On average, teens spend about 9 hours a day using media. With summer break, that number may increase. The apps most popular among teens and tweens may seem harmless; however, there are real safety concerns that parents need to be aware of:
Yubo, formerly known as Yellow is a free mobile app that connects users based on their location. Called the “Tinder for teens,” users can swipe left or right to accept or decline invitations to chat. Users can exchange messages, photos and video chat with strangers.
Risk: The minimum age requirement to sign up for a Yubo account is 13; however, there is no way to verify age. There is potential for children to be exploited by sexual predators.
Tumblr is a microblogging app that allows users to post their thoughts, message others, and share photos. Users can discover blogs on just about any topic.
Risk: Users can easily access pornographic, violent and other inappropriate content. There are some blogs that glorify self-harm, suicide and eating disorders.
ASK.fm is an app that allows users to ask and answer questions anonymously. Users are also able to view other profiles anonymously.
Risk: Cyberbullying is a frequent problem on this app. The anonymous format allows bullies to target individuals and leave hateful and inappropriate comments with no little to no repercussions.
Kik messenger allows users to text messages, photos, sketches, and even pre-designed greeting cards at high speeds. Kik allows teens to connect with others by just their username.
Risk: There is no age verification required so anyone can download the app. Kik messenger has been linked to crimes involving sexual predators and minors.
Houseparty allows users to video chat with up to 8 friends at once as well as text in group chats.
Risk: This app does not use age verification. There is always a risk for your teen to be exposed to explicit content or come in contact with strangers.
Whisper allows users to anonymously post statements to profiles and send messages to other users. This app also allows users to search content that has been posted nearby.
Risk: Although this app may sound harmless, there are no filters on language, sexual or violent messages. Your teen may be reading adult content or posts about self-harm and suicide.
Wattpad provides authors with a platform to share their work with others. It is a community of readers and writers with the ability to directly message one another.
Risk: This app may sound harmless, but there are no filters on language, sexual or violent messages. Your teen may be reading adult content or posts about self-harm and suicide.
Users are able to connect with others and earn virtual goods which can be exchanged for prizes, rewards, and cash. After launching the app, users can view the live stream of others as well as direct message them.
Risk: Because this app provides a recording function, your teen’s stream can be recorded, duplicated and shared by others. Your teen is at risk of being exposed to sexually charged language and activity.
Keeping yourself up-to-date with these websites and apps will allow you to better communicate and discuss the importance of online safety with your child. Visit Part 2 of this blog series for more information on the risks related to popular teen apps.