Boston police are warning parents of the potential pitfalls of online platforms, as children continue to spend extended periods on the Internet unsupervised as a result of remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“While certain health and safety restrictions within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and across the country may soon allow for students to return to an in class full-time model, many students remain at home and online more than usual,” Boston police wrote.
The department posted a guide to social media, gaming, messaging, video sharing, and dating apps on their website this week, walking parents through the features and potential pitfalls of each.
The guide serves to “[help] parents and guardians ... familiarize themselves with these applications in hopes of keeping our young community members as safe as possible during these times of increased online activity,” Boston police wrote.
The messaging apps included are Kik, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. The social media apps included are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Houseparty, and Facebook Messenger Kids. The video sharing apps Youtube and TikTok are included alongside gaming apps Twitch, Roblox, Fortnite, and Discord. The final category — dating apps — includes Tinder and Omegle. One app falls in the “other” category — Dropbox.
The guide also directs parents to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s “Stop, Talk, Block” program, which “educates youth about Internet safety and cyberbullying,” and Internet links on sexting, technology 101, and Internet crimes against children.