Apps

Top 3 apps parents should monitor on kids’ phones

Kids are on their devices now more than ever, especially during the pandemic. Specifically, the time they spend on social media has skyrocketed. According to Qustodio, kids spend an average of 47 minutes per day on social media and that does not even include the hour they are watching YouTube. Qustodio is a company that analyzed device data from 100,000 families worldwide last year. WESH 2 News connected with Dr. Pamela Wisniewski about the social media apps that kids use. She is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida and analyzes how technology impacts people. Here are the top three apps that she says parents should monitor on their kids’ phones: 1. TikTokKids spend more time on TikTok than any other social media app at an average of 87 minutes per day according to Qustodio. Wisniewski said TikTok is a prime example of an app that kids can benefit from, like the teen who escaped an alleged kidnapper by using a hand signal that she learned on TikTok. But she adds that kids can also learn bad things from TikTok, like the Devious Licks challenge. So Wisniewski encourages parents to focus on how to use apps properly instead of simply blocking them. “We need to treat technology as a tool rather than something that’s evil and bad,” she said. “Because as soon as we start taking that fear-based approach to using technology, our teens are just going to tune us out.”2. PoparazziPoparazzi is a popular new app among Gen Z’ers. It just launched this past summer. The social media app is essentially the opposite of Instagram. Instead of people posting selfies, they take photos of other people, like their friends, and post those photos online like a paparazzi. The catch is: The people in the photos are not necessarily giving their permission for their photos to be uploaded online. “Somebody’s going around taking pictures and sharing it of them without their consent,” said Wisniewski. “While there could be some fun and beneficial ways to use an app like this, as you can imagine, there’s also some ways to use it in malicious ways that can actually harm people’s reputation, share embarrassing or potentially harmful material about somebody that then is on the internet to stay.”Wisniewski adds that it could be tough for parents to take down photos that they do not want posted of their kids. “Being able to wrangle in that content especially once it’s been shared is almost impossible to do,” she said. 3. DiscordDiscord is a chat app that was originally meant for gamers. It recently went mainstream and grew in popularity by over 90% last year according to Qustodio. Wisniewski said Discord is a great platform for people to organize and communicate, like students sharing notes in a class, promoting social events or even just having a back channel conversation from a conference. However, she said the concern is that material shared on Discord is not necessarily closely monitored. “The concern about apps like Discord is that they’re often private servers that aren’t monitored by any particular source depending on how it’s set up,” she said. “These have become platforms that are rife with cyberbullying or the sharing of pornographic content or other inappropriate content.”Top tech tip for parents:The pandemic has highlighted the importance of staying connected through social media. That is why Wisniewski said it is not always the app itself that parents should monitor, but how your child is engaging with the app.Just like driving, before handing over the keys to your kids, or in this case the phone, Wisniewski said it is all about open communication. “Have a more nuanced conversation about how to stay safe and to remain positive and teaching coping strategies and exit strategies when there might be a problem,” she said.

Kids are on their devices now more than ever, especially during the pandemic. Specifically, the time they spend on social media has skyrocketed.

According to Qustodio, kids spend an average of 47 minutes per day on social media and that does not even include the hour they are watching YouTube. Qustodio is a company that analyzed device data from 100,000 families worldwide last year.

WESH 2 News connected with Dr. Pamela Wisniewski about the social media apps that kids use. She is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida and analyzes how technology impacts people. Here are the top three apps that she says parents should monitor on their kids’ phones:

1. TikTok

Kids spend more time on TikTok than any other social media app at an average of 87 minutes per day according to Qustodio.

Wisniewski said TikTok is a prime example of an app that kids can benefit from, like the teen who escaped an alleged kidnapper by using a hand signal that she learned on TikTok. But she adds that kids can also learn bad things from TikTok, like the Devious Licks challenge.

So Wisniewski encourages parents to focus on how to use apps properly instead of simply blocking them.

“We need to treat technology as a tool rather than something that’s evil and bad,” she said. “Because as soon as we start taking that fear-based approach to using technology, our teens are just going to tune us out.”

2. Poparazzi

Poparazzi is a popular new app among Gen Z’ers. It just launched this past summer.

The social media app is essentially the opposite of Instagram. Instead of people posting selfies, they take photos of other people, like their friends, and post those photos online like a paparazzi. The catch is: The people in the photos are not necessarily giving their permission for their photos to be uploaded online.

“Somebody’s going around taking pictures and sharing it of them without their consent,” said Wisniewski. “While there could be some fun and beneficial ways to use an app like this, as you can imagine, there’s also some ways to use it in malicious ways that can actually harm people’s reputation, share embarrassing or potentially harmful material about somebody that then is on the internet to stay.”

Wisniewski adds that it could be tough for parents to take down photos that they do not want posted of their kids.

“Being able to wrangle in that content especially once it’s been shared is almost impossible to do,” she said.

3. Discord

Discord is a chat app that was originally meant for gamers. It recently went mainstream and grew in popularity by over 90% last year according to Qustodio.

Wisniewski said Discord is a great platform for people to organize and communicate, like students sharing notes in a class, promoting social events or even just having a back channel conversation from a conference.

However, she said the concern is that material shared on Discord is not necessarily closely monitored.

“The concern about apps like Discord is that they’re often private servers that aren’t monitored by any particular source depending on how it’s set up,” she said. “These have become platforms that are rife with cyberbullying or the sharing of pornographic content or other inappropriate content.”

Top tech tip for parents:

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of staying connected through social media. That is why Wisniewski said it is not always the app itself that parents should monitor, but how your child is engaging with the app.

Just like driving, before handing over the keys to your kids, or in this case the phone, Wisniewski said it is all about open communication.

“Have a more nuanced conversation about how to stay safe and to remain positive and teaching coping strategies and exit strategies when there might be a problem,” she said.