Resources for Parents on Social Media, Apps & Phones

photo credit: Iker Merodio | Photography Shadows in a Sunny Day via photopin (license)

Conversations about phone use and social media are happening all over the place. I saw a piece on the news about how Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson has been a victim of online bullying. He was engaged to Ariana Grande and their break up kept them in the spotlight. On top of that he recently apologized for a sketch on SNL that brought a lot of criticism.

In the NBC news piece, Davidson spoke about the messages and comments he has received, the dangers of social media and how he has deleted photos from his Instagram in response to all of it.

While social media and the connection we have through our devices has many positive aspects, there are some pretty dark and disturbing things as well. How do parents help their students navigate this ever changing world? There are some good resources available that can equip parents to keep the conversation going.

In a recent post on the Growing Leaders blog, Tim Elmore offers some suggestions as to why parents should reduce social media use. He points to the constant pings and notifications that come with many social media apps. Those continual notifications can be distractions and even create a sense of needing to respond immediately to what we receive. It could even lead to a level of addiction. Elmore’s insights are worth considering if your student is constantly tied to his/her device. Read the whole article here : One Great Reason to Reduce Social Media Use

In a more recent blog post (published Dec. 4) Elmore shares about five apps that are potentially dangerous for teens. He lists these five ::

  1. Yubo
  2. Calculator%
  3. Marco Polo
  4. Wishbone
  5. Whisper

He describes what each app does and how it could be unhealthy for our students.

More than just those specific apps, I think this article underscores the responsibility parents should have to know what is on the phones of our students.  As Elmore says at one point this post, “an adolescent brain can quickly spot the potential benefits of this app, but they do no see the likely consequences.”  We need to help our students think through the consequences of choices they make (both good and bad) and we can’t really do that if we don’t know what they are doing.

Want to talk to your student about cell phone use and even come to agreement on it?

Parent Ministry offers various resources including an article called Top 10 Ways to Tame the Cell Phone Beast. In it they offer suggestions about where teens charge their phones at night, texting and driving and even using a cell phone contract.

You can download the Top 10 Ways on the website and they even offer a free Cell Phone Contract. You can use the contract as it is or use it as a discussion point with your student to talk about devices, social media and so much more.

While there are many good resources out there, these are just a few to help parents have the conversations about these important topics.

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Social Media Tips for Parents

I receive a regular email from a youth ministry organization called YouthSpecialties.  They offer training, resources and events for those in youth ministry.  This week’s email contained a helpful video of an interview with Jakob Eckeberger, a volunteer youth worker and an employee of YouthSpecialties who is involved in the social media side of things.

Eckeberger offers some tips and insights to parents about social media.  He makes some good observations, especially regarding the growth of technology and the fact that we live in a word with no technological boundaries.  He makes a comment that phones used to be stuck to the wall and TV’s were huge boxes that sat in our living rooms. Now, it is everywhere.

I thought this was a beneficial resource for parents and wanted to pass it along.  You can see all the original content on the YouthSpecialties Blog.

Here’s the actual interview and below the video is the breakdown that YS provided.

3 THINGS THAT INFLUENCE HOW KIDS USE SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY:

1. We live in a world with no technological boundaries.

In my generation, we grew up with some really firm boundaries on our technology. Phones had cords that plugged into walls. The internet was only available through dial-up. Big box televisions were the only way to watch TV shows. Those literal boundaries around our technology helped us come to understand who we were outside of it. Today, there are zero boundaries to our technology. This constant, 24/7 access to technology leaves a huge impact on our kids, inviting things like social media to become an important part of their personal, mental, and sociological development.

2. Social media becomes a window through which we see and experience the world around us.

This means that apps like Instagram aren’t merely used to post pictures. Instagram becomes a window through which we answer important questions like: Who am I? Where do I fit in? Does my life matter?

We aren’t just consuming answers to those questions through the images we see on Instagram, we’re actually creating our responses. We create images to tell stories of our daily life and then compare it to what everyone else is creating. This is a significant thing for kids who are just starting to figure out who there are and where/if they fit in.

3. The fallacy that everything on line is temporary.

Darrel Girardier shared a GREAT POST that touched on this. Apps like Snapchat tap into this idea that content on the internet can be easily deleted. But we know from experience (SNAPCHAT LEAKS 100,000 PHOTOS) that it’s not always the case. Once we post something, we have very little control over what happens to it.

3 THINGS THAT PARENTS CAN DO:

1. Recognize that the issue isn’t the technology, but how that technology is used.

Most of the technology available to our kids today, and specifically things like social media, aren’t necessarily evil. It’s all in how the technology is used. When we give our kids a smart phone, we’re giving them technology that comes with a ton of responsibility. We can’t protect our kids from all the bad ways that this technology can be used, but we can help them live into the incredible amount of responsibility that they’ve been given. To borrow from Walt Mueller, it’s all apart of helping students think critically and Christianly about what they post before they post it.

2. Create boundaries around technology.

Sit down as a family to create blackout times and locations in your house where every screen is turned off, and the phones and tablets are put away. Have family game nights, or dinner times when you intentionally connect with one another. Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock to have in your room so that you don’t need your phone at night.

3. Be the example.

Ideally, parents would be modeling healthy uses of technology for their kids. So set boundaries that your entire family can agree on. That way, as a parent, you can be the first one to step away from your phone or tablet. By being the example, you can show what a healthy relationship with technology looks like.

The YS Idea Labs are filmed on location at the National Youth Workers Convention. Check out more YS Idea Labs HEREand register early for NYWC to save BIG: NYWC.COM.

Cell Phone Usage Infographic

I think these infographics are a cool way to share information. I saw this one today on Youth Ministry Media and it shows how cell phones are being used today. The numbers are pretty astounding when you read them. For example:

  • Two Hundred Trillion Text Messages are received in America Every Single Day  – every day!
  • 3339 – Average Number of Texts Sent Each Month by an American Teen – that’s a lot!
  • 83% of Teens Use Cell Phones to Take Pictures – images more powerful than words?

The article underscores that cell phones are a part of our culture (especially for teens) and raises the question how we use texting (and other social media outlets) to communicate.

Check it out::

How-We-Use-Our-Phones-525x2842

You Pick: Your Car or Your Phone

iPhoneLast night I attended an area all-star game where my daughter was one of the players. The crowd was mostly made up of parents, siblings and friends. At the end of the game, a group of high school students to my right were exiting the stands and one of the teen age girls dropped her phone. There was a sudden silence that seemed to grip that area of the gym as all the students paused to see if the phone was damaged. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief when she picked up the phone and found no cracks. That little event reminded me of an article I received via email last week.

Tim Elmore cited two different sources that showed the importance of cell phones to adolescents. Now I must admit I have been accused of being overly attached to my phone at times, but I found this information to be interesting.

Here’s some of what he shared:

According to recent Pew Research, adolescents put technology in the same category as air and water. They feel they need it to live their lives. In fact, they would rather give up their pinky finger than their cell phone. I interpret this to mean they use their smart phone far more than they do their smallest finger. Incredible.

Furthermore, a study commissioned by a car-sharing company called Zipcar shows that nearly 40 percent of Millennials believe that losing their phone would be a bigger hardship than losing their automobile. They also believe it would be a greater tragedy (so to speak) than losing access to a desktop, laptop or a TV.

So, what would you give up before you let go of your phone?

How Teens Use Cell Phones

Youth Ministry Media shares infographics about teenagers and technology.  The recent posting, Teens Cell Phone Usage, provides some interesting information.

A few things I noticed:

1) 75% of 12-17 year olds have a cell phone

2) Teens send/receive 2,108 texts a month (wonder how that stacks up against youth workers?)

3) 70% received a text from someone not in their contacts.

There is some good info for parents, too.  I am a big fan of texting as a tool to stay in touch with both teens and adults.  Good to see how it is being used and also to be aware of how we need to be cautious.

teens-cellphone-usage

Addicted to your Phone?

This video was posted on Youth Ministry Media Blog and carries the title I Forgot My Phone on YouTube.  It’s a pretty interesting (convicting, maybe?) look at how phones have become a part of just about everything we do. I especially liked the scenes in the bowling alley and birthday party. Check it out and see if we find ourselves somewhere in this video.