Teens spend a fair part of their day in the online world. There is a vast array of Social Media sites and Apps, to explore and to be part of. This has now become the primary method of staying in contact with friends, a way for them to express and define who they are. Social media has become a platform for teens to develop new friendships and interests. But when you spend so much time online, does it eventually have an effect of you mental health. Or even perhaps on your social skills
“I defend Paedophiles publicly”
Controversial Vlogger Amos Yee has been removed from WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube platforms for promoting paedophilia in the last number of weeks. The 20 year old currently granted asylum in the US, referred to himself on Twitter, “I defend Paedophiles publicly on the internet.” Yee is one of a growing number of people who are attempting to normalise an abhorrent and criminal behaviour.
The use of Anonymity Apps are on the rise again, with Irish teens installing and using an App called Tellonym. From the outset #COTDAge are issuing a strong Cyber Safety Warning to parents, check younger children’s devices to see if they are using this App or, if they are receiving messages on their Social Media from their own contacts or other people using this App. It is also really important to discuss the use of this App with teens and young adults. We would strongly advise, both children and teens do not use this App.
Tellonym, initially launched in 2016, both as an App and a platform it is similar to Sarahah, which was known as the Honesty App. Saraha was removed due to concerns the App was being used to target and Cyberbully people. Tellonym permits it’s users to send messages to others whilst remaining anonymous. However, unlike Sarahah, upon receiving the anonymous messages you can choose to reply to the comments, which have been posted on the App.
This App currently boasts over 5 Million users and is available both on for Android and IOS devices. The App is being targeted at teens 16 years and older, however this is easily bypassed by selecting the Yes I am over 16 tab. Once signed in with an email address or your contact number, a user is invited to permit the App to access the devices contacts list. The App can also be linked to the users other Social Media platforms such as their Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram accounts. We would also have Privacy concerns for the Personal Data gathered by the App and its use.
The setup of the App is really simple and the navigation through the App is pretty basic. Once you create a profile you can search and follow other users, leave comments, or even just read comments which have been posted. The random content we viewed appeared to be interactions, which lead to the suggestion of moving to another platform and also requests to share sexualized imagery. For a parent, we suggest you install the App yourself and view the content. It will not make for pleasant reading. The App does not permit posting of images other than a profile picture, or imagery in the content feed.
While the developer’s web page does host advice for parents and has features such as reporting content, blocking users, reporting users, our main concern here is what people inevitably end up doing under the guise of being anonymous. While the App promotes itself as “The most honest place on the Internet”, users posting a question, then forwarded to their contacts who can answer the question anonymously, the user may not like the replies they receive. Given that children and teens afford access to themselves by accepting Friend and Follower requests from complete strangers, this enables strangers now to engage with children without even having to identify themselves.
We ask, why is there a need for a platform that permits a user to seek validation from others in this way? Essentially asking other people to judge and then comment on you anonymously. If people wish to post positive commentary, why would they need to hide who they are from the user the content is directed at? Parents also need to consider the amount of sexualized content on the App. The App affords anonymous access to a child, who could be groomed in to the exchange of explicit imagery or worse. There was considerable requests for the exchange of imagery on the pages we visited. An uncomfortable amount to be honest.
When people are afforded the ability to conceal their identity online, the comments and posts generated are generally not the most positive. This App is the perfect forum of targeting and harming young people through Cyberbullying and Online Sexual Exploitation. Already we have been made aware of a teen who has received horrific comments on this platform. Parents need to be aware of the Apps existence. For children and teens, are we would strongly recommend against the use of this App.
Internet Safety, Cyber Safety, Ireland, Children of the digital age, online safety
Welcome to an introduction on Social Media Platforms
Internet Safety and the protection of children online is at the forefront of
Social Media platforms are websites or applications for smart phone or smart digital devices that allow its users to post information, interests, photos/videos, idea’s. It also allows users to make social connections all over the world. We are all aware that there are countless different Social Media platforms. When we speak about social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are some of the most common and popular ones that immediately come to mind, where you can “Follow” someone or add them as your “Friend”.
The modern version of “hanging around on the street corner” by children is done online. Children, from the comfort and safety of their own homes, can engage with their friends in a digital social environment. Social Media is the most common ways for people, especially children to make social connections all over the world today. It is not unusual that a child would have more “Friends” on their Facebook page or “Followers” on their Instagram account than people they actually know in the “Real World”.
Social media is a great way for keeping in touch with friends and family. By simply posing an image or sending private message you can keep up to date with someone on the far side of the world. You can now video chat with them on Facebook, as if they are in the room beside you.
User Generated Content
Social Media is completely reliant on User Generated Content (UGC). Facebook for example, if no one ever posted any images, video’s, news articles, comments, Facebook would probably not exist. Social Media is reliant on its ordinary users to keep it going. Social Media is exciting for children as it can give them the opportunity to connect with famous people, their idols and hero’s like was never possible before.
By uploading an image, posting a comment or status update, the likes of Kim Kardashian could be saying hello to young person all the way from the USA. Rory McIlroy “Re-tweeting” something a Follower posted to him, to help to promote a charity event. A post advertising it may be “Shared” by a celebrity thereby gaining a larger audience. Even a famous sports name could “Like” an image that a child publishes of themselves wearing a team’s colours. The opportunity to contact with the famous is now only a single click away.
Never underestimate the power of social media to do good as well; we all remember the ALS “Ice-Bucket” challenge in 2014? This was a Facebook sensation, designed to raise awareness and charitable donations for Motor Neurons charities. Facebook users would pour a bucket of water over themselves, video it and post the video on Facebook. They would then challenge 5 of their friends to do the same, while making a donation to the charity. In the USA alone, donations to the ALS association increased from $23.5 million. In 2013 to over $115 million in 2014. Never before has the world been at our fingertips, like it is today. But with these great advantages, there unfortunately comes some inevitable dangers.