There are an infinite number of Apps popping up each year and it is very difficult for parents to keep on top of what their kids are using. More importantly, there are a large number of websites parents can visit to get reveiws or advice on the most popular Apps currently being used. Some of these sites offer good advice, some do not. So figuring out what is safe to use and what is not, is sometimes a difficult prospect. Though I do not wish to add more confusion to this topic, the best approach is to become as informed as possible. The best way for a parent to do that is to download these Apps and use them personally. Get into the nitty gritty of the networks so you can get a true understanding of how they work. This way you can get a hands on assessment of what is best for your kids.
One of the most significant subjects I deal with, is the sending and receiving of "nudes". From lower socio-economic schools to the most elite colleges, nudes is a subject popping up regularly at any staff meeting. Though the revealing of skin by teens is not new, I remember the occasional streak or flash at school when I was a teen. What has changed, is that the ability for someone to capture such a moment, has increased massively. The chance for so many others to see such an error in judgement is at a level we have never seen in the past. As such, it is where nudes are ending up and how many people are actually seeing them that is having a significant impact on the welfare of those who choose to send.
As a former WA Police Officer, sites like OMEGLE were a constant frustration, seeming to hide behind a disclaimer "Do not use if you are under 18." It seems that statement devolves the creators of any responsibility for the protection of their users. Especially if those users are children. Yes, kids should not be on these sites. I agree with that 100%, but does that mean if they are, whatever happens to them is excusable or "their own fault"? Omegle is a simple video chat website where you can interact cam to cam with anyone around the world. And that is exactly how they advertise their site, "Talk to strangers"!! Pretty much exactly what parents have said NOT to do since time began. But it is what many of these "strangers" are doing on the site that has me shaking my head.
One of the most common questions I get from parents is, "What age should I introduce my kids to social networking?" Quite often this is a difficult question to answer as there are many factors impacting on such a decision. In the 3 years I have been presenting to primary age students, I have identified a massive rise in those who are on 1 or more of the top 10 social networking apps. These include Facebook, Instagram, Musical-ly and Snapchat. So often the argument arises; "Well they are under age, so they should not be on them!" Though I do agree in principal with that statement, in practice, it is far more complicated than that.
Many of us will know someone who has been caught up in the world of "Revenge Porn". This is where a "sext" or "nude" has been sent from one person to another (usually within a relationship). The receiver then forwards that photo or video to other people, without the senders permission. During my time working at Technology Crime Investigation Unit, there were hundreds of such cases that came across my desk where I had no choice but to tell people there was nothing I could do to help them. Why? Because there is no legislation in Western Australia that covers such activity.
In the vast majority of cases, these were young women who had made the mistake of trusting an ex with an intimate photo or video that in most cases would be sent on to all and sundry once the relationship was over.