Monthly Archives: October 2015

Apps Every Parent Should Know – Part 1

While there is no doubt the Internet is an invaluable resource to us today, there is also no doubt that on it lurks many terrible, and often hidden, dangers to our teens. Aside from the stranger danger present online, cyber-bullying and exposure to sexually inappropriate material are two other major problems prevalent for teens online today. Unfortunately, the number of apps that pose serious risks to our teens’ safety and emotional well-being is quite baffling. So, this week I will start by sharing just a few of the apps I believe all parents should be made aware of today.

  • Beeps – This particular app was created to provide teens with a way to communicate with one another without adult supervision. It allows the user to use a high frequency ringtone that can only be heard by fellow teens. The alert tone is set at a frequency of 14,800 hz, which is a range that most adults cannot hear, but most teens can Therefore, parents and teachers will not even realize that the teen user has received a text message, phone call or other phone alert.
  • Kik – This is a quick, instant messaging app that allows teens to text their friends (who are also using Kik) and add photos and videos to the text message. However, parents need to know that this app encourages users to invite everyone in their phone’s address book to join Kik. There is also some stranger danger with this app. An app named OinkText, is linked to Kik. OinkText allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people with whom to chat.
  • SnapChat – This messaging app allows users to put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. It’s popular with teens because it allows them to send fun moments without the risk of them going public. The images also load faster than with email or text. However, it is a myth that Snapchats go away forever! Recipients are able to take screen shots before the clock runs out, thus allowing them to hold onto the image permanently. In addition, it can make “sexting” seem okay to teens since they are provided with the false notion that their images are gone in seconds, something that is anything but okay!
  • Yik Yak – This is a free, location-aware, social networking app that allows users to post “anything and everything” anonymously with brief, Twitter-like comments. Those comments are then sent to the 500 people also signed into the app who are geographically nearest to the user at the moment. Kids use this app to find out the latest opinions, rumors and secrets around them. However, it reveals the child’s location, which most certainly can be a danger. In addition, it can facilitate cyber bullying and also allow the distribution of explicit sexual content.

Please stay tuned for next week’s blog for info on more apps popular with teens today. It is so crucial that we stay abreast of their online habits in order to better protect them.


Research studies and blogs are a great way to keep a pulse on trends and issues in education. After a brief online search on the “hottest topics” in education today, I couldn’t believe how many publications featured problems with academic honesty among high school and college students. One of the most succinct documents I found was based on research gathered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).  In conjunction with the Ad Council’s Campaign to promote academic integrity, “Cheating is a Personal Foul (1999)” is a fact sheet to help educators and parents alike to understand its prevalence and its perception in society. Here are a few ideas to chew on:

  • Some studies suggest that an increased emphasis on grades in the middle school years (ages 12-14) may contribute to more academic dishonesty.
  • High school students are engaging more in cheating behaviors than in times past: “While about 20% of college students admitted to cheating in high school during the 1940’s, today between 75 and 98 percent of college students surveyed each year report having cheated in high school.”
  • Interestingly, those closest to the issue might not appreciate its seriousness: “Fewer college officials (35%) believe that cheating is a problem in this country than do members of the public (41%).”
  • Changes in views about cheating combined with greater difficulty in gaining college admission (Springer, Reider, & Morgan, 2013, p. 1-3) could perpetuate the problem

Of course, these statistics do not clearly describe who was in the sample.  On the other hand, lest you think that Christian children do not engage in cheating, think again.  Although less studied and often reported with patchy results, Christian students face the same temptation to engage in cheating as their secular counterparts. Fisher, Kim, Lee, and Sacks (1998) have suggested that although Christian teachings and values can help, they assert that “…there is no indication that these factors alone have much of an impact on cheating behaviors” (p. 5).

Research is replete with many explanations why students are engaging in greater academic dishonesty. Strom and Strom (2007), who conducted student opinion polls on the topic, found that students reported the following as reasons for cheating:

  • “I need good grades to get into college.”
  • “There is not enough time to do the work.”
  • “Everyone else is cheating.”
  • “This course is not important to me.”
  • “Other: Which included the “lack of access to free, competent tutoring” and “Adults teach this kind of behavior by example” (p 107-108).

God’s Word is clear; we are not to lie or steal (Leviticus 19:11).  How can we develop honest students?  Some ideas:

  • Teach God’s Word: I think one of the most important things parents and educators alike can do is to remind students who they are in Christ and Who they belong to.  Many of the reasons that teens cheat seem to be rooted in concerns about “being good enough” or “getting from point A to point B.” Thank God we are sufficient in Christ, and He has our future covered (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Emphasize learning: Encourage students to gain an education and become life-long learners as opposed to just getting good grades. While getting good grades can be helpful in the short term, it should not be the main focus.
  • Schools and families must be partners and work together to develop policies and procedures to safeguard learning and protect academic integrity. Clear expectations, careful monitoring, and creating a climate of “zero tolerance” can go a long way in promoting academic integrity.


“Cheating” Graphic retrieved from:

Educational Testing Service. (1999). Cheating is a personal foul. Retrieved from

Fisher, J., Kim, H., Lee, S. C., & Sacks, S. (1998). Stability of Religious Orientation and        Academic Dishonesty. Journal Of Research On Christian Education, 7(1), 55-66.

Springer, S., Reider, J & Morgan, J. (2013. Admission matters: What students and parents need to know about getting into college. San Francisco: CA: Jossey-Bass. 

Strom, P., & Strom, R. (2007). Cheating in Middle School and High School. The Educational Forum, 104-116. Retrieved from

Keeping Your Connections Open

Keeping Your Connections Open

People are faced with important questions every day…Will I follow Christ? Who will I marry? Where will I live and raise a family? However, one of the most important decisions students make concerns postsecondary education and career choice. In today’s world, a college education is no longer a luxury or optional; it’s a necessity. More and more jobs are dependent on students having a college education than ever before. Carnevale, Smith and Strohl (2013) reported that by 2020, 65% of all jobs would require some form of post-secondary education. In their 2010 executive report, they projected that:

  • Students who only have a high school diploma may be limited to declining or low paying food and personal service work, sales and office support, and blue collar employment.
  • 4.7 million additional workers with postsecondary certificates will be needed by 2018.
  • America’s colleges would need to increase the number of degrees they award by 10 percent annually to keep up with the growing demand (p. 1).

With such a great need, one would think that getting into any and every college would be a sure thing. According to Springer, Reider, and Morgan (2013), however, the student demand may exceed the supply of available spots-especially for selective schools. They suggest that greater numbers of high school graduates, increased international students, the prevalent belief that a college education is valuable, greater minority interest, increased recruiting, and the ease to which students can apply creates a climate for greater competition (p. 1-3).

There is no argument that the pros outweigh the cons. According to The College Board’s publication “The Five Ways that Ed Pays,” individuals with a college degree:

  • Earn an average of 22K more per year than those only with a high school diploma and are less likely to be unemployed (p 6, 10).
  • Are more likely to have employee provided health insurance, time off, and are less likely to be chronically ill (p. 11, 14).
  • Are more likely to read to their children and are more than twice as likely to volunteer

The bottom line for Christians is clear – although people without college degrees can have successful lives and ministries, those who are college educated are more likely to enjoy a greater measure of freedom-including more opportunities to give, greater security against hard times, better health, stronger families, and fuller service to others.

Choosing and applying to college is a process that requires thought, prayer, and planning.Yes, it requires work; but it is doable. However, many families can easily become lost in the sheer amount of information needed to get from point A to B. The opportunities, events, and deadlines can seem overwhelming-even for the most seasoned families. The school counseling department at Smithtown Christian School is dedicated to helping parents and students make sense of all that is needed on the road to college by providing information about the most  current trends through Connections: SCS School Counseling Newsletter. Offered online and monthly, it’s a great way to stay connected.



Carnevale, A., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2013). The road to recovery. Community College Journal, 84(3), 27-29.

Carnevale, A., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2010). Help wanted: Projection of jobs and education requirements through 2018. Click here for link.

Springer, S., Reider, J & Morgan, J. (2013) Admission matters: What students and parents need to know about getting into college. San Francisco: CA: Jossey-Bass. 

The College Board. (2011). The five ways that ed pays. Click here for link.