It seems like every week, there is another app being developed that parents need to be aware of. I hope to be able to share those with you as I investigate and find out more myself.
Here are a few great articles you should read that outline some of the dangerous apps kids and teenagers are using.
My summary is below of the ones I feel cause the biggest problems…
This is a newer app now available and probably the most dangerous. You can post anonymously, potentially causing cyber-bullying but even worse, it lets anyone (strangers) in the area view your posts. The app uses the device’s GPS signal to let those strangers know that you are close by.
I hate this app. I knew as soon as it was created, it would cause problems. The app lets you send a photo or video to another member and after 10 seconds, it disappears from the receiver’s inbox. Kids and teenagers have a false sense of privacy when it comes to this app. Problem is…nothing is “deleted” in cyberspace. It goes somewhere and if they are sexting or sending inappropriate photos, the legal ramifications can destroy their future.
Even though this app is rated for people 17 and over, the 11-15 year olds are the ones using it the most. Teenagers are moving away from Facebook where their parents can view what they say. Instead, they take to group text messages or messaging services like Kik to hold conversations with their friends. With Kik Messenger, the kids don’t need a phone line. It’s all done over Wifi so anyone on an iPod Touch or iPad can sign up and use it as well. Kids tend to promote their Kik Messenger username on public social media outlets like Vine and Instagram where anyone (including a pedophile) could start chatting with them. Make sure to check your child’s device for this app and if they are using it, monitor the conversations going on.
This app is definitely not for kids or anyone under 18. It’s a video chat app that links you up with complete strangers to talk to one-on-one. Enough said, right? Delete it if you find it on your child’s device and have a serious conversation about the risks in talking to strangers over the internet/mobile device.
This app promotes users to share secrets, gossip or feelings anonymously with the people around them. It shows your location but not your name. It’s an app the kids just don’t need.
I saved the best (worst!) for last. Ask.fm. It can be used through the app or online through their website. It’s a question and answer format that tweens and teens are using more and more. It is being used more and more for cyberbullying. Unfortunately, users can ask questions anonymously which has caused bullying to occur. Content is not monitored. Find out if your child has an “ask.fm” profile or search for them yourself. You may be surprised. If you’re not worried about this app/website, I highly suggest reading this article on 10 frightening facts that all parents should know about Ask.fm: http://www.chicagonow.com/tween-us/2013/10/facts-about-ask-fm-parents/
I know it’s tough to keep up and try and monitor what your kids are doing online and with their devices. You can’t ban them from every app or website out there but you can talk to them about it. Parents need to set boundaries and teach their children what is right and wrong in this ever changing digital world. It’s not going away so educate yourself and your children.