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The potential risks of "Chat apps"

As children are becoming more incentivized to utilizing technology in their everyday lives, I doubt that parents and guardians haven't heard of apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Discord, and TikTok. While these applications are among the more commonly used there are some that are less commonly used and can pose several risks to a child's internet safety. Apps and sites such as Omegle, Whatsapp, Telegram, and Kik are among some of the more high risk apps when it comes to "chat apps". Although apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are used on a daily basis by many children and widely considered to have family-friendly settings they can pose many other risks to a child's mental health and well-being. I previously made a blog about Dove's campaign to increase child internet safety on social media. This is because many children (mostly young girls) are constantly being shown unachievable body types and being misinformed about the human body. This has resulted in many young girls developing body dysmorphia, which is a mental disorder where they will focus on parts of their body that they perceive as defects with intense shame and anxiety. This has caused many young women to develop eating disorders which can cause many physical health problems if not treated. I highly recommend checking out my blog about Dove and how they are trying to help young women with this issue.

Now, what is a "Chat app"? A chat app is any app designed to incentivize some form of communication between two or more individuals. These "chat apps" range from very popular apps to apps that you may have never heard of. Apps such as Kik, Omegle, Whatsapp, and Telegram are all chat apps and incentivize some form of communication. While not all communication on these platforms are bad and some security measures are in place, it does not mean that your child is in a safe environment. Apps that allow private communication are becoming more frequent in our every day lives and with that comes a higher risk of harm from them. Why should you avoid these apps for yourself and your children? Many adults may not know but social media is one of the biggest factors in the current youth mental health crisis. Chat apps can also be dangerous as some of the apps stated above have been known to have problems with pedophilia, illegal exchanges, and illegal activities. These illegal activities are becoming more frequent as technology evolves. Because technology is evolving at a more rapid rate than ever, parents need to enforce safety measures on the internet for their children and regulate what is seen by their children and more importantly who they talk with.

When it comes to online friends, parents need to ensure that they know who their child is interacting with and contacting even if they are just playing games. Chat apps can allow users to contact each other by simply knowing one's username. If unregulated by their parents these children can come into contact with users who have intent to harm or extort them. This can be avoided by practicing the "3 C's" and having a talk with your children about the dangers that the internet and chat apps can pose. The 3 C's Connect - Does any picture I am sending or posting along with any message "connect" to the emotion or feelings I am wanting to exhibit? Concern - Does any message or images contain material that can be concerning if obtained by the wrong people? Choose - Do I feel that I can send, post, or share the material I have reviewed and be safe from harm? Utilizing the "3 C's" is a great start to ensuring children understand what they send will last forever. Having a quality discussion with your children about the dangers of these apps can help prevent these problems from occurring. Applications that allow for direct communication can be healthy and safe if properly supervised. I highly suggest you look at what apps your child uses and look into the safety measure that app has in place to ensure your child is going to be safe while using their platform.

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