Thank you to sleuthing parents who have shared with me new apps their teens are using, and probably shouldn't be! The first is called Brighten. In theory it sounds just lovely, but in the hands of impulsive and aggressive teens, can be dangerous. This app was developed by two sweet people who loved the idea of people anonymously sharing a compliment with deserving people. Why it has to be anonymous makes no sense to me. If you think your friend is a nice person, can't you just tell them that in person? Well, apparently having a slew of nice things said about you publicly and anonymously is better. Here is how it works. You set up a profile page, like you would do on any app. And that's it. From there anyone can look up your profile and name and anonymously post a compliment. And why a compliment? Because that's the rule!!! But not an enforced rule, just a "please be nice to someone on this app, pretty please" This sounds exactly like any other of the apps that use anonymous posting like ASKFM. Here is review from the app school by one teen who is using it:
"My friends and I got brighten, we were loving it at first. All of the girls were sending love back to each other, it was amazing and it really did make every single girl feel so good about herself, but as more people started to join and guys found out about it, the title turned into UNbrighten. There are so many rumors going around now on it and nobody reports it and so these poor targets are getting attacked anonymously non-stop And the people who try to show love get reported. There is SO much ranting and roasting going on."
Delightful!!!! I have several problems with this app. First, the anonymous thing allows teen to take absolutely no responsibility for their posts. Hence another outlet for the drama of teen life. Here is yet another vehicle for bullying. And secondly, which I think is really important is this need by teens for constant reinforcement and affirmation that they are "liked and loved" no matter how false and superficial it is. Real self-esteem comes from rising to challenges, working hard on something and feeling a sense of accomplishment, and being a kind and good person. Teaching your children the value of feeling good for one's self and feeling self-pride is primary. Of course we all love to be told that we are valuable, and lovable. But it is most effective when it comes from someone with an authentic motive.
The second app that sounds like another teen stomping ground, and I mean ego stomping is called after school. Here is the description form the app store: "After school is an anonymous and private message board for your school. Post confessions, funny experiences, compliments and more. We have a zero-tolerance policy and please remember to be positive."
Here is how this one works. When a teen signs up, they must link it to their Facebook account so before the app goes live on their phone, after school can verify that they are indeed a student at such and such high school or middle school, cause they have put that in their Facebook account profile. What this means in parent speak, is STAY OUT PARENTS!!! THIS IS A PRIVATE CLUB. Yup that's right, if you try to sign up to stay abreast of what's getting posted on this site you will be refused. Because when they go to your Facebook profile they will see that though you may dress like a teen hipster, you are still a middle-aged nosey parent! so no access!! I have linked an article below that describes this app in more detail and how it can be used for "no good"
As I have said a million times, you should be the CEO of app downloading. This way when you find out about these apps that your teen would normally download without a thought in the world, you can have some control. I am talking here about teens 6th grade through maybe sophomore year. After that, it's more about teaching them to make these decisions for themselves. But middle school kids do need your help on this. Once again here is how you can do this: On an iPhone: go to settings, then general, then restrictions on your teen's phone. it will ask for you to come up with a password, keep this PRIVATE. This will allow you to enter the section of the phone where you can disable their ability to download apps. If they want a new app they will have to come to you, make a case for wy they need this app, then you will have to decide if it's worthwhile. Please do your homework when they request to download. Go online and research the app, then if you give your permission than you will have to do the downloading. This is a sh*tload of work for a parent, I know!! I am sorry, but these new apps are not taking into account the psychology of a teen, that is my job and yours!!