“This infographic was provided by TeenSafe.com“
“This infographic was provided by TeenSafe.com“
A father’s job is never done. You may feel as though you’ve covered the bases with your teen. You’ve talked to her about safety in numbers, being a defensive driver, and the importance of choosing friends wisely. Still, there are more bases to cover.
According to a study by the Family Online Safety Institute, 51 percent of teens say they are very concerned about their identity being stolen. Your teenager is the perfect victim for someone who needs a fresh start because she is likely to have clean credit and an unblemished criminal record. For a criminal, stealing your child’s identity allows him to open new credit cards, buy things online, even rent a home and connect utilities, all using the information stolen from your teenager.
The fact that there are so many ways to steal an identity is the primary reason it is so difficult to prevent, says the experts at Lifelock. Prior to the Internet, it was a common practice for a thief to assume the identity of someone who had died, a scheme called “ghosting.” Today, it’s as simple as gathering as much information as possible from public forums and stolen bits of information.
As a father, your job is to educate your teenager and help her come up with rules for protecting her precious identity.
In Charge, a group dedicated to helping military members and their families with financial decisions, says that you should monitor your teenager’s online activity. She probably won’t like it, but look for instances in which she has provided too much personal information. Instruct her that if she is making a party announcement on Facebook, she should not include her address for random strangers to see. Tell her to leave her birth year off of any social media and to never use her entire name. For example, she might refer to herself as Daniella D, rather than Daniella Marie Davis. The less information an identity thief has, the more difficult it will be for him to assume her identity.
No matter who asks for your child’s social security number, find out how they are going to use it. This might include a doctor’s office, school, or insurance agent. Make sure that you know her social security number is serving a specific purpose and that it will be protected.
Find out what your child carries on her person. The National Crime Prevention Council says that identity thieves routinely steal purses or billfolds in search of personal information. Make sure your child does not carry her social security card, checkbook, or any other document that includes information that can be used to assume an identity. Identity thieves need only your child’s name, address and social security number to convincingly pretend they are her.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to protect your teen from identity thieves is to talk to her. Explain how easy it would be for someone to steal her identity, suggests Stanford Federal Credit Union. Tell her how the misuse of her personal information can haunt her for years. Any bad credit the theives rack up will show up on her records, forcing her to go through the process of cleaning the mess up. Tell her how important it is to keep identifying information to herself and that she should never give out information over the phone or fill out a form before speaking with you.
The blood-sucking pests known as the bed bug have been invading house, home and shelters throughout history. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, their numbers have increased and are on the rise. Since they are attracted to heat and carbon dioxide which our bodies produce, animals and humans are their favorite source for feeding. They love to find new hosts in high-traffic areas by climbing aboard and taking a ride home with your kids.
Scientifically, bed bugs are known as Cimex lectularius (Cimicidae), which are small, wingless insects that feed by hematophagy (solely on the blood of warm-blooded animals). Bed bugs feed in the wee hours of the morning right before sunrise to stay undetected. They quietly and painlessly suck your blood while you sleep, by injecting you with saliva to increase blood flow and to ensure you don’t feel a thing once bitten.
Bed bugs could be hitchhiking a ride home on your children’s backpacks or clothing. Entomologist Jeff White of Bed Bug Central explains that cases of bed bugs in grade school and college dormitories rarely occur but have seen an increase mainly in schools located in metropolitan areas. You can have the cleanest house in the neighborhood and still be a victim of these parasites. But there are some simple steps parents can take to prevent a potential infestation at home when your children return from school:
Bed bugs only feed for three to five minutes in the early hours before sunrise, and it takes up to several days before you see skin irritation marks from the constant biting that goes on while you’re asleep. If you notice any red spots or numerous marks that mimic mosquito bites, or if your child complains of constant itching, bed bugs may be the culprit. A dermatologist can diagnose and treat this irritation with a cream that will prevent children from scratching the bites, which can lead to infection. When bed bugs are in your home, it’s time to call a professional. Check out bed bugs at Orkin.com to get an overview of facts, identification techniques and ways to control this unwanted pest before, during and after your home is invaded.
How much easier life in general would be if the you right now could go back and advise the “teen-aged” you. Although there is no going back for adults, you can do your part to make life’s road a little smoother for your teen by encouraging her to be independent. In your eyes, she might still be your baby girl, but in a few short years she’ll no longer be a minor. Helping her develop essential skills to live and get along with the other humans in the world will save you both some heartache and teach your teen to have some Teen Independence.
You’ve always been there to take charge and pick up the pieces during crises, but your teen needs to learn how to cope with emergencies on her own. The Washington Post advises parents to provide teenagers with a list of things they’ll have to provide the other driver if they’re in an automobile accident, such as name, address, driver’s and license plate numbers and contact and insurance information. The Post also recommends walking your teen through the insurance portion of her next doctor’s visit, so she understands billing procedures and co-payments as well as what insurance information the doctor’s billing department requires.
Keeping her room clean is a good start on housekeeping skills, but when your teenager is out on her own and looking for apartments for rent, she’ll need to know more than how to change the sheets on her bed. Moms Everyday (2) says to stop cleaning up after your teen and show her how to do her own laundry as well as keep things tidy and organized. A teenager is capable of housekeeping on her own and should be doing those things for herself in preparation for life on her own.
Communication skills are vital but, as All Parenting points out, texting has taken the place of interpersonal communicating. Your teen will be the one who has to contact her landlord, doctor and other business professionals when she no longer lives at home. You should help her develop the skills necessary to schedule appointments, gather information and resolve issues before that responsibility is all on her plate. Guide your teenager through calling her dentist to ask for information and to schedule her next appointment. Steer her through etiquette and courteously inquiring about information.
Involve your teen in the day-to-day aspects of your household budget. Make her aware of all the expenses she’ll have to fit her paycheck around. Have her sit with you when you pay the utility bills, the mortgage and insurance. Let her make up a grocery list and then accompany you to do the shopping. Encourage her to open a checking account and help her balance it the first month or two before letting her go it on her own. Help her master fiscal responsibility before she actually has to be fiscally responsible.
If your teen relies on you to be the snooze alarm, she needs some work in the time management department. When she’s on her own, she’ll have to get to work on time, pay her rent on time and will have deadlines for college course work or projects for her job. Make sure she learns how to be responsible for managing and organizing her time.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports kids ages 8-18 watch more than seven hours of TV a day. This is well above the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation, which state kids older than two should watch only one to two hours of quality TV every day. The AAP recommendation helps ensure kids spend plenty of time developing physically, socially and intellectually, thereby reducing childhood obesity and limiting exposure to televised violence, racism and risky behavior. Here are five tips to reduce the amount of TV your kids watch:
Remove the TV from their bedroom. All that access to TV could make their homework, sleep and social life suffer, and they’ll see shows that depict violence, sexual promiscuity and other risky and inappropriate behavior. Put the TV in a common area of your home where you can monitor the shows your child watches.
Nielsen studies reveal the average home includes three television sets, and that’s not taking into account second screens such as mobile devices and laptop computers that stream TV shows. It’s common for parents to watch adult shows, while kids hang out with cartoons. Watching TV together, though, gives you a chance to discuss what you see. You can talk to your kids about what the media portrays in commercials and change the channel when a risky scene starts.
Every show receives a rating that ranges from Youth (Y) to Mature Audience (MA). These ratings tell viewers what age group the show is designed for, and you can find them in your newspaper, cable or satellite’s TV guide or on the screen as a show starts. New 13-inch and larger TVs must include a V-chip (as per the Federal Trade Commission), which is a parental control that gives you the ability to block certain ratings, specific shows or entire channels. Setting it is easy; check out instructions at GetDirectTV.org or follow the guidelines in your TV’s instruction manual.
Being a parent is filled with saying “no” to stuff that’s harmful to your kids, including riding a bike without a helmet and eating sugar all day. TV shows such as “Jersey Shore” and “Family Guy” would also land on the harmful list, but don’t focus on the shows your kids can’t watch. Instead, preview the shows they want to watch, and make a list of shows that are OK. Everything else is off-limits, which eliminates confusion over what your kids can watch.
Matthew Lapierre, communications studies assistant professor at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, found a majority of families leave the TV on as background noise. If you do that, your kids may not be actively watching the set, but they are listening to adult content. Eliminate this harmful habit when you intentionally set designated TV viewing times. Gather your kids on Sunday, look over the TV guide and write a viewing schedule for the week. With this tip, your kids still get to see their favorite approved shows, and they also have time for school, friends, exercise and activities—because the TV isn’t on all the time.