Jersey Shore Family FEATURE STORIES

How Safe are Your Kids from Online Predators?

In this amazing world of technology we can send a text, email, update our calorie consumption, scan our phones at the Starbucks counter, and a slew of other things.  This technology has allowed us access to so many things, but some of those things come at a cost.  How about those social media apps popular among our children? I’m talking about the apps like Kik and Snap Chat. 


As a mother of an 11 and 14 year old, the fears are real for their safety.  There are many things in the media from on-line predators, to sexting, and cyber bullying. How do we protect our children without locking them in the house, wrapping them in bubble wrap, and praying it will all go away?  How do we arm them with the knowledge that will keep them safe?  I know that we are talking to our kids and public schools discuss not talking to strangers and the dangers of the internet, but are our children listening? 


The app Kik was downloaded by my 14 year old about three years ago.  At the time the app stated it was for 4 year olds and up.  Since then the app has changed its status to Teen. With that being said, most children want the app so they can chat with a friend who shares the same device, usually an ipad/ipod or kindle. This can be wonderful since it keeps a parent from having to purchase a cell phone plan that may not be in the budget.  The problem is that anyone can 

reach out to your child.

On February 18, 2015, a Maryland man was arrested for soliciting sex on Kik from a minor.  Between May 2015 and July 2015, a Glouster County resident was arrested for sending explicit photos of himself to a minor using Kik. These are just a few incidents that have occurred. This app leaves your children vulnerable to pedophiles.  Talking to your children about the dangers is a must, but a better tactic would be to delete the app from your child’s device.  For those who are teens, express your concerns and establish that they can come to you anytime.  Thankfully when my child was approached by an adult when she had the app she told me.  I sought out the help of an officer friend.  I was told there wasn’t much I could do, so we blocked the person.  


Though I’d love to see Kik disappear, I know there would be another app to take its place.  Talk to your children often about the dangers of chatting with strangers.  Show them the newspaper articles revealing crimes of those who used Kik to hurt children.  There is also a great video that reveals the dangers by Coby Persin( This was an eye opener! 


Remember that you are the parent. When it comes to protecting your child you have to do what is necessary, even if it means checking their devices. They may feel it’s an invasion of privacy, but in the end we are doing our job.

Stephanie A. Sframeli is an Educational Sign Language Interpreter and mother of 3.  She has worked in the local school system for the last 10 years.  Stephanie is also an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (INHC) and Reiki Master.  Her focus is on helping others embrace their health and well being.  For more information about the services that Stephanie provides, please visit her website at

How to Motivate and Reward Children Without Technology

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) crave stimulation and 

immediate feedback, feeding into the use of technology. Both kids with ADD/ADHD and 

their neurotypical peers need to spend less time on the computer and more time in the 

real world interacting and communicating with others. The amount of time you have 

allotted for screen time is good. However, your child needs to earn this time.


The good news is you can find additional activities for your child to enjoy that do not include the use of a computer. He may feel more comfortable on the computer than interacting with others. To work on changing this, give your child tools to succeed in interpersonal relationships by enrolling him in a social skills training class to learn how 

to make and keep friends.

Also work with your child to explore other sports and activities that are stimulating and

engaging. Physical activity has been shown to increase focus and benefit those with 

ADD/ADHD. Some kids with ADD/ADHD struggle in team sports due to difficulty 

following directions and/or poor motor skills. If that’s the case for your child, encourage 

him to try running, working out at the gym, gymnastics, or martial arts like karate.


Many kids with ADD/ADHD are turned off by reading and often report how boring it is for 

them as a result of their inability to maintain focus. But one way to encourage reading is,

ironically, through the use of technology. I have seen many children with ADD/ADHD 

become motivated to read for enjoyment using an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook. 

Technology can be a viable tool when it is used to expand the mind and help bridge the

gap between a child’s learning difficulties and his or her strengths.

Solutions for Struggling Students

Is Your Child an Independent Learner?


All parents want their children to learn from school instruction, complete homework, do well and enjoy school.  However, if your child needs continual repetition to learn, despite school intervention and/or tutoring with each passing school year, than he/she is not an independent learner.  Most parents ‘wait and hope’ things will get better with the above help and are disheartened when their child never seems to ‘catch up’ and gets further behind peers. It becomes a struggle just to ‘get through’ each school year. Some of these children also have attention and social difficulties as well.  


What is the Root Cause of Learning Struggles?


Executive Functioning Deficits


The cause of problems with attention, learning, behavior, and social difficulties originates from the brain's ability to respond to the conductor’s commands appropriately. Research has identified the "executive functioning” part of the brain that is unable to manage, control, and integrate the necessary activities to learn.  When executive functioning (cognitive processing skills) are not fully developed, these tasks become very difficult. Deficits in these critical processing skills interfere with one’s ability to meet their potential. Dr. Thomas Brown gives us a metaphor to help us understand by comparing executive function to the conductor’s role in an orchestra. The conductor manages the timing of when and who will bring in the strings, and then fade them out at the precise proper moment. He organizes various instruments to begin playing singularly or in combination, integrates the music by bringing in and fading certain actions, and controls the pace and intensity of the music. If there is no conductor to organize and integrate the individual musicians there would be no arrangements of enjoyable music to listen to.  



What is the Solution?


Short Term Fix


Continuing to ‘teach around learning problems’ by instructing students on a lower grade level, going at a slower pace than peers, using repetition to learn, providing strategies or accommodations, helping your child with homework and expecting successful results is not the answer.  If may help for awhile, but in the end it’s a short term fix as executive functioning deficits do not disappear or go away with age. Many children ‘give up’ when they begin to realize that ‘trying and working harder’ isn’t helping, as a result they feel defeated and powerless.  


Long Term Fix


Multiple scientific studies have proven the brain can change through ‘neuroplasticity’ by creating new neural pathways to develop executive functioning skills via brain training. Once these skills are fully developed your child can become an independent learner and meet his potential. 

Learning becomes faster and easier when executive functioning skills (memory, auditory, visual, logic and reasoning and processing speed skills are intact, not just for today or this marking period, but for a lifetime of learning!




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Linda Karanzalis, MS is a learning specialist with over 20 yrs. of experience who provides specialized help for those with learning, attention, or social difficulties in Ventnor, NJ.  For information about Linda and the services she provides, visit the website at or contact her at or call (856)-396-9135.

ADHD/ADD  and  Summertime Chore Wars

Any parent of a child with ADH/ADDD will tell you getting their child to do chores is like trying to climb Mt. Everest with weights on your back! Let’s face it ADD/HD or not,  no one likes chores, they are tedious, time consuming, and boring.   But chores are oh so important.  In fact research from the  University of Minnesota indicates the best predictor of young-adult success is not IQ  or self motivation, it’s chores. In fact they found the earlier children start doing chores, the more successful they are as adults. 


So what’s a parent to do in the summer when all kids just want to do is have fun? When you're exhausted from the endless battles and arguments, or better known as ‘chore wars?’ First and foremost it’s essential to understand your child’s brain chemistry.   ADHD/ADD brains don’t make enough of the chemical neurotransmitters needed to sustain focus. So it’s difficult for these children to complete anything, especially boring chores that don’t provide the stimulation or immediate feedback needed to fuel the mind of those with attention deficits. 


As a result, "chore wars" is a daily reality in many household across the nation.  We all know chores are essential to help our kids develop the life skills they need to become independent adults. We are only human and the fight can be so exhausting it’s more often than not easier to do the work ourselves.  When we do this our child suffers and never learns to be accountable to himself and others, therefore diminishing his self-esteem and success in life. 



Brain Training Helps Your Child Become Independent at Home and School


Your child can learn to clear clutter, prioritize, complete chores, as well as work and learn 

independently.  Brain training develops the executive functioning skills of the brain that are 

required to begin tasks, sustain attention and to follow through on task completion.   Take the 

time now to develop these skills to lay the groundwork for the future and a lifetime of success. 


To learn more about brain training and how it can help your child contact Linda Karanzalis at or call (856)-396-9135.


Autism Awareness

"Your child has autism."  

Those words can bring up a whole mix of emotions for a parent, everything from fear (will my kid go to college?  live independently?) to relief (there's a name for this!).  One in 88 children are now being diagnosed on the autism spectrum, so remember that you are not alone!  Having a child with special needs can be isolating: doctor visits, therapies, school evaluations.  An important thing for you as a parent and for your child is to network.  You can connect with others in your situation and learn about programs that can help your child & the family as a whole. 

With the wonders of the internet, this can be easily accomplished!  Autism Speaks offers a 100 Day kit for families that are newly diagnosed.  It can now be downloaded right from their website.  Facebook can also be a great resource for the special needs community.  Many local autism groups have pages.  These pages are also a great way of finding out about local activities: sports, social groups and therapies for the children. You never know what another autism parent may know!

Stephanie O'Neil Morris

Mom of 3 and loves researching her family tree.

Also, don't be afraid to reach out to more widespread groups.  I am on pages that reach worldwide & have made many friends that let me vent on bad days and on the good days, they help me celebrate my son's accomplishments!  Another great way to find resources is to go to local special needs events such as an Autism Speaks walk. There are always provider tables there for therapies, special needs products, sports, etc.  I signed up for the walk right after my son was diagnosed in late 2007 and have done it every year since.  It gave me a sense of purpose in the tornado of emotions that I was feeling at the time.
Just remember that you and your family will get through this. Your child may be different but they are special and so are you!