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Mimi Wheeler

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LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: The Snapchat app logo is displayed on an iPhone on August 3, 2016 in London, England.

The internet can be a pretty dangerous place.

The Madill Police Department in Oklahoma compiled a list of apps that parents should be aware of. “With school just around the corner, we wanted to share with Parents, 15 Apps you should be aware of on your child’s phone/tablet .. and the dangers that come with some of them.”

With school just around the corner, we wanted to share with Parents, 15 Apps you should be aware of on your child's phone/tablet .. and the dangers that come with some of them.

Posted by Madill Police Department on Monday, August 5, 2019

Parents, these are the 15 apps that you should look for on your kid’s phone:

  • MeetMe: A dating social media app that connects people based on location. Users are encouraged to meet in person.
  • WhatsApp: A messaging app that allows texts, video calls, photo sharing and voicemails with users worldwide.
  • Bumble: Similar to Tinder, but requires women to make the first contact. Law enforcement says kids and teens can create fake accounts and falsify their age.
  • Live.Me: A live-streaming app that uses geolocation to share videos. The sheriff’s office said users can earn “coins” to “pay” minors for photos.
  • Ask.FM: The sheriff’s office said this app lets users ask anonymous questions and is known for cyberbullying.
  • Grindr: A dating app geared toward the LGBTQ community based on user location.
  • TikTok: A new app popular with kids lets users create and share short videos. Law enforcement said the app has “very limited privacy controls” and users can be exposed to cyberbullying and explicit content.
  • Snapchat: One of the most popular social media apps in the world, Snapchat lets users take and share photos and videos. The app also lets people see your location.
  • Holla: This self-proclaimed “addicting” video chat app lets users meet people in seconds. Law enforcement said users have seen racial slurs and explicit content.
  • Calculator+: Police say this is one of several apps that are used to hide photos, videos, files and browser history.
  • Skout: A location-based dating app that is supposed to prohibit people under 17 from sharing private photos. However, police say kids can easily create an account with a different age.
  • Badoo: A dating and social media app where users can chat and share photos and videos based on location. Police say the app is supposed to be for adults only, but they’ve seen teens create accounts.
  • Kik: Police say kids can bypass traditional text messaging features using this app. Kik “gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime,” the sheriff’s office said.
  • Whisper: An anonymous social network that lets users share secrets with strangers. Police say it also shows users’ location so people can meet up.
  • Hot or Not: The app lets users rate profiles, check out people in their area and chat with strangers. Police say the goal of the app is to hook up.

How to talk to your kids about online safety:

Approximately 1 million cyber attacks happen each day, and they don’t just target companies and adults. Anyone who is on the internet, including your kids, can be a potential victims of a cyber crime. Online crime is the fastest-growing crime in the US and children are the fastest-growing victim group. According to a recent survey by AVG, less than half of parents and guardians regularly talk to their kids about online safety.

The Center for Cyber Safety and Education released the ‘Children’s Internet Usage Study’ and reported some pretty shocking statistics.

  • 40% of children chatted with a stranger online
  • 53% revealed their phone numbers
  • 15% tried to meet the stanger
  • 6% revealed their home address

Pretty scary, right? If you haven’t yet, it’s time to have a conversation with your kids about online safety.

Cybercriminals approach children differently than they would adults. For example, an adult may be tricked into clicking on a suspicious link via a phishing email, whereas a child would be targeted with suspicious links to a fan site, a funny video, or a game.

Approach cybersecurity with your child the way you do with real life situations. You’ve always stressed how important their safety is and why they should be suspicious of unfamiliar people. So, start the conversation by advising them to treat their online activity and communication as they would when they are in public. For example, they would never talk to a complete stranger on the street, so they shouldn’t accept a friend request nor engage in a conversation with a stranger online.

You’ll want to explain to them, that just like criminals in real life that try to take advantage of people to steal their money and information, there are criminals that do the same online. It may feel safer online since they aren’t face to face, but these online criminals can steal information and infect your computer without you even knowing.

Cyberbullying is also another evil that children often run into while online. Examples of cyberbullying include: sending hurtful messages via chat, email, and/or text; spreading rumors via social media and group texts; and posting hurtful items on social media. It is estimated that around 15.5% of high-schoolers are affected by cyberbullying.

Share with them they key safety rules:

  • Do not use an easy password, and definitely don’t include your name in the password
  • Do not install any apps without permission
  • Do not share your password with anyone (except your parents)
  • Only add people that you know as friends or followers on social media
  • Keep all of your social media profiles private
  • Never post any personal or sensitive information on social media, including your address, phone number, or email
  • Never upload pictures of other people without their permission

Safety tips for parents:

  • Create all of your child’s accounts (email, social media, youtube, etc) and monitor them regularly. One out of every five children gets online sexual solicitations from predators and cybercriminals. Make sure their usernames and profiles don’t reveal their age, gender, or hometown.
  • Always keep your children in eyesight and in common family areas when they are using the internet. Your kid is less likely to browse suspicious or questionable content if they know you may walk by or hear something.
  • Use kid friendly search engines (Kiddle, KidRex, and Safe Search Kids are options). Always check the browser history and implement all security and privacy features.
  • Set all web browsers to block pop-ups and disable java so your child is less likely to encounter questionable ads, viruses, and inappropriate content.
  • Limit their usage for free online time, and only after they’ve done their homework or any other relevant projects.
  • Educate yourself on cybersecurity.

To ensure a safe online environment, continue to communicate with your child about their online safety and responsibilities. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they’ll be to alert you to suspicious activity or online bullying.