Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Teen Dating: What They Need To Know

Summer is around the corner.  With summer could be summer romance for your teenagers.

One day, your little one is skipping down the sidewalk with her hair in pigtails and a firm grip on a teddy bear. The next, it seems like, she’s bouncing down the stairs on her way to greet her first date. Watching kids grow and mature, especially during the teenage years, can be a bittersweet experience. It can also be the harbinger of the most difficult period of your parenting career. Preparing your child for the world of adult interactions, romantic entanglements and independence isn’t always easy, especially when you’d much rather they stayed small forever. Just as you can’t keep a child from growing into an adult, neither can you stem the tide of romantic attraction and the desire to date. All you can do is hope that you’ve instilled the values that you set out to, and that you’ve adequately prepared your teenager for the complicated and sometimes painful world of dating.

The Friendship Code
There are certain rules that come along with both dating and mature friendships, and they largely go unspoken until one of them is broken. One of the most pervasive and important rules for your teen to know before he starts dating is that the “friendship code” shouldn’t be broken. This code entails everything from dating a friend’s ex to trying to date a friend’s current girlfriend, and everything in between. While you’re trying to instill an inherent respect for the opposite gender, be sure that you also discuss the ways that dating and friendship can become messy, and how certain decisions can have far-reaching implications when it comes to both friendships and romantic relationships.

The Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship
No parent wants to think about their child being the victim of dating violence, but the sobering statistics show that this is one conversation that parents simply must have with their teens before dating becomes an issue. A study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations shows that as many as one in three seventh grade students have experienced “psychological dating violence,” and that up to one in six have been the victim of physical dating violence. A different study, headed up by the Liz Claiborne corporation, also shows that less than 25% of teenagers have discussed the subject with their parents. Both teen boys and teen girls need to know that dating violence or emotional abuse is never acceptable and should be aware of the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Once a pattern of accepting abuse is established, it can be a difficult and painful cycle to break. Make sure that your teen starts off on the right foot by ensuring that he’s educated and aware of the issues surrounding teen dating violence and abuse.

The Importance of Boundaries and Respect
Parenting comes with its fair share of awkward conversations and embarrassing situations, but it’s far better to weather that momentary discomfort to educate your teen about boundaries and the importance of respecting them than to send them off into the world of dating with no clear understanding of them. Teens need to know that “no” means no, and that pressuring their significant other into anything they’d rather not do is completely unacceptable behavior. They need to know that anyone who subjects them to such pressure is not a good friend or someone that truly cares about their feelings, and that there’s nothing wrong with breaking off a relationship if their boundaries aren’t being respected.

Popularity is Not a Sound Reason for Dating
At no other time in life is the prospect of popularity or gaining entrance into the “cool crowd” more valued or desperately sought than during the teenage years. Teens may date someone that they have little in common with or little regard for simply to maintain or achieve a position of power in their social circle. Conversely, teens often choose not to date people that they are compatible with and attracted to due to a perceived social stigma attached to dating outside of their circle. Before dating even becomes an issue in your child’s life, be sure that she knows just how irrelevant popularity will be to her in five years, and how much she could potentially miss out on if she’s dating someone solely because they’re popular and capable of affecting her social standing.

Your Expectations and Their Responsibilities
While you may think that your expectations and your teen’s dating responsibilities go without saying, it’s important to realize that your teen only knows what you tell him. Don’t assume that your teenager knows what you expect of him as he starts dating, or what his responsibilities are to both you and his significant other. Communicate the rules and what you expect clearly and concisely, so that there’s no confusion or pleas of ignorance later.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Online Safety Measures: Tweens and Online Gaming

Summer is approaching  --- it can mean more time spent in cyberspace especially playing online game for tweens.  Here is a guest post a with 5 safety tips for your pre-teens.
When you look in your living room, are your pre-teens immersed in a video game on a console, computer, or cellphone? Chances are, the games they’re playing have online connectivity. Gartner reports that a large portion of the $111 billion video game market consists of online games. 38 percent of minors enjoy video gaming as a hobby, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and there’s plenty of benefits to encouraging them to play online enabled games. They provide your pre-teens with entertainment, socialization, computer skill development, and brain stimulating activities. Unfortunately, these socialization elements also open your pre-teens up to certain risks and dangers, such as becoming a victim of hacking or social engineering. Knowing how to protect your pre-teens and developing their own risk- aware skills is an essential part of safe online gaming.
Checking for appropriate content
Online games span many genres, from a hidden object game by iWin to MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. Pay close attention to the rating and types of content and concepts presented in the game your pre-teens are playing. Consider playing along with your children to see exactly what information your kids are picking up, as well as steering them to age appropriate games if the content is not suitable for them. The Entertainment Software Rating Board handles video game ratings, starting at EC for early childhood and going up to AO for adults only.
Checking for Chat rooms
Many online games have chat rooms or messaging functions to provide social interaction with other gamers. Online games with parental controls allow you to filter out bad language, block private messages, and control whether your child gets chat room capability or not. This is another way of ensuring your pre-teens aren’t exposed to inappropriate content. Some games also allow you to mute specific players if a particular individual is harassing your child.
Time Monitoring
The allure of online gaming makes it easy for your pre-teen to spend many hours playing all of the games at their disposal. Track the amount of time that they play through parental monitoring software. Some games, such as World of Warcraft, allow you to prevent an account from being played past a daily or weekly amount, or restricting the time of day that the child can log in. This helps you keep your kids happy with their favorite activities while not allowing it to take up all of their free time.
Avoiding Hackers
Online gaming portals provide hundreds of games through a single website. Some of these games play directly in the browser, while others are downloaded and installed on your computer. Keep the computer anti-virus running to avoid downloads and browser plugins with viruses and trojans attached. Read through gaming portal reviews to find legitimate sites, or check gaming magazines and blogs for this information. Check for https encryption when your child logs into the site, and handle downloadable game installations yourself to stop companion software, such as toolbars, from getting installed.
Check Game Emails
Some online game services send out emails informing players of new developments, specials, and updates. Phishers take advantage of this by posing as official game representatives and tricking users into providing account information. Monitor the email address your child used to sign up with a service, and screen any emails for phishing attempts.
Contributor: James Stewart

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bullying Prevention Month: Cyberbullying Affects Real Lives

It may seem harmless to see your child engaged in the latest social media application. She may be snapping pictures to her friends on Snapchat or posting funny status updates on Facebook to stay in touch with her classmates and friends. However, when social media posts and tweets take a turn for the worse, your child may experience the devastating effects of cyberbullying, ultimately damaging her self confidence, self esteem and mental well being.

Defining Cyberbullying
According to Dr. Kate Roberts, Boston-based psychologist and cyberbullying expert, cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, hurt, embarrass, humiliate or intimidate another person. “Targets are the same students who are bullied in person,” says Roberts. “They are vulnerable, have difficulty reading social cues and they are often alone and socially isolated.”

Unfortunately, cyberbullying is able to occur 24/7 with the help of cell phones, instant messaging, mobile devices and social networking websites. “According to recent studies, almost half of middle and high school students have experienced or witnessed cyberbullying,” says Roberts.

Kids respond differently to abuse from others, says Jennifer Hancock, author of “The Bully Vaccine.”
“Parents need to understand that cyberbullying isn’t happening in isolation,” says Hancock. “It is a part of a larger pattern of harassment, that in the adult world would be considered stalking – and it is as emotionally damaging as stalking – so take it seriously.”

Knowledge is Power

Today’s parents consist of the first generation that has had to contend with this level of cyber harassment, says Roberts. Parents, however, can arm themselves and their children with knowledge when protecting their children against cyber bullies.
  • Have the ‘Cyberbullying’ Conversation: Children don’t like to talk about bullying, but according to Roberts, “the reason for this is they have likely bullied themselves, been bullied or been a bullying bystander and the talk brings up these memories and feelings of shame.” Parents need to have an open conversation and respond without judgment as their children open up about what they know.
  • Explain How What You Don’t Know Does Hurt You: Some kids minimize or justify cyberbullying by saying that the target didn’t even know what was said. Roberts suggests explaining to your kids that it still hurts. “Use their life experiences to illustrate how badly they feel when people talk about them negatively,” she says.
  • Set Cyber Safety Rules: Whenever your children interact online, remind them that they never really know who is on the other end of cyber communication. With that in mind, Roberts recommends enforcing the guideline of “don’t do or say anything online that you wouldn’t do or say in person.”
  • Monitor Online Use: Know what your children are doing online to help them prevent cyberbullying and cope with it. Limit time spent on technology to naturally minimize access to and involvement with cyberbullying, suggests Roberts.
Helping Your Child Cope with Cyberbullying
Your child’s school may be the best advocate for prevention of cyber bullying and, more importantly, enforcement of cyber bullying school policies, especially if your child is a victim. If you fear that your child is a target of cyberbullying, Roberts suggests getting to know the school administrator in charge of overseeing bullying.

“If you discover that your child is being cyber bullied, save the URLs of the location where the bullying occurred and document it by printing the e-mails or web pages,” says Roberts.

Many school districts enforce a “no tolerance” bully policy that now includes cyber bullying. In addition, school officers and law enforcement officials often monitor the social media accounts of middle and high school students to prevent cyber bullying.

The best thing you can do, as a parent, is engage your child over time to develop a strategy with them and make reporting a central part of that strategy, says Jennifer Hancock, author of “The Bully Vaccine.”

“Whatever strategy you develop has to be comprehensive and your child has to take the lead on it with your support and assistance to report any incidents,” says Hancock. “They probably won’t be willing to disconnect entirely, but perhaps you can convince them to ban certain individuals from their Facebook stream so that they don’t see the content anymore.”

Unfortunately, many kids do not tell their parents about cyberbullying because they fear the parent’s first response is to get rid of the child’s access to the Internet. Be more creative, says Hancock. “Help them keep their access to the Internet but eliminate the people harassing them,” she says. “That works to instill trust and helps your child come to you for help in the future.”

Seek help from outside resources, too, such as your child’s peers, friends and neighbors, and ask them to inform you of any cyber bullying that may be occurring and affecting your child. In many cases, children who have been bullied – either online or offline – may benefit from sessions with a family therapist to discuss coping methods.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why Parents Need To Understand Age Restrictions on Social Media

This is a question that has been lingering for the past couple of years.  We know that kids under 13 are joining, but should they be?

The brave new world of technology has expanded so far that even your grandmother may have an account on the social networking clearinghouse that is Facebook. The fact that your elderly relatives have adopted Facebook, however, doesn’t mean that your child is ready to tackle the social media giant.

When your tween is pleading with you for permission to start a Facebook account and swearing that all of their friends have them, these are 10 of the reasons why you might want to stick to your guns and continue to ban the site for a few more years.
  1. Bullying – Being bullied is a devastating situation, even for teenagers and young adults, but tweens are even more likely to be overwhelmed by bullies online. Kids who aren’t victims of bullying may also find themselves joining in with the crowd picking on another youngster in the no-holds-barred world of the Internet.
  2. Exposure to Questionable Content – Even if your preteen is never approached by a sexual predator, she’s still likely to come across photos or status updates that simply aren’t age appropriate. A child who doesn’t have a Facebook account may be protected from that objectionable content for a bit longer, though.
  3. Online Predators – Sexual predators lurking online are such a problem that entire television series have been dedicated to sting operations designed to catch them. Preteens simply aren’t equipped to properly fend off approaches from predators, and may be more susceptible to their techniques than older kids.
  4. They’re Not Technically Allowed to Have Accounts – If you don’t prohibit Facebook use for your preteen for any other reason, you should consider the fact that allowing them to start an account is tantamount to telling them that it’s okay to lie. Facebook doesn’t allow users younger than 13, so your child will have to falsify her age in order to sign up. Doing so with your permission is effectively sending a message that lying is acceptable behavior if you’re lying to get something you really want.
  5. Reducing Screen Time – Between television, video games and time spent online for homework purposes, kids spend enough of their day planted in front of an electronic screen. Facebook is just another way for your child to while away the hours in sedentary activity, rather than getting outside and being active.
  6. Preserving Academic Performance – When your child is supposed to be online researching homework methods or studying for a big test, his shiny new Facebook account can be a very serious distraction. Kids so young may have difficulty controlling their impulses, and may spend far more time on the social media site than they do actually working.
  7. Protecting Your Computer from Malware – You and your teenagers may have a basic idea of how to avoid malware and spyware sent out by unscrupulous Facebook users, but your tween probably doesn’t. Keeping your child off of social media for a few more years can also be your computer’s saving grace.
  8. Because Kids Lack Adult Judgment – The fact that college students post photographs of binge drinking parties and incriminating status updates at an alarming rate is proof that young people don’t always have the best judgment when it comes to social networking. For a young child, not understanding acceptable Facebook use could lead to them sharing very sensitive personal information that later proves to be dangerous.
  9. Friends Lists Can Be Difficult to Manage – When the friend requests start rolling in, your tween will probably accept each and every one of them because it makes her feel well-liked and cool. That can give some shady characters access to her profile, something she may have trouble understanding when she’s still so young.
  10. Tech-Savvy Tweens Can Block Your Monitoring Efforts – Some preteens may have trouble avoiding malware and managing a friends list, but others will be tech-savvy enough to filter their updates and change security settings that affect what you’re able to see. Even if you think you’re monitoring your child, you may only be seeing a fraction of the things she does online.
If you still think that your preteen is mature and trustworthy enough to have a Facebook account without getting into trouble, the decision is up to you. Be warned, however, that your child could find all of her hard work tossed to the wayside if Facebook administrators discover that she’s maintaining an account before she’s reached the age limit set in the terms of use and decide to delete the account.

Source:  Babysitting Jobs

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Social Media and Student's Future Careers

Back to school - let your kids know their keystrokes will effect their future.

I have discussed this topic for a long time along with my colleagues we constantly discuss the importance of digital citizenship.  It will be your virtual image that will dictate your future.  Your keystrokes are that important!  No one gets a second chance to make a first impression – especially when their name is being put through an Internet wash-cycle.

More employers are turning to social networking sites to find additional information on potential candidates – and they’re not entirely impressed with what they’re seeing. A new survey from CareerBuilder found that 51% of employers who research job candidates on social media said they’ve found content that caused them to not hire the candidate, up from 43% last year and 34%  in 2012.
Forty-three percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 39% last year and 36% in 2012. Additionally, 12% of employers don’t currently research candidates on social media, but plan to start, according to the national survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from February 10 to March 4, 2014, and included a representative sample of 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals, and a representative sample 3,022 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

Beyond Social Networking
Employers aren’t limiting themselves to social networks when it comes to researching candidates’ web presences. Forty-five percent of employers use search engines such as Google to research potential job candidates, with 20 percent saying they do so frequently or always. Additionally, 12 percent of employers say they’ve reviewed a potential job candidate’s posts or comments on, or other ratings sites.

Helping or Hurting?
So what are employers finding on social media that’s prompting them to eliminate candidates from consideration? The most common reasons to pass on a candidate included:
  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46%
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs – 41%
  • Job candidates bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee – 36%
  • Job candidate had poor communication skills – 32%
  • Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion etc. – 28%
  • Job candidate lied about qualifications – 25%
  • Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers – 24%
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior – 22%
  • Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional – 21%
  • Job candidate lied about an absence – 13%
However, one third (33%) of employers who research candidates on social networking sites say they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. What’s more, nearly a quarter (23%) found content that directly led to them hiring the candidate, up from 19% last year.
Some of the most common reasons employers hired a candidate based on their social networking presence included:
  • Got a good feel for the job candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture – 46%
  • Job candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job – 45%
  • Job candidate’s site conveyed a professional image – 43%
  • Job candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 40%
  • Job candidate had great communication skills – 40%
  • Job candidate was creative – 36%
  • Job candidate received awards and accolades – 31%
  • Other people posted great references about the job candidate – 30%
  • Job candidate had interacted with my company’s social media accounts – 24%
  • Job candidate had a large amount of followers or subscribers – 14%
“It’s important for job seekers to remember that much of what they post to the Internet – and in some cases what others post about them – can be found by potential employers, and that can affect their chances of getting hired down the road,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Job seekers need to stay vigilant, and pay attention to privacy updates from all of their social networking accounts so they know what information is out there for others to see. Take control of your web presence by limiting who can post to your profile and monitoring posts you’ve been tagged in.”

Watch What You Post
Employers shared the strangest things they’ve discovered on job candidates’ or current employees’ social media profiles, including:
  • Candidate’s profile included links to an escort service
  • Candidate posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest
  • Candidate posted an exercise video for grandmothers
  • Candidate had sued his wife for shooting him in the head
  • Candidate featured a pig as his closest friend
  • Candidate posted his dental exam results
  • Candidate bragged about driving drunk and not getting caught on several occasions
  • Candidate was actively involved in a demonic cult
  • Candidate posted Sasquatch pictures he had taken
Many workers and job seekers are taking measures to protect their privacy and avoid over-sharing with potential employers. Nearly half (47%) of workers only share posts with friends and family, 41% have their profile set to private, and 18 percent keep separate professional and personal profiles. Twenty-eight percent of workers say they don’t use social media.

careerbuilder_-_useAbout CareerBuilder®
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Published with permission from Career Builder.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summertime and Teen Driving: Parents Are Role Models

Car crashes already are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, who have the highest crash rate of any age group, AAA stated. During the summer months — when drivers rack up 20 billion more miles than at other times of the year — an average of 260 teens are killed in accidents each month. That's a 26 percent spike compared with the other months of the year.

Not only are teens themselves more likely to die in car crashes, they also have the highest rates of crash involvement resulting in the deaths of others, including passengers, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles, AAA stated.

Moreover, risk increases "exponentially" with the addition of each younger passenger in a car driven by a 16- or 17-year-old. Compared with a 62 percent risk reduction when one passenger age 35 or older is in a teen driver's car, the risk of being killed increases 44 percent with just one passenger younger than 21; it doubles with two passengers under 21; and quadruples with three or more passenger under 21.

To help keep young drivers — as well as their passengers, other motorists and bystanders — safe this summer, the Insurance Information Institute advises the following precautions:
  • Choose a safe car for your teen that's easy to drive and offers protection in a crash — avoid small cars, large SUVs and those with high-performance trims.
  • Enroll teens in a driver-education course and safe-driver program, which will better prepare them for challenging situations on the road. These programs inform teens of the responsibilities and consequences of driving, and possibly earn them an insurance discount.
  • Discuss the dangers of talking or texting on cellphones while driving, as well as drug and alcohol use, and develop a plan for getting home if they encounter an impaired-driving situation.
  • Be a good role model. Remember: If you drive recklessly, your teen likely will imitate you.
Source:  AAA and Kicking Tires

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Teens Smoking Cigarettes

With summer here some tweens and teens will try new things - smoking might be one of them.

Most know it, yet peer pressure can sometimes outweigh it when it comes to kids.

Kids can get pretty creative when it comes to hiding their bad habits from parents and most parents assume that their child would never do anything like take drugs, drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. In all cases there are certain signs to watch for that let you know if your child is indulging in any of these risky behaviors, no matter how crafty they may be at trying to hide them.

Here are some signs to watch for if you think your child may be smoking.
  1. More use of breath mints or chewing gum – Has your child suddenly felt it necessary to always chew gum or have breath mints? If so, there is a chance that they might be trying to cover up the bad breath that smoking causes.
  2. The dirty ashtray smell – Chances are if you confront your child about smelling like a dirty ash tray, their first response will be to blame it on the friends they hang around. This may or may not be true. If their clothes and possessions constantly and regularly smell like smoke, then there is a pretty good chance they are smoking.
  3. Yellowing teeth – Smoking causes the teeth to yellow from all of the chemicals they’re exposed to, so if your child’s teeth are beginning to turn a shade of yellow then you may have a problem on your hands.
  4. Shortness of breath – Smoking does affect the lungs and decreases lung capacity, so if your child is beginning to get easily winded it may be time to sit down and have a talk with them.
  5. Bad breath – If your child has really bad breath that reeks of smoke, it’s definitely time for you to have a heart to heart conversation about smoking and all of its negative side effects.
  6. Poor performance in athletics – If you see your once active child suddenly begin to decline in athletic performance this could be a sign that tobacco use is to be blamed.
  7. Yellowed fingers – Nicotine from cigarettes can cause yellowish staining of the fingers that commonly hold the cigarettes. If you’ve already had a suspicion you’ll want to watch for those telltale stains.
  8. Unexplained coughing – Children can cough due to colds and allergies but if your child is coughing and there is not a cause of which you are aware, you may want to ask some questions.
  9. Their space becomes off limits for you – As kids get older they want their privacy and their space becomes sacred to them. This is natural, but only within reason. If their room becomes completely off limits to you, look into the reason why. Does the room smell like smoke? Are they constantly burning incense?
  10. Overuse of perfume or cologne – Attempting to hide the smell of smoke on their clothes by using extra perfume or cologne is another possible sign that your child could be using cigarettes.
While none of these signs alone are necessarily cause for concern two or more together may warrant a closer look. If you find that you do need to talk to your child, do your best to stay calm and keep the lines of communication open.

Now is not the time to lecture or sermonize. Find out what the appeal to smoking is and remind your child about the costs both financially and to their health. Having an open and honest conversation will show your child that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being and hopefully will cause them to rethink developing this unhealthy habit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Teens and Summer Options

Summer is approaching....
Some kids are able to attend summer camps, some aren't.

There are several factors that could make traditional sleep-away summer camp a less-than-ideal choice for some families, such as the age and temperament of children and the significant financial burden that such camps can impose. 

Very young children are typically excluded from sleep-away camps automatically, while older kids who do meet age requirements may balk at the idea of spending an extended period of time away from their families and friends. The anxiety and stress that often accompanies homesickness is likely to make parents consider the expense of summer camp an unwise investment, as many summer camps charge hundreds of dollars in fees, even before the added expense of buying supplies.

Here are ten great alternatives for parents who want to keep their children occupied and engaged during summer vacation without sending them to pricey and distant summer camp.

1. Volunteer Programs – Older children can learn a sense of civic responsibility and the importance of helping others by spending part of their summer participating in a local volunteer program. Animal lovers among the smaller set may be thrilled with the idea of helping at a local animal shelter, while others may enjoy working with a local charity or visiting a local retirement community.
2. Community Day Camps – Community centers in most cities offer summer day camp programs, allowing kids to enjoy all of the fun activities that are a part of a sleep-away camp without the stress of spending weeks away from the familiarity of home.
3. Religious Summer Programs – Many places of worship offer vacation workshops and other similar programs with a theme of religious instruction during summertime, which may be an ideal choice for devout families. Kids can spend the summer among peers who share their spirituality, learning about their family’s belief system through arts and crafts, story time, and other kid-friendly activities.
4. Arts Workshops – Many art museums offer programs specifically tailored to budding art aficionados; local universities may also host summer programs for children staffed by students with education or arts majors. University programs may include visual art, musical instruction, or theater programs, depending upon your area.
5. Sports Clinics – Pint-sized athletes are sure to love spending the summer honing their skills, which makes a local sports clinic the ideal choice. These programs keep kids physically active, which is a huge plus for parents who are concerned about the sedentary lifestyle that many children adopt when school ends. Rather than spending hours in front of the television or the computer, kids who participate in a sports clinic can enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and exercise while becoming stronger and more skilled athletes.
6. Academic Programs – During summer vacation many school systems still offer programs for academically gifted children. Some programs even focus on peer-tutoring, allowing more advanced students to offer assistance to classmates who struggle in some areas, which can build a sense of social consciousness. Alternatively, many programs feature an emphasis on building and expanding gifted kids’ already-impressive knowledge base.
7. Scouting – While the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America do have summer camps for their troop members scattered across the country, plenty of troops stay home during summer vacation to participate in locally-based scouting activities. School vacations provide active scouts with the opportunity to earn merit badges and other achievements, which can be difficult to do during the hectic school year.
8. Family Day Trips – Families can spend their summer vacation taking a series of fun and exciting day trips. Visiting the zoo, the park, or a children’s center during the dog days of summer are surefire cures for the boredom and inertia that often sets in around mid-July.
9. Visiting Extended Family – Today’s families tend to be more spread out than in previous generations, so kids might not get to spend as much time with members of their extended family as they would like. While spending a few weeks at summer camp might be daunting for some kids, visiting a favorite family member during summer vacation might not be as stressful.
10. Family Camping Trips – Skipping a sleep-away summer camp doesn’t mean that kids have to forgo the camping experience altogether; outdoorsy families can plan a camping trip that keeps everyone together and costs far less than sleep-away camp fees.

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