Teens, their devices, and sexual predators it’s enough to strike terror into the heart of any parent. And, with good reason too. Apps on mobile devices are the number one way sexual predators are reaching their victims. However, before your heart starts beating out of your chest keep reading to find out all the ways you can protect your teens.
Apps Are Great And Potentially Dangerous
There is no telling how many new apps hit the stores of devices on a daily basis but it is safe to say the number is greater than ‘a few.’ For the most part apps provide information and entertainment. Social media apps in particular help people connect in new and exciting ways. Unfortunately, they also open up new avenues for sexual predators to groom their victims.
It Is Not Just Stranger Danger You Should Be Concerned With
We all know, and have taught our children from the time they were very young, about stranger danger. Some of the danger parents never consider comes from their own teachers. Technology use is commonplace in today’s classrooms and rightly so. Our teens need to have a solid foundation in learning from and learning with technology. However, technology also opens students to unwanted advances from teachers. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more common for teachers to have inappropriate relationships with students assisted by cellphones, computers, and other mobile devices.
Finding The Balance Between Safety And Privacy
Most parents understand computer monitoring but not enough parents even know they need to monitor their teens’ mobile devices much less how to go to about setting up monitoring apps and programs. Parents before you go on an all-out blitz on the internet searching for the strongest security measures you can find you need to understand most online security experts believe you need to respect your teens’ privacy. Larry Magid who founded SafeKids.com and is co-director of ConnectSafely.org says unless your kids give you a concrete reason to believe they are up to something you should not invade their privacy. Deciding how to strike the balance between your teens’ safety and respecting their privacy can be a delicate proposition.
Useful Monitoring Apps
Malcontents Like Malware Can Be Avoided
Teenagers love social media and predators love social media too. There is no sign either of them are moving on either. As you hand over a device to your teen, you should first know how to use the parental controls for that device. They all have them but too many parents never activate them. Trusting your teens is important and it is a great thing for both of you but remember predators are sneaky. Help your teenagers understand you implementing parental controls or monitoring their devices is because predators are out there waiting for the next unprotected device to come online. If you have Apple products, all the apps are required to have an age rating. Use them. They should be your first line of defense. You should also have frank conversations with your teens about sexual predators. Let them know it is safe for them to come talk to you if anyone contacts them for sex or is making them feel uncomfortable in anyway. Then you need to listen without judgement. By showing your teen it is safe for them to talk to you is as important as the parental controls.
A Few Of The Apps To Watch Out For
- Chat Hoo?
Any of these apps can expose your teenagers to not only sexual predators but pornography. In fact the newest, Periscope which is owned by Twitter, even includes a disclaimer about them not being liable for the content uploaded by users. Teens may not think much of sharing content but in the case of videos and pictures which fall into the realm of pornography they, and you, can be held accountable if the images happen to be of minors. If viewed, shared, and stored those pornographic images of minors could also lead to them being required to register as sex offenders. The legalities are getting murkier and murkier as new apps are being developed. The only way to avoid pornography is to filter it.
Keeping your teenagers safe on mobile devices can seem like a daunting task. However, if you start enforcing that you will be monitoring your teens from the moment they use their first device it will help teens understand better the dangers that those devices expose them too. It may be uncomfortable to talk to your teens about sex, sexual predators, and pornography but in their digital world monitoring mobile devices is entirely necessary for their safety and your peace of mind.