At some point your child will learn to download and connect to app. They may tell you , most probably won’t. That’s not just because they don’t trust their parents but the usually in the euphoria of the moment its probably lost on them. However, what the child does is not quite as important as to what the parents do. At some point you will find your child using an app. They may ask you before they download it or they may just try it with their mates. Either way parents have to discover what apps present the biggest risk to their children.. Not an easy task when you consider thousands of apps are produced on a daily basis and there over 5 million apps in circulation today (3 million Android and 2 million Apple). With such a huge number of apps to choose from its almost impossible to view and discuss the pros and cons of each app. Then again who would want to trawl through 5 million apps! The good news is the apps we want our kids to avoid all have certain commonalities and we have listed 9 of the most common traits below…
- Its safe to join because its Popular – Don’t fall for that one, just because the app is popular does not mean its safe. Parents need to exercise caution with any app as they all have the potential to be misused.
- Its great as its hides your name and allows anonymous users or messages – Keep children away from apps that allow anonymous users or messages to be posted. This type of app normally encourages things like cyber bullying as the perpetrator can remain unknown.
- Its ok for anyone to join as there is no join age limit – apps like are usually aimed at adults so some content maybe unsuitable for the younger ones. Apps like Facebook have a joining of age of 13 years. The older the joining age the more likely it will have content you don’t want your kids exposed to.
- The app is requesting for personal information does this make it safer?- you need to check why its needed. If its published then other users will be able to identify things like age and location. This information maybe available to all users if they are public accounts.
- It allows unmonitored access – This should be a red flag as users are unmonitored so very little in the way of restrictions. These types of apps may have inappropriate content.
- You can live video, no screening – videos are often inappropriate and some younger users may be encouraged to make a video which puts them at risk. You need to keep in mind that contents of a video message can be recorded by others. If a copy is made of a inappropriate video and details surface on the net later the impact on the those recorded can be enormous.
- They only allow public accounts – you have no privacy and your account details are for public viewing, always a risk.
- Its ok my message is removed after use – Apps like Snapfish claim to make the user feel safer as they delete the content afterwards. This encourages young people to take risks and send potentially risky stuff to other users. There are stacks of apps available to copy this type of content directly from the screen, so be careful of this type of promise. Ask yourself how do I know if they delete the app? How easy is it to copy the contents?
- Use it yourself – Ok not really a trait but if you want to know what an app is like test it out yourself. Think of it this way you wouldn’t let your kid buy their first car with out some help to make sure its safe, the internet is no different. You have to test the app yourself to see who who uses it eg too old too young, does it contain inappropriate content. Do a google search to review the app for things like its reputation for cyber bullying. Remember your research may just help another parent.