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Introducing Alan Loux

Dear friend of Rawhide,

As a valuable friend and partner of Rawhide, I wanted to share with you some exciting news. It is with great pleasure we announce that, after an extensive nationwide search, the Rawhide Board of Directors has unanimously selected Alan Loux as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Rawhide, effective immediately.

We are thrilled to find such a strong Christ-centered and business-oriented leader with a heart for troubled youth to lead this organization into the future. His strong faith, visionary leadership skills and strategic mindset made him the ideal choice to take Rawhide’s mission to a new level of community service.

Alan and his wife, Lori, have three adult children and currently live in Maryland but have strong ties to Wisconsin. They lived in Wisconsin for over 25 years prior to their move to Maryland in 2013.  Alan received an undergraduate degree in Business/Economics from Wheaton College and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alan began his career working in faith-based non-profit organizations such as Prison Fellowship, a global ministry to those in prison, and InterVarsity, a global college campus ministry headquartered in Madison where he served as Director of Marketing and Assistant to the President. Alan has been actively involved with Christian organizations and churches throughout his life. When he lived in Appleton, Alan was an active member of Appleton Alliance Church, where he was Governing Board Chairman.

Alan went on to hold executive positions at Kimberly-Clark, Direct Supply and JLG Industries. His most recent position was with JLG Industries, an Oshkosh Corporation company and leading global equipment manufacturer, where he led all strategy, product management and marketing functions as Vice-President, Global Marketing. Prior to JLG, he served as Corporate Vice-President – Marketing with Direct Supply, Inc. a leading health care distributor serving the nursing home and assisted living market based in Milwaukee, WI. He enjoyed a 19-year career with Kimberly-Clark, a leading global consumer products company based in Neenah, WI, coming up through the brand management ranks to become Vice President – Marketing and General Manager.

Alan said, “I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to be part of this great organization called Rawhide.  It has such a legendary history of helping change the trajectory of the lives of at-risk youth and their families in Wisconsin. It is an honor to become part of the rich history that John and Jan Gillespie and Bart and Cherry Starr began more than 50 years ago. I am excited to lead this faith-based organization as it grows and expands its services to positively impact the lives of youth and their families … not just for now but for eternity. We are excited to become part of this ministry and look forward to the opportunity to get to know our youth, staff, donors and partners.”

John Gillespie, founder of Rawhide, commented, “From the founding of Rawhide Boys Ranch, we have always sought leaders that have a compassionate heart and a business mindset to manage and expand our support to youth and whole families. Alan Loux is definitely that type of leader. I am excited to welcome Alan, as our new President and Chief Executive Officer.”

This is an exciting time in Rawhide’s history. Please join me in welcoming Alan as the new leader for Rawhide. Thank you for your ongoing support of Rawhide as it impacts thousands of lives of at-risk youth and their families so that they will lead healthy and responsible lives. Without your faithful support this ministry would not be possible.

In His Service,

Chris Myhre,
Chairman, Rawhide Board of Directors

Teen Cyberbullying and Social Media Use on the Rise [INFOGRAPHIC]

Cyberbullying is a growing concern for American teens. Cyberbullying occurs when individuals use technology to write aggressive, embarrassing, or hateful messages to/about peers in order to intimidate, harass, shame, and control. Approximately 80% of teens use a smart phone regularly, 92% of teens report going online at least once a day, and 56% go online several times a day. With high online activity, teens either witness cyberbullying, are a victim of it, or become a perpetrator. Cyberbullying is on the rise, and the impact is often underestimated.

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Cyberbullying infographic

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Teen Cyberbullying and Social Media Use on the Rise

Cyberbullies attempt to control, shame, or harass other internet users, often creating one or more fake profiles. Cyberbullies use tactics such as gossip, exclusion, or harassment, but some cyberbullies will resort to cyberstalking or impersonation. Impersonation allows a cyberbully to gain a user’s trust. Once they have the trust, cyberbullies will reveal embarrassing secrets about the other user. While cyberbullying rates are rising, parents concerns are not. Approximately 94% of parents misjudge the rate of conflict occurring on social networking sites and only 7% admit they worry about cyberbullying in general. This creates a problem as cyberbullying can lead to depression and even suicide.

Cyberbullying on Social Media

Today, 71% of teens use more than one social network and have come across cyberbullying in some shape or form. 21% of teens said the main reason they checked social media so often was to make sure nobody was saying mean things about them. The Megan Meier foundation also found:

  • Over 70% of students who report a cyberbullying incident say that it happened “once or twice” over the course of a school year.
  • 90% of teens active on social media have witnessed cyberbullying
  • 52% of teens reported being cyber-bullied
  • Over 40% of children say that they have been bullied online at least once
  • 25% of teens bullied repeatedly on cell phones
  • 20% of students who report that they have been cyber-bullied say that it happens to them once or twice a month.

A study also found that “hyper-networking” teens that spend more than 3 hours per school day on social networks are 110% more likely to be cyberbullied.

Popular Social Networks for Cyberbullies

88% of teens say they see cyberbullying occur on social media at least “once in awhile.” In 2014, Ditch the Label surveyed teens and found which social networks they use most and how often bullying was experienced.

  • 75% of teens use Facebook and 54% experienced cyberbullying
  • 66% of teens use YouTube and 21% experienced cyberbullying
  • 43% of teens use Twitter and 28% experienced cyberbullying
  • 36% of teens use Ask.Fm and 26% experienced cyberbullying
  • 24% of teens use Instagram and 24% of those experienced cyberbullying
  • 24% of teens use Tumblr and 22% experienced cyberbullying

Cyberbullying complaints have led many social networks to change bullying policies.

  1. In 2013, Instagram made headlines for slow reaction to a cyberbullying report.
  2. In 2014, Facebook actually loosened their privacy policy for teens, opening their content up to more users.
  3. In April 2015, Twitter took a stand against abuse.
  4. In May of 2015, Tumblr launched an online anti-bullying campaign to create a safe place for everyone.

Why Do Teens Cyberbully?

Teens cyberbully for a variety of reasons. Some believe it’s easier to get away with than face-to-face bullying, while others believe teens do it to stay popular or feel powerful.

  1. 81% of teens say cyberbullying is easier to get away with than in-person bullying
  2. The National Crime Prevention Council found that 81% of teenagers believe others cyberbully because they think it’s funny

Many teens also bully because of anger, revenge, or as a way to vent frustration. Teens will also cyberbully because they are bored, have too much time on their hands, or an abundance of tech toys. Cyberbullies may also participate to avoid being bullied themselves.

How Do Teens Cyberbully?

Teens may experience or partake in a variety of cyberbullying tactics.

  1. Exclusion: Teenagers may intentionally exclude others from an online group.
  2. Cyberstalking: Teens will harass others by constantly sending emails, messages, or tagging others in posts they don’t want to be tagged in.
  3. Gossip: Teens will post or send cruel messages that damage another’s reputation, relationships, or confidence.
  4. Outing/Trickery: Cyberbullies will trick another teen into revealing secrets or embarrassing information which the cyberbully will then share online.
  5. Harassment: Cyberbullies will post or send offensive, insulting, and mean messages repeatedly.
  6. Impersonation: Cyberbullies may create fake accounts to exploit another teen’s trust. They may also hack into an account and post or send messages that are damaging to the person’s reputation or relationships.
  7. Cyber Threats: Cyberbullies will threaten or imply violent behavior toward others to make them feel uncomfortable.
  8. Flaming: Fights online that involve hateful or offensive messages that may be posted to various websites, forums, or blogs.

Many of the tactics above have been brought up in court, and all states have laws in place regarding cyberstalking or cyberharassment. Since it is a relatively new topic, more laws are appearing as new cyberbullying cases appear.

Cyberbullying Stats by Gender

In 2011, girls were more likely to cyberbully than boys. As of 2015, roles have changed as  a new study found boys are now cyberbullying more than girls. Cyberbullying tactics vary by gender. Boys are more likely to:

  1. Post hurtful pictures or videos
  2. Make threats
  3. Cyberbully more than one individual

While girls are more likely to:

  1. Spread Rumors
  2. Post indirect attacks
  3. Ostracize other individuals

Negative Reactions to Cyberbullying

When teens come across bullying, the most common reaction is to ignore it.

  • 95% of teens who witnessed bullying on social media report that they, as well as others, have ignored the behavior.
  • 43% of teens said they’d find it hard to support a friend being bullied on social media because they wouldn’t know what to say.
  • 10% of the victims of cyberbullying will tell a parent, guardian, or trusted adult about what they have experienced.

Instead of ignoring bullying, some react in a worse way:

Teens will often join in cyberbullying often to feel included or like they are part of a group. They don’t realize their decision only alienates individuals and can have grave effects on those being cyberbullied.

The Effects of Cyberbullying

Teens that experienced cyberbullying reacted in a variety of ways. Some addressed the situation while others felt the need to change their day:

While cyberbullying can change the course of someone’s day, it can also leave a deeper impact:

  • 41% of teens say cyberbullying made them feel depressed
  • 41% of teens also said it made them feel helpless
  • 26% said they felt completely alone because of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has also increased the need for mental health services. The number of children referred to mental health services rose 25% from 2013 to 2014. The number of children receiving counseling for online bullying also rose 87% between 2013 to 2014.

Cyberbullying and Suicide

Increased rates of depression lead to other issues for teens. Bullied teenagers are twice as likely to commit suicide than non-bullied teenagers.

Know the signs of depression. If an individual is talking about death, engaging in reckless behavior, or giving away prized possessions, they may be depressed. If there is any inclination that someone is depressed, talk to them. Let them know there is help, and they’re not alone.

How to Tell if Your Teen is Being Cyberbullied

Only 10% of teenagers report they’ve been cyberbullied to their parents. When asked why they don’t report cyberbullying, they responded:

  • 40% were scared their parents would get involved
  • 36% worried what their parents would do
  • 32% said they felt ashamed

While parents know cyberbullying happens, approximately 94% underestimate the amount of conflict that occurs on social media sites, and only 7% of US parents actually worry about cyberbullying. Parents should be aware of the following signs that point to their teenager being cyberbullied:

  1. Sudden loss of friends
  2. Changes in eating habits
  3. Avoidance of social situations
  4. Sudden decrease in phone or computer use
  5. Apparent nervousness when receiving a text, email, or instant message
  6. Anger, depression, or frustration after phone or computer use
  7. Hesitation when participating in favorite activities
  8. Self-destructive behaviors such as self-harm or discussion of death or suicide
  9. Asking to have social media accounts shut down
  10. Having uncharacteristic behaviors
  11. Frequently feeling ill
  12. Decreased self-esteem

Tips for Parents

Robert Faris, researcher of school bullying and youth aggression, believes:

“Parent monitoring effectively erased the negative effects of online conflicts.”

Parents can influence teens’ awareness of inappropriate behavior online or over the phone. 58% of teen internet and cell phone users say their parents have the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate or inappropriate, yet only 1 in 6 parents are aware when their child is being cyberbullied.

If you would like to prevent your teen from being cyberbullied or feel they may be at risk, bullyingstatistics.org offers some advice:

  1. Discuss cyberbullying with teens. Explain what actions are appropriate and inappropriate over the internet.
  2. Open communication with teens and encourage them to tell a parent if cyberbullying is occurring.
  3. If a teen is being cyberbullied, keep the messages as proof, especially if the messages turn worse.
  4. Keep the computer in a common area and limit internet access in their room.
  5. Try blocking the cyberbully from social networks.

Encourage your teenager to take a stand if they witnesses bullying. Also encourage them to:

  • Inform a parent, teacher, or adult of the bullying.
  • Be kind to the individual being bullied. Include them in activities, send them positive messages, and help them understand they’re not alone.
  • Start a Facebook page for students to submit positive acts they witness in school to promote positivity.

Not all Social Media is Cyberbullying

While many shocking statistics tie cyberbullying to teenagers on social media, social networks can still be an effective way for teens to connect with friends and feel supported. It is important that teens feel safe using social media and know they can talk to someone if issues arise. If your teen is active on social media, initiate open discussions about cyberbullying and make it safe for them to talk with you about it.

Rawhide at Lambeau: rawhideMVP

Bart Starr took home the first two NFL Super Bowl MVP awards and the Corvettes that accompanied them. Bart donated the second to Rawhide, raising $40,000 in 3 days. To celebrate Bart’s generosity and lifelong commitment to Rawhide, we partnered with the Packers and Mike Anderson and brought Bart’s Super Bowl I Corvette to Lambeau.


With the title of Super Bowl II MVP, Bart won a red 1968 Corvette. Bart and his wife Cherry donated the car to Rawhide and led a public raffle, giving fans the chance to win his Corvette for $1 per ticket. In 3 days, Bart and Cherry raised $40,000. It was a remarkable feat considering the population of Green Bay was just over 47,000.

Cherry fondly recalls the incredible joy partnering with Rawhide brought the Starrs, “The Gillespies actually gave us the best gift of our marriage. We’re so thankful they asked us to help.”

The future

Rawhide is once again partnering with the Green Bay Packers. This past Thursday, August 31, Rawhide had  Bart Starr’s 1967 Corvette under our tent near the Oneida Gate at Lambeau. View pictures here.

In honor of his commitment and compassion towards Wisconsin youth we are giving away a football autographed by Bart Starr.*

Text rawhidemvp to 51555 to enter.

*Contest entry terms and conditions are posted at rawhide.org/rawhidemvp

My son’s turning point – Adventure Camp

At age 12, our son was not labeled as a “troubled” youth but we definitely saw the warning signs.  We felt that if we didn’t look for avenues now to re-direct him we would be facing some bigger issues as he got older. As parents, we didn’t know what to do or how to help our son.

A Mother’s Heartbreak

From an early age, consequences seemed to have no effect on him. His grades in school were poor and he was unmotivated to improve them. He struggled to make and keep friends. He was quick to lose his temper when anyone did or said anything he did not want to do or hear.

We decided to switch him from public to a private school, but the improvements we saw at first quickly disappeared. After his brother was born, his attitude became more aggressive and he took on a negative outlook on life. His lack of passion and enthusiasm towards life started to worry us. We sought help from his pediatrician and had him enter counseling; neither proved successful.

During the last school year, he attempted to forge my signature on two separate occasions. For several days, he denied the forgery even when presented with proof. We grounded him with no TV, no video games and no visitors were allowed. We hoped this would prompt him to admit what he had done, but to no avail. As his mom, this was heartbreaking to watch.

The Last Straw

We knew something needed to be done when shortly after that incident; he tried to join a pornography website using his school email address. Again when faced with the evidence, he denied any wrongdoing. After considerable prodding, we finally convinced him to tell the truth and face the consequences. His computer privileges at school, as well as at home, were revoked for the remainder of the school year. After school ended for the summer, we reinstated his computer privileges at home, but his pornographic searches continued.

Discovered Rawhide’s Troubled Youth Camp

It was at this time, we discovered Rawhide’s Adventure Camp — a troubled youth camp. As a mother, I was very worried about how my son would do at camp, after all, he was only 12, not quite yet 13; the minimum required age for campers.  Additionally, I was concerned because he had never been away from family for that long. Aside from his attitude and general disrespect, he also struggled with behaviors that were immature for his age, such as thunderstorms and being afraid of the dark. We decided that it was best that we send our son to camp.

Amazed at the Changes

The day Adventure Camp ended, we were amazed at the changes we saw in him. When he returned from this troubled youth camp, he willingly shared  his experiences with enthusiasm. We were shocked when he got all of his camping gear out of the car and put away after only being asked once! Normally, I would have had to ask him several times to do it and then would still sit in the car for days before I eventually took care of it myself. It was two weeks before we got into an argument again, something which had previously been a daily occurrence.

Three Months Post Camp

It has been three months since Adventure Camp and our son is back in school. His grades are a huge improvement. He is now getting As and Bs compared to Ds and Fs. There have been no disciplinary problems and he seems to be making more friends.

Not long ago we attended the first parent-teacher conference of the year. His teacher said that he was attentive in class, worked diligently and actively tried to stay out of trouble by avoiding the troublemakers he was “friends” with in the past. For the first time since he started school, I left in tears of happiness rather than tears of sorrow and worry. We believe that he now has a bright future.

There have been some bumps in the road since returning from camp. We have had some arguments and attitude conflicts here and there, but nothing compared to what we had been experiencing. I feel that now, we now have a normal 12 year-old boy.

A Mother’s Joy

I believe that Adventure Camp has played a major part in our son turning his life around. He continues to talk frequently about his experiences at camp, eagerly sharing the things that he learned.

We continue to work with him on things like respect and responsibility. I believe that the Adventure Camp staff helped build a foundation for him that he can create his future on. This was something that we had been unable to do no matter what we did or how hard we tried.

Now, and in the future, I feel that Adventure Camp is certainly something we will all be able to look back on as a turning point in his life.  My hope is that he will continue to make the good choices.  Rawhide’s Adventure Camp has certainly been an answer to our prayers.

Last Friday, at the Rawhide Fish Fry, he lit up when talked with the camp staff again. We were happy to see this excitement and happiness in our son again!

Thank you!

For more information about our summer camp program or to register; please visit our Adventure Camp page or…

Register today — space is limited.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

At-risk teen learns patience at Rawhide

Brad* came to Rawhide as an at-risk teen battling anger issues. He couldn’t manage his strong emotions, causing him to lash out at friends and family. Brad desperately needed help, but where could he turn? For over 50 years the answer has been Rawhide.

It was at Rawhide that he transformed from an angry boy to a compassionate young man, managing his emotions with clarity and strength.

Loving Staff and Great Food

Rawhide was vastly different than Brad’s expectations. He predicted an overly strict environment, but found comfort and consistency thanks in large part to Rawhide’s family centered care. All Rawhide homes have a father and mother figure and set traditional routines to establish consistency and an expected environment. This, combined with the great food helped him to let his guard down and warm to Rawhide’s programs.

One of the first things Brad noticed was the staff’s attention to detail. Reflecting on the love and care he received, he said, “These people will ask questions and make it so that you’re a lot better.” He knew he was finally at a place where everyone  truly cared about him.

The Best Place for an At-Risk Teen

Once Brad adjusted to Rawhide, he learned a lot. “I knew things had to be earned. We always got to go places, but you couldn’t go unless you earned it.” Through accountability, Brad began to develop patience and perseverance, two things he lacked before Rawhide.

Much like fellow Rawhide alumnus Dylan Young, it was the staff that really helped him make the changes necessary to grow and overcome his poor behaviors. “When I look at Rawhide, I’m thankful that there are all these people willing to help us and care for us and not give up on us.”

Since Brad left Rawhide, he’s constantly working on what he learned. Not every day is perfect, but he knows he is better off equipped with the lessons taught at Rawhide. Every day is a learning experience and another step in the right direction, steps Brad knows he couldn’t take without the help of Rawhide Boys Ranch.

Continue 50 Years of Tradition

For over 50 years we’ve helped guys like Brad through the generous support and charitable donations from Rawhide supporters like you. Your donations help in a wide variety of ways, whether it’s to fund programs that help change the lives of at-risk youth, or to provide nourishment, clothing, and opportunities to guys at Rawhide. 83% of funds from donations go directly to helping at-risk teens turn their lives around; you can donate to Rawhide with confidence.

*Names changed to preserve anonymity

7 Ways Rawhide’s Art Education Benefits At-Risk Youth

Pablo Picasso learned to paint as a child from his father. Who knew at that time he’d go on to have such a profound effect on the art world? Perhaps the next Picasso or Leonardo da Vinci is at the Rawhide Ranch right now in the school’s art class. Through Starr Academy’s art education classes and the help of art instructor Terri Simpson, many of the Rawhide guys are able to realize their artistic talents, find a new passion, or even heal emotional wounds through expressive art. Here are many ways Rawhide’s art education benefits at-risk youth.

Uncovering Hidden Talent

The classes develop a variety of the guys’ skills such as drawing, painting, composition, design, color, as well as background information on different artists and their styles of work. Projects span two-week periods, allowing the guys adequate time to explore their skills in a relaxed, stress-free environment. If students discover a passion for art, they may take an additional 3-hour art elective that allows them to work together on a 10-week project.

Community Showcasing

Over the years, some projects have been displayed throughout local communities. A piece of art that the guys created is currently displayed at Schneider National in Green Bay. It is a powerful piece created back in 2012, depicting the transformation and changes of guys before and after Rawhide.

7 Ways Art Education Benefits at-Risk Youth

One artist even entered his work in an art show at New London High School (shown above)! Classes offer the guys a chance to take a break from their usual academic coursework and explore their creative side.

7 Art Education Benefits In Addition to Beautiful Art

Terri’s main focus is encouraging the individuality to come out of the guys. She believes this helps the guys become aware of who they are and can help fine tune the focus of their projects. Terri’s art classes present unique opportunities for guys to express themselves and allow them to:

  1. Reduce anxiety
  2. Reduce negative stress
  3. Develop social skills
  4. Manage behavior and addictions
  5. Reconcile emotional conflicts
  6. Achieve personal insight
  7. Flex their creative muscles

She’s seen drastic changes in many of the guys from when they first set foot in the classroom to when they leave. “Students gain confidence and become more open to art. Many have not succeeded in the public school art class. Some of the students that have prior experience become more focused on art for the future, whether it be in their next high school, college or a career in art.” The art education benefits above are just some of the ways Rawhide guys benefit from Starr Academy. Guys also have a chance to benefit from:

Art Education Benefits Healing

Our guys often create artwork that reflects their personal journeys and displays their experiences prior to Rawhide, much like many famous artists. The guys use art to explore their pain at its deepest roots, which often opens the door to healing the wounds. Expressive art fosters greater self-knowledge and a deeper understanding of who they truly are.

Stress Buster

Art class also provides guys a nice, relaxing time to try something new. As Terri stated “Art is a hands-on activity, so guys are generally pretty relaxed in my classes. It is a break from the academic, and a chance to explore new materials, techniques and styles.” Guys in the art classes are eager to show off any of the projects they work on. Recently, Terri began collaborating with the Rawhide wood shop. Guys created art for the bottom of skateboards and proceeded to transfer the art onto an actual skateboard. This was a favorite project for many of the guys.

Is Art Your Thing?

If you would like to help art education at Starr Academy continue, please consider making a donation. Your support will fund the transformation of these young men’s lives and provide them with a creative way to heal.

The Digital Diet of the American Teen [Infographic]

Teens are now spending more time consuming digital media than sleeping. Yep, you read that right. Digital media consumption, aka digital diet, is now the most time-consuming teen activity—above all else.

Digital media is any digitized content that can be transmitted electronically via the Internet, cable or computer networks. This content includes TV programs, movies, videos, music, text messaging, gaming, social media, websites, newspapers, novels, and more. Technological advances provide more devices to access that content, namely smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, and MP3 players.

Most parents aren’t aware of how much time their teens spend consuming a digital diet nor the intake quality. As digital media consumption increases, teens lose focus more easily, sleep less, and exercise very little.

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Digital Diet of the American Teen Infographic

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The Digital Diet of the American Teen

Teens now spend 9 hours daily consuming digital content—a growth of 300% since 1995. Parents are aware their teens are going online, but are unaware of just how much time they spend. Many parents believe their teen spends only 3 hours per day, a third of the time teens actually dedicated to consuming digital media.

How does that digital diet fit in with other activities such as sleeping and homework? Digital consumption actually takes up more time than both of those as well. Also, teens use multiple devices such as smartphones, laptops, and TVs, to access different platforms such as social media, online videos, and video games.

Teens and Screens

Teens have increased their daily screen time by 300% since 1995.
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  • 7.5 hours of screen time in 2015
  • 6 hours of screen time in 2005
  • 2.5 hours of screen time in 1995

In 1995, almost all teen screen time involved watching television. 60% of teens talked on the phone daily, and 64% of teens hung out with friends at the mall or other locations at least twice a week. Around 11% of teens were overweight.

By 2005, technology advanced, and screen time grew. Teens were spending an average of 6 hours a day consuming digital media, more than any other activity. Interest in hobbies decreased, as did physical activity, and time spent with friends. The teenage obesity rate grew to 16%.

In 2015, teens averaged 7.5 hours of screen time every day. 71% of teens have a television in their bedroom and watch up to 3 hours of TV a day. The other time spent is on the phone as the average teen sends 60 texts a day and uses their smart phone to consume their sizable digital diet. A shocking 28% of teens are also overweight.

Putting It Into Context


Common Sense Media reports that teens now spend more time consuming a digital diet such as watching television, listening to music, interacting on social media, playing video games, etc. than sleeping.

On a daily basis, teens spend:

  • 9 hours consuming digital media (7.5 hours directly in front of a screen. The remaining time is listening to music.)          Click to Tweet!
  • 7 hours sleeping
  • 8 hours on education
  • 0.7 hours on physical activities

Those nine hours of digital media consumption adds up to 63 hrs/wk and 3,276 hrs/yr, equaling 136.5 days/yr! This doesn’t include homework or online school lessons!

YET…Parents think their children only spend about 3 hours online each day.

Mobile Devices Reign for Teen Media Consumption

91% of American teens access the internet through a mobile device. Smartphones account for 46% of all screen time:

Teens use their smartphones to visit their favorite social media sites, listen to music, and communicate with peers. It’s a one-stop shop for their digital diet. 43% of teens also use smartphones for online video consumption.

Digital Diet Time Spent Per Device

TV & Music Top the Charts of Teen Digital Diet

While teens clearly consume a variety of digital content ranging from online videos to gaming, they still favor watching TV and listening to music as their parent’s generation did. However, they have more options for accessing that content than their parents ever dreamed of having.

  • 66% of teens listen to music every day
  • 58% of teens watch TV every day
  • 45% of teens use social media every day

While some teens state they don’t listen to music, watch TV, or use social media every day, many admit they still consume these forms of digital media “a lot.”

  • 73% of teens listen to music “a lot”
  • 45% of teens watch TV “a lot”
  • 36% of teens use social media “a lot”

Teens Log On Frequently

Almost every teen goes online daily.

  • 92% of teens said they go online daily using some device      Click to Tweet!
  • 24% of teens admit to being online “almost constantly” regardless of device       Click to Tweet!


  • 56% of teens go online several times a day
  • 12% of teens go online once a day

Mobile devices account for the increase in teen Internet activity. 94% of teens use mobile devices instead of a computer to go online daily. Even 68% of teens without smartphones still find a way to go online daily.

Teens Expand Social Media Tastes

With more social media options sprouting up, teens’ digital-diet taste buds expand as well. 71% of teens use more than one social network site. Facebook remains the most popular site with teens, but Instagram and Snapchat are growing in popularity:

  • 71% use Facebook
  • 52% use Instagram
  • 41% use Snapchat
  • 33% use Twitter
  • 33% use Google Plus
  • 24% use Vine
  • 22% use Pinterest

Channel Preference Varies by Gender

Social media preference is often split between genders.

  • 44% of teen girls say they enjoy social media “a lot” compared to 29% of boys
  • Girls spend an average of 40 more minutes per day using social media than boys
  • Approximately 62% of teen boys say they enjoy playing video games “a lot” compared to 20% of girls

Digital Media is Altering How Friends Interact

The more time teens spend in the digital world, the more they are apt to change how they make and interact with friends. 57% of teens have met a new friend online, but only 20% of teens have actually met their online friend in person.
Click to Tweet!Digital Diet Click to Tweet

Teens’ Preferences When Communicating

  • 79% prefer instant messaging
  • 72% use social media
  • 64% use email
  • 59% use video chat
  • 52% use video games chat feature
  • 42% use messaging apps such as Kik or WhatsApp

90% of teens with phones exchange texts. The average teen sends and receives a total of 60 texts per day (on average).
Click to Tweet!Digital Diet Click to Tweet

Even with a large amount of communication, only 25% of teens actually spend time with friends in person and outside of school regularly.

Study Time Suffers from Multitasking

If digital media consumes more teen time than sleep does, imagine what it’s doing to homework time!

  • 76% of teens listen to music while doing homework
  • 60% of teens text while doing homework
  • 51% of teens watch TV while doing homework
  • 50% of teens use social media while doing homework

James Steyer, chief executive officer and Common Sense Media founder cites a Stanford study that found dramatic differences in cognitive control and processing information when using heavy amounts of media to multitask. “Teenagers think that multitasking during homework doesn’t affect their ability to learn and… we know it does,” Steyer says.

“As a parent and an educator, there’s clearly more work to be done around the issue of multi-tasking. Nearly two-thirds of teens today tell us they don’t think watching TV or texting while doing homework makes any difference to their ability to study and learn, even though there’s more and more research to the contrary.” – James Steyer

The Stanford study found:

  • Heavy media multitaskers were 77 milliseconds slower reacting to changing patterns.
  • High media multitaskers performed poorly during long term memory tests.
  • High media multitaskers were 426 milliseconds slower than their counterparts when switching to new activities and 259 milliseconds slower engaging in a new section of the same activity.

MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well…there’s a cognitive cost.” In fact, multitasking has been shown to drop IQ levels. Very concerning for parents!

Parents’ Top Concerns about Teens Digital Diet

One in three parents say they have had concerns or questions about their child’s technology use.

The blue light devices emit can cause sleep issues. The light is “short-wavelength-enriched” meaning it emits more blue light, a light that negatively affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

Parents are Checking In

Parents are communicating with their teens about what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior on social media. About 94% of parents have talked to their children about acceptable online behavior, and 40% have had that conversation often. More parents are going to greater lengths to keep their teens safe.

  • 61% checked which websites their teen visited
  • 60% checked their teen’s social media profile
  • 48% looked through their teens phone calls/messages
  • 39% used parental controls
  • 16% used parental controls to restrict cellphone use
  • 16% used monitoring tools to track a teen’s location through his/her cellphone

Around 60% of teens say their parents influence their online behavior the most, showing that parents who actively educate and check usage influence their teens’ online behavior.
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What Else Parents Can Do

Even though parents are doing a great job of discussing proper online behavior, many would be shocked to learn the amount of time teens spend online daily. A study found that parents assume their child only spends three hours online each day. If you are concerned about your teen’s digital diet, take action. Teens admit parents influence their online behavior, but how can parents do so?The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Go Digital Together
    • Joining kids in digital spaces is another way to spend time together. You can play video games with your kids or ask teens to walk you through their online world.
  • Set Up Digital-Free Zones at Home
    • Establishing limits on technology usage, helps prevent technology addiction. Consider making the dinner table a tech-free zone. Make it “face time” without the technology, and discuss the day’s events in their lives. Think about setting time limits as well.
  • Be Picky
    • It’s okay to dictate what your teen does with technology. Skyping with a favorite aunt is more beneficial than watching a 20-minute YouTube clip of “Epic Fails.”
  • Communicate Boundaries
    • Social media can help teens figure out who they are and how to successfully communicate with their peers. However, periodically monitor the communication. Violent, vulgar, offensive, or illicit conversations are a red flag. They should be evaluated for other risk factors.
  • Encourage Open Communication
    • Create healthy communication with your teen and encourage them to share what’s happening in their digital world.
  • Walk the Walk
    • Lead by example. Limit you own digital media consumption, so it’s noticeable to your teen. Demonstrate how to live a great life with device-free experiences.
  • Anticipate Mistakes
    • Mistakes happen. View these moments as learning experiences, and talk about online safety and etiquette.

As the digital world expands, teens’ digital diet will continue to grow. The question is: Will the content be a positive or negative use of time? Parental guidance can make the difference. Digital media can provide opportunities to learn, spark healthy interests, get inspired, and develop hobbies. Talk to your teen about their online behavior and monitor digital media usage.

Foster Parents Meet New Foster Care Manager

Tammy Curtis and her husband have had a heart for foster care for years because it allows families to heal and grow. In fact, she and her husband were in the process of becoming foster parents with the hope of adopting, better known as foster-to-adopt parents, when Tammy saw Rawhide’s job posting for a Foster Care Manager. Having recently completed her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, Tammy felt a strong pull towards the position. So she applied and was hired shortly thereafter.

Drawn to the Mission

Prior to applying, Tammy had known of Rawhide for years but was unfamiliar with the extent of Rawhide’s programs. Once she researched our faith-based foster care and training program for foster parents, she knew it was a good fit all around. “I liked Rawhide’s mission and vision.”



Being dependent on God, we inspire and equip at-risk youth and families to lead healthy and responsible lives through family-centered care, treatment, and education.

Supporting Foster Parents and Biological Families

Tammy helps families work through issues they may encounter during the foster care process. She spends much of her time visiting Rawhide’s foster homes, providing support as needed.  She also helps biological parents prepare for a youth transitioning from a foster home back into their care. Tammy enjoys being able to help these families heal.

A Higher Calling

Tammy’s passion for foster care began early. “I have had a heart for foster care as long as I can remember. I believe it’s a needed service. It can be a place where families heal or new families begin.”

Tammy is happy that Rawhide is a faith-based organization. Her faith is a guiding force in her personal and professional lives. “Jesus was a prime example of caring for others when telling the children to come to him and when he spoke of loving our neighbors as ourselves.”

The Rawhide Difference in Foster Care

Tammy believes the main thing that sets Rawhide’s foster care program apart from other programs is the relationship built between foster parents and Rawhide’s foster care treatment team. The relationship focuses on a common goal—equipping youth to become responsible and healthy adults through love, grace, mercy, and healthy boundaries.

Is Being a Foster Parent Right for You?

If you are considering becoming a foster parent, Tammy recommends: “Prayerfully seek God’s guidance. It is a calling. But don’t let worries stop you.”  Having a new person in a home might be difficult initially, but Tammy suggests to be close to God and hold on to His message. Being a foster parent will be a priority in your life, and while it may be challenging at times, it can be rewarding.

Foster Parents Vital to Rawhide’s Mission

Rawhide staff unites to accomplish one goal—transforming lives of at-risk youth and families—and foster parents play a pivotal role in the mission. Rawhide provides training, guidance, 24/7 support, and prayer to go along with a faith-based approach. Extra emphasis is also placed on physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Interested? Take the Next Step

Tammy invites couples with an interest in being foster parents to contact her and go through the process even if they are not 100% sure. “Don’t be afraid of what it looks like, just go through the process and give it a try.”

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent with Rawhide, email Tammy Curtis tcurtis@rawhide.org.  She will follow up with you.

At-Risk Youth Flourishes in Rawhide’s Family-Centered Home

Ken’s childhood was unstable. His parents were divorced, and he lacked a strong male role model. He lashed out at others and began fighting at school. Hanging out with the wrong crowd led to more trouble until he was finally given an ultimatum: Rawhide or jail. Ken wisely chose Rawhide. When he arrived at the ranch, Ken knew Rawhide was the place for him. He was eager to escape bad influences and saw Rawhide as a place to get his life back on track.

At Risk Youth Success Stems from Accepting Responsibility for Actions

Prior to Rawhide, Ken marched to his own drummer and rebelled against authority. One of the first lessons Ken learned in Rawhide’s residential treatment program was the consequences to his actions.

“The main thing that helped me stay out of trouble was learning there are consequences to my actions. I learned that I’m not always in charge. I have to listen or experience consequences to rebellion and lashing out.”

Ken stopped rebelling and started listening. With an attitude adjustment, Ken developed a respect for authority and began to value the spiritual side of life he saw in his role models.

Ken’s Values Shift

“I learned a lot about God and the Bible at Rawhide. Having Christian influences around me really helped to learn more. They were positive role models where I had none before.” 

Faith was something Ken hadn’t experienced at home. He didn’t grow up in a faith-filled environment; however, Rawhide helped develop a love for God that’s stayed with him through the years. He values his family, good work ethic, truthfulness, and above all God.

“Best Days of My Life”

Ken’s favorite Rawhide memories include the family-living model and the many life lessons. Ken worked with Rawhide’s Facilities Manager, Doug, as part of the Work Experience Program, often times laboring outdoors on hot summer days. Doug was strict and challenged Ken to learn new skills, giving him self-confidence. The hard work and good work ethics have stayed with Ken to this day.

At risk youth success through Rawhide

Ken’s dearest memories include feeling part of a family again in Rawhide’s family-styled environment. When asked to pick his single favorite memory, Ken was hard pressed and said “You know that one favorite memory you have as a child? Well, the whole two years I was at Rawhide is that memory.”

“Rawhide was the best days of my life besides the birth of my kids and my marriage.”

The strong work ethic that Ken learned at Rawhide inspired him to go to college for landscaping. Ken continues to challenge himself today. This former at risk youth success story is inspiring to those who know and love him.

Learning New Core Values That Made a Difference

As an alumnus, Ken offers this advice to current Rawhide guys to have their own at risk youth success story:

“Regardless if you wanted to be here, try not to be so stubborn or set in you ways. We’ve all had problems that got us here. It’s amazing once you finally open your heart and realize what the place has to offer.

Be open about everything, whether you have beliefs or not. Don’t be standoffish; listen to what the staff members have to say.

The times are different from when I was at Rawhide but the values remain the same. You can develop a new core belief that stays with you for a lifetime.”

Ken’s Gratitude

If Ken could personally thank John and Jan Gillespie as well as Bart and Cherry Starr, he would tell them:

“It’s been an honor to be an alumnus from here and to learn a lot of core life values from what they established so many decades ago. I’m very appreciative and it’s made me the father, husband, and man I am today.”

We Need You Because They Need Us

The Gillespies and the Starrs helped provide a home for Ken along with hundreds of other troubled youth over the years. We couldn’t help these youth and families without you. The need is stronger than ever before and we need donors to help us help them.

We accept trucks, cars, cycles, boats, life insurance, cash, stock, and other forms of donations. Every charitable contribution gives troubled youth and families a second chance.

Once a Rawhide Guy Always a Rawhide Guy—50 Years Later

Jerry Monson is the reason that Rawhide Boys Ranch came to be in the early 1960s. Not wanting to return to his alcoholic home environment at age 13, Jerry asked John and Jan Gillespie if he could spend the night at their house. First Rawhide guyAll he wanted was one night away. He stayed for 2 years. When Jerry experienced a series of calamities some 50 years later, John and Jan Gillespie, Rawhide Founders, went to bat for him again. In doing so, they proved that Rawhide’s promise of “Once a Rawhide guy, always a Rawhide guy” is authentic.

How They Met

The Gillespies first met Jerry when he was 12. John and Jan had one child at the time and lived in a 2-bedroom home in the country. John had his own subdivision-design business and taught Sunday school on weekends.  He even drove a church bus, giving neighborhood kids a ride to Sunday school. Jerry was one of those kids.

Jerry welcomed any reason to not go home. His mother was an alcoholic and he had a new stepfather who wasn’t crazy about kids. One Sunday, Jerry asked John and Jan if he could stay overnight. The Gillespies told him he could if his mom approved.

Jerry’s mom eagerly approved – even brought over a sack of Jerry’s clothes. She expressed gratitude for the Gillespies taking in Jerry. She said her new husband would only let her keep 1 of her 3 children. That is not what Jan and John had intended, but they were more than willing to give Jerry a home.

Jan was shocked that people could give away a child. She remembers thinking “do people really do this?”

The Birth of Rawhide

Jerry became part of the family and a big brother to the Gillespie’s 3-yr-old son, Steve. Soon a second child was on the way and the Gillespies knew they needed a larger home.

As fate would have it, a client asked John for a subdivision-design estimate on his 700 acre property about 30 miles out of town. A large 11-bedroom house sat on the river-front property at the time. When John toured the house, he commented “this would make a great boys home.” His client’s eyes lit up. Rawhide was born.

 “Thanks to Jerry being used by God, there’s a Rawhide today.” John Gillespie

The Lodge, the first boys home

Rawhide Guy Ventures Out

Jerry as Army Helicopter Mechanic in the 1960sIn 1965, about the time the Gillespies moved to the new home, Jerry felt it was time to venture out into the world. He joined the Army and served as a combat Helicopter Mechanic in Vietnam. During his tour of duty, Jerry was exposed to Agent Orange and suffered a resulting leg rash for over 40 years.

Civilian Life Agrees with Jerry

Upon his return to civilian life, Jerry worked as a mechanic for a prominent auto dealership. One day a recurrent customer told Jerry that her husband passed away and she was going to sell her property with a mobile home already in place. “Would you be interested in it?” she asked Jerry. He didn’t need to think twice. He moved in, eventually started his own auto shop business and worked on some Bergstrom race cars. Jerry was living the American Dream. Everything was going well until health issues arose many years later.

Fast Forward 50 Years

Around 2008, Jerry was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), forcing him into an early retirement. Fortunately, he had paid his property and home mortgage in full by that time. Without working, his only means of support were monthly benefits of $750 Social Security and $407 Veterans Disability. His budget was tight but he managed.

In 2012, Jerry was diagnosed with cancer and needed surgery. While under anesthesia, Jerry suffered a stroke. It took six months of therapy to regain his speech ability. While recovering at home, he noticed leaks in his 40-year-old ceiling. His income level qualified him for free “help” from the county government. And that’s when his problems multiplied.

Poor Repairs Open Pandora’s Box

The “free” roof repair amounted to the county’s weatherization services team applying a liquid sealant to the roof. In the process, the roof was damaged. That spring was extremely rainy and the “fix” did not hold up. The heavy rain saturated the insulation, causing the roof to eventually cave and mold to grow throughout Jerry’s home. Jerry’s calls to the weatherization office went unanswered. When he finally reached someone, the person responded that they had no record of ever working on the roof.

Jerry stayed in the dilapidated home for 5 months and had to prop up his ceiling with wood beams and metal rods. In order to sleep without getting wet during storms, he attached plastic to the ceiling above his bed. He even ran a plastic hose from a ceiling fixture into a 5-gallon pail. During heavy storms he set an alarm just to wake up and empty the pail. Mold continued to spread and Jerry’s home became a serious health hazard. That’s when he reached out to Rawhide’s founder, John Gillespie.

Calling in the Big Guns

When Jerry finally reached out to John Gillespie—the only father figure Jerry had ever known—the wheels started turning. John called the weatherization services, but they wouldn’t respond to him either. So John contacted an investigative reporter who arrived on the scene with a camera crew.

The airing of Fox 11 News’ story regarding Jerry’s dilemma finally got the agency’s attention. The county agency even sent a crew out the day after the story aired and stated that Jerry simply “fell through the cracks.” They promised to make it better by buying Jerry a new trailer with the insurance money. Jerry thought the problem was solved. Wrong.

Is This Murphy’s Law in Action?

What people involved didn’t realize was that Appleton zoning laws had changed, meaning Jerry’s old mobile home could not be replaced with another one on that property. It looked like the only way Jerry could stay on the land he owned was if a traditional house was built from the ground up. However, after applying the insurance money, they were short about $35,000.

The Rawhide Magic at Work

John Gillespie was mad. After all Jerry had been through and now he didn’t have a home through no fault of his own.

“All I want is a place to live.” Jerry Monson

John reached out to his Rawhide connections and some former employees who went on to form their own businesses. The first one he called was Ross Giordana, former Rawhide employee who now owns Giordana Home Builders.

After John presented the problem, Ross promised to make some calls and get back to him in a week. One week later, John was bowled over with the news. Ross was able to enlist the help of enough companies to build a house for Jerry. In addition to donating labor, some companies donated the cost of materials as well. Ross and John secured a total of $60,000 in labor and materials. The project became known as the “Veteran’s Home Build Volunteer Team.”

 first Rawhide guy new home

The team consisted of 35 different contributors:

Thankfully, the Outagamie County Housing Authority provided Jerry with a rent-free apartment for nine months while his home was being built.

Jerry’s Coffee Shop

Once construction began, Jerry wanted to give back to those building his new home. He picked up coffee and cinnamon rolls each morning at the Machine Shed Restaurant  and turned his garage into a café of sorts for the building crew. One of the workers even made a sign that reads “Jerry’s Coffee Shop: Open 9 am usually.

First Rawhide guy and his coffee shop

Jerry serves coffee and rolls to construction crew each morning.


Construction of First Rawhide guy's new home

Construction crew in action on Jerry’s house

Finishing Touches

After the walls were up, tiles were laid, and appliances installed, it was time to transform it from a house into a home. John Gillespie wanted this to be especially cozy and inviting after all Jerry had been through. So he called upon his neighbor, Brenda Biese, who just happens to be an interior designer. She was happy to assist and reached out to an executive at the local Goodwill stores for help. Goodwill opened their hearts and their doors to let Brenda pick what she needed for Jerry’s home. Brenda sure has a gift, because she managed to make Jerry’s new home look model-perfect.

When he first saw his new home, all Jerry could think was: “Awesome, unbelievable, I can’t even believe it. This has actually happened.”

Moving Day

All the pieces were in place and Jerry was finally able to move in. Rawhide helped with that too. Guys in Rawhide’s About Face Program routinely help with community service projects and helping Jerry move was on their list. The guys arrived at Jerry’s apartment around 9:30 a.m. and started to pack up Jerry’s belongings. After a bite of lunch, they proceeded to unpack the truck at Jerry’s new home.

With everything moved in, Jerry couldn’t resist showing off his new home. He was like a kid in a candy store as he showed everyone his kitchen drawers that automatically closed and a toilet seat with the same feature. “Every square inch of this place is perfect. This is a perfect place. Wisconsin. Appleton. The people. This is it. It cannot be better.”

“I’ve been given a big responsibility. I owe it to everyone who helped build this to take care of this home because it really doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to each and every person who helped. You are all welcome here anytime. You are all angels.” Jerry Monson

Jerry is incredibly grateful for everyone that helped. “I want to thank them and give each one of them a big hug. For me, that would be awesome.”

Rawhide guys help Jerry move into his new home

Tour of Jerry’s New Home

See the finishing decorator touches after the boxes are unpacked and the volunteers have gone home.

Through It All

Jerry has been through a lot. He’s overcome family troubles, survived a war, and dealt with health issues doctors say many wouldn’t have survived.

And through it all, Rawhide has held true to its promise “Once a Rawhide guy, always a Rawhide guy.” Through every trial, Jerry has had the support of Rawhide and others. He is Rawhide’s first son “so to speak” and he always will be.

When things became especially difficult, Jerry thought back to what Jan Gillespie told him: “You have to remember you have a lot of prayers from a lot of people.”

Without Jerry, there would be no Rawhide, and thanks to the support Jerry has had, he can finally rest easy in what he calls the “nicest home in Appleton.”

New home of first Rawhide guy

Jerry Monson’s Home Sweet Home

Belated Veterans Day Surprise

On November 16th, 2016, Jerry’s home received a welcome surprise – an American flag that flew over the state Capitol in Madison on Veterans Day. State Senator Roger Roth presented the flag to Jerry, furthering the incredible outpouring of community support for the Vietnam veteran.


27 Vehicle Dashboard Symbols Deciphered [INFOGRAPHIC]

When you turn the key in you car’s ignition does the dashboard light up like a Christmas tree? Maybe you’re wondering what all those warnings mean. Symbols that have been around for decades are easily recognizable, but as cars become more computer-controlled, manufacturers are adding new dashboard symbols that may be puzzling. Did you know that warning lights may be color coded, with yellow advising to inspect and red meaning there’s a major problem? This list will  help you figure out what those dashboard symbols indicate when lit.

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Vehicle Dashboard Symbols Infographic
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1. Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Tire Pressure Monitoring System The Tread Act of 2000 requires all new cars as of 2007 have the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). So if your car predates 2007, you will not see this icon. When the TPMS warning light illuminates and stays on, one or more tires has low tire pressure. Inflate tires to the recommended pressure per square inch (PSI). Low tire pressure can cause tires to wear out quicker and create dangerous driving conditions.

2. Exterior Light Out Indicator

Exterior Light Out IndicatorThis symbol indicates that an exterior light on your vehicle is burnt out. A simple lamp replacement will take care of this problem. Review your vehicle’s owner’s manual for lamp size and how to access lamps in exterior lights.

3. Low Key Fob Battery Indicator

Low Key Fob Battery IndicatorThis indicates that the battery inside the key fob needs replacing. Open the key fob and check for the battery number to buy a replacement. Once you’ve installed the new battery, the car’s computer will see the higher voltage and remove the warning.

4. Electronic Stability Program (ESP) Fault Warning

Electronic Stability Program Fault Warning If your vehicle illuminates an ESP Fault light, the chassis system needs attention. The ESP Fault light might be on because of a simple wiring issue or it could be much more serious. A quick scan can reveal the computer error code that further explains the problem

5. Security Alert

Security Alert
A flashing security alert light often means something in the car’s anti-theft system wiring is failing. Have a mechanic check it out, especially if your vehicle is one of the most stolen.

6. Overdrive Light Indicator

Overdrive Light Indicator The overdrive mechanism enables a vehicle to maintain a constant speed while decreasing engine speed to reduce wear and tear, plus improve fuel economy.

If the overdrive light stays on consistently, it only means your vehicle’s overdrive is manually turned off. On the other hand, a blinking overdrive light indicates a possible transmission problem, and it could be one of many issues. Get the vehicle inspected ASAP.

7. Brake Pads Warning

Brake Pads Warning Not all vehicle manufacturers put this symbol on dashboards, but knowing when your brake pads are getting worn could save costly repairs later. If this lights up on your dashboard, have a mechanic check your brake pads for wear and tear.

8. Brake Fluid Warning

Brake Fluid Warning If the brake system light is flashing, your brake fluid level is getting low. If the brake system light stays lit, pump the brakes when stopping until you get somewhere safe because a consistent brake light means problems. Visit a trusted mechanic for an inspection ASAP.

9. Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) Light

Anti Lock Brake System Light Your Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) has an issue when this symbol is lit. Most often this is due to an electrical fault, such as a defective wheel speed sensor, defective power relay for the ABS module or pump, or a low fluid level in an ABS fluid reservoir.

10. Engine Temperature Warning

Coolant Temperature Warning A lit engine temperature symbol indicates that the engine’s temperature has risen above the ideal range. This may light up for a variety of reasons. Check coolant level, radiator cap, fan operation; and look for coolant leaks.

11. Transmission Temperature Warning

Transmission Temperature There’s a reason why this looks similar to the coolant temperature warning light. Careful! If this light is on, your transmission might be operating at a significantly higher temperature than is safe. Check your transmission fluid level as well as the engine coolant level.

12. Reduced Power Warning

Reduced Power Warning Is your vehicle skipping or moving slower as if it is losing power? This could signal a potential problem with a battery or power system. Replacing the battery, spark plugs or plug wires can restore much of the power that your vehicle is missing.

13. Battery Charging Alert

Battery Charging Alert If this light comes on while you are driving, turn off all the unnecessary electrical devices like A/C, radio, etc. and look for a suitable place to stop IMMEDIATELY. Your car may suddenly drain of energy and it’s best to be in a safe spot out of traffic. Call a tow truck and tow it to a repair shop.

If you’re in your own driveway when you notice this light, you may pop the hood and examine the battery terminals, alternator belt, and battery condition. The battery might not be charging right due to poor connection, or it might be time for a new battery altogether.

14. Check Engine Light

Check Engine Light The check engine light is one of the most common dashboard warnings. It is part of your car’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) system. When lit, it can mean something as minuscule as a loose gas cap to serious engine trouble.  Your mechanic can diagnose the cause with a professional scan tool. This light may be lit for one of these 6 reasons or others; most mean a date with a mechanic.

  1.  Oxygen Sensor needs replacing
  2.  Gas Cap is loose
  3.  Catalytic Converter needs replacing
  4.  Mass Airflow Sensor needs replacing
  5.  Spark Plugs or Plug Wires need replacing
  6.  Exhaust Gas Recirculating (EGR) Valve

15. Door Ajar

Door Ajar
Doors or trunk lids left ajar can drain batteries and possibly leave you stranded. Close the guilty culprit as soon as you notice the warning light.

16. Washer Fluid Level Low

Washer Fluid Reminder Certain times of the year, this is one feature you can’t live without especially when a large semi passes you on the highway, splashing dirty slush or road grime on your windshield that blocks your view. If this symbol is lit, refill your washer fluid as soon as possible. Just pop the hood, find the reservoir, and add fluid. Be sure to fill the correct reservoir. Look for the symbol on the cap.

17. Low Oil Pressure Warning

Low Oil Pressure Warning If this light comes on, STOP driving immediately and turn the engine off. The engine can be severely damaged in a matter of seconds if oil pressure is lost. Call a tow truck and let a mechanic check it out. Be sure to tell the mechanic that this light came on so the he can take proper safety precautions. If you are a DIYer, tow the car to a place where you can check the oil. You can follow these tips in this video for checking it yourself. But even if there is oil, there may be an issue with oil pressure, like an oil pump or sensor going bad.

18. Oil Change Reminder

Changing Oil
This light is a convenient reminder to change your oil every 3,000-10,000 miles. If you’re a DIY oil-changer, consider this helpful list of recommended oils from Popular Mechanics.

19. Service Vehicle Soon

Service Vehicle Soon The importance of this light depends on the other vehicle warning lights. If this light is coupled by another light such as the ABS Light or Battery Charging Alert, have that specific issue taken care of. If no other lights come on with this one, have your mechanic run a diagnostic scanning tool to determine the problem.

20. Gas Cap Needs Tightening

Gas Cap
If this light is on, your gas cap isn’t properly sealed. Fortunately, gas caps aren’t expensive and it happens to the best of us. That’s why many caps now come attached to the vehicle!

21. Cruise Control

Cruise Control A steady light indicates that you have activated the vehicle’s cruise control feature. A flashing cruise control error light is common in some Subaru models. If this occurs, bring it to a mechanic to check what’s going on.

22. Low Traction Indicator

Traction Control When lit, this symbol indicates that conditions are slippery and tire traction is low. Some vehicles incorporate the traction control warning with the ABS light, but others have a separate symbol for both. If this light is flashing, there might be a sensor issue.

23. Airbag Issues

Airbag Fault The Airbag Fault Light often comes on when the airbag control module senses an issue with one of the airbags. You can drive the vehicle with the airbag light on, but remember your car airbags won’t deploy if you get in an accident! Defective parts can be easily replaced and the airbag light can be reset.

24. Fog Lamp

Fog Lamp
This indicator simply tells you that your car’s fog lamps are on. It serves as a handy reminder to shut them off when you no longer need them.

25. Seat Belt Alert

Seat Belt Alert This is a familiar symbol, yet some people still choose to ignore it. This warning may be a combination of a blinking dashboard light and a repeating chime. Both indicate that someone isn’t wearing a seatbelt. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seatbelts have saved over 255,000 lives since 1975. Please buckle up. Seat belts save lives.

26. Convertible Roof Symbol

Convertible Roof
This means the convertible roof is either opening or closing. If this stays lit when the roof isn’t opening or closing, there’s a good chance there’s a fault in the system.

27. Dirty Air Filter

Dirty Air Filter Your car’s air filter is clogged when you see this symbol illuminate. This does not indicate an emergency, however, it’s best to change to a clean air filter when possible as your vehicle needs clean air to operate properly. If you are a do-it-yourself type, replacement air filters are relatively inexpensive. A clean air filter can improve:

  • Gas mileage
  • Acceleration
  • Engine life

When in Doubt

If your car has a dashboard symbol that is not on this list, consult your owner’s manual. Or if your car only has a handful of dashboard indicators, maybe it’s time for a more recent model. Check out our eBay car store.

11 Car Smells That Might Mean Stinky Repairs [INFOGRAPHIC]

Wondering why your car smells? It could be the gym bag you forgot in your back seat or the partially eaten egg salad sandwich that fell under your seat. But it could also be a mechanical issue with your car. If your car is giving off one of the following odors, you might need more than a deodorizer… visit a mechanic.

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11 Car Smells That Might Mean Stinky Repairs

Has your car been banned from the car pool list because your passengers can’t stand the smell? Maybe it’s time to take the gym bag out of your back seat or really search for that meatball that fell under your seat two or three months ago. That smell might also be an issue with your car ranging from bad brakes to mildew in your A/C. If your car is giving off one of the odors below, it might be time to stop buying air fresheners and schedule an appointment with a mechanic instead.

1. Burning Carpet

When would a burning carpet smell ever be considered normal? Believe it or not, a burning carpet smell is deemed normal if you just drove down a long mountain pass. However, if your car has that smell during normal driving conditions, it could mean brake issues. Schedule a brake inspection as soon as possible, especially before driving down a mountain pass of any length.

2. Rotten Eggs

A rotten egg smell brings to mind several sources, like an old lunch left under the seat or flatulence. If that’s the case, it’s an easy fix. Otherwise, it likely means a poorly running engine and/or catalytic converter issues. The poor running engine might be causing the catalytic converter to become overloaded. If this isn’t checked, your catalytic converter might breakdown. Repairing a catalytic converter can cost between $543 to $875.

3. Burning Rubber

If you smell burning rubber and you didn’t just squeal your tires, your drive belts might be slipping or a loose hose might be rubbing against rotating accessory-drive pulleys. Let your engine cool off before you examine it.

A plastic bag lodged underneath your engine or on your exhaust pipe could also be the culprit. A quick walk around your car and a look under the car will answer that question. Luckily, removing a lodged bag is an easy fix, but be careful as exhaust pipes may be hot!

If your inspection under the hood and engine yields nothing, take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic and relay as much detail as possible to help him pinpoint and fix the problem.

4. Hot or Burning Oil

This pungent smell may remind you of burnt dirt if you ever sat around an outdoor campfire. If your car smells like hot oil, the cause could be one of four reasons. Your vehicle may:

  • Need an oil change
  • Be leaking oil onto your exhaust manifold
  • Have an overheated engine and a broken temperature gauge
  • Have a faulty vacuum modulator which may erroneously feed transmission fluid to the engine. The fluid will burn when it comes in contact with the engine.

You can detect an oil leak by checking for spots on the ground under your car. You may fix this leak yourself or find a trusted mechanic. Auto parts stores sell “stop leak” additives that can help seal leaks. Check also for loose bolts, starting with the oil pan.

5. Car Smells like Gasoline

If your car was built before 1980, a gasoline odor after shutting off is normal and occurs from boiled fuel in the carburetor float bowl, also called float chamber. If you drive a car built after 1980, a gasoline smell could mean something problematic, such as:

  1. Fuel Tank Leak
  2. Fuel Line Leak
  3. Faulty Charcoal Canister
  4. Fuel Injector Leak
  5. Missing Gas Cap
  6. Fuel Pressure Regulator

If your car smells like gasoline and you aren’t missing your gas cap, do not start the car. Consult a mechanic as soon as possible.

6. Musty Gym Locker

If you turn on the heater/air-conditioner and start smelling something similar to your old gym socks, odds are you have mildew growing in the moisture condensing inside the evaporator of your air conditioner. You may consult a professional to fix the issue, or try the following: turn off the a/c and run the fan on high for at least a mile of driving to dry the system out.

If this doesn’t do the trick, look under your seat or in your trunk for a pair of gym socks that might have escaped your gym bag. You might even find your lunch from two months ago!

7. Sweet Syrup

If your car smells like maple syrup it might mean a coolant leak. The smell of leaking fluid attracts wild animals and is very poisonous, so make an appointment with your auto shop as soon as possible to take care of the issue.

It might also mean you missed your pancakes when you were pouring syrup. Check your clothes and consider stopping at a dry cleaner later in the day.

8. Burnt Toast

If your car smells like burnt toast and you didn’t accidentally scorch your breakfast, there might be an electrical short circuit or the insulation around certain wires might be burning or melting. Driving a car with wiring issues can be risky, even leading to fire. If your car consistently smells like a charred breakfast, take it to a mechanic to get inspected.

9. Exhaust from the Passenger or Glove Compartment

If the smell of exhaust is coming from the passenger compartment, your vehicle may have a faulty exhaust pipe causing a little exhaust to leak into the passenger compartment. Take your car to a mechanic immediately after noticing an exhaust smell. Breathing noxious exhaust can impair or kill you.

10. Burning Hair

If your car smells like burning hair and you didn’t scorch your own hair with a heated hair styler that morning, a rodent or piece of road kill might be near your engine. Examine the engine and see if something tried to make your car its new home or if you picked up some road kill along the way.

If this continues to be a problem, consider parking your car somewhere else. Cars parked next to trash bins or food sources are more likely to attract and house wildlife.

11. Moldy Car Smells

Spilled drinks and food stains might be causing your moldy car smell if it was left. Visit a professional cleaning service to have them clean the scent away or try removing it yourself.

Avoid food and drink stains smelling up your car by placing liners over your seats. If there is a spill, a quick wash can take care of the problem.

Not all car smells can be sprayed away. If your car smells like one of the above, consider visiting a mechanic or cleaning expert to breathe happy in your car again. Your nose, and your passengers will thank you.