December 20, 2023
Christmas is right around the corner, and one of the most popular gifts parents give to their kids is a cell phone. In 2019, 40% of parents planned to gift their teenagers a cell phone. However, with a whole new world unlocked with access to a cell phone, it’s important that parents are aware of the potential dangers that can be found in many applications as well as solutions that they can use to help quell the negativity.
Here are some popular types of applications that parents should be wary of:
When chatrooms are the main feature of an app, it can become a place for not only cyberbullying but also inappropriate conversations and users pretending to be a different age with malicious intent. There is also the concern of children sharing personal information with other users. One application in particular that parents should know is Picnic. Rated for children 9+ on the App Store, Picnic is an app that parents should know of. Originally created to connect kids in communities based on their interests, it has its own set of pitfalls, particularly with the young demographic using the app. Other similar apps include Omegle, Amino, Discord, Telegram, and more.
As with any online chatroom or community forum, there is always the possibility of an unsavory user participating with malice. Consider the age of your child before allowing them to download applications like this, and have a conversation with them about personal privacy and what to do in situations when someone makes them feel uncomfortable.
If you’re not already familiar with the idea, fake calculator apps, also called calculator vault apps, provide another way for phone users to hide sensitive or secret photos, videos, or other files on their phones. These types of apps are commonly used to store sexually explicit photos, particularly for teenagers. In addition to the pre-existing dangers of sexting, uploading sensitive content to an online application should always be done with caution.
When your child first receives their phone, that is a perfect time to discuss the basics of Internet safety, highlighting to them that anything uploaded to the Internet, which includes online applications, cannot be fully erased. Caution should always be taken when downloading and agreeing to the terms of any online application or website.
While the age that children receive their first cell phone has trended younger and younger over the years, apps like Qustodio and Bark help parents monitor their younger children’s phone usage and help teach them healthy phone use habits from the start, allowing them to filter what apps and websites are visited as well as monitor browsing history. These apps send notifications to parents when certain websites are attempting to be accessed and allow parents to track the location of their children via their phone.
Bark also offers its own phone with this application and its features built-in. However, as children get older, it is important that they learn how to self-regulate their phone usage without parental intervention. Having open conversations with your children about these sensitive topics will help them develop this skill in the long-run.