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By Dana Barrett

Limited access to technology contributes to economic poverty. Have you ever stopped to imagine how different your life would be without the technology that many of us take for granted every day? Having a computer or laptop with internet access has become the standard in middle- and upper-class communities across the U.S. However, according to a report by the Pew Research Center 4 in 10 adults with income below $30,000 per year do not own a computer or have access to broadband internet services. Imagine not having the ability to research homework or the latest news with the touch of a finger? Computers and technology are vital for simple but important daily tasks like filing a job application or signing up for healthcare. Imagine dropping job applications and resumes at each site with an opportunity like in the old days, then add up the time, printing and transportation costs that involves. Those costs still effect the under-served. Are You Familiar with the Digital Divide? It’s glaringly apparent how technology is a gateway to opportunity, and without it economic poverty and income inequality take root. Consider the shift to technology- based business processes over the last decade, and how remote work and schooling became crucial ways to stay competitive in the last 18 months. The impact was felt by both children and adults all across the globe. For members of underserved communities, lack of access to computers or internet service had a devastating impact. As a society, we are turning a corner where we will depend less and less on manual labor. Consequently, hundreds of low-skilled workers end up losing their jobs and without access to computers or computer-based education, they lack the ability to retool to join the 21st-century workforce and compete for higher-paying jobs. Students without access to educational technology will be shut out as their generation moves past them. According to Paul M. Ong of the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge - “The disparities in limited technological resources for virtual learning are not just today’s education crisis, persistent digital inequality threatens to deepen disparities in achievement as minority and low-income children become adults, contributing to an intergenerational reproduction of inequality”. Technology and Girls Globally, girls are disproportionately impacted by lack of access to computers and computer-based education. According to a report released by the U.N. on ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, October 10th – there are 1.1 billion girls in the world that could grow up to change the world if they were given access to education, proper resources and a pathway to create a better future. ‘The global internet user gender gap is growing, from 11 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2019 and is widest in the world’s least developed countries at 43 percent.’ If those girls in need are provided the technological entrée computers and the internet provide, educational opportunities and community support, we help close this gap and allow them to help shape our world for the better. And What about the Human Benefits of Technology? The stay-at-home restrictions of Covid-19 also brought to light the value between technological connection and social-emotional health. Connectivity – The ability to maintain bonds with loved ones in distant places across digital networks during times of hardship greatly alleviated feelings of isolation. Today it allows people to interact and learn about the world far beyond their own expectations. Opportunities for knowledge become limitless – the world expands. Elevated Life Solutions – Equally Together, We Move Forward. Or mission is to help those in need, to get technology to the underserved for free, and strive to reduce this digital divide in low-income and underserved communities. We have distributed $50,000 worth of refurbished laptops to families ‘without’ in the Los Angeles area already. We will be donating another $25,000 worth of laptops to underserved families this fall. These computers are refurbished with the help of your generous donations. A gift of technology #uplifts many people who never thought they would be able to afford such a thing. It allows them to #GetElevated and gives them hope where before they had none before. And, as always, we believe when you elevate others, you elevate yourself.

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By Dana Barrett Social Media moguls profit by driving the escalation of user engagement. When these companies were developing their platforms, they did so with complete disregard for the effects of social media on the budding self- esteem of children and teens. Fast forward 20 years and now 1 in 3 middle school and high school students suffer from anxiety, depression, or loneliness that is a direct product of their ability to garner ‘likes’ on their posts, and their lives. This unhealthy emotional dynamic results in an endless, futile comparison between themselves and others – including celebrities. Our young people are reminded with each Instagram scroll that they simply don’t measure up. And far worse for their self-esteem are the cyberbullies who leave negative, ugly comments, or utilize social media to direct message private demeaning attacks. The pressure of this constant state of skewed social engagement leaves kids trapped in a fog of self-criticism and low self-worth. Hulu just launched The D’Amelio Show which follows the real-life of two young sisters who inadvertently rose to fame by posting innocent dance videos on Tik-Tok. The show pertinently illustrates the pressure that children deal with when subjecting themselves to the judgment of others with every social media post. The youngest of the sisters who started her journey with TikTok at the tender of age of 12, distressingly shares that her anxiety has now grown to the point where she would rather not leave the house anymore. At one point she blurts out, “I’ve had a constant anxiety attack for the past four years, It’s very exhausting.” Imagine how intimidating and scary the social media world is for the everyday child – your child, especially preteens. These once-happy children who should be spending free time either with friends or pursuing hobbies are now constantly scrolling through social media and checking to see if anyone ‘liked’ their post, or far worse if anyone has launched a personal attack against them by leaving a negative comment, or dm’ing something mean. Unfortunately, on the internet most children deal with the world alone, there is no monitor or filter to correct inappropriate behavior and keep children safe and happy. Parents may not even be aware when their child is being bullied or when they need help. At Elevated Life Solutions, we are keenly aware of the heartbreak of cyberbullying and the connection between the climbing rates of depression and anxiety in our young people and their collective dependence on social media. Fortunately, there is a solution. In the words of our founder, Rama Arya - “If you neutralize the cause, there is no effect.” To that end, we have partnered with CyberSmarties a completely safe social media platform that is designed expressly to teach children between the ages of 7-12 positive social engagement. CyberSmarties blocks negative messaging between children with powerful language filters. These filters never allow a harmful message to be sent unless the content is corrected to something positive, and every conversation and interaction is monitored.

By eliminating the ‘like’ button, CyberSmarties has neutralized value judgments for children – towards others and most importantly, about themselves. The result is healthy, happy, children communicating with their friends and sharing ideas in support of one another. This completely locked down platform currently protects and educates over 300,000 students in 3 countries. Elevated Life Solutions is fundraising to bring this amazing tool to as many children as possible, worldwide – for free. Learn more about what we do, and how your gift – can uplift children everywhere.

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By Dana Barrett Keeping children safe is the number one priority of parents and educators alike. But how do you ensure that children are safe when there is no one to monitor social interactions online? Approximately 37% of children and teens have become the target of online bullying, and once you’ve been targeted – it’s even more likely that you’ll be targeted again. The FBI currently estimates there are more than 500,000 online predators using multiple screen names surfing the web every day. More than 50% of their victims are between the ages of 12 and 15. When you’re on the internet, in chat rooms, or using any social media, here are 6 tips to help you play it safe. 1. Avoid Provocative Screen names and Images Every kid wants to sound cool when sharing their username with friends and peers. You may think that choosing a screen name with fresh, or suggestive words or phrases could attract more followers – but it could land you in hot water too. Internet predators surf the web trying to find young users with eye-catching screen names who may be open to making new friends. Don’t let that be you. Remember, when picking a screen name - keep it simple, and somewhat generic. Don’t include personal details like your actual full name or any other identifying information like a birthdate, your school name, or specifics about where you live. When it comes to sharing pictures, the best strategy is to only share images that you would share with family members – especially parents. Social Apps like Snapchat may give the illusion of privacy and security when you share photos because the image disappears in a few seconds. Remember, anyone can take a screenshot of your image or use that image to cause personal harm in the future. Remember – once you’ve posted something online, it lives forever. Even on Snapchat. 2. Flattery Online – Especially by Strangers or Acquaintances should make you Wary When posting news or accomplishments online, or even a photo of yourself with the lead in the school play, it’s wonderful to receive “likes”, kudos and praise from family and close friends. But if your post draws some over-the-top, creepy compliments from users you don’t recognize or barely know you should exercise caution. Block strangers from following you, especially if they text or comment anything that makes you feel uneasy. If they continue to try to reach out – never respond. It’s best to talk through the issue with a parent or a guardian. 3. If Another User gets too Personal – End the Conversation It doesn’t matter if it’s the cool kid in class, or a popular YouTube celebrity with thousands of followers, if another user dm’s you or reaches out to ask you personal questions, play it safe and end the conversation immediately. Especially if the user is someone much older than you or a complete stranger.

4. Remember – People aren’t Always Who They Seem to be Online Even if the user is another student or peer, be sure to discuss options for pursuing an in-person friendship with your parents first. Some kids engage in online bullying by pretending to be interested in a friendship so they can gather personal information about you. Their goal is to harass you or embarrass you with the information later on - in front of other kids.

5. Never Arrange to Meet with Someone that you Met Online If someone that you’ve been chatting with or following online suggests meeting in person, discuss it with your parents immediately and never agree to an in-person meeting with a stranger. Adult predators often pose as children or teens online, to lure you into a sense of safety about getting together for a secret private meeting. Even if it’s someone from your school – if you don’t know them very well, make sure that the meeting is in a social setting preferably with parents close by. 6. Tell a Parent Anytime that you Feel Uneasy Be sure to talk to your parents or teachers anytime you have questions about any interaction on the internet – especially if you feel uneasy about a user, a message, a photo, or a text. The internet is exactly like the real world – only larger, unmonitored, and unsupervised. Elevated Life Solutions is committed to keeping children safe online, and we have partnered with Cybersmarties to extend that protection to children all over the world. Cybersmarties is a completely safe social media platform that currently serves over 200,000 children between the ages of 7 to 12 in Ireland and India. Our goal is the grow this platform across every continent free of charge to all school-age children everywhere. We can continue this mission with the help of generous donations by caring individuals and families – just like you. Click here to donate.

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