Recently, my daughter asked me if she could download an app called After School. She asked my permission because it’s rated 17+ in the App Store (ahem—red flag).

We downloaded the app onto my phone and then we looked at it together. I was truly horrified at what we saw.

After School is billed online as “a place for teens who want to be themselves, make new connections and participate in positive activities.” In actuality, it’s a private social network that has invaded tens of thousands of American schools and allows kids to anonymously post whatever they want about each other. Notifications can be immediately sent to a kid’s cell phone anytime something is posted about them.

When you google this app, what pops up are numerous reviews and news stories of how it’s being used as a cyber bullying tool. This is a prime example of how people who are given a platform to anonymously say whatever they want to others often use such outlets to be hurtful and vindictive.

The app’s website may claim kids use it to post “compliments, notes of encouragement and support, and ideas for fun in-person activities,” but what I saw when I looked at the comments posted by users in my child’s high school network was nothing but vulgar, negative, pornographic and mean.

I immediately deleted the app, and we proceeded to have a long talk about why this kind of app is destructive.

I am appalled that our society has devolved into a place where being unkind and leveling personal attacks is considered acceptable and has become a source of entertainment and a way for people to make money.

How did we get to this point?

Please, sit down and talk with your kids about social media. Be involved in the things they are doing on their phones and online. Talk about WHY you believe many of the behaviors young people exhibit these days are unhealthy.

If you need help starting the conversation, talk with your medical providers at Eugene Pediatrics. We want to help you be the best parent you can be, every (difficult) step of the way.