Also in Balance...

When Technology Distracts
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids between the ages of eight and 18 spend more than seven hours a day using some sort of electronic device, from smartphones to MP3 players to computers. While technology can enhance children’s education in many ways, it can also easily distract and overwhelm them. Sylvan Learning suggests the following tips to maintain the balance.

  • Set time limits. A good rule of thumb for teens is two hours of screen time per day, including schoolwork. For elementary schoolers, it's less. No screen time just before bedtime. Decide what will work best for your family.
  • Set place limits. Don’t allow electronic screens at dinnertime, for example, or when the family is spending time together. 
  • Prioritize. Schoolwork comes first. Studying comes before socializing and games. 
  • Stress privacy. Explain to your children why you won't permit them to give out personal information about themselves or their family, to meet with strangers they've "met" online or to spend money online. 
  • Stress common sense. Explain to your kids how their online words and pictures are, for all intents and purposes, permanent. Monitor downloads, uploads and posted content.
  • Be a role model. Allow your kids to see you using your computer, phone and other devices to make your life easier, more efficient and more fun. Show how you're in control of it, not the other  way around.

Deterred Thieves
Vehicle theft is on the decline nationally, according to 2010 crime statistics by the FBI. Peoria County mirrors the national trend, with 211 reported thefts as of October 2011, down from 764 in 2000, according to the Peoria Police Department. The decline may be due in part to an increase in OnStar and other GPS tracking devices. In Illinois, the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act, with the strong support of Sen. Darin LaHood, extended the State and Local Auto Theft Enforcement (SLATE) task force to January 2016. The task force has greatly reduced vehicle theft since its start in 2000.

Debt Down
CNN Money reports that national credit debt is down an average 11 percent from last year, with debt loads dropping in every state. The average credit card balance for 2011 was $6,576. Alaska’s average was the highest, at $7,937, while Wisconsin was lowest, at $5,062. Illinois ranks in between, at $7,132—an 11 percent decrease from last year. Numbers are not available at the local level, but in related news, a recent Experian study ranked Peoria eighth in the nation for its credit score—778 versus the U.S. average of 693.

If You Give a Doll An Apple...
Last month, Apple threatened to sue Chinese toy manufacturer In Icons for the projected February release of a Steve Jobs doll. The $99 doll has caused quite a stir, as debates persist over the firm’s rights to Jobs’ likeness after his death. According to the Citizen Media Law Project, “Only human beings, and not corporations…have rights of publicity and privacy interests that can be invaded by misappropriation of name or likeness.” However, a company can sue for trademark infringement for the  commercial exploitation of its brand name. The doll’s accessories, including what appears to be a miniature iPod, could be In Icons’ folly.


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