Keeping track of how preteens and teens use smartphones is a difficult task, but the pitfalls of the digital age leave us no choice.
The ease at which kids can be subjected to adult content, cyberbullying, illicit sharing of explicit photos, and direct communication with predators is alarming. Even the most popular smartphone applications are often used for negative purposes.
New apps are being released on a regular basis, and youth will often change the way they use existing apps. It’s hard to keep track of what EVERY app does, but it is imperative to understand the apps on your child’s device. Here are some examples of popular problematic apps:
Whisper allows users to create anonymous accounts and share private information on subject matters of their choice. They can then like content and be hooked up for instant messaging with a perfect stranger. Most content is adult in nature.
Lipsi is a social media app with anti-social repercussions. It allows users to create anonymous content and cyberbully others. It is very difficult for law enforcement and school officials to track down abusers.
Instagram is very popular among adults as well as kids. Young people are often subjected adult content simply as a result of following humorous accounts. Some users create separate accounts to avoid being monitored. Parents should know how to switch between accounts and monitor the direct messaging feature on the app, as more kids are using that function over their primary texting apps.
Media apps like Houseparty and TikTok have functions and sharing features that allow for video messaging, and predators are becoming more adept at using these platforms to reach out to children. Additionally, there are no filters to screen explicit content
Messaging apps like Kik and WhatsApp are popular texting apps that kids use to get around parent monitoring. All they require is an Internet connection (no email or phone required to set up). Parents should monitor those communications or not allow their child to have the apps on their device.