Hey guys, I have found you a new teen bible!!!https://protectyoungeyes.com/apps/. This site maintains a whole cadre of the apps your teens are most likely using and lets you know if there are inherent risks. It is easy to navigate, and I think is a great tool to use as a way to have some good conversations with your teens about the apps they are using, and the worries you have about them. The benefit for using this site as a jumping off point is that the info is not coming from you!!! You are not lecturing, you are educating and they are participating in this education. Think of this like the blue book a pre-driving teen has to read and be tested on before they can even get their learners permit. The missing link between kids and social networking has always been training. Kids are given their phones, and most parents use a wait and see approach. It's only when a crisis presents itself ; spending too much time on their phones; finding sexy photos or texts; bullying; discovering sneaky or risky behavior. When these occur, parents jump into action mode!! However, by then your teen is addicted and pissed that you will now limit in any way the most important part of their life!!!! Remember...education is power!!
I will identify a few of the newer apps that I have become aware of that raise a red flag. As I have said many many times before. Your teens do not need to download every new app that comes down the pike. The more options they have to "play" on their phones the more they will play!!! You should exercise your right as the rightful owner of their phone to limit the number of apps that are on their phone at any one time. If they want a new app, they must read about it on the site above, and then make their case to you about why they absolutely have to have it. There should be a one-to one swap. One old app gets deleted for every new app they want downloaded. The best you can do as parents is limit time and opportunity. The sneakiness of many of these apps take away your control around content. But if they can only use their social networking apps for limited amounts of times with built in "break time" you can at least not feed their addiction 24/7. On Thursday I will address the psychological effects of too much social networking. The only way you can limit time and apps is by installing some form of parental control. PC magazine has done the work for you and reviews all your options. https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2346997,00.asp
MARCO POLO: This app works like an old fashioned walkie talkie, but instead it swaps instant videos. It has all kinds of fun enhancements that teens completely get off on. I get that it is fun. But not when it becomes obsessive, as most things do with teens.
HOUSE PARTY: Face time on steroids. This allows your teen to live video chat with up to 8 people at a time. Think of the Brady Bunch opening! It accesses their contact list so that people can see who's "in the room" and join a chat. But because it accesses and notifies everyone on your contact lists, friends of kids your kids don't know can join if there is room in "the room." This means your teen is meeting kids from who knows where who are into who knows what. Not saying this is a deal breaker, just something you should know and talk about with them. Because this means your teen especially your young teens could be connecting with some other teen from wherever and planning meet ups or who knows what that you won't know anything about.
FIRECHAT: Kids can text without wifi. Maybe you shut your wifi off at night thinking this will deter late night texting. This circumvents this.
YELLOW: It is specifically for teens 13-17. This one feels completely terrifying to me. It is the teen equivalent of Tinder. A teen can post a photo and profile. And they can access other peoples photos and profile. If you think the guy/girl is cute, if you both swipe right, you can "meet up" virtually or in person, swipe left if you're not interested. This gives teens access to complete and total strangers, including adults posing as teens, and young teens being in touch with much older teens. Too may scary situations to mention here. Use your imagination!!This should absolutely be forbidden!
APPS THAT PROMISE ANONYMINITY: AFTERSCHOOL, ASK.FM, MONKEY, SARAHAH. Complete descriptions on the site above. These are all invitations for bullying!!
Okay, I'm done!!! You should be checking your teen's apps regularly if you choose not to limit them through a parental control. Keep yourself educated and informed, so you are speaking about something you know. You need to be an expert on this stuff. And if you have more than one teen you have to do this with, what can I say except...God help You!!!
PS: You might want to share this post with your friends with teen or your teen's friends' parents so everyone knows what the kids are doing!!