Parents of many students in grades K-12 grew up trying to stay alive while playing the game The Oregon Trail or crisscrossing the world in search of the elusive Carmen San Diego.
Now, parents, teachers and many adults worry about what’s happening on smartphones and tablets.
Kyle Berger is in charge of technology at Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District. In addition to keeping the schools’ computers up and running he’s often called to the office to help with issues that happen with students using a social media app.
Berger hosts the Parent Technology Academy. It’s a place for parents to learn how kids use technology and his most attended course is on apps.
“This one a lot of people don’t know about it,” he told a group of parents gathered recently.
It’s called Jott. If a parent turns off their kids’ cell service or Wi-Fi, Jott will still work. It uses Bluetooth to communicate with nearby phones.
“There would be no record of that, it wouldn’t be on the school’s network. If you had an app that’s monitoring text messages, it wouldn’t be on that,” Berger said.
He said the app Lipsi does about the same thing, it just has a different name.
Berger said these apps aren’t necessarily bad or dangerous, but parents should keep an eye on how their children use them.
There’s another app he brought up, called Kik.
“This is one that ended up in the office everyday nonstop,” Berger said.
It’s not much different than Facebook messenger — a place to send notes back and forth. But when predators see an app kids use frequently, it’s a place they often go too.
Looking at the most downloaded apps is a good indicator of what young people are using.
One of the newest is YOLO, a place to post anonymous questions and answers.
“It became the most downloaded site in the U.K. and the U.S. within weeks of launching,” Berger said.
Other apps like it, include Vent, Whisper and one aimed directly at high schoolers — the After School app.
“You tell them what school you attend and they put you and everyone in that same school into messaging groups automatically. It lets you anonymously message anyone in the school,” Berger said. “You can imagine the name calling and bullying that might bring up.”
Chances are kids aren’t reading the terms and conditions with many of those apps. Some of the apps collect names, addresses, passwords, schools they go to and locations they visit.
“Your characters names, your server address, your sites you visit and we will sell that. That sounds like an exciting app, I want to use that app to meet people,” Berger said.
Parents came from various districts to take notes and listen.
The Parent Tech Academy has classes monthly you can get more information by clicking here.