Small Town Times January Newsletter - Page 18

are under the impression the video content will be erased after it is viewed. Like Snapchat, what users don’t know is how long the server is holding onto the private content and capturing personal data once teens use it. Wishbone – A survey app to compare anything and everything This app can allow teen users to compare and rate each other side-by-side on a scale. Where most posts might concern pop culture, locations or preferences—Wishbone can be a harmful tool to encourage cyber- bullying amongst teens. It simply invites an adolescent (who’s brain is still forming) into all kinds of unhealthy comparisons. Whisper – An anonymous photo and video messenger app Teens are using this app to share photo and video messages or “whispers” anonymously. Though users have no personal identity or contact information in the app, they do have a username and can be messaged pri- vately by anyone within the app. Since the app is anonymous, teen users are at risk to being contacted by predators. What You Can Do as a Caring Adult Parents, teachers, coaches, youth workers and employers can enable kids to break free from the traps and temptations these apps represent. Let me offer three common sense steps you can take: 1. Get your own tracking app to see what they are up to. We all want to believe the best about our kids, but even the best, most respectful teens can fall prey to these tantalizing apps on their portable device. suggests some others that help you guide and guard teens:  Bark: Bark’s affordable, award-winning service proactively monitors text messages, emails, and 24 different social networks for potential safety concerns, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind.  Forcefield: Sleep apps on your kids’ mobile devices, see all websites visited and photos posted on social media, lock in YouTube Restricted Mode & SafeSearch—all from your own phone.  Smart Social – Parent University: They write on their site: “Our positive social media training videos show par- ents and students how to shine online. We make digital safety fun while getting kids to protect their online im- age.” 2. Host a discussion about this subject. Sometimes, adults are forced to take a smart phone away from a young person, feeling they’ve lost the privi- lege due to their irresponsible decisions. Far better than taking a phone away, however, is starting a conver- sation about this topic. For example, if you obtain a tracking app, watch it for a week or so, then ask your teen about what apps they use, allowing them to be honest with you before you reveal what you’ve seen. The con- versation can be cautionary (if they’re not using any of these dangerous apps), or it can be corrective (if they are). Consider using the same logic I used with my kids after they got their driver’s license: “It’s not that I don’t trust you on the road, I am just concerned about the thousands of other drivers who may not be as trustwor- thy.” 3. Create an agreement. Years ago, I began hearing about parent/child phone contracts, that allow a caring adult to put in print the terms of use for a teen’s smartphone. This is a perfect way to define how you want them to use the phone that you purchased, before they ever get it in their hands. I believe you can craft an agreement even after they have a phone. This one can clarify your expectations about dangerous or damaging apps, and how you expect them to navigate them wisely. They get to keep the phone as long as they stay within your boundaries. Here’s to you leading your kids wisely as you launch a new year.