6 apps every parent should know about; key dangers to teens
Social media and technology have up sides, but they also can contribute to bullying and dangerous activities. Do you know what apps your teen is using? We’ve created a list of the top six apps to look out for.
KIK is an instant-messaging system that allows users to connect with friends, groups and the world through chat. It is similar to iMessage in that it gives teens the opportunity to chat with friends, but unlike those messaging systems, KIK users must create a username. This can make it easy to create a false identity and open the doors for bullying and negative/unhealthy behaviors.
Snapchat is a popular app that allows users to send videos and pictures that disappear after 1 to 10 seconds, as well as message friends and create a “story” that disappears after 24 hours. With recent changes in Snapchat’s features, moments can be saved and reloaded, and photos from a photo album can be added despite being “old news.” Therefore, users must be conscious that their image could be pulled from outside the vanishing space.
Whisper is an anonymous messaging app that can be downloaded or used from the website. Unlike other messaging apps, Whisper allows image uploads with the text overlay. Users can respond to the message publicly or privately. There is no public identity released in the app. Whisper does ban any signs of cyberbullying and filters posts that appear to be from high-schoolers, but there are ways it can be used among youth.
Tinder is free location-based social search service app that uses your Facebook login to facilitate communication between mutually interested users by swiping right. These mutual users, called matches, can then speak to one another in a private chat through the application. Tinder recommends to “Step away from your phone, get out and experience something new in the real world.” You now must be 17 years old to download this app, which has changed from age 13 since it first hit the market in 2013.
Ask.fm is an anonymous question-and-answer platform website and mobile app. It allows users to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s platform. Ask.fm has gotten a bad reputation for opening doors to cyberbullying. This is one to beware of, despite its decline in use over the years.
Things to teach your teen about using social media and apps:
- Only use these social platforms with a parent’s permission.
- Do not disclose identifiable information, including address, city, phone number, name, school, etc.
- Remind your teen it is important not to post app-specific usernames on other social networks.
- Encourage your teen to make a unique username and only accept requests from their friends.
- Block people who are bullying or post negative, lewd or offensive content.
- Edit all privacy settings to allow only messages, questions and your teen’s profile to be received and viewed by friends.
Tips for parents:
- Monitor your teen’s social media and app use daily.
- Make sure your teen has only one password. Know what it is and keep it in a safe place.
- Set rules for screen time usage and when technology needs to be turned off.