A Challenge for Parents -- and a Warning


(Editor’s Note: This blog was written especially for the Humanity Project by Hilary Smith, who writes about the challenges of parenting in the digital age. She is the mother of two children, ages 4 and 9, and lives in Chicago.)

Today, we hear stories about how teens are leaving Facebook in droves to find new social media hidden from our prying eyes. In an effort to keep Mom and Dad out of their online affairs, they are looking for ways to build a safety wall around their social media use to keep us out. This secrecy makes it essential for parents to put a little extra effort into understanding the new apps and sites our kids are frequenting and downloading. One new app our children are discovering is Burn Note.

The Ins And Outs Of Burn Note

Burn Note is just one of many disappearing apps that feature “self destructing” messages. All Burn Notes will eventually “burn” or erase after they have been viewed by the recipient. It was developed to help office employees keep sensitive messages from being viewed by people not intended to see the content. Understanding the original purpose is essential, because one of the biggest selling points to teens is that all Burn Notes are gone after they are viewed. Gone.

Burn Note And Kids: Behaviors To Be Looking Out For

We need to realize that Burn Note offers our children a liberating freedom. This disappearing app allows people to enjoy authentic communication without fear of censorship or judgment. Most teens might enjoy sharing stories about their new crushes or arranging plans for the upcoming game. The fleeting nature of this app can reduce the pressure to maintain a clean and proper digital trail. Burn Note allows children alternatives to traditional social media that keeps a running timeline of every comment, like, and photo, with the potential to harm future ambitions and employment.

However, the ephemeral qualities and lack of accountability of Burn Note can backfire. The disappearing nature of this app might encourage children to see the freedoms as an invitation to send inappropriate or cruel messages to another person. This digital harassment without fear of being caught can quickly escalate into cyberbullying.

5 Essential Tips For Parents

Burn Note is a fun app that serves a purpose in our kids’ technology usage. However, we owe it to our sons and daughters to empower them to safely handle this social media application. Listed below are five suggestions to help our children enjoy Burn Note without getting burned:

  • Teach and instill social media etiquette in our sons and daughters. Starting when our children are young, we need to teach a sense of right and wrong when it comes to technology. As our kids age, we can also discuss touchier topics like cyberbullying, sexting, and oversharing.
  • Follow the “grandma rule.” Tell your kids to only post items they feel confident wouldn’t make grandma and grandpa blush.
  • If a child is a victim of cyberbullying, open and read all Burn Notes together. Don’t allow your child to read these messages alone. You will be there to offer a shoulder to lean on and can help document the bullying.
  • If a child receives cruel messages, instruct them to ignore the menacing words.Responding to a bully’s messages often only fuels the cyberbullying, continuing a vicious circle. As the adult, you need to address the bullying for your child … but do it offline.
  • Monitor a child’s online activity. Parents need to know what sites a child frequents, who their friends are, and how they behave online. Afterall, it’s the loving thing to do.

For more information about Burn Note and how it works, please watch the following video from TeenSafehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl3IYc5tFgQ