Think twice before tracking your kids, says University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Joel Michael Reynolds.

LOWELL, Massachusetts: The use of self-tracking and personal surveillance technologies has grown considerably over the last decade.

There are now apps to monitor people’s movement, health, mindfulness, sleep, eating habits and even sexual activity.

Some of the more thorny problems arise from apps designed to track others, like those made for parents to track their kids.

For example, there are specific apps that allow parents to monitor their child’s GPS location, who they call, what they text, which apps they use, what they view online and the phone number of their contacts.

As a bioethicist who specialises in the ethics of emerging technologies, I worry that such tracking technologies are transforming prudent parenting into surveillance parenting.

Here are three reasons why.

COMPANIES ARE TRACKING FOR PROFIT

The first reason has to do with concerns over the tech itself.

Tracking apps are not primarily designed to keep children safe or help with parenting. They are designed to make money by gathering loads of information to be sold to other companies.

A 2017 report from a marketing research firm estimates that self-monitoring technologies for health alone will reach gross revenues of US$71.9 billion by 2022.

The lion’s share of the profit is not in the device itself, but in the data drawn from its users.

To get as much data as they can, these apps work hard to keep one constantly using them via push notifications and other design techniques.

This data is then often sold to other companies – including advertising agencies and political campaign firms. The primary aim of these devices is not people’s well-being, but the profit that can be made off of their data.

When parents track children, they help companies maximise their profits. Should a child’s information become de-anonymised and fall into the wrong hands, this could put one’s child at risk.

RISKS OF LEAKING PRIVATE DATA

There are also significant privacy risks.

A 2014 study by the security firm Symantec found that even devices that do not appear to be traceable can still be tracked wirelessly, as a result of insufficient privacy features.

That same year, a study by computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that many Android mobile health applications, for example, send unencrypted information over the Internet. Nearly all of these apps monitor one’s location.

Researchers at MIT and the Catholic University of Louvain found that just four time-stamped locations could uniquely identify 95 per cent of individuals, making promises of anonymity hollow.

Information related to people’s whereabouts can reveal valuable data about them. In the case of children, their tracking data could very easily be used by someone else.

IT CAN BREAK TRUST

Another reason why tracking one’s child is worrisome has to do with the risk of breaking their trust.

Social scientists have shown that trust is central to close relationships, including healthy parent-child relationships. It is necessary for the development of commitment and feelings of security. A child’s sense of personal privacy is a crucial component of this trust.

A 2019 study shows monitoring a child can undermine the sense of trust and bonding. In fact, it can become counterproductive to the point of pushing the child further towards rebellion.

This risk, I would argue, is perhaps far more serious than those leading parents to track their children in the first place.

A FEW EXCEPTIONS

While I think that tracking one’s child is often unethical, there are some cases where it may be warranted.

If a parent has good reasons to suspect that their child is suicidal, involved in violent extremism, or engaged in other activities that threaten their life or that of others, the best course of action may involve breaking trust, invading privacy and monitoring the child.

But those are the exceptions, not the rule. Think twice before tracking your kids.


There isn’t a set recipe for parents on how to raise a successful child. However, research points to several factors that could help.

Most parents want their kids to stay out of trouble, do well in school, and go on to live successful lives as adults.

And while there isn’t a set recipe for raising successful children, psychology research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success.

Unsurprisingly, much of it comes down to the parents. Keep reading to take a look at what parents of successful kids have in common.

Drake Baer contributed to a previous version of this article.

They make their kids do chores

“If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult” said during a TED Talks Live event.

Lythcott-Haims believes kids raised on chores go on to become employees who collaborate well with their coworkers, are more empathetic because they know firsthand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently.

They teach their kids social skills

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University tracked more than 700 children from across the US between kindergarten and age 25 and found a significant correlation between their social skills as kindergartners and their success as adults two decades later.

The 20-year study showed that children who could cooperate with their peers, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by age 25 than those with limited social skills.

Those with limited social skills also had a higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking, and applying for public housing.

“This study shows that helping children develop social and emotional skills is one of the most important things we can do to prepare them for a healthy future,” said Kristin Schubert, program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research, in a release.

“From an early age, these skills can determine whether a child goes to college or prison, and whether they end up employed or addicted.”

They have high expectations

Using data from a national survey of 6,600 children born in 2001, University of California at Los Angeles professor Neal Halfon and his colleagues discovered that the expectations parents hold for their kids have a huge effect on attainment.

“Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets,” Halfon said.

The finding came out in standardized tests: 57% of the kids who did the worst were expected to attend college by their parents, while 96% of the kids who did the best were expected to go to college.

This falls in line with another psych finding: The Pygmalion effect, which states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” In the case of kids, they live up to their parents’ expectations.

They have healthy relationships with each other

Children in high-conflict families tend to fare worse than children of parents that get along, according to a University of Illinois study review.

A nonconflictual single-parent family is better for children than two-parent families with conflict, according to the review.

But, conflict between parents before and after a divorce can affect children negatively.

Another study in this review found that 20-somethings who experienced divorce of their parents as children still report pain and distress over their parents’ divorce ten years later.

They’re educated

A 2014 study from the University of Michigan found that mothers who finished high school or college were more likely to raise kids that did the same.

Pulling from a group of over 14,000 children who entered kindergarten from 1998 to 2007, the study found that higher levels of maternal education predicted higher achievement from kindergarten to eighth grade.

A different study from Bowling Green State University suggested that the parents’ education levels when a child is 8 years old “significantly predicted” the education and career level for the child four decades later.

They teach their kids math early on

A 2007 meta-analysis of 35,000 preschoolers across the US, Canada, and England found that developing math skills early can turn into a huge advantage.

“The paramount importance of early math skills — of beginning school with a knowledge of numbers, number order, and other rudimentary math concepts — is one of the puzzles coming out of the study,” coauthor and Northwestern University researcher Greg Duncan said. “Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement.”

They develop a relationship with their kids

A 2014 study of 243 children born into poverty found that those who received “sensitive caregiving” in their first three years did better in academic tests in childhood than those who did not receive the same parenting style.

Those children also had healthier relationships and greater academic achievement.

“This suggests that investments in early parent-child relationships may result in long-term returns that accumulate across individuals’ lives,” coauthor and University of Minnesota psychologist Lee Raby said.

They value effort over avoiding failure

Where kids think success comes from also predicts their attainment.

Over decades, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered that children (and adults) think about success in one of two ways. Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova says they go a little something like this:

  • A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
  • A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

Dweck’s mindset theory has attracted valid critiques over the years, but the core tenant of believing that you can improve at something is important to encourage in children

The moms work

According to research out of Harvard Business School, there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home.

“There are very few things, that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother,” Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, who led the study, told Working Knowledge.

Daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned more money — 23% more compared to peers raised by stay-at-home mothers.

The sons of working mothers also tended to pitch in more on household chores and childcare, the study found.

But, working mothers aren’t necessarily spending every waking minute outside of work with their children. Women are more likely to feel intense pressure to balance child rearing with workplace ambitions. Ultimately, they spend more time parenting than fathers do.

A 2015 study found the number of hours that moms spend with kids between ages 3 and 11 does little to predict the child’s behavior, well-being, or achievement.

In fact, the study suggests that it’s actually harmful for the child to spend time with a mother who is sleep-deprived, anxious, or otherwise stressed.

“Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” study co-author and Bowling Green State University sociologist Kei Nomaguchi told The Washington Post.

It could be more beneficial to spend one fully-engaged hour with a child than spend the whole evening half-listening to your kid while scrolling through work emails.

They have a higher socioeconomic status

One-fifth of American children grow up in poverty, a situation that severely limits their potential.

It’s getting more extreme. According to Stanford University researcher Sean Reardon, the achievement gap between high- and low-income families “is roughly 30% to 40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier.”

As social scientist Dan Pink wrote, the higher the income for the parents, the higher the SAT scores for the kids.

“Absent comprehensive and expensive interventions, socioeconomic status is what drives much of educational attainment and performance,” Pink wrote.


In a letter to child development experts, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, outlined some of the difficulties new parents experience after welcoming their children into the world.

The comments from the former Kate Middleton came as her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, opened up about his own struggles with mental health in a BBC documentary.

The duchess said she appreciated the “sense of isolation” new parents face, writing: “I can understand that people are nervous about asking for help for fear of judgment, and how that sense of isolation can quickly become overriding and debilitating for any new parent,” reported Sky News.

“Recognizing that the task of parenting is substantial, I have realized the importance of working to make it easier for parents to request support.”

The duchess sent the letter to a steering group she set up last year to compile research on early child development. Praising the experts’ work, she said she would continue to promote the health and happiness of families and children.

She wrote, per Harper’s Bazaar: “Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of speaking with mothers and fathers about the issues they deal with day-to-day. Your work has affirmed to me just how important it is to listen to parents and those who care for children… I hope my long-term commitment to working in the early years will help make a difference over a generational timescale.”

On Monday, the duchess unveiled a multisensory garden at the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London. The woodland wilderness, which is intended to promote children’s well-being, includes a rope swing, a campfire and a stream. According to the BBC, the Cambridge children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louise—helped gather twigs and moss for the garden.

Catherine told the BBC: “I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits on our physical and mental well-being, particularly for young children.

“I really hope this woodland that we have created inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.”

The duchess visited the garden with her children and husband over the weekend, before returning with a group of schoolchildren Monday. She worked on the garden with landscape architects Andree Davies, Adam White and the Royal Horticultural Society.

William detailed his own struggles with mental health in a BBC One documentary called A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health. In the film, which aired Sunday, the duke discussed the difficulties he experienced after his mother’s death in 1997.

Describing “pain like no other pain,” he said his own bereavement had helped him connect with families experiencing trauma when he worked as an air ambulance pilot.

Although the “British stiff upper lip thing” has its place, we need “to relax a little bit and be able to talk about our emotions because we’re not robots,” he said.


Are you planning for a holiday trip with your kids any time soon? Traveling with kids can sometimes be stressful and challenging, especially when you have kids of different ages.

Our MAma – Hani from Energise Kids will be sharing with you some of the practical tips that would help you out for an effective holiday trip planning for you and your kids!

Watch the video now!


via Health Chronicle:

Mark Twain once said, “Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Twain was right, except he forgot to mention laughter’s ability to profoundly affect our health.

Laughter is the best medicine for many scientifically proven reasons:

1. Laughter is one of the best stress relievers. A good bout of laughter can keep the muscles in your entire body relaxed for up to 45 minutes. Now imagine cracking a few good jokes all day long. You’ll never have a crick in your neck or an aching back again.
2. Dr. Gulshan Sethi, a doctor of cardio-surgery at Tucson Medical Center says that laughter is like internal jogging. It tones all the internal organs and strengthens the abdominals without ever doing a single sit-up.
3. Laughter induces better social relations. The contagious nature of a smile or a good laugh help us to connect with others leading to friendships and even romantic closeness. In fact, couples who laugh together are more likely to stay married longer. People who have enduring relationships have also proven to outlive those who have few friends and are unmarried.
4. Laughter boosts our body’s immune response. Studies have found that laughing at a funny movie or finding humor in a stressful situation helps to increase the production of natural killer cells – white blood cells that attack cancer, colds, and foreign bacteria.
5. Laughter combats depression. When we laugh our bodies dump a bunch of good neuropeptides into our blood stream including oxytocin and dopamine.
6. Laughter reduces physical pain. Perceived pain levels in participants of many different studies are lowered when they laugh. Life may cause us pain here and there, but laughter helps us to deal with it better.
7. Finally, laughter is a measurable trait found to be higher in those who are more resilient. If you want to find a successful person who can take the punches of life just as easily as the accolades, you’ll find someone who laughs a lot. Laughter builds character and lessens rigidity.


via firstcryparenting: A woman’s diet during pregnancy is of utmost importance as it not only gives energy to the mother but also the baby. As it is the only source of nourishment for the growing foetus, the diet of a woman needs to be well balanced. Care should be taken to include only those items that will not harm the mother and the baby.

Is Eating Spicy Food Safe During Pregnancy
Spicy food does not affect the baby or the pregnancy. However, consuming more spicy food than what your body can bear, creates digestion, acidity and heartburn related problems.

Spicy Food During First Trimester
Consuming spicy food in the first trimester is safe and does not affect the development of the baby. The risk of early pregnancy loss is high in the first trimester, and this worries expecting mothers about side effects of consuming spicy food.

Spicy Food During Second & Third Trimester
Consumption of spicy food during second & third trimester increases the chances of experiencing heartburn and acid reflux. In the third trimester, the growing foetus causes stomach acids to revert to the oesophagus and eating spicy foods could aggravate this condition.

How Much Of Spicy Is Good?
As long as your body can digest all those spices, it is safe to consume spicy food in limited quantities. Avoid eating spicy food outside. Instead, buy fresh spices and grind these spices at home.

What Are The Risks & Side Effects Of Eating Spicy Food?
Eating spicy food can cause digestion problems leading to discomfort in a pregnant woman. Listed below are the risks and side effects of eating spicy food during pregnancy:

  1. Morning Sickness: Morning sickness is very common in the early stages of pregnancy due to changing hormonal levels. Morning sickness can be aggravated by consumption of spicy food.
  2. Heartburn: The chances of experiencing heartburn and other digestive issues are high when you are pregnant. Spicy food will increase acid reflux and aggravate heartburn, especially in the late months of pregnancy.

If you decide to eat spicy food, pair it with a glass of milk to minimize heartburn. Honey can also help to prevent heartburn after eating a spicy dish.

Myths About Eating Spicy Food When Pregnant

There are myths attached to eating spicy food during pregnancy. Myths without any scientific backing include:

  • Spicy food can have an adverse impact on your baby is a myth.
  • Another myth regarding consumption of spicy food is that it can lead to pre-term labour.
  • Consumption of spicy foods during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and congenital disabilities are yet another myth without any scientific proof.

Alternatives To Spicy Foods

You can try different cuisines and dishes which are naturally spicy and tangy. Limit consumption of spicy food to moderate levels to avoid heartburn and digestion problems.

  • Limit spicy dish to one per meal and change your cuisine if spicy Indian cuisine gives you heartburn.
  • Thai and Mexican cuisines have spice in the form of jalapenos, chilli flakes and oregano which are much milder than spice in Indian food and hence can be a worthy alternative.
  • Give preference to home cooked food as you can regulate the quality and quantity of spices used in food.

Tips To Take Spicy Food In Right Manner

To make sure that you are not adversely affected by the dangers of spicy food, you must consume them in a proper manner.

  • Consume spices which are branded and approved by food certification authorities.
  • Do not consume spices which are sold loose as they may be impurities such as brick powder.
  • If you are consuming new spices, start by taking in small quantities. It is best to buy fresh spices and grind them at home.
  • Check packaging and expiry dates before buying spices from outside.

How Can You Include Spicy Food In Your Diet?

You should be cautious and selective while consuming spicy food during pregnancy. Some of the spicy food items that can be included in your diet are as follows:

  • Wasabi Peas: These are hot and crunchy peas which are safe to eat and cause no harm.
  • Curry Sauce: A blend of onion, garlic, chilli and all common spices, curry sauce is widely used in Indian food and is safe to consume.
  • Piri-piri Sauce: It is a blend of onion, garlic, tomato and the main ingredient ‘super-hot’ African bird’s eye chilli.
  • Middle Eastern Cooking Sauces: Sweet sauces made of black onion seeds, green chillies and tomato coriander.

Spicy Pickles: Available at any convenient store, small amounts of these pickles alongside your food is safe and can satiate your craving for spices.
Pepper: One can try out pepper based soups whenever you have a cold due to low immunity. The anti-bacterial properties of pepper along with its spicy effect make it an ideal spice during pregnancy.


via The New Age Parents: As a species, we require human touch to survive and thrive. Our skin is the largest organ and physical contact distinguishes us from other animals. For young babies, the role of affectionate touch is even more important as it has a direct impact on their physical and psychological development. The benefits of human touch extend through to childhood, and can impact a child’s cognitive and emotional development.

Our children need our affection – in big bear hugs and passing ruffles of the hair, in sought-after treasures wrapped in pretty paper and time spent playing “horsies” around the house. In Gary Chapman’s book “The five love languages of children”, he describes five ways a parent can show a child love – words of affirmation, time, acts of service, gifts and physical touch.

In a predominantly Asian society like ours, we do not readily show affection to the ones we love, especially in public. We are generally a lot less expressive than our Western counterparts, even when it comes to our own family. Very likely, our own parents were not models of physical affection and did not hug us or say “I love you” a whole lot during our growing up years.

Yet research clearly indicates that children thrive in environments where they not only know they are loved – they feel it as well.

The power of hugs cannot be underestimated. Dr Natalie Epton, Specialist Paediatrician and Neonatologist explains, “Hugging your baby has numerous benefits, including better-regulated breathing and heart rate, temperature and blood sugar levels, as well as initiating breastfeeding earlier and sustaining it for longer. Studies on premature babies show that the practice of ‘kangaroo care’ (cuddling the baby skin-on-skin) improves weight gain, reduces breathing complications and is associated with earlier hospital discharge.”

Here are 10 reasons that we hope will compel you to hug your children at least once every single day!

1. Hugging helps our children feel safe & secure

Children need the loving affection of their parents to feel emotionally secure, and to know that they are unconditionally accepted into the family. The physical intimacy of a hug builds trust and a deep sense of safety in our children, which frees them up to enjoy the world around them. This security also increases their openness to learn new things and paves the way for open and honest communication.

2. Hugging helps our children to have a healthy self-esteem

Our love and care give our children a strong foundation of self-confidence that helps them to view themselves positively and to try new things, knowing that our love for them is unchanging. We can boost our child’s confidence tremendously with a simple hug, empowering him to fully engage with the world out there. We can see ourselves as a “home-base” for our child to return to every time he needs a refuge from the “real world” – and recognize that he will need this, need us, less and less as he grows and matures.

3. Hugging lets them know we understand how they feel

Young children, and even older ones, may find it hard to express how they are feeling. Babies can often be frightened by anything that is new or different, even if there is no real danger. Instead of laughing it off, or telling them “Don’t be silly!”, offering them a hug can be the best way to assure them that their feelings matter, and that they can trust you to give them the comfort they need.

4. Hugging helps our children to take discipline better

When our children misbehave, our gut instinct is normally to give them a smack, not a hug. However, hugs can create a reassuring atmosphere that is more conducive for that firm talk with your child. A hug says “I will always love you, but I need to talk to you about your behavior.” Children are more willing to listen to what you have to say or expect when they feel better, so encourage them with a hug, and you just might notice their behavior improving!

5. Hugging makes our children feel happy

Did you know, that a long hug can lift a person’s serotonin levels, elevating his mood and creating happiness? Our hugs are the antidote for feelings of loneliness, isolation and anger, which our children may encounter. Let’s not be so quick to let go!

6. Hugging strengthens the immune system

Yes, it’s medically proven that hugging is great for boosting immunity. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, and this, in turn, helps to keep you healthy and disease free

7. Hugging reduces stress

It’s also medically proven that children with more skin-to-skin contact with their parents from birth have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This is why parents of premature infants are often encouraged to spend time holding their offspring in the hospital intensive care unit, as it is shown to help boost these babies’ vital signs.

8. Hugging relaxes muscles

When we hug, we can feel the tension in ourselves and in the other person literally melt away. Hugs may not be able to take away our emotional pain, but they can definitely help to alleviate it; hugs tangibly soothe body aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

9. Hugging teaches our children how to give and receive

Sometimes, our children might not want to be hugged. Don’t force them to reciprocate, but don’t give up hugging them either! Our children learn not just the warmth of receiving a hug, they will begin to understand the need to show love to others by giving hugs of their own too. Hugs educate our children on how love is a two-way street.

10. Hugging helps us and our children get connected to how we are feeling on the inside

When we hug our children, time stops for that moment. A hug allows us to let go and be completely present in that moment; it us connect to how we are feeling, emotionally and physiologically. And with that awareness, it helps us to empathize with each other a little better.

Have you hugged your child today? We hope this article will encourage you to make big bear hugs a daily affair for your household!

In fact, why wait? Go give your child a hug right now!


Via Jodi Aman:

Sometimes when teens are starting to have their independence, they get a little bit overwhelmed with obligation and responsibility. And they’re highly motivated to resist those things.

These are some things that you have to do to get your child motivated. First, have some confidence in them. You have to believe that they can do it so that they can believe that they can do it. Two, you’ve got to be the bridge. They have to start to do stuff for themselves, but you have to be the bridge and encourage them. The third is to teach them that responsibility equals freedom. The more responsible they act the more that they could ask for from you.

The next thing is sleep schedule. Have them sleep at night instead of during the day. If they’re up during the day, everybody’s up and moving and they feel like part of the world. The next thing is the “carrot”, having something that would motivate them. You have to give them something that’s important enough to supersede that “I don’t care”. The last thing is to make little goals instead of big goals. Give your teen little goals that they could accomplish and feel that sense of accomplishment.

Get that teen up and moving and live a happier and healthier life.