It’s just part of life for a Tween/Teen to have a smartphone these days. It is ever popular! But, do we as parents, really know what “apps” are their phones? Should we really care? Yes, the fact of the matter is yes. It is our job to teach them about safety and privacy issues. Does your Tween/Teen understand the potential issues of privacy? Do they understand the implications of over-sharing online? Do they understand what Permanence is? Do they understand that there is no such thing as “private” on the internet?
Parents need to have a conversations with our tweens/teens to teach them how to be responsible when they use their devices. Parents should discuss the dangers of sexting and sending photos of themselves. I hear a lot of parents say “oh my kid would never do something like that.” But it’s so easy for tweens/teens to get pulled into things they don’t know about because their friends are doing it. It’s a curiosity thing. Just going to a place on the internet or viewing an app to see what “friends” are talking about can pull them in. “Pop-ups” are sneaky and come up all the time when you download “free apps”. Those “pop-ups” are advertisements to ALL kinds of things good and not so good. Here are some tips for parents from www.commonsensemedia.org I found very helpful.
- Talk about social networking apps that have location-sharing. Increasingly, many apps make it easy for tweens/teens to post their location, which opens them up to safety and privacy issues, including the possibility of face-to-face meet-ups with strangers.
- Establish rules about which kinds of apps are OK to download. We don’t recommend location-sharing apps, mean-spirited apps, alcohol/drug-related apps, or apps with hefty in-game fees. If the iTunes App Store account is registered under your credit card and email address, you’ll get a notification of what was downloaded. (this little tip is invaluable.)
- Watch where your kids are spending their time. Opt-in game networks like Open Feint, Crystal Network, and Plus+ offer networking options, including chat – which many be OK with you, but certainly should be discussed so you can establish healthy, responsible ground rules.
(Download the Common Sense Media app so you can get age-based media guidance on the go!) (Great Tool)
Bottom line, it’s never too late to have a conversation about smartphone safety and it should happen more than once. Parents need to make the time to engage with their tweens/teens on what they are viewing. Do You Know What Apps are on your Tween/Teen’s Smartphone?