There has been a lot of talk on social media about social media lately. Social media isn't like it used to be. Gone are the days of making your profile as glittery as possible, while playing the newest Nelly song and adjusting your "top 8."
As someone reminded me the other day, "It's not the app/website that is bad, it's the way it's being used that makes it a problem." Parents, monitor your children's devices! There are so many ways to do that. We teach them how to navigate in a car, why can't we teach them how to navigate the world of social media? It's a hard thing to do. It seems like there is constantly a new form of social media being released. Kids aren't just on Facebook and Instagram anymore--the list is almost exhausting.
Over Spring Break, I decided to do an experiment. I wanted to show others, especially parents, just how dangerous the world of social media CAN be. I downloaded the apps: Omegle, Badoo, Whisper, and MeetMe. I already had: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Kik, tumblr, and Snapchat.
Disclaimer: I don't know a lot about some of these apps, I am just showing you some of the findings. I also have been talking to middle school students about how they chat with strangers online. The apps that I downloaded were the most popular ones that they suggested. Also, to use these apps, I used a fake email address, and a fake birthday. I know it's technically not right, but I wanted to see how easy it was to get an account.
The results are almost nauseating.
Let's start here. According to one middle school student, "If you are lonely, this is the perfect app for you."
To me, this is horrifying. Some people think that predators appear after you've been online for a long time. THIS IS FALSE. It just takes minutes. It just takes one lonely teenager a few minutes before they are preyed upon, and if they go through with connecting with the person via Skype, possibly exploited. So scary.