There are so many things we have to worry about while raising our kids. Teaching them to make wise choices and the importance of kindness. Helping them learn about the world and the importance of studying and getting good grades. And those are the easy things. Worrying about them while they navigate the world outside of your house and hope to keep them safe from the dangers of strangers – those are the really scary challenges. Now, with social media, it’s even harder to protect them from the threats of the world because it’s so easy for strangers to gain access to your kids before your kids are mature enough to know how to keep themselves safe.
Some apps are more dangerous than others. Although most parents are familiar with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Twitter, there are new apps launching daily and some can be pretty dangerous for your kids. Before you give your kids access to any new app, you are going to want to know how they work and which ones are the most dangerous for kids.
Blendr is a messaging app. Users can message, exchange photos and videos, and worst of all, rate the “hotness” of other users, based on GPS location. The last thing we want for our kids is to have their self-worth determined by a rating they receive on their looks.
Whisper is an anonymous messaging app that allows users to connect in groups based upon their interests and location. It is primarily used for “telling secrets. While the app is rated 17+, there are middle school and junior high users who lie about their age to get an account. Posts are “whispers” and users can search under topics and then reply publicly or open a personal chat. What makes Whisper one of the most dangerous apps for kids is that the anonymous aspect of the platform, paired with the location-based grouping, can easily connect your child with a predator.
Flinch is an online game that can create easy access for predators. The app is a live staring contest between users. Basically, your kid and another user face off via live video and facial recognition software decides who laughs or flinches first. So screenshots of your child’s face and a live video link to their location is provided to anyone that plays the game – even a stranger.
Spotafriend is basically Tinder for teens. If you aren’t familiar with Tinder, it is a tool used to “hook up” with others – sometimes random strangers. You probably don’t want your middle school and junior high, or even high school kids, meeting up with strangers that they connect with online – that is very contradictory when you are warning them about ‘stranger danger’. Your kids meet plenty of people through school, church, sports, and neighbors. Do you really want to give them unfettered access to the world? Or even worse, give the world unrestricted access to your kids?
TikTok (formerly Musically) is a fun app that kids use to create karaoke style videos and share with friends. The problem is that it also has a messaging feature which makes kids vulnerable to predators. Even worse, when your kids post their videos, the app also reveals their location. Not to mention the danger of inappropriate content shared by others and inappropriate comments that can be made on the videos your kids share.
All of these apps can be fun but you will have to decide if your kids are mature enough to handle the freedom and access that these apps provide. For every app that you allow your kids to download, be sure to utilize the privacy settings to lock down access and protect your kids. Remember: none of these apps are a “need”. Of course your kids want them but that doesn’t mean you want your kids to have them.