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Parenting In The Internet Age: Know The Dangers And Learn About Popular Apps

Kids these days are growing up behind the screens of their smartphones or tablets. 45% of teens said they are online almost constantly and 78% of teen respondents to a survey said they check their devices at least hourly

Parental control and education are needed to keep kids safe and secure while they surf the Internet through their computers or phones. 

First, let’s go over the top Internet dangers:

  • Cyberbullying – is when a teen becomes a target of actions by others, through computers, cellphones or other devices, that are intended to humiliate, torment, threaten, embarrass or harass. Youths as young as eight or nine years old and up to seventeen years old are greatly affected by cyberbullying. Here are more information.
  • Sharing personal information – where a user’s whole name, home address, phone number, email address, bank account details, and more are leaked to the public, most likely used by online criminals. 
  • Inappropriate content – material, such as violent images, that is disturbing, improper and explicit. This type of material can make youths feel upset and confused, and could lead to unlawful or dangerous behaviours. 
  • Online enticement – online exploitation in which youths are engaged in explicit sexual conversations. 
  • Perceptions vs. reality – things that are said and images of people that are posted could be carefully crafted in a certain way with a certain goal, often very different from reality. Such manipulation could have negative influence on youths in terms of body image and mental health.
  • Viruses and spyware – harmful programs that can be transmitted to computers and other connected devices in a number of ways, without one’s permission. These programs are designed to give criminals some sort of access to the infected devices, to steal passwords. 

As a parent, what you can do:

  • Spend time with your child to guide them through recognizing what is and what is not appropriate online behavior.
  • Monitor the time your child spend on their devices.
  • If your child had used your credit card to register for any online accounts, check payment activities for unusual charges.
  • Find out what online protection measures your child’s school offers and where your child could use a computer without your supervision. 
  • Take actions right away if your child tells you about an uncomfortable online exchange. 

Now, let’s get familiar with the most popular teen apps:

1. Instagram

A photo- and video-sharing platform that is popular among teens. Users have the choice to make their accounts private or public; with a public account, it’s easy to discover ideas and content, but it’s also easy for delinquents to exploit pictures of minors for inappropriate purposes. Also, the platform can promote unrealistic and delusional ideas related to body image, and more. 

2. Tik Tok

This is a musical app where users can upload a 15-second video and merge it with music to create a short music video. Accounts are public by default and there’s little screening for the different age groups, so anyone can contact the user directly. And there have been many incidents where tween and teen users received inappropriate messages – containing explicit content – from other users. 

3. Snapchat

This is another photo- and video-immersive app. Users can send photos and videos, with different filters, and these are deleted immediately after being viewed (unless someone had taken a screenshot, but the user who’d sent the photo or video will get a notification). As the photo/video can delete itself, it’s harder for the recipient to file a report if it contained inappropriate content. 

4. YouTube

This video-sharing site is no stranger to people of all ages. From make-up tutorials to video game demonstrations to performing tricks and pranks, viewers can become addicted and binge-watch videos for hours on end. Again, the content on this platform can promote an unrealistic view of what’s normal.

5. Discord

This is a popular voice, video, and text chatting tool for gamers to send direct messages to each other or join group chats when they are playing a coop game. This means that users sometimes could be talking to strangers. 

It’s obvious that the common theme between the above-mentioned apps is video. While this format of content could be engaging and give users a more realistic (though could be argued otherwise) view of whatever is being featured, it requires all sorts of access to one’s phone, such as camera, photo gallery, microphone, location, and other private data. 

The takeaway:

Educate yourself about the latest apps that minors are using these days and know what sort of concerns you need to address with your child. There are also online protection and parental control tools that let you monitor and manage your child’s access to the Internet.

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