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Three Popular Apps Not Safe for Kids: Instagram, Discord, Snapchat

What Parents Need to Know About Popular Apps Their Kids Are Using

Discord, Snapchat and Instagram each have a dark corner.

If you’re a parent listen closely. No matter how good, responsible and trustworthy your kids are, or you think they are, trouble is nearby. You have NO way of knowing what they’re doing online, especially with their phones.

One of the biggest issues for parents is the peer pressure their kids are under to have a phone.

But it’s not only the kids’ fault—many parents want their children to have a phone to keep in touch, and that’s a two-way street. They want to know when their kids need something and check up on them as well.

And for kids, they now have a way to stay in touch with their friends, too and not feel left out. (They like that aspect of having a phone more than keeping in touch with their parents or guardians.)

That’s what smartphones are and were supposed to be for—in a perfect world. Keeping in touch. But we don’t live in a perfect world.

Social media is where kids live, and where predators lurk.

In 2002 a survey was done by the Pew Research Center that showed some startling statistics.

  • Almost half of teenagers aged 13-17 reported they are online almost constantly throughout the day.
  • The platforms they’re using aren’t Twitter or Facebook, like their parents use. It’s YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and a slew of others where their age group interacts.

There are also a long list of social media sites that their parents aren’t on, don’t use or even know anything about.

That’s where the danger lies.

And let’s not forget, there are hundreds of apps for playing games, sharing photos, making new friends and posting videos.

Here are three well-known social media platforms that are readily available to kids (and predators) to know about. They could easily land them into trouble, according to the website, security.org.

Snapchat: The potential problem: It lets kids send messages that disappear after a day.

There’s one thing that ALL parents have in common—they were once kids too. Remember that there were times that you probably didn’t let your parents know exactly what you were up to. Or maybe you even lied about where you were, what you were doing, or who you were with.

It’s part of growing up for most kids and the rise of social media has taken that to incredible levels.

So, a teenager could post a message with a candid photo to a new friend and 1) not know it’s actually a predator or scammer on the other end, and 2) think that because they deleted the photo, no one will see it.

Wrong. In the wrong hands, a child or teen could be blackmailed, exploited and bullied.

Discord. A whole lot of craziness going on.

What is Discord? It’s a social media platform that allows people to communicate in real time on a range of topics—actually, virtually any topic. Supposedly it sprung up from the idea of Slack, the communication platform used by companies: In that case, the common interest was a business industry.

It could help kids develop good communication skills with other people and allow them to make and build offline relationships with people who share a mutual interest. But it can be more—a lot more—not so good.

In Discord lingo, communities are called servers, and many of them are outright not intended for younger eyes…and you likely wouldn’t like your kids to be able to join and hop right in. In a test, people from Security.org joined discord, put their age at 15 and could easily join an adult-themed community. There were unsavory servers as well, including some on hacking, identity theft, drugs and more.

Is that what you’d want your 11-year-old to stumble into?

Instagram. A real eye opener.

Everyone seems to be on Instagram, right? There are cute cat and funny dog videos, influencers and videos on every topic. But there’s also a dark underside to the platform that a dark community is well aware of.

A Wall Street Journal article in 2023 revealed that there are corners in Instagram where some unsavory subscribers hang out, including pedophiles. These pedophiles are daring enough to share pictures and exchange tips and advice on their favorite topics. Even if your kids don’t come across these people, it doesn’t mean that these people might not lure your kids with flattering messages or approach them with stark and disturbing images.

But your child doesn’t have to visit Instagram’s shady alleys to find content you’d find objectionable. There is so much content (it’s the fourth-most popular app out there) and Instagram allows pornographic contents: Yes, supposedly there are age filters and such, but 1) they don’t always work, 2) strangers may still be able to view your kids’ posts, and 3) Instagram’s own monitoring and filtering seems to strangely not be working as advertised. In other words, it seems these platforms are sometimes quite okay skirting the lines of doing what’s right for children and parents.

And there’s this. Many safety measures that social media platforms put in place don’t prevent kids from seeing what they shouldn’t and don’t stop them getting to content they are driven to see.

Kids will be kids. Predators will be predators.

As a parent who was once a child and a teenager, do you remember when you were determined to do or see what you really wanted to see? These days, with social media and all their logarithms and now augmented intelligence, kids don’t stand a chance.

Not only are they led by their hormones, peer pressure, and young, still-developing minds, but they are also bombarded by suggestions and images fed to them by the platforms themselves.

They don’t need to be exposed to all there is to see online. Once seen, it is hard to be unseen.

Wanted: Parental intervention. Needed: Parental controls.

If you’ve made it to this end of the article you’ve gotten the message loud and clear. Parents and guardians have to step up and protect their kids.

No one else will do it and, in reality, parents should be the ones to step up.

You’re not alone. There is plenty of great information online on the topic, which has become more urgent and louder. There are also software programs and apps available that parents can use to protect their kids.

To learn more and see what the top programs are to help parents keep their children safe online and safe from predators, read our article on this important topic.

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