This post was written by RCMP civilian member Jean Turner and Constable Aaron Sheedy – Royal Canadian Mounted Police, “O” Division (Ontario). It is posted with permission from RCMP Ontario.
New technologies in the form of mobile applications (Apps) can be a fun way to stay in touch with friends or meet new ones, but it is important to recognize that some Apps may not be suitable for children. Parents should know that the clever and fun features of many Apps also have the potential to be used by adult offenders to take advantage of our young people. As with any new technology; having a conversation with your kids is the first step in being safe online.
It is worthwhile for parents to be aware of the capabilities of the Apps their kids are using. As Apps change frequently and are often re-released with new names and features it is difficult for parents to keep up with a list of all Apps their kids may be using. Instead, here’s a general overview of how some of the popular Apps work and what risks they may carry in the hands of less mature users.
1. What is the purpose of the App?
Is it a game? A communication tool? Or a utility? From brain teasers to photo sharing to dynamic shopping lists and free phone service, mobile applications can make life easier, more fun or help us stay connected in creative ways. If you’re considering letting your child use an App, first ask what it does and why your child wants to use it. Keep in mind, most Apps have blended purposes, for instance, you can chat with friends while you play games.