Technology is a part of our everyday life, I am using my laptop to write this, with my phone sitting beside me, in a café with a TV in front of me, with music playing from a computer into various speakers and surrounded by people using all sorts of tech. In todays society, not being surrounded by technology is nearly impossible, and not owning a piece of technology is unheard of. However, going back nearly 10 years ago, I didn’t have my first phone until I was 15 and a laptop until I was 16. In comparison to my younger brother (10 years difference), he received his first phone at 7 and had an iPad by the age of 9, an Xbox by 12 and at nearly 14 knows more about technology than I do!
I enjoy technology, and love learning how to use different pieces of technology for multiple uses. However, when scrolling through Facebook recently, I found a disturbing video a Mother had uploaded highlighting the danger of leaving your child to download apps on a phone/iPad, and the importance of monitoring children when playing new games. (video below).
This is why I’m writing this blog post, to highlight the danger of not only mobile phones for young children, but the apps you can download in the app store. With this in mind, I thought I would start with apps that can HIDE what is really on people’s phones, such as Vaulty, Audio Manager and Calculator%. These three apps sound innocent enough, and all look like a different, safe app until clicked on. Once clicked on, you enter a password and inside is all the hidden photos, texts and information that children may not want you to find. With Vaulty specifically, hiding the information is not enough, when you enter the password incorrectly it takes a photo of whoever tried to log on and saves it to the app so the owner of the phone knows who tried to access the information. These apps are the first in deceiving parents/guardians and can easily be overlooked if going through a child’s phone.
The next app is one that I can’t really comprehend myself. It is an app called Yellow (now known as Yubo when I checked). The apple store describes this app as a “new social to make friends and spend time with them”. It looks like Snapchat, and functions like Tinder. It is rated for 13 onwards, and is advertised as a new way to make friends. The idea of a ‘Kids Tinder’ blows my mind anyway, any if used properly while being monitored MAY be a good way to make new friends, however, at the bottom of the app description, Yubo says that there may be:
- Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes
- Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
- Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
- Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude HumorSurely this app cannot be allowed for 13 and above! Along with this, anybody can join the app and sign up and it is very easy to lie about your age. You can use fake pictures, have video calls and even swipe left and right exactly like Tinder! This app is aimed at teenagers to make friends, but as mentioned previously, anybody can use this app. When I typed in Yubo into google, the first link (after the link to download the app) was one news story saying two families had gone missing because of the app, that the content of the app generally was sexual and that there wasn’t many, if any security regulations on the app. Yet, many parents don’t know what Yellow/Yubo is, what these secret apps are, what the worst apps are and what apps can be a danger to children. Instead of listing every single app that may or may not be a danger to children, there are ways in which you CAN monitor your child in the online world.
With all these horrible apps out there, there are many ways to keep your children safe, the NSPCC is a great place to start. With a Parents Guide to being Share Aware, a guide to Apps children use the most and a guide to the Yubo/Yellow app (along with many more guides for various apps).
In a world where technology is everywhere, the best we can do, as teachers, parents, guardians and responsible adults is to educate our children to be safe and responsible online to the best of our ability.