Remember when you thought parenting was hard because babies didn’t sleep through the night and toddlers seemed perpetually sticky? Or how frustrating it was to ask your kindergartener to put on his shoes at least ten times every morning? Now raise your hand if you have a teenager and wish you could go back to the “problems” of those early days.
Parenting teenagers is more than tough; it can be downright scary. Navigating their world, especially in this age of technology, can be confusing and difficult. While we want to provide the freedom that our teens crave, keeping them safe is always our top priority.
Enter CarefulParents (www.carefulparents.com), the parenting social network created by Fishers resident John Michels and technology professional Tim Sabens.
This unique online resource answers the question “What are your kids into?” by providing current information on teenage topics like texting slang, drug use, phone apps and video games. Music and movies that might raise alarm bells for parents are also included. Content is uploaded by parents wishing to share what they are learning with other moms and dads. “One of the main goals of the site is to educate parents about what is going on so they can be aware and maybe help prevent a problem before it starts,” says Michels.
Even for parents who feel their kids are not headed for trouble, CarefulParents can be a resource to stay informed on what’s happening in a child’s world and what they are being exposed to. For example, social media “challenges” are popular among kids (think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge). Unfortunately, some challenges that teens find funny may actually be very dangerous. On the site, descriptions of the “Chubby Bunny” and “Firespray” challenges are provided as examples. This “Online Videos” section gives a variety of links to YouTube videos that teens find appealing but parents find inappropriate.
A “Texting” section lets parents know how to decipher a teen’s emoji conversations, how to recognize sexting codes and what some popular slang expressions really mean. According to the site, the innocent-sounding text “Netflix and chill?” is actually a request to come over and have sex.
Wondering which concerns are talked about most on CarefulParents? “Phone apps are a big topic on the site,” says Michels. “These are probably one of the main sticking points with parents.”
CarefulParents is growing fast and Michels says that parent participation yields the most valuable and up-to-date content. “We want to see more parents join so we can offer the best information,” he says. “When parents submit, we see the post first and confirm it before we publish it.” Currently Michels is working on developing a CarefulParents app that will alert users when new info is posted. He would also like to provide incentives for parents to register with the site, such as offering discounts on related products and services. “Our site aims to educate parents across the board so that they know a little more about what might be going on in their kids’ world.”
Parents can sign up for free at www.carefulparents.com.