Deciding to get your tween or teen a cell phone is scary! It comes with all kinds of responsibilities and dangers, hence we opted for a phone contract… and a warning label to others!
When we decided to get Kadenn a phone, it was for her 11th birthday.
Hubby and I discussed how we would handle it, what rules were important to us, and what consequences would occur should the rules be broken.
We wrote out a phone contract that we both felt was reasonable. It listed all of our rules in very plain, clear language; it listed what behavior was expected of her; and it listed what the consequences would be should she choose to break those rules.
The contract was reviewed by her and then signed by her, hubby, and myself.
Unfortunately for her, she was not capable of following the rules set forth in the contract and her phone has been permanently taken away.
Fortunately for me, I have learned about a lot of apps and websites that I never knew of before that I want to share with other parents!
Apps to Be Aware Of
Facebook – most of us know what Facebook is and per Facebook’s terms of service; you are not supposed to have a profile unless you are 13 years of age or older. We all know how Facebook tends to work so I don’t think this needs much explanation.
Kadenn technically is old enough for Facebook and there are ways to protect her privacy, but when it comes to apps where she can “meet” strangers and talk to them; I tend to keep the kids away from those. Besides that, I don’t feel kids need to be on Facebook, but to each their own.
Twitter – another one that many of us are familiar with and another that falls under ‘social media’. While there are ways to protect their privacy; again, I don’t feel like it is a site my kids need to use and there is a highly chance of them speaking with strangers via Twitter. Twitter is also another site that the user must be 13 years of age or older.
While it is an app that is going away, their website does indicate that past streams are still available on their website.
KIK – a texting app that allows them to text and chat with others without using their phones texting capabilities.
Discord App – this particular app has been the bane of my existence. Not only is it a phone app, but can also be used via a computer. Not only is it a texting app, but you can voice chat via this app as well.
SoundCloud – yes, it’s a music app but did you know that you can message and talk with other users? I didn’t until I caught my teenager talking to strangers.
Instagram – another “social media” app that allows your children to find and speak to strangers – even when their profile is private. They can still message and chat with strangers.
SnapChat – don’t get me started, but definitely NOT suitable for children. The fact that the image and or message “disappears” after 24 hours makes it all the more enticing for kids to get in trouble.
WattPad – another app that is the bane of my existence. This app can also be used on a computer and is a site where people can share their writing with others. That also means, your child can read any type of writing that is posted and post their own. Downside to that is that I have read, once posted on WattPad, it no longer is your own writing. Not good when you have a good writer on your hands!
The second issue we ran into was that you can message and talk with other members of the writing community which, as we all know, can lead to problems of speaking with strangers.
YouTube – a big no-no in our house as my children have found horrendous videos on it that are just not appropriate for children. Ever.
Roblox – this one comes with varying opinions. I have allowed my kids to play it, but supervised. I have heard of disturbing things occurring while playing, but thus far, my son has been really good about playing it.
TrevorSpace.org – not an app, but a website that is connect with The Trevor Project. Yes, my curious teen was wise enough to find any site she could that would allow chatting with strangers, and that included using The Trevor Project.
Our biggest concern when it came to apps – both on cell phones and on computers – was the dismissal of safety. There was a lot of talking to strangers which concerned us as parents. You never really know who that person on the other side of the screen is. And that’s scary.
It amazed me the apps she found that would go around our rules. I know there are more apps out there and please feel free to share them with me to add to this post. We can never keep all of them away from our kids, but we can at least be aware of them.
You know your child better than me or anyone else and if they are responsible enough to handle certain apps – great! If they aren’t, keep a very close eye out – for the safety of your children!