These days, parents face unique challenges well beyond what their own parents could have helped prepare them for. Today’s kids, unsurprisingly, push for independence and privacy as a normal part of growing up. But, their use of technology presents them with the chance to be more secretive than ever before.
The locked doors and whispered phone calls of the past have been replaced with apps that look harmless, and are designed to be mistaken for some of the most common features on smartphones.
More Than Meets the Eye
We’ve discussed some of the most popular ways for kids to store private messages, photos, videos, and even voice recordings. The NYT wrote about password protected Vaulty and Calculator% which masquerades as a simple calculator. While these present a unique opportunity for parents to talk with kids about their use of digital media, permanency, and anonymity, it’s also important for parents to know what else is out there.
Best Secret Folder
This iOS app looks like a gaming portal but allows users to secretly hide photographs and videos. Best Secret Folder even sets off an alarm if someone attempts to access the folder with the wrong password.
Now You See Them, Now You Don’t
The following apps allow users to send photographs that quickly disappear, meaning parents need to be more diligent when checking in with kid’s use of these options. Kids may feel more comfortable sending inappropriate content with these than they would through a normal text or social channel.
While Snapchat might be a fun way for some to send pictures and messages that disappear and can never need to be accessed again, it presents parents with the potential of never knowing exactly what’s going on with their child’s account. Sure, there are temptations associated with Snapchat, but there are also great layering filter options that make it hard to ignore.
Burn Note is similar to Snapchat as content quickly vanishes after being sent. However, this app only sends texts, which are revealed one word at a time. The cryptic delivery method adds a level of secrecy, and since messages can only be viewed once, sensitive information can be forgotten easily.
Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Can Also Hurt Me
The anonymity associated with chat apps may seem innocent to some, but it opens the door to an ideal world for cyberbullying.
Omegle is an anonymous video chatting app that has no place on a child’s device. IT allows users to chat online with strangers, is filled with sexual content, explicit language, and discussions around drugs, alcohol, and violence.
Tinder and Yellow
Both of these apps connect users by utilizing GPS location services. Tinder began as a simple dating app but has quickly earned the reputation of a hook-up app, while Yellow was created as a way for youth to make friends. Yellow, however, has found itself being called “Tinder for kids.”
Parents Have All the Tools They’ll Ever Need
Raising a teenager has enough challenges on its own, these apps make it even tougher for parents. But, all it takes is what parents already know: to be present and engaged.
Establishing boundaries, discussing potential dangers, and consistently checking in can decrease the levels of secrecy sometimes associated with smartphone independence. Shared accounts can also ensure parents are kept informed about the types of apps their children are downloading. It’s all about staying involved and consistently engaging with teens right where they are. Teenagers will always push for more privacy, but it’s up to parents to put safety first.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.