Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Today, more parents are giving their children smartphone access at a young age. Because of this, many teens are quickly surpassing their parents’ tech savvy, often using social media, chat, and livestreaming apps that parents have no idea exist.
While it’s great for your teen to make connections and strengthen friendships through these apps, it can also be dangerous if your child isn’t fully aware of internet safety. During this time in your child’s life, they might need a bit of guidance to better protect themselves from potentially unsafe situations and individuals they may encounter on social media.
As a parent, you can do your research and better understand the online world your teen may be living in.
5 Popular Apps Among Today’s Teenagers
If your teen is glued to their smartphone, you may want to familiarize yourself with these popular apps that they and their peers could be using.
This app allows users to livestream videos of themselves and watch others’, as well as buy “gifts” for and receives “gifts” from other users. Some interactions on this app can become predatory and sexual in nature.
Using this app, gamers can connect with others through text, voice and video, engaging in private conversations with little to no supervision. While there are settings meant to prevent teens under 18 from accessing the more “mature” forums, children can easily change their information in the app and override that restriction.
HOLLA is basically Tinder, but live and on-camera. Instead of users’ photos appearing to strangers on the other end, their live videos appear on each other’s screens. They then can decide if they “like” the other person enough (by tapping a heart) to continue chatting. The app also enables location tracking to help connect users with others nearby.
Lipsi is an anonymous feedback app that allows users to write comments about a particular person anonymously on said person’s profile. This is a potential breeding ground for bullying and inappropriate language.
Tellonym is another anonymous messaging app that can be connected to other social media accounts. Users can follow their contacts, but the messages they send and receive are anonymous. The developers of Tellonym say that comments are moderated and that users must be 17 or older, but as with similar apps, the nature of this platform could encourage bullying.
For the full list, check out this article on CNN.
Managing Your Child’s Smartphone
While not all of these apps necessarily pose a threat to your child’s safety, it’s important to remember that they may be communicating with or broadcasting themselves to strangers. Chat with your teen about setting healthy boundaries – especially if they start taking their relationship with some of these online friends off-platform.
Here are a few additional tips for managing your child’s smartphone use, whether they’re teenagers or a bit younger:
Limit electronic entertainment for kids under five years.
Children under five years shouldn’t spend more than one hour per day with electronic entertainment, which should mostly be high-quality and educational content.
Balance electronic use with other activities.
When you’re ready to give your child their own mobile device, ensure that they’re not neglecting other activities, such as sports, reading, arts and crafts, and more. Establishing a balance early on is crucial.
Have open discussions with your teens.
When your teens reach the age where they have constant access to their own smart devices, you’ll have to give up some control. However, while you should trust your child, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in on them. Initiate open discussions so that your children understand the potential dangers of the internet, and let them know they can confide in you at any time.