What is a teachable moment? It's learning through family. That's what Boys Town provides to tens of thousands of children and parents everyday. And that's what we'll focus on here. Stories of those who we've seen succeed, and ideas on how to help bring Teachable Moments to your home and family, too.

Teenage girl text messaging on her phone.

8 Bully-Prone Apps Your Kids Should Avoid

May 5th, 2015

Bullying has been around as long as there have been kids. And not just the hold-you-upside-down-for-your-lunch-money kind of bullying, either. Whispers in the hallways. Notes passed from desk to desk. Psychological bullying has been around from the beginning too.

Unfortunately, along with the explosion in social media, this type of emotional torture has also increased exponentially in recent years. And since most kids have smartphones and tablets these days, their avenues for receiving and dishing out mental torment have increased too.

So the next time you have access to your kids’ mobile devices (and you should always have access!), check out the apps they’re using. And if you see any of the following, you should remove them and discuss with your kids the reasons why.

1. Burnbook

This app, named for a rumor diary in the movie Mean Girls, allows users to post jokes, comments, etc. on anonymous message boards. Its anonymity makes it ideal for Cyberbullying.

2. Snapchat

This app has been a favorite of kids for a number of years now. The user sends images or video to a recipient after determining how long it can be seen before it self-destructs. The problem is, “snaps” can easily be recovered and used for nefarious purposes, including bullying.

3. Yik Yak

Unlike Snapchat, Yik Yak is based on the user’s location, allowing other users in the same geographical area to see anonymous posts and to “upvote” or “downvote” them. Yik Yak has been described as a “virtual bathroom wall where users post vitriol and hate” and has been a cause for concern among parents and schools all across the country.

4. Whisper

This app allows users to write text over an image in order to confess thoughts or feelings anonymously. As with other anonymous apps, Whisper has been used as a cyberbullying tool. It has also been used by sexual predators to locate and communicate with victims.

5. Poof

Unlike other apps in this list, Poof isn’t a social media network; rather, it is an app designed to hide other apps on your phone or tablet. If your child has Poof on his device, chances are he or she is hiding a dangerous social media app.

6. Kik

This instant messaging app is increasingly popular with kids. It allows users to exchange texts, videos, images and other media. Unfortunately, Kik messenger is known to be favored by sexual predators and has been used to lure children into illicit encounters.

7. Ask.fm

This social networking site allows anyone to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile. It has been linked to a number of teen suicides.

8. Tinder

This dating app designed for 20- and 30-somethings is increasingly being used by teens to rate profiles and “hook up” with each other. Its geolocation feature combined with its anonymity makes it a possible vehicle for cyberbullying and sexual predation. And though it is rated 17+, it allows users as young as 13 to register.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

While these three social networks are increasingly being ditched by teens because their parents are using them, they still represent forums for emotional abuse by bullies. And though their presence on your child’s mobile device shouldn’t necessarily raise alarm bells, you need to be aware of what your kids are posting and seeing on these apps. That being said, compared to many social media apps out there, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are relatively “safe,” but it still may be a good idea to require your kids to be “friends” with you, so that you can see how they’re interacting with their peers and others.

In the end, your kids need to know that access to a smartphone or other mobile device isn’t a right – it’s a privilege that can be taken away at any time. And as part of their agreement with you to allow them to use these devices, they need to understand that you have the right not only to see what they’re doing on them, but also to prohibit the use of certain apps and activities.

In fact, teens’ addiction to mobile devices represents a powerful tool for parents with which they can combat negative behavior. Whereas in the past, access or denial of access to the family car might’ve been an effective carrot and stick, today, access to smartphones and tablets carry even greater weight.

In the end, these gadgets aren’t going anywhere. So it’s up to parents to be vigilant and aware of how their kids are using them. And with new apps and networks popping up every day, parents need to stay abreast of the latest social media developments.

For more information on kids and technology, visit our Guide to Parenting in a Digital Age.

0

  • May 2nd, 2015

    I can only imagine the work it takes to balance out the life of a baby royal, ensuring that an overwhelming sense of entitlement doesn’t permeate the precarious childhood of ...

  • April 29th, 2015

    With the media’s 24-hour news cycle and insatiable appetite for sensational stories, wall-to-wall coverage of natural disasters is always going to dominate the airways, online news services, newspapers and magazines. This ...

  • April 28th, 2015

    On beautiful spring days like today, I love to sit outside and reflect on all of God’s glorious deeds. The miracles of the heart that happen for the young people ...

  • April 24th, 2015

    Boys Town founder Father Edward Flanagan once described his work as “building good Americans.” He believed that being a good citizen required active participation in the political process and voting. ...

  • April 22nd, 2015

    Teachable Moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • April 22nd, 2015

    Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • April 13th, 2015

    The Breakfast Club.  Not long ago, I was in a situation when I had to ask myself, “Is it okay to discipline other people’s children?” We were on vacation, staying ...

  • April 7th, 2015

    Hello! My name is Tyler Simmons and I am a Boys Town graduate from the class of 2012. I can remember that graduation day like yesterday, and I can say ...

  • April 2nd, 2015

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Photo courtesy of Momaha.com Prom season is right around the corner. Nothing can create a rift between parents and their daughters quite like that annual ...

  • March 30th, 2015

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Photo courtesy of Momaha.com.  This morning I stumbled upon a strange pile of pajama pants, lotion and deodorant in the middle of my living room floor ...

  • March 24th, 2015

    Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • March 23rd, 2015

    Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • March 19th, 2015

    Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • March 17th, 2015

    We try to have dinner together as a family every night in our Boys Town Family Home. Even on days when everyone “fends” for themselves or we do leftovers, we ...

  • March 13th, 2015

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Photo courtesy of Momaha.com. Families aren’t having family dinner as much as they were maybe 20 years ago. It was an automatic in my house that you ...

  • March 10th, 2015

    This post is an update to the story we first brought to you about Karen and her son Nick.  Something to Brighten Your Day Today, as I sit here writing, we are ...

  • March 3rd, 2015

    Younger children love fairy tales about beautiful princesses and handsome princes. Through storybooks and movies, they can imagine themselves as the hero or heroine who overcomes adversity, shows kindness toward ...

  • March 1st, 2015

    March is Self-Harm Awareness Month. Approximately one in eight people engages in some form of self-harm behavior, and the problem currently is more widespread than it has been for decades. Fortunately, ...

  • February 24th, 2015

    I’m very much an advocate of praising kids, including teenagers, in a positive-negative ratio of at least four positives to every one negative. For some, this may sound a bit ...

  • February 18th, 2015

    Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • February 12th, 2015

    Photo courtesy of Andrew Dickinson for The New York Times. Here at Boys Town, we have always prided ourselves on preparing kids for a successful life after Boys Town. As some of ...

  • February 11th, 2015

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Photo courtesy of Momaha.com. Many parents struggle with getting their little ones to sit at the table and eat the nutritious food on their plate. ...

  • February 11th, 2015

    A woman stopped by my office earlier this week. She had just come from another meeting with the school principal about her child and her shoulders sagged under the burden ...

  • February 3rd, 2015

    When Your Teen Goes Out, Demand a Plan I grew up before the time of cell phones, email and instant communication. So if I wanted to ask a girl out, I ...

  • January 28th, 2015

    I will admit I was one of those parents who overloaded my children with activities. And with three kids… we were very busy. Yet, about a year ago, I had ...

  • January 28th, 2015

    We wanted to know… what if there were no Boys Town? We asked some of the children and families that we heal each day. Here are a few of their ...

  • January 21st, 2015

    Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • January 13th, 2015

    This holiday season our family took their first big vacation! With a four- and six-year-old I was incredibly nervous about, not one, but two fairly lengthy plane rides, so I ...

  • January 10th, 2015

    Boys Town does a LOT. We have a vast set of services, and it’s a challenge for us to tell our story, because there is so much that we cover. ...

  • January 8th, 2015

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. After a long Christmas break, high schoolers are heading back to the classroom. Second semester is an opportunity to make resolutions and start fresh. There ...

  • January 5th, 2015

    Photo courtesty of Washington Post.  Thomas McRae Jr. had a rough start in life. By the time he was 16, he had lived in 22 different foster homes. He never understood what ...

  • January 1st, 2015

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Many people have started their list of resolutions for the new year. This year I challenge you to decide on a parenting resolution for 2015. Whether you ...

  • December 31st, 2014

    Protecting the children in our care is priority number one. For any organization that works with children, safety is best ensured when everyone, including employees, volunteers and others who are involved ...

  • December 30th, 2014

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Photo courtesy of Momaha.com. With winters cold arrival and daylights quick retreat, our children are starting to shift the focus of their fun from playgrounds, ...

  • December 28th, 2014

    My heart breaks when I hear what some of the children and families we serve went through before coming to Boys Town. As a child, Edward suffered abuse for 12 years ...

  • December 24th, 2014

    Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • December 20th, 2014

    Between the ages of 16 and 19, adolescents have achieved full physical maturity. In sharp contrast to early adolescence, when many teenagers are socially awkward and embarrassed by their bodies, ...

  • December 17th, 2014

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Photo from Momaha.com.  It can be a challenge to get your kids to appreciate the things they have when they are eager for Christmas to arrive ...

  • December 10th, 2014

    Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, ...

  • December 2nd, 2014

    Last year, we introduced you to Sommer, a bright young woman whose parents would leave her alone for days on end. Many of you wanted to know how she was ...

  • November 26th, 2014

    Last year Boys Town put out some tips for Holiday fun that are cheap and easy and help kids keep their focus away from the presents and commercialization of Christmas ...

  • November 10th, 2014

    I recently came across an article from the Chicago Tribune about how the government is removing severely obese children from their homes. These removals aren’t happening because these children are being ...

  • October 29th, 2014

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. It can be hard to admit that your child is bullying others. But when you recognize this type of behavior in your child, it’s important to ...

  • October 22nd, 2014

    This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Kids don’t always share what is going on in their life. When they do talk, you want to help find solutions. Unfortunately when it comes ...

  • October 15th, 2014

    Last Monday, I dropped off my almost 2-year-old at the child care center of my gym for the first time. I was afraid she would cry, throw a fit, or ...

  • October 7th, 2014

    Bullying is every parent’s worst nightmare. As parents, it is natural for us to want to protect our babies from the outside world. You don’t want their feelings to get ...

  • October 7th, 2014

    Photo from Landfill Harmonic YouTube. I saw a video the other day that reminded me just how beautiful the human spirit is. The video, Landfill Harmonic, is about people who live in ...

  • September 25th, 2014

    As the host of several popular home improvement reality shows, Josh Temple is a familiar face on television these days. But did you know that in addition to his day ...

  • September 21st, 2014

    “He ain’t heavy, Father… he’s m’ brother.” That iconic phrase has symbolized the spirit of Boys Town for decades. But many people don’t know how it originated. Back in 1918, a boy ...

  • September 19th, 2014

    Spanking as a form of discipline continues to be a hot topic of debate, both among parents and in the public forum. Is it right? Is it wrong? Does it ...

  • September 13th, 2014

    I love working at Boys Town. Every time I think I can’t be more in awe of the services provided by Boys Town and the impact upon the children and families ...

  • September 11th, 2014

    When I was 9 years old, my father took me to sign-up for Little League baseball. A few days after sign-ups, I received a call from the coach who told ...

  • September 4th, 2014

    The school year (or, as many parents know it, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”) is here. For high school kids, that means Homecoming is just around the corner. ...

  • August 30th, 2014

    Father Edward Flanagan inspires me every day. The founder of Boys Town may have passed away more than 60 years ago, but his dedication to children and his leadership in changing ...

  • August 18th, 2014

    Many parents do the “back-to-school” cheer once the summer is over, their youngsters are on their way back to the classroom and family life is back on schedule. But for parents ...

  • August 13th, 2014

    Dinnertime is one of my favorite times at home. I grew up in a house where we always had dinner as a family and that tradition has carried in to ...

  • July 30th, 2014

    I admit I am slightly addicted to Facebook. I find myself in any 30-second break (at a red light, waiting in line at the grocery store, during TV commercials) I ...

  • July 16th, 2014

    A woman stopped by my office earlier this week. She had just come from another meeting with the school principal about her child and her shoulders sagged under the burden ...

  • July 9th, 2014

    I struggle with behavior and discipline with my children, as I’m sure most parents do. I read a lot about correcting misbehavior and the best ways to deal with discipline ...

  • July 2nd, 2014

    Recently I told my oldest child to do something and they respond with, “or what?” Eek! That is a bad thing to hear as a parent. That is when I ...

  • June 11th, 2014

    As a parent, we play so many different roles in the home that getting our kids to listen and follow instructions might not always take the forefront in our list ...

  • June 4th, 2014

    Boys Town parenting puts a great deal of focus on positive consequences vs. negative consequences. The idea is if you catch them being good and recognize this, you will head ...

  • January 25th, 2012

    As fans prepare for Super Bowl XLVI, I’m sure there are more than a few who are sad that Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos didn’t make it to the ...