My children are part of the first generation for whom social media has always existed. When I was a child, the term “email” hadn’t even been invented yet. For my children, Facebook has always existed and email is regarded as old-fashioned. This has all kinds of implications for kids, of course. We’ve all seen the multitude of reports and studies about what screen time is doing to our kids, how the obesity epidemic is being linked to the explosion of computer-based gaming, and how computers are making new skills emerge as old skills decline.
Something that is not talked about as frequently is the impact of social media on parents.
When my mother was raising me and my brother, the only people she could call on for advice or opinions were people she actually knew in person.
If she needed help, she had to either pick up the phone and ask, or go and visit someone. In the event of a child getting sick or injured, she would take us to the doctor, trust whatever the doctor said and get whatever medication was prescribed.
My parenting experience has been vastly different. I have the same supports that my mother had – friends, family members, and especially my mother herself – but I also have the Internet. When my older son was born, I joined a parenting group on Yahoo, and developed a friendship with fellow members that endures to this day (the only difference is that the Yahoo group is now a Facebook group). When my son was diagnosed with autism, I joined an autism parenting group, with the same results.
Both groups are about requesting and receiving advice, sharing funny stories about our kids, and having a safe place to vent on our bad days. Through these groups – and through World Moms Blog – I have developed online friendships that are every bit as real as “traditional” friendships. We rally around each other in bad times, and we celebrate together in good times.
No matter what is going on with my kids or with myself as a mother, I always know that there is someone out there who understands. And if I can’t find someone who has the answers I need, there’s always Google.
There are downsides to parenting in the age of social media, of course. Sometimes I go searching for understanding and find judgment instead. I find stark divisions in the parenting community. I have been criticized for vaccinating my kids. I have seen homeschooling moms viciously attack those who send their kids to school, and vice versa. I was once an uncomfortable online witness to a discussion in which a breastfeeding advocate smugly told a breast cancer survivor that she would be able to breastfeed her newborn child if she “tried harder”.
So yes, ugliness is as pervasive on the Internet as it is in the physical world. But we respond to it in the same way: by trying to counteract the bad with the good, by being supportive of one another and by leaving the ugliness behind.
At the end of the day, I am thankful to have the world of social media at my fingertips as I navigate the mysterious world of parenting. And I am even more thankful that at any time, I can pick up the phone and call the person who muddled through it all without the Internet: my mother.
What differences have you noticed between your mother’s era of parenting and your own? Does social media play an important role in your journey as a mother?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Toronto, Canada.
Photo credit: StartBloggingOnline.com This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
I have a (rather embarrassing) confession to make: Lately, I have been guilty of being that mom who seems “addicted” to social media (gasp!).
You know, the one who finds herself reaching for her phone when she wakes up in the middle of the night, and immediately checks her Facebook feed. (*Sigh*)
The one who won’t look up from her phone when her child is talking to her, excited to share her latest creation, because she’s too busy reading what her “friends” have shared online.
The one who seems distracted during playtime and read-aloud time, because she is thinking of what she should post next on social media.
Yup. That mom.
Although I don’t consider myself as “badly addicted” as others might be (cough, cough), reading this CNN article about how you can check if you’re addicted to Facebook made me rethink how I have been spending my time online. I am ashamed to admit it but I sadly found myself checking off most of the items on the list! 🙁
Because of this, I’ve decided to declare to the world (fittingly, through this post, because, well, this blog represents people from all over the world, yes?) that I am going to do my best to be a more intentional mom…specifically when it comes to my use of Facebook.
Here are three things that I plan to do:
1. More Facetime, less Facebook.
I will have more “facetime” with my kids — more looking in their eyes when they speak to me, more kisses on their cheeks, more playtime and reading time. Basically, more “face-to-face” communication. 🙂
2. Limit access to my phone.
This may be a bit challenging to do, since I also use my phone for work, but I think I really need to do it. I plan to place my phone in a bag or closet during the times when I should be focused on the kids, like during mealtime, “learning time” or playtime. I will resist the urge to check my Facebook notifications, because they usually are not about anything urgent anyway.
3. Be more intentional with Facebook posts.
These tips on how to defeat a Facebook addiction reminded me again that, like many other things, Facebook is not necessarily an “evil” — it’s how we use it that leads to problems. So I think I’ll revisit my “One Word” for this year, and use Facebook less for “socializing” and more for inspiring and helping others.
For starters, I think I’ll focus more on sharing encouraging and inspirational posts on my Facebook page, rather than checking my personal Facebook feed all the time.
So this is what I plan to do. I hope that these action steps will truly help me to be a more intentional mom! (If you can relate to this post, I hope you found it useful — here’s to being more intentional with our kids!)
Do you have more tips for beating a Facebook addiction and being a more intentional mother to your children? Please share them in the comments!
On Saturday night, I had the privilege of hosting three of my 13 year-old son’s friends for a sleep-over. They are lovely boys, and all I have to do is feed them and ignore them. I don’t mention things like showers or teeth-brushing, and in return they pretty much keep to themselves and don’t expect me to converse about Minecraft, Clash of Clans or Team Fortress II.
I teased them a little about not letting girls in while I drove my 9 year-old to a birthday party. I didn’t make a big deal of things when one of them smuggled in cola. I laughed with them, when on my return from the party drop-off, they were trying to stuff MacDonalds packaging into my kitchen rubbish bin. They pushed their limits with bedtime, of course. And they declined the offer of mattresses to sleep on (too much work for them to get them into our lounge) and slept on the carpet…. because, they’re 13 and their bodies still bend in ways mine don’t.
It was both innocent and, I felt, an appropriate mix of mischief and compliance.
Then, on Sunday, I heard of other 13 year-olds who had been in online chat rooms, talking about anal-sex and rape. Not in general terms, but in…. I shall be doing this to you terms…. These are kids who come from great homes and who have very loving families. I immediately thought: there but the Grace of God go I.
Children easily get caught up with what their friends are doing, or those who they emulate. My 13 year-old could have easily been one of those involved and I have no doubt all three of my boys will make stupid mistakes as they move from childhood to adulthood. Just not this time. Thank goodness.
The biggest worry, for me, was that there was at least one unidentified person in the chat-group who could, quite literally, have been anyone. It’s probably another 13 year-old, a friend or acquaintance but it could just as easily be a predator who was scoping for a target. And that makes it all the more scary.
The same is true of a local man who is hanging around liquor stores offering to buy alcohol and cigarettes for underage kids, 14 and 15 year-olds. He does this for a while. Then he offers drugs. Then it’s parties at his house. This is a whole different scenario from the stranger-danger I taught my boys when they were small.
We’re talking about people who are consciously befriending those kids who want to seem older than they are, and who are ready to break rules. They are grooming relationships before they pounce. They are feeding the teenage need to belong and the teenage need to experiment and do things that their parents may not approve of.
So we hit the teenage years, and now I find parenting is not so black and white.
No, I don’t want my kids drinking alcohol or smoking but do I buy them a few beers to take to a party, so that creeps don’t target them and they go behind my back? No, I don’t want my kids smoking pot but if they choose to, should I allow it when they know who grew it, rather than have them turn to those who lace it with P?
No, I don’t want my kids to be suggesting they will rape someone or perform anal sex on them, but I also don’t want them to be excluded from other things their peers are doing.
Suddenly, a conversation about Minecraft seems pretty appealing afterall.
What do you do or have you done to deal with these aspects of parenting?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and mother of three, rapidly growing boys in New Zealand, Karyn Willis.
The image used in this post is attributed to JD Hancock and holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
“Are you okay?” The emails and Facebook queries began pouring in even before I knew what had happened. “Were you there?” One particularly dramatic friend asked if “what happened” made me think about moving home.
Their queries followed the terrible news that had gone viral almost as soon as it happened: in a mall bathroom in Abu Dhabi, where I live, a veiled woman had killed a Western woman—-an American teacher-—with a long kitchen knife. Adding to the horror of the attack was the fact that the victim’s children, eleven-year old twins, were apparently hanging out in the mall waiting for their mother to come back from the bathroom.
I didn’t hear the news until I got home from work that day and opened Facebook. I suppose that people were particularly worried because I am also an American teacher, and about a month ago, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi reported that anonymous threats against American teachers had been made on a jihadi website. For a day or two after the attack, news reports tossed around the possibility that the veiled woman was somehow in league with ISIL, or some other terrorist organization.
As it happens, however, the murderer had no discernible terrorist allegiances, and what happened in that mall bathroom was just an appalling act of violence. Some of us who live here speculated about the difference between what happens in the US when an unstable person finds a weapon and what happened here:
a butcher knife is a brutal instrument, it’s true, but it creates far less mayhem than, say, a semi-automatic rifle.
According to a 2007 survey, the US ranks first in the list of number of guns owned by civilians (90 guns per 100 residents); the UAE ranks 24th (22 guns per 100).
Violent crime is incredibly rare in Abu Dhabi. Yet, despite the rarity of violence here, and despite the stability of the Gulf States, there was the chatter on Facebook; there were the emails; there were the questions about whether this attack would cause me to move home. “Home” is a bit complicated for me: I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi for almost four years, but had been in Manhattan for almost twenty years before that. So “home” is here. . . and there.
Before we moved to Abu Dhabi, my family and friends were worried about other things. “Are you going to have to, you know,” they’d ask, swirling their hands around their head as if describing the world’s biggest beehive hairdo. Their swirl implied “covering”: would I have to wear a headscarf or an abaya when I went out in public? The answer is no. I feel free to walk around alone wherever I please, dressed much the same way I would be in New York. There are no laws governing how people dress here; women are free to cover or not cover, and on the beaches you see burqas and bikinis with equal frequency.
In fact, I feel as safe walking alone in Abu Dhabi as I ever did in New York. It’s the kind of place where I leave the car doors unlocked when I run into the grocery store, and where more than once I’ve forgotten my phone in some public place, only to run back ten minutes later to find it exactly where I left it.
I share the sentiments of my local friend, Ken. In response to the news, he posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Thank you for your e-mails and messages about the American woman who was killed here on December 1st. I appreciate your concern. But please be assured that I don’t feel in any greater danger being a Westerner in Abu Dhabi than I felt being a gay man in New York City. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m used to danger.
The only way to protect oneself completely from acts of terror or random violence is by not participating in the world. I won’t do that.”
The expressions of worry that came from my family and friends in the aftermath of this attack were real, I know. And there is no doubt that what happened is appalling and has ripped apart the lives of this woman’s family. But I can’t help but suspect that this story got as much coverage as it did (there are more than thirteen pages of hits for “American teacher slain Abu Dhabi) because the attacker is so visibly Other: a veiled woman, an exotic symbol of “the Middle East,” which to much of the West is still an undifferentiated blur of veils, oil rigs, and jihadis.
Here’s the teaser from CNBC when the story about the knife attack first broke:
I wonder about the leap: that an attack in a mall bathroom by a woman with a knife might have implications for “foreigners” living anywhere in the Middle East.
It’s a strange twist, isn’t it, to think that had the Western media simply assumed that the attack was an isolated, horrifying incident—the work of one crazy woman—it might have represented a step forward?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Deborah Quinn.
Photo Credit: Daily Mail
Jane Mosbacher Morris,
Founder of To the Market
What is To the Market and how did it get started?
TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods (TTM) combines the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations. We’ve developed a three-pronged social enterprise model that we believe reflects the needs of organizations employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease to help ensure that these organizations can continue to provide steady work to the survivors.
Our goal is that the survivors in our network eventually achieve economic independence, meaning that they aren’t dependent on someone or something else.
Our model includes (1) promoting survivor-made goods via our multiple distribution channels, including pop-up shops, custom sourcing, retail partnerships, and our online marketplace; (2) offering a platform for survivors and their champions to share their stories through TTM’s Stories and Huffington Post blogs; and (3) providing tailored services, such as trend forecasting and basic mental health resources, to our partners to improve production and management.
I started TTM after a trip to Kolkata, India revealed a way to impact the most vulnerable survivor communities by offering them an opportunity to earn an income.
I saw the light in the eyes of the survivor turned artisans when they were given the chance to earn—they wanted the dignity of work. I began speaking to incredible people all over the globe (including in the U.S.) who had created social enterprises to employ different survivor populations, usually by employing them to produce handicrafts.
I heard really positive feedback about the model of employing survivors (and all of the incredible benefits to the self-esteem and trajectory of the survivor and his or her children). However, I also heard about the challenges of making this model work—TTM aims to help augment these challenges.
Who are the artisans at To the Market?
TTM identifies and teams up with existing organizations currently employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease. We call these organizations “local partners”. Local partners consist of non-profits and for-profit social enterprises that have already set up shop, hired, and trained survivors to produce products.
TTM focuses on certain types of survivor populations. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to; survivors of abuse, such as survivors of domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and human trafficking; survivors of conflict, such as war widows, refugees, or persons living in conflict/post-conflict states ; or survivors of disease, including populations living with HIV/AIDS, leprosy, or physical disabilities.
We have partners across the globe, including in the U.S., South America, Africa, and Asia.
Do you see a pattern in consumers’ behavior when it comes to shopping responsibly?
I think there is a desire to shop more responsibly, but it often comes down to what people can afford. I am really proud of the fact that our local partners make a variety of products at all different price points—on-trend bracelets for under twenty dollars to timeless cashmere scarves for several hundred dollars.
Can you share a personal story that you think best represents the mission of the online shop?
I recently spent nearly a month in Nepal and India visiting with many of our local partners. I was particularly reminded of how transformational economic independence can be to these survivors when I spent time with their children—their daughters, especially. Most of the survivors we work with are women. When the women achieve economic independence, their daughters are so much less likely to be exploited. We recently wrote about a shelter in New Delhi, India that employs HIV/AIDs infected and affected women. You can see the video about the shelter and read about it on our Stories blog here.
How did you get involved with this work?
I began my career in counterterrorism with a focus on the intersection of women and security. Much of my mission was to try to elevate the role of women in national security-related issues, but I consistently found that women with some form of economic independence had so much more leverage in their family, community, and country than those with none.
That (five year) experience got the wheels turning quickly about the importance of economic independence in empowering vulnerable populations. When I went to work for the McCain Institute on human trafficking, I really saw how vital it was for survivors of some sort of trauma (whether it be abuse, conflict, or disease) to have access to some income.
It brings me extraordinary joy to be a part of the life-changing process of gaining even the slightest bit of independence.
What are your favorite picks for this holiday season?
- For Mom: I love this 100% cashmere scarf hand spun by master spinners in the Kashmir Valley! Each scarf contains the women’s initials that made it.
- For Dad: I love this red spice and merlot trivet. It’s the perfect size for cuff links, receipts, or coins and is neutral enough to sit comfortably on a nightstand or office desk. It’s hand-woven by craftswomen in Rwanda.
- For college kids: I have to suggest the patrice signature bag, which I am currently carrying by No41. It has two major points of impact!
- First, it provides a stable job and sustainable income to a young woman transitioning into a life of independence from living in an orphanage in Rwanda.
- SECOND (and perfect for the college student), it provides 240 meals to a secondary student in Rwanda!
- For kids: I love these brightly colored elephant ornaments (in pink or blue) hand-sewn by women in the Ivory Coast. Pink and blue patterns make it easy to pick for a boy or girl.
- For the office or book/dinner club gift exchange: I selected either a Sari Coin Purse hand-sewn by human trafficking survivors in Kolkata, India or this Hope Ornament pounded out of recycled metal oil drums in Haiti. Even if you don’t have a tree, you can hang this Hope sign up to encourage you! Both come in under $10, the perfect price point for small gifts.
- I am also including a couple “splurge on yourself “ items because I feel like most moms that I know only spend on others! I’ve included the Holiday Festive skirt, because it’s the perfect pattern for this time of year and also because it’s made by stay-at-home moms in Belize who are caring for sick children. Or, this Soledad Peru bag. The Suede straps and bottom make it strong enough to carry six wine bottles (yes, please!). The bag was made by women weavers in a valley deeply scarred by the Shining Path.
How can World Moms help spread the word about shopping responsibly this holiday season and beyond?
What a great question! Helping to get the word out about social enterprises like TO THE MARKET via social media and blogging is a tremendous help, in itself. Someone doesn’t have to have a huge following, either! Just telling your family or friends that these social enterprises exist makes a difference. So much of why so many social enterprises struggle is because they don’t have the marketing budget that big box retailers have to tell their story. There is nothing more flattering (or effective) than a personal referral!
This is an original interview with To the Market founder, Jane Mosbacher Morris, for World Moms Blog. You can learn more about the good work and great products To The Market sells by visiting their website (http://www.tothemarket.com/goods)
The image in this post is used by permission from To the Market.
As a mother of two, I always take the necessary precautions to ensure that my children are happy and healthy. As a family, we eat healthy food, get lots of exercise and sleep and every fall we get our flu shot. There is a lot of debate and myths regarding the pros and cons of getting the flu vaccine and surprisingly only 50% of Americans get vaccinated against the flu every year. It shocks me because getting vaccinated not only keeps you protected against getting a severe, life-threatening form of the flu, it also provides protection against passing it on to someone else who may not be so lucky.
Per the World Health Organization:
Although difficult to assess, annual flu epidemics are thought to result in between three and five million cases of severe illness and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths every year around the world. Most deaths currently associated with influenza in industrialized countries occur among the elderly over 65 years of age.
On average, 20,000 people die in the United States each year due to complications from the flu. While some years the flu deaths are much less severe – only a few thousand – other years as many as 40,000 Americans die. Where the world is utterly obsessed with the thought of getting ebola in which there is currently no vaccine, millions do not get the flu vaccine which can save lives.
I am such a strong supporter of the flu vaccine but understand that there are many people out there who believe false myths or don’t fully understand the benefits of getting yourself and your family vaccinated each year. Last week, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Leonard Friedland an expert on infectious diseases and immunization. He is a licensed pediatrician and former Division Chief for Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine.
Here are some of the facts and myths of the flu vaccine and why it should matter to you and your family (all facts provided by the CDC):
What exactly is the flu?
The seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It spreads between people and can cause mild to severe illness. In some cases, the flu can lead to death. In the United States, flu season occurs in the fall and winter. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as early as October and as late as May.
How is the flu spread?
Most experts believe that you get the flu when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.
Is the flu different than a cold?
Yes, the flu is much more series than a common cold and extremely contagious. A flu usually involves the following symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
What are the negative consequences of getting the flu?
Flu is a severe infection. If you have ever had full-blown influenza (like I did several years ago) it is absolutely miserable and can be extremely serious. Hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized each year due to complications of the flu and unfortunately thousands die. The flu also causes many work and school days missed. The WHO estimates that recent estimates put the cost of influenza epidemics to the economy at US$ 71-167 billion per year in the United States alone.
Who needs to get vaccinated?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that almost everyone six months and older get a flu vaccination each year. It is important to note that even if you are healthy you should get a vaccine.
Seniors (over 65) are especially encouraged to get a flu vaccine every year since people over 65 make up 90% of all deaths due to complications from the flu. Pregnant mothers, children under five years of age (and over 6 months) and anyone with a comprised immune system and/or other medical conditions is highly encouraged to get vaccinated.
What are some of the misperception regarding the flu vaccine?
- A common misperception is that the flu is just like having a cold. This is not true as the flu can become much more serious and cause death.
- Belief that the flu vaccine itself can cause flu. FALSE.
Per the CDC:
A flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). The nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses. However, the viruses are attenuated (weakened), and therefore cannot cause flu illness. The weakened viruses are cold-adapted, which means they are designed to only cause infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose. The viruses cannot infect the lungs or other areas where warmer temperatures exist.
While a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness, there are different side effects that may be associated with getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. These side effects are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of bad case of flu (For flu shot, side effects may include soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, low-grade favor and or aches. For the nasal spray, side effects from the nasal spray may include runny nose, wheezing, headache, committing, muscle aches, fever).
- It is also important to note that the flu vaccine can take up to two weeks to be fully effective meaning that a person may come down with the flu during that time period or even get a cold and mistakenly believe it is from receiving the flu shot.
I got the flu vaccine but still got influenza? Did the flu vaccine not work?
It is important to note that each year, flu vaccines are made months before flu season each year based on scientific research that determines what strains are most prevalent. Therefore, the flu vaccine is not 100% effective against all strains of the flu. However, it is still highly recommended that you get vaccinated each year because if you do get the flu, it is most likely will be a much less severe form that if you had not been vaccinated at all.
I am not convinced that I should get the flu vaccine. I never get sick.
As a society, I believe it is important to think of everyone else around us. The flu is highly contagious and even if you don’t mind getting miserably sick, how would you feel if you passed it onto a child, a senior or someone with a comprised immune system who dies from it? I personally could never live with that myself.
Can I still get vaccinated?
Yes! The flu season is just beginning and there is still time to get you and your family vaccinated. Most pharmacies, health clinics and doctors offices provide the flu shot and mist. Go to www.flu.gov to find the clinic nearest you.
Want to learn more?
Check out the CDC website for more information on the flu by clicking here. You can also go to www.flu.gov to track where the flu has hit, where to get vaccinated and any additional facts you would like to know.
The bottom line: The single best thing we can do to protect our family and other people is to get vaccinated!
Additional stats from the CDC:
- A recent study* showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74% during flu seasons from 2010-2012.
- One study showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 flu season.
- Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. Vaccination was associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year. Flu vaccination also has been shown to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes (79%) and chronic lung disease (52%).
- Vaccination helps protect women during pregnancy and their babies for up to 6 months after they are born. One study showed that giving flu vaccine to pregnant women was 92% effective in preventing hospitalization of infants for flu.
- Other studies have shown that vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalizations in older adults. A study that looked at flu vaccine effectiveness over the course of three flu seasons estimated that flu vaccination lowered the risk of hospitalizations by 61% in people 50 years of age and older.
Did you get your flu shot?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom.