As a parent, I am worried about the increase in dangers to kids on the internet. A couple of decades ago, parents were concerned about where they go at night or kidnappings. Now, the danger areas have moved to the internet. I decided to write this article and share it with my friends (who are parents) with the hope that it will help them in this ever-changing arena.
Facebook is no longer what you need to worry about. Trust me when I say that Facebook is only used by adults; if you see teenager profiles they are not either being used or is just a disguise. Kids are now communicating through a large volume of apps. You may have all heard about Snapchat, where they share private chats that disappear after a few days. Trouble is that there are many more, so I decided to put a list together that you can review and check your kids’ phone. Oh, and if you are one of those that believes that kids should have privacy, wait until you read what these apps do and I’m sure it will convince you to look into it.
Snapchat – app that allows you to send a photo or video from your phone and determine how long the person on the other end can see the image until it self
-destructs. But what you may not know is that many images from Snapchat are posted to revenge porn sites, called “snap porn.” People think their photos will disappear and that is not true. It’s easy to recover a Snap, take a screenshot of it and send it to others — and by others, we mean porn sites. No parent wants to find a photo of their teen daughter or son on an adult website.
SeekingArrangement.com – identifies itself as a “sugar daddy dating app”. The idea behind the it is still evident… bribes for dates. Of course, “dates” is much more than going out to dinner and a movie.
After School – Students can join by scanning their school I.D. or Facebook profile. Once in the app, the user is anonymous. However, this app is used for drama and conflict among users because they all attend the same school. Kids are able to post about anything. This year, a single school had problems with posts that included nude photos, vulgar posts from males talking about fellow female students, and bullying. I talked to a friend of mine that is a teacher and this app is becoming a big problem.
Yik Yak – This is one of the most dangerous. It allows kids to post text-only “Yaks,” or messages of up to 200 letters. The messages have no filter and can be viewed by Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote it, as determined by GPS in the phone. Users are exposed to sexually explicit content, abusive language, and personal attacks so severe that schools are starting to prevent the App on their Wi-Fi. Although the posts have no names, kids start revealing their information as they get more comfortable with other people logged in. This app is a rumor forum and a perfect way for the kinds of bullies who hide behind a screen, hurting others behind anonymity.
Ask.fm – This app allows users to ask a specific person anonymous questions. Users can answer questions and posts them to their page, leaving nothing to the imagination. This is dangerous because it allows anyone to target someone else anonymously. Bullies, predators, and others can send anonymous messages, asking inappropriate things or even simply making hurtful statements
Whisper – This is a meeting App for posting secrets anonymously, just reveling the area you are posting from. You can search for users posting near you within a mile. You are also able to communicate with users who post secrets. One man in Washington was convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl he met on this App just last year.
Audio Manager – an app that has nothing to do with managing your teen’s music files or controlling the volume on his smartphone and everything to do with him hiding things like nude photos from you. It’s one of the top apps for hiding other apps. When you press and hold the Audio Manager app, a lock screen is revealed — behind which users can hide messages, photos, videos, and other apps.
Calculator% – Same as Audio Manager, but this time with a calculator icon posing as something it isn’t.
Vaulty – Vaulty will not only store photos and videos away from parental spying eyes, but it also will snap a photo of anyone who tries to access the “vault” with the wrong password. Parents who find it on their teens’ phones can conclude just one thing: Your kid is hiding things from you.
Burn Note – Like Snapchat, Burn Note is a messaging app that erases messages after a set period of time. Unlike Snapchat, this one is for text messages only, not photos or videos. Burn Note’s display system shows just one word at a time, adding a sense of secrecy to the messages. Again, by promising a complete delete, kids could feel more comfortable revealing more than what they would do otherwise. And again, capturing a screenshot so that the message can be shared and lives forever, may be the app’s Achilles’ heel.
Omegle – Omegle provides users with a chance to converse online with random strangers. Parents need to know that Omegle is an anonymous chat client with which users discuss anything they’d like. This can easily result in conversations that are filled with explicit sexual content, lewd language, and references to drugs, alcohol, and violence. Many users ask for personal data upfront, including location, age, and gender [ASL], something kids might supply (not realizing they don’t have to). Adults wishing to chat anonymously may find use in this app, but kids should be kept far away.”
Tinder – Tinder is a popular app used for finding people and dating that allows users to “rate” profiles and locate hookups via GPS. It is easy for adults and minors to find each other. And the rating system can be used for cyber-bullying; a group of kids can seek another kid and intentionally make his/her rating go down.
Blendr – 300 million users meet new people through GPS location services. You can message, exchange pictures and videos, and rate the “hotness” of other people). Because there are no authentication, sexual predators can contact minors and minors can hook up with adults.
KiK Messenger – KiK is a messaging app that lets people exchange videos, pictures and sketches. Users can also create animated videos. The danger is that the term “sext buddy” has been replaced with “KiK buddy.” Sex researcher Megan Maas, wrote on ForEveryMom.com that kids are using Reddit and other forums to place classified ads for sex by giving out their KiK usernames. KiK does not have parental controls and there is no way of validating users, thus making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with kids.
I hope this list helps you get started. There are many others, but per my research, these are the most popular.