I work at my daughter's school for some of the week. The kids at her school are in grades 3 - 5 which means these children are 9-11 years old. They're tweens. Every single one of them has a device that either comes to school with them or one that they use at home. In their defense, our school is technology-based learning and much of the learning is done on iPads. I love this aspect of our school, but it also means these children are taking their iPads home. The apps on their iPads aren't just for homework, either.
My children range from 6 through 15. Full disclosure: each of my children have their own tablet and my older two have smartphones. Today's post isn't going to be about technology, screen time or when the appropriate age is to get your children involved in technology. Each family will have different needs. My children have all earned their devices through grades, conduct and work around the house. Instead, I'm focusing on the apps that have been considered dangerous. I'm doing that because it's important that we do stay as up-to-date as we can to help keep our children safe.
Before writing this, I did a little research and found a post on crosswalk.com extremely helpful. It lists the most dangerous apps for kids. Some of these I knew, some I did not.
Apps that allow you to post anonymously:
Video/Picture based apps:
- Kik (this is a texting service that allows videos and pics to be sent)
Finally, the app Poof allows certain apps to be hidden on your child's device. Imagine what's being hidden if you saw that your children had downloaded Poof!
Now, with all that said, you know your children are going to ask for one or more of these. So what do you do when your children come to you saying, "But, Mom, everyone in my whole school has Snapchat and you're wrong, those pictures DO disappear!! I won't even send anything bad!! Don't you trust me?"
First of all, we weren't born yesterday. We know those pictures last forever. Secondly, even if you have the most innocent child there is, that doesn't mean someone won't send them pictures you wouldn't ever want them to see.
Don't even get me started on the apps that allow you to post anonymously! That just sets their entire school up for social media bullying.
We as parents can do our part by ensuring there are passwords required for downloading any app -- even the free ones. And, yes, that means your children will be coming to you every time they want something downloaded. Isn't that a good thing?
Safety comes first with technology and the habits you start now will continue later on in your children's lives. Comment below and tell me what apps you've seen that are dangerous, let's help each other out!
You cannot have an honest conversation about what your kids are doing online without having open communication in your house. You just can't. If your children don't feel comfortable opening up to you, the conversation will not have a good ending. Learn to open communication in your home so this and other big conversations can happen.