There are some days we can’t figure out our children. Whether a child is 9 or 16, there will inevitably be days and behaviors that leave us scratching our heads in bewilderment. Unfortunately, these questions aren’t limited to the home. Our kids are constantly logged onto the Internet, spending an average of nine hours online everyday which can cause us to wonder what exactly our kids are up to online.
This is important to consider, because try as we might, we don’t know exactly what our sons and daughters are doing in the cyber world. To compound this, an estimated 70 percent of teens take measures to keep us in the dark and hide their internet activity from parents. Even though our teens and children desire privacy, we need to be aware of common pitfalls and dangers lurking on the web.
Possibly Dangerous Apps Our Kids Use
Many of us know that our sons and daughters use social media. After all, we are also logged onto popular sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In response to our presence, our kids have sought refuge in new apps and outlets away from our prying eyes. Listed below are 6 apps that might be flying under our parental radar and some of the common dangers associated with them:
Whisper – This site allows users to anonymously post their secrets or confessions. Most of these confessions are funny, but many turn serious, dirty, and even contain bullying messages.
Musical.ly – Children and adults love the creative outlet this app provides. It allows users to lip sync to short sound bytes or clips of songs. It’s highly entertaining and the possibilities are endless, but some lawyers are urging people to be cautious of copyright laws and encourage us to only use public domain material.
Kik – This app features “chat messaging”. However, one area of concern is that users don’t have to actually own a phone number to create an account. This makes it close to impossible to track or trace bullying and online predators.
Omegle – This app is designed to connect people around the world who share similar interests. Unfortunately, online predators have discovered this is a great way to groom and contact targets from behind the safety of a computer screen.
BurnNote – This app features disappearing messages that “burn” after viewing. It offers people a sense of security that no one else will read or share their messages. However, this fleeting quality is also what makes it dangerous. It can be used to send bullying or cruel messages to a child that are difficult to track or document.
1Password – This app was created to avoid having to remember countless passwords by using just one password to open everyone of our accounts. This is great for forgetful people, but if someone learns the password they can access all of our accounts and sensitive data.
Warning Signs That Kids Are Hiding Their Online Activity
Many of our kids take measures to hide their activity from us in some subtle, some obvious ways. The following methods are commonly used by kids to keep us in the dark:
- Dimming screens to make it difficult to read
- Quickly shutting tabs when we walk in the room
- Using “fake” apps to conceal inappropriate material or apps
- Creating dummy accounts and using alternative profiles
App Safety Tips For Parents
As our kids embrace these new apps and social media platforms, we need to strive to know and understand the current trends that could pose a safety risk to our families. Thankfully, with a little awareness we can give our sons and daughters the tools needed to safely use these apps. Listed below are some ways we can empower our kids:
- Start an ongoing conversation regarding social media and the dangers technology can pose.
- Avoid strangers- only friend or follow people they actually know.
- Keep passwords private and avoid sharing.
- Teach social media etiquette.
- Develop usernames which avoid revealing their real identity or age.
- Make it a point to know our kids’ passwords and usernames.
What steps do you take to protect your children from dangerous apps?
Hilary Loren Smith, born and raised in Austin, TX, has a Journalism degree. She currently lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter. After becoming a parent, she now enjoys writing about family and parenting in the digital age.