A follow-up to my article on keeping teens cyber safe. Keeping your kids safe online is ongoing. There are no quick fixes and as adults we will always need to be paying attention. The threats change what feels like every day.
New social media apps are hitting the app stores daily. While many of these are harmless, there are others we need to aware of for teen Internet safety and privacy standpoint. The interest in these “anonymous” apps remain high especially among young people (and predators) and can become overnight sensations. Many of these sorts of apps purpose start out noble to bring people together and share, but they are soon being used for less than noble activities such as cyber bullying and harassment.
Yik Yak is a newer entry in the anonymous apps craze while and Omegle has been around for a couple years.
Yik Yak apps allows users to enable their GPS and anonymously chat with people in their geographic vicinity. The developers wanted the app to be a virtual bulletin board for people to exchange information mainly on college campuses. The app unfortunately has gained traction among middle school and high schools. The kids are by-passing the over 17 warnings. The app has been used to report bomb threats and cyber bullying. The developers have been quick to respond to concerns since they didn’t want the face of their brand to one of cyber bullying and such. They placed a feature to geo-fence locations of middle and highs schools from accessing the app while at school.
It is a website and app that allows people of any age to chat with strangers. Users don’t need to register an email address or create a screen name. They can just click a button and begin chatting with complete strangers. They have two sections: an under 18 chat area and over 18. No gate keeper. This opens all the doors and windows to some dangerous behavior for kids to be exposed to.
Quick Safety Tips
1. Know what apps your child has on their phone.
2. Talk with them about these apps finding out if they use them and why they like them.
3. Talk with about cyber safety and set rules and guidelines together educating them about the dangers of these apps and why you are concerned about them.
The more you know as an adult and are willing to open non-judgemental channels of communications with your teen, the safer they will be.