Be aware of the apps on your child’s cell phone.
Teenagers and pre-teens are busy maturing and growing. Responsibilities increase and these young people are getting prepared for lives as young adults. As they make their way through the pre-teen and teen years they will go through the mind-field of some potentially dangerous cell phone apps before they reach adulthood.
It doesn’t matter what kind of phone your child has. iPhones, as well as androids, have plenty of apps that can cause problems. (I know I have missed some of the current apps. Please feel free to place new apps in the comment section of this post.)
Texting: Just the tip of the iceberg
Teen emotions run high and impulsive behavior runs equally high. Being an emotional pre-teen or teenager along with possessing a cell phone can be a recipe for disaster. It is true that cell phones can be a great way to stay connected to parents if teens are in after-school sports or have a job.
Strong connections in families are the saving grace in our crazy society. No doubt about it. Cell phones can make communication easier. It is sad to have to admit that the cell phone can also be our greatest hindrance to communication. It is not unusual to see teens, as well as adults, face down in their cell phones not talking to one another.
Some families have rules to promote conversation at dinner by not allowing the cell phone to come to the table with them. This is a start but there is more involved when dealing with the reality of cell phones.
Cell phone apps
An app on cell phones is like fires with a hamburger. You are, most likely, going to have several apps on your cell phone. Some of the apps are used for budgeting to tracking your heart rate after exercise.
They are convenient and handy. They can also build walls between people and lure young people into dangerous territory.
Cell phone apps can lay the foundation for trouble if parents are not aware. Even if you are aware, what do you do to protect your children?
Here are just 6 cell phone apps or online platforms that parents need to be aware of if they hope to keep the connection alive, healthy, and active between their child. It is up to parents and concerned adults to determine whether these apps and cell phones along with tablets are dangerous to our young people. The dangers that can be found in these apps is in how they are used.
Many of the apps just provide a convenient and often cheap means of communication. Most of these apps are free and can be used for connecting with other people. Some of the apps have filters where you can make funny faces and just be silly. The problem lies in the ability for teens to have conversations or share pictures that parents know nothing about.
Sometimes these conversations happen with people that the parents don’t know. More importantly, some of these individuals mean to do our children harm.
List and description of dangerous apps.
- Snapchat– is an app that can be used to snap a brief video and then the video self-destructs. The idea is that funny or silly videos are snapped and then they go away. With that thought in mind, people take more chances on what they are snapping. The user may choose to snap a nude video or something else inappropriate because they feel that it will be gone in a short period of time. The problem is that people can do a screen grab and post the video anywhere they like. Therefore, the video then lives on.
- Snapmap-Snapchat has updated the app. There is now a map that reveals the location of the user. You can put the app on ghost mode but the problem is there is the potential of someone not known to the user seeing exactly where the user is. This is another layer of vulnerability that parents need to be aware of.
- Whatsapp-is an app that can be used to text privately. It is quickly gaining in popularity because it allows you to text free. Users can use the app in groups or one to one conversations. There is an encryption feature that prevents anyone from seeing the conversations of the users. This leaves teens vulnerable to adults that would abuse their trust and also it puts teens at risk for bullying from other teens. It is difficult to deter the inappropriate conversations when you cannot verify what is being said.
- Kik-is another messaging app. The attraction for teens is that Kik has an internal web browser so users can play games, watch videos, listen to music and check out content on Reddit. One of the concerning aspects of Kik is that there is an internal app call Flirt. This exposes teens to others online that may mean them harm. Kik is anonymous which means you do not need to link your account to a phone number, nor do you need to use your real name. Children are vulnerable to abuse and kidnapping as they engage with adults they do not know. There are stories of the anonymous adults posing as young girls persuading other young girls to send nude pictures and then using those pictures to threaten these young girls.
- Omegle-is a platform that doesn’t require an app. You can go directly to the site. Users are paired with others users at random so the potential for inappropriate chats and adult conversation is likely. This again, is dangerous for teens since their judgment is not fully developed.
- Whisper– Users on whisper are sharing their deepest darkest secrets because the platform allows you to be anonymous. The rants or comments can be liked by other anonymous users. Users can private message other users and lure them into potentially dangerous situations.
- Instagram-Finstagram Many of us are familiar with Instagram but have you heard of Finstagram. Finstagram is the fake version of Instagram that can be created to hide certain chats and photo shares. This allows users to have their known persona and secret account in order to keep parents from being able to check on their children.
The possibility of creating fake accounts on other platforms is very real. Parents need to know that they may be checking their child’s online accounts but there are ways for the children to create fake accounts that go un-monitored.
Above everything that we can do in the natural, we must share our faith in Jesus with our children and believe the Lord for their lives and salvation. If our children have a strong relationship with the Lord, they are going to hear the Holy Spirit as He tugs on their hearts when temptations swirl.
This is not to say they won’t make mistakes, but they are likely to think about their actions more carefully when they know their actions may displease the Lord. The underlying problem with these cell phone apps and platforms is that it provides an avenue where parents have a difficult time staying involved and connected to their children’s lives.
Children get the idea that their parents aren’t very smart or are to busy for them. This disconnect only deepens with the abuse of these apps and the potential for seeking connection and understanding from someone other than a parent increases.
There are some things that you, as parents, can do to provide safe boundaries for your children. The first thing you need to do is make sure that the lines of communication are open between you and your child.
They need to know that you are not out to catch them. Teens need to understand that you want them to have good healthy fun lives. Our job, as adults in the lives of these teens and younger, is to communicate that we love them and we want the best for them.
They must trust that. I would also encourage you to think carefully about your child’s age. Just because your 8-year-old child’s friend has a phone of his or her own, that doesn’t mean that it is time to give your child a phone.
You are the parent and you are not running a popularity contest. This is so critical. Children are looking for you to parent them, not to friend them. It takes courage and strength but you are responsible for the safety of your child.
Oh, and by the way, you are the one that is going to be paying the bill. When you feel that your child is old enough to handle a phone, then make that step. This next piece of advice applies to cell phones as well as tablets. All of those screens need to be monitored. The sheer volume of time our children spend on screens is an issue that must be dealt with.
Too much screen time is simply not healthy. Just to point to one issue, studies have shown that too much screen times leads to obesity. I would encourage you to check out Jay Andrews from Reviews Across the Board. He has developed several videos that showcase some the current monitoring devices that can help you keep in touch with what your children are watching and who they are talking to. You may need to limit your child’s screen time. You can do this with a device called Circle with Disney.
I (Rosemerry Blash) am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means that if you go to Amazon from my site and make a purchase, I receive payment from Amazon. This will not cause an increase in cost to you but it does help support this blog. This is a parental monitoring device that has filters and controls that you can use to help you and your child create an onscreen atmosphere that is limited and safe. Taking this precautions when they are young will help equip them for the older years when they need to monitor themselves.
As they mature, they will have the ability to make good choices based on values that you have instilled in them. As I mentioned earlier, parenting is not for the faint of heart but it is one of the most rewarding things you will do in your life. Creating a healthy home atmosphere for your child will ensure healthy generations in the future. This, in turn, will impact our culture and society.
Have you had any concerns with apps your children are using? What have you found to be helpful in dealing with this issue? Please share your comments in the comment section.