It’s 11pm, Do You Know What Your Kids Are Doing Online?
With the more details coming out of the Perryton police officer who was busted for child pornography case, we find out just how easy this guy had it. Right now, plenty of kids and teens are on their phones in bed trying to sneak one last look or post on social media before the end of the day.
For most of us adults, it's Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that gets our attention and we all see the messages. (and frankly last year was rough) but the big kicker here is what you post stays up until you delete it (or someone screenshots it).
What we don't look at are the apps that the younger generations use, and I use that term feeling very old all of a sudden.... these are the self-destructing apps. By this I don't mean that the apps fall apart; messages, images, and posts on these apps do exactly what "self-destruct" means: they go away after a certain period of time. The most popular platforms of self-destructing apps that you should know by now are: Snapchat, Kik, Telegram and even our old favorites...Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have recently rolled out self-destructing chat features that are similar in that the content disappears after a set amount of time.
With the very nature of these ghostly vanishing messaging channels lies the danger to naive and vulnerable young children. Armed with the ability to post untraceable and disappearing messages, it's easy for predators who operate under the radar. What's more, some of these apps even allow for anonymous posting so there is no telling what kind of people are reaching out to your young child(ren) or what kind of messages and/or photos are being sent or requested. This holds true all across the dizzying amount of messaging platforms that are available to anyone in the world at just the tap of a finger.
So, how exactly do we deal with this? There's no need to snatch your kids' phones up just yet. It's always about common sense. If you don't want kids on social media, that's okay. There is no obligation or requirement to participate. They key to safety lies in awareness.
Know who they are chatting with. Kids have large social circles, but if you have a contact from out of town that isn't family... you got a red flag to check out right there.
Establish boundaries, If you're not cool with it, let 'em know! You're the adult, remember?
Another thing is to ask what they are up to. Secretive behavior is just what you think it is and if there are actions that need to be taken, do so. Teaching children how to keep themselves safe online is lot easier to deal with it early on. If you avoid showing them how to engage in safe Internet usage from the get-go, you actually put them at higher risk of finding themselves in a bad situation later on down the road.
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