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Standing in front of an audience was never a career goal for me. I had no intention to do public speaking. My last year of college, I took a mandatory public speaking course over the summer when I knew there would be only a few students in my class. So, when I was first asked to do an assembly for middle school students, I was petrified. I instantly put them to sleep.

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With every new challenge we take on in life, there is an expectation set before the venture begins. Elementary, middle, and high schools have a handbook to follow. There are expectations about attendance, academics, and behaviors. Often parents and students have to sign and return a form confirming that they reviewed the school handbook at the beginning of the year. College classes have a course outline. A new job has a job description that both the potential employee and employer understand and agree to before hiring. A marriage has wedding vows that are based in a lifetime commitment.  Society has laws that we must follow in order to maintain a safe and healthy community.

Over the past two days, news stories of the “Momo Challenge” have been rapidly spreading through the media. This has led to much misinformation, unclear understanding and concerned parents, professionals and teachers as well as frightened children.  On Wednesday, February 27th, reports of this “challenge” were seen in many media news stories and by forwarded posts on Facebook, Instagram and other social media. By Thursday February 28th 2019, students in schools were talking about it and scared by the image attached to this story.

Revenge porn is a type of cyberbullying that is on the rise. Also known as non-consensual porn, this occurs when photos of an intimate nature are distributed without the subject’s consent.

Do you remember when Atari was the most popular, must have, latest gaming system? Or, when you got your first cell phone and it was used for emergencies only? How about when television ads first started to include that “www dot thing” at the bottom of the screen? Growing up, I can remember each of these instances and more as the world wide web began to infiltrate our homes and lives.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth 10-24 and the numbers are rising. You may have recently heard of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”. If you have or haven’t, please read this article linked below. I have worked very hard to work towards suicide prevention in a responsible way following the […]

A critical adolescent developmental task involves developing a stable sense of self.  During these vulnerable years, tweens and teens are strongly influenced by their peers and the actions of their peers take on a heightened sense of importance. We have known for many years the grave pull of peer pressure and how it influences teen behavior. In […]

Question: “Dear Amanda, I have a teenage daughter who is on social media. I worry about her self-esteem and her comparing herself to other girls on social media. How do I help her develop strong self-esteem in this social media visually driven world we are immersed in?” Great question! Worrying about our daughter’s self esteem, […]

Dear Amanda, I have two children: a girl in middle school and a boy in high school. They have become obsessed with the PokémonGo app. It has been all over the news about thieves using it to lure kids to areas and robbing them. I feel that I should make them delete the app. What […]

“I’m working with parents that are struggling with their kids’ behavioral outbursts when they take away their device. It’s almost like they have an addiction to their phone or tablet. I’ve heard of internet addiction, but is there device addiction?”

Amanda’s Answer:
This is a very good question and one that comes up often in discussions with parents and professionals.  For the most part, the object of dependence tends to be the cell phone. If you need a demonstration, all you need to do…

I regularly talk to kids about apps. Over the past year, I’m starting to hear about Tinder with the senior aged kids. Part of my work is teaching them to recognize red flag behaviors, indicators for grooming and not going to meet people in person that they meet on Tinder (or other sites such as Craigslist).
I know what Tinder is and how it works. As with all apps I discuss, I get on it from time to time to see if there are any new updates or behaviors I need to teach to parents. But not all parents or educators know what it is and how it works to give kids this knowledge.

As we thought, Facebook has made a decision about the “Dislike” button. Rather than one button, Facebook is planning on launching a group of “Reaction” emojis which will express: love, haha, wow, yay, sad and angry. These emojis will have motion much like a gif.
Currently, they will pilot the new buttons in Spain and Ireland. After data is collected, the plan will be to release more globally. For a video of how it will be used and additional information, click here.
As with all changes, keeping up to date and talking with our kids about usage will continue to be important. The potential for “laughing” at something serious or being “angry” about something positive still exist.

In the last week, there has been a lot of talk about Mark Zuckerberg creating a new button to allow users to express “dislike.” This request has been going on for several years as users would like to show empathy for a FB friend who may be going thru something that is negative in their lives. As a clinician, my natural assumption, given the prevalence of cyberbullying, is that it could turn into another weapon in the cyber arsenal of those who wish to bully a peer. Because we live in a world where we look for validation – we want to know that we are liked and that people are interested in what we have to say.

In June 2015,  I wrote about apps that allow you “hide” or “lock” your picture on a device which limits access to others. Click here to read. This type of app and behavior has recently been in the spotlight again due to an Alabama prosecutor’s viral video telling parents that the calculator app on their […]

This is a story of a mom who discovered her daughters picture being used by a random man on Facebook claiming that it was his daughter. It’s a interesting read that may make you think twice before posting your child’s picture on social media. In reality, trying to avoid positing your child’s picture on social […]

A question that comes up often during my trainings is, “How do free apps make money?” While I do not have the experience to give a perfect answer to this question, I can link you to this article that discusses Snapchat’s Discovery feature which is a pretty easy way to see why companies would pay […]

Parents and educators need to know what the law is related to cyberbulling. Policy and legislation surrounding “cyberharassment” and cyber crimes, in my eyes, will have to be an ever evolving entity due to rapidly changing technology. I’ve linked an article at the bottom that highlights 5 of the key components in a new law, […]

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