Parental Control Software
Click here for links to parental control software for the internet and electronic devices.
Snapchat fueled an astronomical rise in sexting among young people. Well, meet Snapchat’s sinister uncle. It’s a new app called Sobrr (www.sobrr.me).
According to PR surrounding its release, Sobrr is “a new location-based mobile app where everyone you friend and everything you post expires in 24 hours.” The idea is built around an insidious promise: “If you only had 24 hours to live your life to the fullest—with no baggage from the past and no future to worry about—what would you choose to do?” A moment in time with no consequences…just what teens want!
From the PR company hired to get the word out about Sobrr:
STEP 1: GO SOMEWHERE. Set aside your baggage and go somewhere awesome in your hometown or halfway around the world.
STEP 2: JOIN FORCES. Wherever you are, instantly discover others around you who also want to seize the moment.
STEP 3: BE EPIC. Do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing and document it on Sobrr with updates, photos, and chat messages. Others can swipe to cheer you on.
STEP 4: MOVE ON. Everything you’ve shared and all the friends you’ve made automatically expire in 24 hours.
Imagine: A spontaneous road trip with new friends to a destination you don’t know. Skinny dipping under the summer stars with cheap wine and big smiles. An epic Vegas bachelor party that you can’t quite remember, nor forget. That’s Sobrr.
Sobrr’s creator, Bruce Yang, is an engineer who wanted to create the ‘app of his dreams.’ Unfortunately, this app sounds like a parent’s nightmare.
(Courtesy Simply Youth Ministry)
Unlocking the Secret of Vault Apps
Designed to protect passwords, account numbers, and the like, vault apps have been hijacked by teenagers as a way to hide everything from inappropriate photos to illicit text messages.
On initial inspection, these apps look like a calculator or other common smartphone feature. They function as a normal app unless the correct password is entered. Then, they open like a picked safe, revealing the user’s most secret possessions.
Enabling parental controls on a phone is the first step in defending against this type of subterfuge. Setting the “ask to buy” feature means parents will be notified before kids can download any app.
CommonSenseMedia.org provides parents with safety and sleuthing tips regarding the latest technology. The site encourages several accountability measures with smartphones:
- Constantly discuss phone safety, rules, and responsibilities with your teen.
- Don’t assume the worst if your teen has a vault app, but don’t naively dismiss such apps either. Ask why they’re there.
- On iPhones, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Camera to see which apps have used the camera. This will reveal any camera apps disguised as something else.
Remember: You’re raising the most tech-savvy generation in history. Teens will experiment and explore simply because this technology exists, so talk with your kids about the wisdom of having anything on a phone that needs to be hidden.
Click here to watch a Today show segment covering some of these apps and how to monitor their use. Some of these have been talked about by Legacy students so we want to help equip you to have discussions with your kids.
What’s Happening “After School?”
A new app geared toward teens is sweeping high school campuses across America. After School lets teens post anonymously to a message board geared towards their high school. After School limits its audience by using Facebook accounts to verify high school attendance. As with similar apps, the uncensored, anonymous exchange of ideas has given way to bullying and inappropriate content. Parents need to decide if they’ll let their kids use an app that’s tough to monitor and is high risk for social conflict.
Privacy & Monitoring
Be sincerely honest about monitoring teens. Don’t sneak or go all James Bond on them, but remind them how much you want to stay involved in their lives. Help them understand that having access to social media accounts and talking about media messages is not an invasion of privacy. It’s a love-invasion that you have launched on behalf of the relationship and their future.
Be aware of what’s happening with your kids on their social media sites, but don’t become obtrusive. Consider these guidelines: Don’t send friend or follow requests to your teen’s friends or comment on their posts. Keep ’liking’ to a minimum and use social media to glean information, not to become part of the conversation.
Behind the Selfie
Probably you’ve seen your kids or their friends laughing it up on a selfie. Recently, the new trend is to see how many people you can get into your selfie – which is a little bit ironic, when you think about the title.
Selfies are cute. And in some cases, they’re great community builders. A selfie is usually followed surreptitiously by posting it to social media with a hashtag. Hashtags help people search specific topics or pictures and give a creative outlet to #stringingwordstogether.
In some ways, selfies can be a digital form of journaling—a fun way to keep records of and share special moments. But there’s an underlying danger we need to watch for. Selfies are a subtle saboteur of authenticity. Our kids live under a proverbial microscope. Everyone watches everything…and comments on it or hashtags it or ‘likes’ it…or doesn’t. This compels some kids to take the perfect photos, craft the perfect status updates, or Vine the perfect video clips.
Selfies (and other short social media quips) take a normal, mundane life and turn it into a Project Runway moment – pouty lips and all. And kids will take photo after photo until they get it just right.
They’ll delete updates that don’t ‘perform’, according to their standards, with enough likes, retweets or hearts. Selfies can silently drive some kids to achieve a false sense of perfection – and boost self-worth based on the performance of the newsfeed.
Help your kids think strategically about WHO they are (and WHOSE they are) beyond their photos and hashtags. Remind them that perfection is a disappointing, impossible pursuit.
Texting & Driving
Now that texting has become a main mode of communication, texting and driving is a major safety concern. Even popular celebrities and hit TV shows (for example, Adam Levine and The Voice) are bringing awareness to this serious issue.
At textinganddrivingsafety.com, you’ll find tons of information and resources to help inform your kids about the dangers of driving while texting. The site also provides an agreement to not text while driving. Print out a copy of the contract and have your teen drivers sign it. And remember to set a good example for them by keeping your cell phone safely stashed while you’re behind the wheel.
Drop the Call
Most parents of teenagers vent their frustrations about their kids’ intense connection to a mobile device. You may even have tried to stem the tide of the “texting coma” that overtakes your own kids each evening.
Yet teens themselves are issuing a similar, less-recognized cry about parents who can’t put down their own phones. Young people crave communication with their parents, but now teens are rolling their eyes at parents who have to stop every three feet to carry on a text conversation.
While it’s natural for teens to begin pulling away from their parents (and using a cell phone might be one attempt at that), parents shouldn’t send the same message. Kids need to know you’re fully engaged with them, even when they’d rather not be fully engaged with you. Try this:
- No cell use during meals, after a certain hour, in the car, etc.
- If cell use is absolutely necessary, provide an explanation (“I’m sorry, but this is my boss. I’ll get off ASAP.”)
- Wait to use apps (social media, weather, etc.) until the kids are otherwise occupied.