Teens are constantly connected through social media and on their phones, but do you know what every app they have does? We talked with a local police officer about some apps that all parents should know about.
Apps that aren’t what they appear to be
- Audio manager: Hide messages, photos, videos and other apps. A “secret vault”, has a password/pin, has an escape pin/password for times you get caught.
- Calculator%: App designed to look like a calculator but stores private photos and videos. It is lock protected and if someone tries to “break in” it takes a photo and records the GPS.
- Vaulty: Hides images and videos. Password protected. Takes a mugshot of someone trying to access the vault.
Apps that enable cyber bullying
- Tinder: A dating app that finds out who likes you nearby and connects you with them if you’re also interested. It’s promoted as one of the best one night stand apps. Users can target people’s profiles and drive down their rating. App store rates 12+
- Whisper: App where users post statements to the public and can send private messages to other users without revealing their identities. Cruelty, cyber bullying, racism and other issues present here.
Apps where location services are used and pose a safety concern
- Blendr: A dating app that uses your GPS location to locate people close to you.
- Yik Yak: A location based social network that connects with the people right around you by expressing your thoughts. User posts a text that is viewed by 500 yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote it. Also used in cyberbullying since the students posting anonymously.
Apps where content is a concern
- KiK: Password protected. Some teens hide the app in their clouds, biggest hidden dangers are “porn bots”-automated programs that try to disguise themselves as suggestive, personalized messages to trick users into clicking onto porn sites, “chat now” one of the many apps linked ti KiK which opens doors to users outside your teen’s trusted circle of friends and contacts on KiK, and anonymity and selection: a convicted sex offender shared with a news org that KiK is a powerful tool for predators. He said that he user name based set up helps predators remain anonymous and lets them look for clues in teen’s usernames regarding personal issues that may leave them vulnerable. It also allows users to search by age range. 48 Hours: killer App—13 year old girl in Virginia was lured by an 18 year old college student and murdered.
- Omegle: Their tagline is “Talk to strangers!” They pick someone at random for you to chat with. It will connect you through Facebook and match you with people with similar likes. Omele users can save chat logs and share the link meaning any info shared in the chat is not controlled by the stranger and out on the World Wide Web. Before chatting a warning appears that “sexual behavior is likely.” App store rates 17+ because of the frequent/intense sexual content or nudity” and “infrequent/mild profanity or crude humor.”
- Music.ly: People communicating through messages and comments soliciting inappropriate content and using it to groom victims. All accounts set up as public when activated—change to private accounts. Predators are using this app to target young kids. “dad warned other parents after his 8 year old daughter was “groomed” by a “pervert” through this app. This app also allows geo location sharing to connect with others in their area. Sister app: Live.ly. Another similar app is Dubsmash.
- Tumblr: Blogging site that does not have the content filters or oversight in place to ensure a healthy experience for your child. Users post anything they want from text messages to images inappropriate for teens. Some may be pornographic in nature. You have no way of knowing who you communicate with online since it’s an unrestricted online community. Contains mature content. “kids are flocking to tumblr because their parents aren’t there.”
Apps used for messaging and phone calls that can’t be tracked via cell phone carrier data
- Whatsapp: Can send direct and group messages of photos and videos. Need to make sure turn off GPS location sharing and limit contacts to only to their contacts on their phone.
- GroupMe Snapchat
If someone is not your friend in the physical world, you shouldn’t be friends with them online.