Jim Persinger, psychology professor, was selected by the Emporia State Marketing and Media Relations to interview for the Today Show regarding teen surveillance apps and their psychological effects.
The episode aired on Jan. 7 as part of a series called “Stay Tuned” with host Savannah Sellers.
“I’m guessing ESU ran with me because I’m a board-certified school psychologist with a lot of experience in youth mental health and social-emotional development,” Persinger said. “I’m pretty introverted and wasn’t exactly eager, but I knew once I got over that, it would be a fun and interesting experience.”
The three-and-a-half minute episode surrounds a college student at ESU whose parents can track her every move based on an app on their iPhones.
“His appearance provides positive national attention to Emporia State University and The Teachers College,” said Joan Brewer, Dean of the Teachers College. “Having a national media outlet reach out to an ESU professor as a topic expert speaks to the high quality of our faculty and our programs.”
The segment with Persinger was cut down from approximately an hour interview to a few seconds with most consisting of voiceover. The segment also labelled Persinger as a board-certified school psychologist and a critic instead of a professor of the college.
“I was a bit annoyed that it was cut short,” Persinger said. “Mostly because that means they only presented a tiny fraction of the criticism I had on these apps, which parents ask and sometimes require that their college-aged students install on its phone.”
The episode states that apps such as Find My Friends and Life360 are used by 25 million people monthly. A large portion of the episode included what the apps do instead of focusing on the criticism aspect as well.
“The edited segment spent several minutes explaining that these apps are increasingly used and how they work but under ten seconds covering the problems with these apps,” Persinger said. “There are serious developmental implications to parents not allowing their children to live their lives free of constant oversight in their late teens and early twenties. It’s unhealthy in most situations and can be downright dysfunctional.”