Wildcat News

February 22, 2016

Social Media Tips for Parents

If you were to pick up your teen’s phone and see one of the icons pictured below, you probably would think nothing of it. It’s just a calculator, right? It is designed that way, to look innocent and practical. While it actually can be used as a calculator, its true purpose is to hide pictures and files from prying parental eyes. All the phone user has to do is enter a secret code to access whatever has been hidden from the regular photo app.

The ones pictured below are just a few of the many "photo vaults" that can be downloaded from the Google Play store or iTunes store. Some apps have more obvious names like Photo Vault or KeepSafe. Others have ambiguous names like KYMS or Fotox. Searching for "Apps to Hide Photos" lists tons more of these kinds of apps.

How can parents find out if their teens have hidden apps?

  1. Have full access to any electronic devices, which means either knowing passcodes and passwords or getting them upon request. Just the possibility of parents checking up on them will keep many teens from using phones for inappropriate activities.
  2. Take steps to insure apps can’t be downloaded without a password known only by the parents. Change the password occasionally.
  3. Monitor your teen’s phone or tablet. Occasionally ask about apps, especially new ones. Go to the App Store on an iPhone, Google Play on an Android, or Microsoft Store/Marketplace on a Windows phone and check out the purchased apps. If it says “Open,” that means it’s on the phone. If there’s a picture of a cloud with an arrow pointing down, it’s been downloaded but is no longer being used. If it says “Get,” it hasn’t been downloaded.

Some parents are afraid of invading their teen’s privacy by taking such steps. However, possession of even one inappropriate photo could get your child into legal trouble. Allowing unrestricted and unmonitored use of any device with internet access carries a huge risk. Wise parents will engage in a little privacy invasion to protect their teens.

For more information on these types of fake apps, or other apps you may need to be aware of your child using, please click the following link to view several videos on various apps from an Alabama District Attorney, Pamela Casey.

And just FYI, most – if not all – smartphones come with built-in calculators. Real ones.

Literacy Starts (and Continues) at Bedtime

Did you know in a recent survey by the GPS company TomTom, "of 1,000 parents of children aged 1 to 10, 34 percent never read a bedtime story to their children, with 29 percent blaming late working and 2 percent the daily commute." While the numbers in this survey are disheartening, how does bedtime reading fare when the children are middle school aged? Many parents stop reading bedtime stories to their children when they are able to read independently on their own, but many children are not ready for this routine to be broken, even when they could read the book themselves.

Bedtime stories are a bonding time for parents and their children, and parents of middle schoolers know that as much as our preteen and early teen children want to be treated like grown ups, inside they are still very much longing for the nurturing they got when they were younger. Parents should consider continuing to read to their older children if they do not want the practice to end. As many middle school language arts teachers can tell you, even middle school students love it when an adult reads aloud to them.

Continuing to model reading and valuing reading time together has a great impact on a student's literacy. Children who see parents reading are more likely to read themselves and understand the importance of reading in daily life. Children who are read to at home also tend to be better readers, and perform better on standardized tests.

As children get older, graduate them from picture books and read chapter books or classics--one or two chapters a night. The important thing is to make reading important in your home and your children's success will follow.

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All Pro Dads Breakfast

Tuesday, March 1st, 7:30am


All Dads are invited to come hear a speaker and enjoy breakfast with your child.