The Latest in Online Protection

by Trey Tracy

Over the past three weeks FPDS hosted a father and son breakfast for fourth through sixth grades. Each breakfast was led by Dr. Zach Zettler, children’s minister of First Baptist Jackson. These three grades had their own breakfasts with the topic of sex education tailored to the age group present.

Dr. Zettler mentioned an alarming statistic in these three sessions. “This [pornography] industry has even reached children, and there is no sign of it stopping. The median age for first use of pornography for boys is between the ages of 11-13 and for girls 12-14.” (TopTenReviews.com)

I know we talk about this until we are blue in the face, but it is a topic we need to continually remind ourselves of. I like what Dr. Zettler said during the talk: “You wouldn’t let your child have access to drugs at this age, so why would you allow them access to something just as addictive?”

On a regular basis we are hearing of apps surfacing that are causing headaches in schools and at home. We want to make sure our parents have as much information about the apps as possible in order to make informed decisions in protecting their children. This list of  “7 Dangerous Apps that Parents Need to Know About” was forwarded to me last week. More information on the apps can be found at:  http://www.checkupnewsroom.com/7-dangerous-apps-that-parents-need-to-know-about/.

  • Yik Yak – Many of the area junior high and high schools have had issues with this app and have notified parents about it. The basics of this app is that a user can anonymously post any comment they want and anyone within a 10-mile radius can see the comment if they have the app. Many comments posted are disturbing and many show lack of maturity on the user’s part as they post ridiculous comments. However, it is a form of cyberbullying when someone is posting inappropriately about someone else, whether it is true or not.
  • SnapChat – We all have heard of this app by now. Users snap a photo with the app and the picture appears for up to 10 seconds before “supposedly” being automatically deleted. People are using this app to post inappropriate pictures. While the picture may be automatically deleted, other users can take a screenshot of the picture as it appears on their phone, save it and republish anywhere they choose.
  • KiK Messenger – A private messenger app that bypasses systems so that parents cannot see messages being sent and received.
  • Poof – Allows users to quickly hide items on the mobile device they do not want others to see, all with the click of one app.
  • Omegle – Allows users to anonymously video chat with strangers. This is an open door for allowing sexual predators to communicate with your child.
  • Whisper – This is very similar to Yik Yak listed above.
  • Down – Allows users to connect with one’s Facebook account. Once connected, it allows users to categorize their Facebook friends as someone they want to “hook up with.”

Following is a link to the technology contract that was distributed during the breakfast sessions: Technology Contract

Remember, we are the parents, and we are in charge of our children and their safety. If we are not going to properly look after them then we cannot expect others to do the same. Feel free to use this technology contract as-is or as a template to design your own. Yes, our children may not like this concept, but, after all, who is paying for their computer, phone or other devices?

We cannot make decisions for our students’ parents, but we want to be a partner with you so that you have the tools necessary to educate and protect your children.

Please take time to ensure that your child’s device is where you have access to monitor it and that your home network has a web filter. If you have questions regarding any of these apps, setting up internet filters at home, etc. please feel free to contact me at ttracy@fpds.org.