This article was originally published on A Platform for Good.
Ever wonder what your teen is doing on their smartphone? You’re not alone. Lots of parents come to us for help to understand Kik Messenger, as well as the smartphones and other apps their teens are using. We thought it might be helpful to share some tips based on the questions we get asked the most:
1. How do I manage what my teen can do on their phone?
One of the questions we hear a lot is how parents can manage the content their teen has access to. Many of today’s smartphones have built-in parent controls that let you set restrictions on the type of apps your teen can download, the changes they can make to their privacy settings, and more. Both Apple and Google have posted information about how to use their parent tools. We’ve found this information to be invaluable for a lot of the parents who come to us – so we’ve included it here.
To setup restrictions on your teen’s iPhone or iPod, follow the steps here. If your teen is using an Android phone, here are the steps you’ll need.
2. How can I learn about the privacy and safety features of apps my teen wants to use?
Safety and privacy are both incredibly important at Kik. So we’ve built privacy features right into our app, and we’ve posted safety tips on our Help Center. Like many other apps, we also have a guide titled "Does Kik have a guide for parents?" with more info about using our app’s privacy features to help keep your teen safe.
We really encourage you to check out the websites, help centers, and in-app settings of your teen’s favorite apps for more information about how the apps work, and about features that will help keep them safe. We like to share Common Sense Media with parents who come to us. The site includes app reviews written by other parents, as well as a rating system for different aspects of each app, including privacy and safety. A Platform for Good also includes links to the privacy policies and parent guides of many of the most popular social networking apps. And if you can’t find any built-in features, or information about privacy and safety for a particular app, it’s worth investigating why not.
When parents get in touch with us, we recommend they get Kik too so they have an understanding of how our app works, and what their teen can do with it. Knowing what your teen knows will help to make it easier to have conversations with them about staying safe online.
3. How can I help make sure my teen’s information stays private?
Kik never shares our users’ information, like email addresses or phone numbers, with other Kik users, and we don’t share it with advertisers or other third parties either. To help make this clear to our users, we’ve posted our policies on our website, and we notify our users in multiple places whenever we need to make a change.
Some apps do share their user’s information; it’s important for both you and your teen to know what’s shared and when.
It’s also important to know that on the Internet, private information isn’t always private. Other users can save, copy and share what your teen says to them in almost any app. While most teens know not to talk to strangers in the real world, the best way to make sure their personal information isn’t seen by strangers online is not to post it (or talk to strangers they’ve met online) at all.
Both teens and parents need to be empowered to make good decisions and stay safe online. We hope these tips help you to talk to your teen about being safe online, and help them to more safely enjoy all the cool stuff the Internet has to offer.