Children are able to teach us many things about social media.
It’s our job to teach them how to deal with the risks. All children can receive sexually oriented images – even when it’s unwanted or unrequested. Make sure your child is resilient to the risks of the online world.
Read more about popular apps, possible harmful content and hands-on advice to start the conversation with your child(ren). There’s no better protection than parental guidance.Read more
I use WhatsApp on a daily basis.
I use WhatsApp on a daily basis. I use it to meet up with my friends. My parents also send me messages to know where I’m at. It‘s easy to use; just click on a chat and start typing a message right away.
I just call Instagram 'Insta'.
People on Insta post pictures and short videos. A story is a short video that disappears from your profile after 24 hours. You can send videos to your friends, but also to strangers.
On Snapchat you send pictures and videos that disappear immediately.
Snapchat is where you can send videos to one another. They disappear immediately after watching them. There are cool filters on Snapchat. You can change your face into an animal, or something weird.
Musical.ly is where we make short video clips.
On Musical.ly you can make short videos, similar to music videos actually. A lot of boys and girls my age use this app. My profile is public, so that I can gain followers.
Omegle is a website where you chat with your webcam on.
Omegle is not an app. It’s a website where you can chat with strangers. Your webcam is always on, so you might see some weird things.”
Telegram is more popular than WhatsApp.
Telegram is more popular than WhatsApp. Messages on Telegram can be encrypted, like a secret chat. You can adjust the notifications based on the person you’re messaging. That could come in handy if you do not want people to see messages from your boyfriend.
What are the risks of these apps?
Many social media apps have a chat application. These apps are widely used by children and youth. Read more about the possible risks.
- Nude photos are regularly sent and received via WhatsApp. Sometimes children receive these types of images unintentionally. The person displayed in the picture can experience severe psychological problems as a result of their content being distributed widely online. Additionally, many children who receive unwanted nude pictures or videos do not know what to do with them.
- Snapchat is meant for children aged 12 and above. However, many Snapchat users are younger. On the app, pictures and videos disappear after 10 seconds. However, it’s still possible to save the images via screenshots. This means that sensitive images can easily be saved and forwarded to others.
- Telegram is a chat application similar to WhatsApp. Pornographic images are also being sent and forwarded. The app is perceived as safe, because messages are encrypted. This means that fewer messages are stored by the owners of the app. The group chats allow as many as 5,000 people to join. When sensitive images end up in these groups, controlling the distribution of the footage is impossible.
- Musical.ly has many young users. When profiles are made public, the chat function can be used by everyone. Footage on Musical.ly is stored and can be used for marketing purposes.
- Omegle is a free online chat website that allows users to socialize with others without the need to register. Their slogan is: ‘Talk to strangers’. Locations are private, but the website does attract people with bad intentions. People who masturbate in front of the camera, or try to bond with children on an emotional level with bad intentions. Digital child predators are called ‘groomers’.
- Instagram profiles can be made public. If your profile is public, anyone can see your photos, videos and tagged locations. People can leave comments and send private messages ( ‘direct messages’). Beware of groomers: online child predators who pretend to be someone else, to build a trust relationship with your child.
Start talking with your children about social media and apps early on – even before they own a cell phone or laptop. Don’t worry about the sensitivity of the subject, you decide how loaded the conversation gets. It might be smart to use news articles as a reason to discuss the risks of apps (and sexting). You could simply ask your children about the apps and how they use them. They will be open and honest if you are too. Regularly ask them about what they encounter on social media apps and be up-to-date about (new) apps and updates. Ask your child to keep you in the loop.
Check the privacy settings of all social media accounts together with your child, such as Snapchat, Instagram, Musical.ly and WhatsApp. Make sure that profiles are set to private to ensure that everything is shielded from people outside their group of friends. Groomers (so-called online child predators) use public information to connect with children via fake shared interests.
Child sexting victims often struggle with psychological problems. In some cases this even leads to depression and suicidal thoughts. That’s why transparency is extra important. Making nude pictures under the age of 18 is a legal offence, but distributing it is equally punishable; both are seen as distributing child pornography. If your child distributes a nude picture, chances are that the control of the content is lost on the internet. If your child indicates he or she is exposed online, try not to judge them. Help him or her. Reach out to Qpido, Help Wanted or Meldknop for help.
Come to an agreement about the rules for the use of mobile phones and internet. Don’t just talk about the time spent online, but discuss the interaction with others via social media. Who they accept as online friends, which information your child posts online. Discussing interaction in daily life is important too. Let them know never to do something they don’t want to do under pressure: you do not have to do anything, and you have to be respectful when someone else says ‘no’.
The talk for all ages
0- 4 years: From toddler to kid
In this age category, it’s possible for children to use apps that are suitable for their age. Let them know that they should not click on notifications and/or updates. Try to keep an eye out when your child uses apps and let them know that they can always come to you if they have questions.
4- 7 years: The boundary age
This is the age at which children need to learn about boundaries. A child in the age of 4-7 years is able to use tablets or mobile phones without supervision. Tell them which apps they can and (more importantly) cannot use. The history of apps can also be monitored – not out of suspicion, but to protect them. Make sure your child cannot access the internet without supervision, avoid apps with a messaging option. Child filters are useful, but they don’t always work. There’s no guarantee that it’s safe.
7 - 10 years: The practice age
This is the age at which many children get their first cell phone. Most children do not have a phone subscription, but wifi is everywhere. Filters are more important. This is a good time to talk about the rules of the internet. They can be confronted with shocking pornographic footage. Let them know that they are allowed to ask questions. Tell them they should not share personal information with random people online. Teach them how to use a nickname and preferably create social media profiles together.
10 - 12 years: The age of letting go
In this age category, children are starting to become more sexually developed. This is noticeable in their behavior. Their online reputation is increasingly important. The difference between the online world and the offline world is getting smaller. Children become curious about sexuality; they search for information about sex(uality) on Google and can be exposed to inappropriate pornographic content. Transparency and openness about sexuality and love is important. If you need help talking about these subjects, reach out to Qpido.
12 - 16 jaar: The high school age
Youth at this age are very active on social media. Communication between friends mostly takes place online, via social media apps. Youth can regularly be confronted with unwanted sexually oriented footage from peers and/or children in their personal network. Discuss the risks of sexting with your child(ren).
Helpwanted.nl offers help to the child sexting victims. They offer practical assistance to prevent negative effects; i.e. removing sensitive images from the internet. They also give information about sexting. Children, (foster) parents and teachers can reach out to Help Wanted.Read more
Qpido offers assistance to children and young people in the Amsterdam region that struggle with sexually transgressive behavior. Qpido offers support for both parents and children. Contact us (anonymous) via live chat, email or by telephone : +31 (0) 6 29 33 80 64. Messaging via WhatsApp is also possible.Read more