Updated: Aug 27
In light of the Momo Challenge I felt it was time to refresh an old Blog Post written on August 2016 and later updated on March 2018. The topic Parental Controls and Technology.
If you are a Parent, Aunt, Uncle or Grandparent I urge... NO I BEG YOU to read this entire post, watch the videos and direct your attention to the resources I provide to you at no cost. I am talking about the safety and well-being of YOUR CHILD(REN). I know we live in a busy world and we often put things on the back burner that we don't understand or think aren't important.
I'm telling you now - IT IS IMPORTANT.
What is Momo?
So whether Momo is real thing or just a ploy to drive network traffic, YouTube views or Social Media buzz it has done something that needed to occur a long time ago. That is to raise awareness of what was accessible to your family when the first 14.4 kbit/s AOL Dial-Up Modem was used in households across the country. (If you're a millennial you may have no idea what AOL is and that's fine).
o Why It's Important?
There are a lot of things that are accessible via the internet
Sharing of Private Information
Downloading Malicious Content like Malware/Viruses
So what do we do about it? Well it depends on what types of devices are being used:
Microsoft Windows Computers w/ Windows 10
Google Chrome Books
Apple OSX Computers
Google Android Tablets and Smart Phones
Apple iPads and iPhones w/ iOS XX
Now There's this update about Tik Tok (03-05-2019)
TikTok just got SLAMMED by the FTC for collecting data on your children. AND its also why you may hear kids saying their accounts were just deleted.
What about Messaging Apps?
Kidnapping, rape, child pornography, murder; these are the stories we see, all too frequently, involving our children. Even more alarming is that our kids’ smartphones, and more specifically the apps on their phones, are the gateway through which child predators get into their lives. The best way to protect your children is to arm yourself with information, so let’s take a look at some of the most dangerous apps for kids.
kik: One of the most dangerous apps for teens, and one continually making headlines, is kik. Messaging app kik allows your kids to send messages that you can’t see, and verifying the identity of both sender and receiver is very difficult. A popular app for kids under age 18, kik’s also very popular with sexual predators; this app should be deleted from your child’s phone.
Snapchat: Many adults are already using Snapchat, so you may already know the basics of using the app. Snapchat allows you to send a photo or video from your phone and determine how long the person on the other end can see the image until it self-destructs. What you may not realize is that teen users are bypassing the “self-destruct” aspect by capturing screenshots of interactions. This can be potentially devastating, as well as fuel for cyberbullying, should your teen share intimate information about themselves with friends. For this reason alone, Snapchat makes our list of the most dangerous apps for kids.
Ask.fm: A social networking site in question and answer format, Ask.fm caused enough problems in the U.K. for former Prime Minister, David Cameron, to urge parents not to let their children use the app. Seemingly innocuous, Ask.fm is being used by teens to abuse and bully others, made easier by the fact that there is no third party moderation of the content posted. Without adequate privacy settings, the absence of content moderations, and the ability to be used anonymously, Ask.fm has been linked to teen suicides around the globe.
Whisper: Another anonymous messaging app, Whisper allows users to connect in groups based upon their interests and location, and is used for “telling secrets”. While the app is rated 17+, the application allows 15-17 year olds to use the platform. 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.
Blendr: On Blendr, kids can message, exchange photos and videos, and rate the “hotness” of other users, based upon GPS location -- this, alone, poses an obvious issue with teens and tweens who are basing their identity and self-esteem on the feedback they receive from their peers. There is no age restriction, so your children can potentially be having exchanges with adults through this app.
WhatsApp: WhatsApp is a messaging service that lets users exchange unlimited text, audio, photo and video messages over the Internet. What makes WhatsApp one of the most dangerous apps for teens is that interactions and exchanges are on a platform other than their phone, meaning teens can have messaging interactions and exchanges that are not saved on their phones (and reviewed by parents). WhatsApp appeals to teens for the privacy and freedom to exchange any messages they want, with whomever they want.
While you may consider yourself a pro at navigating Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram, these are relatively safe places for your children to spend time, as attested by this list of dangerous apps for kids. Again, arm yourself with information to stay “in-the-know” with the apps your child may be drawn to, but can very well be harmful to them. Install a parental control software that includes a report when new apps are downloaded by anyone in your family.
What about YouTube, It's Safe Right?
Need to know how to French Braid, tie your shoes or speak a different language? How about some entertainment like adorable animal videos or music videos? You can find all this and SO much more on YouTube!
It’s that SO much more that every parent needs to know about! While YouTube can be a wonderful wealth of knowledge and entertainment, it can also be a wealth of inappropriate content as well for your child.
Here are 4 things every parent needs to know about YouTube
There is inappropriate content on YouTube - just like they may inadvertently stumble across internet porn or other inappropriate content on an internet search, you child could come across that on YouTube as well.
Setting Up a Google Account for your Child as opposed to letting them use your account is advised. You can take it one step further and set the child's account up through Google Family by checking out https://safety.google/families/
Most YouTube videos allow comments - when you have the conversation with your child about how to behave on social media, be sure to also include YouTube and incorporate some “best practices”.
YouTube Kids - YouTube has become so popular among children and teenagers that Google came out with a kid friendly version geared towards those ages 13 and under. This site is designed to censor any inappropriate content.
The popularity of YouTube is undeniable and can offer some exciting, educational and entertaining options for children, teens and adults! Like most things in today’s technology driven culture, it needs to be used responsibly, with discretion and parental supervision. Parental control software allows your child to have independence as they explore YouTube but with boundaries parents set to block or warn of inappropriate content. Our children and teens are exposed to a lot today and with this exposure also comes the opportunity and parental responsibility to teach them how to manage it appropriately.
How about other forms of Social Media?
The data is in, kids enjoy social media. The studies confirm it.
n fact, 89% of teens ages 13 to 17, according to Pew Research, reported using at least one social media site and 71% reported use of more than one site. Did you know that Just about every social media site allows users to sign up when they reach 13 years of age?. Your child's friends are on the websites, talking about media they saw on the websites, sharing their experiences and stories on the websites. The “happening” stuff is happening online, and kids want to be a part of the hub. Naturally, kids under the age of 13 want to engage in this as well. And they are. A study by knowthenet.org.uk found that about 59% of children have used a social network by the age of 10. Signing up for platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram underage is not difficult. Birthdays are easily faked to inflate ages and companies very rarely monitor this or even do anything about it.
Parents may pause at the thought of their younger children using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and rightly so. A child tapping into a network shared by billions of people worldwide and trying to navigate safely is an intimidating thought.
WHY ARE AGE RESTRICTIONS NEEDED?
There is a biological importance to age restrictions. One could raise the question, are we ever developed enough to have our words and actions cemented into a history book accessible to the whole world? I doubt very many people are. But before the age 13, the implications of being exposed to this, living history book called the internet are amplified. At around age 12, biologically, most kids have not developed robust enough cognitive functions for impulse control or ethical thinking.
Understanding the effect of a post on social media is beyond the cognitive grasp of a young mind, and any mistake or misjudgment cannot be wiped from the online slate thereby potentially effecting their future. Moreover, if a child is targeted by harassers or predators, their limited ability to handle such a situation at a young age may put them in danger, both mentally and physically.
Along with issues of kid’s undeveloped brains and responsibility, there are legal ramifications when kids falsify their age to create a social media account. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is designed to protect the personal information of children under 13 online. Companies are required to notify and receive permission from parents to collect personal information from kids. The act also bars companies from collecting images or video that could identify the child. The protections outlined in COPPA are not extended to children under the age of 13 but claiming they are 13 to open an account. When a child signs up for an account with a falsified birth date, they are outside the reach of protection offered by the act and their personal information is at risk.
KEEPING KIDS SAFE