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.
As your kid heads back to school this year with their new blue jeans and Nikes, they may also be taking two new apps along with them.
One is “TikTok,” a popular short-form video sharing app that
is currently #1 on the Apple App Store. The other is “YOLO,” a new anonymous
question and answer app students can use as a plug-in with Snapchat. It is #18
on the app store.
While these apps might help your kid pass time on their bus
ride home or during lunch, there are also some real dangers that parents need
to be aware of.
TikTok and Sharing Private Information
TikTok is a social media service that is designed to let
users watch, create and share videos. Often times these videos are filled with
today’s top music hits, which users have access to for free.
Originally known as “musical.ly,” before that app merged with
TikTok in August 2018, this social media channel combines several key concepts
from other popular apps.
It has the feel of “Vine,” a former, popular video sharing service that was known for its hilarious 6-second videos. But unfortunately, due to a lack of revenue, Twitter shut down Vine in January 2017.
When I was a tween myself, Vine was insanely popular for a
summer. While I didn’t have a smart phone at the time, all my friends were
using it. And from what I remember of the app, it was mostly filled with people
doing dumb stunts in order to get likes.
TikTok uses the same rabbit-hole tactic that YouTube uses to hook young users. It pre-loads the next video to keep you from leaving the app.
But just like any social media, the real concern is the amount
of private information your kid could be sharing with the world. TikTok makes
it easy to share too much information with strangers. In fact, by default,
TikTok accounts are set to public, which allows ANYONE to see your videos and
location information, and it allows anyone to direct message you.
Of course, the other major issue with this app is the content kids are watching. Because popular music has a large amount of foul and sexualized language today, your kid might be exposing themselves to this language as well as watching people dance in suggestive ways. Maybe you’re not ready for your kid to watch this.
YOLO and the Danger or Anonymous Apps
When I was growing up, the acronym “YOLO” became popular. It meant “You Only Live Once”. Pretty tame, I guess, but the app is potentially more dangerous, I think.
The app YOLO encourages users to “get anonymous answers” as soon as they are logged into the app. You can either create your own question to ask, or use the “dice” that will prompt a pre-made question. The app then encourages you to post the answers on your Snapchat story.
I have seen a lot of people say some fairly inappropriate things to others using this app. My big concern is cyber bullying. The app is popular enough that a lot of kids could be targeted by these anonymous comments.
Former anonymous social media apps, like “Ask.FM,” “Sarahah” and “YikYak,” created social havoc in my high school, in my opinion. There was such an outcry that a letter was sent home to parents asking them to get their children to stop using these apps. If I remember correctly, iTunes and the Google Play store actually kicked off Sarahah from their platforms in 2018, after they received enormous amounts of backlash because of cyber bullying. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-43174619
Ironically, I believe tweens use these anonymous social
media apps so they can get acceptance from their peers. However, they often get
I think it’s crucial that kids grow up slowly with these apps. You will want to have a serious conversation with your kid about these apps. Sharing personal information and getting caught up in cyber bullying are just two of the issues you should discuss. Try some of our links if you want to learn more.
In today’s always connected world, we have the means
to contact other people with the click of a button. But though we may be more connected
than ever, it doesn’t mean feelings of isolation are gone. For kids growing up in the modern “Internet
Age”, isolation may even be worse.
Unfortunately, a recent study at the University of
Pittsburgh in 2017 confirmed this. It found that young adults who are the most
frequent users of social media experience more social isolation compared to
those who use it the least. The authors believe this may be due to a variety of
factors. These include viewing friends online having fun and not being invited,
seeing people doing things that seem fun and sparking feelings of envy, and
spending more time online than having real life experiences. All of these, they
speculate, contribute to feelings of isolation.
Social isolation can have big effects
As children grow up today, I think this “social
isolation phenomenon” is something to watch out for. Maybe particularly during
the tumultuous time of adolescence. Kids are more susceptible to feelings of being
left out when their friends are doing things together without them.
One source says that the effects of social isolation
are very negative. They include less restful sleep, an increased stress
response by the body, more alcohol and drug use, and even a greater risk of
I remember feeling socially isolated at times when I
was in middle school and high school. My friends would post what they were
doing on Facebook (which had just started getting widely popular) and I would
see how happy they seemed. To teenage me, it was disheartening to see people
having fun without me. Sometimes they were meeting up with my friends in real
life I’d have to hear or see the stories later.
I’m old enough that this was before Instagram,
Twitter, or Snapchat blew up. Imagine how your teen might feel today with all
of these social media outlets at their disposal. They might see their friends
having fun. Maybe they’ll see other people doing an activity they wanted to do.
What can parents do?
One source suggests five things parents can do about
this. One is to encourage volunteering. This improves mental health and can be
very pleasurable. Does your kid like animals? Or small children? Can they help
out at an aging facility? The possibilities are endless.
Also, make exercise a priority. We all know about
endorphins and how they help our mood. Don’t just rely on physical ed at
school, or team sports. Encourage them to hike with you, or take a family bike
ride. Again, the possibilities are endless.
Third, schedule some “off screen” time. Eat a family
meal with no phones allowed. Watch a show together. Maybe game with your kid
(without the head set).
Also, get them outside. Nature has lots of good
effects on our mood and mental health. And finally, talk to your kid. Have
repeated meaningful conversations about their friends, about life, and about
their mental health. What are they thinking and feeling? Learn how to be
patient and helpful, not judgmental or authoritative.
The bottom line
The Internet is a wonderful tool to help connect with others,
but it has the potential to make us feel bad also. Parents, try to help your
child understand that social media interactions are not the only interactions they
can have. And that seeing other people having fun doesn’t mean you’ve been left
out. You’ll have that fun when you see them next time.
We have numerous posts that talk about activities you
could do with your kids, as well as what you should do to protect your child
online. Check out our links below.
Have you checked out your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA), or maybe the national PTA website? I recently had the chance to observe an excellent “Digital Families Community Event” held locally by the local PTA president, Kammi Cooper.
Kammi’s PTA Program for Horace Mann Elementary School
The program was provided by the National PTA, but tailored to the local community. It was interactive and fun for the kids and very informative for the parents. The families got to talk about screen time, creating and sharing passwords, favorite apps and social media sites, and what to share and not to share on the Internet.
Kammi was able to put on such an excellent program because she attended a PTA conference and was awarded a small grant to make this program happen. However, you don’t have to wait to benefit from the wonderful resources the National PTA has put together. I went to their website and clicked on the “Family Resources” and then “Digital Safety” buttons.
There I learned that the PTA has multiple programs sponsored by such Internet powerhouses as Google, Facebook, and AT&T. I particularly liked one called “Smart Talk” put together by LifeLock.
The Smart Talk Program
It is an online learning module you can do with your kid. It helps
you answer questions such as:
How much screen time is appropriate?
How to determine who should “friend” or “follow” your account?
When to share photos or videos online?
How to respond to negative comments or posts on social media?
Whether to use location-based services on apps?
At the end, you can print out the decisions you’ve come to and have it as a record (or kind of contract between you and your kid.) I thought it was excellent!
Go Get More Information
Raising a kid in a digital world is tough. You want them (and you)
to be aware of how they spend online. You want them to be mindful of their
online presence and footpring.
Check out your local PTA and see if they are hosting any of these
programs. If they aren’t, why not initiate one yourself?
And keep learning. This isn’t the exact same world you grew up in!
Maybe what you don’t know are all the harmful products and practices that are popping up on your teen’s social media timeline as a result.
The big player in this game is Instagram. It works well for the influencers (and companies) because of its flashy pictures and cleverly worded captions. It screams “if you use this product, you too can have an Instagram profile as flashy or a body as perfect” as this person.
Well, Instagram recently released some news. And this going to 100 percent affect your kids.
Soon you and your kids will see more influencers that you aren’t even following. That’s because soon brands will be allowed to promote their influencers’ posts and project them onto the screens of the young and impressionable.
In a way, this is nothing new. Instagram already has sponsored posts that show up on your feed in between pictures of your friend’s cat and your coworker’s beach vacation. But now these will be labeled “paid partnership.”
Hey, we know you’re already worried about the kind of material your kid/pre-teen is taking in when they spend hours upon hours in front of their cell phones. So here’s a quick list of some products and ideas that have shown up on your kid’s timeline because of influencers.
Flat Tummy Tea
As the name suggests, this company wants you to believe that by drinking this tea, you will lose weight quickly and easily. A few of the Kardashians have come under fire lately for promoting this product. The company sells lollipops, shakes, and supplements as well as tea.
At this point, many experienced social media users know that Flat Tummy Tea is not only not effective, but it’s dangerous and unhealthy, but these are high school and college students. Younger kids may not be up on this kind of promotion. I think the products either “curb hunger” or “help with digestion,” which means to me maybe they make you sick.
Many influencers don’t actually try the product. They just post a picture with a caption that the company told them to include. Read more about Flat Tummy Tea’s Instagram empire here.
See also: any product that claims
to be healthy while making you cut weight crazy fast.
YouTuber Logan Paul visiting a
Japanese suicide forest
Yes, you read that correctly. Logan Paul posted a YouTube video of himself in the Aokigahara. This is a forest in Japan where many people go to take their lives. Regretably, he showed a body he had come across while filming.
When wildfires broke out in
California, many influencers took to social media to send “thoughts and prayers”
to those affected.
While the captions might have matched the situation, some of the photographs definitely didn’t, such as selfies or perfectly posed, professional photographer pictures. It was a way for the influencers to stay on top of a trending topic while also gaining likes from being “sympathetic.”
So what can you do?
Research. If your teen wants to buy something that they saw promoted on social media, do your own investigation before purchasing. Look up reviews. If it’s something that will be ingested, like a supplement or diet tea, check the ingredients and find out what’s really in it. Also, look for any possible side effects.
Talk. Ask your kid what kinds of things they’re seeing on social media. How do they feel about them? Do they think the influencer actually uses the product or just gets paid to post about it? Open up the conversation so they know that those influencer reviews aren’t always truthful or thorough.
Be present on social media. Not in a snooping way. But it won’t hurt to make your own account just so you know what’s going on in that social media universe. Follow news stations. Follow celebrities. Get a glimpse of what your teen is seeing on their screen.
In a world where technology is supposedly making learning “better and better”, is it “better” if every quiz and test is suddenly “easier”?
Welcome to the new world of online test help – the free app Quizlet.
It’s an app initially created to
allow students to study items with online flash cards. It now also has a
variety of learning tools and games.
But Quizlet is today so much more
than a study aid. It’s actually one of the easiest ways to cheat on a quiz ever
But is it popular? Does my kid even know about it? Yes. If not now, then soon. Quizlet itself says more than two-thirds of high school students and one half of undergraduate students use Quizlet.
I first heard about Quizlet my senior year in high school. My accounting teacher told me a fellow classmate of mine had put all of the vocabulary cards on Quizlet. She said I could use it to study if I wanted to. I didn’t. I preferred old fashioned paper back then.
But once I got to college my use of
Quizlet changed dramatically. Suddenly it seemed whenever I couldn’t find the
answer to just about any general question, from any class, I could find it on
Quizlet. From “Intro to Theater” to “Chemistry For Everyone”, Quizlet always
had my back.
What is Quizlet?
So, a guy named Andrew
Sutherfurland made Quizlet back in 2005. I’m sure he never imagined it would
become as big as it is. Quizlet was originally just a site for virtual
flashcards. Like the classic paper flashcards, these cards have two sides; one
side with a term or a question and the other side with the answer.
After creating the cards, you could
just test yourself or play a game like Match and Gravity.
Quizlet recently expanded by introducing Quizlet Diagrams and Quizlet Learn. Quizlet Diagrams is exactly as it sounds; diagrams that help you study. Quizlet Learn is powered by Quizlet’s new learning assistant platform that helps create an individualized study plan for each student. For more information about Quizlet try this Wikipedia link, or the Quizlet website.
How does Quizlet help enable cheating?
After you make a set of cards you make them public. Most students seem to do this. However, most students simply re-type the questions they see in the book or get handed back to them on quizzes or tests.
Because the Quizlet items are public, when a different student types that exact question into a Google search bar, the Quizlet card, or an entire deck of cards, comes up. Click on the link and suddenly you’re on Quizlet with lots of potential cards that match your search phrase. If the page is long, then most student’s know they can simply hit Control+F (on PC) and Command+F (On Mac). It searches for the first word of the question on the page and takes you right to the answer you want, bypassing all the other cards with ease.
Is this a real problem? Institutions of higher education think so. Read this link article about how rampant Quizlet cheating is. Warning: 12 students got suspended from college in this article.
What can you do?
As a parent obviously you want your kid to learn, not cheat. I would suggest monitoring their homework activities. Are they doing their homework with their phone or a computer out? If so, how are they using it?
Also, maybe have a conversation
about the value of a true education. Explain that it will eventually catch up
to them if they are the kid that didn’t learn the content and other kids did.
And, finally, talk about ethics.
There is such a thing as a “slippery slope.” If you become comfortable cheating
in this way, won’t it be easier for you to let yourself cheat in a different
way, maybe on something more serious?
I wish you good luck parenting.
Your kid’s world is not the same world you grew up in.
Maybe you’ve heard of an “influencer” – the newest big thing in advertising. It’s all the rage right now.
It starts with an average person (or celebrity) who has an opinion. They build a following, and finally, brands jump on board and pay them either with cash or free product to promote the brand’s products.
There are influencers in beauty, fashion, fitness, gaming and more. It’s a marketing strategy that’s becoming widely successful. And you should know about it.
Where are influencers
Instagram is the most popular platform for influencers. Just scroll through your ‘Explore Page’ on Instagram to find numerous influencers you might like. But influencers are on other social media platforms, too. YouTube is a popular place, and so is Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.
Popular (adult) influencers
Influencers often are celebrities. This make sense. Its
easier for them to get a large following. In general, more views = more
business. Kylie Jenner is the highest paid celebrity influencer. She earns $1
million per sponsored Instagram post. Selena Gomez receives $800,000 per post
and Christiano Ronaldo earns $750,000. Kim Kardashian West, Beyoncé, Dwayne
“The Rock” Johnson, and many more make millions from sponsored posts.
But many top influencers are not household names. For example, here are a few of 2018’s top influencers:
Founder of Huda Beauty
24.3 million Instagram followers
2.2 million YouTube subscribers
Actor in “Expelled,” “The Outfield,” &
Well-known for his Instagram content
20.7 million Instagram followers
3.8 million Facebook followers
Male spokesperson for beauty
Covergirl’s first male spokesmodel
2.1 million Instagram followers
15.9 million YouTube subscribers
HGTV’s Fixer Upper host
Magnolia Homes, renovation business, owner with
Instagram reflects her work and personal life
4.8 million Instagram followers
There’s no doubt celebrities and influencers are having an effect on America’s youth. A company called Mintel (link) has reported that one third of kids aged 6-17 consider their top role models to be social media stars, i.e. influencers. This outranks actors, athletes, musicians and even the President.
Also, for kids, YouTube is the second most common source of information about new entertainment and toys, behind only TV commercials. This is not really a surprise. The current generation of youngsters already represent buying power of over $44 billion (link) with an additional $600 billion of family-spending also influenced by this generation.
Is there a problem here?
Maybe. Many parents don’t know that the FCC regulates TV content for children. However, they don’t have a say over Internet content. For example, there have been long standing rules about how much time in each TV show can show commercials, whether a TV show can show a product (called “product placement”), and if there was any compensation for that product placement. The regulators and protectors of children have long had their eye on TV.
But that’s not the case with social media and Internet influencers. Regulators are only now beginning to ask: “Should there be a visible disclaimer if a social media personality is being paid to endorse a product? Should there be restrictions on how much ‘content’ is pure advertising? Should there be quality checks on content for effects on health and safety?”
But you’re probably saying: “But really, what’s the big deal? It’s just stuff my kid watches to entertain themselves? Is it really having any impact?”
“Yes” is the short answer. Though this is so new not many studies are out yet, one study did find that influencers can change what your child eats. (link)
And the Bloomberg news service recently had a panel discussion on how YouTube’s children-focused channels actually have a lot of paid advertising disguised as content.
Do you need to panic? We don’t yet think so. But it is a good idea to monitor closely what your child is consuming on social media. And to find out who they follow and why they follow them.
Be aware that your kid is marketed to just as heavily as every other target demographic. Companies want their business. Meanwhile, Internet regulations with regard to children are not nearly as sophisticated and ingrained as TV rules, so it’s a bit more “user beware” out there.
And don’t forget – they don’t call them “influencers” because they have NO effect on your kid – or the bottom line of the company…
It’s always important that you keep
up with the latest “technology” trends. Particularly if they might pose a risk
to you and your family. A Twitter thread that recently went viral was posted by
SaraSuze (@tragedythyme). It was a reminder about using apps to meet up with
Luckily, the tweet did not tell of an attack, but it did go viral. Probably because many women want men to know it isn’t as easy for them to do something that most men don’t worry about – like meeting a stranger to buy, sell or trade something.
Sara was using the app LetGo. It’s a very popular app. Currently #26 on the Apple App Store. Many similar apps are also popular, like Offer Up, Vinted, and DeClutter.
It’s true that these apps are slowly phasing out traditional trading sites like eBay or Craiglist. And no one really thinks the younger generation is going to be reading the classified ads (if newspapers still exist). So it’s likely your kid will eventually use one of these apps.
On the positive side, the apps are
easy to navigate, and many have filters that make them a more convenient buying
and selling experience. But it is still
the case you don’t necessarily know who you’re communicating with. Fortunately,
I’ve had mostly good experiences.
For example, I’ve also used LetGo. It
is a basic buying and selling app. Users post items for sale, communicate with
potential customers, and hopefully sell the item once you meet up in person.
The biggest con many might experience with the app is that you can’t pay within
the app, so sometimes closing the deal can be a drag.
I bought a Long Board once using
the app, and it was as easy as showing up at a lady’s door, handing the woman
$25, and taking the board home.
I’ve also used Facebook’s Marketplace. Ironically, this might be one of the safer methods because you can easily check out the person’s profile before you meet with them. Of course, just because the person’s profile looks legit doesn’t mean it always is. There are some fake bot profiles that post items and vehicles that are too good to be true, in an attempt to scam you. But, I actually did buy my car off of Facebook Marketplace and it went surprisingly well. I got a reliable car for a great deal from an honest guy who was moving South with his family. But I’ve also had friends whose experiences did not go as well.
It doesn’t take much work to find a news story about a bad buying experience on one of these apps. Pooja St. Amand, of Middletown, Connecticut, told ABC News in a 2017 interview that she was robbed after attempting to sell an iPad. Although she took proper precautions by meeting the stranger in a populated community center parking lot, she still felt she was put in serious danger. (link)
I’ve also used OfferUP. It’s pretty much identical to LetGo, though
some say it has worse customer service. I used this app when I sold some old KC
Lights that go on top of a car. I had a good experience and the buyer came the
next day to pick them up for his Jeep Wrangler.
Some other apps I haven’t tried include Vinted, a sales app used for trading older clothing and other vintage items specifically, and, Declutter, an online yard sale. There’s also thredUp, a newer app for selling secondhand clothing.
Tips to stay safe when buying and selling online
Although all of my online buying and selling experiences were OK, they did get me thinking after I read @tragedythyme’s tweet. What if they hadn’t? And what if I was smaller, or a woman, or teen? I was a guy, over 18 years old, and I did take a few precautions.
So after a little bit of research I discovered these tips for using buy/sell/trade apps:
Call your local police department to find a safe meet-up spot.
People used to say to meet a stranger in a public space, such as the parking lot of a McDonalds. It used to be just make sure there is enough light so you are visible.
But because of recent stories of assaults and robberies during meet-ups even in public areas, some local police departments have set up designated safe meet-up spots. Most of them are located in the parking lot of the police station. I agree – that should work.
Bring a friend.
Whether you’re the buyer or the
seller, it’s always good to be on the safe side and make sure you or your kids are
not meeting a stranger alone. The more the merrier, I think.
Use your phone.
That might feel obvious, but it bears repeating – always have your phone. And maybe make sure other people know you are making a transaction. Share your location with your friend, spouse or family member. And keep “location tracking” turned on. To learn how to enable this on your iOS device or Android, click here.
Use cash and avoid giving out personal information.
I discovered you should only bring
the agreed upon amount of cash. And while it’s always nice to meet a friendly
face, don’t let your guard down. Also, avoid giving up crucial personal
information, such as your address, bank information, occupation or social
Trust your gut.
At the end of the day, you have to
listen to that little voice inside your head. Be aware of your surroundings and
leave if things somehow begin to go south. No amount of money is worth your
safety and well-being.
Will this danger get worse in the future?
As time goes on, it seems likely the dangers of meeting strangers with buy/sell/trade apps will only grow. For example, very recently, three LetGo-related attacks occurred in a small Delaware community (link )
Most of these occurred while people were buying or selling a smartphone. The attackers took the victims’ cellphones and wallets. One victim was even injured.
So, at the end of the day, YOU and YOUR KIDS need to be careful with these apps. You have to be sure to set a good example. And be aware of your kids online behavior. Are they going to start buying and selling things online? You’ll want to know.
For some of our other blogs on your kid’s technology, try:
In a world full of negativity, it can be hard sometimes to spot the positive. Media companies purposefully hype up the bad news because it gives them more customers (and therefore, more money through advertising). Why is that? Because, sadly, we want bad news. Numerous studies have confirmed it (for example, click here and here) and when a news site goes totally positive, it loses readership big time (click here).
But positive things are happening every day. Sometimes they happen slowly, so they don’t make great news stories. For example, CNN recently thought of a few great things that happened in 2018:
North and South Korea ended the Korean War.
The United States’ unemployment rate was the lowest it has been since 1969.
Women in Saudi Arabia were finally allowed to drive.
Researchers developed a 10-minute cancer test.
157 new species were discovered in Southeast Asia.
A record number of minority and gay athletes competed in the Olympics.
NASA’s Insight captured the first sounds of wind on Mars.
The Online World and
So, good things are happening. But what about the online world? Any parent knows that today’s kids are more plugged in than ever before. In fact, one estimate is that, because of smartphones and computer screens, 1 in 3 Internet users are now adolescents or children.
But maybe it’s not all bad (as a recent Huffington Post article declared). A really cool book that came out in Jan. 2019 (link at bottom) argues that several good things are happening because your kid can access the Internet:
Learning is possible anytime. As our own example, consider DuoLingo, a free app that allows anyone to learn a language on their phone 24/7. Dr. Lauber is currently using it to learn Spanish and he says he loves it. Your kid will have more opportunities to learn than any generation before. And online communities are forming around these platforms. This will allow your children to find friends who share their hobbies and interests.
Social media can help tweens strengthen their current relationships. Did you know that more than 90% of teens say they use social media to connect daily with people they know in real life? And that’s even true for gaming. More than 75% say they play with real friends and they feel more connected because of it. Teens say they are staying in close touch with their family members through the Internet. Again, our example? Dr. Lauber says he is hasfar better communication with this three kids, who have left the house, than he ever had with his own parents because of the Internet.
The Internet allows your child to participate in cultural
change and social movements. Did you know Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani
girl that got shot on a bus by the Taliban but went on to win the Nobel Peace
Prize in 2014, started at age 12 by blogging about girl’s rights in 2009? All
over the world young people’s voices are being heard because the Internet
allows that to happen.
Social media can also contribute to volunteering, voting, and donating. Many young people are civically engaged in their own neighborhoods and communities because of the power of social media. In fact, one 16-year-old created an app called “Sit with Us” to help kids find a group of students to eat lunch with so they would never again have to eat lunch alone.
Finally, creativity is also prospering through the Internet. Apps and software for writing, photography, videography, and more, are popular with tween and teens. They allow even the youngest to discover their expressive and creative side.
What can you do?
We think you can help your tween by focusing on the good happening in the world. And by remembering that technology is just a tool. It can be used for good or bad. Teach them appropriate use of each app or software they install. And role model good behavior. Maybe you can show them how to learn about volunteering opportunities in their own community. Or how to turn their passion for any social cause into progress and action by learning how to communicate and possibly mobilize their community.
In the end you have a far greater influence on your tween/teen than they are likely to admit. Keep it positive. Balance out all of that “bad news” media. And teach that an act of kindness really does go a long way. Even farther, in many ways, than the Internet.
For more good stuff like this, check out Diana Graber’s great book “Raising Humans in a Digital World”.
So, you may know the expression “going down the rabbit hole”. It means going into the unknown and perhaps having unique or disorienting experiences. It comes from Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”.
If your kid hasn’t already done this several
times with YouTube, they soon will.
For example, imagine checking on your child.
You’ve presumed their off playing with their toys or maybe their father. And
instead you find them watching another kid on YouTube play with his toys – and
perhaps his father.
Meet Ryan Toys Review. A 7-yr-old YouTube sensation with 18 million subscribers and an estimated net worth of $22 million.
Many of my
younger cousins and nephews, and even the children I nanny for, are glued to
their iPad or phone. Out of curiosity, I tend to peak at what they’re doing.
I’d say about nine times out of ten they are viewing YouTube videos. Though I
can’t lie and say I don’t enjoy watching YouTube videos also, I do find it mind
blowing the amount of YouTube and screen time these kids will spend in a day.
And I know Ryan
and his parent’s mean no harm by their successful YouTube Channel, it does get
you thinking. Why would a child enjoy watching someone ELSE play with toys
instead of just playing with toys THEMSELVES? I don’t have the perfect answer
to that. Maybe it takes less energy. Maybe it’s about discovery and they
already know about all of their own toys. I’m not sure.
But I did do a little research. Did you know kids between 0 and 5 only spend 50 minutes online but kids from 8 to 12 spend six hours a day? And it goes up to 9 hours a day for teenagers? (This comes from the website Common Sense Media .) Sure, this can be the time you get your household chores done, but in the end, are you allowing a YouTube obsession to get started in your kid?
And does it get better with age? Here’s a graph that shows over 25% of Americans visit YouTube several times a day. That’s a quarter of us!
So, what do you
want to do about it?
This is completely up to you. But I think the first step is NOT deleting the app or banning the computer. I hope instead you consider simply limiting screen time. Plus there are parental controls in most of these apps, including YouTube. One thing you can do, for example, is turn off or pause the search history. This will stop new videos from magically appearing once the current video is done. That blocks the rabbit hole. Or makes it less inviting.
I also think it’s important to sit down with your child and actually observe what they’re watching on YouTube. Many times it will be fine, though you may want to look out for videos that are essentially commercials. We all know that kids are a prime target audience for marketers and there are far less restrictions about what they can do on YouTube than they can put on TV, for example.
You may also want to subscribe for your child some educational channels. No harm in that, right?
And finally, why
not sit and talk with your child about what they find so fascinating about
their favorite YouTube videos? Maybe there’s a chance you could duplicate that
intrigue in some real world activity?
And wouldn’t that
be cool. Instead of art imitating life, you could figure out to get life to
imitate art. YouTube art that is.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to run now. Those kitten videos aren’t going to watch themselves!