How to Keep your Kids and Teens Safe Online: 4 Mobile Apps Parents Should Watch Out For

How to Keep your Kids and Teens Safe Online

How to Keep your Kids and Teens Safe Online: 4 Mobile Apps Parents Should Watch Out For

These days, it’s next to impossible to keep kids off the internet. Fact is, you can’t keep an eye on them all day either. Whether you like it or not, teens and kids will always find a way to get online.  

It can be worrying for parents, there’s a lot to be alarmed about and it’s not just exposure to inappropriate texts and videos, but also the dangers of online predators.  

Yet, the internet is ubiquitous, we need it for many everyday things from learning, shopping and communicating. We can only hope when young people are online they have it in themselves to make good decisions about what they choose to see, visit and interact on the internet.  

Besides, isn’t that what good parenting is all about? Guiding one’s offspring to make better choices instead of limiting their play time or their innate curiosity.  

Truth is, you can’t rely on age restrictions to keep your child off an app or social media site. There are many kids out there with active Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

Here’s the thing, as a parent, do everything you can to protect your kids online. Parental involvement decreases online risks for children.

Here are some tips you can do to create a safe space for your kids online:

Talk to your teens or young kids

Today, doing the ‘talk’ is not just about discussing the challenges of puberty or dating. But this also extends to the travails of new technology that comes with our new ‘Screen Age’. 

First, sit down with your kids and set a serious tone. This is the best time to set your ground rules on using the computer and online browsing. Let them know you are doing this not to curtail their online fun, but the reason you’re hovering over their internet interactions is not about parental restriction, but to make sure they are safe. 

Supervise your child to change and enable a site's privacy settings

When you sign up to any website, app or social media site, the default setting is always set to public. Take time to change this private mode and set parameters like who can see your child’s profile and share his photos, who can send private messages and other site filters.

Take time to flag any inappropriate content

There is so much information online, most of it at of this time is not appropriate for your child to see or even be exposed to. By doing your share of reporting inappropriate content you can make that social platform a safe place for your kid.

Set computer hours and phone usage limits

This has to be the most important thing that parents should keep tabs on, but literally forget, because simply, time flies. Often the time your kid spends on the internet flies under the radar. Kids need structure and guidance when it comes to time management. They shouldn’t be losing sleep or missing out on school because they spent the whole night watching a social influencer on TikTok.

Let your child teach you

You’ll get a sense about what your teen and child likes if you let them talk about it. Let them teach how a game or app works. Let them show you their fave YouTube channel and watch videos with them. They’ll appreciate this little bit of bonding effort from your end and at the same time, you’ll be well-aware of what they do or spend time on whenever they use the computer.

New Websites, New Challenges

There are some social media sites and new apps you should be aware of as a parentThat said, you know an app is cool when most kids are on it and most of the adults aren’t. For sure, you won’t find any kids hanging out in LinkedIn, but you’ll find a whole lot of them on SnapChat or TikTok. 

Here’s 4 Apps that parents need to know about:

MeetMe

is a great way to meet other people with the same hobbies and interests in your area. When you sign up on MeetMe, you are literally meeting new people who are not within your social circle. This is an awesome app for adults trying to jumpstart their social life, however it poses a huge risk for teens and kids. As predators may entice the young ones to meet up in real life within the neighborhood. Much oversight is needed, and if you can, any MeetMe hobby meet-ups should be considered as a group event that involves the parents.

TikTok

is everywhere and oh so popular with the younger set. You've seen the viral dance craze, and all the crazy stunts, and most of it is on TikTok. It's a fun app to be honest, but kids can fall prey to questionable viral challenges such as those challenges asking individuals to go shirtless or licking unsanitary things like public toilets. Why in the world would anyone do that, right? But kids being kids, they may not be that discerning when it comes to choosing the challenges they want to do and post. This is where parents should be most vigilant and protective. Tiktok is fine, but let your child know, there's a fine line to being silly and doing something dangerous.

Snapchat

can be terrifying. It has a dark history accounting for 31% of cyberbullying incidents online. Snapchat became all the rage because of its 'snaps' - this means user messages disappear after a day or certain amount of time. And these snaps are often a source of cyber bullying and bullying fodder for opportunists. Whenever a certain snap or message is captured and spread around among peers or strangers, it can cause great distress. This kind of activity becomes a problem particularly if the messages or pictures are of an explicit or threatening nature. The lack of moderation on Snapchat can render a parent helpless as well- you do not know who your kids are talking to or even how old they are. So talk to your teen about the dangers of inappropriate behavior and how things can escalate quickly and become harmful. Caution them to be more careful.

Whisper

is all about secret sharing. However, it’s no secret Whisper fuels inappropriate behavior and very adult statements from its users. No child should be using this app at all. Teens understandably will be drawn to it, after all gossip and secrets are its main attraction. But how long can a secret stay a secret online? Though the Whisper boasts anonymity, most users eventually take the conversation out of the app and start interacting on other social media sites. This is where it gets dangerous, as predators do lurk on this app often posing as that 'friend who knows your secrets' with the main goal of earning trust and establishing a relationship. That idea alone is just distressing. Whisper users can use the app to communicate with users from the same GPS location. Sexual predators have been known to use this app to locate kids in their area.

Internet Safety for Kids

The best way is to protect your child is not through totally banning the use of technology at home. There’s no escaping technology in this day and age. Though you can’t blame parents who have gone this route.  

Communication and trust is still key in keeping them kids out of trouble and still have them enjoy the wonders of the internet.  

Always be open. Always encourage your kids to feel open to come to you if they encounter anything questionable, inappropriate or uncomfortable online. Kids are curious and they want answers- that will never change. And as a parent, you are there to give protection and offer context to anything they have seen or encountered. But be ready for the questions, what they see online often leads to a lot of complicated talk. Sometimes on topics that are way too early to be discussed for their age. But the positive thing about this is that they rely to you for the answers. It’s also good to know that you’re child is proactive and responsible about their online safety.

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