A recent survey shows that nearly half of children that are online – are talking to strangers.
There are so many apps that kids are using that it can be hard to keep track of. It can also be hard to keep track of who else is using those apps, and if they’re communicating with your children.
It turns out, just like there are apps for kids to communicate on – there are also apps for parents to monitor the activity.
“It’s very scary, it’s a different world than the one I grew up in,” parent, Carisa Reinholdt said.
Her oldest child is in 8th grade and uses apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
“In order for her to be able to utilize those platforms, she has to have an open policy where I have access to her accounts and can go in at any time.”
Not only does she have direct access to her daughters log in, but she finds that using the app herself is also helpful.
This way, she knows how to navigate it and can spot red flags a little bit easier.
“Even when you have an extremely trustworthy child who’s very responsible, you never know what may lead them to unintentionally friend a stranger on Snapchat,” Reinholdt said.
A CyberSafe Ireland survey of 4-thousand kids shows that 43 percent of kids between the ages of 8 and 13 are talking to people that they’ve never met on social media apps or gaming platforms.
That’s why Reinholdt has made a habit of checking her kids’ accounts from their login as well as her own.
She also checks their devices for any hidden folders or profiles as well, which IT professional, Dustin Miller, says is the right thing to do.
“Just being aware of what’s on there, and if there’s something that hides pictures and video,” said Miller, “let that be a red flag, you know?”
Miller also suggests ways to monitor, like Apple’s Screen Time program or the app Net Nanny.
These programs let parents choose what apps kids can access, for how long they can access them, and even WHEN they can be accessed.
“So if they want to add an app, say it’s Snapchat, and they know they don’t want to let their 13-year-old Snapchat, they can not allow it so they can’t get onto it,” said Miller. “Or if they do have Snapchat, say they’re only going to get a half-hour a day and they can limit that control, the parents.”
This way, parents know as much as they can about the usage of any app, even before logging into it themselves.
Plus, as parents, both Reinholdt and Miller stress the importance of communication.
Ask who your kids are talking to; what they’re talking about; and where are the friends that they’re talking to? are they local?
So if any stranger danger comes up, their kids feel comfortable confiding in them.
With new apps constantly coming out, Miller also suggests to just Google the app and see what its main function is.
If making videos for an audience that goes beyond their friends or followers isn’t something a parent is comfortable with their child using, then utilize apps like Net Nanny to block the app completely.
The biggest line of defense is having access to a child’s phone and knowing their passwords to get into the phone itself and apps as well.