Mobile: Where it all Happens
One of the biggest changes in the past few years is the
proliferation of mobile devices among teens and children, and the new social networks to go along with them.
From services that are connected to geographic locations (such as campus- or school-specific apps), and apps such as SnapChat that delete messages after they’re sent (which can make it extremely hard for parents to monitor), the Internet landscape is changing rapidly — and mobile is at the forefront.
Talk to your kids, monitor their phones
It’s likely your teens will know about these apps long before a parent will, and it’s amazing how quickly widespread adoption can happen by word of mouth among kids.
Since mobile can be so hard to monitor, the best line of defense is an open and honest relationship with your child about the dangers of these tools and how they can be used responsibly. Set boundaries, and make them very clear.
Make it clear their use will be monitored, and make the difference between “monitoring” and “spying” very clear. Let your kids know you’ll be checking in on them, and what’s expected of them. Keep an eye out for unfamiliar apps, and ask your child to explain them to you if needed.
Anonymous gossip tools
A new type of social media tool popularized among college students is taking high school (and middle school) campuses by storm: anonymous gossip. It’s basically a digital bathroom wall, where students feel they have the freedom to say anything about anyone. Needless to say, these can become vicious and mean very quickly. From different mobile social apps to anonymous Twitter feeds with an email attached, these gossip forms can take several different forms. These are a relatively new phenomenon but have become extremely popular. Talk to your children about the negative effect they can have on someone else by participating.
Consider limiting mobile time
For many kids and teens, mobile phones have replaced the desktop or laptop computer as the primary communication tool. To that end, parents may want to consider setting boundaries for when and how much mobile phones can be used, and which apps are allowed. Cell phones are amazing communication tools, but like anything else, they should be used in moderation.