Category Archives: Children and the internet


10 Most Dangerous Apps for Children Parents Should Know About

by Rose Cabrera

If you haven’t checked your kid’s phone yet, then it’s probably high-time you do it.
Although there’s nothing wrong with letting your kid use a smart phone, you also need to know how much liberty you should give your child. Too much of anything, particularly at a young age, can be harmful.

In guiding your child, here are the 10 apps you should be checking on his phone:

1. Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the most popular apps today. In fact, even celebrities use it. It’s an app that allows users to send pictures and recordings to their friends and set a time limit on how long these files will last. Unfortunately, with a false sense of security, kids can easily be encouraged to send things they shouldn’t be sharing.

If you see this app on your child’s phone, it’s essential that you re-iterate that what goes on the internet tends to stay there for good. There are apps that can actually capture his images before they get deleted.

2. Whisper

Whisper enables its user to create anonymous confessions through texts superimposed on
images. Although it sounds harmless at first, this app actually allows sharing of geographical location and messaging as well. Sexual predators can use it to lure trusting and innocent kids to meet up with them.

3. YikYak

YikYak is a social media channel that allows you to read posts from people within your area and to comment on them anonymously. These features are what make YikYak popular for cyber bullying. It can encourage kids to post derogatory comments on other kids and not get caught.

4. Vine

Vine allows users to post and share a 6-second clip of anything they want. Unfortunately, this app doesn’t have any strict rules about pornography and violence. Although it has an age requirement, it doesn’t have a solid way of verifying a user’s age. Because or how accessible its videos are, it’s easy for your children to view pornographic and adult contents on their feeds.

Aside from this, the app also enables its users to talk to anyone in and out of their friends list.

Since people can create an account under a false name, you’ll never know who your kid is really talking to.

5. 9Gag

9Gag is commonly used for finding and sharing memes. The risk with this app involves its
images not being strictly moderated. They can involve sexual, explicit and aggressive contents which are the exact things you don’t want your kids to see.

6. Tinder

Tinder is a dating app that has a 17+ rating. It allows users to find and hook up with potential partners within the same area. When a person flags another one, they’ll be able to connect instantly. With this, it’s also possible for a pedophile to create a false account to get in touch with unsuspecting children. Aside from its threat to your kid’s safety, Tinder also creates the impression that good looks are very essential in connecting with other people.

7. Instagram

Instagram is similar to any other social media sites in that it’s also widely used for cyber bullying. Aside from this, the app can also reveal your kid’s location. It even has the option to include his phone number in his profile page.

While these things can seem harmless, the idea that your child can be sharing personal information can mean a big security threat. Although there is an option to set profiles to private, you still won’t know who’s really following your kid’s page.

8. Kik

Kik is a messaging app that allows a user to send pictures, videos and other multimedia contents to another person without leaving a log on his phone. Because of this, Kik is often used by teens to share nudes and provocative messages without their parent’s knowledge. Since it doesn’t leave a log, a lot of sexual predators also use it to lure teenage girls.

9. Blendr

Through Blendr, a user can send private messages, photos and videos to another person within his area. The app doesn’t use any authentication rules to verify a person’s identity or age.

Because of how free people can use the app, it’s commonly used for flirting and hooking up.

10. Ghost apps

These are the apps that are disguised as harmless applications to hide explicit and sensitive files. Most of the time, they look like calculators and calendars but once you open them, you’ll be prompted to key in a password.

For a parent, it’s essential that you create a strong and trusting relationship with your child.

Letting your kid know that he can easily reach out and talk to you can greatly limit the chances of him looking for other people’s attention. It will also help lessen the chances that he’ll hide things from you.

Rose Cabrera writes for To know more about her in-depth security guides and essential home safety tips, you can check out more of her works by visiting the site’s home security blog.


Ute’s tip:

It is fundamental to establish trust with your child and to take time to discuss these topics in detail, ask and answer all kind of questions so that the situation is clearly understood. Parents often tend to become very strict when it comes to security issues which can lead to misunderstandings and failure in making children understand, forcing them to hide things, which, as a result, makes them at a higher risk on getting into trouble.

When you find these apps on your kid’s device, before deleting them you should be very clear in explaining to your child why you need to uninstall them.  They should understand the importance of safety and the dangers of these apps.

Other than deleting and explaining, you should also follow these things:

  • Restrictions by age can be set up in your kid’s device to make sure they’ll only be downloading apps suitable for their age.
  • Monitor the apps on your kid’s smartphone and make sure there aren’t any “hiding app”.
  • If your kid already has a profile on the said dating sites, explain to them why it’s not appropriate and safe for them. Then, ask your child to take down the profile.
  • Disable GPS feature in the device and make sure the camera isn’t turned on.
  • Set limits and teach your kid about responsible use of technology. (from topsecurityreview)



Online news sites for children

When children reach a certain age, parents want them to learn about what happens in the world. Many parents struggle with the way news are presented on TV. In fact, pictures and the way news are presented in the evening news can be quite traumatising. A great alternative are online news sites for children, where children and parents can choose the kind of news they think are appropriate and get more information about some topics in a child friendly way. What I personally like about online news is the choice to either read or watch the news.

Like in many multilingual families, my children like to have access to news in different languages. As I’m far from knowing about online news programms for children in other languages, asked some parents from the Multicultual Kid Blogs group to share news sites they recommend for children and am glad to share this here below.


Rita Rosenback recommends the Danish site Kidsnews. You have to subscribe to the magazine, but the news videos are for free.


The Dutch Jeugdjournaal is a news programm for children that goes live every day at 18:45 and can also be watched online. There is also a Jeugdjournaal app that permits you to access news in a child appropriate format on mobile devices.

English (British):

Amanda van Mulligen suggested the BBC site for news. This site is very interesting not only for news but also for general information about different topics.

Another site that my children like to visit is the First News Site.


Annabelle Humanes recommends the real paper newspaper that has also a news website. This website is, as far as I could see, without videos, therefore children need to be able to read to access the news.

Isabelle Barth points out that in France and in French-speaking countries, there is no News Channel just for children. But they have few channels just for childern an they have news in their programs. These channels are: Gulli, Tivi5mondeplus and canalj.


On the German tivi site, children can watch news and choose the topics they’re interested in.


The Italian site Bambininews offers news for children who already can read. In fact, there are no videos available (so far). Also, some Italian newspapers publish news sites for children, like Il Giorno. The TV channel RaiGulp offers also online access to some series and news, but, as far as I know, there is no video news programm online.


And on the Norwegian site nrksuper children can access the news that are also aired on TV online.


For Portuguese, Annabelle Humanes‘ husband recommends the Folinha de São Paulo, a website or supplement from an adult newspaper. It is Brazilian.


Anna Watt recommends two Russian websites, one for a younger audience and one for 10-16 year olds and older.


The Spanish site educatumundo is an educational site for children, parents and teachers. Under noticias you can find several topics, written for children. These news are not available on video, but maybe there is another site that offers news clips in Spanish?


Rita Rosenback recommends the Swedish site SVT, where children can watch the news.


Of course, these are only a few online news sites for children and I really would like to extend this list. Therefore, I would really be glad if you could recommend any further online news sites for children in the comments section here below (indicating your name and, if you have one, your website). – Thank you very much!

Slowing down during Half Term Break


©expatsincebirth; board games

Last year I did write a post about 10 indoor activities to do with children during this time of the year and last week I published a post on AngloINFO about Things to do in The Hague area during Autumn Holiday. This year we did decide to spend the Autumn Holiday at home. I must confess that I usually don’t plan a lot in advance because I prefer deciding day by day what to do, and I like to have some more quiet days where the children have to figure out what to do with the things we have at home. During the last decluttering, I did find several games my children didn’t touch or play with in months. I gave away some of them, but others were waiting to be played with or to be used. My children did several board games and now I know precisely which ones are “out” and can be given away soon.




©expatsincebirth; Lego

We did visit Lego World in Utrecht and the Museon. After each visit they were inspired and did build a Lego-Museum in our attic and write long texts about what they saw and discovered. Children often like to reconstruct experiences they had (not only during holidays). This can be outings like we had so far or longer travels. My children often do it by building, drawing or writing something about their experience.



I like to watch them writing. And I love to listen to their stories. They often come up with great ideas about what to do next or how to do it different the next time. I really learn a lot from my children. The way they talk about what they see and experience allows me to see the world through their eyes. And in their stories I can read much more than only “the story”. I can understand what kind of things make them upset, what are the things they like (and dislike) and make them happy, where their interests are and what they really don’t care about. – I learn to read in between the lines.


©expatsincebirth; Paco and the deers

Of course we managed to do walks in the surroundings every day – which is a must because this fall is really mild and sunny. We have a lovely Kinderboerderij in our neighbourhood and our dog has some deer-friends he never forgets to greet when we walk past the fence. If they are not close to the fence, he “calls” them and waits until they come closer.

When we don’t travel during holidays, I also want my children to get bored. I want them to learn how to deal with this feeling because I consider it important for them to be able to figure out by themselves what they can do. Usually they come up with very good ideas. During this break, they haven’t been bored (yet) and I’m very glad to see that they take decisions by themselves concerning their activities and how to spend their time. I love listening to their discussions about the pro and cons. My role becomes more and more the one of a spectator – and an admirer.

I did write about summer chores for children earlier and my children use to have them also during shorter breaks. The first days they need a reminder but then they get into the routine of helping in the household. – These breaks are supposed to be breaks also for us parents. In our case, we’re already happy that we don’t have to prepare lunchboxes every morning or that I don’t have to drive the kids to school and after school activities, but I think parents also deserve a “break” from other daily chores. Involving children in the life and work at home is also part of our task as parents. We want them to become independent one day and capable to do all those things we often tend to do for them. – I also do it when they go to school, but only because I consider that during school time it’s more important for them to focus on the school. But when they’re at home, we all have to take our responsibilities like a team.


©expatsincebirth; Wii breakdance

Of course, the electronic devices are part of our lives too. Every day we discuss about how much time we are allowed on the device, doing what, how long? What do we have to do in order to gain some “online time”?  Games, exercices (maths, science and spelling etc.) and Wii sports and dance and stop motion are allowed about 30 mins, but every supplementary time must be earned. How? By making things that need to be done: all kinds of household chores like folding laundry, tidying up and taking care of the dog (etc.) and some extra tasks that come to our minds.

We all do love reading and since my children now all read in different languages, it’s a real pleasure for me – as a declared bibliophile – to watch my children devour books after books in different languages. – And as my time on electronic device has expired (for now), I’ll go back reading my books.

How did you spend your Half Term Break – if you had one – or how do you spend school holidays when you don’t travel?

Some multimedia resources for (my) multilingual and multicultural children…

We all know that the best way to help our children become (and stay!) multilingual is by talking the languages we want them to become proficient in as often as we can and by providing an attractive context (with friends, family etc.).

By acquiring other languages, our children do not only learn about the grammar but also about the cultures, the traditions. I always preferred learning by contexts and this means by reading and talking, by interacting with people. And my children do the same.

But we all know that there are periods where we can’t provide this ideal context of friends and family talking to our children, or total language immersion and need to draw on other tools.

When I was a child, the only tools we had were LPs with music and stories from other countries. It was the pre-satellite era and we didn’t receive TV programms than the national ones and the internet was not even invented… (yes, now I’m feeling old!). – Raising multilingual children nowadays, is incredibly easy compared to this. Our children have easy access to multilingual materials wherever they are.

Personally, I don’t consider watching TV (or DVD’s) a very good way to teach language to our children, but I know, from my own experience, that it can really help to build at least a passive vocabulary. I prefer the internet sites of Radio or TV channels, which offer a really large variety of activities and games that are a much more active way to spend screen time. And by watching some TV programmes via internet, my children can choose the times that fit better in their personal schedules and usually they switch to interactive sites pretty quick. – My children are not allowed to watch TV during the week due to time constraints, hence they really enjoy their screen time in the weekends.

Here are the sites that my children visit when they have time:

For German: KiKa (Kinderkanal/channel for children) offers a considerable amount of valuable shows, games, riddles, and lists of books for children of any age. My children like to watch the “Sendung mit der Maus” (some video and youtube excerpts here ) on Sundays. My girls like the “Sonntagsmärchen” (Sunday tales, mainly Grimms’ tales but also from other cultures) and my son “Willi wills wissen” where all kind of curious questions are answered.

For English: my kids visited regularly the sites of the bbc cbeebies when they were younger, but now they prefer bitesize, or history for kids and the bbc site about culture.

For Dutch: children can watch filmpjes, visit kro kindertijd or kids nickelodeon, sites with games and other fun activities for children.

For Italian: I must admit that my children barely watch Italian TV or visit Italian internet sites. But this is only because they already have so much on their plates. Nevertheless, I can recommend the channel Rai Gulp with programmes for all age groups. What my son prefers watching are hockey games of his favourite Swiss (Italian) team and he reads everything about it.

My children love to listen to music. The fact that they understand everything in so many languages makes them very proud and I think that music as much as poetry helps a lot to learn and improve languages and to learn about the different cultures. But they also love to listen to audio stories. When they were younger, we used to listen to audio stories on our long car rides. For German these were mostly Grimm’s tales , Bibi BlocksbergPumuckl . For English, they liked stories from Barefoot books and for Dutch we have a whole series of audiobooks from Disney called “lees mee“.  Among the Swissgerman stories, they particularly liked Globi, Kasperli.

Bildschirmfoto 2013-10-09 um 12.28.38

©expatsincebirth; Kasperle; Globi

Personally, I think that folktales in general are very good to teach our children about the culture related to the languages they’re learning. They teach about the mentality and the core values. Of course, modern tales which are very country specific, like Nijntje and Mega MIndi in the Netherlands, can be added to the more traditional ones. – But this will be the topic for another post.


I did write this post as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs October Blogging Carnival about using media to raise multicultural children. It is hosted by Olga Mecking on European Mama.

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