How to be a Savvy Middle School Parent

Middle-School-KidsA milestone transition in a child’s life involves going off from elementary to middle school. Those who have gone through this change with their children learn the experience can be a fun, positive time of growth for a whole family. But it also comes with anxiety, both for parents and their new middle schoolers. Most of that anxiety can be relieved with a little preparation and information about what to expect – and how to manage whatever comes your child’s way.

Middle school is, perhaps, the first time in your child’s life when for all practical purposes mom and dad are not cool and have little credibility. As soon as a child nears puberty, he or she may begin pulling away in an effort to define his or her own identity. This can be difficult for a parent, but it’s a great time of growth for children.

Although a tween may appear to find his or her parents’ advice not helpful, when shared with patience and love, the advice can be planted into a child’s pliable young mind like seeds. In other words, they are listening, and they may take heed, even if it’s so “whatevs” to act like the advice matters.

Part of the thrill of entering middle school for kids – and part of what creates anxiety for parents – are bigger boundaries and likely more connectivity. For example:

6 Tips for Parents of Middle School Students

1.   Encourage Cell Phone Safety. This may be the first time in a child’s life when he or she has a mobile device. A child with a smartphone or other mobile device makes their once small world exponentially bigger. That world can be both good and bad. A smartphone allows parents to reach their kids before and after school to arrange rides and check in. It also allows children to bond with their new friends via social media. Of course, a mobile phone can also be a distraction in school, and it can be dangerous on a walk home. Remind your child not to “cocoon” by crossing intersections and train tracks while wearing headphones and a hoodie and staring at a mobile device screen. Doing so can block out all stimuli, so that even a loud train whistle often can’t be heard. The results of this can be devastating. This mom’s cell phone contract is a MamaBear favorite.

2.   Monitor Social Media.With middle school comes a new level of social media usage. Maybe your child was allowed to experiment with social apps before middle school. Or maybe you are reluctantly allowing your child to use Instagram or Kik for the first time. Social media can be a fun way for kids to stay connected outside of school. Of course, it can also pose dangers in the form of cyberbullies and strangers preying on our children. Protect your child from inappropriate social media behavior by closely monitoring their activity. The MamaBear App can save you some time with social media monitoring to know when he or she makes new friends and is tagged in posts, photos or at locations. The app will also make you aware when inappropriate language or indication of bullying is posted to your child’s profile based on a restricted word list you create.

3.   Keep Tabs on You’re Child’s Device Location. In middle school a child is often given more freedom to roam. After school, he or she may go with a group to the local frozen yogurt shop or a friend’s house. Parents will nonetheless worry about who they’re with and their safety. Some parents choose to worry less by installing an app like the MamaBear Family Safety App to monitor their family’s devices being aware of where he or she is before, during and after school.

4.   Take the Safety Pledge. If you’re worried about your middle schooler’s safety before, during and after school both online and in real life,  a safety pledge from your child may help create a agreement between you. is a a good resource.

5.   Download the MamaBear Family Safety App. Middle school today isn’t what it was ten, twenty or thirty years ago. While some things never change (cliques, tricky locker combinations and puppy love), children have a whole new way of connecting and communicating with the world through their mobile devices. MamaBear can help parents feel more secure when transitioning their tweens through this important developmental stage.

6.   Communicate Often. Of course, nothing replaces loving, genuine communication. Talk to your kids every day. Try to eat dinner together and ask about their friends and what goes on at school. Encourage trust and an open lines of communication so that when your kids are in a bind – or when you sense something isn’t going right – they know you are there to help them through whatever challenges they face.

Help protect kids during this transition to middle school with the MamaBear app, available on Android devices here and iPhone devices here.


Restricted “Friends” via Social Media Tracking?

social media tracking

Restricted “friends” is a bit of an oxymoron, right? But, ask yourself or even your kids, how often are you “friends” with people online that you may not actually want to be friends with? Or try this scenario – your child is an actual friend with someone you may not have a great impression. With the MamaBear app, parents can be alerted when their children are interacting with friends or followers that they label as restricted on Facebook and Instagram. MamaBear also allows parents to monitor new friends and other interactions on social media sites – like photo uploads and tags. It gives parents a wide range of flexibility and insight to your children’s friends.

Here’s what the MamaBear social media tracking app offers parents when monitoring a child’s Facebook and Instagram accounts:

  • Receive alerts in real-time when the child adds a friend on Facebook or follows someone new on Instagram
  • Select restricted friends to be notified when that person posts on your child’s accounts
  • Know when your child is tagged in a photo, message or at a location on Facebook
  • Know when your child uploads a new photo on Instagram
  • Create a restricted words list to be aware of inappropriate language, indications of hate or bullying on your child’s accounts

We know how influential our kids’ friends are – good and bad. MamaBear gives parents a chance to observe online social interactions. Parents can track conversations, tags and mentions from restricted friends via social media. This knowledge can provide a relevant topic of discussion for parents and children about the personal influencers in our kid’s lives and the consequences of them.

Restricted friends may be an oxymoron, but ensuring our children are associating with the right people is just good parenting. MamaBear social media tracking allows parents to intervene in real time if a child makes contact or is contacted by “friend” you want to keep your eye on using social media. Check out the MamaBear social media monitoring feature on your Iphone or Android phone and let us know what you think.

Monitor Your Kids’ Facebook and Instagram

monitor kids facebook

When your children are on Facebook or Instagram, they may be exposed to people and things that they may not be ready to see. Or, they become curious, as children do, and click on something they may not have the maturity level to understand. Using tools that help you monitor your kids’ Facebook and Instagram profiles, gives you real-time knowledge about their social media activity. This saves time and worry and can also create some great conversations between you and your child.

In order to properly monitor your kids’ Facebook, it’s important to know some of Facebook’s basic rules. The number one rule to remember is that no child under 13 should have their own Facebook account. There are ways to bypass this rule, but Facebook complies with COPPA, the child online privacy protection act, by asking for date of birth when creating an account. Once they have a page, many parents will be curious about what they are posting, who their friends are, etc. Continue reading “Monitor Your Kids’ Facebook and Instagram”

A Tool to Start a Safety Conversation With Your Kids

mamabear family safety app

Having a child is so many wonderful things. As a parent, you want to impart your wisdom to them and make sure their life is better than yours. So, is it wise to use technology to make sure they follow the right path?

You remember the lines from your parents. “Don’t do that!” “If she jumped off a cliff, would you?” And many other famous ones everyone knows from when they were growing up.  Every parent wants to share their stories as an offering for children to avoid making mistakes. You want to give your children advice and let them have their own life experiences.

But, sometimes, do you wonder if your children are actually listening to your words of wisdom? Continue reading “A Tool to Start a Safety Conversation With Your Kids”