New app making monitoring teens’ social media more difficult

Experts say honest conversations best help in monitoring

A recent study on social media and teens shows more than 60 percent of them use social media to track their popularity on these sites.

The study conducted by child development experts also shows that increased monitoring by parents almost completely reduces stress on teens using social media.

How to to keep track of their accounts remains the question. New technology, such as the HiCaculator app, can now hide photos from parents with a pass code, making monitoring a more difficult task for parents.

For April McIntyre, keeping track of her 12 year-old daughter’s social media accounts is a big priority.

“I have access to her passwords. I check it at random,” said McIntyre. “She does not know when I’m going to check it. Any of her messages, anything like that. So I check it usually weekly.”

With social media apps changing every day, however, monitoring children’s social media accounts can be quite the challenge.

“This is my research. This is my life, and I have trouble keeping up with it, so I think it’s important for parents to be in a partnership with their kids in terms of using that technology.” said Justin Patchin, professor of criminal justice at UW-Eau Claire.

One of the newest apps available for teens is the HiCalculator app. To everyone, including parents, the app appears like a normal cellphone calculator
Once someone enters a special pass code, however, it accesses a hidden photo album.

How can parents stay ahead of the game? The answer may lie in a simple conversation.

“It really just speaks to the fact that parents need to have conversations with their kids (about) where they’re going online, and who they are interacting with.” said Patchin.

“It gets back to having clear rules in their home about when screens are used, when social media is used.” said Jeff Reiland, child and family therapist at Gundersen Health System. “Having conversations about the benefits of social media, and the costs of social media. And being part of their kid’s social media lives so kids don’t have to have this us vs. them thinking about it.”

For some, the balance between parental monitoring and social media is already happening.

“It’s very important. social media with the bullying.” said McIntyre. “I’ve tried to express with her that this is something I did not have to go through as a child. But what you put on there can affect the rest of your life.”

Social media experts say because the technology changes so quickly, parents will always have a difficult time keeping up with the newest online trends.

According to experts, because kids are the best sources of information on this topic, it’s important to have open conversations about new technology.

Experts working on the study also say it’s good to belong to the same social media sites as their children, such as Facebook, to help with further communication with them.