App Chat: Are Your kids on Skype?

This week’s App Chat is focused on the Skype application. Again, because I am an iphone user, my experiences with the Skype application are based on how I explored the app through my smartphone and then I visited the online version as using a smartphone, subscribers to Skype can contact anyone with the app phone to phone or phone to computer.

 

According to Skype…..

My workout of it was fun and for businesses, friends or families geographically separated the app is a great way to stay connected, however, for minors on the app, I think parents should know how this application works.

 

Here are the biggest concerns:

 

  • Stranger access
  • Access to strangers
  • Search words can pull up anything linking to unmoderated content possibilities
  • Video/camera options
  • File sharing
  • Computer, phone, ipad – no differentiation

 

Persons with Skype can freely contact anyone with a Skype account all around the world despite the device. Chat, messaging and video chat are free. There are no real safety features in place to keep children from contacting strangers or having strangers contacting them. Although there are options for settings, we are aware that children don’t often read or understand what settings are applicable.

 

Here’s How Your Child Can Use Skype

If your child has an account, they can use any search term to find others and other can use any search terms to find them. As a parent, I used some pretty harsh terms to see what kids may find. I was shocked. Again, I will not expose the specific terms I used to search while in Skype, but, if you can think of the word, its there.

 

Setting up the app, Skype asks for email, phone number and other personal identifying information. Although not all is revealed publicly if a teen were to choose specific safety settings, children might not understand the ramifications of not keeping such information private.

 

Once set up, the most enticing feature (in my opinion) is the video chat for teens. Video chatting is free and easy for teens to use. There are no filters stopping a teen from inappropriate video sharing. Also, as in many other apps, there are no protections in place to protect a child from someone else taking a screenshot of them and then sharing that content.

 

Additionally, file sharing through the app is available. Meaning, your child could be chatting or video chatting with others and large content files could be shared instantly making them open to receiving inappropriate content without anyone monitoring what has been shared.  Do you know what’s in that file a stranger sent your child?

 

Here’s what Skype says about appropriate use:

 

However parents, there are no protections against inappropriate behavior!

 

 

Parents, if your child uses this app on their phone or on a home computer, our recommendations are to know who their contacts are. Grandma is ok, but Pierre from France may not be! Also, make sure security settings are in place.