Apps allow your children to learn and connect with friends. They can also put your children’s privacy and safety at risk.

“Parents should always research apps first,” says Alissa Haycraft, MSN, RN, CPNP, clinical lead of the Family Resource Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Read through disclaimers, privacy policies and reviews. Test apps out before your children use them.”

Here are some safety tips for every age:

AGES 2–7

Pick quality, educational apps, and use them with your children. Limit time spent playing with apps to one hour a day.

Also, look over your device’s settings and restrictions.

“Kids at this age have curious fingers,” Haycraft says. “It’s easy for them to click on risky ads or make in-app purchases.”

AGES 8–13

Kids get more adventurous at this age. But that can open them up to bullying or online predators.

“Kids may need help learning what they should and should not share,” Haycraft says. “Talk with your children about safety and having respect for themselves and others.”

AGES 14–18

Apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, ASKfm and Tinder are very popular with teens. Improper use can lead to privacy threats, harassment or sexual abuse.

“Talk with your teens about their favorite apps,” Haycraft says. “Show them if an app can share their location, photos or other information.”

For more information about app safety, contact the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Family Resource Center at 314.454.2350. You can also download our App Guide at StLouisChildrens.org/AppGuide.

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Expert Advice