Yesterday I wrote an editorial concerning Periscope and copyright lawsuits, there’s a good chance that Twitter (Periscope’s parent company) could face a copyright lawsuit in the future. As bad as copyright laws are there was another factor that disturbed me about Periscope. What is Twitter doing to protect children who are using their Periscope service? As I browsed through Periscope to familiarize myself with what it was I found several broadcasts that were really cool and some that were just weird and some that were raunchy. An eclectic mix you might say.
As I went into the global map to see what else I could find I started finding something that deeply concerned me. Teen and preteen girls broadcasting sometimes from their homes or sometimes out and about. One broadcast was from Sweden where the girls said they were heading to a friends house to surprise her. That’s all fine and dandy but as the girls walked along the camera would flash down on their (covered) breasts and they would blow kisses to the camera for “hearts”.
Other broadcasts I saw had young girls in their homes chatting with viewers, some who would talk about having sex with the girls or asking for them to remove clothing. If a viewer likes what they see or hear they give hearts to the broadcaster and these girls seemed to love to get hearts. As a father of 5 children, four of them girls, that really concerns me. Now you might say that it’s not Twitter or Periscope’s responsibility to watch your kids and there is some truth to that. As a parent it’s important to know what your kids are getting into. But at the same time, having been a kid, you should understand that a parent cannot possibly know 100% of what is going on all the time.
Social media is a wonderful tool when used properly but it can also be a dark place especially for children. Being a preteen or teen is difficult already, services like Periscope are a way for these teens to quickly get what they believe they want, mostly attention. What they don’t realize is that there are sometimes seedy and unsavory people on the other end some of whom would use other means to track down a Periscope user if they were compelled to do so. Signing up for Periscope is easy, all you need is a Twitter account and what preteen or teen doesn’t have one of those?
The use of Periscope should concern parents and parents should seriously talk to their kids about the service and how or if it should even be used. Flat out denying them use of the service is likely not going to work, you need to do your best to explain the dangers and outline the consequences and hope they’ll take the advice. On Twitter’s end, I have reached out with questions concerning Periscope and the use of the service by minors but have not heard back from the company as of yet.
It’s sad to say but I can really see Periscope and other similar apps such as Meerkat and Blab.IM being used by pedophiles and child stalkers. This is one service I highly encourage parents to get interactive with your kids about. While you may not be able to monitor 100% of your children’s activity online, setting appropriate expectations and thoroughly explaining how online interactions can have offline consequences is important.
What do you think of Periscope and minors use of the service? What do you think Twitter’s responsibility is here? Does the responsibility solely rest on parents? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.