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Clinical psychologist and attorney Dr. Lisa Strohman shares with The Doctors some frightening information about apps that could be putting your children at risk. As parents, you need to know about these three types of apps!
1. Vault Apps
These vault or “calculator” apps are downloaded by kids to keep their digital lives private. Photos, videos and browsing capabilities are all blocked from viewing without a password. These apps are often disguised as calculators and if someone without the password tries to unlock it, the app may even take a photo of them. Yes, it will notify your child about your snooping! Dr. Strohman shares the startling statistics that the average age of children viewing pornography is 8 years old and chronic viewing is 11 years old so there is a real chance that may be hiding behind these apps.
2. Live Streaming Apps
These apps allow kids and teens to press one button and then record themselves live for the world. There is a new part of these apps which gives digital currency to children. This currency can then be converted to real money in PayPal. What are they doing to earn this money? Well, you can only imagine… Dr. Strohman describes it as “a digital strip platform for kids to make money.” OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry points out this is likely being funded by the person who wants the kid to do certain tasks so a lot of times it’s some type of predator who has the financial means to pay these kids.”
3. Avatar Apps
On these digital platforms, kids can create their avatars to be characters representative of themselves. While it’s fun, especially for kids who are a bit shy or awkward in real life, there is some danger in geo-gamification. This allows the app to locate your child and those around him. Random strangers pop up nearby in avatar form, which opens the door for potential pedophiles disguised as avatars to meet children.
Dr. Strohman advises parents to understand what is on their children’s phones. She advises parents to lock down their kid's phones when they first get them so they don't have the ability to download anything without permission first. If your kids already have a phone, start fresh by going through every app they have with them.
Dr. Strohman says her policy with her children is she takes 24 hours to first review an app and then will discuss it with them. If possible, wait until your children are in high school to give them smartphones.