People like to utter a common phrase shortly after they purchase their first smart phone: “How in the world did I live before this?!”
Easy. Like everybody else. Doing normal person things and just going about your life.
And I’m not innocent. I’m sure I’ve said those words before too at some point.
But now it’s too late. We’re all zapped in. Even the most traditional mobile phone users have a smart phone at this point. And we all use them. All the time.
But I can safely say I make a concerted effort to limit my phone use. Whenever I bring my phone out for the day, my battery usually lasts because I’m not tweeting, I’m not on Facebook, I’m not playing Words With Friends. I use it to text and call, and that’s it.
I also have very few apps on my phone. And I like to keep it that way. Most are practical ones, like a train schedule app, Yelp, Nike running, a Kindle app, and of course — Tinder, a.k.a., my mobile oxygen. Without it, life simply isn’t worth it.
And I certainly don’t use all these fancy new messenger apps that exist now. I don’t know — maybe I’m just too old for them. But there’s WhatsApp, Skype, Snapchat, Viber, YoPanda.
That last one isn’t even real. I made it up. But who the hell would even know at this point?
But now there’s a new messenger app that has come under scrutiny, and may finally help parents realize the dangers that lurk when they give their kids free rein to use these mobile apps — Kik.
Pronounced like the word ‘kick,’ this app is unique because of its anonymity. Users invent their own handles and can chat with anybody else freely. That format is what makes it popular, but has also brought about some controversy — child exploitation. Since the app is popular among 13- to 18-year-olds, what’s to stop a sexual predator from logging on and masquerading as somebody else?
This possibility became a reality in the most tragic way possible this week, when a 13-year-old girl in Virginia was found dead, suspected to have been murdered by a man five years her senior who she met using Kik.
The man, a student at Virginia Tech University, is charged with first-degree murder, and another female student was charged with aiding the crime.
The company has gone on the defensive, saying that this is not their specific problem but an industry problem, while adding that information they provided to police actually helped solve the crime.
Remember when parents used to be super protective over what their kids watched on TV, and what they viewed on their desktop computer? Well, maybe some parents can learn a thing or two from this regarding their children’s use of their cell phones.
Honestly, what do 13-year-old even need smart phones for? They’re too young. Let them actually enjoy their childhood. Let them ride bikes to the schoolyard to meet up with their friends rather than making plans through a screen.
I didn’t even own a cell phone until I was about 16, and I had the best damn childhood ever.
You know what our messenger app was?
It’s an outdated practice, I know, but I sure do miss it.