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Staying One Tech Step Ahead of Your Kids
By: Aprel Phelps Downey
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You are a diligent part of Facebook as a means to keep tabs on your daughter’s online activity. You check her profile page; have her password so you can scan her news feed and messages. You know everyone on her friends list. Those who are unfamiliar are removed or blocked if needed.

You feel as if you are one step ahead of the game. Think again!

Do you remember that cell phone she has for emergencies or as a means to keep in touch with you? The one with the rules you laid out before handing over the phone? Chances are you did not realize that in addition to being a lifeline, it provides access to thousands of free, downloadable applications.

One of the most popular apps is something called SnapChat. This app allows users to send messages, photos, or videos to other users. The message automatically deletes after a predetermined time period, typically 10 seconds. Seems harmless? Not so fast!

In that 10 second window the recipient can take a screen shot of the message. Your daughter receives a message that this occurred. Yet the damage may have already been done. In the event your daughter sent a less than favorable self-portrait or said something she should not have, it now lives in someone else’s hands.

Next on the social media parental watch list is Instagram. At first glance it appears to be a simple app that lets users play with photos that have already been taken on their phones. Users can add enhancements to pictures or turn a color photo into a black and white photo. It seems harmless right? Wrong! She can send those pictures to Facebook and Twitter. She can also chat with friends and strangers via the chat room feature. Parents usually are not alerted to Instagram behavior until racy pictures or wild party snapshots start to appear.

A quick parental solution would be to take away her cell phone immediately. Keep in mind that other electronic devices provide Internet access as well. You have to consider her iPod touch, Nintendo DS, and her Kindle. All which are capable of downloading apps without permission.

Your best course of action is to simply explain to your daughter that everything on the Internet lives forever. That picture sent to the cute boy in Math class will live on long past her current interest in him. Not only that, he can share that picture with his friends, who can share it with their friends and so on until it spreads like wildfire. Teach her social media responsibility by making her understand that the self-respect she has for herself needs to carry over into her online activity.

And by all means, keep up to date on the latest and greatest social media apps so you have a fighting chance of staying one step ahead of your kids! 


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About the Author
Aprel Phelps Downey is a writing/marketing professional who holds more than seven years marketing experience, including all aspects of promotional and informational campaigns and website development.  To learn more about Aprel please visit her website at www.aprelphelpsdowney.com or follow her on twitter: @aphelpsdowney.
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