“The rise of sexting, bullying, prostitution, and drug use are taking place over third party mobile apps.” — Sedgrid Lewis
Our children can be tweens or teens, younger than that or older, and they will always be our kids. Ensuring their safety is our top priority, regardless their age. According to a recent study by the PewResearch Internet Project, “95% of teens are online, and increasingly their phones are affording them with always-on, mobile access to the internet — in some cases, serving as their primary point of access.” Smartphones and the apps children love to download can create a dangerous combination that we need to be aware of as parents. Other recent surveys indicate that our children now average 7 hours and 38 minutes a day plugged into media – mostly on their cellphones. I know that my daughter rarely strays from her phone, but I would never guess that she spends the equivalent of an average workday, or school day for her, connected to her phone.Advertising
How Safe Is Teen Cellphone Use?
To keep our kids safe, we need to monitor the apps children love to use. Kristin Peaks a Sr. Digital & Social Media Specialist at Cook Children’s tells us that, “I have learned so much about the dangers of Smart Phone Apps. It’s downright scary.” The list below includes the 7 of the hottest apps children love to use today, and why you should monitor them.
Whisper advertises itself as the best place to express yourself online, connect with like minded individuals, and discover the unseen world around you. Over 70% of whisper users are women under the age of 25, and the app provides freedom for young users to share raw feelings and emotions anonymously in their geographic area. Why You Should Monitor It: Teens are able to share things with complete strangers that they might never feel comfortable sharing with their friends, let alone their parents. This app has been used for cyberbullying, and by pedophiles to establish relationships with girls as young as 12 years old.Advertising
Kik Messenger is a free alternative texting service that allows users to send videos, texts, and pictures to over 180 million other users. Why You Should Monitor It: This app bypasses your wireless providers’ short message services (SMS) allowing your teen to “sext” without any parental controls. This has become so common that the the term sex buddy has been replaced with Kik Buddy. Additionally, there is no way of authenticating users, making it easy for pedophiles to use this messenger.
Snapchat provides a fast and easy way to take photos, add a caption, and send it to a friend. The photo “self destructs” 10 seconds after it is opened by the recipient. Why You Should Monitor It: Snapchat is the number one sexting app on the market. This app gives teens a false sense of security when sending sexually inappropriate photos because of the self destruct feature. The truth is, nothing sent over the internet ever disappears. There are always ways to retrieve and capture those images. There have also been numerous cases of cyberbullying with this app.Advertising
Tinder claims to be a fun way to connect with new and interesting people around you. When a mutual match is made by a simple swipe of the finger, your teen can immediately share messages and photos with strangers. Why You Should Monitor It: This app is primarily used for “hooking up.” Once your teen makes a mutual match with another user, the next step is to meet in person. Monitor this app if you do not want your teen meeting random strangers online.Advertising
The tagline for this app is, “Talk To Strangers,” and it does just that – it allows your teen to video chat with random strangers. Why You Should Monitor It: Omegle is filled with people searching for sexual chat. Since the chats are anonymous, they’re often much more explicit than those with a user who can be identified might be.
This app provides the user with a way to get “down” with friends and nearby strangers. After linking this app with their Facebook account, users can decide which ones that they want to “hook up” with. Why You Should Monitor It: This app used to be called “Bang with Friends,” and is connected to your teens Facebook account. The slogan for the app: “The anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night.” If that alone doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will!
Vine allows users to create short, six second, looping videos and share them with their friends and family to see. Why You Should Monitor It: While many of the videos are harmless, but inappropriate videos can pop up in your teens feed, exposing them to sexually explicit material. Predators have been using this app to search for teens by location, and connect with them through other messaging apps. If you are concerned with your teen’s online safety, you need to monitor the apps children love to use. With new apps being created every day, this is not a one-time activity but a continuous process. Children and Technology: How To Be A Cool, In-Control Parent is a great resource to learn keep your children safe online. When comes to our children it is always better to be safe than sorry, take the time to monitor the apps children love.
Featured photo credit: two boys and a teenage girl sitting outside with phones via shutterstock.com
Last Updated on February 15, 2019
7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively
Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.
Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.
Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.
So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.
Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.
Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.
is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.
Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.
Excel or Numbers
If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.
What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.
I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.
Evernote is free with a premium version available.
Access or Bento
If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.
Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.
You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.
Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper
All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.
I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.
What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.