Teens may be spending a lot more time online than their parents realize, as tweeting, texting and YouTube watching into the wee hours now has a name: vamping.
As the New York Times reported recently, vamping is a teen's answer to schedules often jam-packed with homework or extra curricular activities — it's "me" time, as one teen told the paper. Experts and school administrators who spoke with the Times' Laura M. Holson preached time limits.
The Daily Dot's Rob Price argued that vamping itself isn't a trend at all, stopping short of outright accusing Holson of sensationalizing the trend.
"The 'vamping' buzzword just helps to disguise the fundamental message of the story: Young people are staying up past their bedtimes. Stop-the-freaking-press!" Price wrote. "That the behavior now has a (contrived) name doesn't make it a trend or a *thing *— because it's been a thing for decades, if not forever."
While Price may have a point, the problem isn't so easily solved for parents that don't consider themselves tech-savvy enough to police the problem.
Luckily, there are a variety of tools available to help parents limit online activity without losing sleep themselves. Here's a rundown of three options:
- Mobicip is a multi-platform download that can address a number of problems at once. First, it allows parents to filter out certain kinds of content and websites they deem undesirable for kids, and the filters are fully adjustable. But the program also allows parents to set up time limits for online access, like dictating an Internet curfew. In addition, the service allows full monitoring reports across platforms to let parents know how much time their kids spend online, where they went and what apps they accessed.
- Qustodio is a thorough online monitoring tool that allows parents to not only see how much their kids are using the Internet, but who they're using it with. Qustodio is used by corporations and schools to invisibly monitor Internet use without the users knowing they're being watched. For parents, that means knowing how much time their child is on Facebook and who the child is talking to.
- Norton Family is a highly flexible parental control that allows parents to filter content in broad strokes to avoid something inappropriate slipping through the cracks with broad website categories for everything from pornography to shopping. It also boasts a feature that prevents users from giving out personal information like phone numbers and email addresses.
For even more options, check out Tech Radar's 2013 list of the best parental controls.