Potentially dangerous apps your kids might have on their phones.

We know that the internet has brought some really good benefits. It helps people all around the world to communicate and to stay in touch. But giving the multiple risk situations that kids may face online, it’s okay as a parent to be aware of situations in which our kids could be exposed to danger.

According to the US Department of Justice, 13% of young people with internet access have been the victims of unwanted sexual advances, and one in 25 children have been solicited for offline contact. The New Zealand Police have also reported greater numbers of unsolicited contact occurring online since 2010.

These are the apps that represent the most risks for our kids that as parents we should constantly monitor:

  • MeetMe and Bumble: Dating apps that connect with your current location to show people around you that you can meet in person. We have to make sure our kids know that there are potential risks on connecting with people we don’t know, like facing a fake profile without knowing who is behind or what their intentions are.
  • WhatsApp and Snapchat: As we know, these apps are commonly used to send unlimited texts and photos to our beloved ones and stay in touch with people of all parts of the world. These apps are certainly harmless if we use them appropriately. But as parents, we might want to have a conversation with our little ones to make sure they are not exposed to inappropriate content and be aware of sharing their location with any contacts that might be suspicious.
  • Ask.Fm: An online space where you can post anonymous questions about any topic and get other user’s responses that can suddenly turn out a target for bullying.
  • Tinder: One of many online dating apps, with a high potential for danger. Fake profiles are possible, leading to the possibility of harassment, threats, offensive messages, and harmful behaviour on the app and in-person.
  • Grindr: LGBT community dating app where users can become targets of aggression and bullying.
  • Happn: Allows users to find each other by turning your geo-location on and tells the people you have crossed paths during your travels.

But what can we do to prevent this?

Online safety organisation NetSafe has the following advice for parents looking to get a grasp on the potential danger in their children’s online activity

  • Understand: Read about the potential online risks, challenges and sometimes illegal behaviour young people face to understand what may happen
  • Learn: Ask your child about what they do, how they use devices and who they talk to learn about their activities. Check-in regularly to see what has changed
  • Explore: Take the time yourself to explore the sites, apps and technologies your child uses to improve your knowledge and understand their experience
  • Agree: Create a family code with your child to agree on what they can do online including sites to visit, appropriate behaviours, privacy settings and limits
  • Plan: Make a plan so everybody knows what to do if something goes wrong and where you will be able to get advice and support in challenging times

Even so, constantly reviewing our children’s social networks does not prevent them from making inappropriate decisions on their own and in the real world, We must create the habit of communicating with them, letting them know that there is a safe space of freedom and trust to which they can approach for advice.

#STARTTHECONVERSATION, no matter what age, let your children know you can listen and support them at any time and regardless of the situation. Make them feel that they can trust you. This is the basis of all children-parent communication.

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We all face challenges to our mental health at various times in our lives. The way we’re feeling can change how we think and how we deal with tough times.

There’s a range of resources and services available to help including phone and online services and information, as well as face-to-face support.

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If you’re told that there is a waiting time for a service, please still reach out and make contact. Other supports can be put in place – ask what you can try in the meantime.


Helplines for children and young people

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to talk to a trained counsellor.

To talk to a trained counsellor 24/7 call the Depression helpline – 0800 111 757.

To get help from a registered nurse 24/7 call Healthline – 0800 611 116.

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat.

What's Up  – 0800 942 8787, (for 5–18-year-olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, 1 pm–10 pm and on weekends, 3 pm–10 pm. Online chat is available from 7 pm–10 pm daily.

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