Facebook itself does not appear to be dangerous to children, experts say, as long as parents monitor what they are doing. Parents pay the bill, so they should also know what children have on their high-tech gadgets in order to protect them. The Senior Digital and Social Media specialist from Cooks Children, Kristen Peaks, has advice for all parents. She believes that there are applications (apps) out there that make our children more vulnerable to strangers and even pedophiles. Living in a world of technology and global positioning systems (GPS) opens up a whole new set of worries for parents. Peaks took a look at some of these Apps in an effort to help parents to be alert to some of the potential dangers. Children may be unknowingly opening themselves up to people who could take advantage of them, and worse yet, hurt them.
Linking a text or picture application to a Facebook page may seem innocent, however, there are reasons to set security on our social media pages. Peaks believes that linking Apps to that page is like removing all that security. Yik Yak is one of the newer Apps that uses GPS to determine where the texts originate from. Users can see the general area the texts are coming from, and yet this doesn’t seem threatening on the surface. It is a text only application, it is anonymous, however it will show the responses to the text that are closest to where the text originated. Peak states that this has become a feeding ground for sexually explicit and verbally abusive chatting. So much so, that some schools are actually blocking its use.
Bullies like to hide behind these types of applications which allows them to spew their hate. It gives them the ability to terrorize others simply by showing how close they are to them. Peaks believes this is very scary! How about an App that allows the user to post pictures for 10 seconds and then they disappear? Snap Chat gives the user a feeling of security that is misplaced, according to the experts, sending pictures that a person might not want everyone to see is always a bad idea. Users of this App can screenshot any photo, so say goodbye to internet anonymity. On the other hand, having full anonymity on the internet can also be bad. Peaks also reviewed KiK, which is a text/chat forum that is virtually impossible to tell who is doing the texting. She believes this could very well open the door to predators. Kids think it is alright to link these apps to their Facebook page, which can be dangerous, as it is allowing these apps to get a lot of personal information from the social media page.
There are even apps out there that Peaks believes helps children deceive their parents by hiding certain things from them that are on their phones. These applications come and go, so in order to keep children safe, Peak tells parents to check their phones often. It can be a daunting task to keep up with technology but the next big thing could be the one that allows a predator access to a child. Whisper is an anonymous texting app, however it shows the area you are posting from. Reportedly last year a man from Washington, raped a 12-year-old girl, and he found her through Whisper. So keep the Facebook page, as experts say it is relatively safe compared to some of the others out there, but children should know it is never alright to allow apps access to their information on any social media site.
Opinion by Kristi Cereska
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