Children are being exposed to the Internet, social networks, and various digital media technologies much earlier in their lives than any generation ever before. With this premature exposure to online content comes parental fear and moral panic that author danah boyd* believes to be described as, “when the public comes to believe that a cultural artifact, practice, or population threatens social order.” This content surrounds issues of not only online predators and sexuality, but also of cyberbullying.
According to Parents.com, our children and teens spend up to seven hours per day on electronic devices. “One in six 6- to 9-year-olds and one in five 8- to 9-year-olds have experienced what parents consider objectionable or aggressive behavior online.” Although girls are generally more targeted than boys on these technologies, both genders are subject to be active proponents and receivers of cyberbullying. In light of the serious mental health effects cyberbullying has on our children and teens today, websites and apps are taking precautions to prevent this online abuse in as many ways as possible.
Apps like, Mobicip, limit a child’s time on certain social networks and block adult websites from search results.
Other apps like, Safe Eyes, enforce strict and filtered search results to limit a child’s accessibility to profane and inappropriate website content.
One of the most severe, but effective, apps out there is called, SafetyWeb, and actively tracks all activity on social media networks, Internet searches, and even text messages. Although invasive, and potentially unethical, this app provides parents with the relief and overseeing abilities they need to protect their child from harmful online predators and peer cyberbullies.
The ethics behind these tracking sites is definitely a debatable topic. However, at earlier stages in a child’s development, there should be no reason for children this young to be on social media in elementary school, and potentially be exposed to inappropriate and unsafe content by peers and older acquaintances. Ultimately, this exposure shapes both child and teen behavior, and these apps take the extra step to help prevent any negative influences from becoming a permanent mindset on developing children in our societies today.
*danah boyd, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2014), chapters four and five.