Be smart with a smartphone

By Michelle Guerin
February 15, 2018

Pew Research reported that more than 90 percent of adults have cell phones. Photo by Static Pexels.

How many times do you think an average person looks at their phone? Teenagers seem to be attached at the hip to their phones or devices. With social media platform popularity increasing each day, it seems that adult supervision can lack and children may need more super vision.

With today’s technology, one can purchase a fully functional iPhone or just a phone to call or text certain contacts. It seems like in society now, younger and younger children are given smartphones, which basically are mini computers in their pockets, when they are just in elementary school.

Younger children having a phone can have a positive and negative outcome. Children can be bored and curious but accidentally fall into a site that puts a virus on the device or, even worse, explicit sites; however, many parents want their children to have phones to be able to keep in contact with their children. Having that mindset is common among parents, but children can stumble— intentionally or unintentionally to sites that can have a negative impact on them.

It is interesting to see younger children on social media platforms. With more and more social media platforms, it can get harder and more difficult for adults to keep limitations or moderation on the devices they pay for.

Chat Safe is an application for concealing messages and information. Screenshot by Michelle Guerin.

On Snapchat, Oslo Chace advertised an application called Chat Safe that will lock ones chats, photos and contacts from others. With a specific password to keep information private, this creates and encourages more risky activities for children.

Tinder is a social search mobile app that allows users to chat if both parties liked each other’s profile. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

For example, the applications Tinder and Hot or Not only require the user to be 13 and older. Strangers and potential child molesters can easily set up fake profiles and lure children to talk to them when the application is easy and fun to set up for the uneducated child.

Tinder and Hot or Not seem like fun ways to match and chat with potential, new friends but how can one know if that is the actual person? According to The University of Rochester’s Medical Center, the decision-making part of a teenagers brain is not fully developed until age 25 or so. Adolescents using any kind of dating sites, especially at the age of 13 or older, is a risky mix.

Online, Omegle is a free online chat that can be used without a username or registration, even though Omegle is designed for ages 18 and older. The online chat randomly matches one-on-one conversations with the user and a stranger. According to reviews, many users have seen users standing nude in front of their camera.

I think if parents are giving their children phones, they should lay down rules or expectations beforehand. Talk about sexual predators and human trafficking as well as how easy problems can occur with a smartphone if users are not smart about the actions.

Michelle Guerin

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