Keeping Your Kids Safe
There is no substitute for engaging your children and being an involved parent, but with the risks to child safety changing as we become more technological the generation of parents may not know or understand all of the risks that are out there. We hear things like, "I am on my son/daughter's Facebook account so I know what they are doing online". What about their Twitter, Yik Yak, Whisper, MeetMe, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and the list goes on. Between the websites and mobile phone applications, no one can keep up with all of the ways children and teens are being exploited by predators. So what are some of the most common apps used by the up-and-coming generation and how do they work?
Snapchat - There are approximately 100 million users and 350 million snaps sent daily. A snap is a self-destructing message (photo, short video, or text) sent between users. Users can also post public snaps that all their friends can see. Snapchat usernames are often shared on other social media sites.
Whisper - Anonymous posting of image macro (text over a picture like a meme). Other users can respond to the image macros with their own image macro or private chat. Users have no public identity. Whisper searches can be filtered by nearby, popular, and groups (by school or custom group). Under settings the user several options such as editing their chat profile by age groups, editing display name, and hide or show not safe for work (NSFW) content.
Yik Yak - Anonymous posting on a geo-localized bulletin board that has a 1.5-mile radius zone. Uses geofencing to prevent access in certain areas. Users can create accounts, allow chatting, and edit their profile.
So how do you keep up on all of this? There are several sites to assist parents and teens in staying safe and learning of the dangers in using social media and the internet.
NetSmartz - Sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, this website offers resources to parents and guardians, educators, law enforcement, teens, young adults, and children. You can find resources on cyberbullying, cell phones, gaming, sexting, and identity theft.
SocialSafetyPatrol.com - This website offers social media awareness and responsibility training. This site covers a variety of topics and is updated regularly.
Send This Instead - An app that empowers kids and gives a voice to those that are under pressure to send intimate or explicit images of themselves. Apple App Store, Android Google Play
This is not an endorsement or review of any specific app or website. This is educational material meant to promote the safe and positive use of social media and the internet.