a family map to share location, you can receive driving speed notifications and get clued in to social media activity. With TeamSnap Live!, everyone on the travel trip can use the Locker Room to communicate instantly to find out where the after-game dinner is, who’s chaperoning the pool or what room the late-night gathering is in. And for actual game time, Live! can be used to provide real-time game updates for those who couldn’t make the trip.

 

 

 

Features-Location-smallFind as many opportunities as you can to say yes this summer and give your child independence and social time with their teammates with safety in mind. It can make them a stronger team and offer social lessons without you peering over their shoulder.

And remember, you have the power of technology at your fingertips with your phone to stay connected and monitor activity proactively while offering your child desired independence. MamaBear is offering a free premium upgrade through the rest of the summer to TeamSnap customers. Register here and use promo code TeamSnap_WorryFree15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explaining the Consequences of Sexting to Your Kids

Parents need to accept the growing rise in sexting and have conversations with their teens (and preteens) about the potential consequences of sexting.

Many parents would probably say they don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to their teen and sexting, the exchange of sexually explicit messages and photos via SMS, or texting.

But most of those parents would be wrong.

According to a report by Drexel University, more than 50% of surveyed students said that they sexted as minors.

Parents can no longer look the other way when it comes to sexting. They need to accept the growing rise in sexting and have conversations with their teens (and preteens) about the potential consequences of sexting.

Sexting Can Be Considered Child Pornography

Child pornography is a term that will likely scare and repulse most teens. But those same teens probably have no idea that sexting, as in receiving and sharing illicit images of minors, can be legally categorized as child pornography.

The Drexel study showed that many teens are unaware of this association and found that 61% of respondents didn’t know that sexting was considered child pornography.

But sexting is connected to child pornography and can lead to legal repercussions as twelve teens in Chicago found out. A group of male students aged 15 and 16 were taken into custody after it was learned that they were distributing nude images of others under the age of 18.

Related Post: Taking Responsibility for Kids and Sexting

Relationships May End, But Images Will Remain

It isn’t uncommon for teenagers in relationships to believe that their relationship will last forever and fail to think the possibility of it ever ending. So, when they are about to send an explicit message or photo to their boyfriend or girlfriend, they rarely think about what will happen to that message if they break up.

Parents need to have conversations with their teens about the reality of their relationships and remind them to think about what will happen if the relationships ends.

Would they want their ex to have their hands on the photos after the relationship? What could happen if the relationship ended poorly? Would their ex use that photo against them?

Teens need to be reminded that if they share sexual photos with their boyfriend or girlfriend, that photo will remain even if the relationship ends.

People Can Share and Steal Private Images

When teens send a text, social media post, or sext, they often aren’t thinking about the long-term life of their message.

They send a message to a specific person and believe that is their only audience. They usually don’t think about the possibility of the message being shared or stolen without their knowledge.

But any piece of digital material has the potential of being shared without consent.

Teens may think that they are safe using platforms like Snapchat, where images are deleted after an allotted amount of time.

But even these sites and platforms are not safe. Last year, MamaBear covered a situation where 13GB of photos and videos on SnapChat were stolen by hackers.

Images that teens thought were private were stolen and shared without the creator’s’ knowledge.

Related: Snappening: What Snapchat’s Third Party Hack Means for Our Kids

The Cost of a Damaged Reputation

Whether images from sexting are stolen, intentionally misused, or just remain on a social media site on the Internet,  the ultimate danger is a permanent consequence linked to a damaged reputation.

When a college entrance committee, a prospective employer, or anyone else that may be in a position to make a decision affecting your child’s future can find  messages and photos as they search your child’s name across the web they are more and more likely to say “no,” often before even considering the actual school or job application. Many colleges are now running software to scan the Internet for content linked to potential new students. Imagine 4 years of hard work in high school to achieve grades and test scores high enough to apply to the best schools, only to be denied because of a few stray sexting messages.

Related: How To Talk to Your Kids About Their Digital Reputation

Parents can no longer avoid and ignore teen sexting.

They need to have conversations with their teens to help them clearly see the potential consequences that can come from sexting and sharing inappropriate and illicit messages. Parents can also get more involved with their child’s digital world by using MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™. The free app, available for iPhones and Androids, sends parents notifications regarding their child’s social media activity and account, keeping them in the loop of their child’s social media habits and digital life.

The Hurtful Side of Social Media: Horrific Threats Via Instagram for One Teen

instagram safety for kids

The students of Lone Hill Middle School are having to face the cruel, unsettling and for most, unexpected side of social media. Their classmate, an unidentified girl, received startling and horrific death threats via Instagram. While police and school officials are doing everything possible to find the person behind these anonymous threats, parents are left wondering how they can protect their own children from the ugly aspects of social media.

How Many Tweens/Teens Use Social Media?

An article on Edudemic gives these startling stats:

  • 95% of teens ages 12-19 use the Internet
  • 81% have social media accounts, 50% of those have public profile information that can be seen by anyone on the Internet
  • 50% login to their social media accounts more than once per day, many 10 times a day or more
  • 21% of kids under 13 use social media sites
  • 23% of tween girls reported that Instagram was their favorite app

As a Parent, Here is What You Should Know

Ignorance of technology and social media is no longer an option for parents.  According to Nicole Nishada, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, “When the conflicts expand to social media, parents are often unaware of the communication occurring silently on cell phones and computers.”

The sheriff’s office involved in this incident has been very clear that the authorities take this type of threat very seriously and there will be consequences when the person behind the threats is caught. Cyberbullying affects both the victim, who will carry emotional scars, and the bully, who if caught, can face severe legal action, or financial consequences.

With serious consequences associated on both sides of the cyberbullying epidemic, it is critical for parents to take an active role and speak with their children about this topic.  Children should know that there are options when they are the victim of cyberbullying and they should also know the negative consequences of being a cyberbully.

As parents, we sometimes go by the old adage “no news is good news,” but our children, who may be afraid to speak up or who think they can handle the situation on their own, are struggling silently.

What Can You Do To Help Your Children

A lot. Social media is a privilege, not a necessity and parents have every right to closely monitor their child’s Internet usage, including social media accounts. Children have grown up with technology, are tech savvy and may know how to keep their parents from seeing their online activity. Insist on having the passwords to your child’s accounts and monitor them daily, asking questions if you see something suspicious or unsettling. Parents can also help their children avoid this type of harassment by keeping an open line of communication.

This Is What MamaBear Was Created For

MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ closely monitors your child’s popular social media accounts all in one convenient newsfeed, including what they are posting, tweets and pictures, and also what is being said back to them through comments, messages or any other means of communication.

The app, available on iPhone and Android devices, will alert you to any signs of bullying creating the opportunity for you to open up a line of communication and extract information from your kids. The MamaBear app also offers a private communication portal so you and your family can share messages and stay on top of any situation.  Your kids do not have to be a victim to cyberbullying.  Use MamaBear and be aware and informed before your child has a problem!

 

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Why Parents Need to Monitor Kids’ Social Media Accounts

After Kurt Shilling and his daughter received dozens of vulgar tweets, it reminds us why it's so important to monitor our kids' social media accounts.

Retired baseball player Curt Schilling may have thought twice about sending a tweet to his daughter congratulating her on her acceptance to college if he would have known where it would lead them.

Schilling was so disturbed by the outcome of that tweet that he shared the experience in a blog post, “The world we live in… man has it changed.”

The post recounts the awful experience that Schilling and his daughter Gabby had with Twitter cyberbullies and trolls, and reminds parents everywhere why it’s so important to monitor their kids’ social media accounts and talk to them about how to protect them online.

What Schilling Learned About Social Media Bullying and Trolling

Schilling was a proud father congratulating his daughter on going to college and joining the school’s softball team. He wanted to share that pride with fans and followers.

But he got more than he bargained for when the tweets sent in response to his message went from congratulatory to downright vulgar.

The responses to Schilling’s post became filled with hateful, hurtful, and disgusting messages referencing his teenage daughter.

How Bad Can It Really Be?

Bad. We aren’t going to publish the terrible tweets that were sent to Schilling and later published on his blog. But if you don’t believe how bad it can really be, you can take a look at the tweets for yourself.

The sad truth is that this is not an uncommon situation on social media. Everyday cyberbullies and trolls send harassing and vulgar messages to people they know and people they don’t know.

Schilling admits that there are a lot of people that don’t like him as he is an outspoken conservative and former Red Sox player. But not even his decades spent living in a dorm room, hanging in a clubhouse, and playing on the field could have prepared him for what he found on his Twitter stream.

What’s In It for the Cyberbullies and Trolls?

Online harassment can be put into two categories. Psychology Today defines those categories as cyberbullying and trolling.

Cyberbullying is deliberate and repeated harmful statements or content with the purpose to:

  • get revenge
  • feel empowered
  • gain popularity
  • harass
  • be offensive
  • upset someone
  • intimidate a person

Cyberbullying is usually initiated by someone the victim knows. Trolling, on the other hand, is usually done by someone the victim doesn’t know.

“Trolls” send messages to start arguments or make people feel angry or upset with the purpose to:

  • entertain the “troll”
  • be offensive and argumentative
  • to bait the user into further dialog
  • gain recognition
  • feel powerful

In Schilling’s case, it seems to be a little of both. There were targets against him directly, and others that just seemed to stir the pot. Parents need to keep an eye out for both types of harassment as each can be equally harmful to children.

What You Can Do To Help Your Child

Sometimes it takes a parent witnessing social media bullying first hand to really understand the depths and the severity of online harassment. But through Schilling’s experience, parents can see just how important it is to monitor their kids’ social media accounts.

Parents need to stay vigilant and that means getting involved with their child’s digital life and social media world. They need to make sure that their child is not a target on social media or witnessing vulgar harassment that is sent to other users.

As a parent, you can  get involved and stay connected using MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™. The free app, available on iPhone and Android devices, sends parents messages anytime their child receives a direct message or is mentioned in a tweet, making it much easier to monitor online experiences and protect kids from online bullies and “trolls.”

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