Many parents consider themselves to be pretty “tech-savvy” or at the very least to have some sort of awareness of the APPs our kids use, right? The truth is that even though our children may be friends with us on Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat, there is so much we don’t always know. We thought we knew all about the dangers of Tinder and KIK and that we had perhaps solidified the rules about online behaviour… so we felt comfortable. Maybe too comfortable too soon…
A story from a Mom:
“Recently, my son finished his homework on a family computer and I felt prompted to check the history. Everything checked out except for a social media account that I didn’t recognise. It was a private account and I just had a weird feeling about it. With a little bit of mother-sleuthing, I was able to deduce that the account was his. I was really taken aback!
I usually keep track of my kids’ online behaviour, but then I just … stopped. However, technology keeps moving forward and provides my kids with new ways to connect and communicate online, many of which–I am sad to admit–I had no idea about.
We need to do better. We need to be aware of the Apps that are available because most likely, our kids already are. In fact, my children knew about all of these, and had seen many of them on friends’ devices.”
At Secure Rite we know that security requirements have spread far wider than just your physical home. There is a silent threat that lurks in our homes every day and if we do not stay informed and make it our business, our children could fall prey.
Here are just some Apps we believe parents should know about:
This App allows viewers to participate in online communities focused on similar interests, from Anime or Star Wars to sexy role-playing. It includes features for chatting, messaging, picture sharing, etc., all with strangers.
This is a live streaming App. Users create content and broadcast live to viewers that do not need to register any personal info or provide age verification. Anyone who has an account can access your child’s “live stream,” and your child has access to others’ live streams that often contain nudity and offensive language and behaviour.
This sister site to Live.ly is promoted as a fun App for “kids” to lip synch and create their own music videos to share. Just like Live.ly, there is no age verification. All you need to sign up is a phone number, Facebook, Instagram or an email (any of which are easy to fake). It allows easy access to your child’s profile as well. There are sexualized media, pornography, and cruel bullying on Musical.ly–and not just kid-to-kid, but adults bullying kids.
This is an online chat forum in which two strangers are paired up based on similar interests and can chat via messages and video. The typical chat starts with “ASL”: Age? Sex? Location? This is one that my kids told me, “Don’t even open Omegle. You will not believe what you can see.”
Formerly called ‘Yellow’. This is a free App allowing users to connect (flirt) with others in their local area, similar to Tinder. There is no age verification to use the App, and it links up with Snapchat and Instagram, allowing strangers complete access to profile information and pictures. Yubo has also been linked to drug dealers and has said to be a platform of choice on which drugs are sold.
A comparison and rating App. Users send in their picture to be rated by others, and have the opportunity to view the “hottest” users in their area and connect with them.
This site has been linked to some of the worst cases of cyberbullying. It allows users to ask anonymous questions. There is no way to know who is following you or who posted the question.
This is a dieting App that allows users to track their fasting activity. It has become very popular with youth who struggle with eating disorders. The App has a social media feature that connects the user with other fasters by creating profiles. Through the Vora Facebook page, users encourage each other to extend their fasts.
Hiding Apps: Some examples that fit into this category are Private Photo (Calculator%), Gallery Lock Lite, Best Secret Folder, and Keep Safe. These apps allow a person to hide messages, pictures, etc., but show up as an innocuous icon, such as calculator or clock when someone else logs into the phone.
Social Media Apps: These apps include Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Pinterest. It is important to keep in mind that most apps have inherent risks. Messages and pictures on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are easily deleted after being received or sent. It is also becoming very common for kids to create fake accounts on Instagram (and other social platforms) called “finstas.” Pinterest and Tumblr can have very questionable material as well, not just of a sexual manner, but in relation to self-harm, suicide, and other violence. Just because something has been around for a while does not reduce dangers!
The purpose of this article is purely to drive awareness in our continued efforts as both a Security business and as parents to keep our residents safe. It is vital that we stay informed and alert to any and all possible threats to our families.
So what can we do to keep our children safe online?
1. Educate yourself and stay up to date with new apps. Every few weeks do a quick online search for “new social media apps.” Get familiar with the apps before your kids. Don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable and don’t shy away from technology you don’t understand.
2. Discuss the apps/sites you find with your kids, ask them what they know, and keep the lines of communication open. Have monthly meetings with your family dedicated to all things involving the internet, apps, device usage, etc. You can even assign older kids to report on certain topics. Try having a ‘family council’ to discuss this.
3. Set appropriate parental controls, age restrictions for downloading apps, time restrictions, etc.
4. Check your kids’ devices frequently and thoroughly. Connect to all of the apps from your child’s device. View the child’s activity, messages, contacts etc. Some companies, like Bark, offer software to help you monitor kids’ activity on phones and apps. Be aware of your kids’ friends online and offline.
5. Educate your children on the dangers of “oversharing” online. Teach them that every move we make does not have to be documented online, and remind them that social media is not a diary or a personal photo album.
6. Most importantly, maintain a connected relationship with your kids. Spend time with them, tell them you love them, and express your appreciation for them. Rely more on your relationship with them than filters and other safeguards!
Please keep us informed if you discover any new or strange Apps on your children’s devices. Remember to contact Secure Rite for all your home and business security needs.
Tel: 0860 10 30 99.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web address: www.securerite.co.za