Digital Parent App Alert
Is it “Up” or “Down” Periscope?
What is Periscope?
Periscope is a new social networking app which allows “livestreaming” through a Twitter account. In other words, instead of merely posting words or pictures for followers to view, users can broadcast themselves live over the internet using their phone’s camera and microphone.
Periscope launched two months ago and was downloaded by a million users in its first 10 days of existence. It is available for iPhone and Android and is free. There are other “livestreaming” apps in competition—most notably, Meerkat, Hang w/ and Stringwire.
What can it do?
Livesteaming apps such as Periscope allow users and their surroundings to be broadcast in real time across the internet. Recently journalists used Periscope to capture events such as the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore as they unfolded. Viewers can post textual comments and even interact with the “livestreamer” as they broadcast. Celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon have taken to using Periscope to allow fans to virtually hang out with him off camera.
Issues for Parents to Consider?
There are numerous issues parents should consider before allowing their children to download and use Periscope.
• Potential Exposure to Inappropriate Images: As Periscope streams events live and takes them to virtually any dark corner of the world, there’s no way for anyone to know what’s going to happen next. Sexually explicit or violent material, endless strong language, and drinking and drug use may all occur before your child’s eyes in real time.
• Lack of accountability: There’s no “report” feature on the app, which could make it an additional tool for bullies. It is not like YouTube where a complaint may result in a video being removed. Periscope offers no guarantees or protections for what your child may witness through the app or even what may be directed AT him/her.
• Privacy and Safety Concerns: Livestreaming allows for the broadcasting of images of people in without their permission or knowledge. The app, by its very nature, is invasive, allowing users to broadcast their lives to outsiders — as well as broadcasting anyone who happens to be captured in the live stream. All comments also are viewable by anyone watching the video. If users input a location, that location is shared with the video potentially making your child a target for predators in the area.
If your child has downloaded or asks permission to download Periscope, discuss these issues. Why does your child want the app and hope does he/she plan on using it? Will your son or daughter be watching others? Will they be broadcasting themselves? Don’t forget that anything broadcast can potentially be captured by viewers and will be forever part of his/her digital footprint.
My Humble Opinion
I have to say “down” periscope for any users under 18. I don’t believe the risk of exposure to the darkest sides of the internet is worth immediate access to the events of our world. Instead encourage your student to turn the device off and engage with you, family members or friends in person.