Friday, January 22, 2010

Don't Wait To Discuss Sexting With Your Child Or Teen

(NAPSI)-Digital technology connects children in a way that no previous generation has experienced, with social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace surpassing e-mail as the preferred method of communication.

Although kids today may be more digitally savvy than their parents, their lack of maturity and life experience can land them in hot water for abusing these new social tools. For this reason, parents should help children navigate this online social landscape.

It's important that children and teens learn about the dangers lurking in the digital world. Online bullying can be vicious and easy since it all takes place behind a keyboard. Children and parents have been charged with crimes for spreading rumors or publishing personal information about others online.

Another way trouble can arise is through "sexting." Sexting is sending a text message, via cell phone, that contains inappropriate photographs--or links to photos--of people naked or engaged in sex acts. According to a recent survey, about 20 percent of teen boys and girls have sent such messages. Texts like these can be emotionally devastating and have serious legal implications for senders and receivers. Parents should discuss the consequences of sexting as soon as a child has a cell phone. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to start these conversations:

• Talk to your kids, even if the issue hasn't directly affected your community. "Have you heard of sext ing? Tell me what you think it is." First learn what your child knows about the issue and then add to it an age-appropriate explanation.

• Use examples appropriate for your child's age. Alert younger children with cell phones that text messages should never contain pictures of naked people.

• Make sure kids of all ages understand that sexting is serious and considered a crime in many jurisdictions when minors are involved. Possible consequences include police involvement, suspension from school, and notes on the sexter's permanent record that could hurt the child's chances of getting into college or getting a job.

• Impress upon children the emotional effects this dangerous game can have on others.

• Peer pressure can play a major role in the sending of texts. Parties can be a contributing factor, so collect cell phones at social gatherings to reduce this temptation.

• Monitor media headlines for articles about sexting that illustrate the very real dangers for both senders and receivers of offensive images. Ask children questions such as "Have you seen this story? What did you think about it?"

• Encourage school and town assemblies to educate parents, teachers and students.

For tips and more information about social media safety, talk with your pediatrician or visit www.aap.org.


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Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children? Pros and Cons and Current Research at New ProCon.org Website

/PRNewswire/ -- ProCon.org, a nonpartisan 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity dedicated to promoting critical thinking, created the new website http://vaccines.procon.org/ to explore the core question "Should any vaccines be required for children?"

Although no federal vaccination laws exist, all 50 states require certain vaccinations for children entering public schools. Depending on the state, children must be vaccinated against some or all of the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio. All 50 states also issue medical exemptions to vaccinations; 48 states (excluding Mississippi and West Virginia) permit religious exemptions, and 20 states allow an exemption for philosophical reasons. As of 2009, the national average vaccination rate for required school entry vaccines was 95.41%.

Proponents of vaccination argue it is one of the greatest public health developments of the 20th century. They point out that diseases like rubella (German measles), diphtheria, and whooping cough once killed tens of thousands of infants every year in the U.S. and are now avoided by vaccination. They argue that, although vaccination is not without risks (including rare but serious side effects such as seizures, paralysis, and death), the public health benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

Opponents of vaccination argue that children's immune systems can deal with most infections and that natural immunity should be allowed to develop. They argue that possible severe side effects from vaccination are a risk that children should not be subjected to when, in most cases, diseases that children are vaccinated against are not usually life threatening. They also argue that vaccines can cause adverse reactions including allergies, auto-immune disorders, autism, ADHD, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

As of 2009, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Physicians recommend that children be vaccinated against fifteen different common childhood illnesses. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the National Vaccine Information Center, and Generation Rescue say parents should not be required to vaccinate their children.

The latest ProCon.org website explores many pro and con arguments and includes sources, images, videos, reader comments, and a section of little known facts called "Did You Know?" The findings should help readers think critically, educate themselves, and make informed decisions about childhood vaccination.

Did You Know?

-- According to a 2003 report by researchers at the Pediatric Academic
Society, childhood vaccinations in the U.S. prevent about 10.5 million
cases of infectious illness and 33,000 deaths per year.
-- About 30,000 cases of adverse reactions to vaccines have been reported
annually to the federal government since 1990, with 13% classified as
serious, meaning associated with permanent disability,
hospitalization, life-threatening illness, or death.
-- Over 5,500 cases alleging a causal relationship between vaccinations
and autism have been filed under the National Vaccine Injury
Compensation Program in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims between 2001
and 2009.

Learn more at http://vaccines.procon.org/.

About Us

ProCon.org (online at www.procon.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity whose mission is promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship.

Information is presented on 31 different ProCon.org issue websites in subjects ranging from health care and medical marijuana to the death penalty and illegal immigration.

ProCon.org websites are free of charge, require no registration, and contain no advertising. The websites have been referenced by over 175 media entities and used in over 932 schools in all 50 U.S. states and 25 countries.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daily Media Use Among Children and Teens Up Dramatically From Five Years Ago

/PRNewswire/ -- With technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth, according to a study released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Today, 8- to 18-year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking' (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.

The amount of time spent with media increased by an hour and seventeen minutes a day over the past five years, from 6:21 in 2004 to 7:38 today. And because of media multitasking, the total amount of media content consumed during that period has increased from 8:33 in 2004 to 10:45 today.

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys by the Foundation about young people's media use. It includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth.

Mobile media driving increased consumption. The increase in media use is driven in large part by ready access to mobile devices like cell phones and iPods. Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in ownership among 8- to 18-year-olds: from 39% to 66% for cell phones, and from 18% to 76% for iPods and other MP3 players. During this period, cell phones and iPods have become true multi-media devices: in fact, young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their cell phones (a total of :49 daily) than they spend talking on them (:33).

Parents and media rules. Only about three in ten young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28%) or playing video games (30%), and 36% say the same about using the computer. But when parents do set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day (2:52) than those with no rules.

Media in the home. About two-thirds (64%) of young people say the TV is usually on during meals, and just under half (45%) say the TV is left on "most of the time" in their home, even if no one is watching. Seven in ten (71%) have a TV in their bedroom, and half (50%) have a console video game player in their room. Again, children in these TV-centric homes spend far more time watching: 1:30 more a day in homes where the TV is left on most of the time, and an hour more among those with a TV in their room.

"The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it's even more than a full-time work week," said Drew Altman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "When children are spending this much time doing anything, we need to understand how it's affecting them -- for good and bad."

Heavy media users report getting lower grades. While the study cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between media use and grades, there are differences between heavy and light media users in this regard. About half (47%) of heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly Cs or lower), compared to about a quarter (23%) of light users. These differences may or may not be influenced by their media use patterns. (Heavy users are the 21% of young people who consume more than 16 hours of media a day, and light users are the 17% of young people who consume less than 3 hours of media a day.)

Black and Hispanic children spend far more time with media than White children do. There are substantial differences in children's media use between members of various ethnic and racial groups. Black and Hispanic children consume nearly 4 1/2 hours more media daily (13:00 of total media exposure for Hispanics, 12:59 for Blacks, and 8:36 for Whites). Some of the largest differences are in TV viewing: Black children spend nearly 6 hours and Hispanics just under 5 1/2 hours, compared to roughly 3 1/2 hours a day for White youth. The only medium where there is no significant difference between these three groups is print. Differences by race/ethnicity remain even after controlling for other factors such as age, parents' education, and single vs. two-parent homes. The racial disparity in media use has grown substantially over the past five years: for example, the gap between White and Black youth was just over two hours (2:12) in 2004, and has grown to more than four hours today (4:23).

Big changes in TV. For the first time over the course of the study, the amount of time spent watching regularly-scheduled TV declined, by 25 minutes a day (from 2004 to 2009). But the many new ways to watch TV -- on the Internet, cell phones, and iPods -- actually led to an increase in total TV consumption from 3:51 to 4:29 per day, including :24 of online viewing, :16 on iPods and other MP3 players, and :15 on cell phones. All told, 59% (2:39) of young people's TV-viewing consists of live TV on a TV set, and 41% (1:50) is time-shifted, DVDs, online, or mobile.

"The bottom line is that all these advances in media technologies are making it even easier for young people to spend more and more time with media," said Victoria Rideout, Foundation Vice President and director of the study. "It's more important than ever that researchers, policymakers and parents stay on top of the impact it's having on their lives."

Popular new activities like social networking also contribute to increased media use. Top online activities include social networking (:22 a day), playing games (:17), and visiting video sites such as YouTube (:15). Three-quarters (74%) of all 7th - 12th graders say they have a profile on a social networking site.

Types of media kids consume. Time spent with every medium other than movies and print increased over the past five years: :47 a day increase for music/audio, :38 for TV content, :27 for computers, and :24 for video games. TV remains the dominant type of media content consumed, at 4:29 a day, followed by music/audio at 2:31, computers at 1:29, video games at 1:13, print at :38, and movies at :25 a day.

High levels of media multitasking. High levels of media multitasking also contribute to the large amount of media young people consume each day. About 4 in 10 7th - 12th graders say they use another medium "most" of the time they're listening to music (43%), using a computer (40%), or watching TV (39%).

Additional findings:
-- Reading. Over the past 5 years, time spent reading books remained
steady at about :25 a day, but time with magazines and newspapers
dropped (from :14 to :09 for magazines, and from :06 to :03 for
newspapers). The proportion of young people who read a newspaper in a
typical day dropped from 42% in 1999 to 23% in 2009. On the other
hand, young people now spend an average of :02 a day reading magazines
or newspapers online.
-- Media and homework. About half of young people say they use media
either "most" (31%) or "some" (25%) of the time they're doing their
homework.
-- Rules about media content. Fewer than half of all 8- to 18-year-olds
say they have rules about what TV shows they can watch (46%), video
games they can play (30%), or music they're allowed to listen to
(26%). Half (52%) say they have rules about what they can do on the
computer.
-- Gender gap. Girls spend more time than boys using social networking
sites (:25 vs. :19), listening to music (2:33 vs. 2:06), and reading
(:43 vs. :33). Boys spend more time than girls playing console video
games (:56 vs.: 14), computer games (:25 vs. :08), and going to video
websites like YouTube (:17 vs. :12).
-- Tweens and media. Media use increases substantially when children hit
the 11- to 14-year-old age group, an increase of 1:22 with TV content,
1:14 with music, 1:00 using the computer, and :24 playing video games,
for total media exposure of 11:53 per day (vs. 7:51 for 8-10
year-olds).
-- Texting. 7th - 12th graders report spending an average of 1:35 a day
sending or receiving texts. (Time spent texting is not counted as
media use in this study.)


The report, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, was released today at a forum in Washington, D.C., that featured the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, media executives and child development experts. The report, related materials, and a live webcast are available at http://www.kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm.

Methodology: The study was designed and analyzed by staff at the Kaiser Family Foundation, in collaboration with researchers from Stanford University. Data collection, sampling and weighting were conducted by Harris Interactive(R). The report is based on a survey conducted between October 2008 and May 2009 among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 3rd - 12th grade students ages 8 - 18. Respondents completed a self-administered written questionnaire in the classroom. Figures for grade level, school type, region, urbanicity, gender, race/ethnicity, parent education, and school grade enrollment were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportion in the population. A self-selected subsample of 702 respondents completed seven-day media use diaries, which were used to calculate multitasking proportions. The study accounts for media multitasking in the following way: Total media exposure refers to the amount of media content young people consume in a day -- the number one gets by adding up the amount of time spent with each medium (10:45). But most young people often use more than one medium at a time (e.g., listening to music while using the computer). This multitasking is taken into account in the calculation of total media use, which is calculated by reducing media exposure by the proportion of time spent media-multitasking (7:38). All times are presented in hours:minutes, such as 2:32. The study focuses on recreational use of media: for example, time spent using the computer or reading for school is not included in calculations of media use. The study covers TV, movies, computers, video games, music/audio, and print. Time spent using a cell phone for media consumption is counted as media use, but time spent talking or texting on the phone is not. This is the third in a series of studies conducted by the Foundation in 1999, 2004, and 2009, with a different group of respondents participating each time. The report includes data from each wave, and notes changes over time. A summary of key changes in question wording and structure over the years is included in Appendix B of the full report. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3.9%, higher for subgroups. Note that sampling error is only one of many potential sources of error in this or any other survey. A more detailed description of the methodology can be found in the full report.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New 'Art of Washing Hands' Web Site Provides Wellness Education for Students

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia-Pacific Professional is proud to announce the debut of its "Art of Washing Hands" (www.TheArtOfWashingHands.com) Web site, an online portal that offers interactive hand washing and hygiene information to elementary school teachers and students. The Web site highlights proper hand washing techniques, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is part of Georgia-Pacific Professional's ongoing wellness initiative to educate people of all ages about the importance of washing hands, especially when away from home.

The "Art of Washing Hands" Web site features Georgia-Pacific Professional's character, Mo(TM), who represents the hygienic characteristics of the company's notable enMotion® touchless towel and enMotion(TM) soap dispenser line. Included on the site are Germ-Jitsu themed classroom activities, coloring book pages and hygiene tips. The site also includes original hand washing songs students can learn to sing while they wash their hands - they are the right length to sing through twice for ample hand washing. All materials on the site are available for easy downloading and printing as needed.

"As a major supplier of wellness solutions for our customers and end-users, Georgia-Pacific Professional is committed to helping consumers stay well while away from home," said Bill Sleeper, president - Georgia-Pacific Professional. "As educators and parents seek new avenues to protect students during peak times of the flu season, we are happy to offer a new and exciting alternative to traditional hygiene lessons and educational programs."

The materials, and Germ-Jitsu Mo, will also appear in January 2010 issues of Weekly Reader. Georgia-Pacific Professional's Weekly Reader project is a component of the company's larger Wellness Campaign - a business initiative that will work to improve the health and well being of individuals, businesses and communities across the nation. The campaign will feature an array of awareness and educational programs that promote the benefits of increased hygiene and sustainable practices.

Teachers and educators interested in implementing the new hand-washing lessons in their classroom can access the Weekly Reader resources and materials at www.TheArtOfWashingHands.com. For more information on Georgia-Pacific Professional's Wellness Campaign and ongoing hygiene initiatives, please visit www.gppro.com/HealthSmart.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Spoon Size Matters When It Comes to Safely Dosing Medicine

A properly sized spoon helps the medicine go down without unintended side effects, finds a new study by two marketing researchers, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Prone to error, spoon dosing of medicine is one of the leading causes of pediatric poisonings,” says Georgia Tech marketing assistant professor Koert van Ittersum, who conducted the study with Brian Wansink, a marketing professor at Cornell University. “While the Food and Drug Administration recommends against kitchen silverware to dose liquid medicine, a majority of people still use spoons when pouring medicine for themselves and family members.”

In their study, the researchers found that people dosed 8.4 percent less than prescribed into medium-sized spoons and 11.6 percent more into larger utensils. Yet, study participants (195 university students) had above-average confidence that they’d poured the correct dosage. “Although they were young, educated, and had poured in a well-lit room following a practice pour, these participants were still unaware of these biases,” the researchers write. “Whereas the clinical implications of an 8-12 percent dosing error in a single-teaspoon serving of medicine may be minimal, the dosing error is likely to accumulate among fatigued patients who are medicating themselves every four to eight hours for a number of days.”

Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that patients or caregivers use a measuring cap, dosing spoon, measuring dropper, or dosing syringe for accuracy instead of relying on their estimating abilities. While one might expect more experienced pourers such as nurses and practiced patients to be more accurate in their estimations, this might not be the case, the researchers note.

Wansink and van Ittersum have previously conducted related research showing veteran bartenders are inconsistent about the amount of liquor they pour, depending upon the type of glass used (over-pouring into short, wide glasses).

By Matthew Nagel

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

SpectorSoft “Parent’s Guide to Internet Lingo” Cracks Secret Online Language of Children and Predators

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Simple acronyms like CUL8R and IMHO have rapidly evolved into a complex and often sexually-charged cryptic language, which has now been unlocked in the “Parent’s Guide to Internet Lingo” published by SpectorSoft Corporation (www.SpectorSoft.com).

This ground-breaking Internet safety guide defines more than 100 pages of terms like GNOC, IWSN and PAW used in email, chat, text, instant messages, and in Facebook and MySpace, and condenses them into Top 100 and Top 20 lists for easy reference. Best of all, the “Parent’s Guide to Internet Lingo” is a free download at: www.FreeLingoGuide.com along with an interactive Internet Lingo Quiz to reveal how much you really understand about what they’re saying online.

“SpectorSoft is firmly committed to helping parents keep children safe online and two ways we do this is with the free Lingo Guide and the automatic Lingo Translation feature built in to the new 2010 Spector Pro products”

Today the company also launched Spector Pro 2010 for Windows and Spector Pro mac 2010 at the Consumer Electronics Show, where SpectorSoft is exhibiting (North Hall LVCC Booth #3224B) and speaking on an Internet Safety Panel at the Mommy Tech Summit, January 8 at 12:00 noon (North Hall LVCC, N262).

Internet lingo originated with basic abbreviations like CUL8R (see you later), IMHO (in my humble opinion), and LOL (laughing out loud). It has since evolved into a complex language with thousands of terms and alpha-numeric expressions used to convey affection like HAK (hugs and kisses), covert signals such as PAW (parents are watching), illegal substances like 420 (marijuana), and sexual advances like GNOC (get naked on cam) or IWSN (I want sex now). The “Parent’s Guide to Internet Lingo” defines these and thousands of elusive terms like zerg (to gang up on someone), MIRL (meet in real life), 8 (oral sex), GYPO (get your pants off), and CD9 (Code 9 – parents are around).

SpectorSoft is also the first Internet monitoring software provider to offer a built-in Internet Lingo translation capability in its new Spector Pro 2010 for Windows and Mac. Whenever a parent encounters any email, chat or instant message containing an acronym they don’t understand, they simply roll their mouse over it from within Spector Pro 2010 and the true meaning is instantly revealed. Together, the free Internet Lingo guide and translation capability help parents protect their children from the Internet’s dark side, and shed light on what otherwise might be puzzling activities or cryptic conversations with friends, classmates, school bullies, or even predators who try to befriend them online. By understanding the one-digit difference between JFI (just for information) and JDI (just do it) or LHO (laughing head off) and LHOS (let’s have online sex), parents can know whether their child is acting appropriately or whether critical decisions need to quickly be made to ensure their safety and well-being.

“SpectorSoft is firmly committed to helping parents keep children safe online and two ways we do this is with the free Lingo Guide and the automatic Lingo Translation feature built in to the new 2010 Spector Pro products,” said SpectorSoft President C. Douglas Fowler. “Children can be extremely tech-savvy yet unaware that online actions can have consequences in real life. Parents have a right and a responsibility to know what their children are saying and seeing online, and what is being said to them, and one of the most effective ways to do this is to monitor their PC and online activity with Spector Pro.”

Spector Pro monitors and records everything an employee or child does at their computer and on the Internet, around the clock. It captures all chat discussions, keystrokes typed, web sites visited, what they search for, emails sent and received, programs run, as well as all activity in MySpace and Facebook. Spector Pro 2010 can be set to block access to desired websites and file sharing services, prevent online chat with certain individuals, and email an alert whenever specific keywords are used in email and chat.

In addition to capturing all of this detail, Spector Pro 2010 offers the industry’s most advanced snapshot recording capability for replaying all activity that took place on a computer. A step-by-step recording of screen snapshots can be viewed in a ‘forward and rewind’ sequence, much like a surveillance video of one’s desktop activity. Spector Pro has deservedly earned its reputation as not only the most trusted monitoring software in the world — and the only monitoring solution available for Mac — but also the most feature-rich, easy and intuitive solution ... even for parents who are not as tech savvy as their children.

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