In nearly one week, the Pokemon Go gaming app has scored a record-breaking 7.5 million downloads in the United States alone. While kids, parents and avid social media users seem to be obsessed, the game includes multiple features for potentially dangerous scenarios, leading players into questionable public places, vulnerability to stranger danger with younger children and online privacy issues concerning the app’s ability to access the user’s Google and email data. The app also has a very real tendency to rack up a sizable financial bill should the user not have an unlimited data plan. Parents, use Pokemon Go with your family with caution.
As for other apps that parents should be aware of, in the name of child and teen safety:
YouNow: A live-streaming, location-based video chat app similar to Periscope. Beware of anything location-based when your kids are using it.
Kik: By some estimates, about 40 percent of teens use Kik. An anonymous social-networking site, Kik has long been considered by social media experts as a breeding ground for bully behavior.
YikYak: Although YikYak started as an anonymous social-networking site for college campuses and was considered to be in the same category as Kik, it is now moving away from total anonymity for users.
Besides talking to kids directly about the dangers of certain apps and social media as well as making sure that all devices are registered and password-guarded by the parent, there are some new tools available to safeguard social media usage for teens and children.
Circle with Disney is a new device that allows parents to manage content and time across all devices. Yes, you can set time limits for Internet and app use inside and outside the home. Retails for $99. For monitoring use outside the home, Circle Go extends all the perks of Circle with Disney to any network your family might join while away on both wifi and 4G LTE. Circle Go is available for a monthly subscription of $9.95 and covers up to 10 devices. Subscription can be purchased at meetcircle.com.
SaferKid.com is a service that for $5.99 a month scans phones and devices every night so parents may see what new apps have been downloaded without their knowledge.
Social media expert Josh Ochs’ SafeSmartSocial.com offers parents an app guide that ranks and codes the most popular to obscure apps available to kids and teens according to safety and usability.
Jill Simonian is a Parenting Lifestyle Contributor, appearing on CBS Los Angeles every Wednesday on News at 5pm and Friday mornings at 6:30am. Her personal blog is TheFabMom.com. Follow Jill on Twitter @jillsimonian and connect with her on Facebook.