Apps your child or young person may be using and how you can make sure they are staying safe
With the internet world always changing and developing, new apps being discovered all the time, it can be difficult to know what apps you should be keeping an eye out for and how to keep your children and young people safe online or whilst they are on apps. Below we have listed some of the most common social media apps currently being used by children and young people, what you can expect from these apps and how to keep your children safe.
What is TikTok? TikTok is currently one of the largest and ever growing in popularity social media platform. TikTok has over 800 million users uploading music, dance, life hacks, make up, gaming and other short videos for other people to watch and interact with.
What should I know about TikTok? The social media platform has a minimum age limit of 13+ however, like many social media platforms these days, it can be easy to forge an age. However, the app has something called a restricted mode this means that you can restrict the content that your child or young person sees and prevents exposing them to anything too mature.
Furthermore, the app also has recently put a new rule in place that anyone on the app under the age of 16 cannot receive or send direct messages to other users. In addition to this, when creating a TikTok account, users can choose to have a public or private account. A public account means that anyone can see anything that the user posts. Whereas a private account means only the accounts followers will be able to see the content. With private account users can accept and decline followers.
Overall, TikTok shares friendly, upbeat videos created by its users. However, negative, and mature content can still be exposed like many social media platforms so it is important if you have young users using this app it may be a good idea to put some of these restrictions in place.
What is Snapchat? This app was originally designed to send short 10 second videos and pictures to friends. However, over the years the app has expanded it app and you are now able to explore more through Snapchat. Users can now make an account and add their people through their username, phone number or quick add. Users can now send snaps with an unlimited time. Users can also share videos add text and fun graphics. The app also has a discover section where users can keep up to date with trending news and articles.
What should I know about Snapchat? Since releasing the app in 2011 there are many more features that the app has to offer. Whereas before snaps would only last a few seconds for forever disappearing the app now allows you to share snaps for much longer with more risk of screenshots. Furthermore, the app also has a map feature which allows users to see where their friends are on the map. However, the app does offer a ‘ghost mode’ which means the users location will not appear on the app. Alternately, you can choose which friends see your location.
Snapchat also now allows users to upload snaps to their story for all their friends to see, these stories last 24 hours before being removed. Although the minimum age for the app is 13, it again can be easily manipulated as there is no real check.
Consider talking to your child or young person about the importance of not allowing anyone to be their friend on the app that they do not know. Snaps can also be recovered so it is important that they only send snaps that they would be happy to share with anyone!
What is Instagram? Instagram is a smartphone designed app that has over 1 billion active daily users. The app has been created to share photos and videos on to the user’s personal feed. Users can follow friends and celebrities and see what they are up to. Instagram also has a story feature, like snapchat its users can upload a picture or video to their story for all their followers to see, after 24 hours the story is then removed.
What should I know about Instagram? Again, Instagram users are supposed to be aged 13 or over. But once again a child or young person could lie about their age to grant access to the app.
Like TikTok, Instagram offers a private and public account. If a user has a private account only people following that account will be able to see any of the content shared. Through a private account the user has control over who can see their content by simply accepting or denying a friend request.
Users should be mindful of what they share as it is easy for other users to screenshot pictures, videos, and comments.
What is WhatsApp? Originally WhatsApp was used for a free texting and calling service from one WhatsApp user to another. But like most technology these days the app has now evolved. The app now offers a group feature which means plenty of users can be added to a group chat. WhatsApp also offers a group video calling service where up to eight people can be added to the call! Which has been ideal during lockdown.
What should I know about WhatsApp? Children and young people generally use the app to stay in contact with their friends and family, share pictures, videos, GIFs and voice notes. Originally anyone aged 13+ with a smartphone could join the app. However, in May 2018 in Europe the minimum age to use the app was raised to 16+ but remains 13+ anywhere else.
WhatsApp also has a status feature which means users can upload text, pictures and videos which can be viewed by anyone who has WhatsApp and their contact number.
Anyone with your child or young persons number could message them via the app. There have been reports of bullying and inappropriate messages being shared via the text messaging app. It is important that young users know how to block any contacts they do not want to contact them.
What is YouTube? You have probably already heard about YouTube as it has been around since 2005. YouTube is a video platform which allows its users to upload videos. Anyone can watch YouTube videos and you do not need to be a registered user to watch them.
What should I know about YouTube? Although millions of videos are shared on YouTube, with lots of educational videos, tools and fun family clips, your child or young person may also be exposed to videos that may not be aged appropriate, YouTube allows you to set safety measures in place to ensure your child does not see anything they shouldn’t. You can set a safety mode/restriction mode when creating an account so if your child or young person is using the app you know they will be safe and only be able to see age-appropriate clips.
What is Skype? There are many apps out there like Skype such a Facetime, although they all have a similar purpose. Both apps such as Skype, and Facetime allow its users to video call other uses through a web cam and microphone. Skype can be downloaded on smartphones, desktops, laptops, and tablets. Whereas Facetime is a similar concept but just for apple users.
What should I know about Skype? Skype allows its users to call other users that have the app. You can send friends and family members a friend request. Once both users are online, they can message, and video call on another. Skype and other apps such as Facetime are a great way to keep in contact with friends and family, especially during lockdown. However, it is important to teach your children and young people to not add or accept friend requests from anyone they do not know. Like other social networking sites, the app has an age restriction for 13+. If your chid or young person uses this app or any apps similar it’s important to monitor them to ensure they stay safe online.
If there are any apps you are unsure of there are plenty of blogs and guides online to help guide you and to ensure your child or young person is staying safe online.