Technology and Internet Safety
The internet is an amazing resource that offers our children unlimited opportunities for learning, constructive entertainment and personal growth. New technologies offer many ways to communicate, and youth today have fully embraced these technologies. They have become a major part of our children's social environment. The world of computers, cell phones, gaming systems, and the internet are constantly expanding and changing, and it is not uncommon today that children are more knowledgeable than adults.
Many schools talk to students regarding their digital footprint and how to keep your digital footprint clean. It is through a local school that we have recently learned of some ways the internet and phone applications are staying one step ahead of parents. Snapchat, for example, has created a secret feature to their Snapchat app called "My eyes only". This feature within Snapchat requires a different password that parents are not aware of and is a place wher youth are able to hide pictures from their parents. In addition, youth may be setting up fake Intagram accounts called "Finstagram" to hide images from their parents. Photos and videos shared on Instagram are public unless privacy settings are adjusted. Hashtags and location information can make photos even more visible to the community if the youth's account is not set up as Private. Instagram Direct is like texting with photos or videos and you can do it with up to 15 friends.
We must talk with our children (ALL ages) about the importance of keeping a positive digital footprint, the implications of possessing or sharing inappropriate pictures of minors (even if they are a minor), respecting oneself, and respecting others with kindness. Your child may be pressured to share an inappropriate image with others. "It is not a big deal", "Be chill- it is not a big deal", "Get over it, it is just a joke", "It is going to be hilarious", or "You are hot- I want to see", etc. If the lines of communication have been proactive prior to this event, it will open the door for them to come to you with the information. Even if the door has been slightly closed for communication, still talk a bout it. We need to continue the conversations about these topics, especially with the people it affects the most- our youth.
The following are some Parental Control apps available for parents and families to ensure youth technology safety:
Send This Instead App: The Send This Instead app has been developed to help children combat "sexting" from peers. The app gives a range of optional images with humorous messages so that children can send these as a response to "sexting", putting them back in the driver's seat.
OurPact Parental Control and Screen Time App: Screen time parental control app, app blocker and family locator that enables parents to manage their families screen time and locate family members. Block apps at a touch, schedule screen time throughout the day or week, track your child's location using Family Locator, discover what apps are on your child's device, and block texting. The parental control and family locator solution allows parents to foster healthy habits and manage their child's screen time using screen time allowance, blocking specific apps, blocking texts, and scheduling daily screen time according to a child's daily routine. OurPact also gives parents the ability to discover what apps are installed on their child's devices using App Lists and their children's whereabouts with Family Locator.