Keeping Kids SAFE
Six Apps That Parents Should Know About
By: Ciana Fallon
Teens and tweens are getting more and more internet savvy. The more they learn, the more they begin surpassing their parents in knowledge and information, and this can be dangerous. The world of smartphones is a perfect example. Teens and tweens are in the know about the latest apps being released onto marketplaces, and they can easily find themselves in hot water when they begin using apps that seem innocent but are really dangerous. Here are six apps you should be on the lookout for on your child’s smartphone.
This is one app that is truly scary. The application allows users to chat with strangers based on their Facebook interest. No names are ever used, but the application connects users by perusing their Facebook likes and matching them up with similarly minded individuals. Built on the concept of anonymous e-mail pals from the 1990s, it is hard to keep track of who is talking to whom. In reality, this would be the perfect playground for a predator, so it is best to steer young adults clear of this app entirely.
Yik Yak took the social media world by storm when it was released in 2013. The program allows users to post in 200 characters or less anonymously. In a lot of ways it is like Twitter, but it lets users see all Yik Yaks within a 10-mile radius. The anonymous nature of this app allows bullying to run rampant. The app has been described by critics as the “bathroom stall of the internet”. Even colleges have had issues with the application, and several school districts have moved to ban it.
SnapChat can be a dangerous app for tweens and teens. SnapChat is a phone app available on both Android and iPhone devices, that allows users to send a picture to other users that disappears after 10 seconds. This application creates a false sense of security that may make tweens and teens feel more comfortable engaging in inappropriate behavior. After all, they think the picture disappears. The problem here is that there is nothing stopping the receiver from taking a screenshot of the picture.
Down is an app entirely based around the concept of “hooking up”. The application uses the Facebook contact list of a user and allows them to rate each person. The rating system is simple; you either consider them friends or you are “down”. Down is terminology used by young adults that denotes that they’d like to hook up. Allowing teens and tweens this type of anonymous platform is simply a recipe for disaster.
Whisper is an app that takes its line of thinking from PostSecrets. All users are “anonymous” initially, and they are encouraged to post their personal secrets to the application. While this can be cathartic, especially for an angst-ridden teen, the application does allow users to search for “whispers” close to them. The app uses the phone’s GPS location to pinpoint within a mile of where the phone is. This feature can be disabled, but there is a private message feature in place that allows users to take their “whispers” private and begin chatting with strangers.
Instagram can seem like innocuous fun, and most of the time it is. Instagram, however, has a mapping feature that could put young teens at risk. The mapping feature allows each picture to be placed on a map, and the maps can be surprisingly accurate. If your teen or tween’s pictures are public, anyone can stumble across where they most often post. It isn’t hard to figure out where a user lives, hangs out, or goes to school. To keep this app safe, it is best to keep tabs on your teen’s profile and ensure the mapping feature for pictures is turned off. Keeping the profile private is the easiest way to go about this.