PictoChat on the DS

Technology and communications devices are creating a whole new set of issues in residential care.  I remember when FRS radios were very popular and kids were using them to communicate within the facility.  Today we deal with all the disposable cell phones that are brought into facilities and used by the kids, and now we have a new thing to deal with, the Nintendo DS PictoChat.  We have actually had it for a couple of years now, but with almost every kid having one now, it is much more prominent. 

PictoChat is a utility that is included with the Nintendo DS that allows up to 16 people to chat at one time wirelessly using their DS.  You can either use the virtual keyboard to type your message or you can use the stylus and write a message that you send as a picture.  The range is not real good, less than a 100 feet, but there are still many opportunities for the kids to use them.  They could easily use them to communicate between rooms in a house/cottage or between vans parked outside the office or school, and if the cottages are built close enough between cottages.

We are currently dealing with a situation where some younger teens were using their DS’s for “SEXTING” (sending sexually explicit test messages) and setting up late night rendezvous for other purposes.  I am sure policy changes are coming concerning possession and use of the DS, but it will just be a matter of time before we are dealing with something else.

We are not ever going to be able to stop communication, and I don’t think we should try.  We are much better served trying to teach the kids to communicate effectively and positively, but we definitely need to be aware of how the kids are communicating, especially when they are doing it for negative purposes.

When we make ourselves more aware of the issues, we are much better able to help the children and deal with the issues.  When we first started dealing with this my wife said, “I had NO idea you could do that with a DS.”  Now she is painfully aware that you can.

Lights, Camera, Action!! Part-III

Well I have to go with at least one more post with a movie theme.  I came across a website called snagfilms.com.  It has a collection of over 600 documentaries that you can watch for free and also snag for your facebook, blog, website, etc.  It has my number one all time favorite documentary, “Super Size Me.”  This was one of the inspirations for my dramatic life style change and weight loss.

Other titles that may be of interest to houseparents and residential staff are:

  • We are Together
  • The Watershed
  • HAZE – High School Edition
  • Happy Ending
  • 5 Girls
  • American Dream

I encourage you to cruise on over and check it out.  I am sure you can find something of interest.  Depending on your values and beliefs, you will probably also find something that offends you because of the wide variation in available movies, but I still think this could be a valuable resource.

You are also going to need a broadband connection to view them.  Dial up just won’t work.

Click Here to visit the site

If you have suggestions for other houseparent resources, send them to me, I will give you credit for finding it if I post it on the site.

Lights, Camera, Action!! Part-II

As promised I want to tell you about another movie.  It is called “SAFE HARBOR” and will air May 30, 2009 : 09:00 PM ET / 08:00 PM CT on the Hallmark Channel.  It is about Safe Harbor Boys Home in Jacksonville, Florida. 

The following is from the Hallmark Channel Press Release:

A husband and wife come to realize that waves of change can begin with a single ripple in the Hallmark Channel Original Movie “Safe Harbor,” premiering Saturday, May 30 (9/8c). Based on a true story, “Safe Harbor” stars three-time Golden Globe Award nominee Treat Williams (Everwood) and Nancy Travis (The Bill Engvall Show) as a sea-loving couple who forgo their long-planned retirement when they find a new purpose in helping troubled teenagers turn their lives around.

Doug Smith (Williams) and his wife Robbie (Travis) are a month away from embarking on their dream retirement: Setting sail together and exploring the world on their boat, the Molly Marie. An unexpected visit from Judge Roberts (Orson Bean, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), an old friend of Dougs, results in the couple reluctantly agreeing to look after some kids for a few days, until room opens up for them in juvenile hall. For Luke (Reiley McClendon, The Flyboys), David (Charlie McDermott, Frozen River) and Billy (Sam Jones III, Smallville), living and working on a rich couple’s boat doesn’t seem all that much better than juvie. But as a few days turn into a few months and more, Doug and Robbie help the boys get back on track, and in turn, the boys will show their mentors that the real treasure isn’t buried on some faraway island – it’s right there in the harbor.

You can learn more about the movie and Safe Harbor Boys Home by, CLICKING HERE

Lights, Camera, Action!!

It would seem that now is a good time for movies relating to residential care.  Last month Lifetime Network released a moving called “america” it follows a young man that is sent to a residential treatment center.

Considering that it was a movie based on a true story and NOT a documentary, I think it did a pretty good job of capturing the behaviors, feelings and personalities of many of the children that are in placement. My biggest beef with the movie was that it did a poor job depicting the amount of supervision that actually takes place in a residential facility in general, and a very poor job depicting the amount of supervision that actually takes place in a residential TREATMENT facility specifically. If an actual treatment facility did that poor of a job supervising the residents, I think it would be shut down pretty quickly. But had the movie showed the proper amount of supervision, the movie would have missed many of its twists and plots.

It did do a good job of promoting the need for people to participate in the Foster Care System as well as the importance of building relationships with the children in care. One of our kids that watched it, said it was the best movie he ever saw. I think the fact that the kids viewed if favorably says a lot for the movie.

I always enjoy when we are depicted positively in the movies and media, because the vast majority of us do a pretty good job with the resources we have.

For those that missed it or didn’t have access to lifetime, you can watch the entire movie online by going to: http://www.mylifetime.com/on-tv/movies/america/video. They have it broke down into 8 parts, so you don’t have to wait an hour for the whole thing to download.  You will need a broadband connection, but the resolution is pretty good, even in full screen on my 15.4″ notebook.  I am sure you will lose a lot of resolution if you went much bigger than that.

In my next post I will tell you about a moving that is going to be released in May on another cable network.