This fall Latch Mobile conducted a detailed survey regarding smartphone use at home. We’ve shared some of these results in our earlier posts, today we want to focus on the apps parents are most concerned about on their children’s phones.
While almost all apps have cause for concern, our survey showed that these are the top five types of apps you worry about your child using to access or share inappropriate content on their smartphone. We’ve taken the time to add in why your concerns are well founded.
1) Video Sharing Apps: Apps like YouTube and Musical.ly enable children to share homemade videos widely. This means they can make “friends” within the apps and allow them to view their work. While all of these apps have ways you can turn on privacy features and eliminate friend-making abilities with strangers, it still means the videos live online. Furthermore, children can still search for particular videos and stumble across inappropriate ones, especially on widely used sites like YouTube or Vimeo.
2) Messaging Apps: Closed messaging apps like Snapchat are a prime place for bullying and inappropriate images to be shared. Since the messages disappear once they’ve been viewed it is almost impossible to prove bullying or the like when the message no longer exists. Even simple texting can be a difficult to monitor and can be a place where kids are particularly vulnerable to receiving inappropriate pictures or messages.
3) Streaming Movies: While parental controls can be put in place it doesn’t mean that kids can’t figure out a way to access inappropriate shows or movies. Additionally, if a child is using a friend’s phone or uses a friend’s sign-in it means there might not be the same parental controls in place. Then a kid who shouldn’t be watching anything more than a PG-13 can find their way to watching R-rated content in a flash.
4) Social Media: While social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are intended to be a fun way for people to connect and exchange information, it is all too frequently used a tool for bullying or sharing inappropriate pictures. We’ve talk about ways to effectively monitor your child’s social media sites [LINK}, something we recommend until they are old enough to handle it themselves.
5) Website Searches: Broad search engines are full of important information, but often sites containing inappropriate content can weasel their way into any kind of search result. It’s practically impossible to monitor this, especially when it comes to children using Google and Wikipedia for homework.
None of the above apps were developed with bullying and inappropriate use in mind, but the fact of the matter is that it does happen. As parents the best we can do is pay attention to every single app of their phone, monitor their use, and understand what their function. In addition to surveillance, it is critical that we all keep up an ongoing discussion with our children.