Saturday, September 15, 2018

Keeping teens safe on Instagram: Tips and Tricks for Parents

Instagram is the most popular, and I would even say active platform these days. I know so many of my pre-teen or teen nephews, nieces and kids of friends on the platform and slaying it much better than us oldies. Whether it is instagram stories, or posts - they love posting and expressing themselves on IG!

This only means parents need to know what the kids are doing, or whom they are interacting with - without being too obvious about it. Teens are a delicate age when kids want and need their own privacy. I believe the diaries and slambooks of our times, the chits exchanged or the sms and even the Orkut testimonials - are all now social media DMs, Stories, Stickers and so on in today's day and age.

Instagram understands this and in the past year, has reassessed priorities, reassigned engineers and researchers, and aligned teams around the goal of fostering the safest, kindest, most supportive global community. As a part of these efforts, they launched A Parent’s Guide today, a new resource for parents with teens who use Instagram to aid them in creating safer online spaces for children.

While the Parents Guide is an additional resource to aid safer online spaces, below are a few tips that can help parents contribute more effectively to keeping their teens safe when they come online:

  • Get your Insta-game on. As parents, many of us don’t understand what Instagram is or what it does – admit it and get online! There’s no easier way for you to understand why your teen is on the platform till you get onto it, and understand its pros and cons. Once this is done – spend time understanding the platform and the variety of tools it offers so you can in turn educate your teen to make sure he/she makes good choices online – thus leading to an overall positive experience. An informed parent will create an informed teen – and that is key. (This would be much easier for someone like me, who is a social media manager by profession, but I too don't get the language the kids use these days - with all the shortcuts and words like dayum, on fleek, my mains and so on... )

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  • Manage your family’s time online together. Setting a time limit for accessing social media can prove to be helpful. An added element is, replicating this with every member of the family and not just your teens. Setting a family limit for time spent online will help in making the field level and showing your teens that you too will get to spend the same amount of time that they do online will help them better understand the value and importance of your decision. On Instagram with the new Activity dashboard – your teen and you can review the amount of time each of you spend on the community – in a day or even through the past week along with an analysis of average time spent. To control the amount of time your family and you spend online you can set a daily reminder, a timer you can set to give you an alert when you’ve exceeded what you think is an appropriate amount of time on the app; and a mute push notifications setting to limit notifications. (This is a brilliant addition to the dashboard. And it's so important to set limits for yourself and other elders in the house too. If we're busy taking candids or selfies all day, how can we ask the kids to do any different!)

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  • Unlearn and learn how to do Instagram right with your teen. Learning how to use the platform and its various features is a great way to start a conversation with your teen about Instagram. This also gives you the chance to talk about making their profile a private profile – thus ensuring that they have full control over the content they post and their experience on the platform is safe! Along the way, not only will you find a non-intrusive way to be a part of your teens Instagram presence but also up your Insta-game! Setting your account to private is simple – go to the “Settings” gear from your profile page, and toggle “Private Account” to the “on” position.
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  • Create a strict ‘say no to bullies’ policy at home. Whether its offline or online, bullyingin any form can hinder your teens wellbeing and if consistent, even have drastic repercussions.To ensure, your teen is not targeted to any form of mental abuse online ensure that you have an open channel of communication with him/her so he/she feels that the first step to address the issue is to have a conversation with you. Then, make sure that the offensive comment filter is turned on his/her Instagram profile. This filter will automatically hide comments containing attacks on a person's appearance or character, as well as threats to a person's well-being or health. If the issue remains persistent or you spot an account, photo, video or comments that is intended to bully or harass someone, you can report it from within the app by visiting “...” on a post and clicking on “Report.” (Absolutely important! You need to have such a comfort level with your teen, that they should be able to come and tell you if someone is bullying them at school or otherwise - instead of being scared of telling you anything).

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  • Comment right. Along ensuring that your own teen has a safe experience, it’s equally important to make your teen understand the importance of ensuing others have a similar experience too. Have an open dialogue with your teen about commenting right and identifying comments that might be offensive/derogatory. Instagram’s offensive comments filter automatically hides offensive or inappropriate comments, so people never have to see them. Additionally, one can also modify/customize the filter to reflect specific keywords and emoji’s that one might find offensive. Beyond this, to make sure your teens have a positive kind experience when they come online on Instagram they can also swipe to delete comments, report inappropriate comments, and block accounts that might be hindering their experience on the community. (I remember this scene from the movie called 'This is 40' where the mother checks out a hurtful comment made by a friend of her daughter's on her social media profile and goes and gives him a sounding. Obviously we are not looking at that, but teaching our kids to be right and moral is equally important to keeping them safe.)

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Lastly, for any last minute advice, help or the right conversation started to kick off a difficult talk with your teen you can always refer to Instagram’s A Parent’s Guide at parents.instagram.com or check out the Help Center for more useful resources. 



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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Himalaya for Moms - Body Butter Range - Product Review


I have been a mother for over 4 years, and ever since, it’s been a roller-coaster ride. We’ve loved the beautiful small moments and handled the not-to-great memories together as a team – a family!

I have written about the Himalaya FOR MOMS range earlier, and I was thrilled to receive their new variants of Himalaya FOR MOMS Soothing Body Butter for review- Jasmine, Rose, and Lavender. The names itself makes me feel relaxed. I personally like all the three variants!

I trust Himalaya’s range of products from pharmaceuticals, personal care to baby care. Since I am a longtime consumer, I have had no doubts about the Soothing Body Butter. I was sure that it will help keep my skin supple and soft!


Why Body Butter? 
The skin, after expanding and shrinking during and after pregnancy, tends to get dry and itchy. Body butters have soothing and moisturizing elements which are effective in relieving itching. Body butters which contain soothing and healing fragrances are especially effective in de-stressing too!

What Himalaya FOR MOMS Soothing Body Butter Does? 
Himalaya FOR MOMS Soothing Body Butter is a daily-use cream that intensively moisturizes and nourishes your skin, making it soft and supple. Cocoa Butter soothes dry, irritated skin, and Glycerin keeps the skin hydrated for a long time. Himalaya FOR MOMS Soothing Body Butter contains Vitamin E, which protects the skin from damage and irritation. It comes in the three calming fragrances of Lavender, Rose, and Jasmine.

Key ingredients:
Cocoa Butter is a natural antioxidant, which soothes, hydrates, and balances the skin. 
Glycerin is a humectant that locks in moisture and keeps the skin hydrated for longer. 

Directions for use:
Apply Himalaya FOR MOMS Soothing Body Butter all over the body gently massaging it in. For best results, use this cream twice daily. 

Pack size: 
Himalaya FOR MOMS Soothing Body Butter comes in three delectable fragrances:
Calming fragrance of Lavender
Rejuvenating fragrance of Jasmine
Uplifting fragrance of Rose

Available in 50 ml, 100 ml and 200 ml packs.

My take:

The 200 ml pack comes in an easy-to-open tub, with a lid inside to lift up and use the cream. The Body Butter smells so great – and you can go on and on applying all over your body. Because it is a Cocoa Butter based product, it will be a little sticky to touch/feel after application. I love applying the Body Butter all over my body apart from face, especially during dry seasons like winters. The pleasant fragrance stays for quite some time! At the same time, it is not too overpowering to make you and your little one uncomfortable. 




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Monday, September 10, 2018

#MomVsFlu – A journey from worriers to warriors!

If you have read my previous blog or followed my social media updates, you know how my li'l one is a fussy eater, with a not-so-good immunity and hence frequently catches the cold and has even had flu and pneumonia. Both of these latter instances have been nothing less than a nightmare for me, seeing my kid so weak, suffering in pain not even being able to express what’s bothering him - all breathless and being nebulized and the blood tests and x-rays. If you're a parent, you will know what I mean.
Hence I was glad to be an audience to a panel discussion that spoke about Influenza. The what, how, why etcetera. We started off with penning down what according to us are the symptoms of flu. I wrote - loss of appetite, fever, runny nose, inactive and lethargic, irritability, muscle pain, sore throat, cough and vomiting.



Did you know that the influenza virus (commonly known as flu) can spread as far as 6 feet away? So if someone sneezed in one corner of a room it can get passed on to another person easily. It's contagious because it can be transferred through coughing, sneezing, talking, physical touch.

The stereotype is that the poor stay in a more unhygienic condition and prone to illness. But a shocking insight was that there are more cases of flu in kids coming from affluent families. How? These kids go to premium schools, which have AC classes which means no ventilation - the flu spreads in the classroom - affecting all kids. So, how prone are you to catching a flu is totally dependent on your environment conditions.

Who are at a higher risk of flu?

1. Kids - They're still building their immunity, go to the school, playground and other new conditions and environments.

2. Pregnant women - Women during their pregnancy have a lower immunity, reduced lung capacity and hormonal - which all make them more susceptible to catching a virus.

3. Senior Citizens

4. Patients suffering from some chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis etc.

It is extremely vital to vaccinate the pregnant mother or even before, during the planning stage - as a flu during pregnancy can really complicate things - like reduced oxygen supply to the baby, growth restriction in baby, premature delivery and other birth defects. I remember getting a flu shot during my pregnancy as well. And it can be taken at any time of the pregnancy- the sooner the better, there is no harm at all.

Coming to kids, for the first year all vaccinations are given religiously - and there are so many! But what about once they're preschoolers? Last year my kiddo got the flu and our paediatrician told us that every year a flu shot has to be given. As it's effects lasts only as much as a year and the virus keeps changing and modifying. India being a tropical region, the flu season is typically during monsoons and winters - as the virus thrives in cold and moisture. WHO decides the virus of the year in January every year and by April the new vaccine is available everywhere. So the best time to vaccinate is just before school reopens - Sometime around May. And remember! It takes a couple of weeks for the vaccine to give the immunity boost, so don't wait for just one day before school reopening.

When to visit the doctor?

For pregnant ladies - if you have a temperature above 100 degree Fahrenheit, are coughing mucus - go to the doctor.

For babies and children - if there is uncontrolled fever for more than 24 hours, sudden spikes in the temperature, no intake - food and liquid, flaring of the nose, breathlessness and wheezing - go to your paediatrician asap.

Always remember, a mother's intuition is always best. And it's always better to visit the doctor than wait - waiting may get worse. And hydrate the kid - intake of fluids is absolutely essential when having a flu. It also helps the temperature come down.



Dr.Pai from the panel, who is a renowned paediatrician, asked us mom bloggers how many of us get ourselves a flu shot annually as well, and there were only 4-5 hands up in the air. I had got one during my pregnancy, but after that it's just been for the kiddo, never thought of having it for myself or the spouse and other family members. It was an eye-opener for me, why wasn't I told about this before? And as Dr.Mukesh Gupta rightly stated- vaccine is less painful than waxing - no reason to procrastinate. He had a nice term for it - samuhik vaccination. The whole family should go together and get the annual flu shot, and not only if going to USA or UK. We otherwise are carriers of the virus, most likely to pass it on to our kids.

The panel discussion also had well-known actor and mother of two - Genelia Dsouza who is a part of this initiative with the motto of spreading the awareness of Influenza in India. She also told us not to ever hesitate in asking end number of questions, however silly, to the doctors - it's always better to be safe than sorry and prevention is always better than cure, right?



For more information on Influenza - http://www.mothersagainstinfluenza.in/

Find/Consult a Doctor- Vaccinating Doctors can be found in every locality with a simple search by a pincode. In case, one is looking for a doctor, here is a simple way to find Doctors who vaccinate: http://www.mothersagainstinfluenza.in/doctor-list.html

Disclaimer: I attended a discussion on influenza awareness facilitated by Abbott India
Limited. Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of
Abbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the
blog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical
recommendation or prescription of treatment for babies having Influenza. Any reader of this
blog or their family members suffering from Influenza should specifically consult his/her doctor
for the same and follow the suggested course of treatment.


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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The importance of breakfast in my family


Till last year, we, as a family were not taking breakfast too seriously. We would make do with the quick tea and biscuits/toast and rush kiddo to school with his tiffin and then, ourselves run to work. But it was a really bad decision, we observed the feeling of being tired and low on energy by noon, craving for junk food, eating a heavy lunch and more.

And if we ourselves do not follow a healthy lifestyle, how can we expect our kids to? Children copy whatever the adults in the family do – so it is vital that we set the right example so that they eat a wholesome breakfast as well. Children who eat breakfast regularly perform better at school. 

Habitual breakfast consumption is positively associated with learning in children in terms of behaviour, cognition and school performance. There are tons of articles, facts and studies out there talking about the importance of a good breakfast – so I won’t dwell into the details but here are some important things to note –

I am not a nutritionist or diet expert, and I think the good old upma, poha and parathas are good on some days, but as a working mother, I honestly don’t have the time in the mornings to prepare these dishes – so I find ready-to-eat cereals and oats better! Believe it or not, my personal favourite among cereals is Kellogg’s Special K with warm milk. I have been regularly having Kellogg’s cereals at breakfast for quite a while now.


Kellogg’s cereals are not just our favourite but it is also the one thing we all unanimously love at home (that literally does not happen for any food item, except chocolates!). My kid loves all the variants of Kellogg’s chocos with milk and my husband likes Kellogg’s Muesli Nut Delight – so we enjoy that before we head to school and office. Sometimes the toddler will refuse to eat anything before school so I give him milk and then keep dry Kellogg’s in his tiffin. 

The brand’s production process is quite simple.  Their Seed-To-Spoon story reflects simple processing methodology. The flakes are prepared from grains by cooking and toasting are not fried. I also love the fact that Kellogg’s has a range of cereals to meet choices and preferences of people – be it Corn Flakes, Muesli, Oats or All-Bran. All our favourite breakfast cereals are housed under one brand roof!

And if you are bored of having your cereal the plain way with milk, there is so much you can experiment with – smoothies, smoothie bowls, with yoghurt, in a parfait – there is no end. In fact you can check some ideas and recipes to follow on the Kellogg’s website as well.

This national nutrition month, spread the message about the importance of breakfast , share this post with your loved ones to remind them to #BreakTheHabit of skipping it.


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