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The biggest games and apps right now

Our special report gives you the insider knowledge on what is hot on the internet right now
June 17, 2019

The pace at which the trends change on the internet is mind boggling, so we've produced a list of the most popular games and apps every parent or employer should know about. Let's kick the list off.

Game: Apex Legends

What is it?

It is a game set in the Titanfall universe. The app is free and players depend on their loots or making money through microtransactions to advance to higher levels. An airship drops squads of players in Kings Canyon, the world where Apex Legends are found, and then proceed to loot resources and destroy other squads so as to be victorious. The game allows players to develop their own characters where they can choose any of the eight available characters with unique skills.

What you should know

It is cartoon-based but its tone is more serious compared to other similar games. It emphasises more on gunplay. A splash of blood surrounds a player once he is shot. It is fast-paced and designed to end in 20-30 minutes depending on the available rounds of gunfire. In-game purchases where players can purchase items with real money are available. To keep your child safe when playing the game, disable voice chats. The voice chats allow players to communicate in real time and this can have a major influence on the child’s attitude towards the game. Voice chats can be disabled from the game’s settings. Parental control settings are available such that items cannot be purchased without approval.

Game: Clash of Clans

What is it?

It is a free gaming application available in multiple online sites. It is a battle game composed of multiple players. The game’s objective is to build a village through designing the base with different resources and defensive weapons. Players can decide to join other players through forming a clan for fighting other clans or play as a single player. The monetary resources are gold, elixir, dark elixir and gems which are used to buy buildings, weapons, supplies and troops. The game is free but players can use money to acquire in-game purchases.

What you should know

You can restrict the options of in-game purchases. For iOS, this can be done through disabling restrictions in settings-general-restrictions-disable restrictions. A 4-digit pin must be set for allowing the purchases. For android based systems, disabling in-game purchases is done through menu-settings-require authentication for purchases where a password is set. Other important information is the age restriction of the game is 12 years. The game does not contain extreme violent images. Troops are available in different forms and these includes dragons, goblins, and spells for attacking other opponents. The game however does not have private chat capabilities which means children can chat with any one from the globe.

Streaming: Discord

What is it?

Discord is a chatting platform that allows players to connect and chat with one another using video chats, voice notes, or text messaging. The application does not have live stream capabilities but instead focuses on communication based on groups or invite-only. The application is completely free and can be downloaded from different online sites and app stores.

What you should know

Discord states that the application is meant for teenagers where the minimal age for signing up is 13 years. However, the app does not have a method for verifying the age of new members. The terms and conditions require parental guidance for members below thirteen years. The app also lacks parental control settings. Instead, it is designed to have advanced privacy settings where the owner of the account can customize privacy settings to their desired levels. The settings include controls of people who can send direct messages, the servers to be part of, among others. Discord has safety tools and features which can protect a child from explicit abuse and content. Additional security can be realized through the available two-factor authentication. This requires a user to provide a verification code every time they login. Children can still be targeted by mean comments especially due to bad game plays.

Game: Fortnite

What is it?

It is one of the most popular video games meant for teenagers. The game is designed to allow players to battle other characters in an open environment in order to survive. The characters can be other online players or be controlled by the game. The violent levels are restricted to cartoonish mimics but very young players can be troubled by some scenes or characters. Available game modes are single, cooperative, and standalone multiplayer mode. Standalone is the most popular where more than a hundred players battle in a decreasing arena to be the last one standing.

What you should know

The game is free and can be accessed through multiple devices. The game has scenes that are mildly violent and players are required to be more than 12 years. However, due to its popularity, many younger players are playing it. The game is free to play but players are availed with the options of buying in-game purchases. Fortnite can also be addictive and some reports show it induces rage caused by intense competition. It offers parents with options for safeguarding children. Three private levels, public, friends and private are used to determine the players who can join the child’s party. Parents can also report players with bad behavior.

Game: Minecraft

What is it?

Minecraft is a very popular game that normally engages a player’s creativity. Players are allowed to build using various 3D blocks but it also has other activities such as gathering for resources, combat, crafting, and exploration.

What you should know

The game is restricted to children above the age of 13 years. Under 13 years are required to have parental guidance when playing it. The age restriction does not limit younger children from playing it but it is very appropriate. Players get to explore new landscapes and acquire different materials for developing new infrastructure. Parents should also be aware of the game’s safety concerns before allowing children to play. These include creating the accounts using their email addresses and creating awareness to children in regards to unwanted contact. The game has limited privacy settings. They can only allow control over what a child can see and the players he can interact with. Available game modes are single player and multi-player. Single player is the safest since it does not provide chat functions. A private server can be created for multiplayers where only friends can play together. The chat function permits global chats hence it is necessary to monitor who the child chats with.

Game: Pokemon Go

What is it?

Pokemon Go is a game that features infamous characters of the 90s. The game allows players to use their phone’s GPS and camera to interact with real world scenes. The game makes use of augmented reality to enable players locate pokemon in real life. When playing, players view their current locations in a map that integrates their character and the components of the game.

What you should know

The game does not have a chat function. Players are instead encouraged to interact with other online players in the activities that the game offers. The age limit is restricted at 13 years. Parents for children aged under thirteen years must sign their consents before allowing children to play. The game is free but it contains in-game purchases that can be bought using poke coins bought with real money. Safety concerns parents should be concerned about include accidents caused by players running into items. Also, some reports that muggers use the gaming app to lure potential victims have been made. The game has an immersive nature which might cause children to be more trusting towards strangers. However, the game is considered safe since, for instance, raid battles can only be played between 9 am and 9 pm.

Chat: TikTok

What is it?

TikTok is a social application that allows users to watch, upload or create short videos of between 3 seconds and 60 seconds. The app provides users with full creative control of the videos they create and can decide to include any type of music. Users can also react to other videos through creating their own films as a response or make a video of their response alongside the original video.

What you should know

The application is rated 12+ hence parents should ensure to ascertain that their children have attained that age before using. The permitted content cuts across different types of subject matter requiring closer monitoring from the parents. Also, the app has privacy settings options where users can set their accounts to private, determine members to comment, and control users that can send direct messages. TikTok gives parents the control to determine the children’s screen time by deciding the number of minutes they can spend on the app per day. The feature is protected by a password which is required to add more time. The app’s restricted viewing mode is an additional parental control that can limit the appearance of inappropriate content.

Chat: SnapChat

What is it?

Snapchat is one of the most popular applications for sharing photos and recorded videos. Shared media is visible for just a few moments, and it is deleted once the set timer has expired or when a user clicks away. The application has over 191 million users actively using it every day. Teenagers form the largest userbase. Snapchat's main features include stories which allow users to share media with followers for 24 hours. Live stories enable users to create stories with other users within the same geographic location. Other features include memories, snap maps, streaks, and filters.

What you should know

The age restriction of using Snapchat is 13 years. However, like with other apps, Snapchat lacks a methodology of verifying the age of users during sign up. There are also privacy settings which permit users to determine the friends who can view the shared media. On the downside, Snapchat has often been used for bullying and sexting due to the temporary nature of shared media. The applications can also be used by strangers to lure children into accepting friend invitations. It nevertheless allows location tracking meaning that you can always track the whereabouts of your child.

Streaming: Twitch

What is it?

Twitch is a popular application used for live streaming. By 2017, it already had a steady user base of 15 million individuals every day.

What you should know

Twitch application only allows individuals above 13 years to sign up. It further requires for users aged between 13 and 18 years to be guided by parents when using it and for the parents to consent to the terms and conditions. It lacks a filtered service meaning that users are exposed to all types of contents. There are currently no available tools that parents can use to limit the channels a child can watch nor the time limit for viewing live streams. Parents can, however, implement some measures for protecting their children. These include creating a PIN or a password that can be used to adjust the privacy settings. Such settings include disabling messages sent by strangers. Parents should further be aware of the application's subscription plans. The more money spent on subscription packages, the more animation, and emoji capabilities are unlocked. It is designed to make a user to continuously spend on subscriptions hence the need for monitoring the spending level of their children.

Chat: Yubo

What is it?

Yubo is a social app where users can create unique profiles using videos and photos. They can swipe the profiles created by other users within the same geographic area and if they match, the profile owners can chat.

What you should know

The age limit for using Yubo is 13 years. All users who are under the age of 17 years requires the approval of the parent or guardian during sign up. Also, users aged between 13 and 17 years are provided with their own separate community, which is different from the ones accessible to adults. Similar to other social networking applications, children using Yubo can be targeted by strangers. Parents can use the app's privacy settings to increase safety of their children when using the app. The available privacy preferences include setting the app to communicate with members of a particular gender and hide my city to change the location settings to private. Also, Yubo allows users to remain hidden within a community by disabling the functionality of friends finding you using your mobile number. The distance settings can also be adjusted such that the profile can be seen by friends within a specific radius.

Streaming: Mixer (Microsoft)

What is it?

Mixer is a live streaming application owned by Microsoft and designed for gamers. The application not only allows users to watch other people as they play games, but it also allows them to play alongside. Mixer has co-streaming features which permit users multiple users (four at the maximum) to use the same page for their broadcasts. It is directly integrated into Xbox One and in the Xbox app provided by Windows 10.

What you should know

Controlling the accessibility of Mixer application is a bit difficult since it cannot be removed from Xbox. Whereas it is possible to restrict the streaming and communication ability of a user, it is not possible to stop them from streaming content using the app. The age limit is 13 years and there are parental controls for limiting the type of content a user can stream. There have, however, been claims that restricting streaming based on age is not effective since inappropriate content can still be accessed. All privacy settings and restrictions have to be done through the Xbox console.

Learn how the FamilyHub helps with monitoring internet usage in the household as well as protecting against malware and phishing.

 

54% of smartphone users are happy for their bedroom activity to be monitored by private companies

Yet more than half of smartphone users say their phone has had a virus or behaved strangely
Feb 28, 2019

A survey of smartphone users has revealed a highly lax attitude to monitoring of personal behaviour by third party companies - even in the bedroom. The study of 300 people found that well over half (54%) are happy with smartphone app makers trying to work out what they are up to in the bedroom, despite 52% of those surveyed saying their smartphone has either acted strangely or had a virus at some point.

The findings of the survey, by UK based internet safety and privacy specialists B9 Systems, found that smartphone users are savvy, but have a relaxed attitude towards how much their personal behaviour and information is monitored by the private companies who make the apps we all use every day.

68% of respondents said they know how to check all permissions used by any specific app on their phone and how to turn those permissions off. Meanwhile, 75% believe apps on smartphones are listening to users and then using that information to let companies advertise to them. But when asked ‘Would you be happy to allow apps on your smartphone to listen to you and then use that information to let companies advertise to you?’ only 50% said yes.

When asked if they knew WhatsApp is owned by Facebook 67% answered yes, yet a considerable 45% of those surveyed said they do not trust Facebook with their private data.

Quizzed about which smartphone functionalities they are comfortable with apps having access to a huge 92% said they are fine with apps looking at their calendar, 81% said camera access is fine and 80% are ok with apps knowing their location. About giving root privileges to private companies, a feature which allows app makers to override all permissions granted by the user, a massive 51% still said they are happy with allowing that.

For motion sensors it was 75% who said that is fine, the same figure for third parties knowing who all their contacts are. 74% are comfortable with their phone calls being accessible to private companies and 72% are OK with body sensors on their phone being accessed by companies. Use of speech recognition by third party app makers is acceptable to 74% of smartphone users.

About the amount of apps they have installed on their phones 47% said it was 20 or more, whereas 70% of people say they only actually use 10-15 apps. 68% said they use voice activated commands, apps or searches on their smartphones.

Stuart Spice, founder of B9 Systems, who commissioned the study, commented, “It’s pretty amazing that half of smartphone users say their phone has behaved strangely or had a virus and yet so many are totally relaxed about their devices monitoring their behaviour, even in their bedrooms! It’s important to know which companies have access to your personal information and what information they are gathering about you. A lot of our data is sent off to companies based in countries where it would be virtually impossible to legally recall that information. The line has to be drawn somewhere.”

“Whilst there is great convenience to having supercomputers with amazing features in our pockets, we do need to start redrawing the boundaries a bit. Parents of children who have their own smartphones also need to be aware of how much information third parties, some of them criminal or nefarious, can gather through the devices we all now use so much.”

“Our survey shows that we will allow private companies significant entry into our personal lives, yet many of us clearly do not trust those companies with our data, which is unsurprising considering the amount of data breaches we are constantly hearing about. With the tools B9 Systems provides to internet and smartphone users we help people to take back the control over their digital health and security.”

Learn how the FamilyHub helps with monitoring internet usage in the household as well as protecting against malware and phishing.

 

Survey finds 65% of parents allow kids under 10 to use internet unsupervised

40% of parents say their kids connect to the internet before saying good morning
Feb 7, 2019

A survey of parents on the online activity of their children has found that 65% of mums and dads allow their kids under 10 to use the internet unsupervised. Meanwhile, parents said their biggest concern about their children’s connected lives is too much time spent online, with 40% of parents saying their kids connect to the internet before saying good morning each day.

Tellingly, a considerable number of parents - 76% - would like to know more about what their children do online. A vast majority of parents (90%) say they do monitor what their youngsters get up to online, with the most popular methods of doing this being a check on their kids’ internet browser (30%) and specifically looking at their search history (21%). Only 21% of parents ask their children what they have been doing online, 12% choose to physically observe what their offspring are up to and 5% go as far as reading their children’s private messages.

When they were asked ‘At what age did your children first start using the internet on their own?’ a notable 26% said it was a young as just five, or less. For 39% of parents it was 6-9 years-old and for a more conservative 35% it was aged 10 or older.

Regarding their biggest worries about their children’s connected lives by far the main concern is too much time spent online (31%), followed by viewing adult content (20%), being upset by content (10%), grooming (9%), bullying (8%) and use of their kids’ data by big companies (6%).

The survey of 300 parents around the world was conducted by UK based internet safety and privacy specialists B9 Systems.

B9 also quizzed parents as to how they protect their children online, with the most popular answer being simply talking with their children (27%) about the potential downsides of the online world. A close second was limiting kids’ to specific time online (26%), whilst just 13% of parents said the main control for their kids’ internet safety is through software. Only 9% of parents rely on a family agreement as the main form of control.

Regarding the time their children spend online each day for 32% of parents the answer was less than an hour, whilst 42% said it’s up to three. However 23% of mums and dads said their kids spend between three and six hours using connected devices every day and at the extreme end of the scale 2% of parents say their children spend an average of seven to 10 hours online on a daily basis. 55% of parents say their kids do spend too much time online.

Asked what they believe their children do online the big answers were gaming (42%), watching videos (34%), chatting (11%) and studying (10%).

Stuart Spice, founder of B9 Systems who undertook the study, said, “Many of our findings confirmed what we already suspected, that parents are really concerned about their children spending too much time online and that they would like to know more about what their youngsters are up to. We were surprised though to see how young kids are using the web unsupervised.”

“Checking on their kids’ internet browser and looking at their search history will only tell parents so much. Most savvy children probably know how to hide their activity by adjusting browser settings and clearing search history. Our FamilyHub allows parents to really see how much time their kids are online per device, how much time they are on specific sites and apps and to block connections they deem to be dangerous or concerning.”

Learn how the FamilyHub helps with monitoring internet usage in the household as well as protecting against malware and phishing.

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parenting internet activity safety supervision DIY children survey family survey research cyber monitoring protected

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