Since the creation of the smart phone, parents have had to become more informed about the applications our kids have been downloading to their phones. Cyber-bullying, inappropriate content, and free apps that have hidden charges… are all issues that come up when our children integrate themselves into the world of smart phone technology. The more parents keep up and stay educated on these add-ons, the better the chance our kids will remain safe.
Below you will find a list of apps all parents should be familiar with… most of them are good apps that are misused or that can cost you money.
Snapchat is a photo messaging application in which users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. Those who use this application are able to set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps. Normally it is between 1-10 seconds. However, if a person creates a story, it remains on the users account for 24 hours. Most of the time, it is no big deal, however there are a few snapchat “users” that have created accounts and add pictures that most parents don’t want their kids seeing or contributing pictures too. I have found that even after kids have been told that once it is on the internet, it is forever there… they see Snapchat as a way around it. All it takes is one person to screenshot (a way to save the picture on their phone) and pass it around to others. In just recent weeks, some dimwit from our town created an account with pictures containing marijuana, drug paraphernalia, cocaine, meth, alcohol, videos of two people having sex, and girls exposing themselves to the camera. I, however, was not angry… I was heartbroken. So I did what any normal parent would do – I spoke to my kids about it. I told them that if any picture taken (innocent or not) belonged to them or had them in it I would discontinue their phones and they would no longer have a smart phone or iPod touch. I also did one last thing… I created a post on Facebook about the Snapchat user, explaining what the content was and the age range of the kids in it. A few were over the age of 21, but many were between the ages of 16-20. I urge every parent with kids, who have smart phones or other smart devices, to add the app to their own phone and monitor what their kids are doing. AND please talk to them about the permanency of anything they choose to put out there on the web.
Instagram is a much less invasive application. It is a fun way to share your life with family and friends. It provides you with filters and cropping to make your pictures memorable. Unlike Snapchat, there is no time limit on the photos. However, people are less likely to post inappropriate things on this application, because Instagram, most of the time, will remove the pictures or comments you find offensive. This is not a guarantee, but every time I have reported a user’s page, they have removed it. However, since the creation of smart phones and applications such as this one, cyber-bullying has become easier. For example… we have some not-so-nice girls that like to create burn pages, posting pictures of people they dislike and saying bad things about them. My daughter is very open and honest and always points out when these things arise. While she has never been a target, her friends have… so we report it and the pages are removed. While it is a friendlier application, it should still be monitored. Also kids need to only accept people they know well into their circles, including their parents.
Facebook first began as a social website and now has moved on to our smart phones. Now my older boys tell me that FB is out for them and that they only pay attention to it if they get tagged in a photo or post. However, my daughter still gets on occasionally. While FB is more adults connecting with family and friends, there are times when a little cyber-bullying can happen. I am friends with all my children and I also have their log-in information. Another application that comes along with FB is messenger. Some like it and some don’t. It is the reason I have their log-in as messages are private. Lucky for me, I have never found anything to be concerned about.
Twitter was probably one of the first applications my kids wanted on their smart phones. It can also be accessed from your home computers and laptops. This is another app in which I had to be friends with my kids in order for them to have it. I am witnessed some cyber-bullying on here as well. However, there is a character limit and does not give others a chance to get much said. It is where the hashtag # came into play.
Ask.fm is one application I absolutely despise. The idea behind this app is to ask others anonymous questions. While it may seem harmless, it opens kids up to cyber-stalking, bullying, and even pedophiles. This is definitely one app I would not allow on to my child’s phone.
Clash of Clans is a game app that kids add to their phones. They are able to add their friends and build their own clans together – then go to battle. While this game is free to download, kids are only able to go so far in the game before it really slows down. Kids are not patient when it comes to waiting, so they click a button to add more coins or level ups. Through iTunes, I have made sure I am sent notifications when a purchase is made. I was so glad I had done this because my oldest had unknowingly purchased over $20 worth of coins and level ups. In 2013, Supercell, the creators of the game, reported revenue of $892 million. I am sure a lot of it was due to those small charges here and there. After a couple of more errors, I finally made my son remove the app.
Now this is one app I love, because it has so much and I can keep track of all the apps my kids get. I also connected my kids through the cloud so anything they download appears on my phone. While I love iTunes, it can cost you a bunch of money if you don’t keep track of the songs your kids are downloading. I have trained two of my kids well as they ask me if they can get a song. However, my college boy, tends to purchase without letting me know. I have had to threaten removing his device from my account.
Since of the creation of the internet and now smartphones, parents have had to become much more aware of what their kids are doing. There are many unknown and unseen dangers lurking on the net. As parents it is our job to become familiar with the applications our children are using.
If I have left out an application that concerns you, please comment and I will research it and add it to my list.
Have a blessed week!
Mom of 5 amazing kids, married to Shawn, retired teacher of 19 years, cares for a total of 9 pets (3 frisky cats and 6 great-tempered dogs), daughter, really amateur photographer, photoshopper, a football, wrestling, track, baseball, dance, and tumbling mom, zazzle designer, constant dieter, handles the budget, hates to cook, addicted to coffee, trying-to-quit smoker, TV potato, and passionate about writing.