Imagine you're 9, have a smartphone, and see your friend's pics from a party you weren't invited to.

This eye-opening TEDx talk may be a real aha moment for a lot of people raising kids.

Making sure your kid won't send naughty pictures or be mean to others on their smartphone is just as easy (HAHA) as making sure they don't drink underage or engage in risky sex-stuff. Frequent conversations and judgment-free real talk are the key.


And so is empathy.

"EMPATHY IS THE APP."

That's where Dr. Devorah Heitner believes it all begins.

Parents exercising empathy by getting in their children's shoes is the first step to help both groups navigate the big, scary world of technology.

But how? That's the million-dollar question.

Dr. Heitner suggests that parents try to understand all the technological experiences that kids are confronted with on a daily basis — not just the scary ones:

"What must it feel like to be 9 years old and watch all of your friends online be invited to a party that you weren't invited to? How does it feel for a 10-year-old to watch their parents constantly attached to a phone or email responding to work requests? What is it like as a 12-year-old to feel the pressure of needing to be constantly available and responding to text messages all the time?"
— Dr. Devorah Heitner

These are the interactions that shape your child's life and relationship with technology. And these are the feelings that parents can and should talk to their kids about when they're young.

But here's the part that Dr. Heitner doesn't address:

It can be really hard to connect with kids about how social media and technology usage make them feel if a parent isn't acquainted with technology themselves. And if this is how a majority of kids are communicating, is it fair to make your child the odd one out because it's hard for adults to keep up? Of course not!

The best way to put yourself in their shoes is to put yourself in their apps.

Here are some helpful rules and tips (and yes, they require some empathy on the part of your child too!):

If there's a kid in your life who is on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or other forums, consider passing this along to their parents!

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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