Frisco High School

Frisco High Event Informs Parents about Online Apps

Mar 04, 2015

FHS Coffee with Counselors PresentationDo you know if your student has an app for something that could be dangerous?

Lori Steen, technology facilitator for Frisco High School, was the guest presenter at the "Coffee with the Counselors" event at FHS in February.

She explained several online applications that are becoming popular with students and the reasons parents need to communicate with their students about how the use of apps can lead to situations that endanger the student or could harm a student’s reputation and future.

“You wouldn't put a kid in a car without teaching them to drive,” she said, explaining that giving young people access to computers and cell phones without instruction and oversight can be like giving car keys to someone without a license. “The Internet works the same way - it can wreck a young life.”

It is often not the app itself that is dangerous, she explained, it is how students use the tool. Students may use apps they think are anonymous to say or send photos that are inappropriate. Unfortunately, students are also using popular apps to bully others.

Some apps include ways for users to share content that appears to disappear as soon as it is sent, but students need to know that what they send does not completely disappear from the Internet.

“Anything you are not willing to put your name to, is something you do not need to be saying,” Steen said.  

Steen urged parents to begin driving this message home early before students are in high school. This philosophy is supported in FISD by digital citizenship lessons as well as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. 

Some apps have been promoted as places where students may share secrets, rumors or confessions. But often classmates can discover who has made the confession based on the geographic location.

Predators are also using the apps to track where students are. Many apps will show a student’s current location. If a student is using an app with geolocating, the student can be easily targeted, Steen warned.

Steen urged parents to be aware of apps students are downloading and how they are using them. Among her advice:

  • Be aware of what is on your child’s phone and be able to access the phone randomly.
  • Know your child’s Apple ID or Google Play account information to review purchase history.
  • When evaluating an app, look for buzz words such as social networking, rating: 17+, anonymous and geographical. YouTube is a great resource for learning how specific apps are being used by students.
  • When hosting sleepovers or parties for younger students, ask them to leave phones in a central location.
  • Follow your students on their social networks, but do not engage with them online when they are chatting with peers.
  • Keep dialogue about phone use and apps open and engage in active digital parenting.

To see information about apps that parents need to be knowledgeable about, please visit: http://bit.ly/fhscoffee.