Part of our Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe Online series, here are 11 apps and sites to be aware of as a parent:
The Snapchat App allows users to send photos that will disappear after 10 seconds. Once the recipient opens the picture, the timer starts. Then it’s gone. From both the sender’s phone and the recipient’s phone. However, the recipient can take a screen shot of the photo and have it to share with others. It’s a myth that Snapchats go away forever. Data is data: Whenever an image is sent, it never truly goes away. Snapchats can be recovered.
Mykidstime asked Greg Fry, parent and social media practitioner, to create a series of videos giving Practical Internet Safety advice for Parents. Here Greg explains what Snapchat is all about in the first of our series Snapchat Guide for Parents.
Here’s our Parent’s guide to Snapchat
#2. KiK Messenger
Kik Messenger is a private messenger app popular with many under 18s. It’s free to use but has ads. The App allows the user to send private messages. There is very little you can do to verify the identity of someone on Kik, which obviously poses the risk of strangers chatting with your child.
Kik can also link to other Kik-enabled apps within itself. The app also encourages new users to invite everyone in their phone’s address book to join Kik, since users can only message those who also have the app. An app named OinkText, linked to Kik, allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with.
Whisper is a meeting App that encourages users to post secrets, whatever is on their minds with an image.. You post anonymously but it displays the area you are posting from.
You can search for users posting within a mile from you. You never know the person behind the computer or phone.
Vine is an app that lets users post and watch looping 6-second video clips. Owned by Twitter, Vine has developed a large community of people who post videos that are often creative and funny — and sometimes thought-provoking. There are inappropriate videos in terms of children and even teens.
As with any app you should make sure to adjust your settings to protect your posts so that only followers see them and that you have to approve new followers.
You may also like Parent’s Guide to Social Media Sites Popular with Kids
#5. Yik Yak
This free app allows users to post text-only “Yaks” of up to 200 characters. The messages can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking. Although the posts are anonymous, kids start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users.
The app does reveal your location by default unless you toggle location sharing off. Each time you open the app, GPS updates your location. Users can be potentially exposed to sexually explicit content, abusive language and personal attacks.
Omegle is a chat site (and app) that puts two strangers together in their choice of a text chat or video chat room. You don’t identify yourself when using Omegle, chat participants are only identified as “You” and “Stranger”. Pairing strangers is the whole premise of the app.
New users don’t have to register for the App but you can connect Omegle to your Facebook account to find chat partners with similar interests. When choosing this feature, an Omegle Facebook App will receive your Facebook “likes” and try to match you with a stranger with similar likes.
Instagram is a platform that lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 15-second videos — either publicly or with a network of followers. Many young users are fond of trying to gain as many followers as they can, regardless of whether they know them personally or not.
WhatsApp lets users send photos, text, audio, video messages to one or many people. Although it has a 16 age limit, lots of younger teens seem to be using the app, the appeal of unlimited messaging is the main reason.
WhatsApp asks users to connect with the people on their address book so in theory this should be allowing your teen or child only to be contacting with people they know.
Tinder is an app that combines social media with online dating. It lets you scroll through images of other members and flag the ones you like. If they also like you, you’re both notified, and then you can contact each other. Tinder’s minimum age is 13. The app does pull information from users’ Facebook profiles, so it is more authenticated than other apps, however there have been instances of adults contacting kids and also the app being used for cyber-bullying because it has a rating system on it and cyber-bullies can target another user and try to make their rating go down.
You may have heard about Ask.fm because it has been linked to suicide cases. It is a social site and one of the most popular social networking sites that is used almost exclusively by kids. It lets users ask other users questions while remaining anonymous. Children have been targeted by other kids asking derogatory questions.
Users can only communicate with those on their approved “contact list,” which does help. However strangers can try to request to be approved so something to be cautious about.
Other Tips to Remember
You can turn location services, or GPS, off on cell phones by going in to the device settings. This will keep the Apps and photos from posting the exact location or whereabouts of the phone user.
As with any online activity it is important to talk to your teen/child about the apps they use and to encourage them to use them with respect and appropriately.
May find this useful – setting up parental controls on Mobile Phones. And more online safety tips in our ultimate technology guide for kids and their parents.
What are your thoughts on teens and children using these apps? Share them with us in the comments below.