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Technology - Smartphones

More than any other technology, smartphones are creating the greatest risks for children because of accumulated effects, including...

  1. It is harder to monitor Smartphone use -  how much time children are spending on them and what they are doing with them.
  2. There are dozens of smartphone apps that enable anonymous communication, disinhibited communication, and communication between strangers.  Many apps are not age-appropriate for children (rated 17+/21+) and some apps are inappropriately rated for children (rated 12+) when they shouldn't be.  And of course, a child can install any app regardless of the rating.
  3. Because of their addictive quality, children with smartphones are also staying up later to remain connected to their social media; their sleep is more frequently being interrupted by these devices.  In October, 2016 Doug Fodeman gave a workshop to a large group of pediactric doctors and nurses on technology use by children.  He asked the group to raise their hands if they had patients in their care whose sleep was being impacted negatively due to the use of smartphones and social media.  Nearly all hands went up.
  4. With access to smartphones at younger and younger ages, children are spending less timing engaging with the world around them, more time using smartphones to avoid having difficult face-to-face conversations.  This is a growing concern raised by more and more people.  Visit the site called Undigitize.me for additional useful information.

New Parental Control apps appear each year and it is important to check for quality apps that can help parents monitor and set boundaries.  One such app getting attention is "Our Pact." OurPact is a simple family locator and parental control app that allows parents to locate family members and limit screen time by blocking internet and app access.

There are many smartphone apps that are not appropriate for young teens but are attracting their attention and use including "Hot or Not," "Chance," "Sneak," and "Yik Yak."  Smartphone apps that enable anonymous communication, communication between strangers or “rating” other people are very risky.  Some also allow users to post photos/videos anonymously or identify user location.  Most are rated either 17+ or 21+.  The apps include:

After School               Secret                        TBH (To Be Honest)
Ask (Ask.fm)               Spayce                      Sarahah (Info about this app)
Back Chat                   Sneek
Burnbook                    Street Chat
Chance                         Swipe
Flinch                            Tinder
Hot or Not                   Yik Yak
Omegle                         Whisper
Peeple                           YouNow

This website has a good description of the issues and apps:  https://thesocialsheriff.wordpress.com/category/danger-danger-apps-to-watch-for/

CAUTION: Burn Book is a very dangerous app that has been in the media a lot because of teen misuse. Check out...
   https://safesmartsocial.com/what-is-the-burn-book-app-parent-teacher-guide/
   https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-can-t-sit-us/201504/burn-book-app-bullying

NOTE: There are some risky apps that teens use to hide things like photos from parents.  They actually hide nothing because if a smartphone is confiscated and searched by police investigating a crime the photos are easily discovered.  These and other apps are described in this article called "6 Underground Apps Students Hide From Schools" (and parents).

NOTE 2: There is a great deal of misinformation being circulated online about an app called "Blue Whale."  Presumably, the app encourages children to hurt themselves in ever-increasing ways, resulting in an attempt at suicide at day 50.  This self-hurt app, downloaded by many children in Europe and Russia, has been largely de-bunked as myth.  Read this article from ForEveryMom.com to learn more about this app and what are the real concerns regarding teen suicide and this app.

  Cell Phone Guidelines for Middle Schoolers: What You Should Know
  http://www.verizonwireless.com/mobile-living/home-and-family/parental-control-apps-for-middle-school/

  Peeple launched in November, 2015.  It already has a lot of media attention.  The app developer says it is rated 21+.
    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/02/peeple-the-human-rating-app-gets-little-love.html
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/09/30/everyone-you-know-will-be-able-to-rate-you-on-the-terrifying-yelp-for-people-whether-you-want-them-to-or-not/

REGARDING TEXTING & RECOVERING DELETED TEXTS
It is not recommended that children below 7th grade engage in texting.  Social drama often begins with texting and group texts amongst younger children are often hurtful.  If parents do give permission for their children to text, it is strongly advised that parents routinely check on their child's texts.  You may also choose to tell your child that texts may not be deleted and missing texts may lead to consequences.  Some websites claim to provide instructions how to retrieve deleted texts.  We cannot verify their success but provide these links as possible resources:


Parental Control Software to Monitor Texting
Teensafe: https://www.teensafe.com/
Phone Sheriff: http://www.phonesheriff.com/purchase.html
Secure Teen: http://www.secureteen.com/
My Mobile Watchdog: https://www.mymobilewatchdog.com/


Recovering Deleted iPhone Texts:
   http://www.imobie.com/support/retrieve-deleted-text-messages-on-iphone.htm
   http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/mobile-phone/restore-deleted-text-messages-on-iphone-3625154/
   https://www.enigma-recovery.com/ios/features/recover-deleted-messages-iphone/

Recovering Deleted Android Phone Texts:
   https://www.androidpit.com/how-to-recover-deleted-text-messages
   http://www.android-recovery.net/recover-messages-from-android.html

Additional Pages:
Specific Recommendations: http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-specific-recommendations
Lastest Research: http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-latest-research
Technology Contracts for Kids:
http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-contracts-kids

Specific Issues and Concerns About:

            Social Media: http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-social-media
            Video Games:  http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-video-games

What You Might Say To Your Child:  http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-what-tell-your-child
Additional Related Resources: http://www.brookwood.edu/technology-resources