“Nothing ever goes away once it is posted online…”
Our children are growing up in a fast-paced world where technology affects their daily lives in way that is truly unprecedented. While using smartphone Apps has been a growing trend for some years now, with more students learning from home and having more electronic time during the Covid-19 pandemic, this has been taken to a whole new level.
While there are numerous positive aspects to using apps, there are also significant down sides, as children are potentially exposed to adverse social dynamics and content. They can also easily connect with predators with bad intentions.
For example, seemingly innocent apps such as TikTok have become extremely popular and are used mostly for fun videos. However, content can take a quick turn and the app can be used as a platform for cyberbullying and promotion of unhealthy behavior.
We wanted to bring to your attention popular apps children are using that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office recommends parents know more about and beware of:
ASK.FM is an app where it is easy to communicate with anonymous people. It is now widely known for being a cyber bullying app, and it encourages users to ask questions.
LIVE.ME is a video app where it is easy to share videos digitally. The important thing to note is that any video broadcaster can be found as their exact location can be easily obtained. There are also ways to use coins on the site to pay for photos from minors.
HOLLA is known for being an “addicting” video chat app, where people can instantly connect and see users from all over the world. Research shows that people using the app have been confronted with racial slurs and explicit content.
MEETME and BUMBLE are two dating apps that encourage users to meet each other in person. Kids are becoming more familiar with these apps and can create fake accounts easily and falsify their age.
Whisper is another one for parents to look out for. It promotes sharing secrets socially with an anonymous network, reveals locations, and promotes meeting up in person.
A newer app that has become quite popular lately is Omegle.This app is designed to help people make new friends by meeting up with others they have never met before. In fact, Omegle’s marketing tagline is “talk to strangers.”
We also wanted to bring to your awareness the dangers that can lurk in apps with disappearing messages, such as a famously used App called Snapchat.These can be used for fun messaging with friends, but it has been prone to cyber bullying, and drug transactions.
During these times when so many children experience both a desire to connect and significant unsupervised electronic time, many are drawn to this platform. Unfortunately, Apps like these are sadly frequented by predators.
It is important to be aware of these social apps, stay up to date with the current trends, and monitor at home. For example, the latest tick-tock trends and challenges are ‘devious licks’ and ‘slap a teacher’. School-aged children may not fully grasp the ramifications of participating in these types of ‘challenges’ and of posting online. Educating children on how online content can remain forever, creating an unwanted digital legacy, and how this could affect their future, is crucial.
At Beth Emet School we strongly encourage all our families to have these discussions with their children on an ongoing basis, to pay attention to inappropriate use of apps and social media at home, and to consider parental control apps (such as Qustodio or Circle) as a tool to stay on top of tech usage.