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Friday, April 20, 2007

Ways to Help Your Teen Stay Out of a Gang

Criminal street gangs are a serious problem nationwide. Gangs recruit new, very young members every day; many of those new members will become career criminals.

Here are some ways to help your teen stay out of a gang:

  • Get him or her involved in activities such as sports or music lessons
  • Get involved in his or her school
  • Establish rules; set limits, and be consistent, firm and fair
  • Get to know his or her friends, as well as the friends' parents
  • Show respect for his or her feelings and attitudes
  • Develop good communication
  • Spend time as a family
  • Be a good role model
  • Educate yourself about gang and drug activity in your community
  • Know where your child is-be aware that 3 to 6 pm is an especially risky time

What are the signs that your child is involved with a gang? You need to pay attention to his or her friends and habits. Has there been a change lately? Here are some things to look for:

  • Excessive need for privacy and secrecy
  • Use of hand signs with friends
  • Injuries from his "friends"
  • Peculiar drawings or language on school books
  • Unexplained cash or expensive clothing or jewelry
  • Gang-member friends
  • Obsession with a particular color of clothing
  • Withdrawal from family
  • New, undesirable friends-and loss of old friends
  • Disrespect for you and your expectations

It is extremely difficult for a gang member to get out once he or she has been initiated.
If your child is already in a gang, don't try to handle the situation on your own.

You need to draw on all the resources possible to ensure your child's success. Find out about anti-gang organizations in the community. Contact local law enforcement and the school administrators and counselors.

Source: http://www.parenting.org/

Protecting Your Child from a Sexual Predator Kidnapping

How can you educate your kids and keep them safe from an abductor? Start with these five tips.

Games to Kidnap-Proof Your Child

Most often, sexual predators are people kids know. So how do you help them discern the good from the bad? These resources and tips -- some from organizations created by parents of high-profile kidnapping victims like Polly Klaas and Megan Kanka -- can help.

1. Test your child's safety IQ -- and yours

Does your child know who to ask for help if he's lost? Or what to do if a nice lady asks for directions? The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers online safety quizzes that make great educational tools -- for parents and kids. Do you know what to do if you suspect online "stalking" or sexual exploitation of a child? Go to their site and find out at www.missingkids.com.

2. Use online games to practice "What would you do..." scenarios
There are lots of games (most for kids ages 5 to 17) that simulate online and day-to-day activities to help kids identify potential dangers. Use them as a springboard to teach your child how to handle them. Pretend you're a stranger on the phone, asking questions about when Mom and Dad come home from work. Would your child know what to say?Here are some of the sites to check out:

  • NetSmartz.org -- Meet Clicky, a cute robot that sings catchy rap songs to help kids memorize safety rules. He also stars in videos and games that show kids the right thing to do when approached by a stranger when online. NetSmartz is a joint program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
  • McGruff.org -- McGruff is the dog from the National Crime Prevention Council that tells kids to "take a bite out of crime." Puzzles, slide shows, and games teach kids how to say "No!" to strangers and how to get home safely.
  • idthecreep.com -- This game teaches kids how to identify the "creeps" on e-mail, chat, and IM. It simulates conversations tweens and teens might have, using different characters kids can select. This site is also from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and it's available in English and Spanish.
  • Wiredkids.com -- Superheroes and cute cartoons are the spokespersons for four connected sites: Wiredkids.org, InternetSuperHeroes.org, Katiesplace.org, and Teenangels.org -- all part of Wired Kids, a worldwide charity that offers information on how to keep children safe from online sexual exploitation. Let your kids check out their games and quizzes.
Parental Controls and Training Programs

3. Use Parental Controls and make a safety pledge
Net Nanny Parental Controls, CYBERsitter, and Cyberpatrol are popular software that let you specify with which buddies your child can chat or e-mail and which sites are okay to visit. For a comparison chart, visit http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com.

Once you have the right filtering system for your computer, print out a safety pledge you and your child can sign and post by your computer. Here's one from Safekids.com: http://www.safekids.com/safekidscontract.pdf.

4. Train them to fight back
A program called radKIDS, an offshoot of Rape Aggression Defense, trains kids ages 5 to 12 defense skills against abduction. (Screaming "Stay back, you're not my parent!" when sensing an attack is one of them.) Explain that they'll probably never have to use any of these techniques, but you want them to know what to do -- and that knowing these things will help them feel safer. To locate a program near you, visit www.radkids.org/programs.html.

Be Prepared and Raise Awareness

5. Do some prep work -- just in case
Did you know it takes parents about two hours to gather all the information law officials need to find a missing child? Scary stat: According to the Department of Justice, 74 percent of the children murdered by non-family members are killed within the first three hours of abduction. Always keep pictures of your kids at hand, and consider using some of these tools to help you maximize this crucial time should the unthinkable occur.

  • Do-It-Yourself DNA Sampling Kit -- There are several sites that offer them. Check out the one from the KlaasKids Foundation and the State of California DNA Laboratory at www.klaaskids.org/pg_cs_dnakit.htm.
  • Child ID Kit -- The National Alert Registry offers a free printable where you can include your child's photo, weight, height, and fingerprints. Visit http://www.registeredoffenderslist.org/child-id-kit.pdf.
  • AMBERstick -- This is a USB flash drive where you can store your family's vital information, including photos, and carry it on your key chain. All the information is encrypted and secured with a password. If a family member goes missing, a police officer can plug it into his cruiser's computer USB port and transmit all the info to law enforcement -- even "Missing Person" flyers are automatically created. For more information, visit www.codeamber.org.
source: http://www.parents.com/

Hint to Help Pressure-proof Your Children

Young people are susceptible to social pressure due to insecurities, desire to fit in, looking for status, need for excitement, fear of losing friends, wanting to be noticed or envied, looking to assert autonomy, find an identity, looking for support/approval, wanting to succeed at something. Here are five helpful hints you as a parent can use to help pressure-proof your children:
  • Identify what and why your children are susceptible to peer pressure.

  • Protect them by finding ways to lessen how much time they spend in unsupervised activities where sources of social pressure are present.

  • Teach and empower your children with skills that will help them to deal with stressful/pressure-packed situations.

  • Design and implement appropriate ways for your children to get their needs (to fit in, belong, excitement, etc.) met. This might include maximizing the time they spend with appropriate social influences.

  • Maintain strong relationships with your children that include open, honest communication.
source: ttp://www.parenting.org/

Five Conversations to Have with Your Teens

One of the most important things you can do is to take time to talk to your teen, says WebMD's Dr. Charlotte Grayson Mathis. And not just on the topics mentioned below—sit down every day with your teenager and keep up with what's going on in his or her life. Be open-minded, curious and avoid judgments that may backfire on you! Use these talking points to get the conversation started.

Dating and Sex

It's likely that you've already addressed this topic in some form in your child's preteen years. If you haven't, now's the time—and if you have, it's time for a refresher. Most importantly, give your teen the facts about anatomy, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, fertility, birth control, self-image, peer pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, rape and the emotional aspects of sexuality.

If you're uncomfortable with the subject, practice beforehand. You can use available opportunities to open the discussion about sex-related issues, such as a TV show or a book. Help your teen know that it's not cool to date just because everyone else is—dating is a responsibility and he or she should treat others with respect. Share your values and expectations with them and make sure they know that no means no.

Dating should be fun, not stressful, scary or threatening. If any of that happens, tell your teen they should talk to a trusted adult.

Smoking, Drinking and Drugs

The teen years are often your child's introduction to these deadly habits. You need to send a clear—and consistent—message to your teen that smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs are not tolerated. They may listen to their friends, but you're the most important influence in their lives. If you're clear, they'll hear you. Work hard to bolster your teen's self-esteem so he or she can resist the temptations and pressures to try drugs.

Creating a Healthy Body Image

Take the time to sit down and have a conversation with your teen to find out what she thinks of her body. If her thoughts seem unhealthy, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

To create a healthy atmosphere for your teen at home, you should always avoid talking negatively about weight and food. You can keep them on track by stocking your kitchen with healthy food choices and remember—they are growing, so they're always hungry. Lastly, don't forget to compliment their actions more than their appearance. Instilling these simple concepts will help your children grow up feeling confident and secure about who they are.

Money

Now's the time to help your child develop the financial habits that will make or break them in the future. Make your teen responsible for his or her own money. Help them set a budget and track their income and expenditures so they can learn to save—for both short and long-term goals. It's also important to educate them on the wise use of credit and how to start investing.

Getting a Good Education

While the ultimate decision on career or jobs is up to your teen, you can have a tremendous influence on their choices. If you truly want your child to go to college, they usually want to go, too. Help them to choose the right course work in high school to prepare them for college.

You can do wonders for your children if you instill in them a great attitude and thirst for learning—make academics, not social life a priority.

Source: http://www2.oprah.com/

Be a Character Role Model

One of the most powerful teaching tools parents have is modeling the behavior they want children to learn. In character education, that means "walking the talk," or being the person of high integrity you're helping children to become.

You may be a good role model now, but remember, you don't have to be sick to get better. Everything you do, and don't do, sends a message to children about your values. Be sure your messages are about doing the right thing, even when it is hard to do. When you slip (and all of us do), act the way you want your children to behave when they make a mistake - be accountable, apologize sincerely and work to do better.

The following "Parents' Pledges" were developed by the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition to help parents focus on specific behaviors they can model as part of their teaching. Perhaps they will be a source of inspiration for you.

A Parent's Pledge: Trustworthiness

  • I will be as honest as I want my children to be.
  • I won't lie to my children or in front of them.
  • I will not treat honesty as a rule of convenience by excusing acts of dishonesty or deception as exceptions.
  • I will avoid hypocrisy like preaching against smoking, drinking or drugs while doing those activities.
  • I will demonstrate consistently the strength of my moral convictions by paying whatever price necessary to do what I think is right, risking loss of money, approval and even employment.
  • I will treat my word as my bond in all cases.
  • I will avoid legalistic escape hatches in dealing with my children, honoring the spirit as well as the letter of my promises.


A Parent's Pledge: Respect

  • I will listen with respect and treat my children's views seriously.
  • I will avoid selfish and petty behavior and power plays, especially where my children are concerned.
  • I will exercise self-restraint and maintain the kind of self-discipline I expect from my children with respect to violence, yelling or other displays of temper.
  • I will use only the kind of language I want my children to use.

A Parent's Pledge: Responsibility

  • I will demonstrate a willingness to admit when I am wrong and to take my medicine, and expect the same from my children.
  • I will avoid shifting the blame and making excuses regarding my own shortcomings or mistakes, and expect the same from my children.
  • I will assign reasonable age-appropriate responsibilities to my children and see that there are meaningful consequences if they fail to perform their duties.
  • I will insist that my children keep their commitments at home, at school and in extracurricular activities.

A Parent's Pledge: Fairness

  • I will not resort to arbitrary power to get my way when I have taught that general rules of fairness are applicable.
  • I will treat all my children equally and fairly.
  • I will be open and reasonable to discussion and criticism.


A Parent's Pledge: Caring

  • I will remember that my children are stakeholders in everything I do.
  • I will demonstrate compassion and respect for others, especially my children.
  • I will be visibly charitable and involve my children in choosing charities to support.
  • I will not discount, belittle or trivialize my children's feelings and fears.


A Parent's Pledge: Citizenship

  • I will obey the law in all matters.
  • I will vote in all elections and perform other civic duties such as jury duty, testifying as a witness and reporting crimes as the opportunities arise.
  • I will conserve energy and avoid littering or other forms of pollution.
Source: http://www.parenting.org/

Five Conversations to Have with Your Children

It's not always easy to talk to a child, says WebMD's Dr. Charlotte Grayson Mathis. They are always on the go, they have short attention spans and it's often hard to explain things to them in a way that makes sense. There are some important lessons though that you can teach your preschooler or big kid.


Most importantly, make a habit when your child is young to talk to them every day about their life and activities. Don't judge them, just listen…and learn. Developing the habit now will serve you well for the years to come.

Controlling Their Temper

Thankfully, tantrums are far less common than when your angel was a terrible 2. As they get older, it's much easier to talk to your child and teach them how to handle his or her anger and frustration. Just remember to avoid conceding to their demands, and defuse any physical outbursts toward a sibling or others by removing the child from the situation. After the storm's passed, talk to your child about what's troubling him or her.

Why They Shouldn't Use Swear Words

It's shocking to see your precious child say the "s" word. It may even seem a bit funny, but don't laugh. Tell your child to not use the offensive word and offer alternatives to help him or her express themselves. If that doesn't work, consider punishing the child for the behavior.

Eating Right

The battle over what your child will or won't eat is a familiar and frustrating problem for most parents. Remember this: Try to offer your child a variety of healthy choices at each meal, including one thing they definitely like. Don't worry if they eat nothing one day, and pig out the next. And recognize that while their diet may be awful and one dimensional for a few days, over time, it usually balances out.

Sharing

At different ages, kids have different capacities to share their toys and personal items—and every kid is different. So, set a good example, show your kids how you're cooperative at home and reward good behavior. It will come in time.

Recognizing a Stranger

One thing's for certain, our idea of a stranger is very different than our child's. Explain "stranger danger" in an age-appropriate way. For instance, use the movie Finding Nemo to introduce the topic to a preschooler. Tell your child that a friendly face doesn't mean that a person's not a stranger. A stranger is anyone your child doesn't know.

With an older child, review the scenarios in which they may be lured away from you, including offering candy or requesting help finding a lost pet. Tell your kids to always stick with their friends and not go off alone. Teach your kid how to shout "NO" and run away from a situation that's uncomfortable. Make sure to teach them their address and home phone number.

source:http://www2.oprah.com/

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hints for Parents to Start Talking With Children about Sexuality

  • Set good examples that show kids how our lives are enriched by our values.
  • Reassure them that they're normal.
  • Build their self-esteem — give credit for talents and accomplishments, offer constructive advice, and avoid criticism and punishment.
  • Respect our kids' privacy as much as we value our own. Do not pry.
  • Use correct names for sex organs and sexual behaviors.
  • Take advantage of "teachable moments." A friend's pregnancy, neighborhood gossip, and TV shows can help start a conversation.
  • Include topics such as sexual orientation, sexual abuse, and prostitution.
  • Be clear about our values and let kids know that others may have different values about sexuality. Teach them that respect for differences is important.
  • Don't use scare tactics as a way to stop young people from having sex — it doesn't work.
  • Give accurate, honest, short, and simple answers.
  • Admit when we don't know an answer. We can help our kids find the answer in a book or other resource.
  • Accept questions at face value. For example, "How old do you have to be to 'have sex?'" doesn't necessarily mean, "I'm thinking about having sex."
  • Let our kids know that we're available, and make it a habit to share what we think and feel.
  • Ask questions even if they don't — questions about what they think and what they know.
  • Figure out what we want to say about our own feelings and values before we speak.
  • Let our body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice support what we say with words.
  • Get to know the world in which our kids live. What pressures are they feeling? What do they consider normal?

source: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

How to Talk with Your Child About Sex

It's best to start talking with children about sexuality in early childhood.
  • But it's never too late.

  • Always be open and available when a child wants to talk.

  • The most important lesson we can share with our kids is, "Being different is normal."

We live in a very sexual world. There are messages about sex all around us — on the Internet, radio, and TV, and in movies, magazines, and music. Sex is used to sell everything from soap to sports cars. Political and religious leaders have a lot to say about sex. So do people in locker rooms, at the mall, and in our own homes. And our kids hear it all.

But despite all the talk, our kids don't get much useful information.

Many young people become confused and may be pressured into sexual intercourse before they are ready. Too often sexual abuse, sexually transmitted infections, and unwanted pregnancy shape their lives.

We want our children to have healthy and rewarding lives. And we all know that teaching them about sex is very important. But for many of us it's hard to talk about sex — especially with our own children.

What Is Sexuality?

All of us are sexual. Our sexuality includes
• our bodies and how our bodies work
• our biological sex
• our gender identity — our feelings about being male or female
• our sexual orientations — straight, gay, or bisexual
• our values about life, love, and the people in our lives

And sexuality influences how we feel about all of these things and how we experience the world.

Why Do Children Need to Know About Sexuality?

Understanding sexuality helps kids cope with their feelings and with peer pressure. They can take charge of their lives and have loving relationships. It also helps protect them from sexual abuse — and from becoming sexual abusers.

Kids learn about sexuality from the day they are born. Home can be the most meaningful place to learn about it. We can help our kids feel good about their sexuality from the very beginning. Then they will be more likely to trust us enough to ask questions about sex later on in life.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Information?

No. Information does not encourage kids to be sexually active. Young people make better decisions about sex when they have all the information they need and when there are no taboos on what to talk about at home.

What If I'm Uncomfortable Talking About Sex?

Join the club. Most of us feel that way, and it's not surprising:

• Many of us were taught that sex is too "dirty" to talk about.
• Many of us are afraid that we don't have all the answers.
• It's hard for some of us to admit our children are sexual.
• It's even hard for some of us to admit that we are sexual.
• And many of us fear the normal sexual feelings between our children and us.

But we can be open with them about being uncomfortable about talking about sex. We can start by saying something like, "This is hard for me to talk about. My parents and I never discussed these things. But I want you to have someone to talk with."

Don't cover up your feelings or avoid the issue. That will make matters worse. Start a conversation, keep it going, and be open from the beginning. Just remember — information about sexuality is as important as food, shelter, and loving care.

When's the Best Time to Start?

It's best to start as soon as children begin getting sexual messages. And they start getting them as soon as they're born. But don't worry if you haven't started yet. It's never too late. Just don't try to "catch up" all at once. The most important thing is to be open and available whenever a child wants to talk.

What Do Kids Want to Know? What Do They Need to Know? When Do They Need to Know It?

What kids want most is to know that they're "normal." We can help them understand that it is "normal" for everyone to be different. In fact, the most important lesson we can share with our kids is just that Being different is normal.

Here's how to help children at different stages of their lives.

Birth to 2

We give babies a sense of themselves from birth. We make them feel secure or insecure by

• the way we hold and touch them
• the way we feed, wash, and diaper them
• the tone of our voices
• letting them feel comfortable with their bodies and emotions

They can develop healthier feelings about their sexuality if we do all these things in a pleasant, loving, and caring way.

All babies explore their bodies. They learn quickly that touching their sex organs feels good. This is a natural and normal part of their development. They should be allowed to enjoy this. If we yell at them or slap their hands, they'll do it anyway — but they'll feel guilty about it. And they won't trust us later in life when they're looking for guidance about sex. It's also important that kids know that bowel movements and urinating are normal and healthy functions.

3 to 5

By the time they are three, kids are ready to know that women and men have different sex organs. Talk about it the same way we talk about elbows and noses, fingers and toes. Always use the right names for sex organs. Say "vulva," "penis," and "breasts," instead of family or street words. Otherwise, kids may get the idea that something is "wrong" with these parts of the body.

Toddlers are often curious about the bodies of their parents and other children. They may play "doctor" to look at each other's sex organs. This is a normal way for kids to find out differences and learn about their sexuality. We can choose to allow it or not. But it won't help to punish children for being normal.

Most kids touch their sex organs for pleasure. Masturbation is very common during this time. We must reassure kids that it is normal to masturbate — but only in private.

Three-year-olds also develop a curiosity about "Where do babies come from?" We don't have to describe sexual intercourse at this point. Answers can be simple for now. We might say something like, "Babies grow in a special place inside the mother." As the years pass, we can add other details as the child becomes able to understand them.

Four-year-olds may become very attached to a parent — even an absent parent. Kids may even be jealous of the other parent or partner. They can become attached to parents or caregivers of both genders. None of these attachments means a child is gay or straight. We should let our kids be comfortable with whatever attachments they form. We should not tease them about having "girlfriends" or "boyfriends."

Four-year-olds may want to snuggle in bed with parents or caregivers. They may also want to see them without clothes on. We should set limits that make our families comfortable. But children should not be punished for such desires.

5 to 7

Kids usually become less attached to parents and caregivers at this time. They are beginning to realize their own femininity or masculinity. It is very common for them to say they hate children of the opposite gender. We can encourage them to develop their own sense of self of being an individual and we can also teach them to be respectful of others. Again, it's better not to tease them about their feelings.

Kids in primary school may be shy about asking questions. But that doesn't mean they don't have questions. Most of them have heard about such things as AIDS, rape, and child abuse. So keep talking with them.

Sexual fantasies about family members of both genders are common, too. Kids may find these thoughts upsetting. We must reassure them that just dreaming or thinking about things doesn't make them happen.

8 to 12

Preteens need all the facts about menstruation, wet dreams, and other signs of puberty and growing up. They need to know that everyone develops at different times.

We need to let pre-teens "fit in" with their peers. But we must also encourage them to think for themselves.

Preteens worry a lot about whether they are "normal." Boys worry about their penis size. Girls worry about their breast size. Reassure them that no two people are the same — that being different is normal.

Kids are fascinated with the way their bodies change. It's common for them to look at and less common for them to touch each other's sex organs. When normal touching occurs it is infrequent. This exploration is one of the ways they may learn that their bodies are normal. They may do this with friends of both genders. This kind of sex play does not make a child gay or straight.

Most preteens are ready to know about sex and reproduction. They want to know about sexual and social relationships. They need to know about sexually transmitted infections, birth control, and the consequences of teen pregnancy. And they need to know how all of this can affect their lives.

13 to 18

Teens must learn how to say "no" and understand what "safer sex" is. "Safer-sex" activities lower the risk of spreading sexually transmitted infections. They should also know about birth control methods. It's important to talk with them about how to have relationships without getting hurt and without hurting other people. And they must know they are responsible for their choices.

Reassure them that their sexuality and feelings are normal. Gay, bisexual, and questioning teens may need even more reassurance.

All teens have to make sexual decisions. Parents and their kids can consider the following list of questions. Parents may want to think about how they would have answered these questions when they were kids.

• Are you embarrassed about being or not being a "virgin"?
• Do you know how to protect yourself against pregnancy and infection?
• Are you being pressured to have sex?
• Will having sex make you feel differently about yourself?
• Is trying to be more popular a good reason for having sex?
• Are you considering having sex to get back at your parents or anyone else?
• Do you know what your sexual limits are?
• Will you be able to let sex partners know your limits?
• Are you emotionally and financially ready to accept the consequences of pregnancy or infection?

source: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sex-ersice

Sex is not only associated with the feel good factor while actually experiencing it but it also is associated with living healthy, feeling active, slowing aging and living longer. Sex has many benefits. The following is a brief exploration of the benefits of having sex on a regular basis.

Fitness:
Sex is a form of physical exercise. Sex three times a week burns lots of calories, and if maintained throughout the year, is equivalent to jogging 75 miles. Sexual intercourse burns approximately 150 calories per half hour - about the same as running 15 minutes on a treadmill or playing a spirited game of squash.

Increased Blood Flow:
Sex helps increase the blood flow to your brain and to all other organs of your body. Increased heart rate and deep breathing accounts for the improvement in circulation. As fresh blood supply arrives, your cells, organs and muscles are saturated with fresh oxygen and hormones, and as the used blood is removed, you also remove waste products that cause fatigue and even illness.

Boost Testosterone and Estrogen:
Regular sexual activity boosts testosterone and estrogen levels in both men and women. Besides boosting your libido testosterone fortifies bones and muscles. Some physicians suggest that testosterone keeps hearts healthy and good cholesterol high. Testosterone is what makes the sex drive in men and women more aggressive. It makes you want to have sex, pursue sex, initiate sex and perhaps dominate the lovemaking. Sex increases women's estrogen levels keeping vaginal tissues suppler and also protecting against heart disease. It is estrogen that makes a woman sexually receptive and responsive to a man's approach.

Pain relief:
During making love, the hormone oxytocin is secreted in your body which in turn causes the release of endorphins, which act as a powerful analgesic, elevating the pain and helping to relieve the aches of conditions like arthritis, whiplash and headaches. Thus if you have a headache, have sex rather than an abstaining from it.

Protection of the prostate gland:
Prostate gland-related disorders are known to be caused by or become worsened as a result of the secretions from the gland. Regular sexual activity eliminates these harmful secretions. However, a sudden change in the frequency of sex can also cause prostate-related disorders.

Reduction of cholesterol:
Sex balances out the good cholesterol to bad cholesterol ratio, and at the same time reduces the overall cholesterol count in the body.

Stress relief:
The satisfaction and the relaxation after sex are beneficial for the mind and the circulatory system. People having frequent sex often report that they handle stress better. Many indicate that they sleep more deeply and restfully after satisfying lovemaking.

Live Longer, Stay Younger:
During sex, the hormone DHEA is secreted throughout the body. This promotes sexual excitement. According to studies DHEA may be the most powerful chemical in our personal world. It helps balance the immune system, improves cognition, promotes bone growth, and maintains and repairs tissues, keeping your skin healthy and supple. It may also contribute to cardiovascular health and even function as antidepressant.

Less frequent colds and flu:
Studies suggest that individuals who have sex once or twice a week show 30 percent higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, which is known to boost the immune system.

source: http://www.seasonsindia.com/

Monday, April 16, 2007

How Common is Lack of Sex Drive in Women?

Extremely common. The American Medical Association has estimated that several million US women suffer from what US doctors prefer to call 'female sexual arousal disorder' or 'FSAD'.

However, recent (2007) US claims that ‘43 per cent of women have FSAD’ are clearly absurd. At the moment there is a sort of ‘FSAD bandwagon’ – driven by doctors who think that nearly half the female population is lacking in desire. This really doesn’t seem very likely!

However, in the UK, family planning clinics and Relate clinics do see quite large numbers of women who complain of lack of desire.

Several hundred thousand women in Britain are troubled by lack of libido. It's important to stress that many of these women have no problems with having orgasms. However, they have no real desire to have sex, and their minds are not turned on by the prospect of lovemaking.

Fortunately, for many women, lack of libido is only a temporary phenomenon. Some will get over it by themselves - and a lot more can be helped by expert medical or psychosexual advice.

What are the causes of lack of libido in women?

As is the case with men, lack of desire in women can be of either physical or psychological origin.

Physical causes

Possible physical causes in females include:

  • anaemia - which is very common in women, because of iron loss during their periods (and in childbirth).
  • alcoholism.
  • drug abuse.
  • generalised disorders, such as diabetes.
  • post-baby coolness (PBC): this is the term we have coined for the extremely common loss of libido that occurs after childbirth. It is almost certainly linked to the violent changes in hormones that occur at this time, though oddly enough, no clear-cut changes in hormones have ever been identified. The general trauma of childbirth also plays a part - and after having a baby, many women are simply too exhausted to think about sex!
  • prescribed drugs, particularly tranquillisers.
  • hyperprolactinaemia - a rare disorder in which the pituitary gland is overactive.
  • other hormone abnormalities: in 2006, leading Swiss gynaecologist Dr Michael Nemec claimed to us that abnormalities in the production of luteinising hormone (LH) often cause lack of desire. And in December 2006, top British gynaecologist John Studd announced at a conference in Vienna that many women who have lost their libido are suffering from lack of androgenic (male) hormones.

You may be surprised that we haven't mentioned the menopause as a physical cause of loss of desire. In fact - contrary to myth - it doesn't usually cause loss of libido, and many women feel a lot sexier (and have more orgasms) in the postmenopausal part of their life.

Psychological causes

These causes are very common. It's entirely understandable that when a woman is having a bad time emotionally, she may lose interest in sex.

Psychological causes include:

  • depression
  • stress and overwork
  • anxiety
  • hang-ups from childhood
  • past sexual abuse or rape
  • latent lesbianism
  • serious relationship problems with the husband/partner
  • difficult living conditions - eg sharing a home with parents or parents-in-law.

What do I do if I'm a woman who is suffering from lack of desire?

It's sensible to begin by going to your GP who can discuss the problem with you and do any necessary tests.

But a good alternative is to go to a woman doctor at a family planning clinic, since these practitioners deal with this particular problem every day of the week and are used to sorting it out. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years (2006-2007) family planning clinics have become rather ‘swamped’ with patients.

source: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/

How Common is Lack of Libido in Men?

Lack of sex drive (lack of libido) is extremely common in women – but quite rare in men. Even men with erectile dysfunction (ED) usually have a perfectly normal sex drive.

It's far less common than erectile dysfunction (impotence) - with which it should not be confused. Most men with lack of libido can achieve erections, but have lost the desire to have sex.

What are the causes of lack of libido in men?

The causes can be either physical or psychological.

Physical causes

Possible physical causes include:

  • alcoholism - quite common.
  • abuse of drugs - such as cocaine.
  • anaemia - unusual unless the man has been bleeding for any reason.
  • hyperprolactinaemia - a very uncommon disorder in which too much of the hormone prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland.
  • obesity - quite common; simply slimming down will often help.
  • prescribed drugs - particularly Proscar (finasteride), a tablet used for prostate problems.
  • low male hormone level (testosterone) - contrary to what many people think, this is rare.
  • any major 'generalised' disease, such as diabetes.

Psychological causes

Psychological causes of lowered male level of desire include:

  • stress and overwork
  • sex hang-ups
  • latent gayness
  • serious relationship problems with the wife/partner.

What should a man do about this symptom?

Begin by seeing your GP. Your doctor should usually be able to sort out the cause by discussing the problem with you, by examining you, and by doing a few tests. But if he or she can't sort it out, your doctor can send you to a specialist.

All the above causes of lack of libido can respond well to therapy. The most difficult to treat are those that involve marital problems and/or hang-ups. Drugs for ED, such as Cialis (tadalafil), Levitra (vardenafil) and Viagra (sildenafil), have no effect on sexual desire - only on erection.

source: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/

Sunday, April 15, 2007

How to Manage Your Sex-life after a Herpes Diagnosis

Here's how to keep the sex smart:


Take time to understand your diagnosis.

Herpes can cause painful, blisterlike sores on the lips of and inside the vagina, on areas covered by pubic hair, and around the anus. Learn all you can about how it's spread and ways to prevent transmitting it. Talk to your health care provider, or contact the National Herpes Hotline at (919) 361-8488 to speak with someone who's trained to answer your questions.



Talk first, love later.

Explain to your partner what herpes is and the steps you're willing to take to avoid passing the virus to him.



Avoid skin-to-skin contact, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex, during an outbreak.

It's during the "active" phase that herpes is most contagious.



Decide with your partner what's off-limits between outbreaks.

You can still transmit the virus between outbreaks through "viral shedding," when small amounts of the virus come to the surface of the skin.



While some couples engage in the full range of sexual activities at this time, others use a latex condom to reduce the chances of infection. (Condoms don't provide 100 percent protection.) Laura Berman, PhD, clinical professor of OB/GYN and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, suggests what she calls VENIS: very erotic non-insertive sex (including manual genital stimulation, kissing, and hugging).



Consider an oral antiviral medication

such as Famvir (famciclovir), Zovirax (acyclovir), and Valtrex (valacyclovir). They can either be taken at the first sign of an outbreak to reduce the severity and duration or be taken every day to suppress outbreaks (which may also reduce viral shedding).



source: http://www.prevention.com/

Better Sex After Hysterectomy

source:The article Total Hysterectomy Can Kill The Joy Of Sex is a bit dry and academic, but it still made for a good read. Apparently, removal of the cervix after a hysterectomy can inhibit the sexual experience for women. Sometimes doctors remove a healthy cervix during hysterectomy in the event that the organ may become cancerous in the future. I don't agree with surgically removing perfectly healthy organs because they might become cancerous sometime in the future.

More fun in bed! When researchers in the Netherlands checked the effects of a hysterectomy on the love lives of 352 women, the results were surprising: Among sexually active women, pleasure increased significantly. Among previously inactive women, 53 percent started making love again.

Why? Prehysterectomy pain and inconvenience--caused by fibroids, endometriosis, and endless menstrual periods--were gone, according to study author Jan-Paul Roovers, MD, of the University Medical Center, Utrecht, Netherlands. Half the women who had problems with arousal, lubrication, genital pain, or orgasm said surgery took care of them.

The research dispels a long-held fear that hysterectomy severs nerves crucial for sexual desire and pleasure. Now, researchers suspect a woman's body simply reroutes libido signals through other nerve pathways after hysterectomy, Roovers notes.

In some hysterectomies, the ones where the cervix is removed, the top of the vagina is rolled down like a toothpaste tube and then sealed. Scar tissue will eventually grow in that area, which keeps it sealed. The problem with this is that some women who have had shortened vaginas spoke about painful intercourse.

There are other very interesting points made in the article. I highly recommend my readers take a look at it.

The article The Effect Of Hysterectomy On Sexual Functioning, which appeared in the Annual Report On Sex Research, described the physiology of orgasm in women:

The uterus and cervix play a role in the physiology of orgasm. Orgasm appears to be a neurological genital reflex. A biphasic motor response results first in contractions of the smooth muscles of the fallopian tubes, uterus, and paraurethral glands of Skene. The second phase consists of contractions of the striated muscles located within the pelvic floor, perineum, and anal sphincter. The sensation of orgasm is probably caused by the sensory stimuli from the contractions of the internal genitalia (i.e., uterus, cervix, vagina) that reach the brain. The conscious recognition of these sensory impulses is believed to be the experience of orgasm (Hasson, 1993; Segraves & Segraves, 1993). As a consequence, it is conceivable that surgical removal of the uterus can affect orgasm.

One possible reason for a woman's difficulty with sex after hysterectomy could be because of "surgical damage to the pelvic autonomic nerves during total hysterectomy." This damage "partially disrupts the nerve supply to the blood vessels of the vaginal wall, which is responsible for the neural control of the lubrication response." Some women have experienced a lack of lubrication after a hysterectomy. Surgical damage to the pelvic autonomic nerves may be the reason for that problem.

In addition, changes in hormone levels may affect a woman's sex drive. According to The Effect Of Hysterectomy On Sexual Functioning, "physiological ovarian failure that takes place in postmenopausal women results in marked decreases of estrogen and androgen levels. The physiological decrease in estrogen levels is thought to be the cause of sexual dysfunctions in women, such as reduced vaginal lubrication and dyspareunia [painful intercourse] (McCoy, 1994)."

Opposing views are out there about how hysterectomy affects a woman's sex drive and sexual experiences. According to Women's Health, "many women fear depression or other emotional changes following hysterectomy, but research shows no increase in depression occurs after hysterectomy. Some women are afraid they will lose their desire for sex, this too is untrue and your sex life should remain as pleasurable, if not more pleasurable once you are free of the cause of your hysterectomy."

Regarding a woman's loss of sex drive after a hysterectomy, "data supported by extensive research indicates that neither aging nor hysterectomy affect sexual desire negatively. Despite the physical changes and problems that aging or a hysterectomy may bring about, most studies show that people continue to have satisfying sexual experiences throughout their life. Research results indicate that sexual desire before and after either menopause or hysterectomy is likely to remain unchanged and may even be enhanced."

Women's Health also pointed out that "removal of your ovaries may cause a decrease in sexual desire which can improve with the use of estrogen." Your gynecologist may prescribe an estrogen cream or you may purchase one over the counter if dryness is a problem. Don't use petroleum jelly. You risk vaginal infection, and petroleum jelly can damage condoms and diaphragms.

The Effect Of Hysterectomy On Sexual Functioning pointed out other factors that may affect a woman's sex drive and sexual experiences. The article stated,"sexual functioning, or the report of sexual problems, is associated with age, race, mental health problems, relationship problems, and various socioeconomic conditions (Laumann, Paik, & Rosen, 1999). The quality of a woman's sexuality before and after hysterectomy is likely to be influenced by many of these factors. Psychosocial factors that contribute positively to sexual function include a healthy relationship with a partner, good general health of both partners, freedom from severe life stresses, and absence of financial worry. If one or more of these positive factors is negatively affected, it might disrupt sexual functioning."

Women need not fear that they will lose their sexual desire after hysterectomy. They need not worry that a hysterectomy will negatively impact their sexual experiences. While some women have experienced difficulties after having a hysterectomy, many women go on to live healthy, enjoyable sex lives after the procedure.

Helping a Child with Internet Addiction

Encourage other interests

Get your child out from behind the computer screen. Expose kids to other hobbies and activities, including sports, music, art, and educational or cultural pastimes. Take your kid to a ball game or a play, sign up for swimming lessons or a ceramics class, visit your local library or a museum.

Encourage social activities

Excessive computer use can be isolating. Help your child reconnect with other children and make new friends. Options include team sports, the Boy or Girl Scouts, and afterschool clubs.

Set clear limits and rules

Establish rules about when and for how long your child can surf online. Limit the amount of Internet time your child is allowed each day, and restrict Internet use until homework and chores are done.

Monitor computer use

Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child's online activity. While personal supervision is essential, parental control software can be a useful supplementary tool.

Be a good role model

Your child looks to you as an example. Make sure your own computer use is not out of control. It will be difficult to enforce Internet rules if your child sees you breaking them.

Seek professional counseling

If your child has an Internet addiction, it may indicate a deeper problem such as anxiety or depression. If symptoms are severe or you're concerned about your child's emotional state, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional.

Sex After Chemo

Vaginal dryness and atrophy


Two of the problems women often have with chemo induced menopause are vaginal dryness and atrophy. While most women in the general population have these difficulties also, they are able to take estrogen. It is usually recommended that those who have had a diagnosis of cancer not take estrogen because it could help their cancer to resurface.

So what to do?

Check with your oncologist, she or he may recommend that you use a smaller than normal amount of estrogen cream and that it be used with a less than usual frequency. Estriol is one such cream. You could ask about using wild yam cream which is a natural progesterone or about a product called Estring. Estring is a small doughnut shaped ring that is inserted vaginally, stays in place 3 months at a time and delivers a very small amount of estrogen locally. Don't forget to check with your oncologist before using any of the above products.

Vaginal dryness and atrophy are addressed in the radiation department at my hospital because radiation to the vagina, cervix or pelvic area can quickly induce vaginal atrophy.

After breast cancer treatments are over, dryness and atrophy can occur slowly and those who are not sexually active may not even know they have a problem until they have a pap smear. It can take several years before the vagina atrophies to the point of being uncomfortably obvious.

Various lubricants can be used for dryness. AstroGlide, Replens and K-Y jelly are two common ones. Additional foreplay before sex can help also.

Why would vaginal atrophy be important for those who are not sexually active?

Those with breast cancer have a higher incidence of cervical cancer, so it's important for a gynecologist to be able to visually examine the cervix. If a person has vaginal atrophy, the gynecologist may not be able to do so.

Also, if a person decides to become sexually active in the future, they may not be able to if they have atrophied.

A vaginal dilator is recommend both to avoid atrophy and to help those who already have some atrophy. If they are not available in your hospital, you could check with either your oncologist or gynecologist. If they don't have them, which they may not, they can get them.

How to use a Vaginal Dilator?

A vaginal dilator is a cylinder or tube, most often made of plastic or rubber, used to "dilate" or stretch out the vagina. Dilators also help women learn to relax the vaginal muscles. Dilators come in many forms.

Vaginal dilators are often used after radiation to the pelvis, cervix, or vagina. Using the dilator several times a week (three times is recommended) keeps your vagina from getting tight scar tissue as the irritation from radiation heals. The only real alternative to using a vaginal dilator is to have intercourse a few times a week.

Since scarring in the pelvis after radiation can develop over many years, you should follow this scheule for the rest of your life. After surgery that rebuilds the vagina with skin grafts, you may need to keep a special type of dilator or "stent" in your vagina all day or night for a while.

A woman is often given one dilator of the size needed to fit her vagina. If she is trying to overcome pain, however, or needs to stretch out a vagina that is too small, she may use a series of dilators. She can start with one about the size of a finger and slowly go to larger models until her vagina is large enough to allow a man's penis to enter without pain.

Dilators work best when used early to prevent vaginal shrinkage. Don't wait untli you have an overly tight vagina. The dilator will not be nearly as effective. If you go for many months without a sexual relationship, it becomes very important to use your dilator to keep your vagina in shape.

Your doctor may suggest a certain way to use the dilator. The usual way to go about it, however, is as follows:

  1. Lubricate the dilator with a water-based gel.
  2. Lie down on your bed at a time when you know you will have at least 15 minutes of privacy. Gently and slowly slip the dilator into your vagina. If your vagina feels tight, hold the dilator still while you tense and relax your vaginal muscles.
  3. When your vagina feels looser, push the dilator further in. You may need to repeat the squeezing and relaxing a few times before the dilator is fully inserted. Some women also find it helpful to bear down, pushing their vaginal muscles outward as if having a bowel movement.
  4. When the dilator is in as far as possible, leave it in your vagina for about 10 minutes. You can pass the time by reading, watching TV, or even talking on the phone. If the dilator slips out, gently push it more deeply into your vagina.
  5. When you remove it, wash it with a mild soap and water. Be sure to rinse all the soap off so no film is left to irritate your vagina the next time you use the dilator.

source: http://www.bcforum.org/

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How to Get Toddler To Take a Bath?

Is your toddler afraid to take a bath? All children have fears at some point in their life and it is usually considered to be a normal part of development. These fears are only abnormal if they are persistent or keep the child overly preoccupied with the subject that is feared, so that it interferes with normal activities, if the child can not be reassured or distracted away from the fear (becoming a phobia), or if it is an irrational fear. Whether or not a fear is irrational depends on a child's age and developmental level. For example, it is normal for a 2 year old to be afraid of sitting on the potty, but it would be irrational for an 8 year old to have the same fear.

Toddlers normally have simple fears of separation, noises, falling, animals and insects, using the potty, bathing and bedtime.

Fear of bathing does seem like a common problem, and one that usually passes, but that doesn't mean that you just force her to continue taking baths as that might make her more fearful. It also doesn't mean that you should give up baths altogether, since she does have to get clean, although a daily bath isn't necessary.

Trying different things, such as toys, bubbles, bath finger paints, coloring agents, playing her favorite music, etc. should help. Having a consistent routine of when she takes a bath and letting her pick a couple of toys might also give her some control and make her more likely to want to take a bath.

You might also let her play in the tub without any water in it, so that she can get used to being in there. Or use sponge baths for a few days or weeks.

Other things that may help:

  • don't let your toddler actually see the water go in or drain out of the tub.
  • take baths with your child
  • take a bath by yourself, and let her play in the bathroom while you are bathing and let her help you rinse off by pouring water over your head etc.
  • take her to the store to pick out some new bath toys
  • try giving her a bath at a different time of day. If you normally give her a bath at bedtime, try doing it earlier in the day or in the morning.
  • let her give a bath to one of her favorite dolls or let her watch you do it
  • set up a special activity, such as watching her favorite video or reading some books, after the bath, so that she has something to look forward to
  • make or buy some washcloth puppets
source:http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/

Reye's Syndrome

What is Reye's syndrome?

Since 1986, aspirin manufacturers have been required to include a warning on product labels advising against giving the drug to children for chicken pox or flu symptoms. But to be on the safe side — since you can never know for sure whether a virus is causing your toddler's symptoms — never give your child aspirin for any reason.

Reye's syndrome can strike anyone at any age, but it usually affects children between the ages of 4 and 12. And while it can occur anytime of year, rates are highest during the flu season months of January, February, and March.

In part because it's so uncommon, Reye's is often misdiagnosed. For example, it may be mistaken for encephalitis, meningitis, diabetes, a drug overdose, or poisoning.

Reye's affects all the organs of the body but causes the gravest harm to the liver and the brain. If left untreated, the disease can quickly lead to liver failure, brain damage, and even death.

The cause of RS remains a mystery. However studies have shown that using aspirin or salicylate-containing medications to treat viral illnesses increases the risk of developing RS. A physician should be consulted before giving a child any aspirin or anti-nausea medicines during a viral illness, which can mask the symptoms of RS.

If you think your child may have Reye's syndrome, consider it a medical emergency and call his doctor right away, take him to the emergency room, or call 911. An early diagnosis can significantly improve a child's chances of surviving.

What are the symptoms of Reye's Syndrome?

The symptoms of Reye's syndrome can appear during a viral illness, but they more commonly show up one to two weeks later. A child with Reye's syndrome may or may not have a fever. Other symptoms often develop in stages.

The first sign is usually persistent vomiting. Other early symptoms may include diarrhea, listlessness, drowsiness, and lethargy

As the disease progresses and affects the brain, a child may become agitated, hyperactive, and combative. He may become delirious, have a convulsion or a seizure, and could slip into a coma. If he doesn't receive treatment, he may die.

Of course, a child with other, less serious, illnesses may have some of these symptoms, too. And few children will have Reye's syndrome, as the United States reports only about 50 cases per year. Still, because early treatment is so important, you'll want to be cautious.


Is there any treatment?
There is no cure for RS. Successful management, which depends on early diagnosis, is primarily aimed at protecting the brain against irreversible damage by reducing brain swelling, reversing the metabolic injury, preventing complications in the lungs, and anticipating cardiac arrest. It has been learned that several inborn errors of metabolism mimic RS in that the first manifestation of these errors may be an encephalopathy with liver dysfunction. These disorders must be considered in all suspected cases of RS. Some evidence suggests that treatment in the end stages of RS with hypertonic IV glucose solutions may prevent progression of the syndrome.

What is the prognosis?

Recovery from RS is directly related to the severity of the swelling of the brain. Some people recover completely, while others may sustain varying degrees of brain damage. Those cases in which the disorder progresses rapidly and the patient lapses into a coma have a poorer prognosis than those with a less severe course. Statistics indicate that when RS is diagnosed and treated in its early stages, chances of recovery are excellent. When diagnosis and treatment are delayed, the chances for successful recovery and survival are severely reduced. Unless RS is diagnosed and treated successfully, death is common, often within a few days.

How can I protect my toddler from Reye's syndrome?

Not giving your toddler aspirin is your best defense. What causes the disease is unknown, but research shows that aspirin or medications that contain aspirin can trigger the disease in a child who has had a virus or just recovered from one. In fact, 90 to 95 percent of Reye's syndrome patients in the United States took aspirin during a recent viral illness.

Reye's syndrome isn't contagious, so you don't have to worry about your toddler catching it.

To safeguard your toddler's health, take the following precautions:

Never give aspirin to your child — or to anyone 19 years old or younger. Instead, keep acetaminophen or ibuprofen on hand to relieve pain and fever.

Read labels carefully to avoid accidentally giving your toddler aspirin: Many over-the-counter drugs, such as antacids and cold and sinus medicines, contain aspirin. Be on the lookout for the terms like salicylate, acetylsalicylate, acetylsalicylic acid, salicylamide, and phenyl salicylate, which may be used instead of the word aspirin.

Where can I get more information?

If you're in the United States, contact the National Reye's Syndrome Foundation at (800) 233-7393.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Tips for Dealing with Online Pornography

There are many steps you can take to safeguard your children and teenagers from pornography on the Internet. First, your family should establish rules regarding Internet use. It can be helpful to create an online agreement.

It is also important to discuss the dangers of pornography with your children and teenagers. They should be warned about sexual predators and taught how to protect themselves from exploitation.

Safety Rules

In the Federal Bureau of Investigation's A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety, parents are recommended to teach their children the following safety rules:

  • Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone you meet online.
  • Never upload pictures of yourself onto the Internet to people you don't personally know.
  • Never give out identifying information such as your name, home address, school name, or telephone number.
  • Never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images.
  • Never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing.
  • Whatever you are told online may or may not be true.
Protecting your Child or Teen from Internet Pornography and Victimization:
  • Talk to your child or teenager about sexual victimization and potential on-line danger.
  • Spend time with your children online. Have them teach you about their favorite web sites and teach them about the responsible use of online resources.
  • Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child's bedroom.
  • Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software.
  • Monitor your child's use of chat rooms. Chat rooms are often prowled by sex offenders.
  • Maintain access to your child's online account and randomly check his/her e-mail. Be up front with your child about your access and the reasons why.
  • Find out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child's school, the public library, and at the homes of your child's friends.
  • Understand, even if your child or teen was a willing participant in any form of sexual exploitation, that he/she is not at fault and is the victim. The offender always bears the complete responsibility for his or her actions.
source : The Federal Bureau of Investigation's A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety

Internet or Computer Addiction -- Break Addiction

How can you break addiction to the Internet?

The first step is recognizing that there is a problem. Overcoming denial should be followed by other treatment steps, including:

  • Identifying specific problem areas
  • Generating a behavior modification plan, such as setting a timer for usage, planning a daily schedule, keeping a log of moods when going online, matching time spent online with time spent socializing face-to-face and taking part in non-computer related activities
  • Focusing on other areas for needed skill enhancement, such as problem solving, assertiveness, social skills, overcoming shyness, anger control
  • Assessing for other disorders like depression or anxiety that may need medical treatment.
  • Assistance in locating or forming a support group for other people who are trying to regain control over their computer use.

If you suspect you are addicted to the Web, consult a therapist in your area, preferably one who specializes in addiction. In addition, you might join a support group. One online group can be found at the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery.

Dr. David Greenfield offers suggestions to help manage Internet use before it becomes a problem:

  • Consider taking a technology holiday
  • Find other interests
  • Exercise
  • Watch less television
  • Talk to your friends and family about what is happening in your life
  • Try counseling or psychotherapy to assist you in dealing with the addictive behavior
  • Consider a support group
  • Develop new relationships and friendships
  • Talk to others about your overuse of the Internet
  • Shorten your Internet sessions

How can I help computer-obsessed friends?

  • Be a good role model. Manage the computer use in your own life well
  • Introduce them to some other people who are fun, interesting, and who handle their computer use sensibly.
  • Get them involved in some non-computer related fun.
  • Support their desire for change if they think they have a problem.
  • Encourage them to seek professional counseling.

source: http://www.helpguide.org/

Strategies to Trap and Hold Viewers by Internet Pornography and Cybersex

While offensive and distasteful to many users, most Internet porn is not illegal. Countries have different cultural standards and legislation regarding sexual material, and content that is banned in one jurisdiction may be easily accessible on servers in another.

For parents, one of the most disturbing aspects of the Internet is the easy access it gives kids to porn. Hard-core sexual images, which were once very difficult to acquire, are now just a mouse click away. Teens, particularly adolescent males, have always been driven by natural curiosity to seek out pornography. This hasn't changed. What's different is the easy access the Internet gives kids to deviant or violent sexual content, which may have an influence on their developing attitudes towards sexuality and relationships.

The Strategies

The online porn industry uses many strategies to promote use of their sites, including:

  • Pop-up windows: trap users in an endless loop of porn.
  • Home page hijacking: (planting a Java script command on computers to change the user's default home page to a porn site). Changing the home page back to its original setting appears to solve the problem until the computer is rebooted; then the offensive site re-appears as the home page.
  • Stealth sites: a variety of techniques, including buying up expired domain names, exploiting common misspellings, or using well-known names of companies or artists.
  • Hidden key words that are picked up by search engines: Porn operators bury key words, including brand names of popular toys or names of pop artists, in the code of their Web sites to lead children and teens to their sites.
source: http://www.helpguide.org/

Cyber Brain Washing

Knowing what can happen to you, your friends or even your children won’t necessarily help. Heavy users will tell you that the Net will change you. If you spend enough time on-line, the rest of the world starts to look unreal or strange. You may not even notice the change. There is no sure way to know if you will get hooked or how long it can take. Here’s how it happens.

Prolonged chats on-line and mouse clicking on the Internet will produce what psychologist call a dissociative state. Net users separate from reality and enter cyber reality. Anyone with children has seen how children can watch television for countless hours. Children and even adults watching television long enough will enter a "hypnotic trance." They "meld" into the television and disconnect from reality. Limited use is a form or healthy recreation or escape. Prolonged and repeated use can create problems.

People can disappear into a good book or a movie, but there is always an end to a book or a movie. The Internet is especially addictive because the Net is endless, interactive, social and exploding with never ending images and information. The Net offers exciting relationships 24 hours a day all over the world. Before the Internet children and couples stopped working and talking with their friends after dark. Spending the evening together reading, playing games and watching television together was the norm. But not anymore.

How do people get caught up in the Net? For one thing, human beings are curious. We like to see more and do more. Many of us like to travel. When we can’t travel, we like to read books and go to movies. We like to feel competent and in control. Human beings like to feel better and they don’t like to feel bad. We like to do things that feel good and avoid things that feel worse. We especially like doing pleasurable things more and more. Being on the Internet is not necessarily about having a good time. Being on-line might make you feel better but it might just change how you feel. It can be an escape from reality that isn’t necessarily better for you. For some people, a painful or disgusting fantasy is preferable to a less painful or disgusting reality.

Have you ever noticed that some people watch television even when there is nothing good to watch. And instead of turning the TV off, they resort to channel switching. The act of switching channels repeatedly is an annoying process that makes the rest of us want to leave the room or take the remote control away from somebody. The Net is a lot like television only the Net is timeless, interactive, challenging and endless.

Psychologists explain the seduction and addictive nature of the Net primarily in terms of a behavior modification process called a variable reinforcement schedule. That means you don’t know how much of a reward you will get and when for your behavior. A variable reinforcement schedule is the most addictive reward system. Slot machines are designed and operate in the same principle.

When you keep playing a slot machine, the odds are that you will eventually loose everything. But the human brain loves the possibilities and excitement of "winning" in the moment and it ignores the long term consequences. The occasional win doesn’t make up for the overall loss. People play anyway because the occasional win is highly rewarding for those who play long enough. Some people can walk away and stay away. Other can’t walk away or they always come back.

The Internet is also more addictive than a slot machine – especially once they begin to master the technology. Playing on the Net can give you self-confidence. A slot machine doesn’t. The most common rewards from a slot machine are those curious noises, spinning pictures and flashing lights. Once in a while a person wins some money.

Would you believe it, a cable modem is more addictive than a slower dial-up modem. Most people had no patience for the Internet when they had a dial up modem. The rewards were slow and boring. That changed when high speed modems allowed for rapid "clicking" and responses. People with high speed modems are now disappearing into a world where they wait anxiously for the result of the next click. The surprise, shock value and speed in which a person gets these "hits" of information and imagery are the key to creating a compulsion and addiction. Time begins to have no meaning when your next "hit" is just a "click" away. There is no time to think about something else you could or should be doing - unless you are waiting. People don’t think of what else they should be doing and they increasingly find there is always time for one more click and one more chat.

More than a slot machine, everything on the Internet is an adventure with social opportunities. It can be mildly or tremendously exhilarating. People feel rewarded when they finally figure it out why their software or a web site is not working. Every improvement in your skills including upgrades in software and your access to new and exciting links can produces a mind altering change in your brain chemistry. The most powerful change is called a dopamine rush. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that controls brain function including decision making, impulsiveness, and it is released when you experience certain stimulation. It can improve your mood, confidence and produce a feeling of pleasure.

source: http://www.crisiscounseling.com/

Internet or Computer Addiction

What is Internet or Computer Addiction?
  • A student has difficulty getting his/her homework done because computer games occupy all after-school time.
  • Someone connects to the Internet at 9:00pm and suddenly discovers it is dawn and he/she has not left the computer.
  • A wife is distraught because her husband has replaced their sexual relationship with Internet porn and online sex.

Searching for information, skimming news headlines, downloading your favorite songs, or placing bids on eBay … the options are endless. We all enjoy the benefits of the Internet. But at what point does frequent online activity become too frequent and become a source of significant problems in someone’s life? Internet addiction is generally defined as spending so much time online that Internet use adversely affects marriages, family and social life, work, and psychological and physical well-being.

What are signs and symptoms of Internet or Computer Addiction?

As with any other addiction, a computer addict is likely to have several of the experiences and feelings on the list below. How many of them describe you or someone close to you?

  • Have mixed feelings of well-being and guilt while at the computer.
  • Lose control of time while on the computer; want to quit or cut down, but are unable to.
  • Neglect friends, family and/or responsibilities in order to be online.
  • Lie to your boss and family about the amount of time spent on the computer and what you do while on it.
  • Feel anxious, depressed, or irritable when your computer time is shortened or interrupted.
  • Use the computer repeatedly as an outlet when sad, upset, or for sexual gratification.
  • Develop problems in school or on the job as a result of the time spent and the type of activities accessed on the computer.
  • Have financial problems due to on-line purchases or gambling.
  • Become tempted to get involved in relationships with strangers, which may put you at risk for victimization or jeopardize your safety.

What are physical or medical problems associated with Computer Addiction?

Being addicted to the computer also can cause physical discomfort or medical problems:

  • Carpal Tunnel syndrome (pain, numbness, and burning in your hands that can radiate up the wrists, elbows, and shoulders)
  • Dry eyes
  • Backaches
  • Severe headaches
  • Eating irregularities, such as skipping meals
  • Failure to attend to personal hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances

Who is most at risk for Internet addiction?

According to the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, Internet addiction affects people of varying ages, cultural backgrounds, occupations, and educational levels. The following problems are likely triggers for internet addiction:

  • Substance Abuse. Over half of Internet addicts suffer from other addictions, mainly to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex.
  • Mental Illness.Trends show that Internet addicts suffer from emotional problems such as depression and anxiety-related disorders and often use the fantasy world of the Internet to psychologically escape unpleasant feelings or stressful situations.
  • Relationship Troubles. In almost 75% of cases, Internet addicts use applications such as chat rooms, instant messaging, or online gaming as a safe way of establishing new relationships and more confidently relating to others.

source: http://www.helpguide.org/