13 min read by Bogdi
published 10 luni în urmă, updated 10 luni în urmă
With today’s technology, your child can download many apps on their cell phone that can connect them to anyone worldwide. Unfortunately, although it is exciting for your child, this widespread connection can be dangerous for them.
There are so many applications out there, but you may not know some popular ones are making the rounds amongst teenagers. So here are those applications to watch out for that can be detrimental to your child’s safety.
Snapchat is one of the most popular applications used by teenagers today. However, it has many features that allow teenagers to think that they can be more promiscuous and think that their identity is safe because of the quick deletion of messages, images, or videos.
Here are some of the features that make it appealing to your teenager:
All these features are great, but they can be an issue. For example, because you can make multiple accounts without attaching a phone number, anyone can make a Snapchat profile.
Plus, messages are often deleted, which means a lack of evidence when an adult is trying to groom a teenager. Snapchat also will not give out any information about the messages until they are subpoenaed, and it has been previously shown that it can be a hassle.
With the location feature now available on this application, any of your teenager’s friends can see where they are at all times as long as they have enough service. This may be good for you to see, but it can be dangerous if your teenager adds strangers. In addition, it makes it easier for predators to target your child and meet them or kidnap them.
WhatsApp has become increasingly popular, especially for those living in other countries. This worldwide popularity is because it allows you to talk to anyone all over the world with more ease. You just have to attach your number, and you can message anyone.
Here are some of this application’s features that teenagers love:
Teenagers are less likely to use this because they have to attach their numbers, but it still is possible. This application is also encrypted, so you are less likely to get random people spamming your teenager.
This being said, you will still find predators on this app. For example, if your teenager gives their number to a stranger. Through this application, the stranger can still have access to some of their personal information. For example, they can do a reverse lookup on their cell phone to see what city they reside in.
Google text has become increasingly popular because teenagers can choose their phone number and the location of that phone number. This means that if your child lives in one state but wants to hide their location, they can sign up using a number from another state.
This application has all the same features as a regular phone:
Although this doesn’t offer some features like other apps, like immediate deletion of a message or an image, you will find that it can still have the same dangers as many other applications.
This application is similar to many other apps that allow messaging, multimedia messages, and phone calls. You can even share files with others using this program. You can also have a large number of people in a group chat.
There is a feature within this program that will delete messages like Snapchat. This feature is a favorite amongst teenagers as well as predators. Luckily, there is no discovery feature where a child can share their location via the app.
Kik is a private messaging application that anyone can download. Unfortunately, it tries to push group chatting like old-school chatting, which means that most chats are inappropriate for children under 18.
Unlike Snapchat, the messages aren’t deleted immediately, but you can only see a few hundred messages back. Many people who use Kik use it to have inappropriate affairs or prey on underage individuals.
Here are a few reasons you should keep an eye out for this application on your child’s devices:
This application allows many of the same opportunities as many other apps, but it is tied to your Facebook. If your child’s privacy settings make it easy for strangers to see their information, you may need to change it. Predators use the information to “connect” to your teenagers.
The great thing about Facebook Messengers, you can change the setting so that anyone who is not a friend can’t send a message to your teenager, or it is sent to “message requests.” The bad part is that it doesn’t filter spam or predatory accounts. But with the kid’s version, it does.
This application has become quite popular with the abundance of features available to users. Here are some of those features:
Viber is a secure messaging application through which keeps your child safe from any hackers. Their messages are encrypted, so your child’s information doesn’t et stolen.
This application is popular among teenagers because it provides anonymity. You can post pictures with sayings on them or “secrets” about yourself and have people respond or message you. You can find people near you, or you can find people posting on the same subject.
Teenagers find this entertaining because of the freedom to post whatever they want without having too many repercussions. However, although this provides this fulfillment, it does mean that anyone can access your child, and you won’t even know who they are.
Anyone can send your teenager a message or even an image via this messenger. This can be dangerous because there are many predators on this application searching for someone who feels alone. If your teenager has this application, it may be best for them to delete it because of its unrated content.
Omegle is more of a video chatting application than it is a text message application. Although text messaging still exists within the application, you will find that most teenagers like to use it for its video calls.
These random video calls can be dangerous because your teenager will be put on a video call with a random stranger. Unfortunately, many teenagers do this as a trend, recording the interaction and posting it on social media.
You can set specific interests so that you only find people who like the same things as you, but there have been reports of inappropriate interaction on the application. For example, you will often see strangers and teenagers trying to stir up another person for “clout” or attention on social media.
Video chats can be short or long depending on what the users decide but be aware that your child could be greeted with inappropriate things before the video call ends. This includes nudity, pornographic material, verbal assault, and more. They should use this application with caution.
Be careful because people can figure out a lot of information via video chat. They can see things hanging on the walls of high school logos on clothes. This application is not encrypted, and people can locate an internet address. All this information can be used to target your teen.
Here are some additional reasons why Omegle can be dangerous for your child:
This private messaging application has many similar features as other messaging applications. GroupMe is often used for group chats, and you can have thousands of people in each group.
You don’t need a number to make an account, just an email, but often the program will ask for a number. You can send pictures, videos, and voice memos. One popular feature this app had is replying to threads, which made them a reason for choosing them. Now, many apps have updated their system so threads can be made within text messages.
Although Tinder is more of a dating app for adults, many teenagers will put a profile out on this database. Teach your children that this is not safe and that speaking with those much older can be dangerous physically and mentally.
Luckily, your child cannot talk to anyone unless that person matches with them. But, even with this feature, your teenager can still find themselves interacting with a predator.
TikTok is more of a video watching platform similar to YouTube, but many features allow our teenagers access to other strangers. For example, people can message your teenager even if your account is private. But you can set it up so that they can only receive messages if your teen and the other person are friends.
Your teen can only respond if they attach their phone number, but this doesn’t prevent them from receiving messages. You will also want them to turn off receiving messages from those they don’t know.
The great thing about TikTok is that you can’t send images or videos (only the videos uploaded to the platform). This limits exposure to inappropriate content via this type of messaging, but that doesn’t exclude predators trying to find susceptible teenagers.
Today, with all the applications and technology, it is hard to keep messages private. Even some applications that delete messages after an allotted time can still be recorded through screen recording technology.
This is where you teach your children about internet safety and protecting themselves from any possibilities because, in the end, they will need these skills later on in life. For example, you will not watch all your child’s interactions, so teaching these skills will reduce this risk.
Protecting your child is very important, especially on the internet. Unfortunately, the internet has made it easier for predators to access innocent and ignorant children who may not recognize the dangers that face them.
You can take many precautions, but you will still need to provide the skills necessary for your teenager. Hence, they know how to think and follow their intuition in shady circumstances critically.
Here are a few things you can do to help your child be prepared for predators online and inappropriate content:
Taking any of these precautions will help you and your teenager be well protected against strangers and predators.
Setting up content restrictions will help your teenager steer away from inappropriate content and websites deemed unsafe. This restriction only can help to an extent, though. New websites are popping your child’s interactions up every day that will be difficult to block every single one of them.
Some applications and websites will claim that they are children friendly, but predators can still pretend to be younger so that they can have access to your child. Just be aware that this is still a possibility even when you restrict specific types of content.
With Apple products, you will find that it is quite simple to set up content restrictions. You can even put a passcode so that your teenager can’t change the settings. It is simple, and you can even set a time limit on any of their applications or category of applications.
However, with Androids, you will have to go through Google Play to do content restrictions. Unfortunately, they and it may not restrict all in-app content.
Parents and other adults need to guide teenagers on internet etiquette just like they would for interacting in a classroom, in a public place, or other environments. Unfortunately, they do not always know what and what not to do.
Here are some rules and guidelines you can teach your teenager to follow:
Although there is a screen between your teenager and the other person, your child should understand that their words can still hurt. Teach your child compassion and empathy to not become a cyberbully just because they are hiding behind a screen.
Today, many predators are looking for innocent and naive kids that they can groom and coerce. When your child gets a phone or any other type of smart device, they have access to so many people. You will want to teach them red flags or warning signs of dangerous people.
Here are some red flags for your child to look out for that you can teach them:
Most of all, teach your children to trust their intuition. If they are hesitant or uncomfortable with the person, they are chatting with, and they shouldn’t be messaging that person. Guide them to trust themselves first and foremost to be better at defending themselves later on.
Setting boundaries is a wonderful skill to teach your teenagers not only offline but online as well. If someone can’t respect your child’s boundaries, then that person shouldn’t be interacting with your teenager.
Predators and toxic people often will try to manipulate and persuade your teen by crossing those boundaries. So if your child sets a boundary and that person doesn’t listen, they may be trying to manipulate, which is a red flag.
Remind your teenager not to feel guilty for setting a boundary and then removing that person from their life when the boundary is crossed. Boundaries are healthy for everyone, including between children and parents. It shows respect and compassion for each other.
Teach your teen never to be afraid of using the block button. For example, if there is someone negative on their social media, allow them to block that person, even if it is family. This shows that they can do this without feeling guilty or mean.
The block button helps your teen set boundaries and helps remove any negativity in their life. Remind them that the block button is a useful tool to protect them and their mental health. It’s okay if something they think is block button worthy that you may not think so. It will only keep them safe and help them understand how to protect themselves online.
There are two main ways you can stay informed to make sure your child is safe from strangers. The first is to stay informed with today’s technology. Understand what is out there and what the dangers are of them. Knowing all the features will help you understand what risks your child is facing.
Secondly, stay informed with your kid. Inquire about their life. Get to know their friends and their interests. You want to inspire open communication so that they are willing to come to you when they are presented with an obstacle.
When your teenager feels that you will judge them, they are less inclined to share their mistakes with you. Listen to them and understand how they may have found themselves with these issues. Children make mistakes, and you are there to help them learn from them, not to hide from them.
Being a parent can be nerve-racking, especially with all the dangers available on the internet. You will have to trust your children even if you don’t trust the world. Trust that you have taught them the skills necessary to overcome and protect themselves from these things.
Your child will make mistakes, but they can only make them if you trust them. This also allows them to learn without fear of being punished. Keep the communication open and provide a safe space not to become a cyberbully to learn how to navigate this ever-changing world.
Here are the benefits of showing your teenager that you trust them:
Creating a family plan can make rules and consequences transparent. This transparency will help your child understand what will happen if they make a mistake but should assist them in fixing the mistakes.
Here are a few tips and things your family plan should have:
You can modify the family plan to whatever best fits you and everyone else in your family. Have this plan posted somewhere with easy access so that you and your children can use it as a reference. You nor your children will remember everything word for word.
Remind your teens to set up their account so that it is private. Make it difficult for predators to find their accounts and interact with them. You can change the setting so that their names or profiles cannot be searched in the system.
Clearly outline what information is okay to share and what isn’t. For example, you don’t want your teenager to check-in at places when they are constantly there. Doing this allows stalkers and predators to know where your teen is at that exact moment, and they can target your teenager.
The last feature you should add to your child’s account is the two-step verification form. When they log into their accounts, they should have the two-step verification process in place. This deters hackers from being able to access their accounts and their information easily.
Here are some other things you can do to help your teen keep their privacy:
Follow these rules, and you will find you and your teenager more protected than they were before.
Although you as a parent can try to keep up with all the messaging applications out there, you will find that there is an endless supply of new ones. In addition, your teenager will find an app to text on if they can’t be on other ones.
The best practice is to teach your child the red flags and what not to do on the internet. Teach them what is appropriate and acceptable and what shouldn’t be done. With this knowledge, they will navigate the treacherous waters that the internet has to offer.
Keep communication with your teenager open. Provide a safe place that they can open up to you because you never know what they will come across. Even with all the protection, there may be a time where they have to rely on the skills that you have given them.
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