It is no secret that kids these days have more access to technology than any generation before them. While this access can truly help to enrich their lives if leveraged properly, it can also have serious ramifications if it isn’t checked.
Many apps that are available on the various app stores out there are simply inappropriate for children to interact with, and many can leave them vulnerable to criminal acts.
Therefore, as they use their mobile devices, it is important that the adults in their life step in and create some common-sense boundaries. Here, we’ll go over some problematic apps that should probably be avoided, and some means of ensuring that these common-sense boundaries are enforced.
Apps to Watch Out For
There are a variety of applications that can prove problematic if children utilize them, for numerous reasons. Obviously, there are the dangers of anonymous, randomized chat and video applications, like Omegle, and their capability to connect children with predatory adults. Even Omegle has acknowledged this, their homepage itself cautioning users to “be careful” for exactly this reason.
Another app, Yubo (formerly known as Yellow), is supposed to be a friend-making application, using a Tinder-like swipe interface to connect teens. However, not only can this app be used as a means to misrepresent oneself, the Tinder-like interface also allows it to be used like Tinder. Worse, also like Tinder, this application bases its results on the user’s location, allowing for relatively simple real-life meetings.
Sarahah was originally intended to be an app that could be used to provide anonymous feedback and encouragement in the workplace. However, it was quickly adopted as a means for cyberbullying, and proved to be so effective that it was pulled from app stores - but not necessarily deleted from devices.
There are other examples as well - for instance, the application Vora was meant to assist those who were practicing intermittent fasting to track their time but was quickly adopted by teens who have anorexia and other eating disorders. Other apps are also commonly used by the “pro-ana” audience, including MyFitnessPal and Carrot Fit (which, if comparing a “carrot” to the “stick” approach, ironically uses more of a “stick” approach to dieting).
Even popular sites like Reddit can easily become an issue when kids are involved. There are plenty of subreddits dedicated to materials that are by no means appropriate for children, including pornography. While the app does state that users must be 18 years of age or older, there is no built-in means of preventing someone younger from confirming that.
In addition to these issues, many apps are little more than just delivery systems for malware and other problems.
What You Can Do
If you have a child or teen in your life that you are responsible for, there are a few different approaches you can take to protect them from this access.
Talk to Them
Yeah, it’s a cliché, but sometimes the most effective way to get through to a kid is to have a frank and honest discussion with them. Discussing some best practices about computer safety and making sure they know that many apps can’t be trusted might just be enough to get them to pay closer attention to what they are doing.
While it is important to trust, it is also important to eliminate temptation as much as possible. As a result, Google has incorporated a few safeguards that parents and guardians have the option to choose from.
The Google Play Store contains media of all kinds, from applications, books, and video content. On a child’s device, a guardian can set limits on Play Store app downloads. By accessing the Play Store, and from there, the hamburger menu (the three horizontal lines at the top left), and then Settings. Under User controls, you will find the Parental controls option. Switching this option on will prompt you to create a PIN and confirm it. After this has been completed, you can set your preferred age restrictions for which content can be downloaded. Make sure you hit Save before exiting out.
Windows 10 also allows you to create a specialized account for a child you are responsible for, which allows you to check in on their recent activities or schedule the amount of time they are permitted to use the device each day. Furthermore, you can restrict the content they are able to access and require every purchase (except those made with gift cards) from the Microsoft Store to receive your stamp of approval before proceeding.
To create this account, click on Settings > Accounts > Family and other people > Add a family member > Add a child. You can then either set up an account with an email address, or it the child doesn’t have an email address of their own, follow the appropriate link and create the account through the Setup Wizard.
Use Family Link
Family Link is an application that allows a parent or guardian an added level of management over a child’s device. It provides the capability to block certain apps and require permission for any downloads from the Play Store to complete, set screen time limits for the device, and manage settings on Google Search and YouTube Kids. Guardians can also use Family Link to remotely lock a child’s device and locate them as necessary.
If you implement a BYOD policy at work, make sure you also discuss the prospect of your child using the device with management. After all, you wouldn’t want an inquisitive kid somehow getting into company documents and messing them up.
Just like you can protect your kids’ use of devices at home, BNMC can protect your use of devices in the workplace. Reach out to learn more by calling 978-482-2020.