It is true that when parents become concerned about their child’s privacy on the internet, they will most likely focus on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. However, instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp can easily slide under most parents’ radars. They like to assume that this private messaging app is private in the true sense but it is not.
Even though WhatsApp seems like a private messaging app, in reality, it is not. Acquired by Facebook in 2014, WhatsApp became extremely popular among users, especially young children and teens. This app poses some significant risks and challenges to children who are actively using this app. This addiction has led parents to use WhatsApp spy apps for Android and iOS devices to keep their children safe on the app.
Has WhatsApp Become Less Secure for Children?
If you have been using WhatsApp for a long time now, you must have noticed that the app poses a greater privacy risk to the children now as compared to in the past. Originally, this app was focused on providing more privacy to the users at the time of messaging but now everything has changed.
The founder of WhatsApp made sure to make privacy and protecting users’ data a significant feature of the app when it was launched. However, since the day WhatsApp has been acquired by Facebook, that began to change.
Despite the concerns of WhatsApp’s founder, Facebook paid attention to collecting and selling users’ data as it does with its other acquired sites and apps. When WhatsApp’s founder quit the company last year, many experts predicted that Facebook would now log even more users’ data than it was already logging. To be precise, Facebook acquired a messaging app with a reputation for offering complete privacy to the customers and then actively began to undermine the same privacy.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that privacy concerns aren’t the only problem parents are facing with WhatsApp. Although most people assume that WhatsApp is an instant messaging app and not a social media app, the “groups” on WhatsApp function just like other social media apps, allowing users to chat with over 250 people at a time and exchange information. Having so many people in a group at a time can make it easier for information, especially false news, to go viral quite soon.
Spreading false information on WhatsApp groups can lead to many severe problems. For instance, if someone spreads rumours about a child getting kidnapped and shares the false news on several WhatsApp groups, it may incite fear and panic among the general public.
To prevent false information from becoming viral on the platform and to stop such news from affecting people at large, WhatsApp has made significant changes such as slowing down forwarding or flagging forwarded content so that users know when a message is not originally shared by the sender they have received it from. Yet, several experts fear that these steps may not be able to help much.
Common WhatsApp Dangers for Children
Other than false news becoming prevalent on WhatsApp, many other online risks pose a serious threat to children on the platform. People with ulterior motives join WhatsApp only to target young and innocent children. They could be bullies or sexual predators, and both of them could pose serious threats to your children on the app.
Many children do not even report about cyberbullying incidents on the app because they do not realize that someone is constantly trying to threaten or abuse them. They read all the messages and then sulk in depression, loneliness, and anxiety on their own. In the worst cases, the effects of cyberbullying may lead them to have suicidal thoughts.
There is an influx of sexual predators on WhatsApp. All they need is your child’s contact number to reach out to them on the platform. They befriend them, gain their trust and lure them into meeting somewhere outside their home. Many cyber predators create fake profiles and contact children, pretending to be of their age.
They also go to the extent of demanding inappropriate images and videos from them only to sell them to the dark internet for a good price or blackmail children’s family for ransom.
These are some of the WhatsApp dangers that every parent should know about now. They should ensure their children’s privacy on the app by applying privacy settings on the app and installing an effective WhatsApp spy app for Android and other devices used by the children.
Knowing what your children have been doing on their mobile devices, especially monitoring their WhatsApp interactions, can enable you to guide them towards making safer choices and better decisions.
Nevertheless, if you are still concerned about your child’s online safety and think they are not safe even after installing monitoring apps, you can make them join some other messaging app that retains no private information except for their mobile phone number.