There’s no shortage of articles suggesting ways for you to monitor your child’s phone usage. From apps for your phone and theirs, to services provided by your mobile carrier, there are a wide variety of ways for you to ensure your child is safe while using their phone.
Many articles will list “dangerous” apps and tell you to delete them immediately, but this ignores the fact that often times those apps have already been removed from the app store. It also ignores the reality that any app can be dangerous when used with malicious intent.
Apps to Avoid
Referencing specific apps isn’t always useful since apps come and go so quickly. What’s often more helpful is to understand the kinds of apps kids are using and why they can be inappropriate.
In general, there’s absolutely no reason for your child to have an app that allows them to send and receive pictures or send private messages that can’t be tracked. Apps like Snapchat, Kik, and ooVoo allow your kids to send messages directly to other people. Whether it be friends or strangers, there’s no circumstance where this sort of private communication is appropriate. If they really want to engage with social media, they should choose one platform, such as Instagram, and you should have all of their login information. When it comes to their mobile phones, they have no right to privacy as privacy in this realm can be a powerful temptation leading to inappropriate actions.
You should also stay in the know concerning apps that allow your children to hide pictures and applications. Frequently hidden within working calculator apps, a quick google or app store search will provide you with what some of the latest apps are.
Your children shouldn’t be allowed to download apps themselves and you should have all of their passwords. Not because you’re going to constantly check through their phone, but because they need to know that you can and will if you deem it appropriate. Many mobile carriers allow you complete control over your child’s phone. There are also apps that specifically focus on allowing parental control.
Beyond simply controlling your child’s access, it’s important to teach your child the risks and inherent dangers of using their mobile phone irresponsibly. Rather than viewing your efforts as oppressive, they need to see it as a collaborative effort at maintaining their safety and wellbeing. They need to understand why there are many apps that are acceptable and many that are dangerous, doing so in very specific terms. Just saying that it’s “inappropriate” is too abstract. They need to understand the very specific, inappropriate things that can go on. Bullying, sexting, sexual predators, these are all tough topics but they are the reality of the online world. If you are going to give your child access to the internet, you’re giving them access to these things, and you’re giving other people access to your child.
At St. Barnabas Episcopal School, we value the opportunity to educate your whole child; academically, spiritually, emotionally, morally, and socially. Our goal is always to form a partnership with parents as we work together to guide your child’s development. Contact us today to schedule a tour and learn more.