More and more children are spending their time online, and more hours online mean more potential dangers. Still, not many parents are aware of the apps their kids are using.
Studies on media use by children show that younger children spend more time with digital devices due to their accessibility and the number is increasing every year. It is therefore more important than ever to talk about the potential dangers lurking in websites and apps.
The importance of privacy for different age groups of children is not clearly understood. Younger children tend to keep their social media accounts in “private” mode. As they age, some move their account settings to “public” in order to gain more followers and a broader online network.
“Teens are often tempted to use group and anonymous messaging apps because of social media FOMO [fear of missing out]“Says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “Communication platforms usually make children feel safer and more courageous by revealing too much information, participating in cyberbullying or even making risky decisions.”
Most of the apps that should be used with caution usually share some common features. These include anonymous messages, the ability to chat with strangers, as well as self-destructive messages, pictures and videos. “With functions like this, your child can hide important things from you. Most importantly, they can engage in cyberbullying, sexting, online predators and much more, ”notes Daniel Markuson.
Still, dangerous or unsafe social media apps are usually not dangerous as such. It is ulterior motives who abuse these apps that make them risky. By using a social media app, a person can extract personal information to track your child online. Not only could you target the child for cyberbullying, but also sexual harassment, unethical social engineering, etc.
Of course, kids won’t give up on spending their time online, especially on social media. So it’s up to the parent, guardian, or teacher to talk about the dangers of the internet. Of course, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest trends. Here is a handy list of apps worth discussing:
- whisper (anonymous social media)
- KIK (Messaging app)
- Snapchat (Photo based messaging app)
- Tinder (Online dating app)
- Ask.fm (social media)
- Tick tock (Video sharing social media)
- Whatsapp (Messaging app)
- Instagram (social media)
If you see your child using one of these apps, don’t hesitate and initiate a conversation about the things that could possibly go wrong. Make sure the child understands that if they have problems they can always talk to you. Here’s more you can do:
- Give an example yourself. Show how to communicate online and stay safe, but avoid expressing your opinion. Children also love it when they know what’s going on and can discuss things together using the popular social media platform.
- Talk to them about unwanted content. Show how to block unwanted people or report inappropriate actions online. But most of all, you help them understand that they are not alone.
- Explain why privacy is important, especially when talking to strangers. Discuss what information can be shared online. Predators can use the child’s address, school location, parent’s work, and other information against them.
- Manage privacy settings. Most social media or messaging services allow users to manage their privacy settings. Sit down with your child and adjust these settings to make sure the profile is as safe and private as possible.
- Create secure passwords together. Advise your child to choose strong passwords and make them different for each account. It can be difficult to create a large number of signups and remember them all. For this reason, we recommend using a password management app such as North Pass .