Heads up parents! There is a new free texting app called JOTT that appeals to middle schoolers without data plans. It’s free and does not require a smart phone contract, and allows the kids to text using their iOS devices without phone numbers on the school campus. According to a Tech Crunch report, teens who don’t have a data plan are using their iPods and iPads to form student body networks and message each other on a closed network within a 100-foot area within school limits. While texting via data plans transmit through a cell tower, the JOTT app allows iOS devices to communicate device to device if they are in close proximity, and it allows you to use your data plan to bring in contacts from Instagram.
The app has a community policing capability. To participate in the student networks, people have to register their actual name to declare themselves a part of the student network. The app features the ability to call out someone posing as a student using a fake ID and kick them out of the network. According to the Tech Crunch report, this happened with a school principal pretending to be a student.
The appeal for students is great because this app seems to create an environment where the students can create an authentic network of their student body – and you don’t have to exchange phone numbers to connect via texting. And like SnapChat, Jott features disappearing texts and photos.
“According to JOTT co-founder Jared Allgood, the app more than doubled to half a million active users in March, up from 150,000 active users previous.” – Source:Tech Crunch
Tech Crunch also reports that JOTT has raised over $1 million from venture capitalists to grow the market share. We should expect to see this app gain in exposure and usage.
Parenting the internet of things
Texting apps are web-based and photo-centric and the barriers to access are very low as the innovation makes it easier for people to assemble and authenticate networks. And cyber connectivity is easy to keep it secret from parents. The challenge with texting apps is that it also lowers inhibition – leaving the door wide open for gossip, sexting (inappropriate photos) and bullying. Children witnessing or experiencing these assaults on individuals feel shame, guilt or fear and will be motivated to keep it from you. Below are a couple of considerations for parents to maintain an appropriate and instructive presence in their child’s texting life:
- Realize that parents are not sovereign over their children’s lives. This is the role of the LORD. Put your faith in the LORD so you can shed thoughts of fear and worry, and commit yourself to learning from your child how their childhood is informing them so you can impart your wisdom. when you are interested in them, not to be fearfully in control, but because you care – they will be interested in the intelligence you have to offer about personal security and integrity. And the temptation to keep secrets will be mitigated.
- Establish a Family-Approved App Listing, with the understanding that downloading any app, especially free apps is a potential risk of malware and other unwelcome problems like predators or bullies. Make a family agreement that apps will not be downloaded without discussion and permission first. This means that an app approved for a family member is approved and monitored by parents who are responsible for providing instruction for personal security.
Increase your confidence to build trust with your texting tween or teen, and maintain an open dialogue about what is happening in their life, purchase your copy of Fresh Start Family Culture Builder For Household Executives today.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.
- Cyber safety for kids and families on TheFish103.9FM (videos)
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- Email: Jullien@surewest.net
Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.