Mobile Phones & Apps

In this age of technology and social media when cyber conversation seems easier for our youngsters than physical interaction, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line. What age should they have their own mobile?

Every family has different views, but face the difficulty of not wanting their child to be the odd-one-out in the playground either. Peer Pressure for parenting, anybody?

It’s fair to assume that the biggest concern is vulnerability whilst online and not wanting them to access inappropriate things. Boundaries Vs Safety. What apps are suitable and at what age? It used to be music that made us feel out of touch…now it’s the latest apps.

Apps that centre around peer-to-peer communication can be the hardest to monitor. It’s not all negative though! They facilitate communication out of school and help those who may feel socially-awkward to develop friendships “Children find it much easier to use an emoji – it’s a simple way to allow them to start a conversation”1 it is true that they can also be a hot-bed of cyber bullying or negativity.

Here’s a basic rundown of functions for the most popular apps:

Whatsapp
Min age 16 Chat facility and free way to share media. Ability to have group conversations & broadcast updates. Add through phonebook only.

Facebook
Min age 13 Profiles can be set to private or public. Ability to block people or chat via the messenger app. The new live feature seems to be more popular with events to get the news out quickly.

Snapchat
Min age 13 timed conversation via photos which disappear with filters & chat facility. The function to create a daily story of your activities. Can broadcast to follow strangers in your area or add friends via phonebook.

Oovoo
Min age 13 video chat with up to 12 people. Text & media sharing. Must have account. Privacy controls & block facility.

Instagram
Min age 13 A photo & short video platform which can be anonymous or personal, set to public or private

YouTube
Min age 13 with parent’s consent 18 without. Can use anonymously but must sign in for full content. A great resource for creative people, an opportunity to establish a brand by making regular content about something they are passionate about. [ Zoella, Casey Neistat & Caspar Lee have forged a livelihood from YouTube with millions of subscribers.] Also a facility to research the latest tech/hair/makeup/music trends. Ability to block content and apply parental controls.

Whisper
Min age 17 An anonymous platform to communicate feelings. Well monitored service that aims to prevent bullying. Well monitored with strict controls.