And your kids may already be using a few of these.
The minute children start getting smartphones, tablets, or computers, parents start to get concerned about what their children are being exposed to, considering all the potential cyber dangers out there. As it happens, parents are right to feel such concern. We need to be very selective about the apps we allow our children access to.
Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has released a useful graphic for parents to navigate the dangers of different apps, stating:
What originally began as a list of nine apps parents should know about quickly grew to 15 and there are more out there. During Operation Intercept VI, 25 men utilized these specific mobile applications to contact and have sex with who they believed were 14-year-old children. We will continue to conduct these operations and add to this list so long as the internet and social media is used to lure and prey on our children
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it is a great start. However, with thousands of apps out there, children still remain vulnerable to predators. So in order to help you and your children navigate new technology, it’s important to consider these extra points too that are based on guidelines from Kids Health, and my own experience as a mom of four:
Anonymity is key
Make sure your children post as little personal information as possible, especially home and school address and date of birth. Also be sure that your child knows never to post about the location of a party they’re going to or even detailed information about vacations. If they’re desperate to share holiday pics, make sure they post them once they’ve returned.
Activate those privacy settings
Insist on checking your child’s settings, keeping them as private as possible.
Insist that your child never meet up with someone they or you don’t already know well.
Honesty is key
There’s a reason that apps require the age of their users. Make sure your child signs up with their real age. This one can be hard to monitor, so you’ll have to explain why they need to be truthful; avoiding adult content, scary material, and those lurking predators.
Social networks are open to the public and store everything
Children can be silly and share inappropriate opinions they don’t really have, or photos that are not suitable for sharing. This has even led to not getting jobs later in life. Encourage your children to post only things that are kind or that they wouldn’t mind their parish priest seeing. You can insist that you, or a family member they’re close to, is a “friend” or connection on the same site. Be aware, though — kids often set up an extra Facebook page or Instagram accounts.
Sad though it is, people often lie in the virtual world, especially those with bad intentions. Make sure your kids are aware that people are not always who they appear to be. You can actually demonstrate this by setting up a fake account and showing them just how easily it is done.
Avoid inappropriate material
Explain to your children what is inappropriate so they avoid clicking on it. This can be tricky, so you can try and show them some examples of what not to click on. Tell them if they do come across something that makes them feel remotely uncomfortable to report it. If they’re not happy doing that, tell them to inform you.
Teach them there’s no such thing as a freebie!
Kids are very tempted to click on links offering them free goods, a trip to Disney World, or even the latest smartphone. Make sure your kids know that these ads are just a way of getting more information from them and must be avoided at all costs.