Internet Safety Tips for Teens and Tweens

If asked, every parent would say they want to keep their kids safe online. However, statistics have shown that children are more and more at risk online than ever before. Teens and tweens are more at risk than any other age due to the fact they have increased independence, and are more likely to seek out relationships online.

So, what is the secret to keeping our teens and tweens safe online? Educating our children about the dangers online can be done a few simple ways. Here are a few internet safety tips for teens and tweens.

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Academic Advantages of Homeschooling

If someone asks you-“Why do you homeschool?” What do you say? Most of us would probably give the reason we initially decided to homeschool. For me, it was simply that the Lord called me to homeschool. For you, it may be another reason.

Regardless of why you began homeschooling, chances are you have realized by now the numerous advantages homeschooling offers. If you are new to homeschooling, you may still be learning what some of them are. I have been on this homeschooling journey for over 4 years, and find something new that I love about homeschooling each year.

One advantage that is particularly promising is the academic one. Most people do not homeschool their kids due to academic concerns, but some do. And whether or not that is why people homeschool it is a huge advantage.

No, not every child who is homeschooled will be a genius. Most probably won’t be. BUT, studies have shown time, and time again that homeschoolers score higher on standardized testing than their public school peers. A recent study was conducted and published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science. This study compared the standardized test scores of 37 homeschooled students and 37 public school students. The students ranged in age from 5-10. The test found that public school students did typically test at or slightly above their grade level. The homeschooled kids performed about a half grade higher in Math and 2.2 grades higher in Reading.

Studies also show these students score above average on the SAT and ACT tests. Scores were especially higher in the areas of English, Reading, and Vocabulary. In the areas of Math and Science homeschooled students scored at or above the national average.

Colleges are taking notice to this statistics. Universities are seeking out homeschooled students for enrollment. Why? Because they perform well academically. They are used to working independently, have good study habits, are self motivated and they work hard!

Homeschoolers also graduate college at a higher rate than their public school peers and A 2010 study by Dr. Michale Cogan of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota found that compared to conventional students, college students who were homeschooled earn, on average a higher first year GPA. This trend continues on each year.

Whether or not you began homeschooling due to academic concerns, one cannot ignore the academic advantages homeschooling offers.

Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.

 

Prepared for College

The academics, the testing, the applications…the process of preparing for college throws first-time students (and their parents) into a huge new world. Beyond the paperwork, there are other considerations we do not want to overlook. A successful college experience involves adult responsibilities with finances, relationships and time management. While those are all skills your student has been developing over the years, some advance planning may be just the ‘heads up’ needed to avoid difficulties.

Finances

College potentially brings along significant debt. Understanding the implications of a lackadaisical approach to studies, frivolous use of grant monies or simple carelessness is difficult for some youth to grasp. Compound the issue with the bombardment of credit card companies that market to college-age youth and a serious problem can result. Student loans can seem so distant to students that they wipe them out of their mind. Teaching the basics of budgeting (i.e. car insurance, licensing fees, food, recreation, tithing) are fundamental to grasping how one ‘little’ extra payment requires eliminating something else. Looking at a budget in black and white, handling a checking account and practicing tithing and saving are keys to financial responsibility.

Relationships

Beyond the romantic relationship issue–which would be a topic in and of itself–there are room-mate issues, landlord, professor and employer connections that may be entirely new to your college-age student. Whereas most all previous contacts will have been predicated upon existing relationships of caring and commitment, these are ‘simple’ get along and show respect relationships. Learning to choose battles and to battle with respectful restraint are challenging skills. Standing strong, accepting limitations of oneself and others can create some strong winds. Discuss the topics with your youth and stay attentive to stresses as the college adventure progresses.

Time Management

We all have the same number of hours in a day. Learning to treasure time, set priorities and establish necessary time boundaries is a lifetime process. Our lives continually change, requiring new schedules and new disciplines. College abounds with opportunities for doing exciting new activities–but responsibilities increase at the same time. Healthy living involves establishing the right personal priorities for rest and relaxation–without self-indulgent excess. Most of us make some mistakes in the process. Your teen will as well. Hopefully your student has had opportunity to establish a schedule, set goals and pace themselves in meeting goals. If not, do not delay. Give your student the freedom to fail, to struggle with a bit of fatigue and help them set their personal boundaries. Encourage effort and achievement.

Taming Technology

Life is all about learning to make good choices. Home education ‘protects’ families a bit from the peer pressure of ‘everybody has one’ but technology is simply life today! In fact, some home school curriculum are totally technology based. Mastering technology and maximizing its potential is both a challenge and an opportunity in home education. In fact, the whole issue becomes an instructional tool in the lives of our children.

Technology brings tremendous opportunities for choice into our lives–and into the lives of our children. There are no perfect guidelines for what technologies are best. Becoming educated on the pros and cons, establishing boundaries and continually re-evaluating the impacts on your family values are necessities.

Today, recreational and social activities often center on technology. Technology easily isolates individuals into self-created worlds. Too much isolation is not healthy. I-pads, I-pods, MP3 players, WII stations, cell phones and social media sites are the world in which children are growing up. Balancing the time invested in electronic relationships with three-dimensional interaction is vital. The bogey-man of the past was television; it can be a friend these days if a family interacts around a particular show (instead of crawling into their own personal electronic worlds). Technology as a tool is great; technology as master is deadly.

The influence of technology is best remembered as “in” “flow.” Helping children to regulate what flows into their hearts and minds (until they learn to self-regulate) is important. While technology is only one source of ‘in-flow‘, it is a powerful source that can help instill the habit of self-monitoring in our children.

Here are some practical ways to monitor the technology. These are not meant as the ‘right’ approach, merely offered as seeds for your own technology plan:

  • Keep the computer in the living room. This helps keep everyone accountable–and at least minimally connected.
  • An ‘open-door’ policy on social media accounts is a controversial topic but something we practice. Passwords are set to automatic and neither emails nor pages are hidden from one another.
  • Social media contacts are limited to individuals known in the ‘real world’ and personal information is not shared on web games or trading sites.
  • Clear and open communication about internet contacts (individual or simply content) is a daily practice.
  • MP3 use is restricted and personal conversation always allowed to over-ride ear-buds.

With intentional choices and regular monitoring, technology is a powerful friend in our world. Mastering technology is a skill area in which children need us to strategize and lead the way. One of the great beauties of home education is that all of life becomes our school. Embrace the challenge!