More children are choosing to spend their time online, and more hours online means more potential dangers. And yet 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 on digital devices because of their accessibility, and the number is increasing every year That’s why it’s 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 unclear. Younger children tend to keep their social media accounts in “private” mode, but as they get older, some change their account settings to “public” to gain more followers and a wider online network.
“Teens are often tempted to use group and anonymous messaging apps because of social media FOMO [fear of missing out], ”Said Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “Communication platforms usually make children feel safer and bolder, causing them to reveal too much information, participate in cyberbullying or even make risky decisions.”
Most apps that should be used with caution usually share a few common features. These include anonymous messages, the ability to chat with strangers, and self-destructing messages, images, and videos. “Features like this allow your child to hide important things from you. Most importantly, they can get involved in cyberbullying, sexting, online predators and much more, ”notes Daniel Markuson.
And yet, dangerous or unsafe social media apps are usually not dangerous as such. It’s people with ulterior motives who misuse these apps, making them risky. By making use of a social media app, a person can extract personal information to stalk your child online. They could make the child a target not only of cyberbullying, but also sexual harassment, unethical social engineering, etc.
Of course, kids won’t give up their time online, especially on social media. So it is up to the parents, carers or teachers to talk about the dangers of the internet. It’s hard to keep up with the latest trends, of course, so here’s a handy list of apps worth discussing:
- To whisper (anonymous social media)
- WHO (messaging app)
- Snapchat (photo based messaging app)
- Tinder (online dating app)
- Ask.fm (social media)
- TikTok (video sharing on social media)
- WhatsApp (messaging app)
- Instagram (social media)
If you see your child using one of these apps, don’t hesitate and start a conversation about the things that could possibly 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:
- Give an example yourself. Demonstrate how you communicate and stay safe online, but avoid your opinion. Kids also love it when you know what’s going on and can discuss the popular social media platform together.
- Talk to them about unwanted content. Demonstrate how to block unwanted people or report their inappropriate actions online. Most of all, help them understand that they are not alone.
- Explain why privacy is important, especially when talking to strangers. Discuss what kind of information can be shared online. Predators can use the child’s address, school location, parents’ jobs, and other information against them.
- Manage privacy settings. Most social media or messaging services allow their users to control their privacy settings. Sit down with your child and adjust those settings to make sure their profile is as safe and private as possible.
- Create strong passwords together. Advise your child to choose strong passwords and make them different for each account. It can be challenging to come up with a large number of registrations and remember them all. That’s why we recommend using a password manager app such as NordPass .