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The internet can often feel like the wild west, especially when you know your kids are using it. There’s an endless array of problematic content they can stumble upon: violent images, profanity, sexual content, bullying. Not to mention, an endless amount of creeps. You can try to find ways of shielding your children from some of it. Use parental controls. Monitor your child’s activity. But at some point, something is going to get through no matter how hard you try. Take this next story of a mom whose tween daughter received solicitous messages from a stranger on a seemingly harmless music app.
Photographer and blogger Brenna Jennings is mom to a nine-year-old girl who, like most kids her age, is interested in using social media. More recently, the tween requested to join musical.ly, an app that allows users to create 15 second videos of themselves performing songs.
“My daughter is a comedian and a performer, so when I saw the app and that her close-in-age cousin had it, I did some research, knowing (as a web and social media professional/enthusiast) that no social media was going to be guaranteed safe,” Jennings told Scary Mommy.
Jennings allowed her daughter to use the app, under a few conditions: “no identifying info, private account, and parental access at will.” Fair enough, right? According to Jennings, the young girl was good about informing her mom whenever she did come across something problematic, like cursing.
But then, Jennings’ daughter (like most kids her age) went ahead and made a few changes. For example, she switched her account to public. Hey, it happens. Kids are curious, after all. Nothing wrong with that.
Unfortunately, though, the internet is (as I stated earlier) full of creeps. It wasn’t long before the 9 year old received a message from a stranger posing as a tween. The message alleged that the tween’s mom was a modeling agent and requested Jennings’ daughter send some photos of herself.
When Jennings found out, she took the app off her daughter’s phone.
“I take the blame for not more directly warning her about creeps like this,” said Jennings.
The potentially dangerous messages also prompted the mom to warn other parents to be even more careful with the app, and with monitoring their children’s social media use.
Would you allow your kids to use an app like this? What steps can we take as parents to prevent our kids from being exposed to dangerous strangers? Let us know in the comments!