Parents: Beware of Kid’s Apps

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In the current age of technology, parenting has taken lots of unexpected twist and turns.  We did not grow up with cell phones, much less thousands of apps, millions of opportunities to connect with endless number of people, and intricate technological skills that interconnect the world.  (Whew, that was a long sentence with big words).  But really, that summarizes the exhausting task of keeping an eye on kids in this day and age.  Parents and teens are often frustrated by one another as they try to navigate this new telecommunication maze.  So here are a few Apps of which to be aware.
The bottom line, we can snoop all day long, but the kids are going to be 1-4 steps of us when it comes to electronics.   So talk to your kids about these apps and see what they have heard, what they have seen, and why these may not be the right decisions for them.  Stay calm and collected through the conversation, no matter what they say, and let them keep talking.  Let them brainstorm about the many reasons why these should not be on their phone.  Just like children have to learn how to use a knife, how to drive a car, how to use a lawn mower, they have to learn how to responsibly use this powerful tool, The Phone.  Don’t jus say no and avoid it all.  Talk to them, understand their wants and desires, and help guide them toward the right decisions, teach them to safely and respectfully use apps and technology.

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Kik – this is a messaging app that lets 100 million users share photos, youtube videos, and messages.  It lures kids in with promises of connecting with new people, making new friends, etc.  There are no parental controls and no way of authenticating its users, thus its a great site for sexual predators to anonymously interact with minors.  The term “Kik buddy” means “sex buddy”.  This is one of the leading apps where sexual predators lurk.

Tinder – this is a dating app that allows users to rate people’s profiles and locate “hookups” via GPS tracking.  Rating encourages bullying.  GPS tracking allows for predators to locate your kids.  This app has become so common that some of its uses have become main stream lingo.  Ex: swipe right is now in the Urban Dictionary and it means accept something, swipe left means to decline something.

Snapchat – this app allows kids to send pics that will self destruct within a few seconds, unless someone takes a screen shot.  This app is notorious in middle schools and high schools for naked selfies.  Kids bask in the “safety” of the disappearing photo and thus send many controversial poses and inappropriate selfies.  Furthermore, there is a feature on Snapchat that allows kids to link up Credit Cards, and this has led to payment for nude selfies.  Yes, I know what you are thinking – this is child porn.  Exactly!!  Disclaimer, this app has gained tremendous popularity in the past 2 years and most kids use it for goofy selfies, silly stuff, and to keep in touch with friends.  I am learning to use this app to communicate with my kids and understand their world.  We have had numerous discussions on appropriate use and my concerns.

YikYak – this app allows users to anonymously send sexually explicit and abusive language.  Communication focuses on derogatory language, personal attacks, and sexually explicit language.  Its users are anonymous thus it allows for endless bullying and unrestricted behavior.

Ask.fm – this app allows users to anonymously ask questions and get answers from random people.  This leads to foul language, bullying, derogatory remarks, and inappropriate content.  This is the leading app for “causing” kids to commit suicide in the US.  This is a perfect example of consequence free bullying.

Vaulty – this app snaps photos of anyone trying to get into the app without knowing the password.  It allows for hidden pictures, messages, and videos.

HiCalculator – looks like a calculator but allows users to hide pic, messages, videos.  It shows up as a calculator on the phone until the password is typed in.

Here a few more of the deceptive apps

deceptive apps
deceptive apps

Feel free to write comments about other apps that have caused trouble in your house.  Parents need to stick together to even try to stay on top of the game, or at least a few feet behind.

In Good Health,  Ana-Maria Temple, MD

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