Monday, April 18, 2016

Sue Scheff Co-Host of The Internet Ruined My Life Aftershow

As I wrote in my previous Blog post, Syfy's latest new series, The Internet Ruined My Life representatives contacted me.

I enlisted the help of Cyberwise to create The Aftershow to help educate viewers after watching the cyber-disasters that ruined lives. Sometimes people weren't even online!

The series is an eye-opener for everyone!

Twitterverse had this to say:

























Watch our final show with the Founder of STOMPOutBullying, Ross Ellis and from McAfee/Intel Security, Toni Birdsong.
 My latest Huffington Post, Digital Shaming, You're Only A Click Away.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Internet Ruined My Life Aftershow

On March 9, 2016 a new series started, The Internet Ruined My Life on the Syfy Network. Though the series is new, we know that keystrokes and cyber-wars have been destroying lives for a long time.

“I wish I had never hit send.”

“I never knew one Tweet would ruin my life.” 

“Everyone wants to be Internet famous.” 

 Do they? Well, not in the way these stories happened. Have you ever considered what would happen if you become a #hashtag? And I don’t mean a positive one. We have seen many people become victims of viral vomit that have innocently posted something benign that was completely taken out of context.

We have seen others that have posted things on what they believed were private forums or groups, or to their limited number of friends or followers — only to have them republished by that one friend that maybe wasn’t really a friend at all.

 As a viewer, you watch these cyber-disasters and simply can’t believe they can actually ever happen to you. However as someone that has been through digital warfare, I know firsthand, no one is immune to online attacks.

 No one is immune to suddenly becoming a victim of cyberbullying or stalking. You never know when a friend can turn on you — or if you have a disgruntled client or even an angry business partner. Maybe you have a competitor that is jealous of you. We are watching more and more people using their finger-tips for e-venge now.

 The keyboard has now become a legal lethal weapon that is not only destroying and ruining lives, it’s also taking lives.

We have read the devastating headlines of youth that have committed suicide over cyberbullying. We have also read where teens and tweens can become so involved in the video games it’s hard to define reality from fantasy.

Most babies learn to crawl before they walk. With today’s tech world, we need to teach our children digital etiquette before we hand them a keypad of any sorts.   It seems children today are more cyber-savvy than most parents, yet aren’t mature enough (or have common sense) to understand the consequences of adult situations – such as sexting.

Sexting is considered today’s new flirting for youth.

However what most are not comprehending is the seriousness of it.   Today revenge porn is rampant. Laws are slow to catch up and lives are being destroyed. Kids aren’t mature enough to understand that relationships are here today and gone within a click. However that image is there forever.

These are only a few of the topics that the great team of Cyberwise with special experts each week, will be discussing and offering takeaways.   Everyone is invited! Each week we will have new experts joining us.

Diana Graber will host and I will be joining her most of the weeks.
 Check out the first Aftershow LIVE (recorded) here. – March 17th, 2016 Show.  



Starting March 17th the experts are:

Bradley Shear is a lawyer who focuses on Internet, Technology, and Privacy Law. His advocacy efforts have led to at least 23 states banning employers and/or schools from being able to ask for access to your personal social media accounts.  He blogs at www.shearsocialmedia.com.




Dr. Pamela Rutledge  is a Media Psychologist who tries to answer those questions by combining an understanding of human behavior, cognition, and emotions with an equal understanding of media technologies. http://www.pamelarutledge.com/

  Coming on March 24th:
  Richard Guerry - is the founder of the non-profit organization the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication (IROC2). Public and Permanent is how you can prevent any digital issue beyond sexting and cyber bullying.

  Emily Lindin - is the founder of The UnSlut Project, author of the newly released memoir, UnSlut and UnSlut Documentary.

Coming on March 31th:
 Andrea Weckerle - is the Founder of CiviliNation and the author of Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph over Haters, Trolls, Bullies and Other Jerks (2013).

Coming on April 7th:
Dr. Michelle Drouin is a developmental psychologist. Dr. Drouin’s  research on sexting, social media, and mobile phone addiction has attracted international attention, and she regularly does interviews for television, radio, newspapers, and magazines.

Coming on April 14th:
Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist for Intel Security. She is an author, speaker, and cyber safety expert.
Ross Ellis is the founder and CEO of STOMP Out Bullying.

RSVP TODAY: https://blab.im/cyberwise-gleek-disaster-glee-extra-tells-all
IRML407 IRML331     IRMY324   CyberwiseBlab317                

Can the Internet ruin your life? 5 tips to help you avoid online trouble. My latest post for Connect Safely.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Teen Internet Addiction Detox Programs

The world of technology is consuming many of us. Parents and teens alike are rarely without some gadget in their hand or very close to them.

When do you know that it's become harmful to your health?

Teen Internet Addiction Warning Signs:
  • You suffer from anxiety. You may use the internet to distract yourself from your worries and fears. An anxiety disorder like obsessive-compulsive disorder may also contribute to excessive email checking and compulsive internet use.
  • You are depressed. The Internet can be an escape from feelings of depression, but too much time online can make things worse. Internet addiction further contributes to stress, isolation, and loneliness.
  • You have any other addictions. Many internet addicts suffer from other addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex.
  • You lack social support. Internet addicts often use social networking sites, instant messaging, or online gaming as a safe way of establishing new relationships and more confidently relating to others.
  • You’re an unhappy teenager. You might be wondering where you fit in and the internet could feel more comfortable than real life.
  • You are less mobile or socially active than you once were. For example, you may be coping with a new disability that limits your ability to drive. Or you may be parenting very young children, which can make it hard to leave the house or connect with old friends.
  • You are stressed. While some people use the internet to relieve stress, it can have a counterproductive effect. The longer you spend online, the higher your stress levels will be.
If you have exhausted your local resources and considering outside help, contact www.helpyourteens.com for information. There are programs designed to help your teen find a healthy balance in life.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Summer Programs for Troubled Teens

Summer programs can be an excellent time to give your teenager a boost of self-esteem as well as helping them with grade recovery if they have been underachieving during the school year.
If your teen has been making these bad choices for a while, chances are good it will take longer than 6-9 weeks to undo this negative behavior. However since making the decision to leap into a residential treatment center or therapeutic boarding school is not only an emotional one, it’s also very expensive — starting with a summer program can sometimes be a way to determine if your teen is a fit for the longer-term program.
After attending a summer program, you can determine the following:
1. They come home and go back to school in the fall.
2. They continue with the residential therapy educational program.
3. They come home, go back to school and things don’t go so well, you know that he/she can go back to that program and finish it.
Summer programs can be a win-win situation if you select the right one. We believe in building teen’s back up to make better choices – not breaking them down.
Contact us today for summer resources.
We have helped many families since 2001 with their troubled teens.
Some summer programs will accept PPO medical insurance as partial payment.
Call today for more information or fill out our consultation form. (954) 260-0805.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Teen Help Program Closed: Alleged Torture of Students

Midwest Academy: Ex-students say they were tortured - NY Post - program is shut-down

Make no mistake, when parents reach their wit's end with their troubled teenager they can be vulnerable and believe just about anything when they are searching for help.

I was there once. My story or should I say nightmare, seems to be repeating itself with the headlines coming out of Iowa -- with the alleged WWASPS affiliated program Midwest Academy (now closed). According the the latest news report;
Midwest Academy Is Accused of Locking Students in Tiny Isolation Boxes for Days or More
bringing_families_back_togetherThis is not any different than we heard from students a decade earlier in their many other programs that are now closed. It's sad that we are now years later and this type of abusive behavior is still going on. This is why I created my organization to help educate parents about the big business of the teen help industry.

  It's not about frightening you, as I firmly believe that parents need options.  Keep in mind, I was in your shoes once. There are many excellent programs and schools in our country, however it's about learning how to sort the good from the not so good.

 Visit www.helpyourteens.com and you will find advice and questions to ask schools and programs before making your major decision.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Risky Use of Stimulants by Teens

TeensADHDMedsBy Constance Scharff, PhD

Prescription ADHD medications like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are becoming increasingly popular for overworked and overscheduled college students. ADHD stimulants strengthen the brain’s inhibitory capacities, by increasing the amount of certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Students like these drugs because they enhance their study efforts.

Prescription “study drugs” are commonly abused to increase concentration for last minute cramming or paper writing. The numbers vary significantly by school, with the greatest proportion of users at private and “elite” universities. Some researchers estimate about 30% of university students use stimulants non-medically.

Students believe that they take these stimulants for the “right reasons,” to be more productive in classes and to stay afloat in a flood of intense competition. In the competitive atmosphere at many schools, students seldom take the time to consider short or long-term risks of taking these drugs, nor understand how certain stimulants may interact with other drugs.

 Sean McCabe, research associate professor at the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center said:

“Our biggest concern is the increase we have observed in this behavior over the past decade. College students tend to underestimate the potential harms associated with the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants.”

While students’ knowledge of the health dangers are limited, even less consideration is given to the illegality of use. Obtaining stimulants from friends with prescriptions, as the vast majority of college students do, seems less dangerous and illegal than buying drugs off the street. Yet these drugs are illegal if used other than intended or by someone other than the person to whom they are prescribed. These drugs are Schedule II substances, on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list right next to cocaine and morphine.

BookEndingAddiction Colleges and universities need to increase awareness about the abuse of these drugs and prompt broader discussion about misuse of medications like Ritalin or Adderall for study purposes. Prevention education for all students may help inform many that these drugs are highly addictive and can have serious side effects. A medical professional or counselor can provide help and support if a student you know is abusing these drugs, along with more information if needed.

About the author: Constance Scharff has a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies, specializing in addiction recovery. She is the Senior Addiction Research Fellow and Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center, and co-author of Ending Addiction for Good with Richard Taite.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Wilderness Therapy Programs and Your Teenager

On a weekly basis we receive calls from parents asking about wilderness therapy programs.

In many situations they have already parted with thousands of dollars to an educational consultant that has recommended this type of program for their child.

Sadly, we've heard this scenario it causes us to wonder what the motivation is. In our opinion, they must have their reasons - which hopefully parents can figure out.

In the meantime, this is not against the reputable wilderness programs that are in our country, it's more about the awareness that the majority of teenagers need more than 6-9 weeks to change the behavior that causes you to read this post or call that educational consultant.

Learn more about wilderness programs and our thoughts here.

Be an educated parent before you spend that extra $15-30K.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Teen Help Programs, Residential Treatment Centers: Knowing If My Teen Is A Candidate



As I share with parents, residential therapy is a major decision not to be taken lightly.  It's not about teaching your child a lesson, it's not about punishing your teen or scaring them straight -- residential therapy is a huge financial and emotional decision that is made after you have exhausted all your local resources.

Residential therapy is a choice made out of love to give your child a second chance at a bright future.

Usually a parent has reached their wit's end; they have been to local therapy, some have even tried having their teen stay with a relative.  Some have been through extensive out-patient programs but it isn't until you remove (residential therapy) the teen from their environment that they will be able to heal and gain an objective view on what is the root of the issues.

In the majority of families that contact us, these are not bad kids, these are kids that come from good families - raised with morals and taught right from wrong, however making very bad decisions.  Whether they have fallen into a negative peer group or struggling with self-worth issues, they are definitely going down a dark path that needs to be addressed.

In many situations we see today's teen as the spoiled rotten brat syndrome.  Don't be ashamed of that - that is our culture today.  It's not right, but that's how parents of this generation have raised their kids --- they get just about anything they want without earning it.  This leads to generation entitlement teenager.

When they feel they are being boxed in or suddenly things aren't as easy as they used to be, as middle school and high school can tend to become more difficult to fit in, rebellion and defiance (in combination with puberty) can strike.

canstockphoto13240726This behavior can escalate into not only a nasty attitude, but soon you watch their grades declining, maybe they quit (or asked to leave) their once-favorite sport, and suddenly you discover they are using illegal substances and drinking.  The spiral continues.

Their outbursts at home and anger towards the parents become unbearable.  Worse some teens will get into trouble with the law, maybe shoplifting things they can well-afford to purchase.

Parents soon feel hostage in their own home.  No one is immune to this.

How To Know When It's Time to Try Residential Therapy

  • You have read most parenting books and behavioral strategy -- removing privileges, instilling consequences that are being broken,  to behavioral contracts to one-on-one behavioral support in the home -- and your teen still doesn't get better.


  • Your child had been given numerous psychiatric diagnoses, none of which totally fit. He/she has been on different medications, but none result in long-term changes.


  • Your house is a war zone every day. Your child is routinely explosive and scares younger siblings and you. You are exhausted and the stress of managing daily crises is taking a toll on your marriage, your job, your personal life and you  have reached your wit's end.


  • Your child has been expelled from school (or on the verge of  being expelled), is addicted to video games, using drugs or alcohol, and has had multiple run-ins with the law.


  • Your child engages in self-injury, threatens to hurt others or kill himself.


  • Your child has had a psychiatric hospitalization.


  • You have finally exhausted all your local resources.  This is not an easy decision and one that comes out of love.  It is time to give your son or daughter a second opportunity for a bright future - finding a residential therapy setting for 6-10 months out of their lifetime is a small price to pay considering the alternative road they are on.


  • How Residential Treatment (RTC) or Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS) Helps, When Nothing Else Does


    • RTC or TBS focus on helping the child take personal accountability. Through intensive individual, group and family therapy, residential staff work on shifting the child from blaming others for his problems to acknowledging that he is where he is because he made poor choices.


    • RTC or TBS remove your child from their negative environment.  Whether is a contentious home situation or a negative peer group, it is an opportunity to be in an objective placement to open up and speak freely to others that may have his/her same feelings.


    • RTC or TBS have level systems so children learn the consequences of their actions. If they make poor choices or don't do their levels work, they don't gain privileges. The levels system incentivizes children to change their behavior.


    • RTC or TBS provide structure and containment that is impossible to achieve at home. Most RTC or TBS are in remote areas where there is nowhere to run. Therapists, behavioral staff and a levels program provide intensive scaffolding to support the child as he learns coping skills that he can then use to regulate himself. When a child can utilize coping skills, he feels in control and begins to make better choices.


    • RTC or TBS are particularly skilled at helping parents recognize the ways they are unwittingly colluding with their child's behavior, and learn tools to change their own behaviors. Parent workshops and family therapy (usually via phone and visits) are essential for the child to return home successfully.


    • When selecting an RTC or TBS, it is important for a parent to find one that has accredited academics, qualified therapists and enrichment programs.  This is part of doing your due diligence when researching for programs for your teenager.


    • teens parentsThe hardest part is finding the right program/school for your teenager.  There are many choices in our country.  Take your time (within reason) and do your due diligence.  We offer helpful hint and questions to ask schools and programs on our site.  Be sure the program is licensed, accredited and has enrichment programs to stimulate your child in a positive direction.

      There are also red flags, when programs frequently have to change their name, sometimes the Christian programs don't have to meet the regulations as traditional TBS or RTC, it's all about doing your research.  We aren't purchasing a car - we securing your child's emotional growth.

      If you feel you are ready to consider residential therapy, please contact us for a free consultation.  I have walked in your shoes over a decade ago.  Although we had  a bad experience, I believe there are many good programs - it's all about educating you to learn to find what is best for your family.  Learn from my mistakes - gain from my knowledge.