The New "Talk"

Learn how to talk with your teen about maintaing purity and privacy in a not-so-private world of smartphones and pervasive oversharing apps.

Daughter looking at smartphone sitting on couch, mom looking over her shoulder.

Have you had "the talk" with your teen?

Not the birds and the bees, the other talk: the one about purity and privacy in a not-so-private world of smartphones and pervasive oversharing apps like Snapchat, Confide and CyberDust.

Snapchat and Self-Destructing Photos

When Snapchat with its "disappearing" shared photos was launched three years ago, teenagers flocked to use it, making it the number one social media app in the younger age bracket.

Snapchat was created to share photos one on one, but last year they introduced "group share" where teens can share their self-destructible photos with the masses.

The sheer amount of objectionable material on Snapchat should move it to the "no-go" column of every parent's app list. As bad as this app can be, there are several others that have taken the idea of sharing secret information to another level.

Texting Apps and Private Messaging

The average texting teenager sends more than 3,300 text messages each month. Thanks to the popular apps Confide and CyberDust, your teen can now share text messages that leave no history. CyberDust works very similarly to Snapchat in that you can set a timer on your text messages.

Confide is the newest entry to the private messaging world. When you receive a text from a user it only shows a series of blocks where the words should be. As you swipe your finger over the blocks, the words are revealed. This keeps the user from taking a screenshot of the whole message.

Oversharing and a Lack of Accountability

In the truest form of sharing secrets, app users are turning to Whisper and Secret.

Think of Whisper and Secret as your own online confessional except no one ever knows who is sharing the tawdry information. Users don't use their real names or pictures, which leads many to become as inappropriate as possible by sharing their desires or secrets that they would never say out loud.

A cursory look at each app shows that more than half of the "secrets" being shared are sexual in nature. Both of these have been in the top 10 apps used by teens.

Where there is no accountability, we will always fall into a trap of oversharing our lives or becoming prying voyeurs into someone else's life.

What You Can Do as a Parent

As a parent, it is important to always be aware of what apps are installed on your child's phone or handheld devices.

Take a few minutes at least once a month to look at their screens unannounced. This will help create healthy boundaries, as they never know when mom or dad will be coming to check up on them. Also, talk with your child about the responsibility of information.

Nothing shared online ever truly disappears. The things we share with others reflect our character and intention and can have long-term consequences for the future when applying to college or seeking a job. Help your child to live life in the open, free from secrets.

27 Texting Acronyms All Parents Should Know

  • PIR—Parent in room
  • 9—Parent watching
  • 99—Parent gone
  • CD9—(Code 9) means parents are around
  • P911—Parent Emergency
  • PAW—Parents are Watching
  • POS—Parent Over Shoulder
  • PRW—Parents Are Watching
  • KPC- Keeping parents clueless
  • CID—Acid (the drug)
  • DOC—Drug of choice
  • Broken—Hungover from alcohol
  • 420—Marijuana
  • 53X—Sex
  • KOTL—Kiss on the lips
  • (L)MIRL—Let's meet in real life
  • PRON—Pornography
  • CD9—Parents around/Code 9
  • WTTP—Want to trade pictures?
  • SUGARPIC—Suggestive or erotic photo
  • TWD—Texting while driving
  • BF / GF—Boyfriend / Girlfriend
  • GTG—Got to Go
  • IDK—I don't know
  • Noob—(Newbie) often an insult to somebody who doesn't know much about something.
  • NMU—Not much, you?
  • S2R—Send To Recieve (pictures)

Article courtesy of Parenting Teens magazine.

Brian Housman has been working with parents and teens for more than 20 years and is a regular speaker at camps and conferences. You can connect with Brian on Twitter at @awaketolife and read more from him on teens and technology in his book Tech Savvy Parenting.