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When It’s More than Just a Bad Mood

teens and mental healthMay is Mental Health month, so we invited Yolanda M. Gordon from Lesser Known Feats of Awesomeness to post about her daughter’s story.

This is an important topic that we all need to pay attention to in our children and loved ones.

She was thirteen when she began to spiral and I did not recognize the signs.  Her moods were all over the place and at first as a mom, I thought that it was just her being dramatic.  She in fact is a teenage girl and learning to navigate the eighth grade, friends, and boys.  Teens are prone to mood swings, correct?  My daughter came home from school one afternoon and informed me that she wanted to kill herself.  My whole world shattered.  This once lovely beautiful child was now deciding that she wanted to destroy the life I carried for nine months.  The baby that I rocked to sleep at night no longer wanted to live.  It was shocking because she went to bed a normal child and woke up someone different.

According to NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 11% of teens have been diagnosed with a mood disorder, including my daughter.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals from age 10-24 and 90% of the individuals that commit suicide had an underlying mental illness.  As a parent, I wanted to believe that my daughter was not crying out for help, but was crying for attention.  She was looking for attention from me because her brother and sister, who are both on the Autism Spectrum, were getting all the attention that she was not.  She became a person I no longer recognized and I agonized over her waking up every morning and of what she would do if she did not go to sleep at night, to include sneaking out of the house.  I would pray that she would go to sleep at night so I could rest my brain, but I never fully rested because I worried about her and her actions, and how they could affect her future.

The tipping point for us was when my daughter cut her arm.  Cutting is a form of self harm and when I unwittingly scheduled an appointment for her with a pediatrician for a flair in her eczema, we found the cuts on her left arm, each had a meaning, and she ended up in a mental health emergency room for observation over night.  I felt powerless and I felt as thought I had fallen down the rabbit hole.  I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t help my daughter.  I couldn’t reach her and I felt as though I had failed as a parent.  Autism I knew, mental health I did not.

She began to get treatment after she left the mental health emergency room and saw a counselor once a week.  I missed the signs of what was going on with her the entire time.  She was angry at her father about our divorce, she was looking for a father in any boy that would pay her some attention, depressed, and did not know how to express how she was feeling and the only way she could let me know she was suffering was by saying that she wanted to kill herself.  In my suffering, instead of comforting her and trying to find a way to help her, I did what I knew to do, rationalize with her, which does not work.  Anything would set her off and she was a ticking time bomb until she was put on the right medication cocktail.

I missed the signs, but I hope that my story can help your child before he or she gets too far out of your reach.  The important thing is to recognize the signs:

  • If your child feels very sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks (i.e. crying regularly, feeling fatigued, feeling unmotivated).
  • Trying to harm or kill oneself or makes plans to do so.
  • He or she is out of control, exhibits risk-taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or to others.
  • If he or she is suddenly overwhelmed by fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart, physical discomfort, or fast breathing.
  • When he or she is not eating, throwing up or uses laxatives to lose weight and they have a significant loss or gain of weight.
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.
  • If they have repeated drug and alcohol use.
  • Drastic changes in behavior, personality, or sleeping habits (as in wakes up early and acts agitated).
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that can lead to failure in school.
  • Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities like hanging out with friends or going to classes.

Talk to your pediatrician, get a referral to a mental health professional, ensure that you work with the school about what you are seeing at home and keep the lines of communication open, and connect with other families that are experiencing the same struggle.  Do not go it alone.  Find a local NAMI support group if you do not personally know someone that is experiencing what you and your child are experiencing.  I would also suggest talking to a counselor as well.  While your child is getting help, you should to.  I felt guilty that my daughter was behaving the way she was, but when I started talking to a counselor, I began to understand that her condition was not my fault.  Being a teenager is difficult, adding mental illness into the mix makes it worse.  Listen to your child, listen to your gut, and recognize the signs before it’s too late.



Why I gave my son a cell phone at 10 years old

hand holding phoneWe are excited to have guest poster Lucinda Watrous, sharing why she and her husband decided that ten was the right age to give their son his first cell phone.

As we shared on our Age of Independence survey, only 13% of surveyed parents thought that 7-10 was the right age for a first phone (11-14 years old made up the majority, with a total of 64% of responses) Today, Lucinda is sharing why they chose this age to get their son his first phone.

My son, who is now 11, got his first cell phone on his 10th birthday. Lots of people told me it was too soon – but let me tell you why, and how well it’s worked for us, and hopefully, you’ll agree with me.


For a year, we had a house phone through our cable company. It was part of a bundle that included TV and Internet, too, for about $100 a month. At the end of that year, the price of the bundle went up to $130, $30 of which was the phone.

Nobody ever called the house. When it rang, it was either a telemarketer blatantly breaking the Do Not Call List rules, a bill collector for someone who used to have the number, or a wrong number. If the caller wanted us, they called either mine or my husband’s cell phone… and the boy used my phone number to give to friends, since I work from home.

After some thought and some budget analysis, I realized it was $20 cheaper a month to just get the boy a line on our cell phone plan. We knew that he’d eventually be staying home alone, albeit for short periods of time, and only during daylight hours, but we needed him to have a line of communication to us.

Lessons in Responsibility and Trust

At 10 years old, you’re finally double digits, and you’re begging Mom and Dad for some trust. For us, a $20 flip phone was the perfect way to allow him to show us how responsible and trustworthy he could be.

We set some ground rules:

    • Phone goes with you to school (allowed where we are) but stays in bookbag during school hours.
    • Phone stays with Mom and Dad at night, so we know you’re sleeping and not texting.
    • Every phone number dialed must be in the contacts, and must be approved by either Mom or Dad.
    • If you get a call from a number you do not know – do not answer it. Tell Mom and Dad as soon as possible. Do not check the voicemail from unknown numbers unless Mom or Dad is present and can tell you what to do.
    • You lose it or break it, you pay for another one yourself.
    • Mom or Dad can go through your phone any time without warning. If you clear your call logs or text messages, you must let us look through them first, then tell us you’re doing it, so we don’t accuse you of hiding something.
    • We will look through the call log on the phone bill and question you if we see something funky.
    • Break the rules, lose the phone. It’s not yours. It’s on loan.

Over the course of a year he followed all the rules. He lost the phone once because it fell out of a pocket on some new pants he’d never worn before. He came in from school immediately and told me what happened. I called his phone. The bus driver answered, and said he’d keep the phone safe. Thankfully, a student turned it in. Since it was the last day of school before Spring Break, his punishment was going without the phone until he went back to school.

The Smartphone Upgrade

Right before he turned 11, we changed carriers to save money. I wasn’t really ready for him to get a smartphone, but since we opted for a carrier where there were no free phones (everyone pays the same price for the phone regardless) it again, made financial sense (there aren’t really many “dumb” phones left out there) and gave him another chance to show responsibility and trust.

While his dad and I opted for the Galaxy S5, he said he wanted a Windows Phone (and he wasn’t getting a top-of-the-line smartphone anyway). I bought his phone outright, a refurb, for $50 – the cheapest phone available at the time.

We again, sat down and set some ground rules, but since the phone knows he’s under 13, and our carrier has tools, too, it’s been a little easier. Features like Cortana are not usable because of his age, through Microsoft. I’ve got Internet filters on his phone via our carrier, and there’s no way for him to bypass them.

In addition to the rules we already had in place:

  • We no longer keep the phone at night, but you use your phone’s alarm to wake yourself in the morning and get ready for school. Mom’s done being your alarm. (I have an alarm set, and if he doesn’t notify me he’s up at a certain time, I can go wake him, but I haven’t had to yet.)
  • No app downloads without prior approval.
  • No paid app downloads at all, unless you get prior approval and give me the money from your allowance.
  • No using data off Wi-Fi without permission.
  • You can lock your phone, but Mom or Dad must know the code to unlock it.

He’s had the smartphone for almost four months, and he’s followed every rule. It’s been great for all of us.

Do your kids have a cell phone? If not, what age will you give them one?

Spring cleaning tips for your digital devices

digital spring cleaningLots of people take advantage of this time of year to declutter the house, air everything out after the long winter, and get everything clean and fresh for spring. Well, the same applies to your devices, and this is a great time to do just that. We’ve got a few suggestions of things that you can do to help keep your devices running great and clearing up space.

Computer (Laptop/Desktop)

  • Actually clean the hardware! Get a can of compressed air and clean between the keys of your keyboard, buy some wipes or spray cleaner that’s made for electronics. It’s tempting just to use your standard glass or surface cleaner, but do you really want to risk damaging your valuable computer with the wrong chemical?
  • Make sure all the connectors are tight and secure; Take that compressed air and clear out connections, make sure everything is plugged in tight.
  • Check for software updates and run anything that should be updated; also see if there are any applications or games you aren’t using anymore, and uninstall them.
  • Back up your photos and important documents! This should be something that you do on a regular basis, but if you don’t, now is the time to start! You can set up cloud-based storage that will automatically back up for you, every few days or so, or buy an external hard drive and use that back everything up. We can’t stress the importance of this enough.
  • Organize your files and folders. Do you tend to accumulate files on your desktop, even though there are things you don’t need, or that could be stored elsewhere? A nice clear desktop will help keep you focused on the task at hand, and you’ll save time looking for the things you need.

Mobile Tech (Phone/Tablet)

  • Use those wipes or spray you got for your laptop and clean the screen really well; chances are, you don’t even realize how grubby it is until you really clean it off.
  • This is also a good time, as long as the screen is clean, to apply a protector to it. You can pick them up online or at an electronics retailer, and it’ll help protect the screen from cracking.
  • How about a new case? If you tend to drop your phone, or have kids who ever use it, go for a really protective one that will keep it safe and secure. If you aren’t as worried about that, go for pretty! Your favorite color, sparkly crystals, sports teams… the options are endless!
  • Remove all those apps you don’t use anymore; there are probably games you don’t play, or you already finished. They’re just taking up space.
  • Back up your photos! Save them to a safe location and then free up space on the device. It’s also a good time to go through and delete the bad photos, or just select your favorites from those 37 picture bursts you made while trying to get the perfect selfie.
  • Clear the cache of apps; there are some apps that take up more and more space as they create cache files, and the only way to make them smaller again is to delete and reinstall them. On an iPhone, you can see what’s taking up how much room by going to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage. Some things, like Music and Photos, will be huge but that’s because those files take up a bunch of space. Other things *cough Facebook cough* just grow and grow, so deleting and reinstalling will get rid of that bloat for you.

How often do you clean up your digital life? Did we miss any tips you love?

Project Manager

Life360 is now Live in all BMW and Mini cars!​

BMW_FullCompExciting news today for Life360 users, we are now available in all BMW and Mini cars. Whether planning dinner, coordinating car pool or wanting to make sure that the kids made it home safely, Life360 simplifies daily communication and coordination for busy families. Now we are excited to extend those benefits to the car with BWM and Mini.

No more last minute calls to figure out which soccer field practice is at tonight, with Life360 and BMW families can navigate directly to their loved ones, see ETA on the map and avoid the hassel and distraction of digging up addresses and plugging them into the navigation system.

The integration of Life360 into BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected allows the car’s navigation system to guide the driver to a family member’s current location directly through the app. Telephone conversations with family members can also be made directly from the application via the car’s audio system.

The Life360 app is certified for use in BMW and MINI cars with the Apple iPhone and can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store.

Life360 families and the age of independence

Times have changed a lot since today’s parents were children, there’s no doubting that. There was an article floating around a while back, with a “First Grade Readiness Checklist” that had been published in 1979. Several of the items were pretty simple and to be expected of today’s first graders, like the ability to tell left from right, or to count out ten pennies. Some of the things, however, are a little more controversial in how different they are from today (like how many baby teeth the child has lost) but there was one that especially caused conversation:

Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?

Can you imagine, in 2015, a parent letting their six-year old walk 8 blocks to the store? It’s just not how things are done any more, because times are different.

We recently surveyed more than 3,000 Life360 users (Chosen based on US location, Circle Admins, who have used the app for 90+ days) and found some things that we find interesting about families today.


How does your family compare to our findings? Is there anything here that’s surprising to you?

We’re hosting a #Life360FamilyChat Twitter party, tomorrow, April 7, at 5PST/8EST. Click here to RSVP, and follow the hashtag to join in!


iOS follow-up for our users

Dear Users,

We wanted to update those of you who experienced the bug this weekend which sent a message asking you to sign up for our Premium offering. As part of the fix for that issue, we disabled our Premium sign ups temporarily. We have a fix, but in order to turn Premium back on, we ask that you take a few minutes to upgrade all iOS devices to the latest version (9.1.1).

We truly appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.


The Life360 Team

Life360 and Yahoo! Japan are Working to Improve Family Safety in Japan

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 7.47.27 PMExciting news for families in Japan!  We are proud to announce we have partnered with Yahoo! Japan to bring a specialized version of Life360 to Japanese families.

Safety and security is the top priority for families in Japan, especially in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  This partnership will provide millions of Japanese families with greater peace of mind when they are apart by allowing them to view loved ones on a map, check-in with the touch of a button, message each other via private chat, and even send a panic alert in an emergency.

We are also excited to be delivering some specialized features for the Japanese market.  Yahoo! Japan and Life360 are partnering with local schools to become the official safety app for families and are also working with police departments across the country to make sure that users have relevant crime and safety information.

Visit Yahoo! Japan here

A message to iOS users

prem dialogOn the evening of Friday, March 27,  after upgrading to the latest version of our iOS app (version 9.1), you may have noticed that you’re getting an App Store dialog to purchase our Premium offering. This was completely unintentional, and due to a bug in our most recent release. Unfortunately for our iOS users, the side effect felt like aggressive marketing. We want to assure you this is not the case. Our users come first and we are dedicated to providing your families with the best possible experience.

To stop this message, press Cancel when that alert pops up, and you will not be shown this dialog again and you will not be charged for Premium.

One side effect of our current fix is that purchase of our Premium upgrade will be temporarily disabled for iOS users until we are able to get a more complete bug fix deployed, which we hope to have as soon as possible.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience and we hope you continue to enjoy the connection with your family through Life360.

Making the most of the new messaging features in Life360

This is an exciting update that we’ve been working on for quite a while, and we want to let you know some of the coolest parts, and some of the best ways to take advantage of our all-new in-app messaging!

First off, we now have emojis! (Insert woo hoo emoji here) Sometimes, a single emoji can express a whole sentence… Why type out “Let’s go get pizza and coffee before dance class!” when you can just put this:

emoji statement

While it isn’t a life-changer, we’re excited that it makes it a little easier to communicate with those closest to you.

Our new threaded messaging makes it easier to manage multiple conversations at once; rather than a single jumbled list of messages, it’s now easier to see who is responding to which message.


We’ve added a typing notifier and read receipts. It’s so helpful, knowing when someone has seen the message, even if they haven’t had a chance to reply yet.

And not a new feature, but something that is great anyway; did you know that you can message only specific Circle members? You don’t have to message everyone with everything, you can easily select specific people. (This applies to Lists as well; not everyone in the Circle needs to be included on every list!)