Online Dangers: Tween & Teen App Guide

Online dangers are a real threat and can be easily accessed by children and teens. In my family after learning about these threats, we put some new boundaries in place to protect our children.  A few of these boundaries are:
• No electronic devices without supervision to prevent children from having too much privacy.
• A block from app downloads on our daughter’s phone (she must have our approval and password).
• We must know all passwords; check search history and text messages thoroughly.

Our personal experience:
My twelve-year-old daughter came home from school and asked if she could download a new app she heard about from her friends. When she described the app, it sounded fun and harmless. My daughter listed several friends who already had the app and they were kids with good parents that I knew and trusted. I was tempted to say “yes,” but first, shot a quick text to my husband for his approval. My husband is a police officer at our local high school and stays current on the dangers of social media. He constantly deals with student problems related to social media; some with devastating effects. His response was a “no.” That night, my husband told me the hidden dangers of this app and others. I was shocked.

The Statistics
Tweens and teens are becoming more and more addicted to their cell phones and electronics. How do we as parents protect them? A recent study revealed that in 82% of online sex crimes against minors that the offender used social media to gain knowledge about their victim. 70% of kids ages 8-18 report stumbling across pornographic images while online with the average age of being exposed is 11.

Be Informed!
Are you clueless like myself? Read below a rundown on some of the most popular apps for tweens/teens. Although monitoring your child’s online use can seem overwhelming, remember to keep open lines of communication and check their phones and electronics often.

Snapchat: This app is widely known as the “sexting app”.  Although pictures disappear quickly, they can be saved by a screenshot.  Users are tempted to share explicit content because they believe it disappears and can’t be saved.  Remind your child that whatever they put out their can be saved by the viewer.

Instagram:  Encourage your child to not have their account open to the public.  Strangers can view pictures of your child and see their location.  Teens work hard to get followers, likes and comments so most of the time their self-esteem is tied to their post and how many comments/likes they received.  This is known as the “god-father” of cyberbullying apps.

Wishbone:  Allows view of inappropriate material. Kids can compare friends, etc.  This app contains adult video content: songs, dancing, mature language and sexual content.

Vine: This app shares 6 second videos and is heavily  used to distribute pornography.

YouTube & Netflix:  Students can access very mature adult material.

Whisper:  Users are encourage to tell their secrets.  A location is posted which can allow for predators to locate and connect with the user.

Kik: Allows others to contact your child through texting.

Let’s start a healthy conversation with our children about their online use:

  1. Are you seeking to glorify God in what you do online?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

  1. Is social media your master?

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

  1. Do you use social media to boost your ego?

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36