It’s a parent’s job to protect their kids, but sometimes that can feel impossible in a digital age. And although apps themselves do not pose an actual threat to their safety, they can provide an opportunity to expose, persuade, and potentially lead kids to make bad decisions. So how do we stay informed about the countless apps kids use to be sure they’re safe? Thankfully, the same digital age that makes us fearful for our children, provides plenty of resources and information for parents too. There are thousands of apps available some are educational, some are useful tools, others are just for social and gaming fun. We strive to keep you aware of the most popular apps kids and teens are using and what you as a conscientious caregiver should know about them, but it is impossible to name them all.
Understand that basically ALL apps have the same 2 major concerns:
First is the ability to talk to people they don’t know, and you don’t know what they are saying or sending to them (inappropriate pictures, language etc..). Typically, this is done through private messaging or private chat. But even if these chats aren’t available on an app (and even if they are) sometimes predators will encourage and even help direct kids to other apps or locations where they can chat privately.
Second, they are exposed to inappropriate things they may not be prepared for or mature enough to handle properly. Understand that children who are active on the internet and on apps WILL be exposed to inappropriate content, profanity, drugs, alcohol, cyberbullying, predators, and inappropriate pictures and videos.
The best approach for safety concerning apps is to educate yourself and your children about internet and app safety. Stay up to date on social media and online trends. Communicate with them and tell them that you’re going to be there for them if anything makes them feel unsafe and uncomfortable.
- Do not be afraid to check your child’s phone.
- Keep digital devices in a common room, do not allow your child to go to bed in the evening with their phone of laptop.
- Establishing a family “charging station” where all devices are kept overnight.
- Check your children’s email addresses, screen names, and posts for appropriateness.
- Most importantly, talk openly and often about online safety with your kids and establish ground rules. If the rules are abused, take the device away!