Teens, Apps, and What to Look For….

This is a topic that I am super passionate about. It not only affects our family personally, it affects so many other families, most do not even know they have a problem. Today we are going to talk about kids and dangerous apps that you need to be looking out for.

In a world where everything is at our fingertips, it is hard to remember what the world was like before phones, devices, and social media. I scroll through Facebook way more than I should, and my phone is never to far away. This is something I personally am going to start working on, but it is also hard for me because I am just starting this blogging adventure, and social media is how I get the word out. I am always reading other individuals posts, and learning and growing through what I have researched. At this point, it is my job. But, when does it become a problem?

One of the things I really want to touch base on is apps kids are using today, that are extremly dangerous, and ones parents NEED to look out for. If you are allowing your children to have their own device, you need to take that device right now, and look for these IMMEDIATLY:

HIP or HIDE IT PRO
  1. HIP (Hide it Pro) is an app on the phone designed to look like a simple music site. Teens and kids use this app to hide photos, text messages, videos, or any other inappropriate or sensitive materials from their parents. It uses a PIN to allow the kids to safely remove material from their phone into a “vault”.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS?: This app is expecially dangerous because if you are one of those parents who checks your kids phone or tablet for inappropriate things, this app allows them to hide anything going to that device from you. This could be inappropriate conversations, contact info on strangers, pictures, anything. It hides it all.

2. CALCULATOR+ has been on the news a few times, and every time it goes public the app creaters actually change the apperance of the calculator. This is very similar to the HIP app. It allows teens or children to hide content they do not want their parent seeing, the only thing different with this app is that it also allows them to hide browser history or browser searches. It also allows more content to be stored.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Pretty much for the same reason as the HIP app it allows children to hide sensitive or inappropriate material from their parents. This app is hidden better, because when parents see it on their child’s phone it looks like a normal calculator. What you want to look for is the plus sign after the words, that will let you know that this is an app that is hiding material.

Another app that allows children to hide their home screen on their phone to look like a normal screen is called POOF. You can go into your child’s app store and search if this has been downloaded.

3. Snapchat is a social media app that allows kids to send pictures and chat, and the material disappears. You can not track pictures that were sent or conversations that were had unless your child has taken a screenshot of something. Another reason why snap chat is dangerous is because you can screen shot anything your child has sent without their permission. So if your teen daughter sends a risky photo to another individual, that person can screen shot it, and send it out for the world to see. It seems innocent enough with silly filters, and funny pictures, but it can also be a place that puts your teen at risk for bullying, sexual content, and strangers accessing them.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Snap chat is dangerous because almost any teen I know, uses this app instead of texting for the simple reason of what they are saying and sending disappears. This allows them to pretty much say and do whatever they want, and there is no history of it. It is also dangerous because if your teen is sending someone risky pictures, the recipient of the material can screen shot it, save it, and then send that picture out to anyone they want, including sex trafficers and child preditors.

4. LINE is an app that allows free text messaging, video chatting, and sharing photos. Your teen can choose how long they want a photo to stay up, whether it be a few seconds or a week or so. As long as your teen is connected to wi-fi they can use this app to pretty much do and say whatever they want to whoever they want.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Any app that allows your teen to video chat with anyone they want is dangerous. Any app that allows your teen to send photos that do not stay on their device is also dangerous. This is how teens get groomed into sex trafficking, and this is how child predaters gain access to inappropriate materials.

5. WHISPER is an online forum where teens can share their thoughts, or other things “annonymously”. I use the phrase annonymously lightly because there is an option on this app where someone can put on their “location”and it connects the individual to people in their area. It will also give strangers their location. It also gives access to teens to communicate privatley. This opens up the door to predators to find out exactly where the teen is while they are talking to them. Whisper is NOT an app I would ever allow my child to use.

WHY IT IS DANGEROUS? Well, first off, it is dangerous simply by the materials your teen can access. From online bullying, to posts about drugs and alchohal, to even posts about how to committ suicide. Not only does it allow them access to these things, it gives them access to complete strangers to chat who are near them. NOT only does it give access to strangers to chat, it gives the strangers there actual location. I can not stress this enough, if your child has this app on their phone you need to act immediatly in deleting it, blocking, it and having a serious talk with your teen on who exactly they were talking to and what was said.

6. KIK, oh how I hate this app with a passion!! KIK is an app that allows teens to send video messages, chats, gifs, pictures ect. The problem with KIK is there are absolutely no parental controls and your teen can connect with anyone in their surrounding areas. KIK has been a app that has personally affected our family with our teen. She had connected to a stranger in the area that started grooming our daughter. After we found the information we turned it over to local authorities and it was found that the individual posing as a normal teen to our daughter, was actually running one of the largest sex trafficking rings in the Chicago area. She honestly thought she had just connected with a boy around the area her age, who seemed to have a lot in common, and the end result was and still is absolutely frighting.

WHY IT IS DANGEROUS? The main reason this app is dangerous is because anyone can use it. There are no parental controls to where you can set who they can and can’t talk to. It also connects your kids to strangers around them, with no background information on who this person is. This app is definitley by far the most dangerous app available to children today.

Another website I would like to bring attention to is a website called OMEGLE. This is not an app but you can see if your child has been using this website by searching their browser history.

OMEGLE is a website that allows children to talk to strangers through video chat and messaging. You go onto the website, put in your location, and it connects you with anyone in your area, or you can choose a different area to connect. I obviously do not have to go into details on why this is incredibly dangerous.

Some other apps that you need to look out for are:

  1. Tinder
  2. Blendr
  3. Ask.fm
  4. Houseparty
  5. VINE
  6. YOBO (Formally Yellow)- This one is like a Tinder for kids who are 13-17

There are so many more apps and websites out there, but these are the top picks that I wanted to touch base on because they are the most common. I can not stress it enough that you need to make sure you are monitoring your children and their devices. I am very anti-device as many of you know for certain reasons, and not being able to 100% monitor is one of them. You can ask my 6th grader who begs us all the time for a phone, with the simple answer of No. I am going to write a few more in depth posts in the future about how technology is affecting our children’s development, how it affects their social skills, their emotional health, and what really happens when a child becomes addicted to their device. These are all things we have dealt with personally in our home, so to say I am an expert, no, but to say I have lived through the nightmare of these apps and issues, yes.

I know it is really hard to wrap your head around it because so many parents think “Not my kid” and “We have had talks about the safety of the internet, they would never do those things” believe me I know. I have said all of these lines myself. But they are, and there are child preditors out there on all of these apps grooming, and getting to these kids. So, just be aware.

(I used Google Image for a picture of these apps so you know what to look for)

It’s Okay to be “The Mean Mom”

It’s Okay to be “The Mean Mom”

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory bank of our children”. -Charles R. Swindoll

There are so many different parenting styles these days it is hard for anyone to even know where to start when they get the news they are expecting their new bundle of joy.

I have had a lot of people come to me in the past years for “parenting advice” or “tips and tricks” on how to handle certain situations. I always have had a hard time with that, because what works for one child does not mean it will work for another. I can tell you out of my four children, every single one of them has their own style, personality, emotions, and uniqueness. With that, I have had to take very different approaches to them on effective parenting when it comes to simple discipline. But, one thing that I do all around the board for every single one of them, is know that I am not their friend right now, I am their mom. My sole purpose on this parenting journey is to understand that I am raising these tiny little humans to become respectful, loving, independent adults, and with that comes the responsibility at understanding that sometimes I will in fact be:

The Mean Mom!

“What does a mean mom entail?”, you may ask yourself. I am here to break it down. First off, let me start by saying that I have actual had the title “mom” or “mommy” for half of my life. Yes, you read that right, I welcomed my first at the age of 16, and being such a young mom, it took me a really long time to figure out how to really do this mom thing, because I was still trying to figure out who I even was. At the age of 32 I am STILL trying to figure out who I am. Hey, that is another blog post, no one has time for that! Let’s get back to the point shall we? Being a mean mom does not mean that anytime you are around your children you are screaming at them, yelling demands, breaking their confidence, beating them. It is actually very far from that. Being a mean mom means that you have certain expectations for your children, and they are expected to do their best to meet those expectations.

Now, that does not mean put unreasonable expectations on a child who developmentally can not achieve that. Because, then you are setting your child up for failure and that is not what we want our children to grow up thinking. In our home our expectations are very reasonable for the age of our children.

MEAN MOM REASON #1: School is number 1, you will always do the best to your ability at school, that does not mean you need straight A’s, but it means that we know your potential. If you are struggling in math and you end up with a C but you did your absolute best, then we will hang that C up on the fridge in celebration. If you are very capable of getting a A, but because you refused to do your homework, you did not study for the test you knew you had, you simply did not apply yourself to your ability, then you are grounded until the grade is up. That last part is mean mom material. Being grounded. It is not easy grounding your children, because honestly it is more of a punishment on my part, having them hanging around me all the time. Just staring. That is why being a mean mom is so hard, sometimes you too are being punished.

MEAN MOM REASON #2: You have chores once a week. Now, do I expect my house to be ready for the queen on a weekly basis as I slave labor my kids into having to “gasp” clean the toilet they spent the last week peeing all over (boy mom’s will get this). No, absolutely not. Do I expect you to know what chores you have, and do them right the first time because I have shown you numerous times how to achieve that? Of course I do. What happens if you slack on your chores and purposely do them wrong, or not at all, then the next week you get to do ALL the chores in the house instead of the very small chore you were asked to do in the first place, while your siblings sit and relax. Once again, that last part is where the mean mom comes in.

MEAN MOM REASON #3: Laundry. The dreaded, dreaded laundry. I remember when my now husband and I moved in together I had a laundry pile the size of Mt. Everest hidden in the laundry room. I was working full time, I was a single mom, I had three children, and I just did not have time. I remember the first time I showed him my dirty little secret of laundry he looked at me very confused and said “Why are they not doing their own laundry?” Now, this was a foreign concept in my brain. I had never even considered showing my kids how to do their laundry. And that is when my life changed forever. Yes, my three older children do their OWN LAUNDRY! They each have a designated laundry day once a week. You are expected to start your load in the morning before school, you change it when you get home, and then you fold and put it away when it is finished. The mean mom part is that if you forget your laundry day, you have to be reminded of your laundry, if it is 9:00pm and you still have not changed loads of laundry, then you do not get TV for the next day, or Play Station, or whatever else you were planning on doing. I would like to clarify though that I am fully aware that life is life. Even I forget to change loads every once in awhile, or we are just busy that day. I get life happens! So if you have been on your A game, and it slips your mind every once in a great while, or we were running here or there that night, then you are obviously allowed to make up your laundry day at a different time. You just have to wait until your other siblings finish their days, so they are not punished. I will also change your load for you if I know we are doing something that evening. So it is done and ready for you to put away. It is all about balance. Once again, we are not here to set our kids up for failure. We are here to teach them life skills, along with life lessons. But, you are solely responsible for your underwear, have you ever seen an 11 year old underwear? NO THANKS!

MEAN MOM REASON #4: Our children are very limited in technology. Now, this one is a touchy subject for many parents. It is also one that comes up one debates on any and every mommy site I am apart of. This is something my husband and I decided for our own family, for our own personal reasons, that does not mean I am judging you that your toddler has an I Pad in the grocery store, or that your 7 year old has their own phone. That is not the case AT ALL. We made a choice on limiting their devices because we saw what happened when our daughter had one when she was in 6th grade. It was like we lost her completely. She constantly had her face in her phone, she was always moody, her attitude went from a fun loving 6th grade girl, to a girl who was tip toeing with a very severe case of depression. We made the choice at the end of 7th grade to take said phone away, and we never looked back. That one got me mean mom of the year! I graciously accepted my award, and thanked her for the nomination. I also thank my son who is now in 6th grade for a second nomination when he came to us asking for a phone, and we both laughed and laughed through our absolutely not. One thing I do want to say is that it is also okay to take a device away, to check devices, and to monitor your child! You may feel like you are invading their privacy, but from a personal standpoint, seeing what your children are doing, talking about, or what apps they are on may save their life. The rule in this house now is, if you can pay for it, you can have it. We stick to our guns on this and they are all thriving and surviving very well without it. I personally believe that our children are loosing their sense of wonder and imagination at a younger and younger age due to the push of devices, but again, this is my own personal feeling, do what works best for your family. But, do not think your child will not thrive if they do not have the latest and best device out there. Or feel like they will be left out from their peer groups or from things that may hurt them socially. We allow our children to use our phones to chat or text when needed. We also allow them time on their Chrome Books from school to chat with friends if all homework is done for a certain period of time. I am here to tell you, they will be just fine. With that being said we also limit their games and game time. These things have to be earned in our house. You can earn game time by reading. For every minute your read, it is the amount of time you get to play your game (This is week nights only, as long as you had a good week, you can play as long as you want on the weekend). So if you come home, and read 30 minutes, you get 30 minutes of your game! This has actually really helped our middle son who was really struggling with reading. It gave him a reason to read, and now he loves to sit down with a book over grabbing the game counsel. He just got into Harry Potter, if I could tell you how proud that makes me! You can be the mean mom, but also a Potter fan, I know from experience.

Now that you know the top reasons why I am a mean mom, even though there are many many more, like my daughter loosing her bedroom door for 3 years after slamming it during a very lovely pre-teen meltdown one to many times, let’s talk about all of the above a little bit.

Our youngest started doing his own laundry at the age of 6, and he was supervised the first few times he did it to make sure he understood everything. If he had any questions about what to do, if he needed help learning the buttons, or how to fold, we were there right next to him to encourage him and teaching him. I know I have said it a few times in this post but you can not expect your children just to know how to do things, this is not to set them up for failure, this is to set them up to flourish. Even our 15 year old at times has questions about a chore, or laundry, or why oh why they didn’t have a door. Questions are good! We encourage it!

It is okay as a parent to not be liked by your kids at all times. It is okay to tell your children no, it is okay to set certain expectations, and to have consequences. It is okay to hold your kids accountable for their actions when they do something wrong. All of these things are okay, and will not cause your little one to run away, resent you, or hate you later in life. It will help them grow, and learn, and it will help them to learn a little more about the adult world, because in the adult world it is not all rainbows and sunshine. We have family and friends who joke and laugh at the way we run our house at times. They call it “Bootcamp”, they will even say to their own kids, you better stop talking back to me or I will send you to “Bootcamp”. This actually upsets me at times because I did not know teaching your children how to do simple life skills is now considered military training? But, hey, when my kids enter the cruel, cold world of adulting, they will have a better understanding on what they are capable of to make it. They will be in college, and able to get their laundry done, apartments clean, cook a good meal, and how to be socially present for their friends, and for their academics. Because obviously that is all my little angels will be doing in college, right?

There are things we as parents really need to do to raise successful adults, being their parent and not their friend is #1 in my eyes. That does not mean that they are not loved or encouraged every single day. It does mean they understand what is expected of them to make a successful household and to become successful people. And they take pride in their work when it is done! My daughter actually just rolled her eyes at me the other day because I walked across her clean floor! I will take that eye roll any day! Always remember, being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but being a child in today’s society is equally hard, so make sure you are not only teaching your children, you are also listening to them, because listening to them will help relieve the nominations of meanest parent in the world, most days at least. Hope everyone has a great week!

What are some chores you do around your house, or what qualifies you as the mean parent this week?! Comment below!!

Welcome to Restless Honesty

Thanks for joining me!

Hope for the best, expect the worst, life is a play, and we are unrehearsed- Mel Brooks

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A little about me while you wait for things to kick off!

I am a SAHM of 4 amazing kids, and one angel baby. I am a wife to my soul  mate, and I am a dog mom to three crazy fury animals, and a hamster who is surprisingly still alive. I have worked in the day care profession for close to 8 years along with Property Management. After our little meatball came we made the choice that it is time for me to stay home and enjoy the little guy, and it has been one of the best, most exhausting experiences of my life! I am also homeschooling our 15 year old daughter this year after a very hard decision that the current school she was in was not a very good fit at the moment.

This blog will be about life, parenting, learning experiences, some homeschooling tips, mommy tips, faith tips, thoughts I have at 4 am when I am up patting a babies bottom praying he will go back to sleep, fitness journey, and anything and everything else in between.

 

Hope you enjoy!