How much of what your children get up to online are you actually aware of?
Children are naturally curious and intuitive, and are usually at least one step ahead of us parents when it comes to adopting the latest technology.
It provides children a fun way to engage with their friends, express their creativity and indulge their natural curiosity which is part of growing up.
It is important now more than ever for us parents to learn about what our young people are seeing, saying and doing online.
The sheer volume of apps available can leave parents feeling very much out of the loop. I always recommend that parents learn about the apps their children are using. When you read this, you may think I am recommending you do online research into the potential risks and the settings of very app. However the best thing any parent can do is download the app themselves and have a go. By learning about the app, you will be able to see what potential risks there are. For example, does the app include chat? And if it does, have you discussed with your child the importance of not sharing personal information online?
With so many different apps around, here’s some information on a few different types of apps to help you understand them.
Instant messaging apps allow users to chat with other users. Parents should always be aware of who their children are communicating with online, and need to be aware of how to adjust privacy settings to ensure unwanted contact cannot occur. Messages on these apps include video, text and images. Cyberbullying is a very real concern for many children when using these types of apps, so parents need to know how they can assist their child if they experience this difficulty. Instant messaging apps include WhatsApp, Messenger, KiK Messenger, Snapchat and Yik Yak.
Live streaming apps allow users to share video with others in real time. It is very important that the privacy settings on these apps does not allow contact from strangers, who may share inappropriate content or in the most extreme cases, attempt to groom children. Parents should do everything they can to make sure their children feel safe talking to them or a trusted adult if someone’s behaviour makes them uncomfortable, or they come across inappropriate contact. Live streaming apps include Livel.ly, Musical.ly and Facebook Live.
Online gaming is one of the most popular forms of entertainment for children and adults alike. There are many mobile gaming apps as well as traditional console and computer based games that have a chat function that allows players to contact one another, either through direct or group messaging, or voice chat. Many parents aren’t aware that gaming apps have these chat functions. Always be aware of how to adjust privacy settings in order to restrict conversations to people your children actually know. Online gaming includes Minecraft, Clash of Titans, Pokémon Go and Animal Jam.
Disappearing media is an emerging apps category and is now being included as a function on existing instant messaging apps. These apps ‘delete’ a sent image or video after a set period of time. Snapchat for example, allows users to send a ‘snap’ to another user which will then ‘disappear’ after a period of up to 10 seconds. Instagram and Messenger now include a similar function. Parents and children should be aware that there are ways these images can be saved and distributed further. The simplest method being to take a picture of the image using another device. Once an image or text is online, what happens next is out of our hands, which can have implications for privacy and reputation. Although the photo ‘disappears’ from the app, they are often stored as part of terms and conditions of the app usage, which means they never technically ‘disappear’.
More information on apps is available at thinkuknow.org.au