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Online Apps

Support for Parents

As a parent, you want your kids to be safe and prepared at all times. Teaching your children online safety may be challenging, but it will prepare them for any potential threats they may encounter online. Communicating with your kids and monitoring their online usage are the best steps to keep them safe.

How to Monitor

Parents can’t be next to their kids 24/7 to always see what they’re doing, but communicating with your child, seeing what sites and programs they use, and testing some sites yourself will give you a better understanding of how your kids are spending their time online.

Apps to Know About

There are millions of apps out there for phones, computers, and gaming devices. Though many are productive, fun, and engaging for your child to use, malicious users may use applications in an unintended way to get what they want. Here is a list of popular applications and what you can do to keep your child safe.

Social Media Platforms:

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Snapchat

Snapchat is a multimedia instant messaging app. While the app promises users can take a photo/video and it will disappear, new features including “stories” allows users to view content for up to 24 hours.

POTENTIAL DANGERS: "Snap Map" allows your child to be located at all times.  Snapchat messages can automatically delete once they are viewed or after 24 hours, which makes it difficult to prove if someone is harassing, stalking or bullying your child. "Discover mode" can expose your child to inappropriate content.

TAKE ACTION: Disable your chlid's location, limit viewers on their story an update their privacy settings. 

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TikTok

TikTok is a video sharing app that allows users to create and share 15 second to 3-minute videos with music, creative backgrounds, and effects.

POTENTIAL DANGERS: TikTok requests personal information during signup including phone model, number, email address, and contact lists. No restrictions on curse words or phrases. Risk of data collection, online predators, and dangerous 'challenges'. Potential sharing of illicit videos without restrictions.

TAKE ACTION: Parents can use "family pairing' after setup to limit watch time, content, privacy setting, private vs public account and messaging settings. 

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Instagram

Instagram is a photo-sharing and networking app. People can follow their friends, upload photos, videos, or stories, and share with their followers or specific groups of friends.

POTENTIAL DANGERS: Being contacted by strangers and being exposed to inappropriate content. "Vanish messaging mode" allows messages, videos and photos to erase after being sent.

 

TAKE ACTION: Make sure your child's account is set to private, deactivate geo-tagging, and monitor their messages. 

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Twitter

Twitter is a social networking app that allows users to connect with friends, make public posts, and stay up to date with the news. It is built around the posting of short 280-character tweets.

POTENTIAL DANGERS: Being contacted by strangers or predators and being exposed to inappropriate or illicit content. Very open platform to easily be contacted by strangers. 

TAKE ACTION: Make your child's account private, filter topic and interests to limit your child's expose to sensitive content. Only allow direct messages from followers. 

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Reddit

Reddit is a social news aggregation, content rating, and discussion website.

 

POTENTIAL DANGERS: No age verification in place although it's supposed to be ages 13+. There are also sections of the platform that have pornographic content and hate content with no penalty or restrictions. Some of the biggest concerns are subreddits that promote hate; specifically fat-shaming, racism, homophobia and misogyny. 

TAKE ACTION: Turn off "content visibility" and "active communities" to keep your child more anonymous. Go to "Safety & Privacy" and "Advanced Security" to update settings.

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Facebook

Facebook is a social networking site that allows users to connect with friends and family. Users can share information by uploading photos, videos, stories, live streams, and articles.

POTENTIAL DANGERS: Data breaches, lack of privacy settings, scammers and predators.Closed or private groups also make it difficult to monitor content.

TAKE ACTION: Turn location settings off, control who sees their posts, control linked apps, check all privacy settings.

Streaming & Gaming Apps:

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Discord

Discord is an app that allows users to talk to friends or strangers in real-time via voice, text, or video chat while playing video games. 

POTENTIAL DANGERS: Audio and video streams on Discord disappear. That makes it a prime place for cyberbullying to occur without leaving any evidence. Kids can also use Discord for bullying by creating closed groups to exclude certain kids and share cruel memes and photos. There are also the dangers of predators and inappropriate content that can be openly posted on any of the streams. 

TAKE ACTION: Discord does not offer parent controls. However, you can set privacy data restrictions, limit who can send direct message and restrict certain friend requests.

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Twitch

Twitch is a video-streaming platform that offers a fun, social way to watch people play games and interact with streamers in real time.

 

POTENTIAL DANGERS: Although Twitch has strict rules around sexual or explicit content, it doesn't offer filters or age gates for specific categories and games, which include mature, violent content. Although you can hide its chat features, you can't turn it off. Users can also send Whispers (direct messages) to other viewers. Twitch does not offer parental controls. 

TAKE ACTION: Twitch does not off parental controls. but users can adjust their chat filters to​ block discrimination, sexually explicit language, hostility, and/or profanity. Parents an also watch a streamer beforehand to make sure it's appropriate. 

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Roblox

Roblox is an online gaming platform with a chat function. Underage users have had issues with solicitation from sexual predators.

POTENTIAL DANGERS: The lack of moderation (despite language filters) in the chat feature leaves children at risk of exposure to a range of inappropriate adult content, bullying and abuse. Roblox appeals to children under 12, children may lack the ability to discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate requests and/or language.

TAKE ACTION: Roblox offers parental controls. Parents can limit or disable online chat capabilities, restrict access to a list of age-appropriate games, customize monthly spend restrictions, and spend notification frequency in a secure way. Parents can also use chat features and report suspicious activity. 

Social Reading Platforms:

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Wattpad

Wattpad is an online social reading/telling platform where users can connect with their favorite writers, read, and write original stories

POTENTIAL DANGERS: Inappropriate content is very common on Wattpad. Stories tagged “mature” can include: sex scenes, self-harm themes, and graphic descriptions of violence. The minimum age requirement for Wattpad is 13 but there are no age-content identifiers, which means kids of all ages can read these stories. 

TAKE ACTION: Parents can disable mature content by using the filter icon on the top-right hand corner. Additionally, parents can mute accounts if their child is receiving unwanted messages or unwanted followers.

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A03

AO3 is a nonprofit central hosting site for works such as fanfiction, fanart, fan videos, and podfic. Users can make profiles, create works, and post comments, etc.

POTENTIAL DANGERS: Like Wattpad, Ao3 has some very explicit content. Ao3 does not prescreen content or review it for purposes of compliance with the ToS. This includes but is not limited to work information, a work's content, text, graphics, comments, or any other material. Ao3 also doesn’t require specific ratings or warnings on content uploaded by users

TAKE ACTION: Parents can filter out content by using the filter tab. You can filter out categories, ratings, fandoms, characters, and words.

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Webtoon

WEBTOON is an online reading platform where users can read comics and stories made by people around the world. It is one of the largest mobile reading platforms with 10 million daily and 35 million monthly readers.

POTENTIAL DANGERS: Inappropriate content with stories and comics depicting graphic violence, self-harm, sexual themes, and other sensitive material. There are no restrictions on what a user can see, making it easy for kids to stumble upon NSFW content.

TAKE ACTION: Monitor which authors your kids are following and check to see if their content is appropriate for your child. The app may be blocked via parental controls on IOS and android.