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10 Things Teens Won’t Tell You   Leave a comment

10 things teens won’t tell you

Published: Aug 16, 2014 8:11 a.m. ET

The secret and costly life of the American teenager

Chip Wass

1. America will look a lot different when we grow up.

Like every generation of adolescents, today’s teens have habits that are utterly unfamiliar to their parents. The roughly 25 million Americans between the ages of 13 and 18 grew up with Facebook and Netflix. They’re more likely to hang out at Chipotle and Starbucks, and less likely to hang out at the mall, than teens of 20 or even 10 years ago.

But teens’ attitudes are also being shaped by an era where people are less likely to assume that a “typical” American family is straight and white. “They’re the most socially and ethnically diverse of all generations,” says Sharalyn Hartwell, executive director at consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates, which studies teenage demographics. While their parents saw Morgan Freeman as the U.S. president in the 1998 movie “Deep Impact,” modern teens grew up with the real-life Obama White House.

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Ready to live in a nontraditional nation.

Only 55% of Americans 18 and under are Caucasian, compared with 72% of baby boomers, according to Magid. Not coincidentally, teenagers and “tweens” are more comfortable with the country’s changing ethnic balance. Some 47% say they feel positively about the U.S. becoming more ethnically diverse, compared with 32% of boomers.

Teenagers are also growing up in a society where same-sex marriage is more widely accepted, and, as a result, television shows aimed at their age group reflect this new reality, she adds. Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie” featured a same-sex couple, ABC Family’s “The Fosters” is a television show about a family with two moms, and ABC’s prime-time comedy “Modern Family” features a male same-sex couple that wrapped its last season with a wedding.

Today’s teens and tweens are also more likely than earlier generations to be the products of a particularly hands-on style of parenting—one that involves 24/7 online monitoring and more involvement in their education. Demographers and researchers say that such tighter-knit parenting can have an impact on how these teens will perceive the world as they become adults: They’ll be more likely to be realistic about their future and to embrace change—though if the parenting was too claustrophobic or authoritarian, they’ll also be more likely to be rebellious and get along poorly with others.

Also read: 10 things Generation X won’t tell you.

2. We’re one click ahead of you online

Some 95% of teenagers are online compared with around 80% of the overall population, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. In theory, that should make it easier for parents to keep up with them and track their behavior. But teens are light on their feet, and data suggests that teens are quietly fleeing mainstream social sites that have been adopted by their parents

Snapchat

During 2013, the share of teens active on Facebook dropped by 9 percentage points, while on Twitter it dropped 3 points, according to research firm GlobalWebIndex. Teens are gravitating instead to services like Blink and Snapchat, where messages are easier to keep private. “Video apps like Instagram and Vine are also playing a much larger role with this generation,” adds Jeanne Connon, chief marketing officer of FPgirl.com, a marketing firm that analyzes fashion, technology, trends and relationships among young girls. What’s more, teens are adept at hiding apps in folders on their computers or mobile devices to make them more difficult to find.

Parents are doing their best to play catch-up, Connon says, but it’s still an uphill battle. Around 1 in 5 tweens and young teenagers in middle school have received a sexually explicit message or photo, according to a survey of 1,200 middle school students published in July in the “American Academy of Pediatrics.” Those who received such a text were also six times more likely to be sexually active.

Also see: Teens rebel against Facebook.

3. We’re sooo bored…with the shopping mall

Teen-oriented retailers, take note: Shopping may be losing its mystique among the under -18 set. The latest retailing survey by investment bank Piper Jaffray found that the average teenager spent $1,000 on fashion annually, down from $1,300 in 2006, and took 29 shopping trips a year, down from 38 in 2007. For the first time in the survey’s 13-year history, they spent a bigger share of their spending money on food than clothing (20.8% versus 20.7%).

AFP/Getty Images
Online shopping may make the teenage mall-rat an endangered species.

The big issue here is that teenagers are shopping with their tablets and smartphones, rather than in person: 75% of teenage girls and 50% of teenage boys says they prefer shopping online than in-store. (They spend an average of $56.50 per shopping trip when they do make it to a brick-and-mortar store.) “Teens are browsing regularly on their mobile devices, shopping less frequently and engaging with brands on demand,” says Steph Wissink, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray.

Teens’ spending may be waning because their parents are economizing: They remain heavily dependent on the fortunes of their parents, who contribute around 65% of their annual spending, according to the report. And while they do have a penchant for expensive clothing brands, there are only one or two that have a firm hold over them: 19% of male teenagers prefer Nike and the same percentage of female teenagers prefer Lululemon leggings.

4. We do drugs (but not the same ones you did)

Around 36% of high-school students report having used marijuana at least once within the previous 12 months, according to data released in July the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. That’s down from 41% in 1998. The share of teenagers who used alcohol over the past year has declined more sharply, to 51% in 2013 from 68% in 1998.

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Marijuana remains popular with teens, but prescription drug abuse is rising faster.

Use of other drugs, however, have risen slightly: 23% of teens admit to abusing or misusing prescription drugs, at least once in their lifetime, up from 20% five years ago, and one in six report doing so within the past year. Pain medications like Oxycodone and Vicodin and “study drugs” that combat attention-deficit-disorder are among the most commonly abused, according to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. And abuse of human growth hormone (HGH)—often used by athletes seeking to add muscle—has risen among teens to 11% in 2013 from 5% a year earlier.

“They are not doing [these drugs] to get high, they’re doing it because they think they can stay up studying to get better grades, to relax and get fit,” says Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Also see: Cocaine use is going to pot.

5. We can’t do financial math (but neither can you)

American teens don’t fare so well on the “Program for International Student Assessment,” an international survey of financial literacy conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development every three years. The most recent version, released in July, tested more than 510,000 15-year-olds across 18 countries. Americans scored below average (492 points versus an OECD average of 500 points), finishing behind China (No. 1 with an average of 603 points), Belgium (541), Estonia (529), Australia (526 points) and New Zealand (520).

Why Johnny can’t understand derivatives

Can the U.S. improve financial literacy? We ask Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Experts blame the system—not the students. “Teenagers don’t know about financial literacy because adults have a low level of financial literacy too,” says AnnaMaria Lusardi, a professor of economics and accountancy at George Washington University School of Business. In a 2011 study conducted by Lusardi, only 30% of U.S. adults gave correct answers to three basic questions concerning numeracy, inflation and risk diversification (versus 53% in Germany and 45% in the Netherlands). Nonetheless, 62% of teens say their parents are good financial role models, according to a survey by tax preparers H&R Block.

Some states are making efforts to fill this knowledge gap, introducing more economics and personal finance classes. For the first time, all 50 states and D.C. now include economics in their K-12 standards, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Council of Economic Education. Still, only 22 states require students to take an economics course as a high school graduation prerequisite, and only six states require the testing of student knowledge in personal finance.

6. Your recession-era stress is contagious

Teens report having stress levels that surpass that of their parents during the school year, a recent survey by the American Psychological Association found. Teens reported stress levels of 5.8 on a 10-point scale, compared with 5.1 for adults; those levels declined to 4.6 for teens during the summer, but that still ranked above the 3.9 score that’s considered normal. One-third of teens reported symptoms of fatigue related to their stress, more than one-quarter said they skipped meals, and some 30% said they felt overwhelmed or depressed.

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School is a drag; parental stress, even more so.

Nearly 40% of parents say their high school kids experience stress, according to a 2013 Harvard School of Public Health Survey conducted for National Public Radio. About one-quarter of high-school students’ parents said homework caused their child a lot of stress, the survey found.

But school is far from the only factor, experts say. Teens pick up coping mechanisms or a lack thereof from their parents, and they’re also more likely to experience parental divorce than children were 20 years ago, says Lynn Bufka, assistant executive director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association. The impact of stress over divorce and financial trouble gets passed onto children who may also feel less able to tell their parents or teachers that they’re feeling stressed out, she says. “Often times, they don’t want to add to their parents’ burden,” Bufka says. If a child has a problem turning in homework or lack of attention, she adds, parents should tell teachers what’s going on at home.

One potentially positive sign for college-bound teens: The SAT will undergo a revamp in 2016 in ways the experts say will make it somewhat less demanding.

7. Our hunger for gadgets will cost you billions

Remember when loose-leaf binders and a new backpack were all the school supplies you needed? Parents are set to spend $8.4 billion on back-to-school electronics this year, including computers, tablets and smartphones, up 7% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Back-to-school shoppers will spend an average $212.35 per household on electronic items.

Stanislav Komogorov/Shutterstock

Phones are a major driver of this spending: About 27% of teens owned smartphones last year, up from 23% in 2011. Howard Schaffer, vice president of retailing website Offers.com, says these mobile devices are seen as critical by parents because they allow them to keep tabs on their kids via geolocation apps like “Trick or Tracker” or “Connect.”

Some parents say they’re trying to moderate the back-to-school tech spending this year. Only 37% of parents are buying tablets or computers, compared with 61% who will underwrite clothing and 55% who will buy shoes for their kids, according to a survey of 1,000 parents by Offers.com. And 36% say they’ll spend more than $200 per child on technology, down from 45% in 2013; Schaffer says that reflects the fact that computers and smartphones are lasting longer.

Also see: 5 apps for spying on your spouse.

8. We’ll double the price of your car insurance

Adding a teenage driver to a married couple’s car insurance can be a financial tsunami for the typical family. According to a report by insuranceQuotes.com, a division of personal finance site Bankrate.com, adding a male teenager hikes premiums by an average of 92%; while female teen drivers hike premiums by 67%. The good news for parents: The older their child becomes, the lower the premium. The premium hike falls from 96% for 16-year-olds to 58% for 19-year-olds.

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Texting and driving: Bad at any age, particularly troublesome among teens.

The most expensive state to insure a teenage driver is New Hampshire, where the average premium surged 111%. Hawaii is the only state that prohibits age, gender and length of driving experience from affecting car insurance costs, so teen drivers there cost only 17% more to insure on their parents policy.

That said, more families are dodging this bill these days. There are fewer teens on the road, says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at BankRateInsurance.com. Twenty years ago, 70% of 18-year-olds had their driver’s license, she says, but today only 54% do, due in part to the rising cost of car ownership, increased unemployment among teens, and the increased use of social media (rather than face-to-face time) for teenage socializing.

There are other ways to minimize the financial damage: For example, some cars are cheaper to insure than others. “Choose a model that has a low crash history,” says Russ Rader, spokesman for the Highway Loss Data Institute, which publishes insurance claim data. Larger, heavier family cars such as Toyota Corollas, Ford sedans or Subarus are safer for teens, and their insurance rates reflect that. Many insurance companies offer a “good student” discount for those with B averages or better, adds Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com. “A friend of mine told his teen driver that if he got a B average, he would split his insurance savings with him,” he says. “It was good motivation and a gain for both of them.”

9. We get bullied, even when we’re popular

Teenage movies from “Clueless” (1995) to “Mean Girls” (2004) show the hazards of being on the low end of the status scale at high school. But a recent study offers evidence that popular kids get bullied, too.

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Being popular doesn’t mean they’re safe.

For the paper “Causality of Social Combat: School Networks of Peer Victimization and Their Consequences” (links to pdf), researchers at the University of California and Pennsylvania State University studied 4,200 high-school students across 19 schools. They found that students’ chances of being bullied rise 25% if they move from a group with average popularity to the 95th percentile, beyond which victimization begins to drop. (Popularity was measured based on friendship nominations among students.) Those with higher social status also experienced stronger adverse psychological consequences when bullied—because they felt like they had more to lose. More popular kids may also escape the radar of concerned educators and parents who focus on isolated students. The study also found that females are victimized 30% more often than males and “social isolates” are bullied 23% more often than others.

There has been a major push to combat bullying in recent years, including suicide prevention campaigns such as the LGBT-focused “It gets better” social media effort, which featured videos from sports stars, celebrities and politicians, including President Obama. In 2012, the Department of Education released a free training tool kit aimed at reducing bullying in schools. But 17% of students report being bullied 2 to 3 times a month during a school semester, and 1 in 10 drop out because of bullying, according to DoSomething.org, a nonprofit organization focused on young people and social change.

10. We don’t buy into the American Dream

Like member of other generations, most teens define the American Dream as involving homeownership, educational opportunities, a high standard of living and the likelihood of doing better than the previous generation. But teens are more likely to see that Dream as out of reach. According to a survey by Magid Associates, only 60% of teens and tweens believe in the American Dream compared with 71% of millennials, 64% of Generation Xers and 75% of boomers.

Although most teens are too young to remember 9/11, they’re not too young to recall how their parents struggled during the recession. “They’re influenced by their Gen X parents and older siblings,” Hartwell says. Many Xers were clobbered financially by the housing bubble, while millennials have more college debt than any previous generation of Americans. Older role models are “telling these kids that it’s not going to be better for you just because it should be.”

But that doesn’t necessarily make teens negative or pessimistic, it makes them pragmatic and realistic. “They still have the optimism of youth,” Hartwell says.

7 Common Back to School Hassles and Simple Parenting Solutions   Leave a comment

From Dr. Michelle Borba at http://www.micheleborba.com

 

7 Common Back to School Hassles and Simple Parenting Solutions

Posted: August 15th, 2013 by Michele Borba

 

Though back to school should be exciting, parents often describe frantic mornings, hectic evenings, and plain bad memories. Homework wars…lost library books…last-minute assignments…missed buses…sleepy heads…forgotten lunches…missed breakfasts…late starts are just a few of the  common parenting concerns.

The result: stressed parents…and stressed kids.

But it doesn’t have to—nor should it–be that way. There are practical solutions to the most common back-to-school, and hot button parenting hassles.

Not only will implementing those solutions help make the upcoming school year more positive and less stressful for all, but they’ll also help kids learns to be more responsible (which just happens to be a trait of successful students).

You can start making these simple adjustments now so that back to school really is smoother and even a tad bit easier for both you and kids. The real secret: don’t take this challenge on by yourself. Get your kids involved in identifying last year’s reoccurring problem. Believe me, they’ll remember. Then together brainstorm one simple solution that you commit to turning into it into a lifelong family habit. Take on only one solution at a time. Keep implementing it until it becomes a permanent family routine.

Here are the seven most common back-to-school parenting hassles and a few simple solutions to help create a smoother year.

More articles on back to school solutions are listed at the bottom of this blog including these topics: Saying Goodbye to A College-Bound Teen; Easing Kids’ School Jitters, Easing Young Children’s Separation Anxiety, Fitting Into a New School, How to Teach Kids To Make New Friends.

Hassle 1. SLEEPY HEADS (“Just let me sleep five more minutes!”)

If you recall most of last year screaming “Wake Up!!” it’s time for your kids to take ownership. Buy simple-to-use alarm clocks, and teach kids how to set it so you don’t have to be their “Big Ben.”

My favorite alarm for kids who are perpetually late is called Clocky. It gives your kid only one chance to get up, and if you snooze, he literally jumps off the nightstand and wheels around the room. I’m sure there are others but I shared this one on the TODAY show and both Hoda and Kathie Lee loved it.

Also start getting your kid back onto the right “time zone” at least before school starts so he can “ease” into that schedule. See  Helping Kids Sleep Better: The Overlooked and Crucial Key to School Success for more ideas on helping sleepless kids.

And use that oven timer to remind procrastinators that of time constraints. When it dings, you’re in the car – whether the kid is dressed and ready or not. Seriously! That solution only takes one time! Do alert the principal and teacher of your plan. They’ll be happy to help to ensure your child is in his seat and ready to learn.

Hassle 2. BREAKFAST MANIA  (“I don’t have time to eat!”)

If breakfast time is frantic and your kids seem to be missing the “most-important meal,” search for quick, healthy alternatives. Instant oatmeal in a cup, bananas, and juice boxes can be ready to grab-and-go. Extra protein bars can be stashed in backpacks for just-in-case hunger cravings. And put out those bowls and cereal the night before. If you’re really frantic stock your car with extra nutritious goodies. But don’t skip that breakfast!

Hassle 3. MORNING FRANTICNESS (“Where’s my homework?”)

Misplaced library books? “Dad, where’s my backpack?” Can’t find your keys? Identify last year’s one reoccurring nightmare that set off that morning panic attack and then institute one simple solution to cut morning frenzy.  Put a box by the door to “catch” those library books, screw in big hooks for coats, make an extra set of car keys (for your). The key is to turn the new solution into a routine until everyone (even you) adopts the new sanity saver habit.

If lost teacher notes, school notices, or conference schedules was a reoccurring problem, set a new family policy: “Walk in, open your backpack, and put any notes or graded papers in the basket.” Then put a basket near that door, and consistently check it nightly. Tend to those needing your signature, and put them ASAP inside your child’s backpack for next day delivery.

Hassle 4. WHO’S ON FIRST? (“Is it library day, violin, or soccer?”)

If your kids relied on you as their personal manager to recap their schedule, then it’s time to help them get organized. Buy a large white board and grease pens.

Use a different colored pen per child for each child can mark his own weekly music lesson, soccer practice, field trip, sharing day, and spelling test under the date and time.

Then put it in a central spot (such in the kitchen or on the fridge) so everyone instantly knows who goes where.

Photographs or drawings of the event and family member help even the youngest family member keep track of who’s doing what and where.

Hassle 5. WASTED TIME IN CAR POOLS (“Do we have to wait until his game is over?”)

Did you feel more like a taxi cab driver than parent or spend hours waiting in your car for your kid’s lessons to be over? Did your kids resent waiting for the other sibling’s practice to be out? Then set up the inside of your car as a mini-office to utilize that lull time more productively. Hang a shoe sorter over seat back as a toy organizer, have spare books or tapes to listen to, provide a small ice chest to stock with juice boxes and water which turns into a spare desk and  fill a bin with school supplies (pencils, pens, binder paper, flash cards, dictionary, calculator)

For a child to study those spelling words or homework while waiting for a siblings game to be over, stock cookie sheets under the front seat to pull out as an instant desk or tray. The stack perfectly and also make instant desks for kids to do their homework on. P.S. You can also put magnetic letters on the cookie sheet and your younger child can practice spelling on the tray without the letters falling all over the car. Most cookie sheets are magnetic. Be sure the one you use has the feature.

Hassle 6. MISSING TEACHER/COACH NOTES (“Did you sign the teacher’s note?”)

If missing teacher notes, coach memos, scouting policies, school notices, or conference schedules was a reoccurring problem, set a new family policy: “Walk in, open your backpack, and put any notes or graded papers in the basket.” Then put a basket near that door, and consistently check it nightly. Tend to those items needing your signature, and put them ASAP inside your child’s backpack for next day delivery.

Hassle 7. PARENT OVERLOAD (“Come on, Mom! We have to get going!”)

Did you feel like a hamster on a wheel – running in circles, doing it all, and never getting anywhere? This year it may be time to back off just a bit. Here are ideas:

Always rescuing? Then stop. Your kids need to take ownership and stop relying on you as their savior. After all, homework, sports gear, library books are your kid’s responsibility, not yours.

Adopt your new mantra:

“Never do for your kid what your kid can do for himself.”

Then announce it to your kids and stick to it. Do everything? Delegate some of those chores to your kids. Research says kids who do chores are more successful students but also turn out to be more responsible.

Say “yes” too easily? Write “No” on an index card and tape it to your phone. Anytime anyone asks you to take on one more thing, say you’ll have to think about it first and call back. The stall time gives you time to think whether you really want to take bake those cupcakes or drive one more place.

Stressed out? Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign for a few minutes at the same time each night with a strict rule: No one may disturb you until you remove that sign.

Remember: A happier, less-stressed parent turns out happier, less stressed kids.

So what’s your biggest reoccurring back-to-school hassle? Now is the time to come up with a solution.

Happy back to school!

Michele

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert

Follow me on twitter @MicheleBorba or my bi-weekly parenting blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check. 

– See more at: http://www.micheleborba.com/blog/2013/08/15/solutions-to-7-back-to-school-parenting-hassles/#sthash.8ZU9Nfpw.dpuf

Posted August 19, 2013 by sotpyouth in Family, School

Mom Gives Her 13-Year-Old Son An iPhone For Christmas — Plus An 18-point Contract To Go With It   Leave a comment

From Zagg.com and huffingtonpost.com

In this day and age, it’s more and more common to see a teenager with a smartphone. Prices on devices have dropped in recent years, and the monthly service reasonably affordable, too.

electronics_teen-on-cellphone_146801320-thumb-240xauto-4970One mom, Jannel Burley Hofmann, bought her 13-year old son Gregory an iPhone for Christmas, and wrote the following letter / contract to accompany his gift. So check out her letter to him and let us know what you think: is she being perfectly fair and reasonable? Too controlling and restrictive?

“12/25/2012

Dear Gregory

Merry Christmas!  You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.  You are a good & responsible 13 year old boy and you deserve this gift.  But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations.  Please read through the following contract.  I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it.  Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

I love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

1. It is my phone.  I bought it.  I pay for it.  I am loaning it to you.  Aren’t I the greatest?

2.  I will always know the password.

3.   If it rings, answer it.  It is a phone.  Say hello, use your manners.  Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”.  Not ever.

4.  Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm.  It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am.  If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.  Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

5.  It does not go to school with you.  Have a conversation with the people you text in person.  It’s a life skill.  *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.

6.  If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.  Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money.  It will happen, you should be prepared.

7.  Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.  Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

8.  Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

9.  Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.  Censor yourself.

10.  No porn.  Search the web for information you would openly share with me.  If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.

11.  Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public.  Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being.  You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

12.  Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.  Don’t laugh.  Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence.  It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life.  It is always a bad idea.  Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.  And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.

13.  Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos.  There is no need to document everything.  Live your experiences.  They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

14.  Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision.  It is not alive or an extension of you.  Learn to live without it.  Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.

15.  Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff.  Your generation has access to music like never before in history.  Take advantage of that gift.  Expand your horizons.

16.  Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

17.  Keep your eyes up.  See the world happening around you.  Stare out a window.  Listen to the birds.  Take a walk.  Talk to a stranger.  Wonder without googling.

18.  You will mess up.  I will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.  You & I, we are always learning.  I am on your team.  We are in this together.

It is my hope that you can agree to these terms.  Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life.  You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world.  It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get.  Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine.  I love you.  I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.  Merry Christmas!

xoxoxo

Mom”

Posted January 20, 2013 by sotpyouth in Family, Media, Music, School, Technology

Snapchat app – Why Parents need to be very concerned   Leave a comment

Parents – Here is just another reason why you NEED to know what is on your child’s phone. The newest, hottest social media app is Snapchat. It’s an app that allows users to take a picture, add some text if they want, and send it off. When the recipient receives it, the picture deletes itself up to 10 seconds after it has been seen.

For those of you I know personally – Some of your children are using this app. I added this app to my phone and it tells you what contacts in your phone are using this app. Some of your children’s names popped up. I am no going to divulge who those young people are. That is something you need to investigate and talk with your children about. (By the way, the same holds true for Instagram – Your children are using this app too.) Facebook is full of requests from our young people to “Snapchat me”.

snapchat-500

What is this picture, taken from Snapchat’s website implying?

My first thought after hearing about this app was “Well, that’s stupid. Why would that appeal to anyone?” That thought lasted about as long as a person can view a Snapchat picture sent to them. My next thought was this app is just begging for people to send nude photos of themselves. I’m sure the Snapchat user’s thought process goes like this: “What could be more perfect? Take a naked picture of myself, send it to ___________ (fill in the blank of the person to be impressed by said picture), he/she will be impressed and like me. Life will be great because photo will automatically deleted and I will be considered cool because I’m giving him/her what he/she wants. This is awesome!”

Ad for Snapchat from a college website

sexting-480x330

This thought process couldn’t be more wrong, and this is why we need to stay vigilant as parents in keeping up on what our kids are doing. We MUST keep reminding them that what they do online will be there forever no matter what they read or hear.

Snap chat arms immature minors (there are no age restrictions) with an easy way to send photos of themselves and others that could have long lasting consequences past the 1 to 10 second timer on the app.

Although an interview with Snap Chat’s CEO, explains that sexting is not the motivation of the app the FAQs say something completely different:

According to Snapchat’s 22-year-old co-founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel, “it doesn’t actually make sense for sexting. Because you see the photo for, what, three seconds?”
Snapchat photos don’t last very long.

From Snapchat’s FAQs:

IS THERE ANY WAY TO VIEW AN IMAGE AFTER THE TIME HAS EXPIRED?
No, snaps disappear after the timer runs out. You can save snaps that you capture by pressing the save button on the preview screen.

WHAT IF I TAKE A SCREENSHOT?
Screenshots can be captured if you’re quick. The sender will be notified immediately.

Yes, anyone can take a screen shot if they are quick enough, and as we can see by watching our kids text, they can be very nimble with their fingers. Even though the sender is notified if a screen shot is taken, it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. A digital photo can be taken of the phone when a Snapchat image is received. Then, the sender doesn’t even know that the image was captured.

Those pictures could be sent around faster than you can imagine, ruining a young persons reputation in a matter of minutes.

Snapchat’s main feature is definitely implying a false sense of security. Their privacy policy states that they “cannot guarantee that the message data will be deleted in every case” and “Messages, therefore are sent at the risk of the user”. So, theoretically, if a child were to send an inappropriate photo through Snapchat, the image could be floating around on their servers even after the photo has been deleted from the recipient’s phone. How do we know that we can trust Snapchat employees to respect their users’ privacy? The answer is: We can’t. And the consequences can be disturbing, with parasite porn sites stealing and spreading images and videos of young people, and tragic tales of victims like Amanda Todd, who was bullied so badly over images of her that were shared over the net that she commited suicide. (Taken from Nakedsecurity.sophos.com)

As you can see from Appdata.com, as of today, Snapchat ranks 2nd in photo sharing apps.

top photo app stats

Snap chat is currently sharing more than 10 million images a day.

Parents, as you can imagine, Snapchat would allow a child or teen to send nude photos to their friends without fear of becoming the laughing stock of the school or ending up on a porn site, but we should expect more from our children. We should expect them to make good decisions for themselves, regardless of how easy technology makes it from them to do otherwise. My hope is that you will take this knowledge and use it to leverage your vigilance at home. Keep an eye out for this app on your child’s mobile device. If you see that they’ve downloaded it, chances are it’s time to sit down and have a serious conversation about the consequences of sexting.

(Sources: Yoursphere.com, Nakedsecurity.sophos.com)

Posted December 4, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Family, General, Media, School, Technology

Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 3   Leave a comment

Here is part 3 on my Instagram series for parents. This time with some more information on privacy settings.

You can read Part 1 and 2 here:

Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 1

Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 2

***Please note that this article only talks of instagram in terms of Ipod and Iphone. It is an Android product as well, and now profiles and comments can be viewed on the web***

Instagram – Is It Okay for Kids? What Parents Need to Know

 | February 8, 2012 |yoursphere.com

In many ways, and without reinventing the wheel, Instagram is changing the way people share photos with each other. The mobile app, which is only available on the iPhone, is steadily growing in popularity among the kid and teen crowds, causing parents to take notice and ask, what exactly is Instagram, and is there anything I should be worried about?

Just like with any social sharing application, there are a few things parents need to know about Instagram and how their teen may be using it, so the Yoursphere for Parents editorial team did the research. But first, what is Instagram?

What Is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing mobile app that’s (currently) only available on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Users can either upload a photo from their device’s library or take a photo right then and there and use Instagram to change the way the photo looks.

The user then has the option to simultaneously upload this photo to a number of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare, depending on which ones they sync to their Instagram account. The photo will also be uploaded to the Instagram community where people can like and comment on it.

In many ways, Instagram is a photo-sharing social network on its own. Users have a profile with the option to fill out information such as first and last name, username, birthday, gender, bio, email address and phone number. Popular photos from all over the world are shared under the “Popular” tab, and every user has the option to follow other Instagram users and vice versa.

The idea behind Instagram is simple, really. And they execute it so beautifully. But just like with any social sharing application, there are some privacy and concerning content issues that can ruin the Instagram experience for a family with kids and younger teens.

What Parents Need To Know

Privacy

The only information required when signing up for Instagram is an email address and desired username. Though they ask for a phone number, it’s very clear during sign up that this is optional, so please consider your privacy or your teen’s privacy before entering a phone number here.

The single most important thing to realize is that, by default, anyone can view the photos that you upload to Instagram. In other words, your profile and your photos are publicly viewable unless you tell it otherwise. If you only want your followers to see your photos, then you need to set your profile to private by following these steps:

  1. Go to your profile page (tap the Profile tab)
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the Profile page, where you’ll see a “Photos are private” switch
  3. Toggle the “Photos are private” switch to ON to turn on privacy.

Once you set your profile to private, anyone who wants to see your photos will need to be your friend/follower first, meaning they’ll have to send a request and you’ll have to approve.

Geotagging

During the process of uploading a photo, the geo-location data of the photo you’re uploading can
easily be shared with your followers if you’re not careful. Fortunately, Instagram turns geotagging off by default, but it’s easy to accidently turn it on.

When uploading a photo, be sure to avoid tapping the button shown in this screenshot. If you do, you can always tap it again to turn it off. This is just something to be aware of as geotagging is a huge risk to you and your teen’s privacy online. You can learn more about how geotagging works,here.

Age-Appropriateness

Instagram is not for children under the age of 13, and in my opinion, not suitable for slightly older teens, either. If you’re 12 years old, there isn’t even a 1999 year to choose when signing up. Instagram has strict Terms of Useand Community Guidelines that make their age requirement clear. Also, there’s an obvious connection between Instagram and other adult-intended social networks like Facebook and Twitter.


Blocking and Reporting Users and Content

While there are tools for reporting/blocking users and inappropriate content, know that people will, and do upload nude photos. In fact, the editorial team found a multitude of bestiality photos in less than one minute when searching for friends. It’s a sad fact, and another commonsense reason that you shouldn’t allow your children to use Instagram. If you are an Instagram user, they provide easy-to-use tools to block or report someone. The steps below show you how:

Blocking a user –

  1. Navigate to their profile page (tap Profile > Search Instagram > Names and usernames, then search for and tap on their username).
  2. Tap the button in the top right corner of the screen (gear icon).
  3. Tap “Block user” to prevent the user from viewing your account.

           

The same steps can be followed to report a user, in addition to giving a reason why you’re reporting them.

Reporting a photo –

  1. Tap the “…” below the photo you would like to report and then “Flag for review”
  2. Select the proper reason for reporting from the list and, if prompted, a short description.

              

NOTE: All flags are anonymous and go directly to Instagram.

—————————————————————————————————

So, parents, do you use Instagram? Does your teen? If so, have you or they encountered any privacy, bullying or content issues like we did?  As I said at the outset, Instagram does a simple and fantastic job of letting us do some very fun and creative things with our photos. Frankly, in my opinion, it’s a shame that others ruin what should be enjoyed by you and your family.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And remember, there are plenty of apps out there, just like there are plenty of social networks out there that were made FOR your children, and with their privacy in mind. And though it’s a wonderful app that enhances the way we share photos, Instagram is not one of them.

I hope you have found this series useful. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what your kids are doing when online. It’s important to understand that online doesn’t mean sitting in front of a computer. If they have a smart phone, they can be online anywhere. For their safety, please know what they are doing.

Peace,

Greggor

Posted November 30, 2012 by sotpyouth in Family, Media, School, Technology

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Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 2   1 comment

Continuing on with Instagram for Parents – Info for Parents Series

I hope you found part one informative. If you didn’t read it yet, you can find it here:

Instagram for Parents – Info For Parents – Part 1

Here is another article on Instagram that I found interesting:

Instagram: What parents need to know

By  Washingtonpost.com

Business news today is dominated by Instagram, a quirky photo sharing application. Facebook has announced it’s buying the start-up used by 30 million people in a deal worth about a billion dollars in cash and shares.

Some of the most prolific users of Instagram are teens. Using their iPads and smart phones, they snap photos, embellish them and share them with friends.


Instagram is a hit with teens. (Karly Domb Sadof – AP)

A 16-year-old writing for the teen-produced site Radical Parenting detailed in a recent post why she and her friends are addicted to Instagram. Perhaps the biggest reason the application is such a hit with teens, as the writer mentions, is that it offers an outlet for that abundant need teens have for self-expression.

The purchase by Facebook is likely to make Instagram that much more popular. So, it might be a good time for a parental primer.

The folks at Yoursphere For Parents, a group that provides Internet safety information, recently gathered some helpful tips to better supervise this digital playground.

First, it’s important to know that photos uploaded on Instagram can, by default, be viewed by anyone, anywhere. There’s also an option to share the photo location, which may be of concern if a parent would rather not have a child broadcast his whereabouts.

Also, Instagram, like Facebook, is not supposed to be used by children under 13. Images are usually cute or artistic, but there are also nude photos and disturbing images to be found.

The application requires an account sign-on, which includes entering a birth date, but many parents have already found that tech-savvy kids easily overcome this obstacle.

Also, like so many digital gathering places, Instagram has been used for cyber-bullying.

The Yourshpere editors make it clear that it’s not the application itself that is necessarily a problem — and the Radical Parenting writer offers a glimpse at how teens are using it to explore their artistry.

Still, a certain level of supervision is advised.

Do your kids use Instagram? How? Do you monitor their use?

Stay tuned for Part 3 – Coming tomorrow…greggor

Posted November 28, 2012 by sotpyouth in Family, Media, School, Technology

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7th grader commits suicide   1 comment

Source: Walt Mueller’s Center for Parent/Youth Understanding www.cpyu.org and http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/18071943/father-hurtful-words-killed-my-daughter

My heart was breaking as I watched this video about Rachel Ehmke, who took her own life on Saturday, April 28th, 2012, a victim of bullying. – Follow this link to read her touching obituary as well – http://www.dibblefuneralhome.com/obituaries/rachel-d-ehmke-kasson/ – What do we need to do get bullying to stop?!?! – Greg

MANTORVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) –

A father in southern Minnesota says words — simple, hurtful words — killed his 13-year-old daughter, and now he’s speaking out against the bullying his child endured at school and through social media after she took her own life on Saturday.

“These words killed my daughter,” said Rick Ehmke. “I’ll go to my grave believing that.”

For months, Rachel Ehmke was bullied at Mantorville Middle School. Though experts say there’s seldom just one reason for teen suicide, but this victim’s parents were engaged with the school over a known problem.

In fact, the school first told her parents that the 7th grade student was being bullied last fall.

“They called her all these names. They vandalized her locker — smeared it full of gum, chewed gum,” said Rick Ehmke. “Put it in all her books.”

Though she was outgoing, athletic and had many good friends, she was also bullied by a pack of girls that called her a slut and a prostitute even though she had never kissed a boy.

“She shared with us that she was being called these kinds of names,” Rick Ehmke said.

After she reported the bullying, Rick Ehmke said his daughter kept telling them everything was fine — even when it wasn’t.

Ehmke’s parents thought the bullying had been resolved — until the principal called on Friday to say a whole new group of bullies were bothering her.

“That, apparently, set her off,” Rick Ehmke said. “Back into ‘get mom and dad into it.’ Based on last time, all it did is make people angrier.”

On Saturday night, Ehmke hung herself in her room. There was no suicide note, but her family found a note card where she had written “I’m fine = I wish you knew how I really felt,” along with a picture of a broken heart.

“I wish she could’ve,” Rick Ehmke said. “I don’t think we’d be sitting here if she could’ve.”

Word of her suicide spread quickly through the tiny town, and even faster on Twitter and Facebook as some of Rachel Ehmke’s friends made posts retaliating to the bullies. But Rick Ehmke said he doesn’t blame the school, the kids or even the Internet.

“They’re good kids that made some bad choices,” he said. “Truly, if they ever thought she’d do something like this, they’d never do it.”

Instead, he only wants to share his profound loss now that he won’t see his daughter swim again in the pond she loved. He will never pick out a dress for prom, or for a wedding.

“I’ll never understand, but I need to figure out how to go through life without my daughter,” he said.

If there is one thing that angers him, however, he said his stomach turned when he searched his daughter’s Internet browsing history and found she had visited a site offering tips on how to take your life — even a discussion group where someone gave her advice.

Posted May 7, 2012 by sotpyouth in Bullying, Family, School

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