You might feel you are in control while denying your child access to video games with violence and indecent exposure and blocking channels with adult content, however the internet is constantly exposing impressionable teens on everything from cursing to death defying stunts
1. YouTube Sensations
A YouTube sensation is anyone who has become famous by posting videos, rants, comedy sketches, beauty videos amongst others on YouTube and other social media platforms. They usually have a large following amongst teens and adults.
However, not all of these 'stars' sensor their material. For example, Lily Singh a.k.a IISuperwomanII is a Canadian YouTube personality with over 12 million subscribers to her channel, her content is filtered for a more teen audience with hilarious sketches and takes on everyday life.
However, more recently another YouTube star PewDiePie known earlier for his video game reviews got heat with his videos containing anti- Semitic jokes, his content is usually unfiltered and obnoxious, is suitable for a more mature audience. These personalities make large sums of money with what they do, and rightfully so. As a parent it is your responsibility to monitor who your child is watching.
2. Trends and Challenges
Recently, there has been an alarming number of deaths based on challenges made popular on social media. These challenges and games give kids a sense of thrill without realising the dire consequences.
For example, the cinnamon challenge where one eats a spoonful of cinnamon without drinking water for 60 seconds, cinnamon can dry the mouth causing lungs to collapse or breathing difficulties.
The choking game also known as fainting game is a thrill where one strangulates the other causing deprivation of oxygen to the brain resulting in temporary unconsciousness and the high of feeling dizzy. Reported deaths have occurred due to this challenge. Others include the Gallon challenge, huffing and the five finger fillet which are life threatening and downright stupid.
3. Becoming a 'catfish'
A 'catfish' is someone who adopts another person's identity, while trying to lure people towards them through different social media platforms. The term became famous with an MTV Programme of the same name. Here the so called 'catfish' posts fake pictures and communicates with people under false pretences and information about themselves often forming intense relationships.
Your child could be a predator of the catfish or even be one themselves. Most 'catfish' who have been caught say they feel insecure about their true selves and assuming the identity of someone else makes them confident.
4. Following on social media
It is important to know who your child is following on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and others. Where a Kardashian, posts videos of skin treatments and enhancement procedures, it is sure to have an impact on your teen.
It gives them a false sense of hope that this a standard of beauty they need to live up to watching celebrities like Snoop Dogg smoking up a storm, or 50 cent posing with bundles of cash is only luring your child into a negative and unrealistic sense of what life really is. Instead introduce your child to posts about fitness and sports, humour and entertainment or self-made women and athletes around the globe. Your child needs to know the difference between reel and real.
5. Apps your child is downloading
Apps like Tinder which are mostly meant for adults looking to meet people can be easily manipulated where minors join this platform and meet strangers in their vicinity. Although age is verified your child could easily provide false information and meet random people. Apps like Whisper allows anyone to post photos and information anonymously about another person without their knowledge.
This could result in serious cyber bullying while targeting a specific individual. Although these apps do take measures to prevent any unfortunate instances and have disclaimers there is always a way around them. Snapchat allows your child to post short videos or pictures which are said to be immediately deleted, however it has been found that these videos are retrievable. Once on the web always on the web.
6. Online shopping
Most teens today have access to money. They may have a pocket-money system or carry out odd jobs. So what happens when they find an imitation of something their favourite celebrity wore but are unable to afford it? They may result in habits like stealing, borrowing money from friends, selling personal belongings to get what they want. Where it is not possible to stop your child from shopping online, a compulsive shopper can be identified.
Let your child be able to come to you if they really like something. Instead of taking them shopping let them choose what they want to buy. Online shopping can be a serious addiction where one is trying to fill a void through materialistic fulfilment.
7. False advertising and scams
While adults can recognise a scam e-mail, teens may not. An easy Ponzi scheme is something a gullible teen may fall prey to, revealing important information like bank account details or home addresses. Help your child identify these scams. False advertising about products promoting weight-loss or clear 'fair' skin is targeted towards people especially those looking for an easy fix. If you have a child with low self-esteem or being bullied due to appearance make sure to be alert they do not fall prey to such claims.
While as a parent of a growing adult there is limited control you can have over their activities, be involved and show concern when required. Most phones are locked with pass codes or fingerprint scans so snooping is not the right approach. Instead have an open and honest discussion with your child about the dangers lurking on the internet. Most importantly equip them with confidence and courage to make the right decisions.
8. Dangerous online games that drive self-harm
Many online ‘challenges’ have had parents worrying over the safety of their children. Some kids have even ended their lives because a game told them to. In those games, children are usually asked to complete certain steps, or give away private information. Some parents assume that their children would never participate in something so dangerous, but it is more accessible than you think.
Some of the common dangerous online games include Blue whale challenge, Mariam’s game, the Choking Game which could all lead to death. Other games that cause their children to harm themselves include the 'Cinnamon challenge', the 'Five Finger Fillet' and the 'Gallon Challenge'.
What you should look out for in short:
Five finger fillet
Blue whale challenge
Certain celebrity Instagram accounts
The Cutting Challenge
The Salt and Ice Challenge