Have you looked at your kid’s phone lately?
Lots of kids are good kids. For that reason, it makes sense that many parents, despite the seemingly endless barrage of news about teens screwing up on the internet or social media, trust their kids to make good decisions in real life and on their electronic devices and computers. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Kids are spending way more time on their phones than used to be the case. Before the smartphone era, pretty much all you could do on a phone was call or text someone. Now, almost everything a teen would want to do on a computer, with the exception of homework and some heavy duty gaming, can be done on a cell phone. Just because you limit your child’s internet time on computers, or even monitor what she is doing on her laptop, doesn’t mean you are getting the real picture.
- Vine – Twitter’s short video posting app. Vine is mobile-only.
- Path – A personal social network – Path allows users to share pictures and messages with up to 50 friends. Path is mobile-only.
- Twitter – 71% of Twitter users access the network from a mobile device.
- Facebook – 57% of Facebook users access the site via a mobile device; 20% of users are mobile-only.
- Kik – free messaging app available on all major phone platforms. Kik is also available for iPod Touch.
- Pinterest – popular photo sharing app
- LinkedIn – networking site for job seekers
- Skype – free phone and video calling app
Many parents who didn’t grow up in the smartphone generation underestimate the amount of “stuff” a digital native can do – at no cost – on a smartphone. At a minimum, parents should take a look at their kids’ phones every couple of months. See for yourself what apps they are using, and perhaps who they are communicating with. Talk to your kids about how, even though the phone might seem like a private device, can expose a teen to real risks. Your kid could be sending or viewing something that is completely inappropriate. A “friend” can disseminate one-on-one communications to a wider audience. A simple act of teasing can be construed as bullying.
In a nutshell, what should parents be looking for? Evidence of:
- Inappropriate conduct
- Risky contact, especially with potential predators
- Viewing or interacting with inappropriate content
All of the above can be accomplished on a smartphone. Do yourself a favor and check out what your kid is actually doing with her phone.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.