Learning more about the Apps your kids use

As I mentioned in a previous post about Parent-Teacher Conferences, I am in charge of Parent Education for the parent-teacher association (PTA) of my kids’ elementary school. And any time I share with the parents something of interest – whether it be a speaker, reading material or an Internet site – my goal is to share that information here.

Now last June, my predecessor brought in a school counselor to discuss Social Media. And while her lecture was informative, this Fall was a particularly busy time that I decide not to bring in a speaker but to do a flyer about Social Media instead.

social-media

The information for my flyer came from a website the counselor had recommended – SafeSmartSocial.com. I reviewed the site before opting to recommend it to the parents. On the site, they do offer a free Webinar about social media, but it turned out to be too much of a sales pitch for paid services and books they offered.

But the site’s Parent App Guide is quite helpful. Here you can look up an app to see if it is safe (green), questionable (grey) or dangerous (red).

On the site, you get a complete rundown of each app, including age requirements, how to install it, how it works, and how kids use it. There is a short video on each app to help parents better understand the app.

Green Zone Apps included things like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. These Apps are considered safe for Teens and Tweens and are recommended for kids over 13. YouTube was included on this list but after talking to some parents, I am thinking that maybe it should be in the Gray Zone as there are some videos out there that are NOT appropriate for kids.

Gray Zone Apps included such things as Texting, Musical.ly, Pokemon Go and Vine. These apps could be fine for your Teen/Tween but the accompanying video spells out how these apps could also be bad.

Red Zone Apps include 18 apps that many high school (and some junior high/middle school) students are using. These apps – which include AfterSchool, Ask.fm, Ogle, Secret, Tumblr, Yik Yak and YouNow – are considered NOT safe as they are apps that allow users to remain anonymous. This can often lead to man comments or posting of things sexual in nature.

Now unlike my Parent-Teacher Conference flyer, this flyer was sent to the parents in an e-mail and also distributed via Social Media. I did worry a little that it wouldn’t be as widely read because of this. I think many parents read the information that comes home in their kids’ backpacks more than they read the school or PTA emails that go out.

But because a lot of the information applies mostly to parents of kids of a certain age (junior high/middle school on up) and in an effort to save on paper, I agreed to let it go out only in an electronic form. We did also post it at the school. I can only hope that the parents who need this information the most did, in fact, view it as the amount of bad apps and cyber bullying situations will continue to grow.