Is there a surefire way to find out if an app is safe for children? While no social media or any other social app can truly be 100% safe, there are a few precautions parents can take to protect their children and find out if a certain app is dangerous for children. We promise it won’t take long.
Many apps might seem innocuous at first, but can easily be revealed as inappropriate for children at a second glance. Even apps designed to be safe for children, such as YouTube for Kids’, have histories of inappropriate content slipping through their filtering algorithms.
This doesn’t mean no apps are safe, but it does mean parents should be aware of the risks any app might contain, along with its benefits.
Before allowing you children to use any new app, we recommend following these 4 steps.
1. Read reviews by other parents – a simple google search such as ‘is Instagram safe for kids’ or ‘parent Kik review’ will take you straight to the heart of the matter – what other parents think about the app. Don’t settle for review on the app stores, since you’re not really interested in the opinion of the average app user, but in the experiences of other parents. What you’ll find will be very illuminating.
2. Check the apps privacy and security settings – if what other parents think about the app convinced you it would be safe for your child, go ahead and install it, but regardless of what you read in reviews – check the new app’s privacy settings. Some apps just assume we won’t mind our data to be public, or that we’ll want strangers to contact us, but you’ll probably want to opt out of these options in most cases. Make sure your private information stays private.
Honestly? this step is also a good idea for any app you install on your own phones as adults. Not enough people are familiar with the privacy and security options on the apps they use.
3. Try it for yourself – we promise this won’t take long. Open the app, and spend a few minutes clicking around and find out the features it offers. Use the search option to look for content that might be inappropriate. Something you discover during this step might change your mind.
4. Parental monitoring app – a good parenting app will notify you to any danger you might have missed, and to many dangers you couldn’t have possibly found by yourselves.
Many social apps allow users to contact each other through personal messages, to tag other users, or comment on posts. These are all features that can be abused. A parental monitoring app can serve as an extra layer of defense in those cases, and will make sure you’re notified in case something goes wrong. It can also let you know how your child is using the app and for how long. It can also let you know if your child installed an app that you already disapproved of.
There are many dangerous apps for kids, but parents can easily avoid them. This might all sound a bit time consuming, but it’s not. It’ll take you 15 minutes tops to make sure your child is safe, and a parental monitoring app will work in the background to make sure you’re always in the know.
Extra reading for parents:
If you’re wondering about some of the more popular social media apps, we have other posts you can check:
How can parents monitor Instagram?
Is Snapchat safe for kids? It could be.
What is the Best Parental Monitoring App?
A Parent’s Guide to Social Media: Twitter