If you’re a parent, you will no doubt be aware of the dangers of giving your child unfettered access to the web. Whether it’s adult entertainment, gore, or gambling, there’s a near-endless number of sites that your children shouldn’t see.
Worryingly, even content that appears innocent can still be a minefield. For example, the YouTube Kids app has been criticized for letting unsuitable content leak through its filters. Meanwhile, popular kids streaming apps have been hijacked by pedophile rings and groomers.
Suddenly feeling apprehensive and very eager to find a list of inappropriate websites to block in 2022? Let’s examine some seemingly-innocent websites that parents should block right now.
Whisper’s tagline is “Share, Express, Meet,” which should immediately set alarm bells ringing in the context of children. After all, there’s only so much you can control when it comes to what other people share online, no matter how well you teach your children to use the internet safely.
The Whisper app itself is an anonymous chat service. Like so many similar apps, it allows sexually explicit content. Indeed, one of the main articles on Whisper’s homepage at the time of writing is titled “Dressed For Sex: 16 Confessions From People Who Got Laid In Costume On Halloween.” It says all you need to know.
Worryingly, the app is available on both Android and iOS and can be used without an account. That means that, even though kids are barred from using the app according to the T&Cs, many can log on regardless.
Yes, we know online dating sucks for both men and women, but if you really want to give it a try, Tinder should be your first stop. For minors, however, Tinder is dangerous and a wholly inappropriate site.
To sign up for Tinder, you only need a Facebook or Google account or a phone number. Technically, the app banned under-18s in mid-2016, but it’s notoriously easy to create a fake date of birth on Facebook.
Additionally, MSpy’s report on Tinder’s dangers states that 54 percent of online users faced serious disrespect, while 28 percent actually felt unsafe. These users were adults, so how would a child be able to handle bad situations like these or even realize when they’re in danger?
Of course, this opens up issues such as grooming and pedophilia. As a parent, you need to be alert to the possibility that your child could be a target. Remember to instill “stranger danger” into your child at a young age. Using Tinder as a youth also opens a can of worms about image and self-worth. It’s easy for your early teen to fall into an unhealthy obsession with appearance.
Ultimately, you need to put Tinder on your block list to protect your child both physically and mentally.
Ask.fm is a question-and-answer site that’s widely used among the 13-to-17 demographic. On the face of it, the site appears harmless: ask a question, get an answer. Simple.
However, there are some critical reasons to keep your kids off the Ask.fm site. When we investigated, we discovered it was littered with sexual requests, innuendos, cyberbullying, and other inappropriate content for minors.
And in case you don’t think your child is susceptible to the above issues, consider these facts:
In case you’re not aware, Omegle is a video chat website. You do not need to register to use the service. It works by randomly pairing strangers together for a chat, though you can express some preferences such as interests and desired gender.
Omegle does offer a “monitored” video chat. In the monitored version of the site, mods are looking for sexual behavior and other inappropriate content. However, an unmonitored version still exists, and minors do use it.
No registration, lax moderation, anonymity, and video chat: it’s clearly a recipe for problems and should go on the blocked websites list.
Chatroulette works on the same principle as Omegle. It’s a video chat site that pairs random people together for conversations. When you go to the homepage, you can choose whether to participate in filtered or unfiltered chat. There are no age verification checks.
If anything, the site’s reputation is even worse than Omegle’s—overlooking it would be like unblocking a porn site. American psychiatrist, Keith Ablow, said in a Fox News report:
“Parents should keep all their children off the site because it’s much too dangerous for children. It’s a predator’s paradise. This is one of the worst faces of the internet that I’ve seen. It’s disconnecting human relationships rather than connecting them.”
There are a few other worrisome facts about the service you need to be aware of. Firstly, female users still tend to be fewer and younger than males. There is an age restriction for under-18s, but no verification, which means that Chatroulette also remains an attractive destination for predators.
In fact, Common Sense Media’s review of the platform found that Chatroulette is one of the most inappropriate website in the world aside from actual porn, containing way too much sex, nudity, explicit requests, and minimal safety measures.
As part of the site’s attempts to clean up its image, it introduced random screenshots. In practice, that means your child’s video feed could be snapped without their knowledge or consent and looked at by a complete stranger—even if they’re doing nothing wrong.
4Chan is an image-based bulletin board that often draws comparisons with Reddit. But while Reddit isn’t exactly a haven of safe, moderated content, it’s nowhere near as bad as its older cousin. It’s one of the most inappropriate sites for kids and tweens on the web.
Despite its popularity, often due to cases like Creepy Chan’s rise to model status, the site’s rap sheet is worryingly long. It’s endured headline-grabbing scandals as diverse as racism, child pornography, celebrity nude photo leaks, murders and killing sprees, and the Gamergate controversy.
Parents wondering, “What websites should I block for my child?”, must make a note of 4Chan. It’s not a crowd for your child to associate with but an 18+ website to block.
Kik is an anonymous instant messenger app. Again, anything regarding anonymity and kids online is a potential trouble spot, but Kik’s adult-orientated tools make Kik more dangerous than most other chat apps.
For example, you can search for anonymous chat partners by selecting up to five compatible interests from Kik’s list, many of which intentionally allude to sexual behavior. Perhaps worse, anyone can message you. Users can spam messages to multiple guessed usernames in the hope they exist.
The anonymity and freedom to chat with strangers are some reasons why teenagers love Kik, but it’s no less a predators’ paradise than the other must-block websites on this list.
Learn More About Parental Controls for Websites to Block for Kids
The sites and apps we’ve listed might not be caught by regular parental controls. At face value, they are not necessarily problematic. The issues arise either because of the way the sites handle users who are minors or the way in which other people use the site.
It just serves to reinforce the importance of being vigilant about the way your kids are using the web; you need to know which apps they are using and how they work. Without that slightly deeper knowledge, you might encounter issues.