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.

Smartphones, Kids & Parents

I saw a link on Twitter today to a study done by Nielsen looking at kids and smartphones. The study looked at the average age at which kids first received a smart phone, why parents purchase a smart phone for their child and the concerns parents have.  It’s pretty interesting to see the responses and then, as parents and those who work with students, think through how that impacts the students with which we work.

Here a few highlights from study:

  • The most predominant age when kids got a service plan was age 10 (22%)
  • 45% of mobile kids got a service plan at 10-12 years old
  • Among parents likely to get their kids wireless service before they turn 13, being able to get hold of their child easily and that their child can reach out to them easily were top reasons (90%)
  • 72% of parents were concerned that smartphones pose too much distraction

It’s an interesting article for parents whose children have a smart phone and for parents who have the issue coming in the future.  The article shares other stats and infographics as well.

You can read the entire article on the Nielsen website.

So…how old were your kids when they got their first smart phone?

How old do you think a child should be to manage a smart phone?

IMPACT 2015-2016 Overview

Last weekend we kicked off our IMPACT school year calendar with a Tail Gate Party and Parent Meeting. We know that once the school year begins, families keep busy with school, school activities, sports events, mom and dad’s work schedules plus all the other things that life throws at us. In order to help our families manage the busyness, we provide a calendar of events for the school year. The parent meeting is our first attempt to get information into the hands of parents.

You can click on the image at the top of the page to get a closer look at what is on this year’s calendar.

For those parents (and students) who may not have been able to attend the meeting, here is a somewhat brief overview of what we talked about.

WEEKLY PROGRAMS:: Here are the programs for students that we offer on a weekly basis. During the school year, we invite all students to join us for these weekly program.

Sunday:
High School Class (B103); Junior High Class (C102) 9:00 am
Small Groups 4:30 pm

Wednesday:
IMPACT Praise Band Practice 6:30 pm

A FEW HIGHLIGHTS:: Each fall we participate in the retreats that are hosted at our local church camp, Butler Springs Christian Camp. The two weekends are a great opportunity for our students and leaders to spend a weekend together, for our students to connect with other students and to grow in our relationship with God. Check out the information on the retreats below.

The Junior High Retreat will take place October 16-18. Cost for the weekend is $65 and the registration deadline is October 4. (The price goes up after that time)

Click on the image below to read more about “This Is Whatever.”

whatever_poster

The High School Retreat will take place November 6-8. Cost for the weekend is $55 if you are registered by the early bird deadline of Sept. 21. (The price goes up after that time)

Click on the image below to read more about “Backpacks and Burdens.”

Backpack&Burdens

We’ve also added Two Parent/Student Events to the calendar – one in the fall and one in the spring. They will be fun events where our students and parents to interact with one another.

COMMUNICATION:: There are a few different avenues we use to communicate with both parents and students.  We would love it if all of our parents and students were connected to at least one of these outlets for communication.

FACEBOOK:   “Like” our IMPACT Facebook Page and/or Wilmington Church of Christ Facebook page

TEXT:  text the phrase IMPACT909 to 95577 to receive occasional text updates

EMAIL:  we send out occasional email reminders.  Email tonysturf@wcconline.org to be added to email list

WEBSITE:   We post updates to the IMPACT Page of our church website.

We are excited about the start of the school year and what’s taking place in IMPACT Student Ministry.  If you are a parent or a student in the Wilmington area, we’d love to connect with you.  Share this information with other families as well.

Teens Still On Facebook

facebookThere have been different voices talking about what social media outlets teens are using. For the last year or so many people have been saying that teens are moving away from Facebook. With the growth of Instagram, SnapChat and other outlets, the fairly common opinion was that students were abandoning Facebook.

As someone who works with students, I’m always looking for ways to communicate with students and I go back and forth between social media outlets. Most times, I use both Facebook and Instagram along with a group texting service.

A recent article from the Pew Research Center shows that teens chose Facebook most often out of the social media options. From a survey of teens ages 13-17, it shows that 41% of teens use Facebook most often. While they are using other social media utilities, it’s interesting to me that Facebook leads the way.

Social media continues to change.  I wonder what will be popular when my almost 2 year old reaches the teen years.  Right now, Facebook seems to be on top for teens.

facebook-instagram-and-snapchat-used-most-often-by-american-teens

Social Media Awareness

medium_11235762823

photo credit: Highways Agency via photopin cc

Earlier this week I shared a blog post about some of the dangers of SnapChat and how many images were stolen as accounts here hacked.

This week on Facebook, some one shared a link from one of our local school districts. It was a message to parents and the community about some misuse of social media and also some of the dangers of some of those outlets. The article references a couple of social media outlets that allow users to remain anonymous as they post and communicate with others. It’s another example of how both parents and students need to be aware of how social media is used and to be wise in what is posted.

Here’s a copy of the article that your can read on the Wayne Local Schools website.

This week there has been widespread misuse of social media in our schools and community. The content of related messages has been nothing short of disappointing. For this reason we want to bring your attention to a couple of concerning apps called “Yik Yak” and “Ask.fm.”

Part of Yik Yak and Ask.fm’s allure besides the fact that it lets kids communicate with one another; users are anonymous. Users do not have to establish a profile or password. Yik Yak uses GPS location data to bring comments to a user’s feed from other users nearby. In other words, it enables and encourages communities to share information within a geographical boundary. Unfortunately the anonymity of these posts allows individuals who may have malicious intent to write comments about others that may be hurtful, harassing and possibly disturbing. This week this advent in technology created a social media phenomenon we have never seen in Waynesville; for this reason the school district has worked to block Yik Yak from being accessed via our internet network. Additionally we made contact with the company and requested a “geo fence” be placed around our schools; which restricts access to the app or site when a device is in locations identified as schools. This however does not address the issue of misuse outside of predefined geographic boundaries. The founders of Yik Yak have stated, “It’s disheartening to see our app being used in an unintended way.”

Awareness of one’s digital footprint and digital citizenship, for that matter extends across all actions online and off. For example, nearly every social network requires users to confirm their real age before downloading. In the case of Yik Yak, a push notification appears asking users to confirm they’re older than 17 before using the app. Yet many kids under 17 have downloaded and may continue to download this app and others. Remind kids that lying is as damaging to their digital reputation as it is to their offline one.

Parents and students need to be aware that anonymity is an illusion in the digital world. Hiding behind an app like Yik Yak will not prevent criminal charges or school discipline when students make anonymous comments or threats.

We will continue our efforts to educate our students regarding appropriate behavior and the treatment of others, both in the traditional sense and in the context of existing and new technologies. We urge parents to partner with us in addressing this important issue. Here are some suggested steps:

• Check your child’s phones for apps such as Yik Yak, Ask.fm, Snapchat, Kik, Whisper and Tinder, among others.

• Review the settings on your children’s phones and consider blocking apps not rated as age appropriate. For instance, Yik Yak is rated for ages 17+ so if you choose to restrict based on your child’s age; most will not be able to access this app. If they have an iOS device: Go to “settings,” select “general” and tap “enable restrictions.” You can set restrictions for “installing apps” and “in-app purchases.”

• Some kids are really good at getting around device settings. So set rules and get familiar or cyber-wise about what they’re up to online so you can see if your rules are being followed. Software such as SpectorSoft records and replays all of your child’s internet activity and provides a detailed report.

• Have a discussion with your child regarding the respectful treatment of others and to expect respectful treatment in return. The mistreatment and disrespect of others, whether in person or through anonymous means, is never acceptable.

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

Images over Words

snapchatSeveral weeks ago I posted about the growth of Instagram and how it surpassed Twitter in number of users. It appears that people prefer images over words.

After meeting with a group of junior high students, Tim Elmore found that trend is showing up in how teens communicate with each other. Text messaging is being replaced by apps that allow teens to share images.

Here’s a small portion of what he posted on May 6th about the growth of images over words.

Snapchat — an app that allows users to send photos to one another that disappear after a few seconds—has taken over many teen’s portable devices. So has Instagram. It may well be the future of phone interaction. Just like Facebook, once parents and teachers began to figure out how to use text messaging, students were bound to find new ways to communicate.

It wasn’t that long ago I reported to readers that teens today send about 3,000 texts a month, or about a hundred a day. That’s changing now. And not just for teens but for all ages. As a whole, people are texting less now than we used to. According to Chetan Sharma Consulting, “The average U.S. cell phone user sends about 628 text messages per quarter, down 8 percent from a year ago.”

Technology and communication are ever-changing. We’ve gone from land line to cell phone to email to MySpace to Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat and other forms of staying connected. For those who work with students, it’s interesting to see where the trends go.

What do you see students using to communicate with each other?