Bridging The Technology Gap Between Parents And Children
Why we are partnering with the parental awareness app, Jiminy
Doesn’t it seem funny that parents are the ones who give their child a phone but also constantly worry about all the potentially bad things the phone gives them access to?
It is funny, but it’s also our new normal. So is wondering, Who are they talking to? What are they looking at? Where are they right now? Why are they so obsessed with that game?
At Cultures of Dignity, when we advise parents and schools on young people’s use of social media and technology we are always balancing the importance of giving young people graduated freedoms and privileges as they mature. All while honoring young people’s privacy as a developmental reality, and recognizing that they are the subject matter experts of their lives.
This leads us to one of the most common questions parents ask us: How much supervision should a parent have on their child’s technology use? It’s a question we think about because technology isn’t going anywhere.
Several months ago we began working with Jiminy, a parental awareness app that respects young people’s privacy and gives parents some guidance on how to handle the tough conversations around media use. Jiminy uses technology to detect issues such as bullying, toxic phone usage, concerning content and drama in a child’s life by looking at how they use their phone and then notify the parent. These notifications come with tips on how to have courageous conversations about the child’s life.
Working with Jiminy was not a decision we made lightly. We would never work with a company that exploits parental anxiety and fear and doesn’t respect young people. Once we decided, we had our high school interns and student advisory council to review their material and give them specific feedback on where young people would push back.
Jiminy is creating a partnership between parent and child. The child agrees to have the app on their phone with the understanding that Jiminy will provide general information to their parent about their online interactions. Jiminy will never show the parent the specific messages, pictures, or websites.
This balance of child consent and giving parents general information serves several important purposes.
- The child is informed and agrees to the app–meaning they don’t get resentful and even more motivated to hide their online life (this is one of the main reasons why Cultures of Dignity has not worked with other parenting apps)
- Because parents get general information, they get the information they need without causing unnecessary anxiety that can further strain the parent/child relationship.
As our student advisory council member shared, “Being a teen is awkward and it’s embarrassing to reveal that you are thinking about things like porn or depression.”
We have worked with Jiminy to provide advice and sample scripts for parents when they get concerning information and are faced with the question of how do you talk to your child when you find something upsetting on their phone? How do you tackle issues of pornography, depression, addiction?
What exactly does Jiminy do?
Jiminy uses machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision algorithms to look for patterns and anomalies in your child’s phone usage. Basically, Jiminy spots patterns in your child’s online interactions gives you general notifications about them. Jiminy will also alert you when they spot issues such as bullying, drama or loneliness, concerning content, and game addiction. They will also tell you the fun things like your child’s favorite music groups, interests, and the favorite emoji of the week. But throughout, is a commitment to work with parents to teach their children how to use technology in a way that keeps them safe and healthy.
“We don’t block anything, and there are plenty of reasons for that:We believe in teaching children to govern themselves. We want kids to build self-control and a sense of what’s right. These are muscles that need to be trained, and that doesn’t happen when an app blocks things for you. We believe in dialogue. Situations such as interest in adult content are a great opportunity for parents to talk to their children about the birds and the bees, and healthy sexuality and positive body-image.”
So check it out. It’s currently available for children with Android phones, and parents need to register via Facebook messenger (a dedicated app is coming soon).
Tell us what you think. We’re all in this together. There’s way too much indignity and disrespect online. Every bit we do to to help adults and young people develop civil responsible online behavior, the healthier our children will be and the better mood we’re all going to be in.