Manner Monday: Teens, Tweens, and Apps you need to Monitor

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by Carey Sue Vega in Uncategorized

If you haven’t heard the news…Tweens and teens are leaving Facebook in droves – because that’s where their parents hangout!  Some of the apps they are gravitating to are a bit scary – to say the least.  As parents most of us are overwhelmed on a daily basis just keeping up with normal things like getting food on the table, carpool, sports, music lessons and helping with homework.  Add to the mix keeping up with technology and staying one step ahead of our kiddos in the digital age, and we’re worn out.

Think about how we monitored our kids before social media.  You wanted to know who your kids were hanging out with and if they were going over for a play date or sleepover, you wanted to know a bit about that family or the home they were going to visit.  Are their parents going to be home?  Who else will be there?  What time is curfew?  And the list goes on.

With Social Media – Parents still need to know what their kids are doing.  But it’s harder because unfortunately so many parents don’t understand it, so they turn a blind eye and ignore it.

Tweens and teens have a hard enough time interacting socially face-to-face and in person.   Think about it, when we were kids and we were dealing with ‘social issues’ at school, when we came home – it was a safe haven, a place to get away from the drama. Now kids have their cell phones with them 24/7 and they can’t get away from ‘it’.  As parents, we need to create that safe haven for our kids by monitoring their social media and making sure they stay safe.

Monitoring teens and their use of social media is a critical part of parenting in 2014.  Many of these apps do not have parental controls and many allow users to remain anonymous or to easily create fake accounts.

Some apps to be aware of, and if you find them, delete them…

  • Snap-chat
  • Kik
  • Whisper

More popular options that appear to be a bit safer (but still need monitoring):

  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Many of the first four apps were created as a way for adults to ‘sext’ (send sex related text messages and photos).  Pornography websites are taking advantage of youth posting inappropriate pictures on these sites and using them as their own.  When you research these apps and continue to run across words such as Cyberbullying, Pornography, Pedophile, Anonymous, Sexting, and Suicide, I think it’s fare to say these apps are malevolent and should have no place on your child’s phone.

The key for parents is to monitor all downloaded apps on their child’s phone.  If you’ve never heard of an app you come across, Google it to learn if it’s dangerous or inappropriate. Make sure you know all of your child’s passwords and user names for monitoring purposes.  And if you think your child is safe because he or she does not have a cell phone….they’re not.  You still need to have a conversation about the topic.  More than likely their friends have phones so they’re participating in the app activity while they’re spending time with their friends.  And many teens that are not ‘allowed’ to have a cell phone, go to Wal-Mart and buy a go-phone where they pay as they go – and obviously hide it from their parents.

When children are left to their own devices to navigate their new technologies, they’re finding themselves making scary mistakes.  Here are some things I’ve personally seen tweens and teens post online:

  • “I’m so bored.  I’m home alone with nothing to do.  Text me!”
  • ‘rate it or hate it’; popularity games where the kids post a picture of four friends and have others ‘rate’ them or ‘hate’ them.
  • Posting cell phone numbers and saying ‘text me’ or ‘call me’.

As parents, we need to be diligent about setting rules, setting boundaries, having discussions, educating ourselves AND our child(ren). These apps are not going away.  New ones are popping up on a regular basis!

I would love to hear from you.  What other apps out there need to be monitored or deleted?  Do you have other resources to share?

Hop over to my Facebook page to continue the conversation.


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