Most parents are concerned about how technology and social media effect their kids. Furthermore, many parents try to implement ways to protect their kids such as: withholding passwords, monitoring mobile devices and computers, restricting use, and so on.
As technology saavy as some parents can be, unfortunately, there are still ways for kids to engage in risky behavior and get around the limitations that parents set.
In a previous post, we warned parents about several apps that could either pose a danger to kids or allow them to engage in risky behaviors.
One family we interviewed had set boundaries with their teen's use of technology, but found that he was still able to use his phone and computer to make poor choices.
Their son was required to turn in his phone to his parents in the evenings. He could only access the internet on the computer when the parents input the password. They monitored his music, photos and messages. These particular parents are fairly knowledgeable about technology and rely on their own mobile devices and computers as their kids do. The problem was in the lack of knowledge of so many new apps that allow kids loopholes around monitoring.
The mother told us, "we would check his phone, but some things were stored in "Lockbox" or had disappeared from SnapChat. We checked what he was listening to on itunes, but found out later that he had his own account. Were in the dark the whole time."
The mother went on to say, "the heartbreaking part is that we took him at his word and then found out that he was, in fact, making poor choices that ended up affecting his life in various ways."
Keeping kids safe and accountable when it comes to technology, can lead to tough decisions, awkward conversations and eye opening revelations, but it sure beats a lifetime of consequences from poor choices.
When it comes to technology and kids... stay aware, involved and informed!!
Don't be afraid to set rules, boundaries and even monitor technology and apps. You are still the parent. Besides, in most cases, who pays the bill?! Now, as more and more teens own smartphones, apps are definitely no stranger.
Although there are many great and beneficial apps available to all of us, there are several apps that parents need to be aware of if their teens are using them. Apps that may keep parents in the dark about such issues as bullying, sex-ting and attracting pedophiles.
Unfortunately, the case of a 12 year old Florida girl who jumped to her death after being cyber-bullied on two popular apps, is only one example of how something as simple as using an app can become a way more complicated issue. (source)
We will describe of few of these apps and whey they need monitoring:
Snap Chat allows the sender to set an amount of time for how long they want their viewers to see their texts, photos or video messages.
This is the number one sexting app on the market. Just because you haven't seen inappropriate photos on your teen's phone, doesn't mean they haven't been there. Snap Chat has made it possible for teens to send inappropriate material and make it look like it never existed.
On of the most popular social networking sites/apps used by teens and pre-teens is Ask.fm. It is a question and answers site that allows the user to ask anonymous questions. This app allow users to connect with their friends on Facebook and Twitter and has become a vehicle for bullying.
Ask.fm has led to 4 documented cases of suicide in 3 different countries, including the U.S., due to intense bullying. (source)
The Whisper App
This teen confession app allows users to superimpose text over an image."Teens have started using the app for cyberbullying. Due to the anonymous feature of the app, teens are posting pics of other teens with derogatory text superimposed on the image. Users do not have to register to use Whisper thus no user profile. Unfortunately, the app allow users to communicate with other users nearby by using the device GPS location settings. Pedophiles seek out female whisper users to establish a relationship. Recently, a Seattle, Washington man was arrested for raping a 12 year old girl that was lured to a hotel through the app." (source)
Kik messenger is a super quick instant messaging app. This app allow teens (which are among the millions of users) to exchange videos, pics, and sketches. New Kik cards allow user send Youtube videos, create memes, and gifs without leaving the app.
One of the dangers of Kik Messenger is that there is no way of authenticating users which makes it easy for pedophiles to use the app.
What parents can do:
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.