Keeping kids safe on mobile devices is a challenge without proper safety precautions. Adult apps have many risks including establishing relationships with strangers, over-sharing of personal information and access to adult content. Few parents would give their kids access to adult vices such as alcohol, drugs or pornography, yet 72% of thirteen year olds have smartphones with apps that contain info on these specific topics. It's not the phones themselves that are dangerous. It's the apps that are downloaded to the phone that open the door to the dangers.
Thankfully there are tools available to parents to prevent apps from being downloaded without parental approval. Parents of course need to commit to researching the apps before allowing the download and thankfully there are many websites that provide some great app reviews. Protect Young Eyes and Smart Social are two of our favorites.
Almost daily there are news reports of a new victim of online sexual predators or arrests for the same. Suicide resulting from social media cyberbullying is another unfortunately common headline. What's scarier than the headlines themselves, is that these situations are preventable with parent involvement.
...at least according to one middle school principal. In the hyper-sexualized and sex-obsessed culture, social media is a toxic environment for kids. Porn is becoming the norm and it's damaging our kids. Alarmingly, over 70% girls report having been asked to send or have received nudes unsolicited. We need to end this culture where nudes are expected and empower girls to say "No".
Ideally, keep your kids off adult apps such as Snapchat and Instagram! Before granting them access to apps, teach them of the risks and teach them how to be a responsible digital citizens from an early age. Our job as parents is guide them to be responsible adults. Parenting in this tech world is new. Luckily there are resources and support groups to guide you through. And remember, modeling responsible usage in front of your kids goes a long way.
We're all concerned about our kids' digital safety. Stay current on what you need to know and real-world solutions.