A Little Electronic Tattletaling

Tattletaling. My brother labeled me a tattletale when we were kids.  Thankfully, I grew up and out of this despicable habit. Today, however, I relapse.

Surrounded by the teenage world on a daily basis for many years now, I have, Dear Parents, a few observations that I learned the hard way. For instance:

Did you know that an Ipod Touch can be used for texting?  So, even though Heiress Apparent has been grounded from the computer and her cell phone, she might be doing a lot more than listening to music on her Ipod. With free apps and wireless access, Heiress can text away.  AND the phone number is separate from her cell phone, so even though you check the phone bill every month … You. Need. Never. Know.

Feeling relieved that Heiress is spending less time on Facebook?  Does it look like she’s just texting more … having “real” conversations?  She’s probably Snap Chatting.

Do you know what's lurking around your teen's computer?
Do you know what’s lurking around your teen’s computer?

Did you know that teens LOVE Snap Chat?! The photos and messages they send disappear after no more than 10 seconds.

Only … did you know that Snap Chats don’t really disappear Ask Google.  You will get a long list of articles explaining how these videos of all the silly things kids like to do to embarrass their friends (or show their boyfriend/girlfriend) are hidden but don’t truly vanish.

AND … not only are Snap Chats retrievable, if fairly quick-witted, you can grab a screen shot of a received Snap Chat.  “That’s not a big deal,” kids always tell me.  “My phone will tell me if a screen shot was taken of what I sent.”

Uh … so?!  All this means is that Heiress now knows WHO has something she didn’t intend for the general public.  That doesn’t mean she is free from that person hassling or even blackmailing her.

Did you know that Snap Chat makes sexting  … well … a snap?

Even if your teen isn’t “sexting” (they will all insist that they NEVER use if for that), Heiress can, as a joke give out BFF’s Snap Chat access to others so that all the kids can send Best Friend quirky messages.

What Heiress might not be thinking about is that this could also lead to harassment from people Best Friend doesn’t get along with. Yes, BFF can block people from sending her messages … doesn’t mean she will. (She probably WON’T … in the socially driven world of teens, the drama of knowing what others are saying to and about you is incredibly hard to resist.) This is where parental guidance and accountability are biggies.

Did you know that cell phones (i.e. smart phones), while full of potential, are really less of an educational tool and more of a nuisance (even nightmare) in the classroom?  Although, my students are generally great about putting their phones in a designated spot at the front of the room, phones are pretty difficult to monitor.  With Snap Chat, cameras, and other instant media available, out-of-control teasing, taunting, and cheating are big, fat temptations whenever an adult isn’t watching.

Maybe you’re the parent willing to play the bad guy and say NO to all the tech stuff until Heiress is sixteen or older.  (Wish we had held off longer than we did.)  Did you know, that doesn’t solve your problems?  Oh … to have a buck for each time I see kids at the mall, a sporting event, or even church, gathered around a phone.  Heiress might not have a phone, but her friends have no problem sharing what’s on theirs.

Teens don't understand that they're not as invisible as they think they are.
Teens don’t understand that they’re not as invisible as they think they are.

Maybe, you’ve decided to ease Heiress Apparent into the world of electronics with an e-reader.  A valid idea. I still vote for “real” books, but e-readers are fun and make reading always easily available.  Kindle’s, especially, are great because of all the free books.  Did you know, though, that a whole bunch of those books are porn? I blush to think of what a group of boys gathered around a Kindle might be reading. So, yes, it’s one more place where you should be checking on what’s been downloaded. Not so hard with a 13-year-old,  but how vigilant are we when they’re 17 or 18 (still under our roof and rules – worthy of accountability), whining, “You just don’t trust me.”

Dear Parents … it IS a MAD, MAD World … Of course we want our kids to keep up with the technology, especially where it intersects with education.  So this is a bit of a reminder – tech is moving as fast as you or I can blink (thank you, Google Glass) … are you committed to keeping up?

Don’t mean to be a tattletale or anything … just wondered if you knew.    =]

Thought she was being sneaky ... but caught where she wasn't supposed to be!
Caught!  Like Kitty, we’re really not all that sneaky. We just think we are.



2 thoughts on “A Little Electronic Tattletaling

  1. Thanks so much for being a tattle tale on this important subject. I know that all too many parents do not keep tabs on what their children are doing with all their technology gadgets. I must say i am thankful that all of that was not around when my children were teenagers! When they were grounded from using the phone, I just took it off the wall and with me when I had to leave!

    1. Parenting did seem easier a few years ago, didn’t it? Although at the time, it didn’t feel that way. In regards to taking the phone with you, how perfect. I saw a creative idea the other day. Someone put a lock pad lock on their child’s cord as an alternative for a being grounded. Could be useful with a lot of electronics if they’re being over used or attitudes aren’t so great.

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