A 2-part series about your children’s online safety in a post-Facebook world.
While as Facebook has for a long time being regarded as a one-stop shop for the majority of the social networks, today, there are several options to derive these needs. Although it can be daunting to post pictures on Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, or check your Twitter feeds throughout the day, teens and tweens love the variety.
To successfully utilize the social network, you don’t have to know everything about the apps, their terms, and conditions, or what is hot and trending at the moment- even if you did they wouldn’t be trendy anymore. You only need to know the basics; what they are, all they entail, why they are popular, and the problems associated with their not being utilized properly. Knowing this can make a positive or negative difference on your kid.
We have prepared some of the most popular types of apps and websites specifically for teen’s needs such as live-streaming, texting, chatting/meeting/dating, micro-blogging, and many more in this blog. Note that the more you know about each and every aspect regarding these apps the more you will be able to create a social bond with your teen. Apart from that, you will also be able to make safe choices for them or even guide them accordingly.
Like a messenger, this app doesn’t charge texting fees. However, it has a limit for direct and group texts. Users use it to send text messages, videos, photos, or even view calendar links. Below are some of the key things parents ought to know regarding this app:
- This app is meant for older teens– Some of the themes integrated into this app have adult contents such as sex and drinking in their themes.
- There are no connection restrictions– Since these apps are free, teens are always connected. All that is needed is an internet connection and they are good to go. They can share and text with other teens any day and anytime.
This is a mobile application that lets its kids and other users’ text for free. Unlike GroupMe, Kik Messenger has no limits in terms of messaging. In addition, it has no character limits and does not charge any fee- when you use its basic features. Since this app is meant for kid’s phone messaging services, you will not be charged for anything beyond the standard rate. Below are some of the key things a parent should know about this app:
- It is loaded with advertisement materials– Kik focuses on promoted chats, which means that it is meant to initiate conversations between users and brands. Also, it offers specialized apps that are designed to offer products on sale and are always accessible only via the main app.
- Risks dangers from strangers– As mentioned earlier, Kik is open to the public, which also means that it allows communication with strangers. Anyone who shares their username in the platform can and will chat with a stranger. In fact, the app has been involved in several cases including murder and child pornography.
This is perhaps one of the most popular apps. It lets users send messages, videos, audio messages, photos, and documents. It has no message limits or fees or boundaries. This is an international app, huge in the Middle East and in Asia. Below are some of the things parents should know regarding this app
- It is meant for users above 16 years –While as that majority of teens are known to be using this app, there is a minimum age limit set for its use.
- It can be pressurizing- When you sign in on the platform it automatically connects you to your friends using the app in your address book. This encourages you to find and add more friends in order to continue chatting and diversify your connection. What’s more, it also encourages you to add friends who have not joined yet sending them an invite.
One of the oldest ways to communicate on the web and still extremely popular. This is a hybrid type communication service which offers chatting, image sharing, screen sharing, voice communication to both skype accounts and landline/mobile numbers (for a small fee), and video conferencing. This is another app with a global footprint. With 1.43 BILLION accounts worldwide. There’s no fee to use the service, and skype-to-skype calling is free. Here’s what you need to know:
- It’s platform agnostic – Skype runs on PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Linux/BSD, Windows Phone, and Web browser. Any communications are shared between devices so long as the same account is logged into all devices.
- Pedophiles Galore – It seems that this is where all of the child molesters have ended up. Because there are so many ways to use Skype, it’s not unusual to get hundreds of requests a day to connect, especially if the user edits their profile to reflect a teenage boy or girl.
PHOTO AND VIDEO SHARING APPS AND SITES
This app lets users share videos, edit and share photos with their friend online. It can either be within a public or private network of followers. Basically, it unites most people from different background. Additionally, it also unites the most popular features of social media sites by seeing, commenting, and sharing photos. Talking of photos, Instagram lets you edit your photos by filtering and applying effects on your photos thus making them look artistic and of high quality.Below are several things parents ought to know about Instagram:
- Users, especially teens are in for the likes- Like Facebook, Instagram success is measured by the number of likes or comments on photos you receive. Note that it can be challenging if teens take it to the internet to gain popularity.
- Photos posted on the platform are public- Unless private settings are set, any photo or video uploaded on this platform is publicized amongst your followers. Anything you upload or share via your profile is shared to or within your followers- in real time. Among some other things that can be adjusted include hashtags and location information.
- Kids can send private messages via Direct option-Instagram Direct is like normal texting but you can share photos, videos, or documents. It is necessary to note that these pictures do not show on the public channel. Further, you can do it with more than 10 mutual friends. However, although it is normal to send text messages via the app, kids are more likely to mingle with inappropriate audiences or share adult content.
TikTok – including musical.ly
This application is well-known for its ability to share videos effectively and synchronize with other music sites within the social network. Teens use it in lip-synching of the famous songs including some of the latest songs. Musers, also known as devoted users, utilize this feature to build up flow amongst their friends and also share their post publicly via its dedicated platform. Below are some of the key things parents need to know regarding the TikTok app:
- There is a lot of iffy content in the platform- Note that the platform features different genres of songs and videos. Their content may also include sexual content in the mix of the adult and teen users using the platform.
- Gaining followers brings in a sense of importance- Teens tend to be attention seekers and will mostly take to the social media to seek attention and exposure. They feel highly motivated to get followers and likes on their photos or videos.
MICROBLOGGING APPS AND SITES
This is simply a cross bread between twitter and a blog. It is a scrapbook for streaming and viewing videos, photos, or listening to podcasts and audio clips. Teens use it to create and follow short blogs known as tumblelogs. These blogs can be seen by almost anyone on the internet. Today, statistics reveal that tumblogs are used by many teens for personal use such as sharing videos, musings, photos, and other contents that they may find funny or appealing.Below are some of the things parents should know about Tumblr:
- Teens can easily find pornography in the platform– Although this online platform might seem harmless, it can sometimes be raunchy. It is quite easy to find adult content inform of pornographic videos, images, drug use, self-harm, depictions of violence, and offensive images.
- Materials are easily copied and shared– Like Twitter, which utilizes the criterion of re-tweeting or reposting, a post at Tumblr can easily be re blogged from one Tumblr account to the other. In fact, as of today, many teens find it encouraging when their posts are reblogged.
This is perhaps one of the most utilized apps second from Facebook. It is a small blogging platform that gives users an opportunity to post brief messages- usually 140 characters. These messages are known as tweets and are available for both teens and adults. Normally, teens use it to share information on the trending things to keep up with the current news and celebrities. Below are some of the important things parents should know about Twitter:
- Tweets are publicized– Twitter is a public platform. That said, when you post a tweet is can be seen by almost anyone on the platform. Even so, you can also choose to privatize your account. It is, therefore, necessary to talk to your kids regarding the site to avoid cases such as problems with public accounts.
- Users get real-time updates– Up to date, Twitter is the most real-time app that is capable of updating tweets at the highest speed. Even though teens can sometimes delete the tweets, followers will be capable of reading the tweets for until the tweet disappears from the platform. This means that kids and teens can get into trouble if they post sensitive information.
In our next update we’ll talk about self-destructing and video chat apps along with other types of apps your kids may be using.
This isn’t a complete list by any means. If you have any questions of concerns about your kids and their online safety, please call the New York Nerds @ 516 606 3774. We can help put you back in the know. We offer a full suite of cyber security and forensic tools and tips to help you secure your families’ digital life.