Check out these 6 messaging apps that let teens share (iffy) secrets…

Originally posted by Kelly Schryver on Common Sense Media in the article Trend Alert: 6 Messaging Apps That Let Teens Share (Iffy) Secrets.

You probably never thought you’d see the day when Facebook wasn’t the center of teens’ universe. But keeping up with Facebook friends through ad-filled newsfeeds and lengthy profiles, especially given the fact that everyone knows your name, is starting to feel tiresome to many teens.

Facebook is still a go-to place for many things, such as wishing someone a happy birthday or stalking a crush. However, newer social apps make it easier, faster, and more fun to capture and share fleeting moments — sometimes anonymously. These temporary and anonymous-messaging apps provide an environment that feels more appropriate to the random, silly, saucy, and experimental sides of the average teenager.

Perhaps most importantly to teens, these apps can feel consequence-free. But of course they’re not. Data never really disappears, and anonymity carries big risks. If you don’t recognize the apps your kid is currently obsessing over, here’s what you need to know:

Temporary Apps

Temporary apps allow people to send messages and images that self-destruct after a set window of time. Teens can use these apps to more carefully manage their digital trails — so long as they don’t share things they wouldn’t normally send otherwise.

Snapchat: A messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear.

Why it’s popular: Snapchat’s creators intended the app’s fleeting images to be a way for teens to share fun, light moments without the risk of having them go public. And that’s what most teens use it for: sending goofy or embarrassing photos to one another. Teens may pay more attention to Snapchats, knowing they’ll disappear in a matter of seconds.

What parents need to know:

  • It’s so new that it’s not yet on the radar of many parents and schools, which is one reason why teens like it so much.
  • It’s a myth that Snapchats go away forever. Data is data: Whenever anything is sent online, it never truly goes away. (For example, the person on the receiving end can take a screenshot of the image before it disappears.) Snapchats can even be recovered.
  • It can make sexting seem OK. The seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share pictures containing inappropriate content.

Burn Note: A texting-only app that erases messages after a set period of time. Messages are stored until first view and then deleted.

Why it’s popular: Unlike other temporary apps, Burn Note’s unique display system makes it more difficult (but not impossible) to copy or take a screenshot of sent messages. Though sending sensitive information via SMS (such as a PIN) isn’t the smartest idea, Burn Note makes it safer.

What parents need to know:

  • Deleted texts cannot be recovered. Burn Note claims to completely expunge deleted messages from its server. Unread messages self-destruct after 30 days.
  • Burn Note doesn’t share personal information with third parties for analytics or advertising purposes.
  • Recipients don’t need to have Burn Note. You can send a message to an email address or a phone contact. The note will show up as a link.

Anonymous Apps

On the positive side, going incognito online helps us express ourselves in ways we might not be able to in the real world. On the negative side, anonymous apps are often riddled with inappropriate content. They also can encourage bullying behavior.

Whisper: A social “confessional” app that allows users to post whatever’s on their mind. Users type a confession, add a background image, and share it with the Whisper community. It’s intended for users age 17 and older.

Why it’s popular: There’s something to be said about sharing one’s innermost thoughts without any repercussions, especially if they’re not socially acceptable. It’s cathartic. For those who simply choose to browse, Whisper can be amusing, heartbreaking, troubling, and comforting all at once.

What parents need to know:

  • The scenarios can be hard to stomach. Reading that a teacher has fantasies about his or her students or that someone’s father is going to be released from jail and start a custody battle can weigh heavily on teens. Some confessions, however, are totally benign (and funny!).
  • There is plenty of inappropriate content. All too often, whispers are sexual. Some use Whisper to solicit others for sex (using the app’s geo-location “nearby” feature). Strong language and drug and alcohol references also are prevalent (for example, “My wife and I were both high on our wedding day” and “I dropped acid with my mom once”).
  • Whispers can go public. Entertainment news sites, such as BuzzFeed, are beginning to feature Whispers. The problem? When secrets — including the embellished or fake ones — become news, we may begin to find ourselves in tabloid territory.

Secret – Speak Freely: A social-media app that’s designed to let people voice whatever’s on their minds anonymously.

Why it’s popular: Similar to Whisper, Secret lets people vent, confess, and share freely — without anyone knowing who said what.

What parents need to know:

  • It tries to prevent users from defaming others. When Secret first launched in Silicon Valley, its adult users started using it to smack-talk their coworkers and bosses. Secret now detects when you mention someone by name (most of the time) and sends you a warning about it.
  • It requires some private information. Despite the fact that it promises user anonymity, it requires your email address and phone number.
  • Kids may encounter strong language. We came across “hell” and “f–k” almost immediately.

Ask.fm: A social site that lets kids ask questions and answer those posted by other users — sometimes anonymously.

Why it’s popular: Although there are some friendly interactions on Ask.fm — Q&As about favorite foods or crushes, for example — there are lots of mean comments and some creepy sexual posts. This iffy content is part of the site’s appeal for teens.

What parents need to know:

  • Bullying is a major concern. The British news website MailOnline reported that the site has been linked to the suicides of several teens. Talk to your teens about cyberbullying and how anonymity can encourage mean behavior.
  • Anonymous answers are optional. Users can decide whether to allow anonymous posts and can remove their answers from streaming to decrease their profile’s visibility. If teens do use the site, they’d be best turning off anonymous answers and keeping themselves out of the live stream.
  • Q&As can appear on Facebook. Syncing with Facebook means that a much wider audience can see those Q&As’ behavior.

Omegle: An anonymous chat client through which users discuss anything they’d like. Its conversations are filled with lewd language and references to sexual content, drugs and alcohol, and violence.

Why it’s popular: Online chat rooms have been around for ages, as have the iffy and inappropriate conversations that happen in them. Though there are many misconceptions about “online predators,” it’s true that risky online relationships — though rare — more frequently evolve in chat rooms when teens willingly seek out or engage in sexual conversation.

What parents need to know:

  • Users get paired up with strangers. That’s the whole premise of the app. And there’s no registration required.
  • This is NOT an app for kids and teens. Omegle is filled with people searching for sexual chat. Some prefer to do so live. Others offer links to porn Websites.
  • Language is a big issue. And since the chats are anonymous, they’re often much more explicit than with someone who can be identified.

The best way to approach these apps with your kids? Talk to them about their online reputations — not in terms of “getting caught” by teachers, college-admissions officers, or future employers, but as a matter of being the best person they can possibly be. Acknowledge that, chances are, they’ll come across extreme, inappropriate, or hurtful content online…and that it’s OK for them to ask you about it, especially if it upsets them. These kinds of conversations will be far from fleeting — the benefits will last a lifetime.

 

Announcements – 4/28/14

MONTHLY REMINDERS

For more information on any of this, please contact the front office at 640-2040.

  • Character Education for the month of May is citizenship.
  • The MJHS Library collects Campbell’s labels, all kinds of printer ink cartridges and old cell phones to raise money for technology.
  • Lunch money – You may pay your child’s lunch money on the St. Clair County website.
  • All car riders must be dropped off and picked up at MHS.
  • If a student is tardy, a parent MUST come into the school office check him/her in.

IMPORTANT CORRECTION – The 8th grade luncheon was notated as being on Friday, May 16, in the last email. The luncheon is actually on Thursday, May 22.

Congratulations to the students who competed in the County Math Tournament! Our 7th grade achieved 2nd place and our 8th grade came in 3rd in the county. Good job MJHS students!

We will give the ACT Aspire on Tuesday-Wednesday, April 29-30 (the Aspire is the test that replaced the ARMT). The Alabama Science Assessment ASA (7th grade only) will be on Thursday, May 1. It is imperative that all students are present and on time to school on those days, especially. For more information regarding the Aspire, please go here: http://www.discoveractaspire.org/

The MHS Softball Team is hosting the Area Tournament this week. Moody will play Centerpoint tomorrow during the first game at 1pm, followed by Springville vs. Pinson at 2:30pm. More games will be played at 4pm and 6pm. On Wednesday, the games will start at 2pm, followed by a game at 4pm, and a possible game at 6pm. Come out and support the Lady Devils!

Band and auxiliary members are selling cookie dough to raise funds for the upcoming year, including a trip to Chicago to march in the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade. Please consider supporting the band! See a band or auxiliary member by April 30 to place an order.

8th graders interested in applying for the MHS Student Council Association should pick up an information sheet in the front office. Applications are due back by May 2.

Varsity girls’ basketball tryouts will be held on May 6 from 3:30-5pm. If you have questions, please contact the high school.

St. Clair County Summer School will be hosted by the Eden Career Tech Center this year, from June 9-July 14. Registration is on June 5 & 6, 8am-2pm. Tuition is $250 for SCC students ($300 for students outside of St. Clair County) and is due at the time of registration, in the form of cash or a money order. Most classes will be delivered via computer. Students will be expected to follow the SCC Code of Conduct—any student sent to the office will be suspended from summer school, receive an ‘F,’ and will not receive a refund. If you have any questions, please contact Adrianne Dodgen at adrianne.dodgen@sccboe.org or David Springer at david.springer@sccboe.org, or call (205) 594-7055, ext. 222.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS AT & AROUND MJHS

Tuesday, 04/29 – Progress Reports go home

ACT Aspire (7th & 8th grade)

Varsity Softball Area Tournament, Moody vs. Centerpoint, 1pm; Springville vs. Pinson, 2:30pm; Opponents TBD, 4pm; Opponents, TBD, 6pm @ Moody High School

Wednesday 04/30 – ACT Aspire (7th & 8th grade)

Varsity Softball Area Tournament, Opponents TBD, 2pm; Opponents TBD, 4pm @ Moody High School

Thursday, 05/01 – ASA test (7th grade only)

Friday, 05/02 – MHS SCA applications due

Tuesday, 05/06 – Girls’ varsity basketball tryouts, 3:30-5pm

Thursday, 05/15 – 7th grade (current 6th graders) Orientation

Thursday, 05/22 – 8th grade Luncheon, 11am

Friday, 05/23 – End of the Year Dance, 1pm

Monday, 05/26 – Memorial Day, no school

Tuesday, 05/27 – Awards’ Day, 8am

Faculty vs. Students softball game, 12:30pm

Faculty vs. Students basketball game, 2pm

Friday, 05/30 – Last day of school

Announcements – 4/21/14

Alabama College & Career Ready Standards offer Real Learning for Real Life! Following you will find ELA and Math standard examples:

Math

ELA

 

We will give the ACT Aspire on Tuesday-Wednesday, April 29-30 (the Aspire is the test that replaced the ARMT). The Alabama Science Assessment ASA (7th grade only) will be on Thursday, May 1. It is imperative that all students are present and on time to school on those days, especially. For more information regarding the Aspire, please go here: http://www.discoveractaspire.org/

 

Varsity girls’ basketball tryouts will be held on May 6 from 3:30-5pm. If you have questions, please contact the high school.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS AT & AROUND MJHS

Wednesday, 04/23 – Reptile show, 7th period ($2 admission)

Tuesday, 04/29 – Progress Reports go home

ACT Aspire

Wednesday 04/30 – ACT Aspire

Thursday, 05/01 – ASA test (7th grade only)

Tuesday, 05/06 – Girls’ varsity basketball tryouts, 3:30-5pm

Thursday, 05/15 – 7th grade (current 6th graders) Orientation

Thursday, 05/16 – 8th grade Luncheon, 11am

Friday, 05/23 – End of the Year Dance, 1pm

Monday, 05/26 – Memorial Day, no school

Tuesday, 05/27 – Awards’ Day, 8am

Faculty vs. Students softball game, 12:30pm

Faculty vs. Students basketball game, 2pm

Friday, 05/30 – Last day of school

Announcements – 4/14/14

We will give the ACT Aspire on Tuesday-Wednesday, April 29-30 (the Aspire is the test that replaced the ARMT). The Alabama Science Assessment ASA (7th grade only) will be on Thursday, May 1. It is imperative that all students are present and on time to school on those days, especially. For more information regarding the Aspire, please go here.

 

In an effort to improve system practices, MJHS is conducting a Parent Survey. We value your opinion and ask that you take the time to complete this survey. Please be assured that your responses to this survey will be anonymous. Your honest opinion is appreciated. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

 

The Country Knights Chess Club will be hosting the After-School Chess Tournament on Saturday, April 12 at 9am in the MHS lunchroom. This tournament is for all levels of players, aged K-12. For information, please contact Coach Pino via email or at 629-2909 or 515-0494.

 

Varsity girls’ basketball tryouts will be held on May 6 from 3:30-5pm. If you have questions, please contact the high school.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS AT & AROUND MJHS

Tuesday, 04/15-Thursday, 04/17 – Counseling Group Guidance – Bullying Prevention (8th grade)

Wednesday, 04/16 – Farm Day, 2-3pm (8th grade only)

Friday, 04/18 – Good Friday, no school

Wednesday, 04/23 – Reptile show, 7th period ($2 admission)

Tuesday, 04/29 – Progress Reports go home

ACT Aspire

Wednesday 04/30 – ACT Aspire

When Your Child Has Problems at School: 6 Tips for Parents

Originally posted by Janet Lehman at Empowering Parents.

In September of our son’s third grade year, we got the phone call from his teacher. She said she was really concerned about our child’s chances of passing that year. I was shocked, angry and anxious—and terribly embarrassed, both as a mother and a social worker who “should have known” what was going on. I immediately took the stance of viewing myself as the victim in the situation. In fact, very quickly it became all about me. I was upset at the school, the teacher and the administrators. My husband, James, intervened at that point and said, “It isn’t about you. It’s about our son and his odds of succeeding.”

What could I say? I knew he was right. After I calmed down, we sat and talked about what we were going to do about our child’s school problem. We also knew we needed to plan out how we were going to present ourselves at the meeting with his teachers. James and I decided that we wanted to be in partnership with the school as much as possible, because this would give our child the best chance of getting through the year and moving on to fourth grade. As hard as it was, I knew I needed to put all of my personal feelings aside and focus on what was best for our son.

This brings me to my first tip for parents when their child is having trouble at school:

Tip #1: It’s not about you. It’s about your child, and what is best for him. As much as you can, put personal feelings aside and focus on your child.

James reminded me again before we went into our meeting: “It’s not about you. It’s not about how you feel about the teacher. It’s about our son.” And then he said, “To be honest, our kid can be a bit of a pain in the neck sometimes and the teacher has 30 other students she needs to deal with. Let’s really try to find a way to work with her.” We went to the meeting and presented ourselves as wanting to work with the school instead of against the school. We weren’t blaming the school; we were trying to be realistic about our son—both his behavior and his needs.

And even though at first I was angry at the school for not noticing our son’s issues sooner, I was grateful to his third grade teacher for noticing what was going on. Up until third grade, our son had been able to use charm to get by in school. But charming wasn’t going to make it in the third grade, where they introduce more challenging content and a lot of new learning. Fortunately, his teacher saw through that act and realized it was a bit of a cover for some of his learning struggles.

This brings me to my second tip:

Tip #2: Generally speaking, blaming the school or your child’s teacher won’t do any good. As much as is possible, work with school administrators and teachers. Partner with them instead of making an adversary out of them.

In my opinion, the only way to create success is to partner with the school. If you’re really struggling with your child’s teacher, find somebody else who you can create that relationship with. Pinpoint someone in the school who you can work with—it could be a guidance counselor, school social worker, a coach, or even the principal. This person will be able to advocate for your child more effectively than you can in some instances, and might also be able to shoot you an email when they notice something or feel like your child needs some extra help.

Our whole family worked especially hard during third grade: we put in a lot of time sending notes back and forth to our son’s teacher and keeping her abreast of his progress. James would also sit with our son and do homework every night. He never did the work for him—he was just there to answer questions and give him help if he needed it. I won’t lie—at first, it was a bit of a struggle. But as our son did more homework, his classroom performance improved, which then encouraged him to do more homework. It became a positive circle or a “win-win” situation for him.

So my third tip is:

Tip #3: Communicate regularly with the school. At home, sit with your child if possible and help him through his homework assignments.

I think one of the key things our son realized was that his teacher and his parents were going to hold him responsible for his own work. He couldn’t get out of it, because everyone had joined together to make sure he succeeded and got through the year. We also attended an evaluation meeting for him where testing was recommended. He had some tests done and it was discovered that he had a mild learning disability. As a result, the teachers arranged for some accommodations so he could do certain things differently. So again, the school was taking some responsibility to help him, but even more importantly, our son was gradually taking responsibility for his learning.

Tip #4: Your child is responsible for his own work; it’s vital that he knows that he’s being held accountable by you and his teachers. If your child has an issue with the work he’s doing, and you believe he is sincerely struggling with the work, talk to the teacher. If the struggle persists even with teacher help and parental support, have him tested professionally immediately to determine whether or not he has a learning disability.

For the most part, we found our son’s teachers to be dedicated and receptive, but through the years, he did have some experiences with teachers he wasn’t particularly crazy about. We thought that was an important life lesson for our son: he wasn’t going to like everyone and not everyone was going to treat him as fairly as everybody should be treated. I think dealing with these teachers helped prepare him for the real world, where he’d have to work with folks who might not be as understanding of his needs as others. We made sure to never criticize his teachers when our son was complaining about one he didn’t get along with. Openly complaining only encourages your child to blame the teacher for his problems, and to stop being accountable for his schoolwork.

Tip #5: When your child complains about school, don’t join with him in criticizing his teacher. By being in that teacher’s classroom, your child is learning an important lesson.

Don’t badmouth the teacher along with your child. There’s the potential that you could make the situation much worse by doing so. Remember, you’re only going to hear the story from your child’s perspective. If he doesn’t like the teacher and you fuel that dislike, it’s only going to make it worse for your child who is in that classroom so many hours every day. Again, the most important thing is to try to join with the teacher if possible so that your child becomes responsible and can’t deflect that responsibility to a “bad” or a “mean” teacher.

Also, I believe it’s important to recognize that teachers have a really hard job. They generally respect parents who are aiding them by helping their child learn. The fact that James and I would take the time to write notes to the teacher and sit with our son and do homework was time well spent, from the teacher’s point of view. That’s an investment, and teachers respect parental investments in their child’s learning.

Teachers also want to feel support from parents for what happens in the classroom. I’ve seen parents immediately take their child’s side and not take the time to get the full picture from the school staff or teachers. I believe it’s important to see the full picture. You may not like it when you get it, but at least you’ve taken the time to get the other side of the story.

James used to say, “Sometimes it’s easier to fight with the school than fight with your kid.” After all, you can walk away from the school and go home. It’s a lot harder to hold your child accountable and sit and do the work with him—especially if he is defiant or has other behavioral issues. But in the long run, holding him responsible is the best thing for his future.

Tip #6: Recognize that your child’s teacher has a difficult job. Get the full picture when there is a situation at school—don’t simply rely on your child’s retelling of the story, because he will only see things from his point of view.

It’s often really intimidating to get that initial call from your child’s school. Sometimes it brings up feelings you had when you were a kid. Maybe you acted out a bit or had some struggles with learning yourself; perhaps you didn’t feel smart enough or good enough. Often, a parent’s first response, given their own experience, is to fight the system. And believe me, I had some of those feelings. Thank goodness for James. He was able to turn my thinking around and really take it off me and focus it on our son. It was a turning point for me as a parent and in the way I viewed myself as a social worker.

I believe that one of the keys to helping your child succeed  in school is really a lot more parental involvement in general. They may never realize how helpful some of the school folks have been. They may never appreciate the fact that you’ve sat there every night and helped them do their homework. But if you can see their success, you know you’ve done the right thing.

Announcements – 4/7/14

The 8th grade will be taking a field trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center on Thursday, May 15. We will leave at 7am and return at 5pm. The cost is $50 and includes lunch, the museum, all rides and attractions, and an IMAX movie. There are only 106 spaces, so it’s first paid, first served. You must turn in your signed permission form and money to Mrs. Franklin or Mrs. Sublett in order to secure your spot.

The Country Knights Chess Club will have Chess Class at MMS (room 203) on April 8 from 3-5pm. Parents may pick their students up after class at the MMS gym door. Parents will not be allowed to enter the building—no exceptions. In addition, the chess club will be hosting the After-School Chess Tournament on Saturday, April 12 at 9am in the MHS lunchroom. This tournament is for all levels of players, aged K-12. For information, please contact Coach Pino at pmpino@hotmail.com or 629-2909 or 515-0494.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT & AROUND MJHS

Tuesday, 04/08 – Chess class at MMS, Room 203, 3-5pm

Tuesday, 04/15-Thursday, 04/17 – Counseling Group Guidance – Bullying Prevention (8th grade)

Friday, 04/18 – Good Friday, no school

Tuesday, 04/29 – Progress Reports go home