Common Teen Apps
I am providing this list only to help you make an informed decision with your child about the various apps out there. Please note: I am not endorsing any of these apps and would encourage you to carefully consider each one before downloading.
*Popular Teen Apps and What You Want to Know:
Instagram – photo and video sharing site that allows users to apply filters to photos and share through social networks. Change default settings to private and disable geo-location which make it easy for predators to map where your child typically hangs out. Encourage child’s friends to do the same as predators can track kids through friends’ photos.
Tumblr – creative microblogging platform for easily posting photos and audio/video. Blogs are grouped according to categories. Potential to be exposed to mature content. Primary accounts are public and anyone can post and send direct messages to other users.
Snapchat – photo-sharing app that vanishes from the friend’s screen after one to 10 seconds depending on the amount of time the sender sets. Exercise caution as recipients can easily take a screenshot of a photo and circulate at will.
Yik Yak – This app is like a college bulletin board in your community without names to identify the commenters, making it ripe for mis-use. The app uses your area code to share comments from others in your geographical area. If other participants like your comment, your comment is “voted up.” If not, the comment is “voted down.” The designers says that Yik Yak is designed for individuals who are over 17 and that it uses geofences to block middle school and high schools.
Kik – a messenger app in which users text and share photos with each other one-on-one or in a group. Set privacy settings and block unknown individuals. Avoid posting usernames on public social networks which can attract unwanted attention from child predators, Internet trolls and cyberbullies.
Twitter – registered users post up to 140-character text messages called tweets. Set up privacy options in account settings to approve or deny follower requests.
Vine – Twitter video app in which users create and share six-second looping videos to their profiles and link the videos to other social networks. Age requirements are 17 and up, but are easily bypassed by younger teens. Exposes teens to sexually explicit content. The app’s geo-locator can enable child predators to track your child.
Ask.fm – Anonymous ask and answer platform. The site is ripe for abuse as users can anonymously harass, bully or post sexually explicit questions on other user’s profiles.
Whisper – A free app for people over 17 years old. Users are anonymous and post whatever they are feeling in the moment and pair that with an image. App allows for users to talk privately, share personal information and exchange photos.
Tinder – A free hook-up or matchmaking/dating app for people over 17 years old. Users look at people’s pictures and anonymously swipe left to like someone, swipe right to pass. If both people like each other, it’s a match.
textPlus – Free texting app that allows anyone to contact other members. Includes community chat rooms with mature content. Reiterate the importance of your kids not talking to anyone they don’t know if they use this app.
*The popularity of apps changes quickly. Watch, listen and learn. Talk to your kids about using social media responsibly. Help them set up privacy settings and reiterate the importance of not sharing private information which can compromise their safety. News stories and TV shows that highlight these issues can be good opportunities to start conversations about online behavior.