If you want to keep your kids safe online you need to look in the mirror first

Parents tell me they are worried about what their kids are posting online, who they are talking to and who might be trying to communicate with them. Well-meaning parents are also concerned with how much time their kids are spending online and how their digital life is affecting their health and relationships.

Before we can expect our kids to have a healthy relationship with technology, we have to have one ourselves.

It isn’t fair for us to expect our kids to put their phone down and head up when we ask them a question if we are swiping and scrolling at the same time ourselves.

We are sending mixed messages when we tell our kids to stop posting so many selfies but then share their pictures on our own Facebook page without asking them.

We are not setting a good example when we tell our kids not to get involved in online drama but then complain about the comments our own friends made on Twitter.

The challenge when modelling good digital behavior is that we are still figuring out much of this “tech stuff” ourselves. We don’t have those personal experiences to rely upon when it comes to teaching our kids how to stay safe online. Our parents didn’t sit us down and have the “selfie” talk with us.

Unfortunately that doesn’t mean we are excused from discussing tech use with our own kids. They need us to model healthy tech behavior. They rely on us for guidance and mentorship and if they don’t learn from us, they are going to learn from someone else. Someone who may not have their best interest at heart.

Long before our kids own a phone or use a tablet, they are learning about digital citizenship from us. They are learning how important our phone is to us. So important that we:

  • take our phones to bed
  • watch our screen instead of watch our kids play soccer
  • take selfies with exploited wildlife
  • text and drive with our kids in the backseat

Young kids especially don’t realize all the apps and resources we have available to us at our fingertips. We may be replying to an urgent email, transferring money or responding to a friend in need, but all they see is that our phone is receiving more attention than they are. In their eyes, we are unavailable to them, but always available to our phone.

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you
— Robert Fulghum

Digital technology enables accessibility. So much so that we have to carve out device-free time in our device-filled world. But it’s worth it. By taking back control from our phones and adopting a healthy digital diet, our kids will benefit. They see, learn and follow our lead. They will be kind, creative and empowered when using their devices and be less vulnerable to addiction, narcissism and isolation.

Here are some easy tech habits to try for the New Year and create a healthy digital lifestyle for your family:

  • start and end your day with you - keep the first and last hours of your day device-free
  • greet your kids after school by looking them in the eye instead of looking at your phone
  • unfollow anyone who is a negative influence online
  • create a family charging station - keep all devices out of the bedrooms overnight
  • embrace technology - try something new that promotes creating rather than consuming media
  • keep the conversation going - ask your kids about their tech use every single day

Our digital habits and attitude directly affect how our kids interact with digital media. Make 2018 a year of less scrolling and more connecting.


How Technology can Help you Focus on what Really Matters


Having a business that involves staying current with online trends and digital updates requires me to spend a lot on time… well… online. It also requires that I remain mindful of my time online so I can reap the benefits technology has to offer but also stay grounded to what matters most. After the loss of my beloved bulldog, then suffering through the sudden death of my dad, followed by my resignation from a successful career, I have come to realize where I want to invest my energy.  

Experiencing life with my family, connecting with thoughtful, passionate people and staying rooted to nature are my priorities. By committing to these values, the grieving process has directed me on a path that involves being very mindful about where I place my attention.

Technology has evolved in such a way that we can now use our digital devices to help us take back control of our time. Being mindful of how technology assists us with the demands of every day living is one step. Noticing how our actions online and the relationship we have with our tech is the the next step.

If you feel like you could benefit from a bit of a digital detox or you would like to be more connected to those things that matter most to you, here are some useful apps that promote a more mindful online experience:

Moment - allows you to keep track of how long you are spending on your device. The first week after I downloaded this app, I averaged 3 hours a day. I’m happy to say this last week the average time I spent looking at my phone every day was 1 hour and 37 minutes.  


Forest - takes the temptation away from checking your phone while you are trying to work. A tree or bush is planted when you start the timer and start working. That tree will die if you interrupt its growing process - by becoming distracted and checking another app. Being a nature lover, this app really resonated with me and also increased my productivity!

Stop, Breathe & Think - lets you check in with how you are feeling that day. You can then select a meditation that is best suited for your emotions. It’s easy to take 5 minutes out of your day to check in and improve your mental health. I also like that there is a kids section in this app. These meditations are short and ideally suited for younger kids (5-10 years).

Bedtime feature on the iOS Clock app - it will send you a reminder that it is “Time for Bed.” I have my reminder set for 60 minutes before my ideal bedtime. This reminder triggers me to put away my phone and laptop and start getting ready for bed. Sixty minutes is an appropriate amount of tech-free time so you can get a decent night’s sleep. Otherwise it is easy to get lost on social media or the google machine. Before you know it, you have traded some much needed shut eye for a website that will still be there the next day.

While technology keeps us connected and up-to-date, it can also keep us disconnected. Notice how you can incorporate a bit of mindfulness to your digital habits and place your attention on what matters most to you.

Watch more sunsets than Netflix
— Author Unknown

What Parents Need to Know about Yellow

Yellow app has been coined “Tinder for teens.” And yes... teens in Edmonton are using it!


Yellow is a social media platform aimed at kids aged 13-17 and it's claim is to meet new friends. The description on iTunes includes “Friendship is going to the next level! It's like being in a party and meeting cool people every 10 seconds.”  Just the thing to make parents cringe!

The app is very similar to the popular dating app Tinder, in that you swipe left if you are not interested in a user's profile and you swipe right if you are. If both parties swipe right on each other's profiles, Yellow connects the users through their Snapchat or Instagram accounts.

Being the analyst I am, I decided to try Yellow out. But not without reading the Terms and Conditions first. Yellow clearly states that it has the right to “host, store, use, display, reproduce, adapt, translate, amend, edit, distribute, in whole or in part” any content provided by the user. So once a photo is uploaded to Yellow, they can use it however they please. This is another good reminder to talk to your kids about what they share online. Once, it’s out there, it’s out of their control.

It didn't take me long to find lots of Edmonton teens using the app, posting some suggestive photos and sharing their private information like full names, birthday, city, and profile names. After a bit of digging, I was able to find one boy's Facebook profile, address, parents' names, and hockey schedule.

There is also a group video feature in Yellow in which users can have a live feed with four friends. As I did not have any Yellow friends, I was unable to try out this live broadcast feature. However, in the Yellow Parent Guide, it states that during the live feed, any Yellow user can view the broadcast and users can add the creeper… I mean viewer… as a friend.


The good news is that I was "reported" by Yellow Authorities because my profile picture was of a flower instead of a person and I could no longer search within the app. The bad news is that I couldn't actually delete my account. They just kept giving me another chance to change my profile pic!

So what does this mean for parents? Talk to your kids about the importance of keeping their private information private. It didn't take me long to find the names of that boy's family members. By posting too much info, teens can be risking the safety of themselves and other members of their family. Remind them that people online are not always who they claim to be. It might be a creepy 39 year old mom that they are chatting with instead of a fellow 13 year old!

If your child is using Yellow or is interested in the app, go through the Teen Guide with them so they have a better understanding of how to stay safe.