The 5 Apps and Services That Every Parent Should Know About
It’s so hard for parents to keep up with the sheer amount of apps and services their children use online. So, with any luck you should find this RiiRoo guide super handy to give you a breakdown of these apps and services.
Some of these will be very familiar to you and some less so. As parents, getting a birds eye view of all of the things our kids are up to online.
Being aware helps you help them make the right decisions and also help them if anything goes wrong.
So, if you have the time, read this guide to walk you through Instagram, Whatsapp, TikTok, SnapChat, and YouTube. Also, don’t forget to have a play with these platforms yourself.
With an active daily use base of 256 million and predominantly used by a much younger generation, Snapchat which started in 2011 became the fastest growing platform among young people.
In essence, the app is a photo-messaging app that allows users to share photos and videos. In addition to that they can always add fun graphics and also text.
These posts are called “Snaps” and can be shared with friends, family or anyone stored in your smartphone contact list and who also have the app.
The app also has a “Discover” section where you can view news from various different media brands which are based on an easy to read “stories” format similar to Instagram Stories (we’ll cover).
What do parents need to know about Snapchat?
The whole premise of Snapchat was built on fun. The “Snaps” allowed you to take a snap and they only lasted a few seconds before disappearing and they weren’t able to saved by the person receiving them. Kids used to have fun, by pulling faces and acting silly without the worry of them being around forever.
As the platform matured this changed. Now as a user, you can choose how long that Snap stays up by creating Stories. Now these are available up to 24 hours.
Similar to Instagram, you can now take images that were shot outside of the app and then shared on the platform.
There’s a pretty good chance that you know what Instagram is or have at least heard of it. Can you believe that it now has over 1 billion (yes billion with a b) active users. The crazy thing is, there are people of all ages using Instagram now, not just teenagers.
Back in the day, it made its name by being the main image-sharing platform. However, what has fast become apparent is the sheer amount of video that is now being consumed on that platform. Coupled with a fair amount of live streaming from absolute nobodies to celebrities, you can see why there’s been such an attraction to the platform.
What has also blown up in the last few years is a feature called “Stories” which you might recognise as being very similar to Snapchat’s own story feature which is only viable for 24 hrs.
What do parents need to know about Instagram?
Similarly to Snapchat, Instagram users are meant to be 13 or over. However, there’s also the possibility of a child entering the wrong date of birth on the app and gaining access to it. Now, these underage accounts can be reported and Instagram says that they will delete them if a user is unable to identify their age.
Even though there’s limited control over content that is posted on there. Unfortunately, there’s very little Instagram can do with regards to comments received on these posts. Some of the comments could either be positive or negative.
What you do have the ability to do is change the privacy settings so that only people they know can see them. Just bear in mind that these can also be changed back by the child. Also, their bio, profile image and profile will still remain public. You also have the ability to set reminders about how much time you spend on the app.
Out of all the social media apps available. Instagram has been reported as contributing a larger percentage of the rise in body image issues (particularly among young women). Bear in mind that most of the images on the platform have either been touched up, resized or filters added to enhance someone’s appearance.
Most of the time, some images of beauty are unreal and untenable for most people based on the fact that they aren’t real.
At the moment, TikTok is reported to be the fastest growing social media platform at the moment. It’s mesmerising lots of teens with its music led short form video concept.
It doesn’t quite have the reach of Instagram, but it still boasts a whopping 800 million active user base that seem to find various different ways to turn a 15 second time limited clip into a mix of funny, fun and exciting set of video clips.
The content does vary quite a bit and covers everything from makeup tutorials, sports to gaming. However, these are just the broad categories. Pretty much any category you can imagine is being uploaded every second to this platform.#
What do parents need to know about TikTok?
TikTok has the same age limit as the other two previous platforms at 13 years of age. However, just like we mentioned earlier, any child can get around this restriction simply by entering the wrong age at signup and pretending that they’re older.
TikTok does appear to be more robust than the other platforms when it comes to safety measures for young people.
This is because there is an extra option called “Restricted Mode” which actually filters content. You also have the ability to make your account private. This means that anyone who wants to see your content would need to be approved before they can see or interact with it
TikTok have also introduced another safety feature that prevents children under 16 from receiving or sending a private message and that age group's account is made private by default.
The platform also has a “Family Pairing Mode” which allows you to link your account with your child’s so you can control how much time they are spending on the app. You can also decide who they can send messages to and also what type of content they see.
Out of all the social media platforms, this one is pretty self explanatory. In fact, they’re aren’t many in the western world that don’t use it in one way or another. However, do you know how much your child watches YouTube?
Depending on the type of videos they’re watching your children could be spending countless hours on it each week. Whether it's’ Taylor Swift performances or even cute cat videos, your children are probably watching YouTube a lot.
Now, the issue may not be the actual videos themselves. The trouble could start in the comments section of these videos.
YouTube has left this section up to the content creator to police, and remove. But, if you have an account that doesn’t keep track of these comments, there could be some disturbing, rude or malicious comments below that video.
Even though we can censor quite a lot from our children, it’s still a good idea to encourage them to think critically about anything said on the platform.
What do parents need to know about YouTube?
Since it’s such a popular platform, YouTube does have some parental controls that restrict access to adult content. It’s also really easy to flag or report any harmful or illegal content.
Of course, this can never be 100% full proof and there’s a still a chance that your child could
come across this content, but it’s becoming rarer by the day due to very powerful algorithms.
YouTube have now introduced a new app called YouTube kids which is content specifically curated for a younger age group.
WhatsApp is currently the most popular messaging app in the world is one of the main ways most of us stay in touch with each other. It has transcended just being an ordinary text app. The fact that you can upload images, videos, take pictures and record video, speak and video conference is astonishing.
The app is 100% owned by Facebook and allows multiple users to have a conversation at the same time. It’s great fun and has so many uses from keeping in touch to organising different activities.
What do parents need to know about WhatsApp?
People of all ages have the ability to share images, organise homework and have cheeky chat with their mates. As long as that person is in their phone’s contact list they’re good to go.
The app was originally for children aged from 13+, but in 2018 the minimum age was raised to 16 in Europe (including the UK). This was in accordance with the new GDPR rules.
Anyone that has your child’s phone number could essentially send them inappropriate messages and bully them. The app is unmoderated so your child would need to know and understand that they have the ability to block anyone who sent a message within the app settings.
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