Discover more from ITKparent
Hard Pass on Snapchat's Plastic Surgery...mmmK?
Snapchat lenses will take care of the grey hairs and wrinkles that inevitably pop up as you talk with your kids about sex and sexting, but at what cost?
We Need a Growth Spurt
While we wouldn’t recommend Facebook (or any social media site) as your main news source (see below about Russian trolls), we do recommend Facebook Groups as a place to connect with us and other ITK peeps. Join the ITKparent Facebook Group for support and information as we work together to become tech-savvy.
Also, please share this week’s newsletter with one friend. Growing our audience will allow us to continue to deliver helpful tech and parenting info to your inbox each week. Remember, sharing is caring!
Ask An Expert
This week we had the pleasure of a quick interview with mom of 3, communications consultant, and blogger Whitney Fleming! She brought her A-game with some sage advice about setting priorities as your kids move from the early tween to teen years.
Here’s how Whitney’s perspective has changed as her daughters have grown up:
When my kids were in their tweens, I was very worried about their high school and college career. Other parents made me incredibly nervous that they would not be able to make high school sports teams if they didn’t play intense club athletics, that they couldn’t get into college if they didn’t take all honors classes, that their high school transcripts would look weak if they didn’t join everything. At the end of the day, it just isn’t true. I think, as parents, we need to take a collective deep breath and listen to our kids.
While I don’t have many regrets, I wish we would have scaled back our activity load a little bit more. My kids are close in age and we spent a lot of time in the car driving to and fro when perhaps they could have had a similar experience on a less competitive team or activity. If I learned anything, it’s that it all works out the way it’s supposed to work out!
Our kids don’t need face lifts a la Snapchat, thank you very much. All social media has it’s issues, especially where kids are concerned, but sometimes, it’s not the obvious stuff (e.g. security issues, cyber-bullying, etc.) that’s the problem. Check out this Cool Tech Mom article about one mom’s gripe with Snapchat, specifically its Face Lenses.
For a split second, I was all “Oh hey there!” to what looked a little like my 20-year old self, but then I remembered that kids are using these Face Lenses – kids who not only do not need any Snapchat plastic surgery, but are also getting the message that when you smooth the wrinkles and shrink your face to highlight the cheekbones, you’re much cuter.
No matter how prepared you think you are as a parent, few subjects can catch us off guard or tie us into knots more quickly than sex.
NPR’s Life Kit is at it again, compiling practical information to help us navigate some of the more challenging aspects of parenting. As with all of the most difficult topics, open, honest and frequent communication is key. Here are a few tips from the article:
Don't wait until puberty to start talking about puberty.
If your teen speaks up about sex, sexuality or gender, listen, love and be humble.
Teens need to understand the basics of a healthy relationship.
Sex feels good. Don't try to hide that from your kids.
Porn isn't real life, and your kids need to hear that.
You may want to get backup.
Now, for the tech side of the birds and the bees talk, check out this Parents article about how doctors are using TikTok to fill the gap that exists in today’s woefully inadequate sex education programs. While your kids may still turn to the internet to learn more about sexuality, remember that heeding the steps presented above can go a long way to making sure they are informed and feel supported.
Finally, we need to broaden our conversations about sex and sexuality to include discussions about sexting. This Parentology article does a great job outlining our need to talk to kids about sexting and gives helpful tips on what to include in those conversations.
Last week, we introduced the new Snapchat add-on Hoop. This week, we’re recommending reading this Wall Street Journal article about these so-called “social discovery” apps that claim to be filling a need that we were pretty darn sure was already met and didn’t know we wanted to encourage anyway: helping teens talk to strangers.
They [‘social discovery’ apps] say they are better at helping young users meet like-minded people outside their existing circles. And they say they have safeguards, such as separating users by age and using artificial intelligence, to protect against the inappropriate or unsafe behavior that has plagued previous attempts to connect young people online.
We, at ITK, say, maybe. We encourage parents to learn A LOT more about these apps if your kids are expressing an interest, and we’ll definitely keep you in the loop, especially if these apps gain popularity.
Last week, teens talked Google search. This week, they talk fake news and the importance of journalism. (This video is part of a larger lesson plan designed for educators and can be found here.)
It’s great to see such awareness and critical thinking from these kids, as we all could stand to sharpen our instincts and understanding when it comes to digital media literacy.
For more on the importance of digital literacy, read this Rolling Stone piece about the sophistication and effectiveness of Russian trolls. I especially liked the connection made between a need for digital literacy and digital civility.
In a free society, we must accept that bad actors will try to take advantage of our openness. But we need to learn to question our own and others’ biases on social media. We need to teach — to individuals of all ages — that we shouldn’t simply believe or repost anonymous users because they used the same hashtag we did, and neither should we accuse them of being a Russian bot simply because we disagree with their perspective. We need to teach digital civility. It will not only weaken foreign efforts, but it will also help us better engage online with our neighbors, especially the ones we disagree with.
For more resources, check out this ITSE article. It’s intended for educators, but can be helpful for parents too. It outlines and links to 10 resources aimed at boosting kids (and adults) digital media literacy. For example, using a Google news aggregator is a great way to see a variety of sources.
Hopefully, by the time this newsletter is published, the sun will have set on the so-called, “Skull-Breaker Challenge,” but just in case you (or your kids) are late to the party, let us advise you against agreeing to stand in the middle of two other people under the guise that you will all jump off the ground together. Got that? Good. Moving on.
We promise to do our best to steer clear of any idiotic internet pranks this week, so you can count on us to let you know what kind of mischief and lunacy is lurking online next week. See you then.