It is comforting to believe we have taught our children to avoid common pitfalls in life that might expose them to danger, like texting while driving or getting into a stranger’s van. Parents often enforce curfews and stress the importance of abstaining from risky behaviors to keep children safe, but we often overlook some common hidden safety concerns.
One surprising area parents often fail to see these dangers can be found hiding behind a teen’s beloved technology devices (like their Smartphone or tablet). When it comes to technology safety, it’s easy to set data limits on a teen’s Smartphone or restrict access to the Internet in the home. However, as children leave social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, many are downloading and signing up new social media sites away from the prying eyes of mom and dad.
It is estimated that 76 percent of teens take actions to hide online and Smartphone activity from parents. At the same time, rates of cyberbullying have tripled and sexting is now considered a normal part of adolescent development. The Internet is a blessing and curse for our children due to the possible exposure to sexual predators and the power damaging posts might have on a child’s future.
Our sons and daughters are flocking to a world of unregulated disappearing, anonymous, and location tracking apps that at times can present serious health and safety concerns. While children are becoming more secretive, parents need to be aware of the dangerous social media sites and trends our teens are embracing. A surprising amount of dangerous social media sites our teens now frequent have been flying under our parental radar.
Compiled below are seven sites parents need to know about that can harbor danger for our children:
Kik is a private messenger app that many teens favor for a variety of reasons, but mainly they enjoy the idea of parents not being able to read their messages. This social media app was designed to mirror text messaging without using the cell phone service or a person’s limited message plan. The problem with Kik is that it allows participants to create user identities that make it difficult to know exactly who they are talking to on the other side.
WhatsApp Messenger is a social media app that allows users to send unlimited messages, photos, video, and voice messages. While this app is free, many predators have been known to frequent this site, because teens are known to use this app for sexting.
This app features disappearing messages that allows our children to share photos or videos that “delete” themselves after a given time frame. The self-destructing qualities of Snapchat can promote teen sexting, exposure to online predators, and cyberbullies. The fleeting nature of this app makes it difficult for parents to be in the know of what exactly a child is doing online.
This site’s target audience is actually adults that are looking for potential dates. However, Tinder admits 7 percent of its registered users are children between the ages of 13 and 17! This app encourages “hook-ups” and uses location tracking to sort users. Parents need to be aware that our teens are utilizing dating sites to look for romance.
This relatively new app focuses on video chatting to communicate. Often this app is favored by gamers, but many teens have taken to sexting on this site.
Often considered one of the most dangerous social media apps, Yik Yak is anonymous and sorted by a person’s location. There is a lot of explicit content and cyberbullying posted on the message boards that can quickly escalate out of a child’s control.
Anonymous users are encouraged to use this app to share or post secrets. Even though it is anonymous, parents need to be aware that Whisper displays the area you post from down to a one mile radius.
It’s easy for parents to be lured into a false sense of security when we feel that our children are too savvy to fall victim to online schemes, predators, sexting scandals, or cyberbullying. Unfortunately, bad things do happen to good kids. Parental awareness is our greatest tool to keep our children safely scrolling social media sites.
After All, it is the loving thing to do.