How to Transform Your Communications With Your Kids

Psychologist Wendy Mogel: How to Transform Your Communications With Your Kids



Wendy Mogel

Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel is known for The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus, her books on avoiding the trap of overparenting. This spring, she has a new book out, Voice Lessons for Parents, in which she gives parents practical ways to transform their communications—and relationships—with their kids.

Author Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.

Your Teen: Why did you decide to write this book now?

WM: Most parents are perfectly fine communicators—unless they’re talking to their children. The minute they started talking about interfaces with their kids, their voices and posture changed so dramatically. The way they spoke changed so much—and I would say that I wouldn’t listen to them either if they talked to me that way.

They sounded indignant, frightened, and unconvincing. It was clear that what happens is that it turns into sibling rivalry between the parents and the child. The children just tune out the parent or it turns into a deposition, and then a trial, and the child wins. So much of this is unconscious, but parents tend to jab their fingers and point at the child.

YT: In your book you talk about teenagers as the “only being with the power to nearly kill you yet also leave you humbled, more self-aware and possessing of some authentic wisdom.” How can parents move towards self-awareness and wisdom?

WM: You have to pretend this is not your child. That you don’t care that much about this child. That this child’s behavior wasn’t caused by you and can’t necessarily be changed by you. If you can develop a relatively cordial relationship with your teenager, you get to see what the world looks like through their eyes in 2018. Treat what they are excited about or upset about seriously, and show compassion—but do not think of it as urgent and catastrophic. Think of them as spirit guides.

Overbearing Parents

YT: How has parenting changed over the years?

WM: We used to have a romantic version of parenting—the kids just went out the door and didn’t come back until dark in the summer. Now, kids live in a Supermax prison where they are being watched all the time. Because of technology, they kind of walk around with a convict’s bracelet around their ankle. There is so little privacy and freedom. Parents have far too much information. The school portals—where parents can see every assignment, test, and grade, often before the kids see it—gets them involved in a very sticky way.

YT: What would you say to these overbearing parents?

WM: Good, effective parenting that will result in resilient, resourceful, self-reliant, exuberant children will feel like neglect. This is how it is supposed to be; I’m sorry. He is not going to admire, like, or appreciate you right now. He is trying to separate from you, build a set of skills, identify with a good peer group—and if you want to worry you can, but I’m not going to.  The kids are quick, flexible, open-minded, and original. Watch before you step in or try to take over.

The Blessing of a B Minus

YT: Why do parents freak out about small things like their teen getting one B-?

WM: Parents are kind of down the rabbit hole of dread about every single grade—even on a quiz—predicting their child’s whole future. A B- means there will be no future; the child is doomed.

I think this is a displacement from our collective feeling of anxiety about the unsettled state of the economy, the daunting swift changes in technology, our own mortality. There are all these things we have no control over, so parents focus in on a very narrow, concrete way on what defines failure, which in some cases is a slight look of unhappiness on their child’s face.

YT: When your teen texts you with what they think is an urgent question, how should you respond?

WM: See if you can be more involved with the process than the product. Ask the child, “What have you considered? What is your plan? What ideas do you have?” before you step in with the solution or guidance or going over their head to get another adult involved.

YT: What’s your top advice for parenting teens?

WM: When things start getting heated, just stop and listen to the sound of your voice. Say to a teenager that you need to think something over a little bit—instead of trying to just get it over with—and then really get back to them. Don’t hope it blows away. This is about moral integrity, which is something you really want them to develop. You need to demonstrate it.

How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War

Common Sense Media

Exposure to graphic images, distressing information, and horrific headlines can affect kids’ overall well-being. By Caroline Knorr 3/19/2018

Mass shootings. Nuclear weapons. A robbery at your local corner store. Where do you start when you have to explain this stuff to your kids? Today, issues involving violence, crime, and war — whether they’re in popular shows, video games, books, or news coverage — reach even the youngest kids. And with wall-to-wall TV coverage, constant social media updates, streaming services that broadcast age-inappropriate content any time of day, plus the internet itself, you have to have a plan for discussing even the worst of the worst in a way that’s age-appropriate, that helps kids understand, and that doesn’t cause more harm.

We know that heavy exposure to media violence, such as first-person-shooter games and cinematic explosions, can negatively affect kids. We also know that kids report feeling afraid, angry, or depressed about the news. But in recent years — prompted by increased terrorist attacks around the world — researchers are exploring the effects of “remote exposure” to real violent events. Remote exposure is when kids understand that something traumatic has occurred but haven’t experienced it directly. Unsurprisingly, its lingering effects include feelings of grief, trauma, fear, and other mental health concerns. Kids can be deeply affected by images of war-torn countries, bloodied refugee children, and mass graves and need additional help processing them.

These tips and conversation starters can help you talk to kids of different ages about the toughest topics. Get more advice about explaining distressing newsdifficult subjects, and sexual harassment.

Tips for Talking to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War

Age 2–6

Avoid discussion of or exposure to really horrific news. As much as possible, wait until after young kids are in bed to watch the news, and save conversations about heinous subjects, such as Charles Manson or the latest Dateline murder mystery, for child-free moments.

Don’t bring it up — unless you think they know something. There’s no reason to bring up school shootings, terrorist attacks, threats of war, or the like with young kids. If you suspect they do know something — for example, you hear them talking about it during their play — you can ask them about it and see if it’s something that needs further discussion.

Affirm your family’s safety. In the case of scary news, such as wilderness fires — even if you’re a little rattled — it’s important for young children to know they’re safe, their family is OK, and someone is taking care of the problem. Hugs and snuggles do wonders, too.

Simplify complex ideas — and move on. Abstract ideas can complicate matters and may even scare young kids. Use concrete terms and familiar references your kid will understand, and try not to overexplain. About a mass shooting, say, “A man who was very, very confused and angry took a gun and shot people. The police are working to make sure people are safe.”

Distinguish between “real” and “pretend.” Young kids have rich fantasy lives and mix up make-believe and reality. They may ask you if a scary story is really true. Be honest, but don’t belabor a point.

Age 7–12

Wait and see. Unless they ask, you know they were exposed, or you think they know something, don’t feel you have to discuss horrific news or explain heinous crimes such as rape, beheadings, dismemberment, and drug-fueled rampages (especially to kids in the younger end of this age range or who are sensitive). If kids show signs of distress by acting anxious, regressing, or exhibiting some other tip-off that something’s amiss — for example, they’re reluctant to go to school after the latest school shooting — approach them and invite them to talk.

Talk … and listen. Older tweens hear about issues related to violence, crime, and war on social media, YouTube, TV, and movies — not always reliable sources for facts. Try to get a sense of what your kids know before launching into an explanation, since you don’t want to distress them further or open up a whole new can of worms. Feel them out by asking, “What did you hear?,” “Where did you hear that?,” “What do you know about it?,” and “What do you think about it?”

Be honest and direct. Tweens can find out what they want to know from different sources, and you want the truth to come from you. It’s not necessary to go into extreme detail. About a family who held their kids hostage, you can say, “The kids suffered many different kinds of abuse. But they were rescued, and their parents were arrested. Often in cases of child abuse, the parents are very sick with mental illness or other issues.”

Discuss sensationalism in news and media. Talk to kids about how media outlets — including news agencies, TV shows, movie companies, and game developers — use extreme subjects to get attention, whether it’s in the form of clicks, viewership, or ticket sales. Share the old newsroom adage, “If it bleeds, it leads,” and talk about why we may be drawn to outrageous human behavior. This helps kids think critically about the relative importance of issues, the words and images used to attract an audience, and their own media choices.

Explain context and offer perspective. With your life experience, knowledge, and wisdom, you can explain the various circumstances around certain issues. This is the process that gives things meaning and clarity — and it’s important for kids to be able to make sense of negative and unpleasant things, too. To work through the powerful emotions that images of beatings, blood, and human suffering can bring up, kids have to learn to distance themselves from horrific events, understand the underlying causes, and perhaps get involved in meaningful ways to make things better, such as diplomacy and education.


Assume they know — but don’t assume their knowledge is complete. Teens get a lot of their information from online sources such as social media or YouTube, which can be misleading or flawed. Still, it’s important to respect their knowledge and ability to learn things independently because that’s a process you want to foster. You’ll still need to fill in the blanks, offer some history, and share what you know.

Get them talking. High school years can be tough, as teens start rejecting their parents’ ideas, becoming concerned with what friends think, and developing their own voice. This separation can be especially difficult when traumatic events occur or when you know they’re interacting with mature media. To continue the kinds of conversations you had when they were younger — and stay connected and relevant — resist the urge to lecture and instead ask their opinions about things. Encourage them to support their ideas with legitimate news sources, not just repeat what others have said. Say, “We may not always agree, but I’m curious to hear what you have to say.”

Accept their sources, but expand their horizons. Trending topics capture the headlines, but teens are just as likely to run across provocative subjects, stories, and characters on TV and in movies — such as the meth-making chemistry teacher of Breaking Bad — that get users clicking, viewing, and sharing. Give teens the tools to view information critically, whether they’re scrolling through Snapchat or Netflix. Teach them to question what they see by asking themselves, “Who made this?,” “Why did they make it?,” “What’s its point of view?,” “What information isn’t included?,” and “What would my friends think of this?” These media-literacy questions help teens evaluate information, think beyond the clickbait headline or funny meme, and look more deeply into a topic.

Offer hope. Mood swings are the hallmark of the teen years. But exposure to sad and depressing news, as well as to issues like violence, crime, and war, through social media, video games, and movies can make teens world-weary. Don’t be a Pollyanna (teens will see through that), but talk about meaningful ways to contribute something to the world — anything that benefits the greater good. The idea that you can make a positive impact restores the soul and boosts the resilience they’ll need their whole lives.

With teen mental health deteriorating over five years, there’s a likely culprit


Around 2012, something started going wrong in the lives of teens.

In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.

In a new paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, my colleagues and I found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background – more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities and in every region of the country. All told, our analysis found that the generation of teens I call “iGen” – those born after 1995 – is much more likely to experience mental health issues than their millennial predecessors.

What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short period of time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide? After scouring several large surveys of teens for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.

All signs point to the screen

Because the years between 2010 to 2015 were a period of steady economic growth and falling unemployment, it’s unlikely that economic malaise was a factor. Income inequality was (and still is) an issue, but it didn’t suddenly appear in the early 2010s: This gap between the rich and poor had been widening for decades. We found that the time teens spent on homework barely budged between 2010 and 2015, effectively ruling out academic pressure as a cause.

However, according to the Pew Research Center, smartphone ownership crossed the 50 percent threshold in late 2012 – right when teen depression and suicide began to increase. By 2015, 73 percent of teens had access to a smartphone.

Not only did smartphone use and depression increase in tandem, but time spent online was linked to mental health issues across two different data sets. We found that teens who spent five or more hours a day online were 71 percent more likely than those who spent less than an hour a day to have at least one suicide risk factor (depression, thinking about suicide, making a suicide plan or attempting suicide). Overall, suicide risk factors rose significantly after two or more hours a day of time online.

Of course, it’s possible that instead of time online causing depression, depression causes more time online. But three other studies show that is unlikely (at least, when viewed through social media use).

Two followed people over time, with both studies finding that spending more time on social media led to unhappiness, while unhappiness did not lead to more social media use. A third randomly assigned participants to give up Facebook for a week versus continuing their usual use. Those who avoided Facebook reported feeling less depressed at the end of the week.

The argument that depression might cause people to spend more time online doesn’t also explain why depression increased so suddenly after 2012. Under that scenario, more teens became depressed for an unknown reason and then started buying smartphones, which doesn’t seem too logical.

What’s lost when we’re plugged in

Even if online time doesn’t directly harm mental health, it could still adversely affect it in indirect ways, especially if time online crowds out time for other activities.

For example, while conducting research for my book on iGen, I found that teens now spend much less time interacting with their friends in person. Interacting with people face to face is one of the deepest wellsprings of human happiness; without it, our moods start to suffer and depression often follows. Feeling socially isolated is also one of the major risk factors for suicide. We found that teens who spent more time than average online and less time than average with friends in person were the most likely to be depressed. Since 2012, that’s what has occurred en masse: Teens have spent less time on activities known to benefit mental health (in-person social interaction) and more time on activities that may harm it (time online).

Teens are also sleeping less, and teens who spend more time on their phones are more likely to not be getting enough sleep. Not sleeping enough is a major risk factor for depression, so if smartphones are causing less sleep, that alone could explain why depression and suicide increased so suddenly.

Depression and suicide have many causes: Genetic predisposition, family environments, bullying and trauma can all play a role. Some teens would experience mental health problems no matter what era they lived in.

But some vulnerable teens who would otherwise not have had mental health issues may have slipped into depression due to too much screen time, not enough face-to-face social interaction, inadequate sleep or a combination of all three.

It might be argued that it’s too soon to recommend less screen time, given that the research isn’t completely definitive. However, the downside to limiting screen time – say, to two hours a day or less – is minimal. In contrast, the downside to doing nothing – given the possible consequences of depression and suicide – seems, to me, quite high.

It’s not too early to think about limiting screen time; let’s hope it’s not too late.

In Praise of ADHD


CreditSarah Mazzetti

Ten years ago, when my son Nicolai was 11, his doctor wanted to put him on medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “It would make him less wild,” I explained to my mother, who was then 85. “It would slow him down a bit.”

My mother grumbled. “Look around you,” she said in Yiddish. “Look how fast the world is changing. He doesn’t need to slow down. You need to speed up.”

It was a surprising recommendation from someone who had never learned to use a microwave. But recent research suggests she had a point: Some people with A.D.H.D. may be naturally suited to our turbocharged world.

Today the word “hyperactive” doesn’t just describe certain individuals; it also is a quality of our society. We are bombarded each day by four times the number of words we encountered daily when my mother was raising me. Even vacations are complicated — people today use, on average, 26 websites to plan one. Attitudes and habits are changing so fast that you can identify “generational” differences in people just a few years apart: Simply by analyzing daily cellphone communication patterns, researchers have been able to guess the age of someone under 60 to within about five years either way with 80 percent accuracy.

To thrive in this frenetic world, certain cognitive tendencies are useful: to embrace novelty, to absorb a wide variety of information, to generate new ideas. The possibility that such characteristics might be associated with A.D.H.D. was first examined in the 1990s. The educational psychologist Bonnie Cramond, for example, tested a group of children in Louisiana who had been determined to have A.D.H.D. and found that an astonishingly high number — 32 percent — did well enough to qualify for an elite creative scholars program in the Louisiana schools.

It is now possible to explain Professor Cramond’s results at the neural level. While there is no single brain structure or system responsible for A.D.H.D. (and some believe the term encompasses more than a single syndrome), one cause seems to be a disruption of the brain’s dopamine system. One consequence of that disruption is a lessening of what is called “cognitive inhibition.” The human brain has a system of filters to sort through all the possible associations, notions and urges that the brain generates, allowing only the most promising ones to pass into conscious awareness. That’s why if you are planning a trip to Europe, you think about flying there, but not swimming.

But odd and unlikely associations can be valuable. When such associations survive filtering, they can result in constructive ideas that wouldn’t otherwise have been thought of. For example, when researchers apply a technique known as transcranial stimulation to interfere with key structures in the filtering system, people become more imaginative and inventive, and more insightful as problem solvers.

Individuals with A.D.H.D. naturally have less stringent filters. This can make them more distractible but also more creative. Such individuals may also adapt well to frequent change and thus make for good explorers. Jews whose ancestors migrated north to Rome and Germany from what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories show a higher proportion of the A.D.H.D. gene variant than those Jews whose ancestors migrated a shorter distance south to Ethiopia and Yemen. In fact, scientists have found that the farther a group’s ancestors migrated, the higher the prevalence of the gene variant in that population.

Or consider the case of the Ariaal, a Kenyan tribe whose members through most of its history were wild-animal herders. A few decades ago, some of its members split off from the main group and became farmers.

Being a wild-animal herder is a good job if you are naturally restless; subsistence farming is a far tamer occupation. Recently, the anthropologist Dan Eisenberg and collaborators studied whether people with A.D.H.D. might thrive in the former lifestyle but suffer in the latter. They found that among the herders, those who possessed a gene that predisposed them to A.D.H.D. were, on average, better nourished. Among the farming Ariaal, the opposite was true: Those who lacked the genetic predisposition for A.D.H.D. were, on average, better nourished. Restlessness seemed to better suit a restless existence.

A.D.H.D. is termed a disorder, and in severe forms it can certainly disrupt a person’s life. But you might view a more moderate degree of A.D.H.D. as an asset in today’s turbulent and fast-changing world. My mother, now 95, long ago realized that speed is the essence of our era. Her intuition about Nicolai proved correct, and she has lived to watch her grandson thrive without taking the A.D.H.D. medication she was dead set against.

Middle School Parenting Mistakes I Made—That You Don’t Have To

middle school parenting mistakes

by Jane Parent

My kids have long since emerged from the dark tunnel of middle school. But I remember those wondrous, bewildering, exasperating years all too well. We made so many middle school parenting mistakes. However, I can only see the answers of parenting middle schoolers with the benefit of hindsight. If I could do it all over again, there are five things I wish we had done differently. It’s too late for my kids, but there’s no reason you can’t profit from my middle school parenting fails.

Parenting Middle Schoolers: Parenting Fails I Made


Bringing Forgotten Stuff to School.

You see the forgotten lunch bag as soon as you get back from dropping them off. Honestly, your intentions are so pure. Your son shouldn’t go hungry. (Or have to sit out gym class, get a detention, or get a zero in English for forgetting items.) Secretly, you kind of like being the hero, too, swinging into action to save the day for little Jack or Mackenzie. And the teacher will be impressed by what a dedicated parent you are! Plus, you can’t have a blemish on their sixth grade report card. They might not get into Dartmouth, right?

Don’t do it. You aren’t helping your kid to become a responsible, conscientious young adult. Guess what? He’ll forget his lunch again next week. Some kids only learn the hard way. By cushioning the blunt impact of the lesson, you are most assuredly guaranteeing it will happen again. The stakes for failure are the lowest they are ever going to be when they are in middle school.

From this point on, the consequences just get bigger and more painful. Let them fail now. If you bring the forgotten school report today, you are merely increasing the odds that junior year in high school he will “forget” his printed admission ticket for the SAT. And he will expect you to run it to him at 7:30 a.m. on some snowy February morning. Instead, help your son or daughter learn to plan ahead. Do not permit theirpoor planning to become your emergency.


Video Games After School

When my sons got home from school, they would grab a bowl of cheddar Goldfish and retire to the basement for Playstation. And I let them, because everyone needs a little break to clear their minds, right? For some foolish reason, I trusted them to be able to manage their own time. I assumed they would turn off the game and get on with homework. A classic middle school parenting mistake. Video games were like heroin to my older son. A half hour always turned into an hour or two.

My son usually ended up squandering the most productive portion of the afternoon. He left his homework for after sports practice—when he was physically and mentally exhausted. No surprise that his work product frequently suffered as a result, or was altogether skipped.

By the time our youngest son was in sixth grade, we instituted a blanket rule: no video or computer games on school nights. Period. I wish we had done it earlier.


Letting Them Quit Piano Lessons

We had a wonderful Russian piano teacher named Elena who came to our house for lessons. Every week, she implored my children to practice. My daughter was fairly diligent, but the boys hated the forced inactivity of piano lessons. They did the bare minimum and sighed and squirmed through their lessons. It felt like a waste of time and money, and just one more thing about which I had to nag them. We had homework, sports, after school clubs, chores, time with friends, and about a million other things they’d rather be doing—so I let them quit.

At some point in high school, after seeing an accomplished classmate perform at a school concert or assembly, each of my kids has turned to me and said wistfully, “I wish I could still play the piano.” Me too.


“You’re So Smart—If You Just Tried A Little Harder …”

For years, I thought that my oldest son just wasn’t motivated by grades. He was so smart, after all. Whenever he came home with a disappointing grade, we would say something like, “You’re so smart. If you just tried a little harder, you could be getting an A.” We didn’t want to crush his little spirit.

So he did try—but only just a little bit. We had, in effect, given him permission to do the bare minimum in his schoolwork. Inadvertently, we had encouraged him to believe that being smart was enough to get good grades. If I could do it again, I would give him a big serving of “Toughen up, buttercup.” Instead of telling my precious snowflake how smart he was, I should have told him that success comes from effort, self-discipline, and preparation. No one succeeds simply because his mother has told him he is “so smart.”


Studying In Bed

Our daughter’s bed became a cozy nest of textbooks, fleece blankets, wrappers, tissues, dirty dishes, and nail polish bottles. Occasionally, it was so messy she had to sleep in the guest room.

For years, she had trouble falling asleep, struggling with racing thoughts, and insomnia. Sometimes she fell asleep when she should’ve been studying.

I know now that she should not have made her bed a “home office.” In order to ensure a restful night’s sleep, our beds must be reserved for sleep. We should have insisted that she use her desk for studying, and her bed for sleeping. I could have saved her from those dark circles under her eyes and a few years of chronic exhaustion in high school.

Jane Parent is senior editor of Your Teen.

A parents guide to Snapchat – what you need to know

Digital Parenting

Snapchat is a mobile app and is hugely popular with teens and young adults. Because it is a mobile app it only works on mobile and you download it from the App store (Apple phones) or the Google Play store (Android phones)

Snap Chat

When you download the app and you register an account it can then tell by looking at your phone’s contact list which of your friends are on snapchat. You can then request to connect with your friends and  you can send invites to anyone else in your address book to connect with you on snapchat.

In essence, the app allows you to

1. Take a photo (Or a 10 second vide0)  and then add text or drawings / doodles to the image. It’s a fun way of sending a message instead of a boring text message.

2. You can then send the snap to a friend or group of friends and it will self destruct within a set period of time (Between 1 – 10 seconds). The image then disappears forever (well, sort of).

3. Your friend can then reply with another image / message or they can simply instant message you back.

4. The other option is to post the photo to “Your story” where all your snapchat friends will be able to see the photo for 24 hours before it self destructs.


In this parents guide to Snapchat we will explain why kids like using it, what dangers you need to be aware of and how to advise and protect your child.

What age is it suitable for

You need to be aged 13 to sign up for Snapchat. However, many tweens sign up for it giving a bogus date of birth.

Snapchat launched a version of the service for kids younger than 13 called “Snapkidz”. It basically allows them to take the photo, add the drawings and doodles but they cannot then send it to anyone.

Why Do Kids like using it?

Tweens and Teens  love using it because;

  • It is a fun way to send a message. Why just send a text message saying   “I’m bored” when you can send a selfie of yourself making a stupid face and a drawing / doodle saying “I’m bored” . It’s a fun and creative way to liven up a text message
  • They share photos of themselves pulling  funny faces, random  things that  they see, funny photos of their pets.
  • The fact that the photo disappears so quickly means they can share something stupid or something that makes them look stupid without them having to worry that they are going to be made fun of. It is a “no pressure” alternative to the permanence of Facebook and Twitter where whatever they post stays around forever.



  • Some kids love it because it isn’t possible for parents to monitor their messages . All messages and images shared in the app disappear and cannot be viewed by a parent who picks up the phone. Also, if you have parental monitoring software on the phone it cannot monitor what is shared on Snapchat.
  • Parents can see images that the teen has been tagged on in Facebook and Instagram but Snapchat images that are sent directly to someone (not shared to all contact via the “Story”) are not visible to parents.

What dangers do parents need to be aware of?

1. Sexting

Even though Snapchat has been associated with “sexting” in the news, the vast majority of kids are not using Snapchat for that purpose.  If your child is using Snapchat it is wrong to assume that they are “sexting”. However, sexting does happen amongst teens and it is something that you should be aware of as a parent.

Many parents think that sexting involves 2 people sending either risqué or explicit text messages to each other. However, sexting more typically involves people taking;

  • Selfie photos / videos of themselves either in their underwear or in the nude. Lots of these images existing on the internet where teenagers take the shot facing the bathroom mirror and these are referred to as either nude selfies, mirror selfies or underwear shots.
  • Photos of their breasts or genitals


These photos are then typically sent to the persons boyfriend or girlfriend and usually sent either by text message or via a messaging service such as Whats App, Kik messenger or Snapchat. Studies done in Ireland, the UK and the US indicate that a significant percentage (60%) of teenagers are being asked to take images of themselves with many going on to take images or videos of themselves (40%) and  then between 20% – 25% actually sending the images on.

See our Digital Parenting Guide to Sexting for more information.

Some teens do use Snapchat to send explicit selfies to a boyfriend / girlfriend because;

a) The images are not saved on the phones image folder  where they could be discovered by a parent.

b) The self destruct feature gives a sense that the image won’t be saved or shared. This is a false sense of security however because;

o   The person who receives the explicit image can take a screenshot and save it to their phone. (The sender will be notified if a screenshot has been taken.)

o   There are lots of apps available that integrate with Snapchat and allow the recipient to easily save the image before it self destructs. An example is an app called Snap Save.

2. Cyber Bullying

Social media is increasingly being used  by bullies to torment victims and the main social networks that are used, because of their sheer size, as Facebook and Twitter. View our digital parenting gude to cyber Bullying

However, Snapchat is also being used by cyberbullies in the following ways

1. Because the message disappears

Because the message and therefore the evidence, disappears within 10 seconds it is a perfect medium for bullies. For the victim is adds to the torment because they cannot show their parents the message and how they are being bullied.

2. Using images to bully

Bullies often send images of ugly animals with text comparing the victim to the animal or if they can take embarrassing photos of the victim they then send them to a large group on Snapchat – again, knowing that the image will disappear.

3.Feeling excluded

Many kids deliberately post photos to their “Story” of themselves doing activities or at a party  with their friends, in part to show who is there and who was not included. For the person who is being bullied / excluded from the group this compounds their feeling of exclusion.


About the author 

Evan is a digital marketing lecturer and trainer and also delivers digital parenting workshops throughout Ireland for schools and parent groups. He developed his digital media expertise in London where he was Head of European Marketing for Yahoo! Mobile, Head of Customer and New Media marketing at Orange and Head of Direct Marketing at BT. He has extensive experience of digital marketing across web and mobile covering the Irish, UK and European markets Evan is the founder of The Digital Parenting Academy and

What Parents Need To Know About Snapchat

Common Sense Media recommends Snapchat for kids 16 and older

Parents need to know that Snapchat is a popular messaging app that allows teens to exchange user-generated photos, texts, videos, and calls — both audio and video. The developer claims that “Snaps” can’t be saved within the app and are only viewable for one to 10 seconds before disappearing from the recipient’s device, noting that the app notifies the sender if the recipient takes a screenshot of an image. However, several third-party programs easily intercept and store any Snaps sent to the user, and users can buy replays of Snaps via in-app purchase, negating the “temporary” aspect of the service. Also, as of 2017, users can play Snaps as long as they’d like until they exit that Snap, which deletes it as usual. If users opt to share their location, they can see friends on a “Snap Map” and see Snapchat Stories from other users in various locations, and if they do opt in, they can use “Ghost Mode” to see others but not be visible themselves. There’s also an option to share public stories on other social media platforms. The app has gained a reputation as a “sexting” app because outgoing (and incoming) pictures, videos, and texts are not stored on devices, but many teens use it simply to exchange fun, silly pictures. In addition, a video feature called Discover has curated content from outlets including CNN, Cosmopolitan, Warner Music, and Vice. The Discover content (which disappears after 24 hours, a much longer window than for other content) often features harsh language, sexual content, violence, advertisements, or videos with, for instance, a character flipping viewers “the bird,” and there is no option to opt out. In light of a feature called “Snapstreaks,” some kids may feel pressure to keep a streak (trading Snaps within 24 hours over a period of days) going. There is also a “Do Not Disturb” feature that lets teens mute threads without outright blocking anyone. As of 2016, Snapchat also has video-recording glasses called Specs available for purchase which record short videos that you can send to your phone and, from there, post to Snapchat. Through the World Lends, users can find Snapchat Art which will place AR art in select cities so users can find the exact location and see the AR image. Check out their Safety Center and content for parents to get more information. Read the app’s privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

Why This Is the Year I’ll Let My Daughter Watch the Red Carpet

Why This Is the Year I’ll Let My Daughter Watch the Red Carpet

How to bond with your tween over Oscar night’s parade of stars — while getting in your two cents about sexism and more. By Sierra Filucci 

As kids get older, it’s harder to control what media they’re exposed to. When my daughter was young, I could shield her from any Oscars red carpet hoopla and all the sexist messages it sends: rating women on their looks, glorifying luxury goods, and the fact that men slip by all the prying questions. Now it’s becoming more difficult as she scans her Instagram feed for celebrity pics, and her friends are more up to date on pop culture events.

But that’s OK. Because as kids grow up, we parents shift our approaches. And, honestly, I actually kind of like the annual red carpet tradition. I just want to share it with my daughter on my terms.

This year, I want to show her that pop culture can be fun — including looking at dresses. I also want her to know that it’s OK to enjoy something and still be critical of it. We’ve already scanned through some Golden Globe photos and picked out our favorite colors and designs. We’ve laughed at dresses that look incredibly uncomfortable. And we’ve wondered what it would be like if the men wore something other than black.

As my daughter moves through the tween years, it can be hard to find the opportunities to talk about body image, sexism, gender, and race that don’t feel forced. These cultural events offer a chance for me to hear how my daughter reacts to seeing a larger woman like Octavia Spencer on the red carpet, to discuss aging in Hollywood and obvious plastic surgery, or to wonder why so many of the women look alike (thin, white, pretty).

Watching the red carpet also gives me a chance to slip in some deeper messages. I can say, “Amy Adams was such a strong character in The Arrival” and “Lady Gaga does so much to fight bullying” in a way that shows her the qualities I find more admirable than appearance. If the chance arises to discuss Hollywood’s role in politics, I can ask her opinion and show that I care what she thinks (and offer some subtle suggestions if necessary).

And if my daughter chooses not to watch the red carpet — or even the Oscars ceremony itself — I won’t blame her. In fact, if she’d rather design her own dress or put on a play or run wild in the backyard, I’ll shut off the TV and join her. We can always check the best-and-worst dressed Twitter feed later.