Parents preparing kids for back-to-school season with fresh pencils and paper should also consider equipping them with the right apps.
Nearly three-quarters of teens own smartphones, and 25 percent of those reported being “online constantly,” according to the Pew Research Center. This makes clear that back to school for adolescents today involves more than backpacks and notebooks — it’s about tech.
Of course, with new technology come risks. Parents are all too aware of possibilities for online bullying and the ability to send graphic images. But rather than avoid smartphones altogether, there are applications available that can actually help teens navigate the challenges and tough conversations they face — both digitally and in the real world.
Below are four examples of free apps that can help your child with obstacles they may come up against such as bullying, drug and alcohol abuse and sexting. All are available for iPhones and Androids.
Made for students by students, Bully Alert informs school leadership of bullying as it happens. Today, only 20 to 30 percent of students who are bullied tell a teacher or family member. With the app, teens can choose their school and electronically alert teachers and counselors when they or someone they know is getting bullied.
The app also helps adolescents identify bullying warning signs, features tips about bullying, shares online resources by trusted experts, and offers conversation starters about bullying and the ability to share their stories on social media platforms.
Send This Instead
Send This Instead uses humor as a strategy to change the subject of a serious epidemic facing adolescents — sexting. It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of teenagers have posted or sent sexually suggestive messages.
Instead of being pressed in an already tense situation to come up with an excuse not to send an explicit image, teens can send one of the many hilarious screenshots found on this app to defuse the situation.
Need a good resource to prove smoking is a bad idea? Smokerface shows the short-term and long-term effects of cigarette use on your face. The app was developed for 10- to 15-year-olds but can be used by anyone. Just download the app, add your photo and see what a nicotine habit can do. Once kids visualize the dark side of smoking, they’re less likely to light up.
Know the Truth
Know the Truth provides a resource for kids and adults to learn more about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol. It uses social media platforms to allow kids to connect to each other while remaining anonymous. This provides them with the freedom to ask difficult questions they wouldn’t normally ask parents or teachers.
By providing new ways to educate and start conversations in a format familiar and comfortable with today’s adolescents, parents can better prepare their child for the school year ahead. That’s the app-solute truth!
Ashleigh Hall, BS, CPS II, is a program coordinator for Centerstone and a certified prevention specialist with 15 years of experience working with children and their families. Centerstone provides comprehensive behavioral health services for children, adults and families and services for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Learn more at www.centerstone.org.