Hidden Terrors

Written by BG Howard

July 22, 2022

I recently wrote about some dangers to which we are exposed via technological devices that have become as readily available in mainstream society as shoes or a good pair of jeans.  Not to be redundant, I’m compelled to expound on something discovered during the course of researching this same subject matter.

I was dumbfounded when realizing the overwhelming number of computer/ipad/ipod/tablet/iphone applications known as “apps,” for reference, being legally produced and distributed for use with most electronic devices.  These apps, however well-intended their producers claim the purposes they were meant to serve, have the capability of allowing adolescents, tweens, and teens to utterly test the degrees of safety, security, and decency on virtually every level.

After two full days of researching, reading, and reviewing the plethora of apps available, I’d documented enough information on the subject to fill every page of an encyclopedia.  Given the fact there are simply too many applications available for cell phones for me to document, not to mention those specifically for use with computers, iPads, iPods, and nearly every other network capable device in production, only a limited number can be listed.  I would urge every parent, grandparent or responsible adult to spend a little time researching apps to which today’s youths are exposed.

One place to start is the internet, where young adults and children come across information introducing them to the apps.  A good website for parents to gain considerable knowledge about these and other concerns is http://fun.familyeducation.com/mobile-apps/social-networking.  This site warns against several apps made available to young adults and children such as one called “YiK Yak” which is billed by its producers as “the anonymous social wall for anything and everything.”  If that’s not enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck when considering a child’s safety I don’t know what will.  As registration doesn’t require any personal information outside a user’s location, it is easy to remain anonymous.  It’s rated 17+ (for use by people seventeen or older) but can easily be accessed by younger users who post degrading and vicious comments about other youth.  Reportedly, in both Alabama and Massachusetts students anonymously posted threats, which showed up as a live feed, against their school.  This resulted with safety concerns and caused disruptions in the institutions as well as for local police.

“Tinder” is another dangerous app; one of the most dangerous considering the lack of a user’s ability to verify any information about the person with whom they communicate.  While makers purport it is “the fun way to connect with new and interesting people around you” the app is primarily used by young adults as a means of anonymously “hooking up” with strangers for a quick sexual encounter or one-night stand and often includes college students, teens and tweens.  Although this app is rated 17+ its privacy policy allows registration by users as young as age 13.  More alarming is the fact “Tinder” connects to a person’s Face Book or Twitter account, which allows users to view photos from these locations and privately transmit instant messages once two people have “liked” each other.  This app is particularly threatening as it puts kids at risk for sexual harassment, stalking and other victimization.

Other apps for which caring parents/guardians should be on the lookout include:  Ask.fm, Kik Messenger, Voxer, Snapchat, Poke, Vine, Whisper, Tumblr, Instagram, and Shots of Me.  The limitless capabilities afforded youngsters run the gamut from naughty to nice and include such activities as sexting, nudity, sex, drug use, vulgarities, and X-rated sexuality for starters.

There are countless details of “secret” and “anonymous” rendezvous ending in rape, physical abuse, a person’s being stalked or even killed.  Though it may seem the “deck” of decency is stacked against the moral majority, there are several places to find help:  Mob Safety Ranger Browser, Dinner Time, Famigo, Video Monster, Canary – Teen Safety, Ignore No More, Qustodio, Avira Social Network Protection, ContentWatch Net Nanny 7, and Checky are applications designed to help parents combat the indecencies of technological influences.

If you, like most adults, don’t view yourself as being all that computer savvy, consider it an opportunity to log some important quality time with your child and begin dialog on the subject of “apps” which could possibly open the door; giving you access to a “restricted” space previously considered off limits.  The most important defense against being alienated as a parent or guardian is to maintain an open relationship with the “little people” allowing them freedom to approach you with any subject, question, or concern. Simply put, try relating to your adolescent, tween, or teen or the world will take their attention away from you.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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