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Clinical psychologist and attorney Lisa Strohman is back with more dangerous and potentially illegal trends and apps that parents need to look out for.
The first worrisome game that children are playing involves using the airdrop feature on their phones to send inappropriate and salacious photos of themselves or others to unsuspecting victims. Legally, if the picture is a minor, this is considered distributing child pornography.
While people do have to first accept a photo that someone airdrops to them, often, curiosity leads people to download the photo to their phone. Kids are enjoying the thrill of observing their victim’s response.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork thinks of one such scary situation this could be used in to get a teacher in trouble. Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon chimes in that they could also do it as revenge on another child.
Parents, disable your child’s airdrop feature. Everyone, this should be a lesson to not accept an airdrop if you do not know where it came from.
The next trend is dating apps for teens that are available for kids as young as 13 years old. Children are putting out sexualized images of themselves and trying to get attention to get swipes. Dr. Strohman finds this frustrating because it’s opening kids up to mini-rejections and she’s seen the trauma, anxiety, and depression that comes from that.
Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra agrees this can take a toll on a child’s self-esteem and adds it opens up the possibility to use this platform as a place for cyberbullying. Dr. Ordon adds even with adults, these apps are removing the personal touch of connecting with people in person, the old-fashioned way. “It’s getting them onto that path of less and less interpersonal reaction from such a young age,” Dr. Batra says.
Dr. Strohman adds that it’s difficult for parents to find these apps and there is a big issue with rebranding. Once the app is found out, the same technology is used to create another app with a different name so it can go back on the market.
Parents should be aware of what their kids are downloading off the app store and now allow them to do so without permission. Brain development when kids get their first technology device, which in the U.S. is now on average at 6 years old, is not there yet for them to be doing this on their own.
Dr. Travis says parents should not let their kids know the password needed to download an app and Dr. Strohman agrees, saying that is a great possibility and works up until about high school.
Lastly, Dr. Strohman describes a live-streaming trend as pay-to-play. Kids are live streaming from their bedrooms by simply turning on their laptops and allowing the screens to film whatever is going on in their room. For doing certain acts on the camera, kids can get rewarded in cryptocurrencies, which are online tokens and gifts that often translate to actual money.
Pedophiles know about these programs and for a nominal fee can join and then ask kids to do things, like lift up your shirt, and the kids will do it thinking they are making money. The pedophile can then take that video and turn it around to make a lot of money on the black web. Kids as young as 6 years old have been seen on these sites.
Parents need to be wary if their kids are spending a lot of time in their bedrooms with music on and the doors shut. “I implore parents to pay attention to the amount of time your kids are behind screens,” says Dr. Strohman.
Dermatologist Dr. Batra tells Dr. Strohman, “As a parent, whenever you come on, it’s so informative and amazing but it scares the bejesus out of me!” This is scary stuff, but it's important to be informed.