If you think you're hip to your children's online social habits because you know all about Facebook and Twitter, you've got it all wrong. Tweens and teens are increasingly leaving these sites in favor of new apps that offer richer features and a safe haven from watchful parents.
For some parents, this might be more of a trick than a treat because of the greater potential for cyberbullying, online harassment and other inappropriate activity, which can fly under the radar if you're not actively monitoring these newer sites. In fact, one of the reasons why teens are moving away from Facebook specifically toward other smaller, more niche sites, is precisely because "my mom doesn't have that" -- according to a recent Pew study. This may be easy to understand, since the study found that 70% of teens have been friended on Facebook by their parents. According to a recent study by Piper Jaffray, "the popularity of Facebook is waning among teens with 23% citing it as the most important, down from 33% six months ago and 42% a year ago."
As more parents embrace Facebook, they're driving teens and tweens away as they look for other, more secretive venues that won't be subjected to the same level of parental scrutiny. For parents, this creates a tricky situation: How can you keep track of your kids' online activity when you don't even know what sites they're using and it's hard to keep up with all the startup apps that roll out?
Here are eight scary social networking sites your teen or tween may be using:
- Creepy - Did you know that with just a Twitter or Facebook ID, you can track someone's every move and find their exact current location? Creepy does just that -- it allows anyone with access to another person's online photos to pull sensitive geotag location data, allowing them to pinpoint where the photo was taken. Just provide Creepy with the needed username and it will retrieve all the locations the user has posted photos from.
It is important for parents to talk openly with their kids about these apps and the risks they carry. Another option is to restrict your child's access to these apps -- both the iPhone and Android devices have parental settings that you can use to block certain types of activity. For parents who want to track their kids, there are activity monitors like Net Nanny and SnoopStick.