In an effort to keep you informed and give you the proper tools to protect your students we have put together this resource regarding internet and social media safety. Please take the time to read through the entire blog as it sheds light on the specific dangers of different types of websites. The internet is such a great resource, but without proper awareness and safety measures it opens up a lot of very dangerous doors.
Please remember that your first and most important job as parents is to keep your children safe! Their safety is far more important than their "privacy." Please ask questions, "friend" and "follow" your children, and protect them from the dangers that they do not fully understand.
Dating Sites: Tinder, Kik, Zoosk, Down, Skout
We really wish we didn’t have to include the online dating apps in this list, but we do–because kids are using them. (We know. We’re feeling pretty gross about that too.) Teens like these apps because they only match you with people who like you back, and that provides some major positive reinforcement, which makes them want to keep using it. We’ve come a long way from simply mustering up the courage to talk to the cute guy in class.
These especially concern us because matches are limited to a specific geographic area, which means kids are connecting with people in the local area who may not actually be other kids. Predators often create fake accounts to connect with young teens. Finally, some require a Facebook account to login meaning anonymity is far less likely.
All are available for iPhone and Android. iPod, Kindle Fire, PlayStation, Xbox, Wii, Smart TV and any Wi-Fi capable device.
Video and Video Sharing/ Viewing Apps: Vine, Vimeo, Youtube, Reddit, Viddy, Instagram, Twitter, Keek and Pheed
Tween and teen video / photo users are most likely to create silly variable length videos (like their parents do), but there’s also a ton of really inappropriate content, both violent and sexual, on these apps. While they have taken steps to restrict access to explicit videos, they’re still out there in spades. Some have recently been used to document animal cruelty by teens, and it’s also been linked to bullying, including video of kids who weren’t aware they were being recorded and other sexually explicit and pornographic materials. All are available for iPhone and Android. iPod, Kindle Fire, PlayStation, Xbox, Wii, Smart TV and any Wi-Fi capable device..
Texting / Social Media Messaging: Whisper.sh, Facebook, Snapchat, Myspace, Ask.fm
Instant messaging, private messaging and other posting forums that are built off of followers and creating communities of like-minded or seeking groups are dangerous. For example, Whisper is a secret-sharing app and website, similar to PostSecret. (Remember PostSecret?) Users share “whispers” anonymously, and for a subscription fee, they can heart and reply to each other’s whispers. If you’ve enabled location services, your whispers can show up in lists of nearby whisperers, which increases the possibility that you’re not so anonymous after all. Whisper is most popular on college campuses, but as they’ve just received another round of Venture Capital funding, it’s possible that Whisper will make its way to circles of younger users.
Whisper is available for iPhone and Android. Another is the Ask.fm app (and accompanying website) is intended to be a friendly Q+A forum to get to know people better. In reality, it’s rife with bullying and sexually charged discussion. Questions can be answered anonymously, which adds to the potential for kids to make comments that they wouldn’t if they could be identified. If you happen to notice this on your kid’s phone, be aware that concerns about Ask.fm are incredibly serious: It’s been implicated as a factor in five teen suicides. Ask.fm is available for iPhone and Android. iPod, Kindle Fire, PlayStation, Xbox, Wii, Smart TV and any Wi-Fi capable device.
Private Browsing: Hidden internet non tracking apps
InBrowser is an incognito/private browser for iOS with video support. Each time you exit InBrowser, everything you’ve done in the app will be erased, including history, cookies, and sessions. InBrowser is a feature rich browser, and it’s in permanent private mode.
With InBrowser, you can check Facebook on a friends device, do some gift shopping, plan a surprise party, search for a medical condition, watch a video, or simply avoid auto-filling the search history. Using InBrowser, you can do all this and more without leaving a single trace. This opens up the potential for teens to search for material they may not otherwise search for if they know that a parent can access their browser history.
• Absolutely no data is saved: When you exit InBrowser (or press the “Clear Current History & Cache” button in the InBrowser settings menu), all browsing data and history are removed.
Support for app extensions: InBrowser’s functionality is extended by the following apps:
- 1Password (auto-fill username and passwords from your vault)
Tabbed Browsing: InBrowser’s tabbed browsing feature has the ability to quickly switch between several open webpages within a single browsing session.
Agent cloaking (no more mobile version of sites!): Using agent cloaking, you make websites think that you're visiting from Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, or iOS, giving you a richer and more complete browsing experience.
AirPlay and Bluetooth monitoring: InBrowser gives you visual notification if AirPlay is running or if you’re sharing audio using Bluetooth each time you start the app, avoiding unintentional sharing of video or audio to another device.
Built for both iPhone and iPad: InBrowser is designed from the ground up to work on both iPhone and iPad, regardless of model or screen size.
In-App video support: Clicking on a video link will play your video content in InBrowser’s in-app video player. Any trace of this is removed when you exit the InBrowser.
Built for all iOS systems and updates: InBrowser has been updated and optimized for iOS8, but we still support iOS7, iOS6 and iOS5.1.
InBrowser can optionally run in the background: InBrowser can remember active tabs, even if you close down the app, and the browser can be manually cleared by pressing the "Clear Current History & Cache" button. Run in the background is disabled by default but can be enabled in the settings.
Minimalistic design, maximum space for browsing: No junk, no ads, no extra bars - just maximum space for your browsing experience
Internet Monitoring Resources: Home and personal safety for all devices
Net Nanny - https://www.netnanny.com/
X3 Watch - http://x3watch.com/
Meet Circle - https://meetcircle.com/
#Being13 on YouTube – Documentary that follows use of apps by 13 year old students. Honest eye opening look in to the social media and web use among teens. https://youtu.be/t-9LtTtkg04