Keep the following in mind when inspecting your child’s phone in regards to app usage:
Whisper: An app that makes it easy to “post secrets” anonymously, Whisper also allows you to chat with other users in your region.
The Dangers: Many children and teenagers enjoy spilling their secrets to total strangers rather than their friends or parents, making this app the ideal tool for ill-intentioned people to connect with youngsters. The app is also dangerous because it allows users to talk with people in geographical proximity, thus eradicating the ‘anonymous’ factor.
YikYak: All YikYak users are anonymous, meaning there’s no profiles or accounts. However, users can post comments accessible to some 500 people within a few miles of them, including mean, false, and character-assassinating comments.
The Dangers: This app is causing problems in schools all over the United States, with students writing horrible things about teachers, staff, and classmates. Numerous schools have banned smartphones due to YikYak.
Kik: Similar to WhatsApp and TextNow, Kik is a free, app-based texting service that sends texts and images that do not show up in a phone’s log history.
The Dangers: Because Kik bypasses wireless providers’ short message services (SMS), it’s very easy for strangers to converse with your children. It’s also easy for kids to “sext” without your knowledge, and makes it possible for strangers to friend-request them.
Snapchat: Users capture videos and images and send them to recipients. The videos and images are only available for designated amount of time before they supposedly “disappear forever.”
The Dangers: Snapchat makes sending and receiving sexually-explicit images a proverbial breeze, and gives kids the false sense of security that whatever they send will eventually vanish. Nothing on the internet actually disappears, and it’s always possible to retrieve the photos and videos.
Vine: This option allows users to watch and post really short videos–six-second videos, to be exact.
The Dangers: Yes, many of Vine’s videos are kid-friendly, however pornographic videos still appear in the feed. The app also makes searching for porn very easy, and predators use it to connect with teens and learn their location.
ChatRoulette and Omegle: Both of these apps make it possible to video chat with total strangers.
The Dangers: Chatting with strangers is of course a huge danger, but these apps also result in chats with fake strangers! For example, a 50-year-old man could set up a fake webcam and say he’s a 15-year-old boy in order to lure girls into sending images or information about their locations.
Tinder: A dating app, users post images of themselves and scroll through pictures of other users. When they find someone of interest they “flag” the photo, and if the person “flags” back they may contact the person.
The Dangers: As with Down, Pure, and similar apps, Tinder is mainly used as a hook-up service.
Poof: It hides other apps on a smartphone so only select icons appear.
The Dangers: It’s recommended to ask children what apps they are hiding if you see Poof on their phones.
Ask.fm: This social media site gives users the chance to ask questions without giving their names.
The Dangers: A platform for bullying among teens, nine teenage suicides in the past year have been linked to Ask.fm. Jessica Laney hung herself following vicious bullying through this site, according to her parents. She was asked questions such as “Can you kill yourself already?”
Twitch: An application for online gamers to discover new games of any genre, explore some of the best players’ strategies and view gaming events and live shows.
The Dangers: A lot of online games include inappropriate and dangerous subject matter that kids should not be exposed to, such as guns. In addition, youngins’ these days are on their phones too often, and an app that includes so many games will only endorse that behavior.
Venmo: Venmo users create an account and/or link their bank accounts to the app to send payments immediately to other users.
The Dangers: Making your bank account or debit card information so readily available on the Internet puts you at risk for others getting ahold of it. Also, sending money via cyberspace isn’t smart and teaches kids to trust that everything put online will remain private.
Tumblr: A blogging service that allows users to post whatever they want from their own personal thoughts to GIFs and videos.
The Dangers: Users can post whatever they want, which leads to the viewing of inappropriate material, such as pictures depicting nudity. Since the website allows for such freedom, kids can also post information that they don’t realize will never be fully erased from the Internet.
Periscope: An app that allows users to post live video that others can comment on, “like,” or replay.
The Dangers: Kids with the application can stumble upon other users’ profiles that may contain inappropriate content. Due to the option for others to replay a video, it can be used as a tool for bullying.
Meerkat: Like Periscope, it streams live video content, but it encourages interaction between users.
The Dangers: Kids can converse with complete strangers, which is dangerous in general, especially if the conversations lead to personal information. In addition, there is an “anonymous” feature, so kids don’t always know everybody that is viewing their videos.
WhatsApp: This is an application that allows you to converse and text other users without having to pay for SMS. This is especially useful to get in touch with somebody that is out of the country.
The Dangers: When users send each other pictures, they are immediately saved to each others’ phones, which kids may not understand if they send something that they didn’t want to be saved forever. In addition, users can be added to group chats with strangers, which is never safe.
For more information: www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/15-apps-and-websites-kids-are-heading-to-after-facebook