The age we are living in, everything is becoming harder to keep up with. Looking back at my own childhood, I remember how I spent my tween years; reading, making childish art and crafts, playing out in the streets and the list goes on, so does the reminiscing.
Technology and Kids
Seeing the 9-10 year olds today with smart-phones in their tiny hands one does wonder, ‘Who in the world are they Snapchatting with?’ As the younger and younger generation gain access to internet and smart-phones, the privacy becomes more and more threatened. Children do not know how harmful over-sharing of personal information on internet can be for them. You may think putting up a security question like, ‘What is your favorite vacation spot?’ will help but hello! You have already given away that information on your Instagram.
How safe is the internet actually?
Putting up a photo of your child on your Facebook with the captions like, ‘Michelle’s first day of first grade – they grow up so fast :’)” you check-in to the school you are dropping your kid to. What happens? You have posted the name, picture and the location of your child – seems harmless but it is not. You have no idea to whom you just have dished-out that information. I don’t need to elaborate here, news on TV and paranoia can take care of that.
It is not a safe world we live in.
Think of all the photos your child is posting. Only the photos are giving so much personal information away. In the race of having the most number of friends and followers, their personal accounts are filled to the brim with strangers. Their Snapchat is telling exactly where they are at the moment. Receiving a ‘You look cute in your pics ;)’ from a nice stranger will seem harmless to them – but you know better, right? Do not let this happen.
I cannot stress how important promoting safe websites and apps is.
Bring a change. Make a trend. There are productive ways of using internet, encourage that. Instead of blocking these dangerous apps and ‘sites on your child’s phone and laptop (because they are smarter than you when it comes to technology and will find a way to unblock them), educate them. They will definitely assume that this is being paranoid, so how will you make them consider this as a serious matter?
- Age-restrict the app/website. Ban it until they are a certain age. One drawback is that they will find a way to be on that platform without your knowledge.
- Keep check on what they are posting, with whom they are interacting, what they are seeing on the apps. This may require you having their passwords, but you are only looking after them.
- Encourage them they can have as much fun (with their friends) on safe platforms.
Waltz in platforms like Miss O and Friends. A safe online platform for girls where you can make friends, chat with them, get to know girls around the world, have your voice heard, participate in exciting contests and win prizes and much more!
What is Miss O and Friends?
Miss O and Friends (www.missoandfriends.com) is a place for tween girls (8-12-year-old) which came into being in 2005. Juliette Brindak, who launched the website when she was 16, is one of the masterminds behind the successful online portal for girls. Her mother, Hermine Brindak, is the co-founder. Juliette made drawings of her litter sister and her friends and Hermine made them into animated characters – the birth of the website.
Who is Miss O?
Miss ‘O’ is Juliette’s little sister, Olivia. Yes, the blonde girl on the logons and header is Miss Olivia Brindak and other four girls are her real-life friends, including Juliette. Juliette and her mother made the website for Olivia and her friends who were in their tweens back then. The changes every girl face at that age like school, growing up, puberty, boys etc, is what Miss O and Friends tries to make less difficult and endurable.
What does ‘Miss O and Friends’ have to offer?
On the website, you find stories of real girls, articles written by girls around the world, games and quizzes. However, most importantly, there is a place to chat with other girls around the world. You can talk about any issue you have, seek advice and just share what you are going through with other girls your age all while being safe from cyber criminals. Every message sent, every question or answer posted, the team at Miss O and Friends diligently monitors every story and experience shared on the website. There is next to no chance of leak or exchange of personal information. The team oversees the activity of the members of the website, who has just joined and who has been active on which part of the website, so there is no chance of any uninvited person posing as a young girl being present.
Apart from everything, Miss O and Friends rewards their members with prizes including books, goodies, concert tickets etc.
What’s not to like?
Would not you feel more confident and safe knowing your tween daughter is on the website like this and not chatting with a stranger on Facebook? There is no record of Snapchat sent and received; wouldn’t you feel uncertain about letting your young ones access apps like these? Miss O and Friends is made for girls, by girls. There’s an app you can download on your phone and there’s a sister website for parents as well (www.momswithgirls.com).
This is just one website – there are hundreds out there just waiting to be explored. Encourage their use.
Published by Madiha Yameen