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Internet Safety for Kids: Parental Supervision is not Invasion of Privacy

Last week I attended one day of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) annual conference in Washington, DC as a guest of AT&T and I was shocked. Here are just a few things I learned, and my thoughts regarding this very important issue. Be sure to download the FOSI State of Online Safety report to motivate you to address online safety with your family.

Did you know....

46% of US parents studied, wtih children age 8-17, do not use parental controls.

Study conducted by FOSI and Hart Research


As a mom of young girls who are turning into tweens before my eyes, I know the cell phone / texting thing is not far off. As the wife of a computer expert, my girls are already on their 3rd computer, and they can maneuver around an iPad like anyone's business. They are already on the internet, by themselves, sometimes unsupervised.

Lucky for us, computer expert Dad knows how to install parental controls.


Did you know...

58% of teen internet and cell phone users say their parents have been the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate or inappropriate when using the internet or cell phone.

From a study on Teens, Kindness and Cruelty conducted by Pew Research, FOSI, and Cable in the Classroom

I once heard a wise mom say that just when you want to let go of your teenagers because they are all grown up and self-sifficient, that is when they NEED you the most. They need your guidance, your listening skills, and they need you to continue to set boundaries. This is how they learn how to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly when they are out there in the real world by themselves.

AT&T offers 'smart controls' for TV, Internet and phones help parents create an Internet safety plan along WITH their kids.The biggest issue seems to be getting kids involved in the discussion from the start. No teenager wants to have their parents monitor their texts or online discussions. Yet this is exactly what can help them to understand the importance of thinking before you text, tweet, email, or post. If you don't want your parents to see it, why are you putting it out there on the Internet???


Did you know...

44% of online teens admit to lying about their age so they could access a website or sign up for an online account.

From a study on Teens, Kindness and Cruelty conducted by Pew Research, FOSI, and Cable in the Classroom

Kids need to understand that when you click, "I agree" online, it's as valid as signing your name offline. Be careful what you agree to, and be careful who you share your information with. We learned that 30% of online teens reported sharing one of their passwords with a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. It begs the question, how many teens are not only lying about their age, but about WHO is really behind the online profile? It might not even be the account holder.

We have already had a very serious discussion with our girls about why they cannot sign off on their daily reading log in the space where it says 'parent's signature'. Even if I KNOW they read that night. Even if I forgot to sign it. If I gave them the idea that forging my signature on a homework paper was ok, then it would definitely reduce the importance of an online signature.

Disclosure: I received compensation and attendee pass from AT&T for covering the conference. All opinions are my own and this stuff really does keep me awake at night. This post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published.


Your Family Can Give "Well" Wishes for Clean, Safe Water to a Community in Need

All I want for Christmas is Clean Water


Turn on the tap, and out it pours. Clean, safe, and the best thing to put into your body.

But did you know...

"Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war"?

via Charity: Water

The world is in a water crisis. But there are things we can do to help.

Holiday Greetings With Nautica

Starting today, you can upload a photo of your family to the Nautica Facebook Page, include a caption of how your family gives back, and celebrate Nautica's donation of $5,000 to Charity: Water - an organization that brings clean, safe drinking water to needy communities!

Did you know that 100% of public donations to Charity: Water are used for water projects? And, Nautica's donation of $5,000 will bring clean water to an entire village!

Save 30% on Nautica for Your Family Photo

Nautica will choose a few family photos to highlight on the page each day in their Well of Fame on Facebook. You can save 30% on Nautica for your family holiday photo starting today with code: BLOG30 at check out.

Check out the adorable holiday skirts and dresses for girls, or the handy gift buying section.

You can save on using your Nautica photo for your cards over at by using code NAUTICA25 at checkout there.

Savings abound!

WIN $25 Nautica Gift Card right here!

I'm giving away a $25 gift card to one luck person. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me who you'll spend the $25 on!

For an Extra Entry share this URL link ( )

either on Twitter (cc @JanineNickel) or Facebook, or in an email to your get the idea.

Contest open to US residents 18 and over and ends November 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm. Winner will be chosen using from all valid entries.

In Summary: get your Nautica, upload your photo and tell the world you care, enter the giveaway, then check out Charity: Water for more ways to help.


Disclosure: I received a Nautica gift card to purchase clothing for my family photo. All opinions are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published. Also, I care about the world's water crisis. You should too.


Designate Adult Time for Wii Play: Motion

Wii isn't just for kids, but Wii Play: Motion is one you'll want to hide from the kids.

So. Much. Fun.

That was the theme of our Wii Play Motion slash ice cream party we held for our Brownie troop. Moms and Brownies had a chance to balance their ice cream both on screen (love the soft serve version of the game) and off screen, thanks to Nintendo Wii Play Motion and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream!

stack the ice cream

mmmm ice cream didn't last long


hunting ghosts

kids LOVED the Ghost hunter game

The ONLY issue is that the moms has to declare "adult time" so that we could get in there in play.


The Moms LOVED the wack-a-mole game. Maybe it's all that stress we have?

I'm thinking we'll have to find a night to have an adult wii party like my friend Jodi did. With wine. She's smart.

With Wii Play Motion you get 12 games in all and a special 'motion' controller. One of my party moms went home with her own copy of the game and a remote, and the other moms have added the game to their Christmas lists.

Disclosure: I received a Wii Play Motion game, three remotes, and all the fixings including ice cream gift card to Cold Stone Creamery to host the party. The ice cream and sugar high in no way influenced my opinion of the games and you can see from the smiles on the other moms' faces that the adults enjoyed it as much as the kids.




Happy Haloween! Happy Anniversary! 

Halloween around these parts means a whole lot of ....




Eating Chili


I was a judge at the neighborhood chili cookoff. Tough job but somebody has to do it.








And of course, Mummy Making


Happy Halloween and Happy 13th Anniversary to Me and The Mister!


Tell Me I am Not Becoming 'That Mom'

I have never been 'That Mom'

I've never asked for special consideration for my kids.

I've always respected the decision of the teacher, instructor, camp director, etc.

I've let my kids fight their own fights, fall down, even fail at things.

But I'm this close to saying something to someone at the place where one of my girls is taking an acting class.

$300 and Three Lines

Weekly acting classes at the fancy academy cost $300.

That isn't, as far as activities go, an exhorbitant amount of money. I know that.

My daughter seems to enjoy the class each week, though she has complained about the younger kids, "not taking it seriously." 

As her first official acting class, I suppose she is getting experience developing new skills, right?

So this week when she was given her assignment for the play I was curious to see how many lines I'll have to help her memorize. (A little something you may not have known is that when I turned 30 I took acting classes at a theater in downtown DC. This makes me an experienced thespian in my book).


Three lines.

She is one of 4 Narrators.

So, it's not like it's bad enough to be the Narrator. I mean, does the Narrator even ACT? But to have to share the role with three other kids while every single other kid in the class (even the young, annoying ones) have roles with fun dress-up clothes and...LOTS of LINES?

Well that just seems wrong.

Were it the school play, I wouldn't be annoyed.

Were it a real production where you audition, I wouldn't be annoyed.

But I'm paying for her to memorize and perfect her acting technique with 3 lines?

That's $100 per line!

I want to say something, but I don't want to be 'That Mom'.

I want to suggest they find a play with enough roles so there doesn't have to be 4 narrators.

I want my daughter to have a role that requires "a fancy dress, heals and jewelry" so I can see her smile wide with pride and excitement.

But I don't want to be 'That Mom'.

So, instead of becoming "That Mom" who tries to bend the rules, I'm going to invoke my own rule.

The narrator role calls for her to wear a plain, black dress. My rule is that every simple black dress needs heels and jewelry and other fancy accessories. She will smile with pride and excitement and she will deliver her lines with perfection. All three of them.