There’s a big difference in maturity between a 13 year old and a 17 year old, yet some social networks and gaming platforms, are created precisely for that age range to mix and “hookup” socially. I find this quite extraordinary! As a parent, surely you wouldn’t want your 13 year old to go to an 17 year olds party unsupervised? Why are they allowed to socialise online together without adult supervision? Skout has just closed down their Teen app (13yrs – 17yrs) partly as a result of three young users of this online dating and flirting site being reported to have been stalked by men pretending to be Teens, and then subsequently sexually abused.
Young Teens and Older Teens Socialising?
Any open public social media platform that encourages 13 year olds to mix socially with 17 year olds in an open online situation is going to risk serious problems, kids in these age groups are miles apart in maturity. Facebook’s open age policy from 13yrs old upwards is already very dangerous, as it’s mixing kids with adults. Also keep in mind there are reportedly over 7 million kids under 13 years old on Facebook, and there is absolutely no barrier between the kids and adults or older teens, and no online live moderation.
Any online social media or platform, that has no, or very little live moderation that encourages online “hookups”, as Skout markets itself, is of course also going to be a target for pedophiles. “Join the fastest growing, FREE social scene with millions of guys and girls waiting to meet you!”
Is Any Online Social Media Platform Safe For Tweens or Young Teens?
The ONLY safe environment for a Teen or child on an online social media platform is when they can only friend people they know in real life, and where meeting strangers online is NOT available. There are quite a few social media platforms developed for children that insist on parental consent, where kids can only friend real-life acquaintances by giving them a code, and where a parent needs to approve that friendship before their kids can communicate. This ensures that kids are not friending strangers, if the parents are truly involved and responsible parents. These platforms and online games also often include live moderation.
Adults Pretending To Be Kids!
It is so incredibly easy for users online to pretend to be something else. I’ve been involved in virtual worlds for years, and the use of voice changers to simulate being younger or older or a different sex from what you present is rife and surprisingly easy to do. On text-only platforms like, Facebook, Formspring and Skout it’s even easier to pretend to be something you are not.
Friending a stranger on an online game or social network for kids is potentially very dangerous. And even more so when parents are unaware that their children are doing this. Most parents don’t have any idea who their children are talking to or playing with online. And mobile devices and laptops in the bedroom are the reason most of this goes on under their noses. Apps like Skout, Formspring, MyLOL.net, Teenspot, and Chatroulette are totally inappropriate for teens for those afore mentioned reasons.
How Parents Can Check Up On Apps And Social Networks?
Ask your kids what they and their friends are using. Keep mobile devices and laptops out of the bedroom until kids are more responsible.
Here’s a great website that has reviews for parents of various movies, games, and social networks, including suggestions for suitable social media sites for kids and teens. If you have a concern about the game or platform your child wants to use, check it out here at https://www.commonsensemedia.org
Are you aware of any other Teen social media apps that your kids are using? Please let us know in comments.
This video is about the Teen Social Media Site MyLOL.net