Once your child has a smart phone or even an iTouch, it is important to understand that the world has just been opened up to them.
They are now able to connect with friends, family members, and complete strangers.
Some of my female students scare the pants off of me when they tell me about strangers they’ve met online or are currently chatting with. They see NO danger in this at all and think I’m nuts when I point out that the person they’re chatting with might be a predator. **I do notify parents or a school counselor when I come across this information.
Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages, photos or videos via mobile device. There are several apps teens use to facilitate the practice of sexting that parents should be aware of. It’s crazy to think that teens actually do this, but they do! The combination of insecurity, wanting to please, peer pressure, and pressure from a boy/girlfriend pushes many kids into making some really poor choices.
Sexting should now be a part of every parent’s “Birds and Bees” talk.
Watch Out for these Apps:
What is it? This is a hook up app that allows people to connect with other singles in their area. Your Tinder profile will show your name, age, a few photos, and some of your Facebook preferences. (Tinder pulls info and your location from Facebook.) Then, presto-bingo, members of the opposite sex will pop up on your screen and you can like them or not. If they like you back, then you can message them within the Tinder app.
So, what’s the problem? Well, for starters you only have to be 13 to use Tinder. Really? This is the perfect place for sexual predators to find and then groom new victims. One of Tinder’s popular features is that users can enter their location enabling them to find matches who are nearby. The closest you can set this is within one mile of wherever you currently are. That is just plain scary. Finally, many teens find their self-esteem boosted or lowered based on the number of matches they receive on Tinder. Taking off more clothes definitely results in more matches.
My advice? If you find this app on your teen’s phone, you should have them delete it immediately. Tinder is often touted as the “Top Hook-Up” app which is what a lot of people use it for. Perhaps girls are using it in hopes of finding a boyfriend, but chances are guys aren’t there looking for a soul mate.
What is it? This is the disturbing description lifted straight from the Hot or Not site: “Hot or Not is the original game that lets you check people out, be checked out, and see the Hottest people around. Hot or Not will show you how popular you and your friends are, as well as a list of the hottest people nearby, wherever you may be; at a music festival, on college campus, or hanging out in the city. It’s the only app using votes of its users to create dynamic lists of the hottest people. Using Facebook to join the app, users can browse profiles, show their profile, build their popularity and connect with people.”
So, what’s the problem? Most teens need all the help they can get in the self esteem department and they’re not going to find it here. Being rated on a scale of 1-10 by strangers and meanies from school is sure to bring anyone down. Want to bring up your rating? Take off some clothes, just like on Tinder. Also similar to Tinder, Hot or Not is able to link users up with others who are nearby. This is, of course, terrifying because you really don’t want people tracking your child down. Users can also message one another within the app making it easy to exchange personal information. A lot of times, teens answer seemingly innocuous questions like “where do you go to high school” which often narrows their location down as well as warms them up to answering more questions. Users must be 18 or older to use this app, but it doesn’t matter because anyone can sign up for an account.
My advice? Delete this app immediately. Rating people is mean and objectifies them.
What is it? Snap Chat allows users to take selfies and videos and then send them to other Snap Chat users on their contact list. The photos/videos appear on the recipient’s screen and then self destruct after a few seconds. The sender chooses how long the message will appear, between 1 and 10 seconds.
So, what’s the problem? The primary problem with Snap Chat is that it seems like the perfect venue to teens for “safe” sexting. The picture disappears, right? Wrong. Screenshots can be captured and photos can be undeleted.
My advice? Snap Chat can be a lot of fun and for the most part is a pretty harmless app when not used for sexting. Proceed with caution and remind your teens again and again and again about the dangers of sending inappropriate content via their phone. Teens need to understand that once it’s out there, they cannot get it back. Snap Chat has created a Snap Chat Guide for Parents to address safety concerns that many parents have.
What is it? Kik is an instant messenger app that allows users to send and receive text messages and photos. It can even be used on iTouches so kids who don’t have phones are able to stay connected with friends. You don’t need a texting plan to use Kik which is one of the big draws for teens; only Wi-Fi is needed.
So what’s the problem? The danger with Kik is that teens use it in conjunction with Instagram, facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. Kik users post messages on social media sites saying: Kik me at …username. This basically puts their username out in the open and allowing anyone to contact them via Kik. There are plenty of unsavory types trolling around out there just looking for innocents to hit on. Scooping up Kik usernames and sending out follow requests is just a day in the life for these creepers.
My advice? Most teens use Kik as it was intended; they just aren’t aware of the inherent dangers it poses. Proceed with caution and encourage your child to follow common sense safety tips when using this app. Do not post your Kik username on other social networking sites. Block people who are cyber bullies. Under Notifications, be sure to activate “Ignore New People.” Don’t follow people or accept followers you don’t know. Change your password from time to time. Don’t send explicit images or videos of yourself…duh!!
Facts about Sexting
1. Why do teenage girls sext? Good question. 40 percent do it as a joke, 34 percent do it to feel sexy, and 12 percent feel pressured to do it.
2. What happens once the sext is sent? Typically it is shared with others. 17% of sexters share the messages, and 55% of those share them with multiple people.
3. Is it just boyfriends and girlfriends trading photos and videos? Most of the time. But remember, boys sometimes are tempted to share. 70% of teen boys and girls who sext do so with their girlfriend or boyfriend.
4. Do teens feel pressure to send nude shots? A lot of the time they do. 61% of all teens who sext report that they felt pressured to do it at least once.
5. So who’s sexting more, girls or boys? Definitely the girls. 22% of teen girls report sending nude photos or videos. 18% of teen boys report having done the same.
6. Do teens sext with people they meet online? Scarily enough, yes. 15% of teens who admit to sexting have sent them to people they have never met, but know only from the Internet.
7. Can teens get in trouble for sexting? Absolutely. Sending or receiving a sexually suggestive text or image under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and can result in criminal charges.
8. So, just how many U.S. teens are sexting? Too many. 24% of teens aged 14 to 17 have participated in a form of nude sexting.