Have you ever tried online dating? According to eHarmony, 40 million Americans use apps and sites to find a date. It becomes less taboo each year.
It's not just adults either. Teenagers also want to find that special someone. There are dating apps specifically for teens, but just because it's designed for younger users doesn't mean it's safe.
MyLOL is a dating app and site for teens ages 13 to 19. They describe themselves as the number one teen dating site in the U.S., U.K., Austrailia, and Canada. But police in Austrailia describe it as a "playground for pedophiles" and they want parents to delete the app and their teens' profiles.
Several schools in England have sent notices home to warn parents about the app. The notes explain that the site isn't safe because it's not monitored and it's easy for predators to make fake accounts. The fear is that predators are using the app to solicit nude photos from children. Here's one of the notices:
(Note: If you are reading this article using the Komando.com App, click here to see the image.)
If you're worried about your teenager's online safety then there are proactive steps you can take to protect them. A good first step is discussing the dangers of sharing photos online. Explain that serious consequences, such as time in jail, are a real possibility. Here are a few other tips that will help you get started.
Learn about teens' online behavior
"The Secret Life of an American Teenager" isn't just the name of a TV show, it's a reality. Kids can be very sneaky so it's important to be familiar with apps, sites and internet behavior that is popular among teenagers.
- Yellow is commonly known as "Tinder for teens." It shows possible matches based on GPS location. It's dangerous because its age restriction rules can be bypassed easily.
- Sexting codes are an inconspicuous way for teens to communicate without getting caught. It allows them to talk about sex and other inappropriate topics right under your nose.
- You've probably heard of Snapchat and Instagram, but do you know about these five other social media apps that teens use? Not only is it good to be aware of what apps and sites they frequently use but it could also be a good idea to familiarize yourself with that company's privacy terms and conditions.
Secure and monitor their devices
- Phone Tracker is a free app that can show you your child's GPS location. You can also view a log of outgoing and incoming calls and even texts and web activity.
- Review the browser history and block inappropriate sites. A report shows that children are accessing porn websites younger than ever before (one in 10 visitors to porn video websites are younger than 10 years old!)
- Set parental controls on all the devices connected to your home's router. You can use a device like Circle to create and customize parental controls for any device on the network.