The world is a scary place and we all want to keep our adolescents safe when they use technology. Teens are tech savvy. Often knowing as much if not more than we do when it comes to the newest piece of tech. Teenagers are often the victims of questionable choices and hormones, mix in technology and there could be disaster on your hands. When we were kids it was passing notes in the halls of school, or late night phone calls. The ‘note passing’ of this generation is now done through apps.
While the world of cellphone apps is constantly changing, there are a few types of apps you should keep your eye out for on your teen’s phone. Here are a few of them:
These apps are designed to keep pictures, messages and video’s hidden. Examples of these applications include: Calculator%, Audio Manager, and Vaulty (which takes a photo of whomever attempts to open the vault with an incorrect password).
Anonymous Messaging Apps
These apps are designed to allow users to post and send messages anonymously. They are sorted geographically, some limiting seen posts to users within a certain mile radius. While teenagers may feel safe due to the ‘anonymous’ nature of these message boards, they are not entirely anonymous. More importantly, they can have social repercussions. Applications such as Postmark, Whisper and YikYak are examples of these types of applications.
Disappearing Messaging Apps
These apps are designed to allow users to post messages, videos and photos with a time limit of viewing. Individual messages can last for one viewing while stories allow users to view the media for 24 hours. While the application itself is not necessarily sinister, teens need to be aware of the messages they send. No matter the content they do not just disappear. Recipients can save messages or screenshot them to view later. Snapchat and Instagram are examples of these types of applications.
Unlimited Messaging Apps
If you monitor your adolescent’s incoming and outgoing messages, you may also want to be aware of apps that don’t show up in their text messages. I want to stress that the content of these messages isn’t necessarily sinister, but it may go unmonitored as they do not appear on a cell phone bill. These applications require data, be it from your plan or a wifi connection. Applications like these include Whatsapp, Kik, Groupchat, and Hangout.
Always remember you are your child’s biggest advocate; you’re the one socializing them and teaching them the ways of the world. Talk to your adolescent about responsible cellphone/internet app usage, and the repercussions of ‘nudes’ or scandalous photos. Guide them, give them the information they need to make responsible choices, establish boundaries and then trust them to respect them. When and if they do not, design consequences. Every situation is different, as is every child. May the force be with you and happy parenting!