How to Help Your Kids Avoid Potentially Dangerous Apps
Parenting in the digital age is way more demanding than it was ever before, and it is all due to that double-edged sword, known as technology. It doesn't matter if it's an app to help your tweens and teens stay organized with school work, allow them to watch free videos, or a gaming app, as a parent, you always need to do a quick safety check on apps their kids are using to verify it's safe for your kids and your family. Some dangerous apps are filled with adult content, while others have predators waiting to attack your kids. Don't feel bad as a parent if you feel as if you need training wheels to keep up with all of this technology. Apps, technology, and kids' interests change quickly so I'm writing this article as a guide for parents and caregivers to check if the app your kid is using is one of the more dangerous apps for kids. Here's what you need to know:
When we talk about kids and digital threats, we discuss issues like cyberbullying, cyberstalking, catfishing, online sexual harassment, and whatnot. As parents, it is our job to protect our kids from online predators, harassers, stalkers, and every other kind of creep that could harm not just the privacy of our kids but also their lives recent report showed that 1 in 5 apps in a popular app store don’t adhere to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which is a guide for you to know if apps should be on your kid's devices. Truth be told, many apps should be nowhere near your kid’s phone. As a parent, it's impossible to sort through all 3 million apps in the Google and Apple app store, but here is a current quick list of apps you should consider removing from your kids' devices.
The Saturn App. What if I told you there was an app that let anyone easily look up names and social media accounts for teenagers in your area? Creepy much? That’s exactly what the Saturn app does.
Tinder. It's mainly used as a dating app or an anonymous hook-up (read: one-night stand) locator by 20-somethings, college students, and even younger teens and tweens. (Yikes!)
Bigo Live. This live-streaming app invites people to showcase their talents and talk to interesting people. It’s increasingly being used by young people to live stream their activities or make video blogs with the objective of earning money. However, since the content is user-generated, it can include nudity, bad language, and violence.
Voxer. The service mostly has an adult user base, and some people even use it to instantly communicate with teams at work. There are many malicious individuals on the network who often send obscene or hurtful messages.
Holla. Holla is a video chat app that randomly connects users to strangers from across the globe. Signing up only requires a Facebook account or a valid phone number. The location tracking feature can also be enabled to be matched with somebody nearby. However, violence, profanity, and nudity are pretty common on this app, which is why it’s one of the worst social media apps for kids.
Look. Strangers can message kids pretty easily, and because there are no content filters, kids can come across inappropriate content. Users have reported cyberbullying activity and have found it difficult to delete their accounts.
Jailbreak Programs and Icon-Hiding. These apps and methods are things you should know about just in case you have a tech-savvy teen. “Jailbreaking" an iPhone or "rooting" an Android phone basically means your tween or teen is hacking their own device to lift the restrictions you may have placed on their devices. This means your kids can then download third-party apps not sold in the App Store or Google Play store. It's hard to say how many teens have jailbroken their mobile devices, but instructions on how to do it are readily available on the Internet. Cydia is a popular application for jailbroken phones, and it's a gateway to other apps called Poof and SBSettings — which are icon-hiding apps. These apps are supposedly intended to help users clear the clutter from their screens, but some young people are using them to hide questionable apps and violent games from their parents. Be aware of what the Cydia app icons look like so you know if you're getting a complete picture of your teen's app use.
What About Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram? Do all these new apps mean that Facebook and Twitter are in decline? Your tweens and teens have a lack of enthusiasm for Facebook because parents and other adults have taken over the domain. Facebook still remains the top social media site among U.S. teens, who say that their peers continue to stay on the site so they don't miss anything happening there. Your child may keep a profile on Facebook but be much more active on newer platforms. Teens and tweens are still active on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, so you need to still stay vigilant on keeping an eye out on these apps to prevent cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and sextortion scams.
Talk to your child about internet safety
Growing up today isn't like you grew up, but the one thing that still runs rampant is peer pressure. No matter how good your kids are, odds are that someone, somewhere, at some time, is going to influence them to do something you simply wouldn’t approve of. And in today’s current landscape, that something could involve one of the many dangerous apps for kids out there.
Here are some quick tips you can use:
Ask around. Do other parents use the app? Ask your friends with kids if they have any experience with the app and whether they felt it was a good experience for their kids.
Check the app reviews in the app store. You’ll see a variety of reviews from different people, but you should get a general sense from these comments about whether it’s safe for kids.
Download the app and try it out for yourself. Look through the app’s parental controls. Can you disable chat features and the microphone or camera? Some gaming apps even offer specific content filtering to avoid things like violence and foul language.
Hopefully, this post has given you the information you need to keep your tweens and teens from some of the dangerous apps out there. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!
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