Popular Smartphone Apps for Tweens and Teens

By: Kathy Trainor Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 4.45.51 PM

Everyone knows  Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.   You are starting to hear about Instagram and Tinder but do you know the rest of the apps on your teens phone? Do you really know the Apps Teens and Tweens Use?

In this rapidly changing digital world, it’s crucial for parents to be  “Online.” I suggest you become active and understand the apps your teens and tweens are using!  Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to online safety!  Do you know what the age restriction is for the app your child, tween or teen is  using? Do you know their passwords in case there is an issue?  Do you have a policy for your child’s use on a particular app?  Can you list 10 apps they use that you are not using?  If you answered “No” to any of those questions you should take a look below to gain more info.

Here is a quick reference guide of apps that kids, teens and tweens are using:

Texting apps

Kik Messenger

Kik Messenger is a free instant messaging application available for download on mobile devices. It has become extremely popular among kids as a means to connect privately with people they know or are meeting on other social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It doesn’t require a phone number, so it’s very appealing to younger kids without a mobile phone because they can use it on their iPod Touch.

ooVoo

ooVoo is a video chat app. It lets you make video calls, voice calls and send texts to friends and family. You can also start a group video chat with up to 12 people. The default privacy settings are set to ‘public’, so you can talk to people you don’t know, but they can be changed so that you can just talk to your friends.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS.

Micro-blogging apps and sites

Tumblr

Tumblr is so easy to use that it’s hard to explain. It is a platform that makes it really, really easy for anyone to make a blog and put whatever they want on it.  

Vine
 This app allows you to create short, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see. Set up much like Twitter and Instagram but only with videos that last about 6 seconds. 

Self-Destructing/Secret apps

Snapchat
Snap a photo or a video, add a caption, and send it to a friend. They’ll view it, laugh, and then the Snap disappears from the web.

Whisper
 Connect with likeminded individuals and discover the unseen world around you. You are in unknown user and can tell secrets to your users.

Yik Yak
Share your thoughts and keep your privacy on Yik Yak. Download the app and check out what everyone’s saying around you based on our location. No sign-up required.

Chatting, Meeting, Dating apps and sites

Below are the most common dating sites that are activity used by teens and college students. These have come a long way from E-Harmony.  The Apps Teens and Tweens Use for dating are not like adult ones so take peek and know the risks.

MeetMe
Omegle
Skout
Tinder

While most of these apps were developed as free and easy way for people to communicate and stay in touch, it is easy for young kids, who don’t fully understand the dangers and the implications their internet use can have, to find themselves in an undesirable situation. Talk to your kids about internet safety and discuss the rules that should be associated with each app.  The more you know about what sites and apps they’re using, the easier it will be to keep them safe.

What apps do your kids use? Do you have any warnings about popular apps right now?

Posted in fuggs and foach, internet safety, Kathy Trainor, smart phone apps for teens and tweens | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Picky Eaters

By: Jessica Aldred 

Pizza, chicken nuggets (not tenders), cheese, noodles (with cheese) and the occasional hot dog (all slathered in ketchup)- These are the core of my child’s daily menu. I can get him to eat a few other things, but these are the picky-girlrinse and repeat items on my ‘kids’ menu. When I first became a parent I swore I’d expose him to everything and everything, that I’d never make a separate meal for my kids and that they would always finish their fruits/veggies. That was all fine and well until he hit about 3 ½ years old and he wouldn’t eat. Seeing that I also swore to not let the child go hungry, I began feeding him whatever he would eat to fill his belly. As he got older, his younger brother ate anything I put in front of him however that often consisted of the same monotonous series of food that #1 would actually eat. While an all around good eater, #2 is faring well, but #1 will still dry heave over a strawberry.

We’ve tried reward charts, prizes, offering desserts or special time out with a parent or friend, but alas my child will not change his habits. I’ve tried covering foods in cheese (his absolute favorite food) to try to get him to try it with no change. I’ve put a sliver of a fruit, veggie, or freshly cooked meat on his plate and forced him to eat it. As a result, I’ve cleaned vomit off my kitchen table more than once.

As he approaches 7 years old, I often wonder if there will we will ever reach a breaking point, or a time when he’ll be will to try new things, and specifically embrace some fruits and veggies. Currently, my fridge is stalked with half a dozen types of fruits he could try, but he still refuses despite seeing his best friends mow down an entire freshly cut watermelon. We all have foods we dislike or would prefer not to eat, but to limit your appetite to 12-15 foods makes for slim pickings. He does come from a picky father but I’ve even managed to get dad to choke down some new foods to help promote that positive behavior.

Our pediatrician chastises me yearly now for his poor eating habits and offers all the same recommendations, but at the end of the day I just need to feed my child and keep this family unit on track and moving forward. It’s too easy to dole out advice when you don’t have to deal with the child sobbing at the kitchen table or hear him complain that he’s hungry as he climbs into bed. As of today, I stand by my dedication to keeping his little belly full and his body fueled for whatever the day brings. However, I’m interested to hear some ways that other parents have navigated the waters of a picky eater.

Posted in Jessica Aldred, picky eaters, Signature Moms Blog | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Spring has arrived!

By: Martianne Stanger 

Spring has arrived and so has the glorious sun! Don’t you just love it? I do!

I love how it warms body and soul. I also love how it beckons us all to head outside to bask and enjoy.

Indeed, since spring arrived, our family has been relishing simple times outside. Perhaps, yours has, too. If not, might I encourage you to do so?

Linger outside and soak up some Vitamin D. While you do, enjoy some timeless pleasures:

Fashion Dandelion Crowns!

Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

What child does not delight in nature crafts?  If you’ve never made a dandelion crown with the children in your life, now is the perfect time to do so.  This smiley girl can show you how.

Float a Boat

Image Credit:  Training Happy Hearts

Take paper, recyclables, found items from nature, add a bit of imagination and any body of water and you’ve got the making of an idyllic childhood pleasure.  You’ve also got a sensory-smart activity that is so worthwhile!

Make a Mini-Garden

Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

No time to till, plant or care for a full-size garden?  That’s no excuse not to green even the youngest of thumbs.  A small pot, some soil, some seedlings and a few decorations can make for a fun activity that will keep growing all season long.  We recently made some mini-Mary gardens which could inspire some fabulous edible fairy gardens, too!

Create Rock Art

Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

Got rocks?  Got crafty kids?  Got Sharpies (or paint, or crayons or just about anything that can add color to a hard surface)?  Set imaginations free by making rock art!  These can be used to decorate your mini-gardens, to mark plants in larger gardens, to gift to others, or even as prayer rocks as my little girl likes to use them.  They can also be a simple way to enjoy time outside in the sunshine!

Just Step Outside

Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

Or, simply step outside with nothing in mind and see what unfolds.  Climbing trees.  Literally stopping to smell the flowers.  Inspecting insects.  Walking trails…  So many opportunities to recharge as you soak up sun await!


How will you savor the sunshine this springtime? 

Posted in Brockton, Martianne Stanger, outdoor fun, spring activities | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

5 Things My Kids Are Good For

June is Men’s Health Month and to celebrate we asked the husbands of our talented mommy bloggers to submit posts and be featured as guest contributors. Keep checking in throughout the month for additional posts from the Signature Dads.

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By: Kevin O’Neill – Heather O’Neill’s Husband

So the wifey forwarded me an email from the Signature Health group, which she has written a moms blog for in the past. The email was asking the husbands to write a dads blog of sorts. I was extremely excited about this. I was so excited in fact, that I opened the email and read the first 2 sentences. I then proceeded to stop reading and ignore the email for about 10 days. During this 10 day ignoring period, the wifey proceeded to ask my thoughts on this about 18 times. Being the brilliant husband that I am, I got the hint on the 18th time. (That’s actually pretty good for me.)

It seems that when I am reading articles, blog posts, etc., that writers love lists. Apparently I am now a writer, so I will jump on the list bandwagon.

Top 5 Things My Kids Do:

  1. Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.06.37 PMThey make me laugh. They also make me yell and increase my stress levels, but they definitely make me laugh. They are funny. Just yesterday Jackson, my 4 year old, comes running in and wants to show me his new dance move. He puts music on the iPad and proceeds to “shake his booty” in the slowest and creepiest of fashions. He was so excited by this and it cracked me up. Last night at dinner Jameson, my 7 year old, farts so loud that I thought the clock was going to fall off the wall. To quote my wife, “Farts are always funny.” #ThatMayBeAMisquote
  1. They have short memories. This is a double-edged sword. I frequently lose my mind when I have to tell them 34 times at dinner to lean over their plate. The good thing is when I do get upset, they seem to quickly forget and are right back to being my best buds again. I am still feeling awful for getting mad at them, and they have bounced back and are ready to move on. That is refreshing.
  1. They can get me a beer out of the fridge. Everyone talks about the great milestones of having kids potty trained or dressing themselves. Overrated. The day your son first successfully gets a beer from the fridge without dropping or shaking it, is a single tear down the cheek type of moment. I have no idea how I will contain my emotions when they can both operate a bottle opener, or better yet serve whiskey on the rocks.
  1. They care. When I come home from work they always ask me how my day was. If I am not feeling well, they always ask me if I am feeling better. For all the times they may aggravate me with their behavior, they are 2 very caring human beings. Ask anyone and they will tell you, “The boys definitely get that from their father.” #ThatMayBeAnotherMisquote
  1. They look just like me. No need to go on Springer, because these guys are mine. This is nice for a few reasons. The world definitely needs more big, bald, and ruggedly handsome men. We are certainly lacking in numbers. Plenty of pretenders, but very few contenders. Its also nice to have a couple Mini Me’s running around so I can dress them like me, jus like Mr T and Arnold did.
Posted in Family, Father's Day, Heather Desmond O'Neill, kids, men's health month | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Planning for the Future

By: Heather O’Neill 

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.12.50 AMI work in special education and I spend most of my days trying to build kids up. Trying to make them understand that what they view as the impossible is possible. Trying to give them a light at the end of a sometimes very long, very dark tunnel. And with one statement, one look, one devastating declaration, another adult can ruin all of my, and my colleagues’, work.

I witnessed a parent the other day tell her son that “College just isn’t an option for him. Never was. Never will be. It’s not in the cards for him.” Her son seemed to sink into his chair, shoulders rolled forward, head and eyes sunk to the floor. He seemed to believe that this was his reality.

My heart broke.

Is this the message that she is really sending to her son? Is this what we want our 14 year old freshmen to believe – that there is no hope for any future education after the next 4 years of their lives?

This particular parent was stuck in 1985 and her own experiences. She frequently referenced them. She had had a particularly difficult time in high school and did not explore any post secondary opportunities.

I tried to explain that “college” or the idea of college was very different today than when she graduated from high school.

  • College does not mean you have to go to a 4-year school.
  • There are 2-year programs out there.
  • There are certificate programs.
  • You don’t have to take a full course-load – you can start with one or two classes.
  • It doesn’t have to be done in 4 years.
  • You’re never too old to start taking classes.

I tried to open her mind. To open his eyes. To get them to see that there were possibilities for him. I’m not sure if I changed their minds that day, but I do know that I gave them something to think about.

And the next day I sat in another meeting where a parent told their child that “they didn’t have the skills to make it in college.”

As parents we need to build our kids up, not tear them down. They will do enough of that on their own. It blew my mind that these two very different parents would talk to their children this way, in a meeting full of educators who cringed at their statements.

If we don’t believe in our kids, who will? If we don’t teach them how to believe in themselves, how will they know? If we want our children to be successful we have to first believe that they can be and then show them that they can be.

Posted in Education, Heather Desmond O'Neill, Signature Moms Blog, Special Education | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Miss Signature Healthcare’s Annual Health & Wellness Expo!

We hope to see you out at our annual Health & Wellness Expo tomorrow! The event starts at 9 am at the Shaw’s Center and goes until 1 pm. The event is free and something the whole family can enjoy. 

The event will include a variety of free health screenings, a kids interactive area provided by the YMCA and Easton Children’s Museum, a healthy cooking demonstration,  a free raffle for mountain bikes, and a diabetes education portion with an opportunity to ask Signature clinicians questions!

There is no change for admission and parking is free. For more information you can visit www.MySignatureCare.org/Diabetes or call the Wellness Line at 508-941-7654.

If you take any pictures be sure to tag @SignatureHlth on Instagram and Twitter! You may even see your posts shared on our social media pages.

We hope to see you there!

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Embracing Summer with Drive-In Memories

By: Sandra L. Churchill 

Drive-in movie nights usher in memories of meatball subs and pajama-clad kids climbing on top of the station wagon to watch films under the stars. As a family, we’ve continued the tradition—with a longer drive since drive-ins are few and far between—with our own children. We tote lawn chairs, coolers, blankets, and Frisbees (for the early fun before darkness sets in) and celebrate the sights and sounds of summer. Starry skies, cricket song, laughing kids, and the scents of snack bar hot dogs, popcorn, and ice cream transform a veritable sand lot into an outdoor party.

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At the Mendon Drive-In, now owned by the Andelman Brothers (Phantom Gourmet), the experience is about sharing movies, time in the car, conversation on the rides to and from the theatre, and overall summer fun. There’s something about sitting in a lawn chair and embracing summer weather while sharing a movie with your children that bonds families together. It’s like camping—mini-style—since it’s just for an evening.

We love the fact that toddlers, school-age kids, teens, college students, and adults can share in the experience and enjoy the movies together. The per-carload rate ($25 at Mendon Drive-In) is cheaper than per-ticket costs for most theaters—even on bargain nights. The dual-feature format usually caters to little ones for the first movie and older children and adults for the second feature.

The Andelman brothers bought Mendon Drive-In last year and the pair has been busy expanding snack bar options, so the range of snacks is impressive. Nachos, burgers, pizza, fries, candy, ice cream, and veggie sticks are among the current offerings.

The theatre is clean, thanks to mini-trash bags distributed to each car at check-in, and a drive-around staff member is on-hand to help families tie their hatch back down to avoid blocking the screen from view.

Instead of the clunky speakers we used to balance in the car windows, movies are now broadcast on pre-set radio stations for the two screens. The sound is clear and balanced, though a portable radio is a good idea to bring if you intend to watch the film from outside your vehicle.

Armed with bug spray, citronella candles, flashlights, blankets and pillows, the night offers a bevy of summer memories for moms, dads, sons, and daughters. We love the fun for all ages and the drive-in experience offers something for everybody!

Posted in drive in movie theaters, Family, Sandy Churchill | Tagged , , | Leave a comment