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It can be difficult to keep up with the latest apps that kids are using. Just when you get the hang of how to talk to your kids about text messaging, they’ve moved on to Instagram or Snapchat. If you are prepared, able to have open communication with your child, and trained to know what to look for, you can help your kid avoid the harsh reality of social media such as cyberbullying, talking to unsafe people, and drama.
Does this mean your child should be banned from all these apps and/or their iPhone? Not at all, it just means we need to prepare and educate ourselves on different apps and their potential uses. Talking about using social media safely, responsibly, and respectfully is the best way to help your child identify and avoid red flags. Here are some common social media red flags, the apps they’re found in, and tips for dealing with them
Disclaimer: most apps, including just simple texting, can be used to send inappropriate content back and forth or be used to cyberbully. Also, a lot of apps have features that can be disabled or checked frequently by parents. If your child has a phone they are capable of either choosing to use it responsibly or irresponsibly. As parents, it is important to know what’s out there and have constant, on-going, conversations with your child on internet safety, self-respect, and the implications that sending something rude or inappropriate can have on their future.
Applications that can be downloaded to any iPhone, iPad, or android device:
What to look for: Private messages and public settings
Instagram has a feature commonly referred to as DMs which stands for direct messages – this is something you may not be able to see when checking your child’s Instagram. To find messages click on the inbox (paper plane looking) icon on the top right of the Instagram.
Instagram can be made public or private – go to settings of this app to check the default – you can either choose to have this app public so that anyone can see your child’s profile and photo or private so your child can choose to accept only people they know to view their profile.
What to look for: Check all apps to see if this one is hiding
There are numerous “vault” apps that can be downloaded to phones to hide photos or messages – the most popular is called “keep safe” and the icon looks just like a vault. Although, some of these apps are made to look like other things such as “my utilities” or flashlights.
What to look for: Location settings and anonymous message
Snapchat is a popular one amongst tweens and teens where you can send a picture and it disappears in 10 seconds or less – there is also a my story feature which allows the video or pictures to be displayed for 24 hours.
Click on the chat icon in the top left to view any chats occurring. Go to location settings on the phone AND on the app and make sure they are disabled, so tracking your child’s location through the app is not possible.
These are all dating apps that allow your child to sign up if they are 13 and have an active Facebook account. These apps allow viewing photos of others and engage in back and forth chats
Please read the link to see what has be reported to cause the suicide of over 130 teens in the past 3 years: