A mom and a 13-year-old girl came to my office last week for help sorting through a cyberbullying situation that was causing extreme emotional pain to the family. The young teen posted pictures and videos of herself on a popular app called Phhhoto. She thought the images were only being shared with two of her friends from school, but after she saw a group of boys watching her inappropriate sexual dance routine on their smartphones, laughing and making fun of her, she knew that wasn’t the case. She is a sweet, smart, and very overweight 13-year-old with intense self-esteem issues. This is not at all what she intended, but the damage was done, she was humiliated, ashamed, anxious and had no idea what to do next.
What is PHHHOTO?
Phhhoto is a camera app that shoots moving pictures that continually loop to make short movies. Users can like, comment, share, and follow other users. In fact, the app encourages users to share videos with friends as well as with strangers, either in private or publically, using the chatroom feature within the app.
When asked if it was possible to set a profile to private, the support department at Phhhoto said the following;
“We don’t currently have a PRIVATE account option, but you can use PRIVATE POSTS so that only your friends can see your PHHHOTOs. You can also BLOCK anyone you want.
FYI, if you want to add some additional privacy to your account you can turn off the WEB PROFILE switch in your app settings. This will make it so your PHHHOTO profile does not appear in Google search results.
Finally, if you’re going to write to us anyway about having a private account, please include the following info: Some reasoning as to why you’d like a private option. Who are you primarily concerned about seeing your account (examples: teachers, parents, and other family members, strangers, peers who aren’t your friends)? What, specifically, about a private account would serve you?”
What does that even mean?
I downloaded the free app from Itunes, set up a profile and tried it out. I could view thousands of videos that said “private” and many are definitely not appropriate for tweens and teens.
STATISTICS TO CONSIDER: (https://www.onlinesafetysite.com/P1/Teenstats.htm)
- 64% of teens post pictures or videos of themselves.
- 48% of teens say it is common for inappropriate or explicit photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.
The problem with apps like these is not necessarily the fact that your child is using them. The risk comes when your child is exposing personal photos and videos to potentially dangerous strangers or bullies.
Parents need to remember that even if you believe your child is not posting inappropriate material, others are. Stranger danger, bullying, and exposure to sexual content or adult material are all risks when using the Phhhoto app. Unlike other social media sites, this app has no option to make ones profile private, leaving the door wide open for predators or bullies.
Users can also screenshot an image that has been posted in a “private party” that can then be shared on other social media sites, via text, or messaging apps.
Those who are not parenting in cyberspace are setting their children up for possible disaster. In addition to talking with your child about strangers and appropriate online information sharing, parents should be taking the next step and monitoring their online activity.
Before social media, parents had a much easier time keeping tabs on what their tween or teen was up to. But in today’s digital environment, that task is a bit more complicated. Social Judo makes a parent’s job of keeping their child safe, quick, efficient and accurate. Social Judo allows parents to get real-time alerts about any information they deem appropriate to know about; their child’s location, the content of messages sent or received, what apps they are using, their exact location at any given time, and it even prevents texting and driving.
It is a must-have for every parent who wants the necessary information to keep their child safe. Parents need to be smarter. Unsupervised use of the internet is causing too many problems, many that can be prevented.
Get Social Judo and you will be among the smartest parents out there.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.