Mental Health Mondays – “Protect, Connect, Communicate with Your Kids”

Mental Health Mondays - September 14 Event

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“Protect, Connect, Communicate with Your Kids”
On Monday, Sept. 14, Retired Corporal Sandi Sprenger and Lieutenant Leslie Weidenhammer of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office discussed “Protect, Connect, Communicate with Your Kids.”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens, and unfortunately, some of these deaths are connected to the internet. In addition, there is an uptick in predators. Contacts started online or on social media that go wrong can lead to mental anguish and bullying. Mental health is very connected to what children are looking at online. It’s very important for parents to be checking in on their children. Know what they are looking at online and have conversations with them. Let them know that you are trying to protect them. Stay involved.

While we tell children not to put personal information out on the internet, something as simple as what you have on your car can provide too much information about how to access your children. While seemingly fun and personal, they may be giving criminals information. For example:

  • An honor student bumper sticker, or decals with the interest of your children and their names (for example baseball) tells people where your child goes to school or that you will be away for games and practices
  • Baby on Board lets people know you may have your hands full when you arrive, making you an easy target.
  • A sticker such as “Army Wife” says your spouse may be away.
  • A parking pass tells people where you live
  • Stick figure families with names tell strangers too much

95% of teens report they have a smartphone or access to one. Make a contract with usage rules and consequences with your children.

  • Airdrop allows people, including strangers, to airdrop pictures to phones. Be sure to set up settings on the phone so only your contacts can Airdrop you pictures.
  • Establish rules for when children are allowed to use their phone, what websites they can visit and what apps they can download.
  • Review cell phone records for any unknown numbers and late night phone calls and texts
  • Remind children that anything they send from their phones can be easily forwarded, shared, and/or screen-captured.
  • Teach your child to never reveal cell phone numbers or passwords online.
  • Be aware of the various settings on your child’s electronic devices that could allow someone to access photos and other sensitive information that you might not want to share.
  • Talk to your child about the possible consequences of sending sexually explicit or provocative images or text messages (Disable MMS capabilities)
  • When shopping for a cell phone for your child, research the security settings and parental controls that are available. (On the internet/or router as well)
  • SMS stands for Short Message Service, that allows short text messages limited to 160 characters with no image, audio or video.
  • MMS stands for Mulitmedia Messaging Service that has no limit for characters and supports image, audio and video. You can turn this off in the Messages section of Settings.
  • Review Apps on your child’s electronic devices. Be aware of apps that allow individuals to be anonymous. Also, be aware if an individual is able to be anonymous, there could be concerns about online crimes and bullying.

Children with smart phones have access to all kinds of APPS. There are age limits on laps in the fine print, or Google the appropriate age and stick with the rules. Be aware of “clone” electronic devices and apps. Here are 15 APPS you should know about:

  1. MEETME is a dating social media app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity and users are encouraged to meet in person.
  2. GRINDR is a dating app geared toward gay, bi and transgender dating app with options to chat, share photos and meet up based on a smart phone’s GPS.
  3. SKOUT is a location-based tagging app and website where users under 17 years old are unable to share private photos, but kids can easily create an account using a different age.
  4. WHATSAPP is a messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, make calls and video chats worldwide using an internet connection.
  5. TIKTOK is used for creating and sharing short videos with very limited privacy controls, with users vulnerable to bullying and explicit content.
  6. BADOO is a dating and social networking app where users can chat, share photos and videos and connect based on location. While intended for adults, teens can create profiles.
  7. BUMBLE is a dating app similar to TINDER, however it requires women to make the first contact. Kids are able to create fake accounts and falsify their age.
  8. SNAPCHAT allows users to take a photo/video that will disappear, but new features allow users to view content for up to 24 hours.
  9. KIK allows anyone to contact and direct message your child, allowing kids to bypass traditional text messaging, giving users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
  10. LIVE.ME is a streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos, allowing users to find out an exact location. Users can earn “coins” as a way to “Pay” minors for photos.
  11. HOLLA is a video chat app that allows users to meet people all over the world in seconds and can expose users to explicit content and more.
  12. WHISPER is an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers and also reveals user’s locations so people can meet up.
  13. ASK.FM is known for cyber bullying, encouraging users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions.
  14. CALCULATOR96 is only one of several secrecy apps used to hide photos, videos, files and browser history.
  15. HOT OR NOT encourages users to rate your profile, check out people in their area, chat with strangers and hook up.


  • Children make a tempting target because theft of a child’s identity may go undetected for years
  • Check your teen’s identity to help prevent identity theft. It’s a good idea to check your child’s credit report close to their 16th birthday. If there has been any fraud, you will have time to correct it before your child applies for a loan or needs to rent an apartment
  • Florida laws permit parents to freeze or flag a dependent’s credit file




Q: What are the most important rules to put in the parent/child cyber contract?
A: Never meet someone you meet online. If someone asks you to do something you aren’t supposed to do you will not respond but come to a parent. You will not buy, order or give out any credit information online. The younger the children are, include something about bullying. If they are seeing that is happening, they are not to join in but are to come to a parent. That they do not give out any of their personal information, not even school name. Don’t download anything you are not supposed to. If the rules are broken, what is the consequence for that? You can find contracts online. It can be revised as they get older.