Do you worry about what your kids can be exposed to when they’re playing on a tablet or computer?
If you don’t, you might want to rethink that! And if you do already, hopefully this will help you understand some of the dangers that are out there even better.
For the most part, technology is good, but sometimes we wish it would slow down a bit to allow us to catch up. And by that, I mean to let me understand the ins and outs of every app that my kids use before they actually use it. It’s tough to stay ahead of things in a digital world!
And what about our kids? They pick up new apps like IT professionals! Imagine using apps without watching a Youtube video about it!
Their insatiable curiosity (and lots of free time!) allows them to understand and use apps on their own. And that’s what can be scary! Their naivety and innocence can sometimes be exploited by those apps they’re using as they allow them to connect online to different people all over the globe.
Now don’t misunderstand me!
I’m not saying the apps listed here are downright bad and dangerous. But, they can be if we don’t educate our kids about the dangers that are there and how some people may try to take advantage of their innocence. All I’m really asking is that, as parents, we should take a closer look and see for ourselves if it’s something we are comfortable with our kids are doing. We might be exposing them to things that we would never allow in person. Even though it’s online, it doesn’t mean that it cannot hurt our child psychologically (like bullying and the ever-increasing suicide rates) or be taken offline if they give out personal information. Watch this video to see first hand experiences from a couple of kids who became victims themselves:
6 Dangers of Apps and the Internet on Kids
As the video says, we all want a safe environment for our kids. Now, it’s not just the physical environment we need to be conscious about but the digital environment as well. Protecting our children gets harder and harder as danger is now hidden online, putting young, innocent minds at risk. We can be right next to them and not know that they are being preyed upon by online predators. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Online predators are prevalent and often disguise themselves as young kids wanting to play and befriend your kid. In Fox 32 Chicago report late last year, the FBI has issued a warning to parents to monitor their kid’s activities online since two dozen sexual online predators have been arrested. Now, that is scary! Watch the FBI warning here.
Early this year, the whole world was alarmed as the news of the Momo Challenge spread. Momo (a creepy looking woman with bulging eyes) popped up in the middle of several kid videos like Peppa Pig and LOL on Youtube to trick kids into harming themselves and even committing suicide. Thankfully, upon further investigation, it was proven to be a hoax. Nevertheless, it opened the world to the dangers of Youtube and the important role that parent’s play in keeping their kids safe online.
Cyberbullying has been on the rise in recent years. Statistics say that about 90% of teens have ignored bullying that they witness in social media and about a third have been victims themselves. Cyberbullying is especially difficult to cope with since kids who spend time on devices have no escape from constant torment.
You may think cyberbullying is limited to email and messaging apps, but that’s not the case. Chat boxes in games have also been breeding grounds for bullying, especially targeting those not performing well in games. Learn more about cyberbullying and ways parents can prevent cyberbullying here.
Identity Theft and Exposing Private Information
Since kids can’t see who they talk to or play with and cannot fully grasp online social interaction, it is easy for them to be tricked into divulging personal information. It can start with their names, addresses, school and even their own pictures. For them, the requests may seem friendly and unless they’re taught otherwise, they don’t realize the gravity of exposing those online, to a stranger nonetheless.
Some hackers specifically lure kids to reveal personal information as they have clean credit histories and unused social security numbers which they can use for identity theft for years to come. Learn more about why you should protect their online privacy in this article by CNN.
Viruses and Malware
Malware or “malicious software” are computer programs designed to infiltrate computers without the owner’s permission. It usually performs harmful actions and plants viruses, spyware, trojans and other threats in your computer without your even knowing it. It can even steal personal information stored in your computer and hold you ransom to have it returned! Because the threat is so common, it’s important to tell your kids not to download or click any link their “friends” online ask them to, no matter what tricks they use to convince them that it is an easy way to get to the next level or win a game.
Posting Compromising Information That Becomes Part of Their Digital Record
Posting anything online makes it permanent. There is no delete button and chances are someone already saw it, saved it, shared it, or downloaded it. What seems like a simple picture may be detrimental to them later on in life. Posting a carefree and wild picture from prom or spring break for teens may seem fun at the moment, but imagine it being seen by future hiring managers, or people that you want to impress. Yup… it can be embarrassing and can spell the difference of getting that coveted college or job opportunity.
6 Apps that are Dangerous to Kids
Minecraft is a multiplayer online game that allows players to build anything with the use of blocks in a 3D generated world. It allows kids to use their imagination by building and creating different worlds along with other different players. The graphics are simple, but the creativity is endless.
Why is it dangerous to kids?
Because anyone can play it and interact with other players, you can meet a lot of different people, not necessarily kids too! Your kids can add and accept any friend requests.
Unscrupulous players could use resources you need to build your world to lure you into accepting their friend request and divulge any personal information such as your real name, address and even ask for your picture. An extreme request would be to meet up in the “real” world.
Similar to Minecraft, Roblox is also a multiplayer online game. It allows players to create and play multiple games within the app.
Why is it dangerous to kids?
It is a very social app where you are encouraged to interact with other players and make them your online friends. There even is a chat and party button which can be a potentially dangerous feature for your kids.
Would you let your 6 year old hang out with a foul-mouthed pre-teen at the playground?
You might be doing exactly that by letting them play this game!
Users are not limited to kids and since it’s a fun way to be creative, it can also be attractive to adults. You definitely wouldn’t let your kids play with strangers, especially adults, in person.
So, why would you allow it via this app?
Another danger is that since everyone is given free rein in creating games, some games and graphics may not be suitable for young kids. So make sure you monitor your kid’s screen time as you wouldn’t want to expose him to too much violence or adult content.
Fortnite is an online survival game where players battle each other to be the last man standing. You start with 100 players and must defeat the 99 others to win.
Why is it dangerous to kids?
As it is a survival game, screen time and encouraging violence is your strongest enemy. Too much screen time is just bad, especially for kids. Similar to Minecraft and Roblox, this too has as Add Friend button so your kid can be added by anyone, young and old alike.
There are also private chats which could potentially lead to your kid divulging sensitive information such as their real name, address, picture, whereabouts, etc. Since it’s a “shooter”, exposure to violence is inevitable.
Some older players get so immersed in the game that they curse or use foul language while playing. How would you like your littles to think that’s normal behavior?
Now, Youtube is such a popular app for both kids and adults alike. It allows you to post and watch videos online.
Why is it dangerous for kids?
Many parents have used Youtube videos to keep our crying and shouting toddlers entertained. While it may have given us a few minutes of peace, letting them watch on their own can be risky if they don’t know what to look for. Since Youtube is open to anyone, your kids may inadvertently click on inappropriate videos. Even worse, ads are also rampant in Youtube and many are inappropriate for kids in my opinion. Even the ones on kids videos!!!
Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to post short-lived (24 hours) photos and videos. It is very popular with preteens because the history goes away, and their editing filters are really great..
Why is it dangerous to kids?
As with all social media apps, it exposes you to a lot of people, to strangers. It may be fun for your kid to post funny pictures and use cool filters, but the mere creation of the account allows others to befriend your kid online. And once added by your friend, you’ll never know what they talk about online and what kind of pictures they send or receive.
Plus, most of these apps will sell your personal information to advertisers, and that’s why most apps do not allow children under the age of 13. But we all know, those restrictions are easy to bypass!
TikTok is an app used to create and share short videos. Your kid may love it as it allows them to use their creativity when making a video.
Why is it dangerous to kids?
While it may be fun to watch your kid making his own video, it is definitely not fun for a stranger, an adult even, to contact your kid and ask for a video! Who knows where simple comments may lead to. All accounts are set to public, so anyone can see your kid’s video and your kid can see anyone’s video as well so it can expose him to racy or inappropriate videos. Foul language is also rampant, so that is something to watch out for as well. Also, since anyone can comment on your kid’s video, cyberbullying is a constant concern too.
The last two apps we mentioned are more for your preteens really. We just added them to keep you aware of what’s available.
So how do we become good parents in a digital world?
Our key takeaway is that we should all take time to sit down with your kids and see what they are doing online, explain how they can get the best out of the internet and apps without seeing the worst of it, and encouraging them to seek you if they have questions or see something that you wouldn’t like.
Eventually, they’re going to need to be able to navigate a digital world safely themselves, and starting out by telling them that they won’t get in trouble if they see something bad and tell you about it is a good start. Next, teaching them about viruses and the dangers of downloading or installing anything online without your help is risky.
Even if you set up filters to make apps kid friendly, it is always not enough. Make sure that your kids ask permission from you before they download any app so you can check beforehand if it’s age-appropriate or not. And please, always limit screen time.