Parents need to know the social media apps teens are using to protect them. Even in affluent communities like Plano, Texas, parents facing challenges of modern bullying should understand that when in the past, a bully was left on at the school yard, and today they are always present on the social media aps teens are using. Without any parental or adult intervention, children may do and say anything with no fear of consequences.
Many years ago, children left the mainstream social media apps like Facebook and Twitter to avoid parents and adults. They may still have a Facebook and Twitter page, but they do not use it as a primary social app, they use it for post safe for grandmother to see. Thinking that looking at your child’s Facebook page alone does not mean you are inside their social media world.
Instagram is a common place for teens to share photos, make comments and message one another privately. Teens know parents can see their Instagram. The username your teen uses on Instagram is likely their username or handle on the other social media apps teens are using. What your teen likely assumes is that you will not find the common apps where teens interact, for good and for bad.
Ten of the most common apps
Plano, Texas divorce lawyer Mark Scroggins suggests parents get familiar with the common social media apps teens may be using. The app descriptions and uses may be alarming, as they are explained in a recent article for parents.[i]
- Calculator% – A secret app for saving photos that kids might like because the app button looks like a real calculator and parents might not think to look at the app if they are accessing content in their children’s devices.
- Hot or Not – The app used by strangers to rate your profile for dating. No parent wants to find their child on an app where their physical appearance is scrutinized.
- Omegle – A chat website app promoting chatting with strangers anonymously. As a parent you may be concerned that your teens are talking to people who are not who they claim.
- Burn Book – Nothing is worse than knowing anonymous people can post rumors about your teens through photos, texts and audio messages. This is a hot spot for bullying.
- Yellow (Yubo) – The Yellow app, recently renamed as Yubo, allows teens to flirt and find others like the Tinder app used by adults.
- Wishbone – Like Hot or Not, Wishbone allows teens to compare and critique one another, using rating scales. Social media bullies have endless opportunities to put others down.
- Whisper – Sharing secrets and meeting new people is the purpose of the Whisper app. Having and sharing dirt on others is particularly damaging to teens who talk ridicule very seriously.
- Kik – Another messaging app where parents are not usually found is called Kik. Teens may like using Kik because they have unlimited text messaging using their anonymous profile.
- Ask.fm – A bullying hot spot, Ask.fm allows anonymous user to ask a question and get an answer. Gaslighting is something to watch for if your teen uses Ask.fm.
- Instagram – Teens know parents consider Instagram a photo library, while teens use it for hiding content from parents by exchanging private messages among themselves. One of the features teens may like about Instagram is the automatic deletion of messages once a user leaves a conversation so that there is no message trail.
The argument for secretly monitoring your children on social media
In our recent Scroggins Legal panel podcast discussion with Collin County, Texas Judge Cynthia Wheless, Sergeant Mitch Selman and Deputy Jessica Pond from the office of the Collin County Sheriff, we highlighted the importance of monitoring your children on social media to help identify and address bullying concerns and alienated children. We talked about parents finding their teen’s profile name or handle first, then making your own secret profile and find your teen’s profile and content without them knowing.
Some parents chose to allow their teens to use certain apps so long as they give parents their usernames and abilities to monitor them using features offered by certain social media apps.
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