The Secret World Your Child Could Be Living In Online

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Keeping up with technology is hard and the common joke a lot of parents make is that their young child “knows more about this stuff than I do”, but a local mental health  says it’scounselor important that parents know about the devices their children are using.

“Shape the Sky’s” Ryan Klingensmith tells KDKA Radio’s Larry and John his job is to "create responsible kids on smartphones" and that is not an easy task because the current generation of parents is the first to have to deal with children owning smartphones.

“If you think about how you’re teaching your kids right now, it’s based upon what your parents taught you and what your grandparents taught them so there’s kind of like a history of what worked,” said Klingensmith. “Right now we’re kind of the first generation of parents trying to figure this out and we’re trying to get it right.”

 It’s hard enough keeping up with the hardware of the phone but where the bigger problem comes for parents is keeping up with all of the apps that you can download on a smartphone.

“I think there is a conversation we have when we hand the kid a phone because we’ve used the phone but I think where we get lost, and rightfully so is with all the apps that they can download . . . there’s just so many of them,” said Klingensmith. “Do we know about who can contact them on there, what’s the reporting function, is there mental health stuff going on there, is there inappropriate content going on these apps, there’s just so much of it out there, it’s kind of easy to get lost in all that stuff.”  

Klingensmith says when he first started talking to parents about the kind of technology children were using he was talking to parents of 9th or 10th graders but says with the advancement of technology and so many people upgrading their phones it’s now parents of 4th and 5th grades he is having to talk to about the technology.

Think about it this way, you wouldn’t hand the keys of a car over to a child without them knowing how to drive so it’s important a parent explains the importance of how a smartphone works and the dangers that come with it.

Klingensmith says there are dozens of apps that kids use to chat or video message and some may look like a harmless calculator but is actually a vault for secret photos, videos and web browsing children can use to hide their activity from parents.

“It’s pretty easy to find, all you have to do is type into your app store “photo hide” and it will show you the apps that will hide your photos,” said Klingensmith “The calculator app for example is an app that looks like a calculator, functions like a calculator but if you put in your password you can open up a photo vault where you have pictures that you don’t want mom or dad to see. Some of them actually have web browsing built into hem so you can surf the web without anybody kind of knowing where you’ve been.”

In addition to apps, Klingensmith says children online have a language they use to talk about serious issues like eating disorders, depression, suicide and more.

Here are some of the terms used.

For more information visit Shape the Sky’s website and their Facebook page see where Klingensmith will be appearing next. Also he encourages your children to take  a pledge that “will help kids learn how to take control of their time and better manage the way they portray themselves online, thereby protecting their future!”

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