Apps

Kids today have a wide range of access to every kind of application, or “app,” you can imagine. Some are educational and valuable. Some are dangerous. And of course, some are in between. It is vital, as parents, that we know what these questionable apps are and what the lasting implications of their use will be. As a general rule, all kids need to be cautious of who they interact with and be aware that what they share is never private and can remain “in the cloud” forever. This list is a partial sampling of what is popular. Our thanks to Josh Ochs and the kind people at Safe Smart Social for putting this list together. For more detailed information, please visit them at: Safe Smart Social.

MODERATELY SAFE APPS:

FacebookFacebook – Facebook allows users to create a profile about themselves and to connect with other users. There are privacy settings that can aid in keeping exposure to unwanted elements at a minimum. With Facebook Messenger, you can “chat” with friends on your friend list.

Instagram – Instagram is a photo sharing app that allows the user to add filters to their photos. Of course, kids need to be careful with what pictures they share. Instagram does have a reporting feature for inappropriate content.

LInkedInLinkedIn – Although usually more associated with adult professionals networking, LinkedIn is becoming a useful tool for students wishing to establish an online image to impress colleges and future employers.

PinterestPinterest – Pinterest is an app that helps users find and save ideas. It’s a great source of inspiration for students (and adults!). They can use Pinterest to find studying tips, DIYs and more. Still a good app to monitor though, as there is a chat feature.

TwitterTwitter – Twitter allows users to send messages up to 140 characters in length. These messages can be sent out in general or to specific users. Most posts are available to the public although their are privacy settings that can limit who can see your posts.

YouTubeYouTube – If you have a child, you know about YouTube. Users have “channels” where you can upload videos or you can search and watch videos on a variety of topics. There are many helpful and educational videos on YouTube. Of course, other content can be found too.

USE CAUTION APPS

ooVooooVoo – one of the world’s largest video and messaging apps. Parents should be aware that ooVoo is used by predators to contact underage kids. The app can allow users to video chat with up to twelve people at one time.

PeriscopePeriscope –  a location based app. It allows users to watch and broadcast real time videos. It’s easy to find your kids on Periscope if you know their Twitter usernames. Some teens get in trouble using the Periscope app.

SMSSMS text messaging – one of the primary apps that each phone has. All accounts are connected to phone numbers. SMS messenger is relatively safe for students – trackable and least difficult for parents to monitor.

SnapchatSnapchat – a messaging app that allows people to send photos and short videos to each other that disappear seconds after opening them. A major concern with Snapchat is how teens use the app, since parents are not on it and content disappears. This is the #1 app for sexting because there is the false sense of “temporary.” The snaps can be easily screen grabbed and used against the original poster.

tumblrTumblr – one of the world’s most popular blogging platforms. Users tend not to use their real names, so it can be hard to find blogs without knowing a specific username. All accounts are public and content goes unmonitored.

VineVine – owned by Twitter, is a video sharing app. Kids often post videos of their everyday life and blunders. Kids want popularity, so they try to collect more views and revines from friends and strangers.

WhatsAppWhatsApp – a mobile messenger that is similar to SMS. Users can share location and contacts with other users. WhatsApp allows kids to bypass text messaging and communicate with their friends using the app.

DANGEROUS APPS

AfterSchoolAfterSchool – an anonymous app that creates a separate chat group for every school. It has been removed twice from the AppStore because of threats and arrests. Messages often include bullying, pornography, and alcohol or drug references.

AskAsk.fm – a social networking website where people can ask questions, with the option of anonymity. Kids will often ask repeated derogatory questions that target one person. Due to the anonymity of the badgering, it creates a virtually consequence-free form of cyberbullying. Ask.fm has been associated with nine documented cases of suicide in the US and the UK.

Blendr-Logo-Background-PatternBlendr – a flirting app used to meet new people through GPS location services. You can send messages, photos, videos, rate the “hotness” of other users, etc. There are no authentication requirements, making it easier for predators to contact minors.

BurnBookBurnBook – an anonymous app for posting text, photos and audio rumor messages about others. The app compiles messages by school, so the app requires access to your location. It encourages students to screenshot the rumors and save them to their phone, which causes bullying issues.

CalculatorPrivateThe “Private Photo (Calculator%)” app is designed to help students hide photos and videos behind an innocent looking calculator app. This application looks like a calculator but entering a passcode opens a private area.

KikKik – an instant messaging app that allows anyone on the app to contact your child and directly message them. It has been known to allow adults to communicate with preteens, and is very difficult to discern who is a predator and who is real. Some adults have been known to use this app to pretend like they are tweens and teens. Kik allows students to bypass text messaging features of their phone. Users can connect with anyone on the network and aren’t limited to their phone’s contact list. Kik does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users thus making it easier for predators to connect with minors.

OmegleOmegle – an anonymous text and video chat room that connects strangers to talk with each other. The app allows you to share personal information, and also contains inappropriate and unmoderated content.

SecretSecret is an app that allows people to share messages anonymously within their circle of friends, friends of friends, and publicly. Students often hide behind the anonymity when posting, and forget that anonymous does not mean untraceable.

StreetChatStreetChat is a live photo-sharing board designed for middle school, high school and college students. Kids feel more freedom to send mean posts because they do not have to confirm their identity within the app. This leads to students often posting about real people.

WhatsGoodlyWhatsGoodly is an anonymous, location-based, social polling application designed for college students. It has a 17+ age restriction, but younger students can still see polls and vote. There are a lot of questions about dating, relationships, alcohol, and smoking on the app.

WhisperWhisper is an anonymous social network that allows people to express themselves. Whisper reveals a user’s location, which makes it easy for people to arrange to meet up. This also makes it easier for predators to locate and connect with users.

YikYakYik Yak acts like a local bulletin board for your area by showing the most recent posts from other users around you. The app is popular with high school students, and it is often used to harm the self esteem of fellow students.

YouNowYouNow is a popular broadcasting platform where kids watch and stream real-time videos. Users decide whether broadcasters should continue their live videos with thumbs up and thumbs down voting. Anyone can record the videos posted, take screenshots and bully others with the recordings.