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More than ever, marketers are  strategizing to appeal to us through online videos and pictures. Personal social media is becoming more visual and parents will need to stay savvy as this is a trend that will continue. While there does not seem to be compelling evidence that social media is rotting our kids’ minds, the fear remains  for parents who see their children on their phones most of the day. We can’t imagine what our lives would be like if we had grown up with current technology. This is where the anxiety comes from. Certainly, we have gained a lot of wisdom from the internet that we would not have gained with the same speed and depth at the local library. And, thanks to social media, many of us are “friends” with people we don’t really know. So, it is critical that privacy and ethics will continue to take center stage as technology advances.

For parents to keep abreast of technology and protect their children’s privacy,
there are a few areas worth refreshing on a yearly basis:

  • Know the app your child is using the most. Currently, YouTube and Snapchat still reign supreme as we enter 2019. Be aware: Kik is a private messenger app that many teens favor for a variety of reasons, but mainly they enjoy the idea of parents not being able to read their messages. 
  • Keep up with the current text slang.  My sister has three teenagers and was mortified to learn “Netflix and chill” was part of her teen’s vernacular. Tip: “thirsty” in a text does not mean they are parched, but rather they are looking for sex.
  • Know who your child is talking to while online during chatting and gaming. Be aware of the app, Hot or Not. This is a comparison and rating app; users send in their picture to be rated by others and can view the “hottest” users in their area and connect with them.
  • And, finally, be aware of apps that hide other apps. Some examples are Calculator Vault (hides their photos behind a calculator), Gallery Vault, Best Secret Folder, and Keep Safe. These apps allow a person to hide messages or pictures but show up as an innocuous icon, such as calculator or clock when someone else logs into the phone. The list is long so take the time to Google “dangerous apps for teens.”
  • Make sure you talk to your child, often, about the dangers of sharing private information with someone hiding behind the anonymity of social media. Remind them that what they post will be out there, somewhere, when they’re thirty-five and have children of their own.

I often wonder what it would be like to see this brave new world through a child’s eyes, and what it would be like to grow up with the global technology that we’ve only had at our disposal since adulthood. Teens are exposed and bombarded with so much more information than we ever were. We can expect even faster and more integrated communications, with an increase in the inter-connectivity of devices, people and places in 2019.  While we adults already worry about all they are reading and viewing online, hopefully kids today are learning to become more discerning in who and what they allow to occupy their time.

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