The teen years are full of changes and challenges for parents and teens. Technology, such as FaceTime video call capability on the iPhone and some versions of the iPad, can either add to or help with teen challenges. FaceTime does have some dangers to be aware of, however. Talking with teens about these dangers can help prepare them to make smart choices, avoid potential problems and enjoy the benefits of FaceTime.
Reduced In-Person Communication
Teens who use FaceTime may connect less in person. According to a March 2013 Pew Internet study, 47 percent of teens have smartphones and 23 percent have tablet computers, such as the iPad. This connectivity may result in some teens using FaceTime to chat with friends so much that sitting down to dinner with the family moves down on the priority list. Parents may feel frustrated about the lack of connection with teens. Some ways to encourage human-to-human connection are to put the phone away during family activities, plan FaceTime video calls with family or invite friends over to visit without their phones.
How easy is it for you to ignore a phone call? Now, consider if you knew the other person was available by video. FaceTime is an interactive technology trend, and some teens may feel very distracted with the ability to almost have their friend (or significant other) right in their room. Homework may become a distant memory, as well as household chores or family obligations. While teens may be able to multitask, setting aside some time to single task without FaceTime available can help minimize distractions so teens can focus.
One major concern with FaceTime is the immediate possibility of creating or participating in video pornography, or what is termed as "sexviding", according to SFGate. While most teens probably would not participate in such an activity, the possibility is readily available with raging hormones and video device in hand. Talk to your teen about the dangers of pornography, how women are objectified and ways to avoid viewing nudity while on FaceTime or managing the temptation to participate in risky behaviors on FaceTime.
Lack of Privacy
FaceTime offers only sorted privacy. For one thing, teens cannot be sure that no one else on the other end of the call is listening or viewing their video. Also, while Apple provides relatively secure encryption for FaceTime calls, they could be picked up by others on the same WiFi signal. Teens need to know that their video calls on FaceTime may be viewed by others and expect that they do not have full privacy. One way to keep the conversation clean enough for anyone who may be listening is to pretend that grandma is on the other end. Teens might also want to be selective about the private information they share.
Technology is here to stay, and that includes Facetime. Although video conferencing by smartphone has its potential downfalls, there are some benefits. According to AFP news, many teens see Facetime as a positive addition to regular human contact. (Reference 3) Teens may benefit by being able to discuss and visually work through homework, plans or recipes with people from anywhere in the world while not having to pay travel or tutor fees. It may be helpful to simply discuss the dangers and enjoy the benefits.