Cybersafe Parent: smartphones


In this digital information age, it’s hard to find a teenager without a phone in their hand.

With apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, teens can communicate and share pictures with their friends, and even make friends.

That has some parents worried.

Maria McClure said she’s seen it all. Like some parents, she’s had a crash course in social media from her five kids.

She told us she does her best to be a responsible parent.

She frequently checks her kids’ phones to see who they’re texting and what apps they’ve downloaded.

She admits, though, that keeping up with all the current trends can be challenging.

That’s why Eyewitness News, along with the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office, sat down with three of Maria’s daughters to talk candidly about their online experiences.

Like most high schoolers, Kimberly shares details of her life with her friends on Facebook and Instagram. She said it’s led to a lot of hurt.

“Some emotions are good – other emotions are really bad,” said Kimberly.

When her friends started using a picture-sharing app called Snapchat, her mom didn’t approve of it. But Kimberly admitted she downloaded it anyway and hid it from her mom.

She showed us the trick she used to do just that.

“You can take one and you can make it like a little iCloud or like a group of them. So you’ll go on that and you can take it and move it a screen over and hide it on that side of the page,” said Kimberly.

Kimberly said she hasn’t had any bad experiences with the app, but she knows others who have.

The inappropriate picture went from one person to another, then to many others at another school.

Abbigail, who is in middle school, has also seen that happen.

Even though images on Snapchat are said to disappear, they can reapper if someone ‘screenshots’ the picture.

“I have friends that do that. They’ll save it to their camera roll and they’ll repost it and if it goes on their story, it’ll get around. People will start screenshotting it from the story,” said Abbigail.

All the kids told us they have private social media accounts, meaning only people they approve can see what they post. But not all of their friends’ accounts are private, and that’s where they say, problems can begin.

“People out there get bullied and they’ll post pictures and everything and they’ll get comments that they’re ugly, they’re stupid, and things like that. That breaks people’s hearts because they feel like they cannot do anything anymore,” said Kimberly.

Danielle, who’s in elementary school, uses social media too.

Like most her friends, she uses the app, an app that lets her make short music videos to share with her friends.

But even then, she admits people that she doesn’t know have looked at her profile.

When we shared these stories with the girls’ mom, Maria, she wasn’t surprised.

Most of the apps she said she knew about.

She said that when she has a question about her child’s social media use, she asks.

Maria said, “If you have a child that’s on a phone all the time, there’s a reason they’re on that phone. Know what’s on that phone, have them explain to you what they’re playing, what they’re involved in.”

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the Tri-State, follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter.

(This story was originally published on Feb. 15, 2018)

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