Last week I was asked to write an article for the PFHS parent newsletter on the topic of social networking. Below is the article, as well as resources for both parents and teachers.
New social networking sites are popping up all over the web and in app stores. Many teens have more access than ever through their web connected devices like smart phones, MP3 players, e-readers, and tablets. It is hard for even the most tech savvy adult to stay on top of the continual stream of social networking sites. These sites/apps are sometimes harmless however they can put teens in danger. Here is a run-down of the sites/apps your teen may be using and some of the dangers associated with them:
- AskFm and Qooh.me: Websites that allow users to pose and respond to questions. For example, a user may post “Why are you such a loser?” and other users can respond. This site is often associated with cyber-bullying and harassment because it is not regulated and allows users to post anonymously.
- Chatroulette: A website and app that pairs users up with random people from around the world together for webcam-based conversations. This site is known to be home to predators and inappropriate content.
- Creepy: A desktop app that allows a user to track someone’s movements based on their Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr activity. It does so by gathering geotag location data from photos posted to online social networking sites. To help protect their teens, parents can turn off the geotag location data on their teen’s device; while this is not fail proof, it can help prevent new geotags
- Efemr: A web and mobile app that allows users to post time limited content on Twitter. Teens are often more willing to engage in risky behavior and cyber bullying if they believe the contents will be deleted.
- Facebook, Instagram, Pheed, Tumblr, and Twitter: Websites and apps that allow users post pictures, videos, and/or texts and comment on others posts. Teens often over share personal information including contact information and geotagged photos. These sites can also be home to cyber bullying.
- Flickr: An image and video hosting site and social network. Flickr prohibits content that is illegal, but sexually explicit material is permitted.
- Kik: A messaging application that allows users to send photos, videos, and messages. Teens like this app because it is harder for adults to monitor their activity.
- SnapChat: An app that allows users to send photos and videos that will “self-destruct” or disappear. Teens are often more willing to engage in inappropriate behavior if they believe the contents will be deleted. However many users have found ways around this and are able to use other apps and screen capture features to keep and spread the photos.
- Vine: A short form video-sharing app. According to Vine, users may be exposed to content that might be offensive, harmful, inaccurate, otherwise inappropriate, or deceptive. Sexually explicit videos are permitted on Vine.