When I was growing up, there were not many online safety practices available to my parents to help protect me online.
Today, we have many more options to help protect children who use mobile devices and computers.
Bark is a proactive dashboard that monitors your children’s text messages as well as 24 different social media websites like Youtube.
Many parents don’t have the time or ability to search through their child’s texts, social media accounts and emails for alarming content.
Bark watches what your children are doing online and reports back to you if it happens to find alarming signs such as cyberbullying, depression, sexting, online predators, adult content and more.
Not knowing who your children are interacting with online and how they are interacting can be a scary thought. With Bark, your child’s activity is monitored without you having to go through their phones to find information.
The program even sends alerts to your phone about your child’s online activity along with suggestions on how to help from psychologists.
The dashboard has prevented 16 school shootings and has detected 20,000 severe self-harm situations since it was developed by a father of two in 2015.
Bark also extends its services to all K-12 public and private schools in the U.S. for no cost and has helped protect children in 1,700 school districts.
A lot of children, especially older ones, try to keep their parents out of their business as much as possible. I think that children would prefer this method of monitoring compared to their parents scrolling through all of their messages and content themselves. Bark will protect your children’s privacy by only alerting parents to information that may be concerning.
I would suggest that parents take advantage of this new technology. I think that it can help you keep up with your kids, without having to sneakily snoop through your child’s phone.
Every day, children access a wide variety of media platforms that are filled with advertisements through their phones, tablets and laptops.
Food and beverage advertisements have been found to be the most viewed on apps such as YouTube and Snapchat.
A Canadian study found that children view over 100 advertisements for food each week on apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.
These advertisements are specifically targeting younger viewers who have low impulse control and low healthy dieting behaviors.
Social media has made it so much easier for marketers to target consumers. They can use digital tools like location settings, preferences and past purchasing data to more accurately grab the consumer’s attention.
According to a study done at the University of Michigan, when children view these frequent, and sometimes persistent food advertisements, it makes them desire the reward of food.
In the study, it shows that when adolescents see unhealthy food commercials, it activates the reward centers of the brain. This then causes the child to want to seek out any type of food related to what they saw in the advertisement.
How you can limit your child’s advertisement exposure:
While it’s practically impossible to completely remove all types of advertisements from your child’s life, there are ways to prevent food advertisements from appearing on their screens.
Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime don’t rely on advertisements for revenue and your kids will not be exposed to any type of advertisements on these apps.
Also through the settings section in apps like Instagram, you can see the advertisements that have been shown to your children as well as learn about what to do if you see an ad you wish to hide. Many of these also have parental control options.
Websites like Common Sense Media can help parents learn about the different apps and streaming services their children use as well.
Those are the two words you see when you open any of the multiple websites that offer online birth control prescriptions.
While this method of obtaining birth control may be helpful for women trying to renew their previous prescriptions, it’s also an easy way for young tweens to bypass a doctor’s trip to obtain a prescription.
Websites like “The Pill Club” and “Nurx” offer first-time birth control prescriptions to women as young as 13 years old. Girls under 18 do not need parental approval to get a birth control prescription.
These websites offer birth control options such as the pill, the ring and the patch. They also offer emergency contraception pills and at home HIV and HPV screening tests.
The process for obtaining a prescription is simple: you provide information about yourself, select the kind of medication you want, a doctor reviews your request, fills the prescription, and your new medication gets mailed right to you.
It is very easy to bypass questions in the process that are important, like if you’ve had your blood pressure measured in the last 6 months and the current medications you may be on. However, if you don’t answer the questions as accurately as possible, you may be prescribed a medication that negativily affects your health.
Insurance information is not required to obtain a prescription from these websites. Nurx, one of the most popular online contraceptive websites, says that you will pay as little as $15 without insurance.
Many young women dread telling their parents when they have become sexually active. The process can be awkward for both the child and parent. But it is necessary for the child to know the dangers that come with sexual activity.
Online birth control websites give young women the opportunity to skip the awkward talk and get a prescription without their parent’s knowledge.
The problem with getting birth control online for a first-time prescription is that many young women do not get informed about different methods of birth control and the side effects that may occur.
Some medications can affect young women suffering from mental and physical health problems. It is very important for anyone considering filling an online prescription for birth control to get well-informed.
My father said those words to me about 5 minutes before I had to
leave for my first high school dance.
Despite my anger, I retreated to my bedroom where I changed into a
less revealing dress for the dance.
Hearing your own father chastise your fashion choices as a teenage
girl with a fragile self-esteem was a devastating experience for me.
Parents tend to restrict what their young daughters wear in order
to avoid drawing unwanted attention to themselves and their children. While
parents almost always have their children’s well-being in mind, at times they
can step over the line.
How parents can cross the line
For the last year, I’ve worked at a popular girls clothing store
and have watched parents tell their children what they can and cannot try on.
While it is understandable that a parent doesn’t want their
children wearing items they don’t deem to be appropriate, some parents don’t
understand why their daughters are dressing the way they do.
Most middle school and even high school girls aren’t dressing scantily
because they are seeking male attention. They dress in the clothing marketed to
them by every clothing store with a teenage demographic.
When parents don’t have an open and honest discussion with their
children about why they do not want them dressing a certain way, the children
usually end up feeling angry or insecure about themselves or their
When I was told I could not wear the dress I had picked out for the
school dance, I felt as if my father did it just to spite me. He never
explained to me why he believed I shouldn’t wear it to the dance. If he had
told me he was worried about what other people might think of me and my family,
we could’ve had a discussion that ended with me going to the dance feeling
better because I would have known he had my best interests in mind.
By limiting what their children wear, parents are restricting their
children’s self-expression and potentially leading their child to instead sneak
around their parents when they don’t approve of their clothing.
How social media affects children and parents
Today, everyone’s lives are exposed like tabloids on social media.
What a lot of young teenagers don’t understand is what they are seen wearing in
pictures on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook can affect how people think about
them as well as their family.
When a teenager posts an OOTD (outfit of the day) picture of
herself in a bikini, more people see the picture than she probably knows. One
of her friends may see the photograph and then show it to her own mother, who
will then make assumptions about how the mother of the girl in the bikini
chooses to parent her daughter.
Parents try their best to avoid being perceived as having a
careless or relaxed parenting style. Which is why social media has become every
parent’s worst nightmare. Now that children can share as many photos of their
clothing choices as they want, more parents are being criticized for letting
their children wear what many stores are selling today.
By talking to your children about how social media can impact how
people view them and their family today as well as in the future, hopefully
they will choose to be more cautious about what they post online.
How to talk to your daughter about her clothing choices
Approaching the subject on what you believe your daughter should
or should not wear can be tricky, especially since most teenage girls are
stubborn and have a very sensitive self-esteem. You don’t want to accidentally
offend them by saying that they shouldn’t be wearing a certain article of
clothing to school.
Parents.com author Kara Corridan discusses different ways to speak
to your tween daughter on what she wears. She suggests speaking to your child
about her clothing choices when she is “feeling relaxed and not in the
spotlight.” This means the best time to talk isn’t when she is trying to pick
out an outfit before school or when you are shopping. Instead, Corridan says to
speak to your daughter when you are both spending some down-time at home.
Corridan also suggests having an open discussion with your child
where you ask them questions about their style in a non-judgmental tone.
Instead of shutting the conversation down with a few words like “go change,”
ask them “why did you choose that outfit?” By understanding why your daughter
chooses to dress in clothing you may object to, it will be easier to explain
your concerns to her.
Author/educator Michelle Icard says that honesty is the best
policy when it comes to talking about this subject with your daughter. She
proposes telling your daughter that she is old enough to make her own choices
and that she should know when her clothes may draw unwanted attention.
While this approach may not be best for every parent, some need to know when to let their daughter make her own choices and when to intervene. Sometimes it’s best to let your children make their own mistakes and learn from them. Teenage girls express themselves through fashion and they need to be able to experiment with new styles. How you choose to handle what they wear is up to you.