Recently, teens have been moving beyond Facebook and Instagram to social networking apps that their parents probably have never heard of. Here are a few of the dangerous apps for preteens that every parent should be aware of.
Tinder: This is a dating app that is notorious for being used by preteens and teens to speed up the dating process and quickly find hookups. The users post pictures of themselves and where they are located, to within a mile. Other users can see pictures of users located within a specified distance. Users remain anonymous until they are ‘liked’ by another user. The fact that the identity of users is not validated and that your child can give out her location makes this app very dangerous. For safety reasons, consider blocking this app.
SnapChat: This app promises that videos or pictures sent will disappear after 10 seconds. However, this is not exactly the case. As with anything in cyberspace, a copy of the data is stored someplace and could be recovered. In addition, this app is sometimes used for ‘sexting’. Strongly consider blocking this app.
Ask.fm This social networking app has an age limit of 13+ and allows teens to ask questions anonymously. This anonymity may make teens feel like they can cyberbully someone else without getting caught. In addition, the content of what is posted could be inappropriate and vulgar. Parents should carefully take a look at this app for themselves before allowing their teens to use it. There have been some cases in the US and UK of teens driven to suicide by the cyberbullying on this app.
Kik Messenger: This app allows the user to instant message, send pics, and share videos. The problem is that many are using it for ‘sexting’ and sending nude photos. There is a strong risk of it being used by sexual predators to contact kids. Add this one to the list of apps to block.
Street Chat Although this app is meant for older teens and college age young adults, almost anyone can download it. It provides a list of nearby schools for the user to pick from. Once a school is selected, the user can see the news feed for that school and chat anonymously with the other users on the news feed, who supposedly also attend the school. Users can private message each other, making it very possible that an adult could pose as a student and have direct contact with your child. Also, this app can easily be used for cyberbullying classmates.
Yik Yak If you find this app on your child’s phone, you should remove it immediately. It is an anonymous messaging app that allows users to post messages that will be seen by others within a specified geographic radius. The company that created the app intended it for young adults over age 17, but this has not stopped younger teens from downloading it. Due to the complaints about the app being used for cyberbullying in schools, the creators of Yik Yak have blocked its use near middle schools and high schools. The content can be vulgar and there even have been instances where students have used it to post threats of violence.