Have you seen links to a website called “vsco.co” in your kid’s Instagram profile or that of their friends? If not you might soon and you’ll be like me, wondering, what the heck is VSCO? As is my nature, I immediately clicked the links, visited the website and downloaded VSCO to see what this photo app is all about. There is limited social interaction here, and little in the way of privacy.
Here are a few apps all parents should have on their radar. Periscope and YouNow are apps used to live-stream video from your phone. More than just recording videos and sending them, with these apps you hit “record” and people can watch you – live. Sound a little scary? A little voyeuristic? A little narcissistic? I thought so too! I downloaded these apps to see what they were all about and yes, there are many kids and teens broadcasting their lives.
Here are my very unscientific and unofficial rules for following your tween/teen on Instagram without coming across as too “stalk-y”. These rules (or guidelines really) are what seem to work for me!
Seems like the creators of Snapchat have had a change of heart recently. And perhaps this change was not so much out of the kindness of their hearts, but in reality a “mea culpa” due to FTC charges that Snapchat delivered false promises of forever-disappearing photos. So what does this mean to the many tweens and teens who use Snapchat? Everything shared online, has the potential to stay online, despite claims to the contrary.
Dating apps. Rating apps. Hook up apps. Anonymous messaging apps. Sex position apps! When you hand your child a phone, iPad, iPod touch, Kindle or other tablet you are opening them up to a world of apps. There are over one million apps available on the Apple App Store and over one million on Google Play for Android. New apps debut daily. Yes, there are many educational and child-friendly apps included in those millions, but just as many are not intended for a child or even teen audience.
This isn’t an article warning of the dangers of using Ask.fm; you can find that online already. I wanted to offer some advice to parents whose teens already use this service. If you read some of the articles on the web and say “no way!” that is totally understandable! These are simply suggestions for settings to use if you should decide it’s okay for your teen to continue with ask.fm. As a parent you know your kids best and set the rules you are comfortable with.
When a friend asked me about Keek, I thought they were asking about Kik, the messaging app. But Keek isn’t Kik and Kik isn’t Keek. Keek is a social media site and app focused on sharing short video clips. Think Facebook, but with video updates instead of text or photo updates. And oh yeah, little to no privacy. You may not have heard of Keek, but with 24 million users and growing, your tween or teen may be “keeking” already.
Let’s take a break from talking about websites we want our kids to avoid, and take a look at a site we can recommend. It’s nice to say YES for a change, right? Kidsmomo is a website for kids 8-13 where they can not only get book suggestions, but share their own book reviews, too.
Have you heard of the website Omegle? I hadn’t until a teenager mentioned it in a comment on another article. I’ve also had several requests from concerned parents asking for a review. Omegle is a website that allows you to chat with a random stranger. So right away we have probably answered the question in the title of this post! Omegle is not okay for kids – unless you are okay with your kids chatting with complete strangers. I’m guessing that you’re not.
Snapchat is a phone app used to send photos and videos to friends. The unique feature of the app is straight out of “Mission Impossible” – once viewed, the photo self-destructs in a matter of seconds. The app may offer a false sense of security for teens who think they can send an embarrassing picture without consequences.