FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — In a world run by the internet, more and more apps are being put on parent’s radars.
Kevin Metcalf is a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney of the 4th Judicial District of Arkansas, and he’s also the founder of the National Child Protection Task Force.
He said trying to keep children away from apps can backfire and the best way to keep them safe is to examine your relationship.
“We are telling parents to concentrate on that device and control everything your kid does,” he said. “It’s just not that simple and it’s just not that productive.”
He said new apps come out all the time and when they do, parents are sometimes behind.
“Adults may not even know about them so it is incredibly difficult to keep up with,” he said. “But if you get a list of apps to watch out for, take a look at them.”
Metcalf believes what matters most is what is happening behind the scenes so he encourages parents to build strong and open relationships with their children.
He said instead of trying to control everything, first learn to talk with them and build a solid trusting relationship.
He said when you do this, your child will be more open to telling you when things seem off about an app.
“Have your kids show you how an app works, put those apps on your phone and use them,” he said. “Learn to use Snapchat, learn to use the funny faces, learn to use it all.”
Knowing what is lurking on the web, Sheri Deaton, a mother of two, said she talks to her children about what should and shouldn’t go online.
“It is very important from the beginning that you maintain and monitor what you are putting on (the internet) so you reflect who you are,” she said.
Both of Deaton’s kids have Kindles, but her 14-year-old daughter has a cellphone.
“We do have an app so that we can monitor where she is for safety and security reasons,” she said.
She said it is important to have these conversations with her children not only for safety reasons, but also to better prepare them for the future.
“Who really knows who they are at 14,” she said. “It’s very important for everyone to recognize that what you post on social media is going to be looked at later on.”
Both Metcalf and Deaton think these conversations are better the sooner you have them.