In the Know- Safer Schools
Ohio's new school safety tip line gives students, parents, teachers and school administrators a way to anonymously report student safety threats to school officials and law enforcement officers. The tip line serves our community 24 hours a day and the call center guarantees the anonymity of the person who calls or texts.
Trained professionals at Ohio Homeland Security's Threat Assessment and Prevention (TAP) unit answer all calls and texts to 844-SaferOH. When action is needed, TAP staff immediately forward information to the district and/or school. Local law enforcement agencies or others may be notified, if the situation warrants.
Many of our children received a new cell phone, tablet, laptop or other Internet-ready electronic device as a holiday gift. According to a study by Pew Research, more than 78% of teens have cell phones, many of them smartphones. Today’s teens love to communicate through their cell phones, much of it hidden from their parents.
As with any online tool, social networking has its pros and its cons. Parents need to be aware of the different apps their teens are using and talk with their children about Internet safety, which includes the use of smartphones and tablets as well as laptop and desktop computers.
Below are some of the hottest new apps, as well as some not-so-new apps, being used by teenagers – why they love them and why parents should monitor them.
The key for parents is to monitor the apps their children download and learn if they are potentially dangerous or inappropriate. Talk to your children about responsible social networking and social media use. Parents should gather all of their child’s passwords and usernames for monitoring purposes. If your teen refuses to give you his/her passwords/usernames, you may wish to look into various monitoring alternatives to view your teen’s cell phone activity. It’s always better to be overly protective than sorry later.
Additional tips for Internet safety can be found at:
Internet Keep Safe Coalition ww.ikeepsafe.org
Ask.fm App and Web site
What is it? Ask.fm is a question and answer site that allows the user to ask anonymous questions.
Why do teens like it? Questions can be answered anonymously. It also integrates with Twitter and Facebook allowing users to connect with all of their friends on those sites.
Why should parents monitor it? It is almost exclusively used by teenagers and pre-teans. Due to intense bullying, Ask.fm has led to four documented cases of suicide in the United States, Ireland and Great Britain. Users engage in hyper-bullying by constantly asking inappropriate and derogatory questions. The app is anonymous, which adds the potential for teens to make comments that they would not make if they could be identified, and not monitored by anyone. The site is unmoderated and contains no privacy controls.
What is it? Badabing! is a social image recognition app. It allows the user to search through Facebook friends’ albums and find photos showing them in revealing outfits fast.
Why do teens like it? Once pictures have been found, users can bookmark their favorites and share them with others.
Why should parents monitor it? Photos can then be recycled by other users and posted on porn sites, allowing pedophiles to speed up the process of looking for pictures of under-dressed teens.
Bang with Friends
What is it? Bang with Friends is a Facebook app that allows teens to choose friends in their Facebook list who they would sleep with.
Why do teens like it? It is anonymous until the other person chooses you, providing positive reinforcement to its users.
Why should parents monitor it? If both users choose each other, each user is notified and encourage to meet with the other user to have sex.
What is it? Owned by Facebook, Instagram is a picture-posting forum.
Why do teens like it? Users can follow other users, post comments, and “like” various pictures, similar to Facebook.
Why should parents monitor it? Instragram is fertile ground for gossip. Photo feeds of selfies, favorite places, and favorite foods are open to the public to view by default.
What is it? With more than 100 million users, Kik is a very quick instant messaging app that allows the user to send text messages, images, sketches and videos to other users. Photos can be ‘geotagged’ allowing others to see the location that the photo was taken, such as the physical address of the family home.
Why do teens like it? In addition to being super quick, Kik cards allow users to send YouTube videos, create memes and gifs without leaving the app.
Why should parents monitor it? Teens are using the Kik app for sexting and dating. They send nude ‘selfies’ to each other through the app. Teens use Reddit and other forums to place classified ads for sex giving out their Kik usernames. There are no parental controls and there’s no way to authenticate users therefore making it easy for pedophiles to use the app.
What is it? Users can live-stream events on Pheed and share images, text, audio tracks, voice-notes and video.
Why do teens like it? Teens can follow the pheeds of celebrities, DJs and friends.
Why should parents monitor it? Pheed is aimed at a younger audience. Profiles can be viewed by anyone and anyone can contact the user. Users can charge for access to their pheed, if they think someone will pay for it.
What is it? Users can send images or videos to their friend lists. The sender can place a time limit on how long the receiver sees the image or video. The content then ‘self-destructs’ in anywhere from 1-10 seconds, depending upon the time limit set by the users.
Why do teens like it? It is simple and fast. It sends photos and videos much faster than standard text messaging.
Why should parents monitor it? SnapChat is the number one sexting app on the market. Teens send nude or suggestive photos to their significant others under the guise that it self-destructs. The snaps can be easily saved as a screen shot and can also be recovered from the receiver’s phone so are never truly deleted. Porn sites take advantage of the free content and numerous cases of cyberbullying have been reported due to the use of this app.
What is it? Tinder is an online matchmaking app that facilitates anonymous communication between users.
Why do teens like it? Teens like Tinder because it only matches you with people who like you back. This provides positive reinforcement, which makes them want to keep using it.
Why should parents monitor it? Users are juged based on appearance. Matches are limited to geographic area, which means teens are connecting with people in their area who may or may not be other teens. Tinder requires a Facebook account to login. Tinder is accused of facilitating ‘hookups’ rather than meaningful dating opportunities.
What is it? Tumblr is a blogging site that allows users to share text, photos, video and audio posts.
Why do teens like it? It’s considered a great online hangout for creative people.
Why should parents monitor it? It is full of inappropriate content for children. It’s easy to find blogs with sexual content, offensive language and depictions of violence and drug use. It’s also public by default so anyone can view your teens’ posts.
What is it? Users can post 140-character messages and photos on Twitter. They can also choose to follow others users.
Why do teens like it? Twitter is quick and easy to use and also, most parents, pastors and teachers are now using Facebook so Twitter is the good social media alternative.
Why should parents monitor it? Teens can create Twitter accounts under an alias to cyberbully people or view inappropriate material.
What is it? The Vine app allows users to create six-second videos that loop continuously. It was launched early in 2013 and has more than 13 million users.
Why do teens like it? Vine is a micro-video app owned by Twitter, thus the videos can be posted on Twitter. Teens love making videos.
Why should parents monitor it? Vine currently has no privacy settings or private profiles, so content is visible to everyone. It is open to everyone so R-rated violent and sexual content can appear in the stream. It has been linked to bullying, including video of users not aware they were being recorded.
What is it? WhatsApp is a messenger app that allows users to send unlimited texts, videos, images and short audio messages. It is the biggest messenger app in the world. There’s no advertising on WhatsApp.
Why do teens like it? Texts can be sent without running up a phone bill. The app provides private chatting with people you are friends with in real life, instead of those you might find online.
Why should parents monitor it? The app has a built in location-sharing feature so, if not turned off, teens are broadcasting their location.
What is it? Whisper is the teen confession app allowing users to superimpose text over an image and share secrets. Users share ‘whispers’ anonymously, although if you’ve enabled location services, your whispers can show up on nearby whispers.
Why do teens like it? It provides imagined freedom for young users to share raw feeling and emotions over simple pictures.
Why should parents monitor it? Teens have started using the app for cyberbullying by posting pictures of other teens with derogatory text superimposed on the images. Users do not have to register to use Whisper so there is no user profile. The app allows users to communicate with other users using GPS location settings. Pedophiles can search for underage whisper users to establish relationships.
What is it? YouTube is a video-sharing Web site that allows registered users to upload and share videos. It was one of the top three apps downloaded in 2012.
Why teens like it? It’s easy to use and can be a lot of fun.
Why should parents monitor it? Teens can view all sorts of music videos, how-to videos, and more, including those with inappropriate content – language, sex and violence. The top music videos viewed by teens contain sex, drugs and money. Parents can view the recently watched videos that their teens are viewing.