Online predators are a tough reality that responsible parents must face. The Internet has opened a door to terrible scenarios where children can be directly contacted by sexual criminals or be relentlessly bullied. This is constantly happening and authorities are all over it in order to prevent the dramatic consequences.
However, parents have a big responsibility in the prevention of these terrible situations. Kids have too much exposure these days and that’s partially because of their parents’ permissiveness when it comes to technology.
Giving our kids a smartphone is a massive yet necessary step at some point. We want them to be communicated, to be connected if anything comes up. Nevertheless, it’s paramount for kids to give safe use to the Internet and their devices’ capabilities to connect with the rest of the world.
Now kids are about to go back to school, the My IT Guy team wanted to talk about a series of apps that, when used irresponsibility and carelessly, creates opportunities for online predators and cyberbullies to approach children and harm them. Parents’ intervention is key to keep hazards at bay and, in case it’s necessary, alert the authorities.
Besides predators, we are seeing abundant cases of cyberbullying through these apps. Kids get oustanding exposure on these platforms and other users can reach them through text messages, audio, and video. The opportunity is golden for those who desire to harm others.
The following apps are designed to bring people closer but when used by both kids and malicious parties, they create dangerous situations.
The messaging app we all know can become a liability when used irresponsibly by kids. Through this app, users can share, besides text messages, photos, videos, voice messages, live voice and video calls, live location, and other files.
The massively popular social media platform allows users to share temporal photos and videos publicly, allowing online predators to find victims on an ongoing basis. Sharing locations is also possible.
In the online dating world, there is much more than Tinder. Bumble is one of the options people have to find romantic interests or new friends. The problem is that the company has little options to verify the real age of users and kids are using false information to get into the app.
With MeetMe, we have the same situation as with Bumble and Tinder. However, this app takes things further by encouraging users to meet in person, which is a serious danger for kids who easily falsify their information and create an account.
The dating app aimed at the LGBTQ community uses real locations to show profiles, just like other apps do. Once again, kids are providing fake information in order to create accounts and using the platform.
Ask.FM has been present for a while now, first as a website and now as a robust app that allows users to request their followers to ask any questions. The idea is to create a highly interactive environment that is inviting and social. However, anonymity is a factor and that can be dangerous.
This app offers live-streaming capabilities to offer publicly-available content. In the form of a reward system, users can give streamers coins as appreciation for their content. This interaction can lead kids to take private conversations further.
The social media platform is experiencing an meteoric rise in popularity and it’s specially designed for teenagers and young adults. TikTok allows users to create short videos often accompanied by music. The challenge is that privacy settings are very limited and don’t do a great job keeping users safe from malicious parties.
Another dating app to watch out. Badoo was been present for a while and it offers the exact same problem that other apps in its category: location-based exposure and poor ID verification procedures that allow under-age users to be present.
Skout is more of the same when it comes to dating apps, allowing teenagers and kids to use the app without properly verifying their age.
The instant messaging app has been present for a while now, giving flexible features to its users to communicate in different formats and at all times. It’s like a Whatsapp with bigger challenges for privacy.
Holla has been designed to meet with new people in just seconds and by using video. This may be fun and interesting for adult users but it becomes really dangerous for kids. There are limited tools to keep children safe and authorities have stated that the platform had suffered several cases of racist attacks.
This app is a utility one that allows smartphone users to hide photos, videos, browser history, and other files. While it’s great for privacy purposes, kids may use them to hide things that they don’t want their parents to find, making it a serious liability in our quest to protect them from the Internet.
Whisper is an anonymity-based social media platform that encourages users to tell other people their secrets. The problem is that online predators use it to get intimate with naive users like kids and convince them to meet in person. The app offers the user’s location as well.
Hot or Not
The final item in our list belongs to a dating app. Hot or Not is like any other dating app in our list but the main use people give to it is to casually hook up. For obvious reasons, it represents an inappropriate environment for kids who may create accounts by falsifying their personal info.
How Parents Can Keep Their Kids Safe?
The whole idea of pointing out which apps are contributing to the problem is to create awareness among parents. If a kid has a smartphone with an Internet connection, it’s paramount that his or her parents understand which apps represent a serious hazard to their wellbeing.
So, now knowing which apps represent a liability, how can you act?
- Have a long, detailed conversation with your child to explain the dangers of using these apps in an irresponsible way.
- Check your child’s smartphone and make sure that there isn’t any app installed that may compromise his or her wellbeing. In that case, proceed to uninstall.
- For those apps that are needed for communication, like Whatsapp or Kik, review open chats and make sure that there is nothing wrong going on.
- If you see something strange, be swift to report the case to the police. The ideal scenario is to provide the authorities with key information about online predators and cyberbullies, so they can catch them on time.