Social apps are all the buzz now. The apps let teens, tweens, and every user regardless of age – text, share pictures and videos, chat and meet people, often under parents’ radars. If you are a parent, you’ll agree that their safety is the top priority.
Facebook, with its mainstream appeal, isn’t the one-stop shop for social networking anymore. Teens and children are radically diversifying, with their activity spread across an array of social apps and websites. Sharing photos on Instagram, posting secrets on Whisper, flirting with people on Tinder or sharing jokes and updates on twitter, tweens and teens like to mix it up between various social apps.
A staggering “95% of teens are online, and increasingly their phones are affording them with always-on, mobile access to the internet — in some cases, serving as their primary point of access,” according to a recent study by the PewResearch Internet Project. Smartphones and social apps that are popular among children make for a dangerous cocktail and it is vital for apparent to safeguards their children from cyberbullying and other online hazards. For these reasons and more, here are seven popular apps that you should be monitoring, as a parent.
The quintessential ‘hookup’ app. Tinder points to its fun interface and claims the social app makes for a great way to connect with new and interesting people around you. It searches for other Tinder users in the area via GPS.
Snap chat is unique among social apps. It allows users to send photos and videos that disappear from view within 10 seconds after they’re received, or so it claims. Snap chat provides a fast and seamless way to take photos, add a caption, and send it to a friend. The sender can determine how long the receiver can view the image and then the image “self-destructs” after the allotted time.
The concern: In being rated 12 +, Snap chat is one among many social apps used for sexting. It gives the user a false sense of security because nothing sent over the internet never really disappears. In enabling them to post pictures, kids are using the app to send racy images as they believe the images can’t be saved. Predators and malicious users have already found out ways to retrieve and capture those images.
This social app is primarily used for video chatting and their own tagline is, “Talk to Strangers”. While using Omegle, identities aren’t exchanged and participants are identified as “You” and “Stranger.”
The concern: Omegle is rife with users searching for the sexual chat. With the chats being anonymous, there is free reign for more explicit posts and video streaming, often with adults online. Sexual predators are known to use this app to find kids and collect their personal information in order to track them down easily in person.
Kik Messenger is one of the popular social apps that allows users to text friends and allow users to exchange videos, pictures and sketches. It has an interface that appeals to teens and kids.
The concern: It is commonly known that teens and tweens use the app for sexting and sending bare selfies with the app. Kik is so mainstream among social apps that the term “sex buddy” is being replaced with “Kik buddy.” Teens use Reddit and other sites to place ads for “Kik buddies” by sharing their Kik usernames. The lack of parental controls and authentication means that sexual predators use the app to interact with minors.
Down makes no bones about its intent. The social app is meant to provide a way of getting “down” or hooking up with nearby strangers. The app used to be called Bang With Friends. Tells you everything you need to know.
The concern: The slogan for the app? “The anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night.” Yep.
Whisper is an anonymous confession app. The 17+ social app’s motto is “Share Secrets, Express Yourself, Meet New People.” Whisper lets users sign up anonymously and also displays the area the user is posting from.
The concern: With users being able to search for others nearby via GPS, plenty of online relationships are formed through the use of the app. Sexual predators are also known to use the app to foster and establish relationships with minors.
The makers of Yik Yak call it “the anonymous social wall for anything and everything.” All users are anonymous and their posts show up as “Yaks” and show up in a live feed for other users, or “Yakkers” in the area, also determined by GPS.
The concern: Users are exposed to and are readily contributing sexually explicit content and derogatory language. Bullying among school kids is commonplace on Yik Yak, much like most social apps.
As a parent, the best approach to protect your children from the inherent dangers of social apps is to talk to them frequently about their social lives. Being an approachable parent with a strong bond and fostering open communication would help in kids, tweens and teens talk about their lives in an open way. A good rule of thumb when it comes to social apps is: “If you wouldn’t share it with your family, don’t share it online.”