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An Open Letter To Families

Hello families,

 

Isn’t the internet amazing? Who could have imagined just twenty years ago, that information of every kind could be so constantly accessible? The internet allows us to develop skills, discuss ideas, educate ourselves, and connect with friends and family near and far away.

 

Our children are astounding us with their technological savvy and skill. Toddlers operate tablets and smartphones with ease, and teenagers write computer code and build websites. This is the technology generation. They are preparing to take their place in a world where digital life is almost as relevant as “real” life.

 

The internet (almost an obsolete term!) mirrors the off-line world. There is both beauty and ugliness, violence and peace, kindness and cruelty, growth and stagnancy, danger and safety. Just as we gradually prepare our children to succeed in the real world, we need to teach our children how technology can enhance their lives.

 

Some parents look askance at technology and the internet. They fear the effects of pornography, gaming, cyberbullying, social media, and technological addiction so much that they try to protect their children by eliminating their contact with computers. These are all valid fears, and many do suffer from the dangers of the internet. However, in our day and age, protecting children from the dangers of the internet by forbidding them from going online is akin to preventing kidnapping by never allowing your children to leave your home. It just is not practical, and it will not prepare them to be successful adults.

 

That is not to say that parents should not limit and monitor their children’s internet activity and usage– on the contrary! Just as a responsible parent carefully supervises a toddler at a playground, parents should be actively aware of their children’s technological experiences.

 

Please explore our website, Cleanrouter.com. Here you’ll learn how we provide customizable filtering technology to families. You can block specific websites or topics, approve other websites, and even give the internet a schedule! Beyond filtering, though, Clean Router allows you to conveniently view your family’s internet usage from anywhere.

 

Having a fun, safe internet experience is not just possible– it’s essential! Allow us to give you the gift of online peace of mind today.

Sincerely,

Clean Router

Pornography: Public Health Problem, Or Changing Culture?

A Deseret News article published yesterday, “Why some people believe pornography should be considered a public health problem,” examines how our society’s attitude about pornography has changed over time.

 

One study asked participants if pornography distribution should be illegal. In 1975, 53% of women and 34% of men said yes. In 2012, though, only 43% of women and 23% of men said yes.

 

Why the gender gap? The authors of the study argue that men are influenced by the media and society from a young age to become pornography consumers. Women, on the other hand, are torn between societal messages that pornography equals liberation and personal feelings that pornographic depictions of sex and the female body are degrading to women. The ubiquitous nature of pornography also discourages anti-pornography women from speaking out. If all the men and many of the women are doing it, society’s acceptance of pornography seems inevitable.

 

To read the full article, click here!

 

Here at Clean Router, we believe that winning the fight against pornography in your home IS possible! Click here to learn more about protecting your family online.

 

“Removed” series highlights our attachment to mobile devices

Photographer Eric Pickersgill has published a series of photographs that highlight just how attached our society is to mobile devices.

 

The series, titled “Removed,” depicts people in ordinary situations using smart phones or tablets. However, Pickersgill has removed the mobile device from the finished photograph. The finished result depicts men, women, and children looking down at their hands.

 

The photographs, one of which is pictured above, evoke feelings of emptiness and loneliness. The irony, of course, is that many of us consider ourselves more connected to friends, family, and society by virtue of the internet. However, in “Removed,” it’s easy to see what we are really missing out on: time with loved ones, moments of everyday life, and the beauty of the world around us.

 

To view the rest of the “Removed” series by Eric Pickersgill, click here.

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One Social Media App Makes Us Happier Than Others

Most of us have heard of the “Facebook effect”: that more time on social media is associated with higher levels of depression and more life dissatisfaction. However, a new study has found that the users’ emotional responses after using social media vary based on which social media platform they use.

 

University of Michigan researcher Joseph Bayer recruited 154 college students with smart phones and texted them at random six times a day to assess their emotional state and recent communications. SnapChat interactions were associated with more positive emotions than Facebook and other social media platforms and came second only to face to face interactions.

 

SnapChat may not be for everyone (read about some of the pros and cons of SnapChat here). However, this study contains some useful social media advice that can benefit anyone, no matter their preferred platform.

 

Engage one on one as much as possible

A distinctive feature of SnapChat is that interaction only happens between inviduals. There is no “lurking,” and no feeling left out. On other social media platforms, it’s easy to just scroll by without engaging. Eventually, users can feel on the outside looking in– a lonely sensation.

 

Create face time

SnapChat is very visual. Most users communicate through pictures and video calls; while a text messaging feature exists, it isn’t used as often. This pseudo face to face interaction combines the benefits of real life socialization with the convenience of modern technology. In your own digital interactions, send pictures and video call when possible.

 

Keep it real

One of the positive effects of SnapChat as noted by this study is reduced “self-presentational” concerns. While other social media platforms reward the picture-perfect profile, SnapChat emphasizes sharing quick, unpolished moments. If you are not a SnapChat user, try to focus more on sharing your life with loved ones on social media than looking perfect.

 

Share the mundane

Facebook especially has become a place for recording major life events and achievements: weddings, births, graduations, vacations, developmental milestones, etc. Because SnapChat messages disappear,  the app lends itself better to sharing mundane moments. Sharing day-to-day life in digital interaction can promote closeness in relationships and temper the “Facebook effect” of too many polished profiles.

 

Social media is a great tool for maintaing both short and long distance relationships with friends and family. However, as research indicates that unwise use of social media has negative effects, make sure that social media and technology is improving your quality of life.

 

Order your Clean Router today!

Protect children online with Clean Router

Screentime for Tots: the Pros and Cons

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television or screen time for children younger than two years of age. That’s an oft-quoted fact.

 

But, an article in TIME magazine invites parents, doctors, and academics to re-examine this guideline. Contrary to expectations, the article relates, a recent study found that no screen time at all for infants was correlated with lower cognitive development.

 

Several alternative explanations could exist for this finding, of course. A lower socioeconomic status would be correlated to both less cognitive development and less screen time, since lower income families have less time and less money. Families in more rural areas might also have less access to both technology and educational resources.

 

Another study cited by the article found that infant exposure to adult-oriented  media was associated with less cognitive development, while exposure to child-oriented media was not associated with any cognitive outcome. It’s possible that parental attitudes are the key difference here. If adult-oriented media is playing around an infant, who is it for? If the parent is watching, the parent is interacting less with their baby. If the parent has turned on adult-oriented media for their baby, this indicates a lack of understanding of the child’s needs that will affect parental behavior and child development in other ways.

 

The major question about small children and screen time is context. Is the parent engaged in the media with the children? Is the parent narrating the content, pointing out letters/colors/numbers, and supplementing the media with more information? Or is the screen a babysitter, meant to allow parents to disengage from the child?

 

Of course parents can not (and possible should not, but that’s a debate for another day) constantly play with their children. However, sitting a child down with a pile of blocks allows the possibility for creativity real-world interaction that a screen just can not provide. Of course, a pile of blocks probably will not entertain a child for as long as a smart phone, and blocks are not nearly as portable.

 

The TIME article concludes that pressuring parents to keep their infants and toddlers totally abstinent from screens is unhelpful and unrealistic. It’s true our culture is so inundated with technological devices that most babies are fascinated with screens from an extremely young age. However, these studies should make parents on both sides of this issue consider their habits. Are parents who are pro-screen time   presenting their children with the best media and then participating in it with them? Are parents who are anti-screen time taking every opportunity to stimulate their children’s brains?

 

Ultimately, like every other issue, the question of screen time and young children boils down to parental involvement and balance.

 

For more information on families and technology, click here!

Social Media and Self Control

A new study suggests that social media is more addictive than either alcohol and cigarettes.

 

Researchers from University of Chicago’s Booth Business School surveyed 205 people and asked them throughout the day what they were craving, then whether or not they had fulfilled that craving.

 

Social media came in ahead of both alcohol and cigarettes, but behind sleep and leisure.

 

To read more about the study, click here!

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Feature Friday: The TLD Black List

This week, we want to highlight what may be the most underrated Clean Router feature: the TLD Black List. Located about halfway down the menu, the TLD Black List is one of the most effective tools from blocking online pornography.

 

What does TLDR stand for?

 

Top

Level

Domain

 

As you may remember, the standard Black List gives you the option to completely block access to any url on the web. The Top Level Domain Black List, however, allows you to block any and all websites under that domain.

 

Just to get you started, here are a few domains we recommend blocking:

 

.xxx

.porn

.adult

.sex

 

Don’t forget to use the TLD Black List– Clean Router’s most underutilized tool from blocking internet pornography from your home!

 

For more information on family internet safety, click here!

happy teens with Clean Router

When Will We Learn That Nothing Digital is Really Private?

Did you know that Google has access to every picture you take on your Android phone?

 

A couple of years ago, some Android/Google users were surprised to receive Google’s version of Facebook’s “Year in Review” slideshow. However, Facebook’s slideshow only used pictures and videos users had purposefully uploaded to Facebook. Google’s slideshow included images that users had never sent to anyone or uploaded everywhere.

 

Along with the Ashley Madison leak and the theft of celebrity pictures from the iCloud, the Google slideshow is just another reminder that nothing we capture or record digitally is ever really private or destructible.

 

Patheos, a religious/spiritual blogosphere, recently posted an article about our culture’s naivete about online privacy. As the author points out, many believe internet privacy is obtainable simply copying a Facebook status or adjusting social media settings.

 

The leaks will continue. Individuals will continue to suffer embarassment, exposure, and loss of opportunites. Your children will be among them if we do not teach our families to never record, share, or send anything they wouldn’t want the whole world to see.

 

It’s no exaggeration to say that the whole world– potential employers, family members, deans of admission, identity thieves, and more– really are watching.

 

To read the original article at Patheos, click here!

 

 

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Studies find too much social media is bad for teen health

 

The more research is published, the more it looks like too much Instagram or Facebook has consequences for teens’ health.

 

Just like adults feel pressure in the age of smart phones to be constantly available to their jobs, teens feel some of the same pressure to be constantly engaged in messaging and social media. This pressure can cause teens to stay plugged in at all hours of the day– and the night. Social media use (especially at night) and emotional investment in social media has been linked to poorer sleep quality, lower self esteem, and higher levels of anxiety.

 

Another study released in July found even more dramatic results. After studying 753 middle school and high school students, researchers noticed that those enaged in social media for more than two hours per day were more likely to have poor mental health and even suicidal thoughts.

 

The takeaway from these studies is clear. Parents need to teach (preferably by example) the importance of unplugging from the internet and how to have work/technology/life balance. Parents also need to help their teenagers emotionally detach from social media, instead of basing their worth, social or otherwise, on the number of likes or followers.

 

To read the original article on Discovery News, click here!

 

Order your Clean Router today!

Two New Social Media Studies Offer Food For Thought For Parents

Two new studies on social media offer valuable insight for parents.

 

The first study indicates that teens and tweens check their mobile devices late at night and early into the morning. Night time social media use is linked to poorer sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression. Dr. Heather Cleland Woods, the head of this study, suggested a “digital sunset” may be helpful for kids and teenagers. Read about Clean Router’s ability to put the internet to bed here!

 

The second study sought information on teenagers and stress. Researchers found that teenage girls in particular suffer from high levels of stress, and many self-medicate with social media. In turn, the pressure to achieve “followers” and “likes” can create more stress. Parents should check in with their teenagers of both genders and discuss social media popularity as well as stressors and stress management.

 

To read the original article at “The Guardian, click here!

 

Order your Clean Router today!