Remember: “Don’t take candy from strangers!
By Rachel Papke
I’m sure as a kid you heard this phrase more than once, and carry it in your toolbox of ways to stay safe.
Well, guess what? I think now is a good time to remind you about the evolution of ‘stranger danger’ and ‘taking candy from strangers’ in the space of technology. Most of the time we adapt quickly to the appeal of new, colorful, and popular trends in technology without consideration of the risks.
Here are a few examples. The most recent example is FaceApp going viral.
Like many apps, we’re eating it up like candy without much evaluation of its origin or safety. This smartphone app, FaceApp, can transform your photos to appear older. In fact, it went viral yesterday on social media. In the wake of that, privacy concerns are surfacing. “Critics have cautioned that the app could collect more than just the photos that are uploaded. According to the policy, FaceApp cannot ensure the security of any information you transmit to FaceApp or guarantee that information on the service may not be accessed, disclosed, altered or destroyed.”
This online game is surpassing Minecraft in popularity. The overarching purpose of Roblox is for players to interact and make friends. Players wander around the online world and stop to talk with other players within an unmoderated chat feature. There have been reports of avatars engaging in lude behaviors and strangers engaging children in conversations.
The Momo Challenge: Is it real? Is it a hoax? Whatever ‘it’ is, it effectively created an alarming state of parental panic. Momo reportedly appears on sites or apps – like Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and others – encouraging children to engage in high-risk behavior.
Blue Whale Challenge
A couple of years ago the news reported that teens may be dying by suicide after following 50 tasks suggested by the game. In May 2017, 21-year-old Philipp Budeikin was arrested. He claimed to have invented the Blue Whale Challenge. Budeikin subsequently plead guilty to urging 16 teenage girls to die by suicide.
Predators, hackers, trolls, bots, and more are lurking in the online darkness, waiting to prey on their next victims. We have to evolve our understanding of and education around online tools and apps in order to stay safe.
“Let’s not forget…the Internet offers tremendous benefits: unparalleled access to information, connection to friends and family, and access to educational opportunities, just for starters. But, it is still fraught with problems. Young kids left alone with their devices are not well-equipped to enjoy the positives and avoid the negatives. They need our help. Parents must know what their kids are doing online so they can help them navigate the online world safely and wisely,” says Diana Graber, Author of “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology,” Founder of Cyber Civics.com and Cyberwise.org, organizations that advocate for digital literacy for kids and adults.
Vigilance, awareness, and engagement are critical defenses against these online monsters. The dangers of technology are evolving at a rapid pace that requires our constant attention in order to avoid taking candy from strangers.