Today’s technology has broadened the minds and avenues of kids to discover the world outside of their homes. Kids often discover the option of finding interesting apps that are not beneficial; they can, however, become addictive or even a target to the secret media trying to destroy the youth of today.
The Craig County Prevention Planning Team (CPPT) believes that wisdom and education in this vast and growing arena can be the best solution for parents to help their children.
“With the spread of technology, many youths now have new phones or other technology that they will use much less to talk, and much more to connect with others via texting and apps,” CPPT members said. Below are some apps for parents to be aware of.
- Social Media Apps – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are the most common of these apps, but there are plenty more. Certainly, these apps can be a great way to stay connected with others in a positive way. Unfortunately, they can also be used to share too much information, create feelings of being left out of events and send pics that can never be “unsent.”
- Hiding Apps – It is important to know that while one may think they have access to their child’s account, it is common for youth to create alternate accounts and hide them from their parents. These apps often look like other things. Some examples would be a secret folder, a secret photo album and a secret calculator. Therefore, the calculator icon on your child’s phone home screen very well may be a calculator or it may also be something completely different, hiding a frequently used app or file right under your nose.
- Anonymous Apps – These apps allow people to do a host of things anonymously, including judging the physical attractiveness of people (e.g. Hot or Not), asking anonymous questions (Ask.fm) which often results in cyberbullying and other problems, having the ability to stream live video (Live.ly) requiring no personal info or age verification, and the ability to post comments (YikYak) that only people within a certain radius (one-five miles) of the person posting can read. Imagine that in any local school setting. There is no log-in, no identification and no verification. But everyone can read what is posted without anyone knowing who made the post!
“Technology is not good or bad on its own,” said J.D. Carlin, a Prevention Specialist with Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare and both a CCPT and RAYSAC (Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition) member.
He added, “Just like we need to guide youth on how to behave and be respectful, we also need to them on how to use technology in positive ways and how to avoid its dangers.”
Carlin emphasized that regardless of where youth are from, they still have the same makeup.
“It is strange to say, but phones and tablets and their apps may be the single thing youth are least educated and prepared to use at this moment in time,” said Carlin before adding, “We need to fill our roles as adults to change that and here are some helpful hints for parents and adults to do.”
- The most important thing a parent or adult can do to help a child use technology is to set a good example and talk with them about how to be safe online and when using phone apps. It seems so simple, but it takes a real commitment to have conversations about what is appropriate to share online, how much time being spent online is acceptable and where technology can be used. If you are on your phone at the dinner table, the message is clear to your child and they will think it is okay for them to be on their phone at the table too.
- Let your child know that “you are aware” of the various apps out there. Tell them which ones you approve and don’t approve. Let them know what the consequences will be if you find unapproved apps on their phone. And let them know you know how to find these apps and you will be looking for them. You can Google how to find hidden apps to get instructions.
- Get educated about the most recent apps youth are using. Where does your child spend their time online and what apps are they using? Who are people they are connecting with most online or on their phones? What are the topics of their conversations? And are the things they are doing being shared with only a very specific group of others or open to everyone in the world to see? And remind them that even if they think it’s only shared with a few people it could still be shared by others without their permission.
- Consider getting an app that allows you to keep track of your child’s location and/or app use. These apps usually do come with a fee, but are generally not too cost prohibitive. Some examples would include: bark, family locator and family tracker. All three are currently available in the Google Play Store or Apple Store.
- For additional community resources, please visit. www.craigppt.org.
Lastly, make sure the youth know that you are going to be keeping up with what they are doing on their phone, and then, do exactly that. Words carry weight, but action enforces it and lets a child know that you really do care.
In today’s world, a child’s phone may be the single most important item they. Therefore, talk with your child.
“Adults need to talk with youth,” Carlin said. “The more talking we do, the more listening we can also do. And youth need us to do lots of both.”