Top 5 Most Popular Social Media Apps

Following the training I gave, I’m going to do a couple of top 5 lists for different apps and services.  The training went really well.  Thanks to all those who gave their feedback.

(Please contact me if anyone is interested in me speaking to the staff and administration in their school district, religious  or community organization.)

One thing that has been constant since smart phones and apps were first debuted is their popularity among children, teens and adults.

Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development still hold true with the main stage being between the ages of 13 and 21 which is Identity vs Role Confusion.  We’re all seeking to define our identity.  Social Media is playing an ever-growing part of that identity for children and teens.


(See this article from for a great in depth explanation of the stages)

Our children don’t want us to know everything they are doing, just like we didn’t want our parents to be a part of or know everything we did.  It’s necessary for their development for them to separate and develop autonomy…

ParentingFamilySolutionsHeadphonesBut it should be within reason.

I don’t want to get bogged down or sidetracked with


“The kids these days” or “Back in my day”…

There is some validity to that mindset.  We could easily have an entire discussion on that one and I’d be happy to do that in the comments section; but, what I really want this post to be is education about current apps, trends and what to do about them.  I will revisit this post in the future and update the information as it changes.

The main types of social media apps fall into a couple of categories: Messaging, Microblogging, Live Streaming, Self Destructing and Dating.  However, they are increasingly designing apps to be one-stop shopping apps so that you can do everything inside of one app whereas they were previously more niche.

So without further ado:

The Top 5 Apps Your Teens are Using:

  1. Facebook and Facebook Messenger – Ok, this one is no surprise and unless you’ve been on another planet for the past 2 decades, I’m assuming you know about these.

Jeff Dunn’s article quoted Facebook at 2,006 Million and FB Messenger at 1,200 Million monthly active users. Taking up the #1 and #3 spot.

What you need to pay attention to is the trend that more and more teens are getting off of FB and going to other messaging apps to break away from FB which is viewed as something their parents use.  But obviously, they are far and away the most popular with their Facebook Live feeds, ads and darkposting.  They have become the Budweiser of the tech world in that they will either create their own app to compete with yours or they’ll buy you out and take over.


With FB Live it allows a person to stream video content live, which can be great for staying current on things and helps an audience feel more connected. However, it also allows for streaming negative content, such as school fights, bullying, self-injury or even suicide.

2. WhatsApp – This is a messaging app that is continuing to gain in popularity as it allows for text messaging and sharing photos, videos and phone calls through wifi so that no data plan is necessary.  ParentingFamilySolutionsWhatsApp

One issue is that it’s possible for a person to get ahold of a phone that has no data plan or minutes.  However, when they are within wifi it is possible to use apps like WhatsApp to call and text as well as use other features.  Furthermore, if a teen gets access to their parents AppleID they can download these apps onto their own phone without the parent even being aware.

WhatsApp gained notoriety in March 2017 as Khalid Masood reportedly used it to send a message moments before committing the London terror attacks killing four people and wounding numerous others.  It offers end-to-end encryption and 2-factor authentication and has been involved in legal suits with British and US governments (along with other apps) who want access to the messages.

BusinessInsider listed it as the #2 with 1,300 Million monthly users.  It’s popular among teens because of the ability to download and use it without needing a data plan and because it’s not FB…However, FB acquired the app in 2014.  So that means Facebook currently owns the #1,2 and 3 most popular apps…but shhhhh, don’t ruin the surprise by telling the kids.


3. Instagram – Another more widely recognized and used social networking app that focuses on photo and video sharing as well as live video streaming.


They are listed at 700 Million monthly users. Things to note, “when your profile is created and set to public, anyone can find and view your profile, along with all your photos and videos.” Elise Moreau, Lifewire  No matter how private you set things, nothing is foolproof as we have seen countless times with identity theft and hacking over the past 2 years. Can you say Equifax?

4. Twitter – a microblogging app that allows you to send short messages of 140 characters or less as well as follow other users.


Popular because of how widespread it’s use has become, the coining of the hashtag # into popular culture usage, and the ability to follow celebrities and other popular media figures.

5. Snapchat – Probably the most popular self-destruct messaging app.  Popular for the multiple filters, ability to take and send pictures as well as videos and add text and graphics to those images.

The major things to pay attention to with Snapchat are the screenshots you can take. When using Snapchat the sender is notified if a screenshot is taken; however, if the receiver is using a mirroring app no notification is sent (more on that in a minute).  Other issues are in updates to the app you can agree to turn on location settings without being aware.  Third is the prevalence of inappropriate material being sent and screenshot, which prompted them to raise their age restrictions.


Mirroring Apps – Apps like Casper, SnapCrack, SaveMySnaps and SnapBox are available for both Android and iOS.  They allow you to open Snapchats and save screenshots without the sender being notified.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that all technology or even all apps are bad.  Or that all teenagers are going to snap sexual pics of themselves and send them to strangers.  But the positives and negatives as well as staying close to the cutting edge of the trends is something that parents and authority figures need to be more aware of.  Conversations with our kids need to be happening about social media and its place in our homes and lives.

What are the apps you use the most?  What about your kids?

Why? What do they allow you to do?

How do you see their impact on the world around us?

I’m going to take the next post to break down the different types of apps and popular apps within each of those genres before moving on to resources for what to do about the negatives as well as explaining Technology Addiction in more detail.

Disclaimer: The author of this post is not engaged in a therapeutic relationship with the reader and cannot give counseling advice without a confidential appointment. Readers should be sure to consult with a licensed therapist in their area or seek emergency medical attention if they are experiencing difficulty.
Parenting & Family Solutions –



Staying Together Chapter Ten: Staying True

This is a reblog from CalledTogether. Steve and Mary are dear friends of ours and have co-authored many books on marriage. This is a small snippet of a chapter on infidelity

Steve Prokopchak

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available throughHouse to House Publications.

On your wedding day, you spoke something called vows that probably sounded something like this: For better or for worse; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health; ’til death do us part. Rarely do we imagine having to face such issues. But truth be told, we will face some of these things and, perhaps, already have. If you think about it, these vows prepare us for reality long before reality sets in; they help prepare us for inevitable disappointments in marriage.

An affair occurs when one person in a marriage takes the most sacred expressions of that marriage and gives them to another. Most people assume that there’s…

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First 50!

ParentFamilySolutions BlogFirst 50!

You get a new car!

Minolta DSC

And so do you! And you!

New cars for everyone!

It’d be nice if I could give crazy prizes away as a thank you. Not quite to Oprah-status yet haha

But I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I wanted to send a quick thanks to all of you who have viewed, liked, commented or followed along on this blog.

I hit 50 followers today which is a huge deal for me to get your feedback on posts and different topics.

50 Follows!

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy and hectic lives to stop by my blog!


Social Media Use In Teens

I’m giving a presentation next Monday to foster care and adoption social workers. The topic is Internet, Social Media and Gaming In Teens. 

I’m trying to do some last minute research. Please post in the comments what apps your teens are using the most for social media, what are the dangers you’ve encountered or what are the positives you’ve seen. (Reblogs will help a great deal as well to get as much info back)

Thanks in advance! 😃👍🏻

Edit: I’ll be compiling a post on the top 5 apps parents need to be aware of and some resources to help after the conference

The Nothing Is Coming: 10 Tips For Helping Children Cope With Grief and Loss

All of America is waiting and watching!


Waiting for the full impact and aftermath of Irma hitting Florida, of the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century, of the next school or workplace shooting. Just as the world watched in shock and horror as the Trade Center towers came down on 9/11 some 16 years ago. 
During times of grief and loss adults go into triage and crisis management mode where they are very task oriented and become focused on the basic necessities. 
Often children and teens fall by the wayside during these times; but, they often feel the brunt of trauma and grief just as much if not more than adults.
Below are 10 tips for helping children deal with grief and loss:
Children grieve differently than adults do. The younger the child, the less they have the ability to understand death and loss.” (Highmark Caring Place) 
Children and teens definitely feel the emotions surrounding a traumatic experience or the loss of a loved one; however, they usually don’t possess the language or coping skills to be able to deal with the change.  Imagine an alien from another planet or someone visiting from another country where they don’t speak your language.  They can pick up on facial expressions and read the tension and distress in adults; but, they may not fully understand the gravity of what is happening.  
And make no mistake, children do grieve. Anyone old enough to love is old enough to grieve.” (Dr. Alan Wolfelt)
Obviously, the age & functional ability of the child as well as the circumstances of the loss or trauma can vary greatly.  Therefore the following steps should be adjusted to meet those needs.
  1. Structure and Routine As much as you are able, do what you can to keep the normal routine.  Even more so than adults, children need routines and structure in their lives.  They can’t control much of themselves let alone the environment around them and need help and modeling to learn how to establish an equilibrium both within and without. As children grow and their executive networks begin to mature, they are progressively better at regulating their own emotions, resisting impulses, and organizing their time.” (Karen Spangenberg Postal, PhD, Psychology Today)
  1. Nutrition If possible, you want your children to eat and drink as healthy as they are able. They should avoid candy, soda and artificial additives and dyes which can further throw off their body chemistry and energy level. That being said there’s nothing wrong with a bit of comfort food or a special treat here and there, particularly in situations where there are fond memories associated (ex. Baking cookies together, Friday night pizza and a movie).  A good resource is Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs To Know by the American Academy of Pediatrics
  1. Sleeping We’ve all seen what happens to our children when they don’t get proper sleep and it’s not pretty for anybody! Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development.” (National Sleep Foundation) This is why healthy sleep hygiene is so important.  Things like: a routine bedtime and bedtime ritual, no caffeine and little sugar in the evening, no electronic devices an hour before bedtime and no devices in the bedroom, ensuring comfort darkness, temperature and noise.    
  1. Activity Keeping your kids active has a number of benefits.  It helps to distract them from the grief and loss, it keeps their Circadian Rhythm in check, and can provide positive interactions, euphoria and gets their endorphins going.
  1. Connect With Them Our kids need connection and the younger they are the more important that that connection come from primary caregivers.  As they get older that focus shifts to their friend groups; but, connection with their immediate family is still valuable.  Effective parenting is almost impossible until the positive connection with your child has been re-established” (Dr. Laura Markham, Aha! Parenting)
  1. Shield Them While it is important for our children to connect with us and we have previously established that they are capable of sensing tension, sadness and other emotions, our children also need a level of protection from the world around us.  They don’t need to know all of the gory details surrounding a loss or a traumatic event.  If there is family drama, they don’t need to be involved in it and certainly shouldn’t be used as pawns or messengers in the issues.  In the case of major traumatic events (such as Hurricane Irma or 9/11), turn off the 24/7 news coverage. They don’t need to be bombarded by all of the images and sounds whether it’s accurate or sensationalized. Children do not have a sense of spatiality and rarely understand the concept that these events have occurred far from their current location. Instead, these almost live events can cause feelings of unsafety, hopelessness, and helplessness, which are often externalized by conduct problems.”(National Center for Biotechnology Information)
  1. Talk to Them This tip may seem in direct opposition to the previous one; but, let’s face it, our kids aren’t stupid.  They can often spot BS.  They are going to have questions surrounding loss, death and traumatic events, just as we will.  Some of those questions will shock you with how insightful they are.  Some will be hard to hear and even harder to answer. But it’s important to remember that no matter what the question, the conversation that results, the continued connection made with the child, is more important than the answer.” (Highmark Caring Place)
  1.  Help Create A Way To Say Goodbye This can be something to discuss with them. For some this may be attending the funeral service which can help them move through the grieving process.  If they are unable or unwilling to attend, helping them develop some sort of event to memorialize the person or tragedy.  This can include spreading ashes, planting a tree, continuing traditions  or creating new ones at holidays or anniversaries. 
  1. Don’t Rush Healing In cases of death, loss or trauma a person will still be in the initial wave of shock and denial sometimes up to a month after the initial event.  While we want to protect our children and make everything ok, rushing them into traditional counseling too soon can actually be more detrimental than helpful.  In addition, it’s important to remember that children have a shorter shelf life and won’t be able to process the loss all at once.  It’s all right to allow the child to be sad, or upset, or not OK.’ We don’t have to feel that we need to fix’ the child.” (Highmark Caring Place)
  1. Take Care of You Too You are a battery! (Think of Neo in the Matrix) Your kids battery is connected to your battery.  If your battery goes down, then their battery will too.  And while you may be telling yourself you can’t afford to take time to care for yourself, you won’t be able to help anybody if you burn out.  In addition, adults aren’t much more than glorified toddlers.  We get cranky when we get tired, hungry or sick just like they do.  If you’re always exhausted, A. you won’t be able to handle the loss or grief yourself and B. you’re going to snap at them much more easily.
Next Post: Will be on Psychological First Aid
Disclaimer: The author of this post is not engaged in a therapeutic relationship with the reader and cannot give counseling advice without a confidential appointment. Readers should be sure to consult with a licensed therapist in their area or seek emergency medical attention if they are experiencing difficulty.
Parenting & Family Solutions
National Center for Biotechnology Information

Brace For Impact

I should have just set this all on fire!

My family and I just completed an interstate move. It’s a great move for us. Puts us closer to family and resources. 

There’s nothing like boxing up all your worldly possessions and leaving behind all the connections you’ve made in an area. 

Leaving behind your routines and everything familiar to head into the unknown. 

Let’s face it. It sucks. Moving sucks. The actual act of the logistical nightmare. Even in the future when we’re using SS Enterprise Movers, Inc. to just beam everything to a new location, it’ll still suck.  

The reality is that our minds crave order. And your brain doesn’t know what to do with the final 7 boxes where you stopped caring and just threw everything in together because you just wanted it to be over. Or the jumble of possessions in your new place as you try to figure out the new normal. 

It would’ve been so much easier to just burn everything, show up to our house and get all new stuff. Expensive. Wasteful. But infinitely easier. 

It’s interesting how even a positive event can have some negative emotions associated with it. Things like moving, graduating, having kids. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 4 years spent in VA, it’s that as a society we are horribly unaware and uneducated about the impact of our experiences. 

We don’t understand or respect trauma!

Now I’m not saying the move was a traumatic experience. It was tough and uncomfortable. It was hardest on our 4 yr old who regressed a fair amount and will take a while to adjust. 

But that’s the point! Things don’t have to be traumatic in order to experience grief. 

And I saw this time and again in the families I’ve worked with over the years. They didn’t know how to recognize grief or trauma, particularly in their children. The families would go through a divorce, multiple moves, experience the death of a loved one or a family member being incarcerated and think nothing of it. They would have no understanding that this could impact them or their children years down the road. 

I’d hear things like, but that was when she was 2!” or that was almost 10 years ago”. And these were in reference to sexual abuse or the death of a mother.  

And sadly, they had little to no tolerance for negative emotions, particularly sadness. The mindset was always, I had worse growing up” and suck it up buttercup”. 

I am by no means God’s gift to parenting. I lose my cool way more than I should. I have definitely used, suck it up” myself. There’s a time and place for, you’re ok”. I get that sadness and grief are inconvenient. Hell, emotions as a whole are inconvenient. But good luck trying not to have them. 

Our brains have to process what we experience. Sometimes that takes seconds. Sometimes that takes years. But if you don’t take time to process grief or trauma, it’ll take forever. Period

Edit – This post was created prior to Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida. Obviously, major catastrophes will cause a lot of damage, trauma and grief.  However, the way you deal with a traumatic event right when it occurs is different than dealing with it well after the fact.  See my next post on Psychological First Aid for more.
Next post will be on Psychological First Aid followed by a post on tips for dealing with grief in children.
A good resource for better understanding the full impact of trauma is The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk.  I’ll add a link to that later on
Disclaimer – the author of this post is not engaged in a therapeutic relationship with the reader and cannot give counseling advice without a confidential appointment. Readers should be sure to consult with a licensed therapist in their area or seek emergency medical attention if they are experiencing difficulty.

Life turned upside down

Mother nature has a nasty sense of humor!

It’s amazing the perspective you get when you rush your family into the basement during a tornado watch. 

A week after moving to a new house, a huge storm hits and we have to all go down into our basement amidst all of our boxed up possessions in case of a tornado. Never thought I’d be thankful for a finished basement to hide in. 

With everything still boxed up, no internet and no power I’ll have to delay my blogging schedule which has already been derailed. 

Enjoy your loved ones and your electricity!

Thank you to all who have read and followed. I reached a first milestone of 20 followers, so thank you!!