Parents: Don’t Trust App Makers to Remove Online Predators

by Screen Time Team on 01/05/2019
Child safety would seem to be one of the few places we're all in agreement. And yet, app makers continually fail their communities. The most recent scandal involved the app TikTok, which failed to remove online predators despite repeated reporting. Parents need to take control of the safety of their children, using a multi-pronged approach.
Young girl sitting on steps using a mobile phone.

Education

Kids need to know how to spot all forms of predator. The stereotype is an evolution of the “stranger danger” parents likely grew up with in the pre-internet era, but children are a common target of online scammers, for example, who may promise kids items in their favorite games or use another lever to get passwords and financial information, or even just run up a huge credit card bill and then disappear.

Teach your family to think about what a person is really asking and to spot the strategies of a predator. Is this person trying to pressure you? Are they asking for things or taking actions you’re uncomfortable with? Do they become abusive or bullying if they don’t get what they want? Do they tell you to hide their “friendship” or to lie to parents and teachers?

One point to remember is that these questions should apply to people kids know, as well as strangers. More often than not, we’re exploited by someone we know personally, and this is as true of children as it is adults. If an adult they know is telling them you said it was OK, kids should know to check that with you.

Limiting Access

Parental control apps are another useful tool in your kit. They’ll let you remove apps, prevent them from being used during certain times of day, or block certain functions. While removing kids from social networks via software isn’t the only method you can pursue, it can offer a useful way to pull kids away from toxic relationships and negative spaces online.

These apps should be paired with a detailed and honest discussion of why the app is being put in place and what the limits are. Rules that are fair and that can be revised are much more likely to be followed than seemingly arbitrary limits put into place. This will also teach kids how to spot problem areas for themselves and learn to avoid them.

Young teenage boy painting a model tank.

Taking Control

Within apps, children should also understand the tools they have at their disposal. If someone is acting inappropriately or worryingly, for example, kids should know how to block them, report them, and who to speak with in the real world to have their concerns addressed. Teach children how to screenshot comments and messages, how to delete content from their personal social media feed, and that they should contact you and somebody in authority on the site when they have a negative interaction with somebody online. Giving kids the tools to fight back against bad behavior will also help equip them to deal with the online world as adults.

The internet can feel like a dangerous place, but parental control apps can help keep families safe. If you want to learn more, we invite you to sign up today.

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Parents: Don't Trust App Makers to Remove Online Predators
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Parents: Don't Trust App Makers to Remove Online Predators
Description
Keeping your children safe is a job most apps aren't doing. Here's what to do instead.
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Screen Time
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