Keeping Our Kids Safe on the Internet and In Apps
This video is a great illustration of how dangerous social media can be to our kids.
As parents I think it is often confusing and overwhelming to keep up with what our kids are doing on Social Media and the Internet. But as parents and coaches I think it is very important that we are constantly working to keep our kids accountable and safe, knowing that at some point, our kids can and probably will at some point in life do the things that we think they never will do. I have compiled a list of apps that many of our kids have, how they are using them and how we can keep our kids safe on the internet. I hope that through this article we can each learn one new thing that you may not have previously known!
Apps and Social Media- We all use many of these things for the right reasons, the issue becomes that there are many people out in the world that are using these apps for the wrong reasons. Many of them are to find vulnerable children. Many of our kids post things not realizing the implications or understanding that these things do not go away.
- Facebook- This is your child’s public profile this is their attempt to say yes mom and dad, I am on social media, you can follow me and look how good I am. The only place that we often see kids get in trouble on Facebook is in their messages. Check your child’s messages often for people you do not know messaging them. Look at the content of these messages often predators will pose as a younger person with a fake profile to lure kids into trusting them.
- SnapChat- There is a 95% chance that your child has a snapchat. This app is dangerous as it allows our kids to send messages and pictures that “disappear” after a set amount of time. This allows kids to feel invincible and will send pictures they may not otherwise. This is a place where nude photos are often sent, and the first time that boyfriend no longer loves them, these pictures are public. The thing about this is there are now third party apps that allow people to save those pictures, so what your son or daughter thought was being sent to one person can easily be distributed all over the school. Many of these apps have predators that will “cold call” our kids by sending a nude photo in snapchat and say things like I showed you mine, now show yours and sadly many of our kids will send pics back. Why? Because they felt like they sent one so they “had” to. To us this sounds absurd but understand this is a different generation and time than when we grew up. Pay close attention to who your child has on snapchat.
- Instagram- Instagram is an app where people can post only photos and videos. They caption them and share them with the people following them. People can see these photos and Direct message your child. Be aware of the way your child portrays themselves in these photos. Is it over sexual or provocative? Likely your younger children don’t even see this but their are people out there looking for these types of pictures. Even more dangerous now is an underground part of Instagram called sinsta- IE Secret Insta, kids will create an alter-ego or fake profile that allows them to post things that they only want certain people who know their fake name to see. Sinsta is where kids often hide their very provocative photos and drug and alcohol use.
- Twitter- Twitter is interesting as most adults don’t like it. They don’t see the use of scrolling for days through random posts. Unlike Instagram, twitter doesn’t monitor and ban nudity etc. So it is important to watch who and what type of groups your child is “following” on twitter.
- Musical.ly- This app allows kids to sing and “dance” to songs. The thing about this app is that the younger girls watch older girls sing to sexually explicit songs making seductive motions and they mimic it. I have seen many of these videos from kids ages 6-11 in our gym. The thing that is scary about this naive innocence is that there are pedophiles seeing these and seeing these kids as potential targets. They can comment on the kids videos and suddenly our young children are talking to very bad people innocently. Because they are telling them their video is good they feel a relationship with these people and see them as innocent be cause they can be the same age as their parents or grandparents.
- Kick- If your child has this app make them delete it immediately, this is the number one area sexual predators like to hang out! This is a messaging app where people can message back and forth much like AOL chat of our days. Nothing good happens on this app.
- Omegle and Chatroulette- These are supposed to be Adult only apps, but many teenagers like to go on them. Basically this is an app where you push a button and it connects you with a random person there is a 50% this person will be a nude male. This is a bad bad app!
- Last and not least, Calculator- Every phone comes with a calculator app. If you see your child has a second one or a second app of things like compass flashlight etc. This is an issue. One of these is not what it says it is. These are apps that kids use to hide nude pictures etc. these are functional apps that with the right code can unlock a vault that allows you to store photos and videos.
This is just the top of the iceberg with so many options out there for apps it is important that we stay on top of what our kids are doing on social media.
Here are some tips to help you stay in the know and keep your child safe:
- Understand that while your child may think they need privacy they don’t! You would never allow your child to lock themselves in their room with their boyfriend so why do we allow them to lock their phones and not let us see what is on them? Know your child’s phone code to unlock their phone, check their social media accounts regularly. If they know you will be looking they are less likely to do things.
- Look for warning signs. If your child has no more than one day of history in their text messages, instagram, twitter, or fb messages they are likely hiding something. There is no reason to be deleting these messages. When you go through your child’s messages look for missing pieces of conversations or things that don’t make sense. Watch if you see your child texting “Brian” all night and when you go through their phone and there are no messages from Brian it is an issue. Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for.
- Know key terms that you should be looking out for, or words that don’t make sense to you. If you don’t get it look it up! Check Urban Dictionary for all of the slang that is out there. You could be shocked what your kids are talking about. Some really common ones:
ASL- Age, Sex and Location (popular on kik)
PIF- Slang for weed
Molly- this is ecstasy, look for words like “is Molly in town”
Skittles- A variety of prescription drugs in one bowl
0- an ounce of drugs
Turnt Up- Getting High, Drinking etc. Many kids say this with no drug references.
- Create a fake profile, watch your children through fake profiles. Good way to monitor them. Check with your cell provider for ways to set limits and restrictions. Many of the companies allow you to monitor very closely what your kids are doing including who they are texting, how many times and who they are calling. Remember our kids DON’T NEED privacy, they need limits.
- Teach your kids to think before posting, if it meets this than they can post it?
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it necessary?
- it is illegal
- is it hurtful
Remember your child should not be your friend, if they are happy with you all the time, you are probably not strict enough with them. Did you always love your parents? If we are raising responsible kids we have to set limits for them at times, it is my hope that together we all raise kids who are ready to leave Five Star and take on the world!