If there is one thing more disturbing on the news these days, it’s the amount of trusted adults that are being arrested for sexual offenses on kids. It makes parents lose all sense of how to keep their children safe, when they don’t even know if the child’s teacher, coach, uncle, or neighbor can be counted on as a safe haven. While the apps reviewed here will help to keep your child safe, it needs to be mentioned that true safety needs to go beyond help that you can receive from apps. It needs to come from every area of their lives.
I need to add in here that I do have some expertise in this matter. Not only am I a parent of two, but I am also a martial arts instructor and a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. We don’t practice our martial art to win competitions; we practice in order to save our lives and those of our students. We teach safety.
Strong Kids is an app that teaches much the same things that we teach our students in class. It promotes self-assertion and confidence more than anything else. Predators look for an easy mark; they want their job to be easy, and don’t want to get caught. They want victims who are ignorant, unsure, and untrained. This app promotes prevention and self-assertion first, then also includes some basic self-defense moves against common attacks on children, such as being pinned against a wall and a wrist grab. It should be noted that I couldn’t get the sound on the videos to work on my iPad, but I could get it to work on my iPhone.
Offenders HD is a mapped listing of all sexual offenders that are near your current location. Using GPS, the app locates you, then shows you the locaiton of all the registered sex offenders in your area, as well as the location of police stations and hospitals. Tapping on the pin gives you the offender’s information, including age, description, address, and their crime, which includes the age range of their victim. When I tried this app out, I was shocked to find I had a sex offender living two blocks from my home.
iHound will help you track an iPhone or iTouch, and if you know where your child’s phone or Touch is, then most likely you’ll know where your child is. After seetting up an account, the app will get a lock on the location of the device. You can have it check in with the service from the device, or can also have it set up so that the device checks in with you when it leaves a certain designated area. Not only can it help you find your child, it can help you find the device if your child loses it. You can send alerts to the device that will either send an emergency message to you child, or send a message to a thief to let them know you are aware that they have just stolen your iPhone or iTouch.
Not only is it important to keep your child safe on the streets, it’s also important to keep your child safe when they’re using their device. The K9 Browser will only navigate to sites that are approved for viewing by children. If in their browsing, they navigate to an unsafe website, this Safari-like app will will deny the site, yet will also allow a parent to override the setting for that particular website, if they wish. There are instructions included on how to disable Safari so that your child can only reach the Internet via this app.
It should be noted that using this browser will work when navigating to unsafe sites, but if you allow your child on a site such as Facebook, it won’t protect them from people they know. Just as sexual attacks are 80% of the time done by people a child knows, when they are being cyber-bullied, it’s by someone on their “friends” list on Facebook. Parents should know their child’s sign-in information for Facebook so that they can keep track of who they are friending and what is being said by and to them, and if the child doesn’t want to part with that information, then it might be best to not allow them to have an account.