WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Teens growing up in the digital world are interacting with their peers in ways some parents are just learning about, which can be scary, but there are steps you can take to protect your teen or college-age child.
Social media and your children
Facebook is no longer the most popular social media platform. Today, kids use a range of social apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Kik, and TikTok. On some of these social media platforms, users can have secret conversations or some even have the ability to make content disappear completely.
This type of behavior can lead to bullying, harassment, and in some instances, expose children to predators.
While texting and digital messaging are the most common ways teens communicate and maintain relationships, it can cause troubling and uncomfortable exchanges.
One-quarter of teens say they have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for. Seven percent of teens say someone has shared explicit images of them without their consent.
However, research shows that kids are more likely to pressure each other to send or post sexual content than an adult pressuring them.
So the question becomes, what can parents do to keep their kids safe during the age of a digital world?
Communicating with children about any potential risks they can encounter online is the most important and effective way to keep children safe while they surf the web. Children can’t avoid inappropriate content if they do not know what they should avoid.
Parents should remind children not to talk to strangers or share personal information, making kids aware and mindful of their digital footprint.
Another great way for parents to help keep children safe is to ensure they understand the risks out there. Being knowledgeable about what mobile applications your child is using helps parents understand what risks their child may face.
If children become disconnected or seem too reliant upon their smart device, setting appropriate rules and boundaries will help children make responsible decisions with their devices. Helping your child take time away from their smartphone can help them from withdrawing from social interactions.
Many colleges and even some high schools have apps they use to help children navigate around campus, report crimes and even get help in unsafe environments.
Wichita State University’s Police Department says they have a safety app called “Rave Guardian” which allows students to receive emergency notifications, they can set safety timers, share their location with their guardian and even send a tip to WSU Police.
For safety apps your child’s school uses, refer to their campus security or high school administration to learn about the specific safety options they have available.
Cellular devices like Apple’s iPhones come with an app that allows people to share their location with others and receive location updates.
Androids also have location tracking through the Google Maps app, it allows you to add people to give them access to your location.
These options are great for when children leave the house or are walking to and from home or around their college campus.
Below is a list of apps recommended by experts to help you monitor your children’s activity on their smart devices.
Bark Connect (Apple | Android): A social media and e-mail monitoring app that sends alerts when it detects unsafe activity. It analyzes all device activity and alerts parents when a problem is found. If they get an alert, parents will see the content in question and get suggestions on how to handle it ($9/month).
NetNanny: Parents can monitor digital habits and protect from harmful content, manage screen time and filter website browsing content ($11 per device/year).