NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Like many young people, Nala Johnson is constantly on her phone. It’s part of how she keeps up with pop culture.

“A lot of songs get popular on TikTok too, like so many songs got a start or fame on TikTok,” Johnson said. But the 18-year-old freshman says she’s aware of the risks and takes it seriously.

“As you get older, I know with me, you learn about digital footprint and stuff like that. You know people looking up your name and things like that.”

It’s something that Senior VP of Privacy Initiatives Dona Fraser at the BBB monitors too. “We looked at over 50,000 popular apps.” Their study showed that apps directed at teens are more likely to contain things like in-app purchases or downloaded add-ons which increase safety risks.

Andrew Zirschky is a Research Professor, “There’s two aspects to that. One is the data privacy aspect, and then one is the aspect of who teens are talking to.”

He encourages parents to start introducing them to the platforms by giving them exposure, but to monitor it. Also, share with them the do’s and don’ts and how to spot a scammer.

“When we get a phishing email for example, or a false offer or a sketchy message on Facebook, instead of just actually deleting those, I kind of just actually a few times over the years said, ‘hey, what do you think of this? Do you think this is legitimate? Is this real?’ And helping him see that there are a variety of bad actors out there on the internet who, are trying trick you in a variety of ways,” Zirschky says.

As for Nala, she has no intentions to stop scrolling through her phone, but she’ll do so keeping her safety and security in mind.

“I feel like, the older you get, the more you are aware and cautious of what you’re putting out and what you’re looking at,” Johnson says.

In addition to talking about security, also be sure to tell your teen that it’s okay to put the phone down for a little bit.  Experts say that everyone could use a reminder that there’s more to this world than just scrolling through their phones.

As for Zirschky, he recommends the following apps that he says are helpful to filter and monitor social media: Bark, Qustodio, Covenant Eys, and OpenDNS.

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