Let’s face it, kids today are using smart phones day in and day out. And I am here to tell you that they are most likely not being used to call their parents. Apps are the reason most of our kids are using smart phones. The argument that parents have when it comes to giving their child a smart phone is the fact that they want their kids to be able to contact them. That is a true statement, as kids do make an occasional phone call, send text messages and they adore social media and their apps!
Just last week I had a parent tell me, “My child (11 years old) knows who to use the smart phone, so I don’t have too.” My jaw dropped. Seriously? Parents, wake up! Your kids are sexting, sending obscene text messages and they are not afraid to tell a friend something online that they would not want to say in a face to face conversation. Think about this. You, as a parent, probably have a few Facebook Friends. When you see one of them out and about, do you have a face to face conversation or walk on by? Its important for adults to have those real conversations, so our kids can see how important those face to face conversations are.
Did you know that it is not uncommon for our kids of today to share a nude photo of themselves online? Sexting recently hit the newswire in my hometown, and it sickens me that many parents do not see this as a problem. Seriously? Where is the respect for oneself? It is NOT ok to take nude photos and share them through social media. I cannot bear to hear the words, “It goes away after 10 seconds one more time.” Kids are hanging out on SnapChat because they assume these photos magically disappear. Lesson here- Parents, open up a SnapChat account and follow your kids and their friends.
Instagram is an app that many young kids are flocking too. The best advice I can give a parent that has a child that wants to use Instagram is to follow them and their kids’ friends. I personally had a friend who saved the life of an 11 year old because she was following him on Instagram. His parents were not. In fact, his parents did not know what Instagram was, how to take a Screen shot and that Instagram was an app that their son could use. This 11 year old used Instagram as a cry for help, as he posted a “suicide” note through Instagram. That is reason enough for parents to learn how to use the apps that our kids are using.
Invest in a service that allows you, as a parent, to see where your kids are going online. Yes, this will be an added monthly cost to your cell phone bill, but worth it. If you can afford to give your child a mini computer, you can afford the $9.95 monthly fee (somewhat near that) to keep them safe while online.
I challenge you- be “that” parent! Be the one that is standing up to protect the kids in your community. Someone has to take the lead, why not you?