The rise of affordable and accessible internet has introduced some new players to the field of parenting. One the one hand, your teen may be easier to get ahold of, more liable to schedule their lives and less likely to tie up the home phone line, but the down side is that it is becoming harder and harder to keep him safe from potentially dangerous apps. One of the trickiest things about this new world of potentially negative social media experiences is that teens may not grasp how quickly they can fall into something that could leave a negative impact and if they do, they are probably one step ahead of you when it comes to hiding it.
This generation of parents is the first to have to navigate the world of parenting with mobile phones and nearly constant internet access and you are at a distinct disadvantage because you don’t always hear about the newest and trendiest apps. While being a parent in the digital age requires consistent and regular research to make sure you are on top of your teen’s activities, here are some of the most common apps to watch out for.
- Kik/Snapchat – Kik and Snapchat are similar in that they claim to post images and messages without logging them into the phone’s history, but because there are no parental controls, they are both popular mediums used by sexual predators targeting minors. Users are lulled into thinking that they can get away with posting inappropriate content that will ultimately disappear; however, anyone with a screenshot feature can ensure that this simply isn’t the case. Snapchat is instrumental in giving rise to “sexting” among teens.
- Whisper – Whisper is an app that allows users to post anonymous secrets and interact with other users. It can be dangerous because it draws kids into communicating with strangers and is a prime location for racism, vulgarity and cyber-bullying.
- Yik Yak – This relatively new app allows individuals to make comments that are immediately accessible to up to 500 people within a five-mile radius. Once popular on high school and college campuses, it has caused so many problems for racism, cyber-bullying and cruelty that many schools have electronic parameters set up to block the app while on school grounds.
- ChatRoulette, Omegla, Tinder – ChatRoulette, Omegla and Tinder are all social media sites that connect users both local and across the globe. The problem with sites such as these is that any individual can set up a fake profile and be connected with your child and it is relatively untraceable. Teens can be easily exposed to nudity or cyber bullying with no recourse.
- Grindr – Grindr is a blind dating website, specifically targeted to homosexuals. Experts have begun issuing warnings for such websites because crimes relating to them are increasing alarmingly, including sexual exploitation of children.
- Vent – While sexting and nudity are not an issue with the Vent app, parents should still be concerned. Vent is designed to allow users to “vent” their feelings, which can be harmless for basically emotionally healthy teens, but can quickly become a destructive environment for those with depression, anxiety or self-harming tendencies.
- Poof – Poof is designed to help users hide other apps on their phone. Naturally, this is quite popular with teens that want to keep their social media activity from their parents.
Apps that are inappropriate for teens can sometimes seem like the many headed Hydra of Greek mythology; you remove one and two more spring up in its place. While it is always important to monitor your teen’s mobile devices personally, it is also crucial to give your teen rules and restrictions regarding the privilege of having a phone. Education and awareness about the dangers of the internet and some social media sites are just as important as checking your teen’s phone on a regular basis.
For more information on how to help your troubled teen, visit our site at Sundance Canyon Academy.