Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Teens, Careers and Encouraging Entrepreneurship

Encouraging your teens today is part of parenting.  Every parent wants to see their child succeed.  With all of today’s technology there are many ways social media and social networking can help and in some ways hinder (if they are not careful with what they post online) with their future.

These days, the traditional path of getting a good education and going to work in the corporate world isn’t always the best way to find success. Although it’s still a great choice, many young people prefer instead to take a path of entrepreneurship, and there’s a lot that parents can do to help them follow that path. Lemonade stands, family learning adventures, and smart financial lessons are just a few of the ways that parents can instill an entrepreneurial attitude of success in their children from a very early age.

Read on to find out how you can help your child become a great entrepreneur from the very start.
  1. Kids earn an allowance for chores, not for existing:

    Instill a good work ethic in your children by requiring that they earn their allowance. Emptying the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, and washing the family dog are all ways that kids can learn how to earn money. Take it a step further by encouraging them to do similar tasks for neighbors as a way to earn additional money.
  2. Create a bank account for your child:

    Lay the foundation for earning money by giving it a place to go. When your child earns money, make going to the bank a major event that is it’s own reward. Have fun helping your kids do the math and figure out how much they’ve put away in the bank for all their hard work.
  3. Share opportunities for extra earning:

    Teach your children that going above and beyond leads to increased earning. Give them the opportunity to do more difficult chores that go above what they’re normally expected to do. Trent at The Simple Dollar suggests that kids can pull weeds, and parents will pay a certain amount for every pound of weeds delivered.
  4. Encourage good personal finance skills:

    Kids begging for items at the store might be annoying, but it’s a teachable moment. When your child asks for a toy that’s out of budget or not really necessary, make it a goal to earn enough money to buy it. Encourage your child to come up with ideas for ways to make enough for the toy and maybe even more.
  5. Encourage them to follow their ideas:

    Whether your kids want to start a blog, sell vegetables from your garden, or set up a classic lemonade stand, give them your time and encouragement. Let them learn by doing, and find opportunities for lessons along the way. Ask them to consider how they’ll fund their startup, where to get supplies, how much to charge, how to find their customers, and of course, what to do with the money they earn. You should of course set some limitations for time, legality, and safety, but be open to let your kids explore their own ideas. Allow them to fail, and turn failures into learning moments.
  6. Teach good teamwork:

    Rarely do entrepreneurs succeed completely independently. Even if they’re in business alone, they’re networking, getting others interested, and meeting with people that can help get their business off the ground. Learning how to work with others is essential for success, so be sure to encourage group work in school, in your home, and beyond.
  7. Encourage team sports:

    Team sports are a great way to teach kids to work with others, and they’re also great for learning business lessons. Chances are, they won’t win every game, but the setbacks and hard work that are a part of playing sports can teach kids how to work toward success.
  8. Be available:

    Every great entrepreneur needs a mentor, and for your kids, you are that person. Although you should encourage your child to operate independently, always be there to answer questions or offer helpful suggestions. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, learn how to do it together.
  9. Teach your kids to be self-starters:

    Doing what they’re told is easy for most kids. Asking them to complete certain chores is simple and straightforward. But if you want them to start thinking creatively, encourage their initiative. Ask them to come up with ideas for chores that need to be done, or encourage them to plan a meal and cook for the family once a week.
  10. Encourage adventure and observational skills:

    Some of the best entrepreneurs found success simply by filling a need that no one else even knew existed. The world is full of business opportunities, if only we could notice them. Parents can help their children learn to recognize these types of opportunities by developing observation and creativity. Walk around your neighborhood with your kids and consider which needs are not being met. Do you have neighbors that need lawn care? Businesses that need a website? Teach kids to recognize and anticipate the needs of others.
  11. Teach problem-solving:

    Entrepreneurship can be a bumpy road full of obstacles and challenges to overcome, even for the best-laid plans. Show your children that problems are just solutions that have not been solved yet. Give them small challenges to overcome, and nudge them in the right direction to find a solution.
  12. Show your own entrepreneurial spirit:

    Kids can learn about entrepreneurship by watching you in your own venture. Even if you’re working a 9-to-5 office job, you can take on a small entrepreneurial experience on the side. Selling crafts on Etsy, walking dogs, and doing handyman (or woman) work is a great way to set an example. Be sure to openly share your experiences with your kids.
  13. Tell them about great entrepreneurs:

    In addition to setting your own example in entrepreneurship, encourage your kids to learn from the greats. Tell them the stories of young, successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, who started Facebook in his dorm room. Give them examples and role models to look up to and be inspired by. Show them that others are making it big as entrepreneurs, even other teens and young adults.
  14. Point them in the direction of Junior Achievement:

    Many schools have chapters of Junior Achievement, an organization that brings business owners into schools to teach and mentor students as they create entrepreneurial opportunities. This is a great way for your child to learn about leadership, teamwork, and real world entrepreneurship in a team setting.
  15. Play business games:

    Many games exist to teach kids the basics of business. Make learning about entrepreneurship fun by engaging your children in these games. In one such game, Disney’s Hot Shot Business, children decide what to do when a comic book company leaves town and leaves the opportunity to utilize resources.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Internet Addiction: 10 Signs Your Teens is Hooked on Technology

One of the most common concerns from parents of teens, behind drug use, is Internet addiction.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a college campus or schools that don’t have Internet. College students and teens use the Internet for research, communication, and other educational activities. Of course, students also use the Internet for social media, news, and even online gambling, activities that can be fun and even enriching, but when overused, become a real problem.

Some college students suffer from Internet addiction, unable to step away from the computer or put down mobile devices even for a day. Eighty-four percent of college counselors agree that Internet Addiction Disorder is legitimate, but at the same time, 93% of them have not been fully trained to diagnose Internet addiction, and 94% have insufficient training for Internet addiction treatment. The result? Falling grades, physical problems, and even clinical addiction.

Internet addiction is a real problem for college students and teens today, and here are several trends that are worrisome.

1. Students have feelings similar to drug and alcohol addiction: Two hundred students were asked to abstain from all media for 24 hours, and were then asked to blog about their experiences. The words the students used to describe their feelings during the restriction period were typically the same words associated with a substance abuse addiction: "withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, antsy, miserable, jittery, crazy." It seems that these students are addicted to media, particularly in its online form. This is disturbing, but not surprising, as studies have already shown that Google can actually change your brain.
2. College students are especially susceptible to Internet Behavior Dependence:A college student case study revealed that college students are a "population of special concern" when it comes to Internet addiction, and they are disproportionately vulnerable due to psychological and environmental factors in their lives. When faced with an Internet addiction, college students have a hard time forming their identity and building intimate relationships. Online, students can "develop relationships devoid of the anxiety found in face-to-face relationships," and they "can take on any persona they desire, without fear of judgment on appearance or personal mannerism, and can avoid racial and gender prejudice." This type of adaptive behavior tends to diminish the social capacity of college students, leaving them unprepared for the development of real world relationships.
3. Online poker is prevalent on college campusesOnline poker joins two addictions together: gambling and online interaction, so its use on college campuses is especially worrisome. The University of Pennsylvania predicts that over 20% of college students play online poker at least once a month, and you can typically see lots of students playing online poker on a college campus. Although it can be a fun game, and many students may be able to maintain healthy lives while enjoying playing online poker, some simply can’t. At the University of Pennsylvania, researchers noted that among college gamblers that played weekly, over half of them had a serious problem with the habit. In some cases, students fail out of classes or gamble their tuition away, even turning to crime to pay debts created by online poker.
4. Students can’t go 24 hours without the Internet:When 1,000 college students took part in an international study on electronic media, they were asked to go without media for 24 hours. But many students in the study were not up to the challenge. A majority of students did not actually go without media for 24 hours, giving in and checking in with their phones or email. Students confessed, "I sat in my bed and stared blankly. I had nothing to do," and "Media is my drug; without it I was lost. How could I survive 24 hours without it?" The study revealed a physical dependency on media, especially Facebook and mobile phones. Students recognized that typing the address for their favorite sites had become muscle memory: "It was amazing to me though how easily programmed my fingers were to instantly start typing "f-a-c-e" in the search bar. It’s now muscle memory, or instinctual, to log into Facebook as the first step of Internet browsing." Other students recognized physical signs of withdrawal, sharing that "I would feel irritable, tense, restless and anxious when I could not use my mobile phone. When I couldn’t communicate with my friends, I felt so lonely, as if I was in a small cage in a solitary island."
5. Students are surfing, not studying: Students who spend a lot of time online are likely to neglect their studies. In many cases, students who performed well in school before developing an Internet addiction allowed their grades to crash, only then realizing the impact of Internet dependency. Counselors across the US have identified the problems of excessive Internet use, including: lack of sleep and excess fatigue, declining grades, less investment in relationships with a boyfriend or girlfriend, withdrawal from all campus social activities and events, general apathy, edginess, or irritability when off-line, and rationalizing that what they learn on the Internet is superior to their classes. Students may not realize the problem until serious trouble happens: "They flunk out of college. Their real-life girlfriend breaks up with them because all they ever want to do is play on the Net. Their parents explode when they find out their huge investment in their child’s college education is going to support all-night Internet sessions." By then, it may be too late to recover the damage.
6. The Internet is everywhere: Ninety-eight percent of students own a digital device. This prevalence throws gasoline on a spark: students who are already susceptible to Internet addiction have access online in computer labs, their dorm, and other places around campus, and on top of that, they have the Internet in their pocket at all times. Knowing this, it’s not surprising to find out that 38% of students say they can’t go more than 10 minutes without using a digital device, contributing to an ever-present existence of the Internet on campus.
7. Internet use can physically change your brain: In a study of Chinese college students who were online for 10 hours a day, six days a week, morphological changes in the structure of their brains were noted. Scientists found reductions in the size of the "dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, supplementary motor area and parts of the cerebellum as high as 10-20%." Although at the same time, there was an increase in the "density of the right parahippocampal gyrus and a spot called the left posterior limb of the internal capsule." These changes happen to the detriment of short term memory and decision-making abilities.
8. Many students need intervention and treatment for their addiction, and it can lead to depression: We might joke about "Crackberries," but for some, the Internet is truly a significant concern. A study published in BMC Medicine indicated that 4% of the students who participated in their survey met the criteria for having a problem with online addiction. But perhaps the more disturbing fact from this study is that there is a "significant association between pathological Internet use and depression in college students," putting a population that is already at risk for mental instability in a precarious position.
9. Cyberbullies go to college, too:Although most of the news on cyberbullying focuses on adolescents, the fact is that cyberbullies exist on the college campus as well. It’s not surprising, considering how much time students spend online, and how much impact a college student’s online presence can have. In fact, a University of New Hampshire study reported that one in 10 students was abused online. College students have been the target of sexually violent rants, and one professor at BU had to persuade Facebook to remove his page, which he did not set up himself. Researchers believe that students are especially vulnerable to cyberstalking because "they live in a relatively closed community where class schedules, phones, and e-mails are easy to find." And sites like Rate My Professors may be helpful for students choosing classes, but some comments may be hurtful for faculty members. Thierry Guedj, adjunct professor of psychology at Metropolitan College reports, "It really hurts faculty members badly when they read these things about themselves online. People have become quite depressed about it."
10. Tech conditions can be dangerous to your health: College Candy’s list of tech conditions that can be dangerous to your health seems to be written as a joke, citing "Blackberry Neck," and "Glazey Dazey Lazy Eye," but these conditions really can be a problem. Using the Internet too much can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, a decline in physical fitness, and as a result, weight gain. Heavy users report carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, and headaches. Sleep disturbances can also stem from Internet addiction, as Internet use may lead to later bedtimes and less restful sleep. Additionally, researchers believe that the light from computer screens may affect circadian rhythms, creating a risk factor for insomnia.

Source: Accredited Online Colleges

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

4 Tips to Keep Your Teen Athlete Safe and Healthy

Special guest post:
Both my partner and I have had several decades-long careers in construction, and while it’s a rewarding profession, it’s also a dangerous one. Working with risky equipment is only the half of it. The conditions of working outdoors for long periods of time can, in some cases, be fatal. Based on my experiences, I know that many teen athletes often unknowingly expose themselves to the same conditions without having the training and knowledge to deal with such conditions safely. In fact, sometimes even coaches and staff can be oblivious, as noted in this recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article. Nearly all cases cited in the article could have been prevented had both kids and coaches taken more precautions. Here are a few tips for safe practice and play in high school sports:

1.     Make sure your teen stays fully hydrated throughout practice and play.
Of all the commandments of physical activity, this one is by far the most important. So many accidents, emergencies, and fatalities can be avoided by simply staying hydrated throughout strenuous activity. This means taking frequent water breaks, consuming sports drinks or other fluids with electrolytes (like pickle juice), and not consuming too much water in any one sitting.
2.     Talk to coaches and staff about safety guidelines and procedures.
More and more coaches are starting to become cognizant about the dangers associated with too many high-intensity practices. Speak with your teen’s coach about what measures they are taking to ensure your child’s safety. Ask the coach whether CPR-certified staff are in attendance during practices, staff who are also familiar with basic first aid.
3.     If your teen is practicing or working out alone, make sure she stretches adequately beforehand.
Stretching adequately before engaging in any sort of physical activity can be just as important as staying hydrated. Young children, in their enthusiasm for their respective sport or activity, may think this step is unnecessary. However, many injuries, like pulled hamstrings, which have the potential to end your child’s “career” in any sport, can be prevented with adequate stretching. For more information about stretching exercises, check out this webpage.
4.     Instill in your children the idea that excellence is a concept rooted in concentration and balance, not obsession.
Especially in the realm of varsity sports, there’s a culture of obsession that surrounds the kids. They are taught to push themselves as hard as they can. Of course, there’s a lot that’s good about this culture. At the same time, however, there’s a huge difference between practicing hard and practicing smart. Practicing hard can be very inefficient. The culture of obsession should be replaced with a culture of excellence, in which concentrated, focused practice is more important than extreme practice. After all, it yields better results with less effort.

All of this isn’t to say, of course, that high school sports are typically dangerous. I’m certainly not suggesting that you should be frightened. However, as the stories described in the AJC article cited above demonstrate, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Good luck!

A freelance writer with a specialization in all things construction, Kristie Lewis writes about everything from working in the field to choosing the best construction management schools. For more information, contact her at