Friday, November 26, 2010

Fraud Awareness: Play it Safe

With more consumers at this time of the year, Black Friday and Cyber-Monday approaching, it is a perfect time to remind your adult teens as well as yourself about the high risks of fraud and scams that exist.

Warning Signs:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • People, sales reps, online pressure: Anyone or anything that pressures you to act “right away,” stop and think.  Do your due diligence – it could save you money and grief at the end.
  • Guarantees of success.  In life there are two main guarantees: Death and taxes.  After that – use caution.
  • Requires an upfront investment, even if it is for a free nothing.  Run, and don’t look back.  A perfect example is when an adult will approach a vulunerable teen and tell them they have the look of a model – but they need a portfolio.  Unless they are providing you the necessary means to get one (which could be nearly $1000.00 or more), don’t believe it.  If an honest modeling agency wants you – they will pay to get your portfolio completed.
  • Buyers want to overpay you for an item and have you send them the difference.
  • Doesn’t have the look or the feel of a real business.
  • Something just doesn’t seem or feel right.  Your gut is telling you to run.
Play it Safe:

  • Never click on a link inside an email to visit a website.  Type the address into your browser instead.
  • It’s easy for a business to look legitimate online.  If you have doubts, verify the company with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Only 2% of reported identity theft occurs through the mail. Report online fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at
  • Retain your receipts, statements, and packing slips.  Review them for accuracy.
  • Shred confidential documents instead of simply discarding them in the trash.
The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, works hard to prevent fraud and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid it.  To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Teens and Brain Games

Are Brain Games Addictive or Healthy?
Today, technology is being used not just for work, but for entertainment purposes as well. People not only surf the net and do other things online to while away their time, most of them also play games with virtual strangers (friends?) too. Most of these games are so addictive that people end up playing them all day long. You may ask, if the games are mentally stimulating and improve your coordination and response time, why are they considered detrimental? If something is good for you, why should it not be addictive? Are all addictions unhealthy?

Now I’m not addicted to Facebook by any length; what I am addicted to is the game of Scrabble that you can play with other online gamers. To me, it’s not a waste of time if I spend a few hours a day playing this word game, simply because I’m using my brains and playing with letters, something that is right up my alley because of the nature of my job. Even so, there are others who would consider my addiction unhealthy, simply because they feel that I could be more productive at work if I did not waste so much time on Scrabble. It may help sharpen my mind no doubt, but the addiction is also taking me away from my job and lowering my efficiency and dedication to my job.

Therefore, if we’re analyzing whether brain games are healthy or addictive, we must draw a line that demarcates the boundary between the point where it’s healthy and the instant that it crosses over to becoming an addiction. Remember, an addiction is something you have no control over, and even if it’s a good thing, when you cannot control it, it stands to reason that it controls you.

Look how addictive technology has become today – we can see how children, teens and adults are becoming addicted to Facebook and other social networking sites. It’s true that we spend more time in our virtual space than in the real world; we interact more with people who are online than with people who we can see and touch; and we’re so addicted to technology that it’s impossible to imagine our world without it today. But if we look at technology through different eyes, we see that it is highly advantageous too – information is available in an instant, we’re able to keep in touch with loved ones who live afar, and we’re able to boost our knowledge and widen our experiences even if we’re constrained by location and other factors.

So how then do we classify technology? Is it healthy or addictive? Again, it’s the crossover from healthy to addictive that we must be aware of and enforce self restraint. It’s the same with brain games too – no doubt they’re good for you, but when they cross that line and start to become addictive, they’re more detrimental than advantageous.

This guest post is contributed by Patricia Duggan, who has completed her Bachelors in Psychology and now pursuing her Masters of Science in Psychology.  She is the co-founder of the website and she like to write on the topic of Psychology Degree . She welcomes your comments and suggestions at her email id: patricia.duggan70<@>gmail<.>com.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Teen Depression: When it returns, be ready

Teen depression is a serious concern that can lead to tragic results if not treated.  According to a new study from Duke/John Hopkins University, nearly half of teens who suffer a severe episode are back in depression within a few years of their initial recovery.  Also noted in this new study finds that depression affects an estimated 6 percent of U.S. teen girls and nearly as many teen boys.

Nearly all (96 percent) of the 196 teenagers in the study either improved or fully recovered after an initial depressive episode, but 47 percent had one or more subsequent depressive episodes in an average of two years.

As the holidays approach, it is a time that suicides among adults and teens will increase.

It is critical to be aware of your teenagers feelings and activities. 

For reasons that are not clearly understood, girls were more likely to have repeated bouts of depression, with nearly 60 percent of them suffering subsequent depressive episodes after recovery, compared to 33 percent of the boys.

Some common warning signs of teen depression:
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits (eating and sleeping too much or too little)
  • Significant change in weight (loss or gain)
  • Often misses school and/or shows bad school performance
  • Reclusive, withdrawing from friends or family members
  • Quick to show anger/rage
  • General restlessness or anxiety
  • Overreacts to criticism, even constructive
  • Seems very self conscious, guilty
  • Unusual problems with authority
  • No longer partakes in or enjoys activities and events they once loved
  • Indecision, lack of concentration, or forgetfulness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Frequent health complaints despite being healthy
  • Lack of motivation and enthusiasm for every day life
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Mentions or thoughts of suicide
Some common causes of teen depression:
  • Significant life events like the death of a family member or close friend, parents divorce or split, breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or moving to a new school/area.
  • Emotional/Physical neglect, being separated from a nurturer, abuse, damage to self esteem.
  • Many changes happening too quickly can cause depression. For some teens, any major change at one time can trigger symptoms.
  • Stress, especially in cases where the teen has little or no emotional support from parents, other family members, or friends.
  • Past traumatic events or experiences like sexual abuse, general abuse, or other major experiences often harbor deep within a child and emerge in the teen years. Most children are unable to process these types of events when they happen, but of course, they remember them. As they age, the events/experiences become clearer and they gain new understanding.
  • Changes associated with puberty often cause emotions labeled as depression.
  • Abuse of drugs or other substances can cause changes in the brainĂ•s chemistry, in many cases, causing some types of depression.
  • Some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism are believed to affect hormone and mood balance. Physical pain that is chronic can also trigger depression. In many cases, depression caused by medical conditions disappears when medical attention is sought and treatment occurs.
  • Depression is a genetic disorder, and teens with family members who have suffered from depression have a higher chance of developing it themselves.
If you suspect your teen is suffering with saddness and depression, reach out and get help.  Don't ignore the signs or just brush it off as typical teenage phase, which it could be, but your teens safety and health come first.  Broward Prevention offers a vast amount of resources to assist you further.  If your teens has escalated to a point that their life or your family is at-risk, you may need to consider residential therapy.  Visit for more information.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bullying: Stop the Hate

Yes, normal and acceptable, tolerance is taught at home and reaches into our communities.  South Florida has been the battleground of bullying and school violence and it has to stop.

For many years, kids were bullied because their behavior or appearance was perceived by the bully to be different. Now, bullying children who are gay, lesbian, trans-gender or bi-sexual has become more flagrant. The National Center for Transgender Equality reports that of 6,500 people surveyed, 51 percent attempted suicide because of bullying.

Currently, approximately 160,000 children stay at home from school each day because of bullying. It also seems to be socially acceptable to bully anyone who is different, and that includes children who are overweight, underweight or disabled.

Bullying has also encroached on the Internet. 

According to Pacer's National Center for Bullying Prevention:
  • 42 percent of children and teens have been bullied on line, one in four more than once;
  • 35 percent of children have been threatened on line, one in five more than once; and
  • 58 percent of children admit someone has said mean or hurtful things on line, four out of ten more than once.
Things we can do to stop bullying:

1.  Facebook has a “Report” button so you can report bullying. You can also block the sender. Don't add a friend you don't know.
2.  Report bullying. Telling is not tattling. If the teacher does not listen, go to the principal, the district, etc. until you are heard. Remember, the bully relies on fear and intimidation to keep his threats secretive.
3.  Keep a record of the bullying, including the location, the bully's name, and any witnesses.
4.  Some great resources are:
If you have seen bullying or have been bullied, you can e-mail
5.  The American Civil Liberties Union can also address the rights of a child or teen who has been bullied.
6.  If you are feeling suicidal, call:
Common sayings: “Boys will be boys,” “Girls aren't bullies,” “Words can never hurt,” “It's only teasing,” “Kids deserve bullying,” or “Kids need to toughen up,” are not true. Billy Lucas, age 15, Justin Aaberg, age 15, Tyler Clementi, age 18, Asher Brown, age 13, and Seth Walsh, age 13, recently killed themselves because of bullying. No one deserves to be bullied.

Contributor:  Kim A. Tennant, author of  Thin Club and The Ordinary Extraordinary Boy

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Overweight Teens: Support for Parent with Teens That are Being Bullied

Bullying is one of today's growing and serious trends in our country today.  Whether a student has a sexual preference that you don't agree with, or a child that is overweight, bullying is becoming a way to harass and harm kids.  School violence is being used as kids are being hurt.

Promoting health, wellness and good eating habits is sometimes difficult for busy parents.  According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, 30% of us who are overweight or obese think that we are just fine, thanks, and 70% of us who are obese think that we are merely overweight.  Our self-esteem, in other words, hasn't skipped a beat.  Some have even surmised that "fat is the new norm," our perceptions gradually adapting to the sight of our heavier friends, neighbors, and acquaintances around us.

Weight discrimination has increased a whopping 66% over the past decade, and is "comparable to rates of racial discrimination, especially among women."  Weight bias affects the workplace, media, healthcare, schools, and yes, family life.  A recent study reveals that parents discriminate againsttheir own overweight kids by being less willing to help pay for college or buy them a car.

Sadly, weight bias is no joke, but like any form of bullying, a potentially deadly affair.  Overweight kids and teens are often physically bullied, taunted, and excluded by peers, family members, teachers, and other authority figures.  Not only does criticism and public pressure about one's weight tend to increase eating disorders, comfort-eating, reduced physical activity, and weight gain, but it contributes to depression, damaged self-esteem, poor body image, and even suicidality.

So what can parents do?  Get educated.  Watch three fantastic videos on weight bias and kids from Yale University's Rudd Center and share them with your family, your PTO or PTA, your school principal, your friends.  Read posts on Fitsmi from a teen who was bullied for her weight; a girl who suffered drive-by insults; a teen teased by her brother and his friend; a Mom reflecting on the importance of praising a daughter's beauty, at any size.  Increase sensitivity to weight bias in your home, raise awareness at your local schools, and make sure that in a tough world, your child at least has one person he or she can turn to:  you.

Visit for more valuable and educational information.  Watch video on sidebar to learn more about how Fitsmi can fit into your parenting!


Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teen Drinking: Drunkorexia

Between the expanding technology, learning about Internet safety, texting and cellphone use, bullying, drug use, huffing, inhalants, rainbow parties, choking game, learning the teen lingo etc.... Parents can add one more worry to their list of raising teenagers:


What is Drunkorexia?  It is the term used to describe a mixture of alcoholism, bulimia and anorexia.  Schools and universities are dealing with a new student issue and it is an concern for counselors and parents.
In 2008 the New York Times was one of the first times we heard about this issue that is becoming a trend. The Denver Post just ran a recent article, "Drunkorexia" act swaps food calories for alcohol.  ABC News Health also just posted Drunkorexia: Alcohol Mixes With Eating Disorders.

Health workers warn drunkorexia is a serious medical condition that can harm the body. It is also often coupled with other psychological disorders. Statistics suggest that 30% of 18-24 year olds skip food in order to drink more according to

What can you do if you suspect your teen is substituting alcohol for food?

Communication and education is the key to prevention.  However most parents know that talking to our teens can be difficult.  Getting them to actually listen is even harder.  But you can't stop talking about it - you can't stop sharing with them the harm it does to their health and body.

Drinking alcohol and body image is part of life for today's teenager. As the parent of a teenager you have a responsibility to educate your child in order to ensure that he or she has a healthy relationship with alcohol and self-confidence to feel good about how she looks. Get educated and get talking; don't let your child be another teen drinking statistic.

For more information, go to, or call the toll-free helpline, 800-931-2237.
For more information on your local services contact PACT in St. Augustine at 904-829-6261.
Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.