In 2013, more than 75 percent of teens carry cell phones and almost half of those teens are using a smartphone, according to a Pew Internet survey. With technology becoming a mainstay of our society, more teens are turning to their devices for communication. FaceTime gives teens the ability to speak to one another in real time via videoconferencing. It might seem harmless on the surface, but parents should consider should consider several potentially harmful factors.
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Catfishing is a term used to describe the act of creating a fictitious profile online. The person using catfishing techniques creates a profile online that does not accurately reflect him. He will give the fictitious character qualities that he thinks the person he is searching for will want to communicate with. The person might ask teens to send sexual content via FaceTime. Most teens say they would not meet a person they did not know, but a 2013 study posted in the "Journal of Pediatrics" determined that 30 percent of study participants admitted to meeting a stranger in person after meeting them online.
FaceTime can also be used as a tool for bullies. Cyberbullying is a term used to describe bullying that takes place over the Internet or mobile communication, including FaceTime. Real time FaceTime chats might seem secure because none of the data is posted online or saved, but the other person participating in the video can take screenshots at any point during the conversation. These photos can be used later for nefarious purposes. Personal information gathered during these chats can also be used to hurt the teen.
The National Campaign and Cosmo Girl teamed up in 2008 to perform a study on sex and technology. The study found that 20 percent of teens had sent nude or semi-nude videos or photos of themselves to others or posted them online. The majority, 71 percent, of respondents who had sent sexually suggestive material did so to a boyfriend or girlfriend. However, 15 percent had sent these videos or photos to someone they had never met in person and only knew through online communications. FaceTime gives a teen the ability not only to send sexual videos, but also allows her to receive them.
Social Skills and Distraction
Stanford researchers found that young teen girls who used a variety of devices for communication, online video chatting and watched videos online were least likely to develop normal and healthy social habits. Face-to-face communication is vital as teens need to look each other in the eye and be able to reach out and touch the person, not just look at them on a device screen. Even when face-to-face, some teens find their smartphones or devices distracting. A FaceTime chat session can interrupt real-world interactions and diminish quality time spent with others.
How to Disable FaceTime
A parent can disable FaceTime on her teen's phone by enabling phone restrictions. To disable Facetime, go to the settings screen on the iPhone. Next, select "general" and click "enable restrictions." Pick a four-digit PIN that the teen will not be able to easily guess. You will be asked to enter it twice. Finally you will be able to select any apps that you wish to be disabled. Find the FaceTime app on the list and move it to off. The FaceTime button will now disappear from the phone and can only be turned back on with the correct PIN.