SYLVIA McCRORY MAY 2020
Children are receiving smartphones at younger ages each year. These phones are loaded with some apps, and many more are free, just by signing up. Many apps require children to be at least 13 years old in order to download. However, children may easily download many apps, just by changing the date of their birth.
The harsh reality is predators are on many apps designed for children. They are very experienced in deceiving others, especially children who believe they are talking with another child their age. Predators will sometimes make profiles, pretending to be a young child. The goal for predators is to gain the confidence of the child. They will identify with the child. The predator takes on the persona of a child, complaining about parents, schoolwork, or friends. As children begin trusting their new friend, the predator will start asking for photos, or make plans to meet in person. Some predators convince children, they are in love with the child. The child believes they are in love with their secret peer. The predator may then prompt the child to start sending nude photos.
With the gift of the smartphone or any electronic devices, parents need to educate their child about the dangers, and rules of using the smartphone. Children are very trusting and naive. Unfortunately, parents must educate children about the dangers of the smartphones and other electronic devices.
Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil n the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)
Rules to give with a smartphone or any electronic device
- The new phone is NOT a gift; the use of the phone is the gift. Therefore, parents will check the phone at any time, and limit the use as parents find necessary.
- Child must comply with rules in order to use phone.
- Specify appropriate hours of use
- Limit the amount of time on smartphone
- No interacting with strangers.
- Child may not add apps without parents’ permission. Parents should set up profile for child.
- Even if every other child at school has an app, does NOT mean it is appropriate.
- Parents will check history on devices regularly.
- Parents will set filters with parental controls.
- Parents will research and use monitoring software.
I encourage parents, grandparents, teachers, and guardians to read the complete list of apps below. This list includes 15 apps, I am sure this list is growing daily. This information was updated July 2019. Parents, please be vigilant.
The following apps are from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, found on website Enough-Is-Enough.
- MEETME – a dating social media app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. As the app’s name suggests, users are encouraged to meet each other in person.
- WHATSAPP – a popular messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, voicemails, make calls and video chats worldwide. WHATSAPP uses an internet connection on smart phones and computers.
- BUMBLE – similar to popular dating app “Tinder” however, it requires women to make the first contact. Kids have been known to use BUMBLE to create fake accounts and falsify their age.
- LIVEME – a live-streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster’s exact location. Users can earn “coins” as a way to “pay” minors for photos.
- ASK.FM – known for cyber bullying. The app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions.
- GRINDR – dating app geared towards gay, bi and transgender people. The app gives users options to chat, share photos and meet up based on a smartphone’s GPS location.
- TIKTOK – A New Mobile device app popular with kids used for creating and sharing short videos. With very limited privacy controls, users are vulnerable to cyber bullying and explicit content.
- SNAPCHAT – one of the most popular apps in recent years. 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. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.
- HOLLA – a self-proclaimed “addicting” video chat app that allows users to meet people all over the world in just seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content, and more.
- CALCULATOR% — only one of SEVERAL secret apps used to hide photos, videos, files, and browser history.
- SKOUT – a location-based dating app and website. While users under 17 years old are unable to share private photos, kids can easily create an account using a different age.
- BADOO – a dating and social networking app where users can chat, share, photos and videos and connect based on location. While the app is intended for adults only, teens are known to create profiles.
- KIK – allows anyone to contact and direct message your child. Kids can bypass traditional text messaging features. KIK gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- WHISPER – an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user’s location so people can meet up.
- HOT OR NOT – encourages users to rate your profile, checkout people in their area, and chat with strangers. The goal of this app is to hook up.
Technology has so many great features and advances, I do not want to appear to minimize these. My goal is to inform parents there are many dangers associated with the internet.
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