Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
I just read a story on the internet about the dangers of a phone app called KIK. Kik is an instant messaging app developed in Canada in 2010. Teens love this app because they can type up to 200 characters in a message, but can also share pics, videos, gifs and memes. In the story, this girl was chatting with someone who asked her for a picture when she complied, this person then demanded more pictures of her in her under clothing. The person told her that if she didn’t do this, he would begin to upload her photos to various social media sites and ruin her life.
She began to get afraid because her mother forbade her from downloading the Kik app, but she did it anyway, behind her mother’s back. Her mother found about this quite by accident because she had taken her mobile device to summer camp after she was told not to bring it there. The mother took the device from her as punishment. The girl began to cry and told her mother not to be mad but she downloaded the Kik app.
When her mother went through the mobile device, she saw a folder marked Kik and when she opened it, the mother was mortified at the pics she saw. Pics of her little girl posing in her undies and some of the pics showed the girl’s face and she had tears in her eyes. When her parents had a talk with her about the pictures, she told them about being blackmailed for them. To make a long story shorter, law enforcement agencies were able to serve a warrant to the Canada based app company and although they didn’t have to, Kik complied with the warrant and they found out the other person was indeed a teen-ager in London, England. However, since they are both teen-agers and because the offending party lived in England, there was really nothing law enforcement could do about it. They likened the potential arrest to no more than a speeding ticket because they were both minors so this is not a felony case any longer. All of this happened within two days of her downloading the app.
There are a lot more than this app that is dangerous for children and teens. It is no longer just Facebook that parents have to be concerned with. Apps such as Tinder, where users can rate profiles and can also hook up as it uses a GPS locator to find the party that you want to meet. This is an app that can enable adults to meet up with teens and can be used for cyber-bullying because a group of people can get together and purposefully make the rating go down.
Snapchat, in my opinion, is the most problematic of all of the apps. Users can send their “friends” pictures and videos and allow the image to be viewed for a certain amount of time and then they will disappear. The problem is that the deleted pics can be recovered and a screen shot can be made and uploaded to different sites known as snap p... sites. I typed these two words into my internet search and was mortified when it took me to a site that actually shows unedited and uncensored pics of teens.
Other apps that parents should be aware of are apps like, Blendr, whisper, Ask.fm, yik yak, Omegle, and Down. There is also an app called Poof where users can hide these apps from unwanted eyes of the parents and they won’t be able to find them on the mobile device. Poof is no longer for sale but those who had purchased it before they shut down can and do use them.
Parents, please…please talk with your teens about these apps and the dangers they can ultimately provide. The age of the internet is becoming more and more accessible to people who want to cause harm or worse. Please be ever more so vigilant with what your teens are doing on the internet, for the safety of your teen and for your own peace of mind.