The more things change, the more they stay the same, and Musical.ly proves the rule. It turns out the app, which allows fans to sing along to songs and play silly games with music, also has a raunchy side if you search certain terms. The app is presumably tightening up the ship as parents object, but this is a good reminder that not all apps are engineered with kids in mind, which can lead to some awkward situations.
Yubo is a friend-making app with an unfortunate resemblance to a far more adult app, Tinder. Kids can swipe to decide if they’d like to say hi to somebody or ignore them. Laying aside the app’s structure, which is a bit unfortunate but seems to be a coincidence, the real concern here for many parents is how judgemental the app forces you to be. There’s not a “maybe” or “get to know” function, and many parents worry it’s teaching kids to be judgemental and shallow. Before allowing Yubo or not, lay out these concerns for kids and why the app bothers you.
People tend to carve out their own private spaces on the internet, and Instagram is no exception. There’s a distinct chance that kids have a “finsta,” slang for a fake Instagram, which their parents and family sees, and then a real, private account that’s closely monitored and limited only to a small circle of friends. Really, there’s only so much you can do here, short of deleting the app off their phone, but make it clear to kids that they should be careful what they share online, and who they share it with.
Snapchat is the bane of many parents for a number of reasons. But the most glaring one, currently, is SnapMaps, a feature that shows where, precisely, Snapchat users are with a relative degree of accuracy. The feature, fortunately, can be disabled, but it’s safe to say many parents find it poorly considered and a potential safety risk. If you’re letting your children use Snapchat, and that may be a big “if” for you depending on the content, tell them you’re shutting off SnapMaps, and why.
This app allows people to send anonymous messages to each other, and it’s quickly become a locus of abuse online. In the absence of any accountability, Sarahah has become a mess for some parents and kids. It is worth remembering that some kids do need private spaces to talk to other kids, so that might justify Sarahah or a similar app, within certain contexts. But before you let the app into their phone, talk with them about emotional violence and that they can come to you to discuss disturbing messages.
Don’t think the list stops with these apps. Being engaged with your kids and what they do online is key to building a safe place online for them. Parental control apps can also be helpful to parents in setting boundaries. If you’d like to give one a try for free, check out Screen Time