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Today, StyleBlueprint is scratching the surface of social media. It’s a huge topic, to say the least, so we decided to divide and conquer among our SB cities to give all of our readers some helpful information and tips about some of the most popular platforms people are using to connect with one another online. Birmingham is tackling the subject of smart phones here, and at the end of this feature, you’ll find links to posts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. We’ve learned a lot putting these posts together and hope you find this information equally helpful!

 

We can all agree that cell phone/personal digital device technology is great and offers so much in terms of education for our young minds (does anyone else remember those clunky encyclopedia sets?); but as a parent, it is a slippery slope and often hard to determine the right time and under what conditions/restrictions to entrust our children with these all encompassing digital devices. According to research by C&R Research, 22% of young children own a cell phone (ages 6-9), 60% of tweens (ages 10-14), and 84% of teens (ages 15-18). And cell phone companies are now marketing to younger children with colorful kid-friendly phones and easy-to-use features. According to market research firm Yankee Group, 54% of 8 to12 year olds will have cell phones within the next three years.

I recently attended a technology safety meeting at my children’s school and was a bit dismayed after hearing the speaker’s overview and advice, realizing how little thought I had put into the responsibility that comes with giving a child a cell phone. Having a tween and teen who are out and about in the world, I thought cell phones were necessary for their safety and my peace of mind. But after hearing school psychologist, Dale Wisely, speak, I’m seeing that with that safety also comes a great deal of potential danger. Smartphones are now multi-purpose gadgets with ever-accessible Internet, games, camera, videos, text messaging and phone, all rolled into one device. Not only do we need to worry about screen time, relationship development, privacy and mental health, but we must also consider sexting, cyber bullying and the inappropriate content found all over the Internet. For more information on Dr. Wisely’s eye opening take on this subject and his suggestions for parents (plus a handy parent-teen cell phone contract!), check out cellphonesanity.com.

 

 

My take away was this: educate your child on the potential dangers, set clear guidelines for usage and monitor your child’s use of all digital devices. Talk about the responsibilities of not using the device in inappropriate ways (while driving, rumor spreading, sexting, bullying or harassment, etc) and have clear consequences for violations.

While there are no substitutes for parenting, there are some built-in content filters that can be turned on, and more and more apps are being developed in this area. Check the general settings for parental controls and restrictions. For example, on the iPhone under general settings, the ratings for games, lyrics and tv/movies can be set to restrict explicit content, violence, etc., from showing up in the iTunes store. (Note: this does not affect web browsing.) As of right now, Safari does not allow for content filtering, but you can disable it if you want to limit the hours or places where your child has access to the internet.

 

 

Here are just a few of the apps I found that are designed to help parents monitor their kids. They range in price from free to $30:

Life 360  – Free. Family GPS tracker allows families to track locations of other users and communicate through messaging. 4 1/2 stars on iTunes.

iGuardian Teen – $4.99 Android app. Sends a detailed driving report via email or in real-time via text detailing phone usage and speed while driving.

iCurfew – Free. Allows kids and parents to check in remotely and provides an un-editable location link of the phone or personal device. 3 star rating in iTunes.

iWonderSurf  – Free. Adult site blocking, but must pay $30 if you would like to see a report on your child’s surfing – content blocker for web that also allows for search history and a locator map of where the device was when the Internet was accessed. 2 1/5 stars on iTunes.

I know there is a fine line between wanting to keep tabs on our kids and being the omnipresent, omnipotent parent from Hell. All I can say is, thank goodness these tools were not available when I was growing up!

I would love to know what your thoughts are, and if you have tried any of these apps or others. Please comment below!! Let’s keep the discussion going!

 

Check out our social media posts in other SB cities today:

 

In Nashville: Facebook: Social Media Tips

 

 

 

 

In Atlanta: Pinterest: Do You Pin It?

 

 

 

 

In Louisville: Say Hello to Instagram

 

 

 

 

In Memphis: LinkedIn: The Modern, American Resume

 

 

 

 

 

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