10 Signs Your Child is Addicted to Texting

Instant messaging, Twitter and unlimited texting on many cell phone plans have led to a texting craze among today’s youth. Kids will commonly communicate by texting instead of speaking, even when sitting next to each other on the couch. This texting phenomenon is something that is becoming an increasingly large concern to some parents. Instead of worrying about cigarettes, alcohol or drug addiction, they fear their children are becoming addicted to texting.

How do you know if your kid’s texting is getting out of hand? Here are 10 signs your child may be addicted to texting:

  1. Calluses on thumbs – Check your child’s thumbs for calluses. This is a clear sign that texting is getting out of hand. Your kid may also start complaining about pain or cramps in the thumbs. This can be caused by severe overuse of the common digits used for texting, and warning bells should be ringing.
  2. Runs into things – Is your child constantly running into things? Kids who are addicted to texting pay more attention to their phones than where they’re going, and take little notice of any obstacles that may be in their way.
  3. Deformed neck – Does your child have a permanently bowed head because of a neck deformity? By looking down at a phone for extended periods of time, growing children can end up with a deformed neck.
  4. Speaks in acronyms – When your kids actually talk to you instead of texting, do they speak in acronyms? Are they commonly saying things like OMG and LOL? If you find yourself beginning to wonder if they’ve learned a new language, you’re right. The inability to speak in complete sentences using real words is a clear sign of texting addiction.
  5. Attached to phone – Has your child’s phone become a part of their anatomy? Are they continually within arm’s reach of their phone at all times? Are they constantly checking it for new messages? This is another sign you should be concerned.
  6. Unaware of surroundings – Are your kids completely oblivious to their surroundings? Are they unaware of spectacular sunsets or a giraffe in the back yard? Children who are addicted to texting become so focused on their phones they ignore everything else.
  7. Takes phone to bed – Is your child taking his phone to bed? Some kids will spend all night texting with their friends while their parents are completely unaware. This can lead to serious sleep deprivation and teachers will find them nodding off at school. If you suspect this, you may need to confiscate the phone at bedtime.
  8. Panics attacks – If your son or daughter loses their phone, do they go into a panic attack? Kids who are addicted to texting become completely unhinged when separated from their phones. This is a serious sign of addiction that needs to be addressed.
  9. Unable to function otherwise – If you take the phone away from your child, is he completely unable to function without it? Kids with serious texting addictions can have trouble functioning without the constant connection to others texting gives them.
  10. Combative behavior – Does your child become combative when you confront him with his texting problem? This behavior is another sign of addiction. If this happens, you may need to schedule an intervention.

Can this texting epidemic be stopped, or is it too late? Is our youth condemned to deformed necks and callused thumbs, spending their lives completely oblivious to their surroundings? Even though this article is meant to be tongue in cheek, parents do have some reason to be concerned about their children and texting. If your child is displaying unusual behavior you may need to intervene. Remember that you are the parent and you pay the phone bill. Take action before your child is consumed by the texting craze. Kids these days may need a reminder that there is a world beyond their cell phone.

10 Ways Sexual Predators Troll for Kids Online

Children today are growing up with the Internet as a regular part of life, yet the World-Wide-Web was fairly new when their parents were young. Along with all the fun and informative things available to children online, a serious danger also lurks. Internet predators like to use the anonymity of the Internet, and are constantly on the lookout for innocent victims.

It’s important for parents to be aware of the ways sexual predators troll for kids online. Here are 10 things to watch out for to keep your kids safe on the Internet.

  1. Online games – One place Internet predators connect with kids is online games. They will choose games that are popular with the age group they prefer and pose as other kids to foster a friendship with children. Predators will watch for gamer names that indicate the gender, location or other information that is useful to them.
  2. Chat rooms – Sexual predators will pose as kids in chat rooms that are popular with children. This is an easy way for them to garner information and target unsuspecting youngsters. Once they gain a child’s trust, they may try setting up a meeting in person.
  3. Facebook – Parents need to be very careful about whether or not they allow their children to have their own personal Facebook accounts. This is prime hunting grounds for Internet stalkers who target kids. It’s very easy for them to set up fake Facebook pages and “friend” teens and preteens.
  4. Twitter – Social media is a great way for pedophiles to connect with their victims, and Twitter is no exception. Many young people use tweeting as their primary form of communication, and predators know this and go where the kids are.
  5. Websites for kids – Parents may think websites like Disney and PBS Kids are safe for their children to frequent, but predators like to frequent them too. What better place is there to find lonely kids who want to chat?
  6. Instant messaging – Since emails will linger in an account until they’re deleted, Internet predators prefer to use instant messaging that disappears once the window is closed. This makes it harder for parents to monitor who’s talking to their kids and what they’re saying.
  7. MySpace – Some consider MySpace one of the worst sites for online predators who want to connect with children. The online surveys are fun to fill out, but they also provide lots of information that can be used to gain trust with unsuspecting youngsters.
  8. Pictures – Parents need to educate their children on how pictures posted online can be used by sexual predators. It helps them to identify kids who fit their personal preferences, and any picture posted online can be used and manipulated by anyone. Child pornographers are constantly monitoring the Internet for potentially suggestive photos of children.
  9. Target the vulnerable – Internet predators are constantly on the lookout for vulnerable children that they can exploit. Kids that are lonely, unhappy, who are having difficulty with school, or who have poor relationships with their parents are easy targets. They also like kids who are willing to keep secrets from their parents or other authorities.
  10. Use coded language – The shortcut language that kids use for texting makes it harder for parents to readily understand what they’re saying. Just glancing over their child’s shoulder, a text message can look like gobbledygook, so parents need to learn this coded language to help keep their kids safe. You better believe the Internet predators know exactly what texting shortcuts mean and how to use it to gain a child’s trust.

Being aware of the inherit risks that the Internet poses to innocent children is the first step parents who want to keep their children safe need to take. Parents need to educate themselves and their children about the dangers of Internet predators as they teach them how to use the Web. Establish rules and guidelines for computer and cell phone use, and keep the computer in a common area easily observable by parents and siblings. Use online tools for privacy settings and set up parental alerts. Parental involvement is the key to protecting your children from online sexual predators.