Sunday, September 01, 2019

15 Apps Parents Should Look Out for on Their Kids' Phones

Important story via KING-5 for all parents whose children have cell phones:

The recent arrests of 25 men in Florida for allegedly trying to have sex with children has prompted a sheriff there to issue another 'app warning' for parents, reports CBS Miami.

During his press conference last week, the sheriff listed 15 apps as ones that parents need to know about. (Six of them were used by suspected predators who were recently arrested.)
  • The first is 'MeetMe,' an app where teens can easily be in contact with users much older than them, with an emphasis on dating.
  • 'WhatsApp' and 'SnapChat' are for messaging, but what you should know is teens can send unlimited messages, have video chats and even share their live location with other users, people they may not even know. 
  • 'Skout' is a flirting app that's used to meet and chat with new people. Teens and adults are in different groups, but ages aren’t verified. 
  • 'TikTok' is used for sharing user created videos that can contain bad words, even adult content.
  • 'Badoo' and 'Bumble' are dating apps for adults, but teens can still find ways to join. 
  • 'Grindr' is geared towards the LGBTQ community. It allows users to share photos and meet up based on phone’s GPS location.  
  • 'Kik' is specifically for kids, but anyone can join and anyone can contact or direct message your child. 
  • 'LiveMe' is a live streaming app, but you don’t know who’s watching and your kids location is revealed.
  • 'Holla' is all about connecting strangers around the world through video chat. Enough said. 
  • 'Whisper' is a social confessional where kids can remain anonymous, but still share their feelings. And it can reveal your child’s location for a meet up. 
  • 'ASKfm' encourages people to allow anonymous users to ask them questions, which opens the door for online bullying.
  • 'Hot or Not' rates users on attractiveness.. There’s no age verification and users can send each other messages. 
  • And lastly, 'Calculator%' apps are several secret apps that allows kids to hide their photos, videos, even browser history.
When my kids were in high school and I was busy on the PTSA, I sometimes would have parents throw up their hands about their kids and say, "He's a teenager, I have no control." 

I gently offer two pieces of advice.

One, teenagers love to be like water on a rock.  They think if they keep asking and throwing out bogus reasons why they should get to do something, it will work.  My best way to curtail that was this:

"Did you ask me a question?"  "Yes."

"Did I give you an answer?" "Yes."

"Then, we are done." And you walk away.

Two, on this particular issue of cell phones and especially your access to your child's phone, you have the power of the purse. You bought that cell phone, you're paying for the service and yes, as your child is growing and learning about the nature of the world and how to interact, you get to see what is on the phone in order to protect them.

Now you can decide about reading texts (I think that is invasive myself) but looking at what apps are on their phone should be non-negotiable.

I don't advocate punishing your child for some of these not-so-good apps being on their phone but it's a good time to talk about why they may have downloaded them.

Lastly, I know some parents have issues with their child's room (which they probably share with a sib so there's now two of them).  What I ended up doing was:

1) Telling my boys (I think it was 7th or 8th grade) that they would be doing their own laundry OR I was coming in their room and getting it.  Which meant I would be looking around.  They learned to do their own laundry which then served them well in college.

2) I told them I would not search their room or drawers or backpack except if I suspected weapons or drugs (neither of which was ever an issue for them).  However, I would be coming in to vacuum the floor.  It's my house and I retain the right to maintain it.  What I found was sometimes not pretty - food left under the bed, dirty clothes under the bed, candy wrappers, etc.  There was also the occasional note or receipt that gave me pause but I generally just left it where I found it without comment.

Good luck with your teen - those years are the ones where time speeds up and then they are gone.


Anonymous said...

Sort of related ... b/c it is about privacy ... and I posted on the "Friday thread" so feel free to delete this here but ... can somebody update on Naviance, the pros and cons, including whether the disability status of a student is protected (e.g. whether the student has an IEP or 504 plan) and the FRL status of a student whether that is protected. It seems like colleges have access to a whole lot of "pre-thinking" of our students and it is more than a portal for managing teacher recommendations for college.


Eli said...

I hope parents aren't going to approach their kids with the idea that WhatsApp and Snapchat are sordid apps they should "look out for". Because that's going to get some heavy eyeroll, and what's more you will be objectively wrong-footed: these are general-purpose messaging apps. With some bias towards embarrassing content in Snapchat's case, since their original foundation is ephemerality, but users generally by now have internalized that anything can be screenshotted.

If you don't already know what WhatsApp is, you probably should install it (with the understanding that it's a Facebook property that does Facebook things to you and you might want a burner account) and find out. More generally you probably have had conversations about safety, trust, the various motivations of unknown parties? But if you have not talked about the specific power dynamics of age and gender you might want to get on that despite your possible discomfort.

("user created videos that can contain bad words"? Welp then.)

Jessie White said...

Well organized


Jessie White said...

very informative.

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