More children are choosing to spend their time online, and more hours online means more potential dangers.
And yet, not many parents are fully aware of the apps their children are using. Studies about children's media usage reveal that younger kids are spending more time on digital devices because of their accessibility, and the numbers increase yearly.
Thus, it is more important than ever to talk about the possible dangers lurking on websites and apps.
The importance of privacy for different children age groups is understood ambiguously. Younger kids tend to keep their social media accounts in “private” mode, but, as they grow up, some are shifting their account settings to “public” in the interest of gaining more followers and a wider online network.
“Teens are often tempted to use group and anonymous messaging apps due to social media FOMO [fear of missing out],” says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN.
“Communication platforms usually make kids feel safer and bolder, making them reveal too much information, participate in cyberbullying, or even make risky decisions.”
Most apps that should be used with caution usually have a few common features.
These include anonymous messaging, the ability to chat with strangers, and self-destructing messages, images, and videos.
“With features like these, your child can hide important things from you. Most importantly, they could get involved in cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, and much more,” Daniel Markuson notes.
And yet, dangerous or unsafe social media apps usually aren't dangerous as such. It is people with ulterior motives abusing these apps that make them risky.
By taking advantage of a social media app, an individual may extract personal information for stalking your child online.
Not only could they make the child a target of cyberbullying, but also one of sexual harassment, unethical social engineering, etc.
Of course, children won't give up spending their time online, especially on social media. So, it is up to the parents, guardians, or teachers to talk about the dangers of the internet. Of course, it's hard to follow the latest trends, so here's a handy list of apps worth discussing:
1. Whisper (anonymous social media)
2. KIK (messaging app)
3. Snapchat (photo-based messaging app)
4. Tinder (online dating app)
5. Ask.fm (social media)
6. TikTok (video-sharing social media)
7. WhatsApp (messaging app)
8. 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 potentially go wrong. Make sure the child understands that they can always talk to you if they have any problems. Here's what else you can do:
1. Set an example yourself. Show how you communicate and stay safe online, but avoid pushing your opinion. Also, kids love it when you know what’s up and can discuss the popular social media platform together.
2.Talk to them about unwanted content. Show how to block unwanted people or report their inappropriate actions online. But, most of all, help them understand they are not alone.
3. Explain why privacy matters, especially when talking to strangers. Talk about what kind of information is shareable online. Predators can use the child’s address, school location, parents’ jobs, and other information against them.
4. Manage privacy settings. Most social media or messaging services allow their users to manage their privacy settings. Sit down with your kid and adjust those settings to make sure their profile is as safe and private as possible.
5. Create strong passwords together. Advise your child to choose strong passwords and make them different for each account. It might be challenging to come up with a vast number of logins and memorize them all. That's why we recommend using a password managing app, like NordPass.