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Which apps should parents be most concerned about right now?

San Antonio Mom Blogs is excited to bring you a series of guest posts by San Antonio mom Mandy Majors, founder of nextTalk, a group which advocates for open communication between parents and their kids regarding cyber bullying, social media, sex, technology, and everything in-between. Here’s where to read our first post with Mandy, “How to talk about porn, cyberbullying, and more with our kids,” and our second post with Mandy, “At what age should my child get a cell phone?”

This month’s nextTalk topic: Which apps should parents be most concerned about right now?

Which apps should parents be most concerned about right now?

Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go has taken over! It’s fun, but there are some dangers. Be aware of your children playing and/or interacting with strangers. Also, we need to talk to our kids about not paying attention to where they’re going and their surroundings (this pertains to texting and general phone use too). We’ve treated this like we do any other new, popular app — it’s on my phone, and we play as a family. I haven’t allowed my tween to have it on her own phone yet. As always, I familiarize myself with it and allow myself time to figure out if I’m comfortable with her having it on her own phone.
The appropriateness of apps for kids also depends on the age of your child. For example, is popular with elementary kids and early middle school right now. Be careful – it’s a social media platform. Make sure their account is set to private. Even with a private account, they can search all public accounts. There is no way to filter content (lyrics, dance moves, clothing, etc). Even with your phone restrictions set, it won’t catch inappropriate content because it’s app-based.

Instagram continues to be popular with middle schoolers. Again, they should know their followers in real life. There is a DM feature so they communicate often within the app. Also, I’ve seen pornography on Instagram. Again, my phone restrictions are set, but it’s app-based so the phone restrictions won’t catch inappropriate content. Please note, Instagram recently had an update. They’ve added “stories” similar to Snapchat where the pictures disappear. It is imperative to talk with our t(w)eens about picture-taking – nothing ever truly disappears with technology. Any picture can be screenshot before it disappears. Again, don’t expect privacy on a cell phone.

Snapchat is insanely popular right now, mostly with middle schoolers and high schoolers. In my personal opinion, this one should be reserved for trustworthy, older kids. Pictures “disappear” after posting (again nothing ever truly disappears). Also, there was a new update for Snapchat at the beginning of summer. Their “Discover” option shows trending stories and even paid advertising. Many of the articles are sexually-explicit, and Snapchat is actually being sued because of it. An example of those stories include, “12 Things Women Wish Guys Knew About Oral Sex,” and “Inside a Hamptons Sex Party for the Elite.” A lot of the social media sites and apps have taken the affirmative approach of dealing with sexually explicit content, but Snapchat isn’t one of them. You can find more trending headlines and info here.

With all of the updates/changes to these familiar apps, I have a new warning. Make sure you stay current. The apps are constantly changing with new updates that often bring more questionable exposure to your kids. Follow nextTalk for up-to-date information!

Stay tuned, nextTalkers. We’ll keep you informed.

What should parents be on the lookout for these days regarding apps, websites, and other sources of potentially inappropriate content for our kids?

How can parents keep up with the new apps and the changes that are constantly happening online?

Porn, pedophiles and cyberbullying are my main concerns.

Porn is the new drug we’re fighting. It’s everywhere. It’s not “if” your child will see porn, it’s “how old will they be?” Please note, talk about porn even if your child doesn’t have a cell phone because other kids will show them. I recommend the book, “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures,” by Kristen A. Jenson. It’s a great scientific-based resource to teach kids how to take those bad pictures and move them from the emotional side of the brain to the thinking side of the brain. FYI, I recommend this for girls and boys, elementary-aged.

Be sure to keep up with the latest on kids, the Internet, mobile phones, and safety by following Mandy Majors and nextTalk on Twitter and Facebook.

Which apps should parents be most concerned about right now?

Mandy Majors with NextTalkMandy Majors grew up in a divorced home in a small Indiana town and she was a rebellious teenager who learned life the hard way. She overcame the bad decisions and managed to graduate from Indiana University. She has now been happily married to her best friend, Matt, for 17 years. They’re raising two children in a quaint little community north of San Antonio, Texas, where vehicles stop to let goats and deer cross the road. Mandy has a deep love for her family (her most important job is wife and mom) and has a passion for discussing t(w)een issues with other moms in the MomTalk group she founded in 2013 and through nextTalk, the group she founded in 2016. She hates coffee and is a recovering Diet Coke addict. True story. If we’re being honest, she still cheats on the Diet Coke thing. You can connect with Mandy on Twitter and with nextTalk on Facebook.

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