Social Media Tips To Keep Your Kids Online

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Although we as parents spend plenty of time on social media, it can sometimes be nerve wracking that our kids are venturing out into the cyber world as well.  While some parents believe allowing kids to have a social media account of any kinds is absurd, the reality is that many kids today have one as soon as they’re old enough to. All too often, kids get a Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or Instagram account even before they’re old enough simply by lying about their age and going behind their parents’ backs.  Parents tend to work long hours, leaving their children home alone, in the care of a relative or friend or waiting at a local library after school.  Even parents that are home with their children may not be aware that their children are online and chatting with hundreds of strangers online each and every day.  Whether you allow your children to be online or not, the best choice is to be proactive and provide them with ways to be safe online while they’re at home, at school o r at a friend’s house.  Below are my top 5 social media tips for kids, compiled with information from the FBI and the Amber Alert GPS website:

1.  NEVER give out personal information.  If your parents allow you to get a Facebook account, it is ebcause they trust that you’ll be responsible and keep your family’s safety in mind. In order to do this, you have to be sure not to share any personal information on your Facebook page that may tell a stranger where you live, how to contact you or what your full name is.  You can have a nickname on your Facebook profile that your family and friends will recognize to protect your identity from strangers.

2. DON’T add anyone that you don’t personally know and consider a good friend.  If someone sends you a friend request and you don’t know them personally, do not accept them as a friend.  Believe it or not, many people on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are lying about who they are and the pictures they use are not really them.  They may look cute, they may say they go to your high school but all of it may be lies.  Bottom line is, if you don’t recognize the picture and don’t know for sure who they person really is, do not add them as a friend.  Someone that says they are a 16 year old boy on their page may really be a 60 year old man waiting for the chance to cause you harm.

3. NEVER agree to meet anyone in person.  If your friends on Facebook and Twitter are really your friends, they’ll call you when they want to meet you at the mall, go to a movie or hang out at the park.  Do not agree to meet anyone that you meet online, regardless of what they may offer.  Some perpetrators (people that want to cause harm to others) lie and say they are directors, producers and celebrities that want to hire you as a model or actor.  Do not believe this and immediately stop all contact with this individual.

4.  TELL.  If you encounter anyone online, whether in a chat room, on Facebook or in an email, that scares you and makes you feel uncomfortable, immediately tell an adult.  Not only will you be saving yourself and your family from harm but you’ll also be helping protect other children online, If you do not feel comfortable telling your parents, tell an adult.  It can be a teacher, a counselor, a police officer or anyone that you and your parents would trust.

5. DON’T TAG PHOTOS and don’t allow others to tag you.  This may be a really fun feature on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but what it really does is tell strangers where you are, where you live, what area you hang out in and where they can find you.  Set your account settings to prevent anyone from tagging you on their photos and do not ever tag yourself.  Your friends will know where you are by simply seeing the photo and asking you in person.

 

 

 

Eating Healthy: It’s All About Choices

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Eating healthy may come easy to some but, for most of us, it is a difficult task to accomplish with all the temptation that surrounds us on a daily basis.  There are the notorious office potlucks, the ever easy fast food drive through, a quick microwaveable dinner and the unavoidable holiday parties that we encounter year after year.  When you throw in a full time job and kids into the mix, eating healthy and making good choices for meals can seem impossible.  Believe it or not, there are ways to eat healthy and make it convenient.  The important thing to remember is to incorporate foods you love so you don’t feel deprived and find healthier ways to make them.  Below are some examples of foods and meal times when temptation and convenience may get the best of us.  Immediately following these examples, you’ll find ways to solve the problem and make better, healthier choices for yourself and your family.

Breakfast

Breakfast is the meal that is skipped by more children and adults across the country than any other meal of the day.  The mornings tend to be so busy and rushed that there’s hardly time to grab a cup of coffee.  Because of the lack of time, we tend to rely on unhealthy options such as bagels, donuts, toaster pastries and sausage sandwiches.  These options are laden with carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. They are also missing the key ingredient to keeping you full until lunch, protein!

How do you eat healthy in the mornings and have time to drop the kids off before work?  Start with quick, healthy options such as the ones below:

Shakeology (my personal favorite!)

–whole wheat toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter

–an apple and Greek yogurt with honey

–whole oats with dried fruit and chopped nuts

–a handful of almonds and a string cheese

–your favorite yogurt with granola and favorite fruit

All of the options above have the perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to give you the energy to start your day and help keep you full until it’s time for lunch. Most can also be eaten on the go.

Lunch

Lunch is also a meal that is rushed, either because it is only 30 minutes, you choose to work through it and sneak out of work early or you run errands and opt for a fast food burger in between.  Eating a healthy lunch doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen the night before preparing it.  There are healthy lunch options you can take with you and also some you can pick up at your favorite fast food restaurant.  Instead of a greasy double cheeseburger, opt for:

–an apple, string cheese and a protein bar

–a veggie burger

–a grilled chicken sandwich sans mayo with mustard instead

–a grilled chicken salad with balsamic dressing

–Believe it or not, a kid’s meal from any of the popular fast food chains. Kid’s meals tend to have smaller portions (mini burgers) and offer healthy options for sides such as sliced apples.  If you’re desperate and not in the mood for a salad, this can be an option.

All of the options above are available at just about any fast food restaurant and most cost less than $3.

If you’re the type of person that snacks all day long, carrying a small lunch box with you throughout the day, while at work or running errands, is a great way to avoid temptations.  Fill it with plenty of water, nuts, fruit, string cheese, whole wheat crackers and dried fruit.  This way you’ll have food on hand when the hunger pangs begin and you won’t be tempted to reach for those tempting mall pretzels or sugar filled cinnamon rolls.

Dinner

When it comes to dinner, there are endless options for healthy meals that taste as good as options you find in a restaurant. All you need to do is find healthy ingredients to make them with.  If you’re craving tacos, make them at home with ground turkey.  Less fat, just as much protein and a fun family dinner you can make together.  If fried chicken is one of your favorite meal time staples, try baking it instead. Opt for breasts since white meat has less than half the fat of dark meat and use whole wheat or panko bread crumbs for a healthier alternative.

Dessert after dinner is almost always a must and one of our biggest diet pitfalls.  Luckily today there are many varieties of desserts that offer low fat, low sugar options.  Many of our favorite ice cream flavors are available with half the fat.  If you want milk and cookies or a slice of cake, make them at home and use applesauce instead of oil and eggs to lower the fat content.

No matter what you’re craving, if it’s unhealthy, there’s most likely a healthier option out there waiting for you to find it.  All you need to do is make the choice to live a healthier, happier life by choosing to eat the right foods.