Navigating the Digital Age :: Five Apps to Approach with Caution

Navigating the Digital Age :: Five Apps to Approach with Caution

As a parent of four children ranging from ages 19 down to 7, I’ve come to understand that each child has unique needs and requires tailored parenting techniques. Throughout my parenting journey, I’ve learned valuable lessons and continue to evolve alongside my children.

My oldest daughter, now 19, has been instrumental in shaping my perspective on parenting. I became a mother at 21 and have grown up alongside her, navigating shared trauma and grief following her father’s passing. Together, we’ve attended a lot of therapy sessions, strengthening our bond and resilience.

Reflecting on my parenting decisions, particularly regarding technology, I realize the importance of balance and caution. My daughter received her first smartphone at 10, mostly for communication during her demanding dance schedule. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I now recognize the potential pitfalls of early smartphone access and wish I would have approached it differently. Instead of dwelling on regrets, I use each misstep as a learning opportunity to improve my parenting approach.

Two of her younger siblings (ages 16 and 13) are now using smartphones and I’m grateful for advancements in parental control settings like screen time restrictions. However, staying informed about the latest apps and trends remains crucial. Together with my eldest daughter’s input and my own research, we’ve identified apps that raise some red flags for our family.

Here are some apps we steer clear of or monitor closely:

1. Discord

Discord, popular among gamers and communities, can expose young users to mature content, cyberbullying, and inappropriate conversations due to its public and largely unmoderated nature. There are also communities centered around worsening mental health that talk about and even encourage self-harming behaviors and eating disorders.

2. Twitter

Twitter’s fast-paced and open platform can be overwhelming for young users. The prevalence of uncensored content and online harassment makes it unsuitable for many teens. Similar to Discord, there are concerns about communities promoting harmful behaviors related to mental health issues.

 3.  Snapchat

Snapchat‘s focus on instant sharing and disappearing messages can lead to pressure to share inappropriate content or engage in risky behavior due to the false sense of impermanence. As parents, we understand that once you share something online, it never truly goes away! This can potentially create lasting consequences for our children, making it important to discuss responsible digital behaviors and the implications of online actions. 

4. Yik Yak

Yik Yak’s anonymous posting format led to issues like cyberbullying and harmful content. Even with changes, anonymity can pose risks for impressionable young users. Communities on Yik Yak can quickly turn toxic, creating a negative environment that can impact tweens’ and teens’ mental health and well-being.

5. Reddit

Reddit hosts diverse communities, but unverified information and mature discussions are common. While Reddit has plenty of informative and supportive discussion boards, the content and moderation can vary widely across different subreddits. Parental guidance is crucial when teens engage with this platform to help avoid engaging in the darker areas of this platform.

We also stay cautious of TikToK, Telegram, Tapatalk, and similar platforms due to content and privacy concerns.

As a parent, open communication with tweens and teens about responsible digital behavior is key. Encourage them to approach apps and online interactions critically, prioritize their safety, and consider setting boundaries on app usage based on age appropriateness.

By learning from past experiences and leveraging technology wisely, we strive to create a safe and nurturing environment for our children’s online activities. We regularly review privacy settings and monitor their online activities to ensure a healthy and safe digital experience.

How do you navigate technology and parenting? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below to help fellow parents stay informed and connected.

Noele LaRosa
Noele LaRosa, a proud New Orleans native, now calls Metairie home with her husband Paul and their dynamic crew: Kaitlyn (19), Aidan (16), Abigail (13), and Wyatt (7). By day, she's a seasoned paralegal at a personal injury law firm, juggling deadlines and family schedules with finesse. Recently venturing into real estate, Noele brings over 15 years of legal expertise to her new role as a real estate agent. Outside the office, she's a dedicated school volunteer and chauffeur extraordinaire to her kids' sports activities. Mental health advocacy holds a special place in her heart, having supported her daughter through an eating disorder journey. When not on the go, Noele finds joy in her kitchen, often cooking and baking for loved ones. You'll often catch her hosting gatherings, blending her passions for cooking, good wine, and cherished company. Greek Fest, Bayou Boogaloo, and lazy beach days are her ultimate happy places. Embracing her hot-mess mama status, she also loves diving into books, writing, and exploring the vibrant city of New Orleans.


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