The App Every Teen’s Parents Should Be Using
Parenting teens these days is scary! As if our mother’s didn’t have it hard enough, today’s teens are on the Internet constantly. You can set up parental controls on their home computer, but you can’t really control what they do on the Internet on their phones or at school and you certainly can’t control what their friends (or frenemies) do online.
What’s the answer then? It’s not realistic to never let them have Internet access. They will find a way. It’s not healthy to force them to hand over all tech for inspections daily. They’ll not only find a way to hide things, but they’ll resent you for the obvious intrusions. Of course, you can’t just let them do their own thing or you’re shirking your responsibility to watch out for them.
That’s where one of my favorite apps comes in: IfTTT. It’s stands for If This, Then That. Basically, it’s an automation app that you can program to do all sorts of things. “If I do this, then make this app do that”. You following?
IfTTT is not terribly complicated: you can program the triggers and actions yourself with a graphical interface or you can select a “recipe” of actions that other’s have already created. It is a bit limited in that you can only program things for the apps they support. While that list is ever growing, there might be apps your teens want to use that you’d like to monitor, but can’t…yet.
That being said, here are some of the best recipes (already in existence) for keeping your teen safe.
Another straightforward one: GPS tracking starts when your child leaves school.
Category Two: Never Miss an Important Message
This one is great for getting notifications right away from your child’s teachers.
No more excuses that your teen’s phone was on silent. They can’t miss your call now.
Category Three: What Happens on Social Media?
Instant access from anywhere to know who your teen has been talking to. If there’s an emergency, you don’t want to try and track this info down from the phone company.
Let’s be honest. Kids can be cruel to each other. This recipe logs all those text conversations into a Google spreadsheet where you can search for keywords if need be. I’ll be honest, I have this set up on my phone, saving my own text messages. It makes finding things later a whole lot easier.
You can’t control what other people do. But if your child is tagged in a photo on Facebook, you can have that photo backed up to Dropbox. This is another one you probably won’t ever need, but if your teen starts getting bullied online, it’s probably one you’ll want to have already installed.
If you don’t know what Snapchat is, it’s one of your worst nightmares as a parent. An app where kids take pictures, send them to each other and then the pictures disappear. Take two seconds to think about how easily this will be abused by teens. This recipe will backup all those pictures, making sure your teen (and his or her friends) aren’t sending out pics they’d regret later.
I hope that helps some of you dealing with teens in Cyberspace. What are some of the things you’re concerned about with kids on the Internet? I’d love to know what you all are struggling with and maybe we can all help each other with some resources (and moral support!).
Thanks to the following blogs for letting me share with their readers!