The internet and access to online entertainment have become very prevalent in day to day life, especially for children. Children can often spend more time online interacting with friends than they do in real life. This can be a blessing and a curse to parents trying to create a balance between letting there kids be kids and keeping them safe. Here are 5 things parents can do to keep their kids safe online.
It can be hard for parents to keep up with social media trends and sites used by teens these days. One of the more popular sites for blogs, photos and other social content is Tumblr.
In this post, we will tell parents what they need to know about Tumblr, a rapidly growing content-sharing site commonly used by teens. It looks harmless on an initial review, but it has some hidden dangers every parent should know.
What Is Tumblr?
Tumblr is often described as a “micro-blogging platform.” It is similar to a regular blog in that users can share “posts” that include a variety of media such as text, links, photos, gifs, audio, and video. It is called a “mirco” blog because each post is usually shared in snippets, content that is much shorter than a standard blog.
Tumblr users can post to their blog, view posts from users they follow in their feed, and “reblog” posts from other users.
Tumblr is popular among teens and growing fast. Tech Times reported that in six months, Tumblr increased its active users by 120%. According to a report by Pew Research Center, many of those new users are girls. Just 5% of boys use the platform compared to 23% of teen girls.
It’s likely that your teen, especially your teen girl, is using the platform or will be soon.
Is Tumblr Safe for Teens and Should I Be Concerned?
All primary Tumblr profiles are public. There is no way to mark a profile or entire primary blog as private. To create a private blog that is password protected, users need to set up a secondary blog.
So even if your child creates a secondary private blog, their original primary account will always be public.
Tumblr has adult content. The site allows users to post explicit content on their blogs. While they do request that users tag their blogs as “adult-oriented” when it includes adult-themed content, they can’t guarantee that content will always be accurately tagged.
It is possible that adult-themed content can slip into your child’s feed.
What Should I Teach My Teen About Tumblr?
Show them how to hide adult content. Users can set their search so explicit content will not show in their search results using these directions from Tumblr.
Teach them how to mark their posts as private. While all primary profiles are public on Tumblr, users can set individual posts as private as a way to protect their information.
Explain how and when to block other users. Remind your teen when they should block someone and how to protect themselves from online strangers. Then, teach them how to block users when they need to.
Related Post: Protecting Your Kids From Internet Stranger Danger
Tell them you need to be involved. Parents should let their kids know that they need to be involved in their social media world. Let your kids know you will be reviewing what they post on Tumblr, not to snoop but to keep them safe.
Parents can also use MamaBear, the app for Peace of Mind Parenting™ to stay connected to their kids and review the activity happening on their social media accounts. The free app available is for iPhones and Androids and includes easy to use versions for parents and teens.
When a website or app releases a new “kid-friendly” version of their platform, it sounds like it should be good news for parents.
With so much content online, managing what kids consume is often a big undertaking for parents. So an app designed exclusively for kids, with guards set up to prevent them from finding inappropriate content sounds like a break for parents.
But it turns out that even when a platform is designed with kids in mind, it isn’t always as safe as it seems — as it was with the YouTube Kids App.
What Is the YouTube Kids App?
Many kids enjoy watching YouTube, which includes a large library of kid-friendly content. But the platform, designed for adults, isn’t an ideal tool for young children.
In February of this year, Google (which owns YouTube) launched YouTube Kids, an app that gives younger kids an opportunity to enjoy their own, age-appropriate version of the video platform.
The new app, compatible for tablets and smartphones, was designed with kids in mind. The dashboard looks like a toy with bigger buttons, easy to navigate menus and intuitive playback options.
As for the content, YouTube claimed to curate age-appropriate videos, channels and playlists.
While YouTube Kids didn’t exactly say there would be only age-appropriate content available on the app, it sounded like it was a totally safe space for children to explore on their own.
But that wasn’t the case.
What Went Wrong?
An article on CNN Money reports that a consumer group has uncovered multiple examples of inappropriate content available on YouTube Kids.
Among the content were cartoons that looked harmless at first glance but were actually discussing playing with matches, tasting battery acid, tying a noose and tasting beer.
The iTunes page for YouTube Kids says that it uses “a mix of input from our users and automated analysis to categorize and screen out the videos that make parents nervous.” But that is in no way a foolproof solution.
Google is aware of the situation and working to resolve the issue; but in the meantime, parents need to be aware of what this means for their children.
Is YouTube Kids Safe For Your Children?
YouTube Kids is a better alternative than standard YouTube, but that doesn’t mean you can leave your child to manage their experience on their own.
Parents should carefully monitor the videos their children discover and report any content that is inappropriate or questionable. They can also use the app’s grown-up-only options to turn off search, limiting the content their children can find.
When it comes to online content, there really is no time when a parent can sit back and expect the platform to monitor the content on its own. Parents always need to remain vigilant of their children’s online media consumption, even when it is advertised as age-appropriate.
In an increasingly complex digital world, parents can use online tools like MamaBear, for Peace of Mind Parenting™ to help monitor their children’s experience with online content. The free app, available for iPhones and Androids, makes it easy for parents to connect with their children’s social media accounts and better monitor their online activity.
Fox News reports that a study published in Pediatrics found correlations between a teen’s online behavior and their real-life experiences and problems.
The study focused on a variety of behaviors but looked closely at teen online relationships. Research showed that 41% of the surveyed teens experienced cyber dating abuse. Those who experienced cyber dating abuse were more likely to have been linked to physical abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual assault.
Research also showed that teens who frequently use social media were more likely to frequently evaluate their bodies and have self-esteem issues. This research is important as it highlights just how much online activities impact a teen’s thoughts and actions.
To read more about how to use social media to learn more about your child, read the full article, “Online life for teens may lead to real-life problems.”