Most parents admit to checking their children’s Facebook account

Posted by Dr. Brent  Conrad – author of How to Help Children Addicted to Video Games – The Guide for Parents

In a recent survey, more than half of all parents admit that they regularly log in to their teenager’s Facebook account.

No parents? Not really...

In a worldwide survey, parents of teenagers were surprisingly frank about spying on what their kids are doing on Facebook.Conducted by internet security company AVG, more than 50% of Canadian parents stated that they secretly monitor the Facebook accounts of their children.

And if you happen to be a teen in the US or Spain, the likelihood that your parents are logging into your Facebook account is even higher – 72% in the US and 61 % in Spain.

So, in what countries do parents give their teens the most privacy? Well, in France 32% admitted to doing a bit of Facebook snooping, while in Japan just 10% of parents stated that they spied on their children.

Have you ever secretly accessed your child’s Facebook account? And for teens, do you suspect that your parent may be looking at your Facebook activity?

What do you think?

Is spying on your child’s Facebook account a violation of privacy and trust, or do you think it is a justified way of keeping track of what your child is doing and protecting him or her? 

Related Article: Why Is Facebook Addictive? Twenty Reasons for Facebook Addiction 


E-therapy to eventually replace traditional talk-therapy?

Posted by Dr. Brent Conrad, author of The Computer, Internet, and Video Game Addiction Workbook

Will e-therapy become a real alternative to traditional one-on-one therapy from a mental health professional?


"Tell me about your relationship with your programmer...I mean your mother..."

For most people dealing with psychological or emotional problems, in-person contact with a qualified psychologist or counselor has been the obvious source for professional help. However, for a growing number of people, e-therapy (online therapy conducted via chat, email, or webcam) is becoming a popular alternative.

This article provides a good overview of the pros of e-therapy such as:

Convenience – Can be accessed by anyone, anywhere

Affordable – E-therapy is usually significantly less expense than an in-person session

Promotes Honesty – The argument is that people are generally more honest about their true feelings when online

In contrast, the cons of e-therapy include:

No Contact – May decrease therapist-client trust

No Research – Is e-therapy effective? Hard to say as there has been little research to date.

No Accountability for the Patient – There may be less commitment to e-therapy and less motivation to continue



After doing a quick search for e-therapists, I would also add a lack of accountability for the service provider – there appears to be some pretty sketchy characters offering e-therapy (wild claims, questionable credentials, etc) and I would really do my homework before considering an e-therapist over an in-person appointment with a registered (and qualified) psychologist.

If you needed to talk to a mental health professional, would you consider paying for an e-therapist?

Parents Push to Ban WiFi in Schools

Posted by Dr. Brent Conrad from

Parents’ advocacy groups in Canada and the US are successfully getting schools to ban wireless internet access due to health concerns.

Awww, don't cry little guy

It seems as though there have been more of these stories over the last year or so.

Although I think that keeping phones out of the classroom is a good idea (you are there to learn, not text, right?), is banning wifi in public places based on evidence or unjustified fear?

Points from the story:

  • In May of 2011 the World Health Organization classified the RF signals sent via cell phones and wifi connections as “possibly carcinogenic”
  • Health Canada states that there is “strong evidence” that current exposure levels to wifi signals are not dangerous and no additional precautions are necessary
  • Some parents believe that their children have experienced headaches, nausea and heart problems due to exposure to wifi signals
  • Magda Havas, a Trent University professor argues that there is research showing that exposure to radio frequencies leads to an increase in tumors for rats
  • Dave Michelson, an electrical engineering professor at the University of British Columbia believes that wireless internet is safe and that groups trying to enforce bans are doing more harm than good

What do you think? Is our precious wifi access slowly killing us (get in line wifi, you have a lot of competition), or is this just a “sky is falling” overreaction with not enough evidence to back it up?  

Original Article: WiFi foes fight to rid schools of wireless Internet

Facebook Adds Program To Report Suicidal Comments

As social media becomes more and more intertwined with our lives, problems like online bullying, internet, and video game addiction will almost certainly become more common.

It’s not all negative though. Case in point: Facebook announced a program today that may be helpful for people experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Hopefully the service will be helpful

Here’s how it works:

If you see one of your friends expressing suicidal thoughts or intentions, you will be able to click a link next to the comment. Facebook then sends a link to the user with the opportunity to instantly connect (online chat or on the phone) with a crisis counsellor from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Good idea I guess. Do you think there is a possibility it will be abused though (e.g., pranks)?

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer promotes bullying says psychologist

Promotes bullying?

In the near future I intend to write a few articles on online bullying at Several recent teen suicides that appear to be connected to online bullying have brought more attention to this issue.
I do think that that this is a real problem and one that parents especially need to be aware of.
Do you really think that we need to ban classic cartoons such as Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer because it “encourages bullying”?
One psychologist apparently thinks so.
Quotes George Giulani:
“Throughout the entire movie, Santa Clause is saying ‘you cannot be on my team because you have a disability.”
I disagree. To portray Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer as “pro-bullying” or somehow justifying the mistreatment of others just seems too extreme, misguided, and completely misses the many positive messages in this Christmas classic (for example, recognizing your talents, being proud of being unique, proving that you are capable of something, not giving up, etc, etc. etc.).
I am wrong here? What do you think?  
Original video:

UK Internet Users Forced To Choose Whether They Want Porn Or Not

LONDON – A coalition of major U.K. Internet providers said Tuesday that it would begin forcing customers to choose whether to have access to pornography and other potentially unsavoury websites, rather than simply offering consumers the option to block them.

Or, if you live in the UK you can also say "yes" - it's your call.

The family advocate behind the move says it will push families to think about what their children are looking at online, but civil libertarians worry that adults could be caught up in — and potentially get used to — online censorship.

“The choice needs to be framed as a choice about parental controls,” said Jim Killock, the chief executive of Britain’s Open Rights Group. “Adults should not be being asked to make choices about content they may wish to view, or may need to view in the future.”

Like their counterparts elsewhere, British Internet providers have long offered customers the option of installing parental blocks to protect children from objectionable content — including not just pornography and gambling but also websites that promote eating disorders, self-harm or suicide.

But a government-ordered review into the sexualization of children published in June recommended that parents be forced to make an explicit choice whether to include the blocks. The review’s author, family advocate Reg Bailey, told BBC television that the issue with existing parental controls is that “the default position is that they’re turned off.”

He said forcing the choice is a way to confront parents with the question: “Do you actually want to access adult material on the Internet through this device?”

“That persuades parents in many ways to have a conversation with children and young people about whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” he told the broadcaster. “It’s a much more active process than it is at present.”

Killock said he didn’t have a problem with stronger parental controls — so long as they remained just that. The danger, he said, was that forcing adult consumers to explicitly state whether they wanted to access pornography or other material might intimidate some into agreeing to a form of censorship.

“If you’re faced with the question: ‘Do you wish to switch on adult content, yes or no?’ then people will switch it off because they might think: ‘Oh my partner won’t approve,'” he said. “It’s inappropriate to get adults to start living in a censored world.”

The four providers who’ve pledged to implement the new measure are the BT Group PLC, British Sky Broadcasting Ltd., Virgin Media and the TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC. None of the providers gave a precise timeline for when the measure would be put into place.

Facebook Use Associated With Teen Drinking, Smoking, And Drug Use

 Teens who spend time on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social networking sites may be more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and use drugs.

Teen Facebook users are three times more likely to drink alcohol

That’s according to Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). CASA recently polled more than 2,000 teens online or by phone, as well as 528 parents of teens.

The results show that compared to teens who don’t visit social networking sites daily, those who do are:
– Five times more likely to use tobacco
– Three times more likely to drink alcohol
– Twice as likely to use marijuana

Most teens — 70% — said they spend anywhere from one minute to hours a day on social networking sites.

But it’s not the fact that teens visit social network sites that makes them more likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs. Instead, the issue seems to be what they view on those sites. Forty percent of the teens in CASA’s survey said they have seen images of intoxicated kids, including some who are passed out, as well as pictures of peers using drugs. 

The CASA report does not prove that social networking caused teens to abuse alcohol or other drugs. Surveys like this show associations but cannot prove cause and effect.

Do Parents Understand?

Parents may not see the risk. CASA’s report shows that about nine out of 10 parents don’t think that social networking raises their teens’ risk for drug or alcohol abuse.

But they may not know what’s on those sites. The survey showed that 64% of parents whose teen has a presence on a social network said they don’t monitor what goes on there.

“Parents need to monitor their kids with respect to social networking and the TV shows they watch, and know what their kids’ lives are like,” says CASA President Joseph Califano Jr.

Social networking sites pose some unique challenges for parents. These sites expand cliques and peer groups almost exponentially. As a result, parents should know what their kids are doing, what their friends are doing, and even what their friends’ friends are doings, Califano says.

Reality TV, Cyberbullying Also an Issue

It is not just what they see on the Internet that influences these decisions. Teens who watch “suggestive teen programming” such as reality TV shows like Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, and teen dramas such as Skins or Gossip Girl are also more likely to use tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana, CASA’s survey shows.

“It is a phenomenal assault on public health that we subject teens to pictures of drugs, alcohol, or teens being drunk or passed out on the Internet, in films, and on TV shows that are suggestive and glorify drinking and drugging,” Califano says.

Cyberbullying also plays a role. In CASA’s survey, teens who reported that someone had posted nasty or embarrassing things about them online are at greater risk for substance abuse. One in five teens aged 12 to 17 have been cyberbullied, the survey showed.

Teens have always been subject to peer pressure, and virtual peer pressure via social networking sites is no exception, says Andres Huberman, MD, the medical director of Project Outreach in West Hempstead, N.Y., which is part of Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

“They see these images and there are no moral or educational statements accompanying them, so teens may be left with the impression that this is what the real world is about and that everybody is doing it, so it is OK,” Huberman says.

Parents should keep an eye on what is happening, but social networks can make it difficult to do so, says Huberman, who is a parent of teens. Parents need to find a way to “meet” their teen’s virtual friends in the same way that they would their actual friends, he says.

Online Dating Study Claims That Men Value Love $73 More Than Sex, an online dating website where users buy or sell first dates, just announced the results of a three month long study which concludes that men value love $73 more than sex.

Love = $194, Sex = $121

According to the online dating study, men seeking casual or no-strings-attached relationships paid an average of $121 for a first date, whereas single men looking for serious long-term relationships paid an average of $194 for the opportunity of finding love.

“We often hear the stereotype that men value sex and women value love,” says Founder & CEO of and MIT alumni, Brandon Wade. “Our online dating study shows this stereotype is wrong. In fact, men value love more than sex by over 60%.”

The online dating study also finds that men who seek only casual or no-strings attached relationships tend to be serial daters and more prolific, paying for first dates over 2.1 times more, than commitment-minded men.

Over 50,000 men were included in this online dating study. To determine the value of love and sex, the average price members paid for a first date on was calculated. The value of love is determined as the price paid for a first date by singles looking only for long-term relationships and marriage. The value of sex is calculated as the price paid for a first date by those seeking short-term relationships, extra-marital affairs and casual relationships.

No thank you.

One Third Of Teachers Have Been Bullied Online By Students And/Or Parents

A third of teachers have said they have been subjected to online bullying – including by parents who see them as ‘fair game’.

Student harassment of teachers is growing

Facebook and Twitter have been used to intimidate teachers over bad grades or simply because they are not liked.

More than a quarter of those that admit they have been targeted say the abuse has come from parents with one headteacher was driven to the brink of suicide by a year-long online hate campaign.

One parent even set up a ‘Google group’ and asked others to join in their abuse.

Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility in IT at Plymouth Business School who researched the matter, said: ‘You expect a little bit of abuse from children. But when parents launch 12-month campaigns of abuse you have to think “something has gone wrong here”.

‘Parents are saying “You gave my child a bad grade, I’m going to give you a slating on Facebook” – it is something that is growing and growing.’

On top of the abuse from pupils and parents, one in 10 said they had been a victim of another teacher’s cyber-bullying.

The report said: ‘It seems to a subset of the population the teacher is no longer viewed as someone who should be supported in developing their child’s education, but a person whom it is acceptable to abuse if they dislike what is happening in the classroom.’

One headteacher told the team: ‘A parent set up a Google group and devoted it to saying unpleasant things about me. It started off as “the Head” and then he started referring to me just by my surname. He invited other parents to join in but only one did.

‘I eventually had a mini breakdown in the summer holiday needing an emergency doctor to be called out – as I had become suicidal – a fact that none of my staff know as I was much better by the start of the term – greatly helped by him removing his children from school.’

The survey was carried out by academics working for the UK Safer Internet Centre and it found that the most common type of abuse was through Facebook groups that targeted specific teachers.

There was also evidence of pupils creating fake Facebook pages in a teacher’s name, posting videos of teachers in class on YouTube, and setting up whole websites to be abusive about a single or group of staff. was also mentioned a number of times as a site where abusive comments had been posted. In some cases where teachers had complained, the comments still remained.

‘While some defenders of free speech have argued that such sites have a right to exist, we would question the role of a site where pupils can freely post slanderous and abusive material about a member of the teaching profession and threats of violence toward them,’ the team wrote.

Prof Phippen said it was important more training is provided to senior managers and others to help combat the rise of online bullying.

A Facebook spokesman said: ‘At Facebook we have worked hard to develop reporting mechanisms that enable people to report offensive content they are concerned about.

‘Having the tools to report content in this way gives people more control over what is said about them on Facebook than over the wider web where few such controls exist.’

Abusive Relationship Simulated By iPhone App

Ever wonder what it’s like to be digitally harassed by a teenager? Now you, too, can receive inappropriate text messages, emails and phone calls. Yay?

Charming fellow isn't he?

 “Love is not abuse” is an iPhone app that simulates teenage relationship cruelty and mistreatment.

Once the app is launched a public service message appears featuring Project Runway’s Tim Gunn and Judge Jeanine Pirro. Then a series of lessons appear and you can run simulations of abuse. Immediately your cell phone will start ringing, a series of bizarre text messages will pop up and you’ll recieve emails. Keep in mind, you have to enter your phone number and email address to get the full effect.

Anyone feel like the app creator just found a brilliant way to collect our phone numbers and email addresses? Here’s a tip: use a junk email address and a Google phone number, if you have one.

Exactly what’s the purpose of all this? 
App creator Liz Claiborne Inc. hopes that showing symptoms of abuse will help parents spot if their kids are being victimized.

According to the organization’s website, “A common characteristic of unhealthy and abusive relationships is the control that the abusive partner seeks to maintain in the relationship. This includes telling someone what to wear, where they can go, who they can hang out with, calling them names, humiliating them in front of others.”

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