As parents, it is essential that we know what our teens are doing in social media. New Apps come on the market every day and sometimes it can be hard to know about any hidden dangers.
Two new video apps, Periscope (by Twitter) and Meerkat have opened up a whole new world for teens on their phones. These apps allow users to live stream video wherever they are to anyone watching. Similar to YouTube, but live in the moment.
Many Apps have an agreement before downloading and in this case, these apps ask permission to enable location services. When a user is broadcasting a live video for the world to see, that user’s location will be posted along with the video. While the intent of the apps may have been for an older audience, the reality is that middle school and high school kids use them letting the world know where they are.
Yes, this means anyone can find them.
In a real life context here is what might happen. Your 14-year-old daughter is shopping at the mall with a few friends. They decide they want to broadcast their outing, assuming that their friends will watch. With a click of the button your daughter is broadcasting live for anyone in the world to see, including the location of where they are shopping!
In addition to the live broadcast, anyone watching this live broadcast can freely post comments. Going back to the example of your daughter at the mall, say her friends are broadcasting her when she comes out of the dressing room in a cute outfit. There is nothing stopping people watching the video online from posting comments on the feed that are rude or inappropriate.
Periscope’s Privacy Settings
When starting a new broadcast on Periscope, you can choose to make it a “private broadcast”, which then allows you to broadcast only to certain users that follow you on Periscope. Unless you disable the location setting for the app, the user has to remember to click it every time they live stream video. The best option is to disable location services to avoid any risk. It is important to note that Meerkat, offers no privacy settings and it should be strongly discouraged for teen girls.
Dangers of Periscope & Meerkat
- Anyone can know the location of your teen. This is scary enough in and of itself. If location is enabled, every broadcast your teen posts includes her location.
- Adult content is extremely accessible. These apps make it very easy for your teen to view adult content without your knowing about it.
- It would be easy for your teen to post inappropriate content. Just as these apps make it easy for your teen to view inappropriate content, they also make it easy for your teen to broadcast things she may not realize are inappropriate to a broad audience.
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