March 10, 2015
Teens today can’t go a day without using their personal devices. Meanwhile, children as young as eight or nine years of age are asking for their first phone. As parents, we often find it difficult to keep track of these innovations and the manner in which they’re affecting the lives of our children.
As useful as smartphones may be, certain dangers lurk behind the seemingly-innocent features of some apps. Knowing a bit more about the potentially dangerous apps and the risks associated with these can help you keep your child safe.
Nearly 77% of the teens aged 12 to 17 own a smartphone, a report called Generation Smartphone: A Guide for Parents of Tweens and Teens suggests. According to the report, 63% of teens say that they use instant messaging and chat apps on a daily basis. What’s even more alarming, almost 28% of teens say that they’ve sent inappropriate pictures of themselves to someone via their smartphone.
Do you have any idea about what’s on your teen’s mobile phone? On the Internet, you can find many articles listing the best kids’ apps. We felt a list of the most questionable apps can be just as useful, if not more so. Ready to get acquainted with those? Here’s our list of 10 apps that should not be in kids’ mobile phones.
The dating app has gained a lot of fame because it gives users access to dozens of profiles. The app uses GPS location to suggest matches living nearby. Recent statistics show that more than 450 million Tinder profiles exist already.
Tinder also features a rating system, enabling members to give a grade to the profiles of others. This functionality, though it may boost self-confidence for some people, could also become associated with cyber-bullying.
Tinder installed on kids’ mobile phones also makes it easy for adults to get in touch with these young individuals. The GPS location poses certain risks, especially if a sexual predator uses this data for the wrong reasons. Though Tinder can spice up the dating life of adults, it certainly doesn’t rank among the safest and the best kids’ apps.
Snapchat enables members to send photos and videos to other Snapchat users. The individual that sends the photo determines a time period during which the image is available. After that, the image will “self-destruct.”
Kids have fallen in love with Snapchat because they can capture almost everything from silly faces to delicious food picks. The problem is that some may use Snapchat for sexting – taking nude or provocative photos and sending those to others.
Something kids may not be aware of is that even though the images will self-destruct, there are many ways a phone user can still keep them. There are numerous options for the restoration of Snapchat pictures and videos. The data can easily be transferred from the app to a computer, thus giving the receiver possibilities to recover the images.
The anonymous community enables its members to share posts and status updates without revealing their identity. It also has a chat feature, allowing members to communicate with each other.
Many kids enjoy the anonymity of Whisper, which encourages them to share secrets and sensitive information with strangers. Ill-intentioned adults can use the app to access information that will potentially compromise the safety of a teen. Revealing too much may also become a reason for cyber-bullying.
Whisper on kids’ mobile phones could potentially give them access to pornographic content and indecent posts by others. A lot of the content focuses on sex and drug abuse, which may have a detrimental impact on a tween or a teen’s development.
Finally, many people share information about tragic events and depression. There are stories of abuse and domestic violence. This certainly is the type of content that you don’t want a child to be exposed to.
Yik Yak is another anonymous, smartphone-based community. The comments posted by YikYak users are shared with the 500 people living nearby (based on GPS localization, once again).
Fox News recently published a report written by psychiatrist Keith Ablow. According to Dr. Ablow, YikYak is the most dangerous app that has ever come in existence. Classmates can easily become members of a virtual community, sharing mean comments and malicious remarks about each other. Cyber-bullying becomes an easy, convenient and readily available option.
The anonymity of YikYak is also associated with the risks stemming from the use of Whisper. This is why it can never be included in our list of best kids’ apps.
The app has very different nature from everything else included in the list so far and it poses a completely different set of dangers. Poof is an app created for the sole purpose of hiding other apps on a smartphone. A kid can use Poof to hide Snapchat or Whisper, preventing parents from ever learning about their installation on the phone.
Seeing the Poof app on your child’s phone should be an instant red flag, as it indicates that your kid may be trying to hide something. We recommend you sit down with your child to talk about it in a friendly manner. While this is certainly a concern, appearing overly-concerned and demanding will never do the trick.
We recommend you sit down with your child to talk about it in a friendly manner. Appearing overly-concerned and demanding will never do the trick.
Just like some of the other apps in this list, ChatRoulette and Omegle make it very easy for teens to communicate with random strangers.
When installed on kids’ mobile phones, these apps will enable video chat with other users. There are no filters in terms of what could be revealed during the session. Many ChatRoulette users will pose nude in front of the camera and the random nature of the app will give your child no control over the communication.
Many ChatRoulette and Omegle members are simply looking for cyber-sex partners. These sites may expose users to nudity and pornography.
ChatRoulette conversations can be recorded. Anything that your teenager does or says may come back to haunt them in the future. This record can be posted elsewhere and popularized easily through social media. Numerous children have become the victims of cyber-bullying because of the mere existence of apps like ChatRoulette and Omegle.
Blendr is a hookup app that is also based on GPS localization. Just like other similar apps, it’s main premise is anonymity. Blendr enables just about anyone to communicate with another user of the app. This is one of the main reasons why the app is quite often utilized for sexting.
Another danger stems from the fact that the GPS localization enables the users to communicate with other Blendr members located nearby. Having strangers aware of your child’s physical location is certainly far from safe.
A popular network that is mostly used by teens, Ask.fm allows members to ask each other questions. There are no restrictions in terms of topic or language used. Ask.fm is also commonly associated with cyber-bullying.
There are no editorial guidelines and none of the content gets reviewed before it is published. As a result, the amount of Ask.fm abuse has been growing rapidly.
Ask.fm doesn’t enable its members to protect their privacy in any way. There are opportunities for blocking other users of the app. The blocked users, however, can still access and view content.
The app enables the creation of short videos but many of these may have pornographic nature. According to the official terms and conditions, Vine has a 17+ restriction. It’s very easy for teenagers, however, to get over the limitation.
Apart from being exposed to inappropriate content, teens and tweens also have the chance to upload indecent videos. Getting such content deleted from the web together is an impossible task.
This is yet another free texting alternative, enabling communication via text messages and images. This app can make it easy for your child to talk to strangers.
Kik is supposed to come with an age restriction but taking a single look at its app store page reveals a completely different truth. Many of the reviews (which sound like profiles in a hookup website) are written by individuals under the age of 13.
Having knowledge about these apps and informing a teenager about the risks is the best way to protect your teenager. These children are at a vulnerable age. Their rebelliousness and confusion could stimulate them to communicate with stranger and engage in dangerous activities like sexting. Being open with your child and doing a bit of smartphone activity monitoring is the best strategy to adopt.