Parents have been cautioned for decades about the need to monitor their children’s internet use in order to avoid various threats.
Whether it’s online predators, identity thieves who steal information, sites, and downloads that are rife with viruses, parents have the never-ending job of ensuring their young ones have fun and freedom while still avoiding every manner of risk.
Now that we’ve entered the mobile device age, parents have an even harder job. Video and music content can easily be accessed without permission, and many of the sites that advertise “free” top-rated content to young users are actually filled with viruses. Games can be downloaded instantly after a friend shows it to them at school, and the app may be able to steal unbelievable amounts of personal information through their permissions.
As always, predators can use a wide variety of apps to find and connect with your child.
Even more frightening, many apps have notifications that alert your child to a new message automatically; depending on your settings, your child can see these messages all throughout the day, even when you think they aren’t online and even when you’re not around to help them through it.
Recently, news headlines have flooded the global media about a popular app that targeted young people, encouraging them to commit acts of violence, self-harm, and even suicide. Russian authorities have supposedly arrested the app’s developer in connection with multiple reported suicides, although the list of charges is very vague. Schools around the US have now warned parents about the dangers of the app, but fortunately, it is beginning to look a lot like an internet “urban legend;” that doesn’t mean there aren’t copycat apps and other developers waiting to do something similar, though.
While there are countless “monitoring” apps to help you stay on top of your child’s mobile device activity, nothing will ever replace accurate, age-appropriate information and awareness. No matter how you choose to help your child be aware of online dangers, there is no other tool in your arsenal that compares to open conversation. Besides the need for ongoing talks as new dangers and new freedoms arise, it’s vital that your children understand there is no mistake they can ever make online that you cannot help them address and correct. Criminals who prey on young people are using fear of humiliation and fear of parental repercussions as their weapons, so stripping away that fear through open dialogue can literally mean the difference between life and death.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App.