A saying that has become more popular with every new technical invention, which is occurring as this article is written. Nowadays there’s an app to map and record your workout, catch up with and stay in contact with long lost friends and classmates, remotely lock your doors and change your TV settings, entertain your children, and save notes such as your grocery list and your most important memories. While all of these items are very useful and make life’s tasks more convenient, there are some down sides. Being able to stay in contact with your child via cell phone is extremely helpful. Does your child really require a Smartphone? It is important that you realize your child’s access to the Smartphone is not only used to keep you informed of his or her whereabouts and to use in case of an emergency. Your child also has access to apps and social medias. Some of these are perfectly harmless and are used simply to sty in touch, make plans and save pictures. It is the harmful apps that parents must be aware of and monitor in our children’s best interest. Here’s a list of some of the more dangerous apps that you may want investigate, especially if they are downloaded on your adolescent’s Smartphone. There is no way to completely monitor our children 24 hours a day, but we have to try. Smartphones are a huge part of our daily and nightly activities and the dangers associated with them should not be taken lightly. Talk about these apps and the dangers they present. Have real life conversations to ensure they understand keeping their personal information private is a crucial requirement when using a Smartphone. Stay informed. You can Google any of these apps’ names and readily acquire their ratings and detailed information. Staying informed is your best defense against harmful Smartphone situations and your children.
- KiK Messenger, Wickr and Discreet Folder Icon - You may think you’ve got your child’s messages monitored. With these apps, your child can private message without you being able to see who or what they are messaging. The identity of someone using these types of apps is difficult to verify therefore, popular apps among predators.
The best way to know if your child is using a potentially dangerous app is for you to recognize and understand them yourself. Doing a little bit of research and investigating can provide you with the background you need to communicate with your adolescent Smartphone user.
Keeping secrets from parents is part of growing up. Our children aren't always good decision makers, it is an acquired talent derived from life's experiences. As parents, we must give life lessons and knowledge is the key. Finding out about the secrets can allow parents to make good decisions regarding their children's Smartphone safety.
- Yik Yak or Shrtwv - This app is very popular on college campuses and has been written up in the news for cyber bullying, distributing sexually explicit content, and launching personal attacks. Schools are beginning to block Yik Yak on their Wi-Fi. It starts with being completely anonymous. It is text-only and can be viewed by “Yakkers” closest to the person posting determined by GPS tracking. So everyone on these types of apps knows that the people they are in contact with are in their area, but do not know who they are. So a posting such as “check out the crazy hot chick in the purple shirt” would cause everyone to look at the purple shirt but not know who posted this. Of course if the posts were all complimentary this may be flattering, but harmful, hurtful comments also spread through the network of Smartphones that are in the specified area.
Even after apps are blocked or taken off the market, others quickly arrive in a new title and new look, but are still provoke the same dangers as the originals. Staying up on "current apps" is a chore but also a necessity if your child possesses a Smartphone.
- SnapChat - This is a favorite among many kids of all ages, as well as adults. It sounds harmless, however as with anything, can also be very misused. This app allows you to send a picture that will disappear in 10 seconds. You can use your imagination on how this app is misused. “Sexting” at a perfect level of opportunity. That is until you realize the recipient can “screen shot” the picture and save it for whatever reason they desire.
- Whisper - This is similar to Yik Yak and Shrtwv in that the posts are anonymous, however it displays the area you are posting from and you can search for users that are within one mile from your location. Anonymous online relationships are a recipe for disaster, especially when you do not know the person but both of you know the location. There has been a rape conviction of a man who met his victim on this app.
- Poof - This is probably the most important for you to know. This app allows your child to hide all the apps they do not want you to see on their Smartphone with one swipe. This app is no longer available but if you child obtained it before it was eliminated, they may still have it. There are apps similar to this popping up and will be more. Watch out for apps with names such as “Hidden Apps”, “App Lock” and “Hide It Pro”.