June 2012

Posted June 13, 2012

by Lianne Castelino  www.whereparentstalk.com

There is no shortage of programs, devices, control features and filters to help parents today try and establish some order when it comes to protecting their kids online. It's almost impossible to comprehend how any of us (in our 30's, 40's and beyond) knew life before email.  It did exist - remember?

What has always bothered me, and the same holds true for non-technology related issues, is what my kids could be exposed to via their friends of so-called friends.  In other words, I feel confident that my husband and I have tried to raise children who can decipher between right and wrong.  What they become exposed to in the wider world is what is most disconcerting.  I would hope they would make good choices and come and see us if they have any questions.  However, the reality is most kids, through curiosity, serendipity or sheer naivete will venture into choppy waters from time to time. The internet has made this puddle into a vast ocean.

Enter Kids Email.  A smartly-conceived technology that helps parents place some structure and parameters on their children's online behaviours and choices.  As the single mom of a teen boy told me during a recent interview, "searching your kids' room is something all parents will have to do at one point, whether they like it or not."  In this case, she was talking about drugs, which she found and was then able to deal with.  

KidsEmail is no different, providing some detecctive-like features and controls to give parents some peace of mind about what their kids are exposed to online. We take this 'inappropriate' messaging for granted --- visual pollution that comes in the form of racy or suggestive web ads, coarse language, questionable poses, spam messaging, etc. Why expose children to that if they don't need to be or more importantly BEFORE they should be?  

KidsEmail has thought about how to give parents' some peace of mind when it comes how their kids communicate via email, whom they chat with and what they connect about.

With email being one of the first touch points for kids as they journey into technology, the premise, mission and objective of KidsEmail is both important and necessary.

Respect for themselves and others on email will hopefully translate into respectful children and young adults.  If nothing else, it may well preserve some childhood innocence --- for a little while longer, anyway.





Posted June 4, 2012

by Lianne Castelino, www.whereparentstalk.com

It has been a while since I've blogged - time constraints mostly to blame, but the fire is raging in my belly today, so here we go.

There must have been a gigantic full moon hanging over the city which I inhabit this past weekend --- I hope that gorgeous crescent shape makes a return tonight.

My family and I happen to live in the city that grabbed international headlines this past Saturday evening and not for anything good.  The shooting at the Eaton Centre - a huge glass shopping mall in the middle of the largest city in Canada was a crime scene after a lone gunman opened fire during a crowded food court on Saturday evening. 

1 dead. 7 injured. 

City in shock.  Families in mourning. Children scared.  Police on alert.  More innocence lost.  Questions abound.

Brazen. Targetted. Frightening. Reckless. Cowardly.

And so the aftermath has begun.  A massive manhunt is underway.  Politicians weigh-in to calm a jittery population.  The police dig in their heels.  We will all, individually and collectively, search for answers, a fitting, rational response to the question WHY?  And yet, the answer is just so darn simple --- to me at least.

We will, no doubt throw piles of money at more security, better detection systems, bigger jails, and more police officers. 

My question, whenever a crime of this stature, or something smaller, like what happened to my family over the weekend --- is always the SAME.  WHY DO WE INSIST ON ADDRESSING THE ACT AND NOT THE SYMPTOMS?

Can anyone tell me please?  I'm all ears.

A day earlier, on Friday, I was out of the house with two of my children for a two-hour span, between 12pm-2pm.  I came home to discover that our house had been broken in to.  Every single drawer, closet and room ransacked.  Stuff strewn everywhere.  Wanton, idiotic, stupid.  They took our passports and some jewellry.  The tried to crowbar through our front door and failed (excellent lock, apprarently).  They succeeded via the side door and bolted through and damaged the brand new back patio door. 

It took the police 6 hours to get to our house --- despite a 911 call.   Our timing was bad.  Friday the full moon was indeed in evidence as the wild and wet weather spawned flooding at a downtown Toronto train/subway station, caused power outages, road accidents and total mayhem.  Cops were busy.  They got to us eventually.  We had to keep our 3 kids away from the 'scene' til we put every last item back in its rightful place.  We told them what happened, but decided that at ages 14, 12 and 8 --- they did not need to see the work of a #)$#(R#*&^.

"This is pretty typical," said one of the investigating officers.  Great, I thought.  Brazen, Targetted. Frightening. Reckless. 

Clearly we were being watched.  What an eerie, unsettling, scary feeling.  We've already spent a new heap on new locks.  Staying ahead of the criminal element has a price tag.

No adult, male or female and no child, male or female is born violent. They are exposed to it in a multitude of ways.  That exposure eventually turns into acceptance.

Parenting is central to this issue in my opinion. Any time a crime is committed, we are all to blame.  Parents, in particular, should take this personally.

Modelling decent behaviour is an obligation, not a nice-to-have. If you can't take care of your children, give them to someone who can.  If you have a child that you do not want, find a loving home for them --- give them a chance.  If you see a child struggling, extend a warm hand of support and comfort or find someone who will.  

It takes a village to raise a child.  We all have a responsiblity.

Kids are not born into gangs.  Youth are not born into criminal behaviour.  Adults are not born into toting guns in busy shopping malls.  These are all learned behaviours, in my opinion.  

If we could start spending a more time taking our roles as parents seriously ---- perhaps things would be different.  If we could spend more time with our children and less time commuting to that all important job that we think we need to pay for that massive house that we barely see because we are commuting forever --- perhaps things would be different.   If we could take ownership of our communities, as vital, vibrant, important engines that play a critical role in our broader society --- perhaps things would be different.  If we could let our kids play more, be alone less, communicate openly, hide stuff less frequently --- perhaps things could be different.  If we could demonstrate a laser-like focus on priorities like family --- perhaps things could be different.

These types of crimes call all of our actions into question --- and call us all to action.