It’s no secret, kids retreat when parents begin to crowd their private space. Have you noticed when you look for your son or daughter on Facebook, you are greeted by the sound of crickets?
Don’t worry your teen is just as active in social networks, just not the ones where they will run into you. Think about it: When’s the last time you tagged along to one of your child’s parties? Likely when they were 5 or 6! Social networks are no different. Your teen loves you but that does not mean he wants to hang with you online (take a hint). They need to explore, learn, socialize, fail, and win along side their peers without you looking or worse, adding a comment or a “like” to every move they make.
You can still know where they go and parent from afar and do so effectively by asking the right questions and staying informed. Ask them about their online life, what networks and apps they like, what other friends are online, and what they like to share. Ask them what’s the coolest thing about the new apps coming out.
Part of the equation in the success of this conversation is you being informed. So, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time for you to download these 4 top apps.
- SnapChat: Snapchat is a mobile app that is all the rage right now that allows users to send and receive “self-destructing” photos and videos that literally disappear in 1-10 seconds. Photos and videos taken with the app are called “Snaps.”
- Kik Messenger: Kik uses a smartphone’s data plan or Wi-Fi to transmit and receive messages, a feature that appeals to people looking o avoid text messaging rates set by phone service providers. Kik offers fast text messaging service and also allows users to share photos, sketches, voice messages, and other content. Kik Messenger uses a username instead of a phone number, which gives a bit more privacy than other forms of text messaging.
- Vine: is a free mobile application that enables users to record and share an unlimited number of short, looping video clips with a maximum length of six seconds. It’s more fun than YouTube and can be easily shared in seconds without taking up a ton of bandwidth. It’s a fun app that is catching on and mostly used to share quick video messages on Twitter.
- Instagram: Instagram is a free online photo sharing and social network platform. It allows users to upload, edit and share photos with other site members on their phones (the app), through the Instagram website, and instantly cross-share to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumbler. Users post photos and others can “like” and “comment” much like Facebook. Kids love improving photos using Instagram’s many photo filters.
Each one of these apps is basically its own social network that allow kids to connect with kids—some they know and some they don’t. Each app (like any other platform) carries it’s own safety risks such as cyberbullying, sexting, predators, and scammers. Your job as a parent is to stay informed, know where they go, and be able to converse around—and keep them safe within—the technology they love.