In 2013, a twelve year old girl was lured out of her house by a 21 year old man into a nearby motel, where she was taken advantage of. How did he lure her out of her parents’ home you wonder? By using the Whisper app.
These days, it’s likely your teens are more comfortable using technology such as smartphones and computers in a non-private manner than you are. They tend to know of all the newest apps for sharing private photos and messages constantly. What they don’t know, however, is how to stay safe while using them and minimize negative digital footprint for the future. They don’t have enough experience in the real world to tell danger apart from the prospect of fun. This is where we as parents have to step in and educate ourselves about the dangers first, only then can we make sure our teens are safe, and their digital identity is not overexposed.
To make thing easier for you, I have compiled a list of the top 5 dangerous apps for teens that every parent should know of:
Whisper – This app was used by the man in the above story. It lets users share secrets with strangers from the same area. It’s especially dangerous because teenagers feel their secrets are safer with strangers.
YikYak – An app where all users are anonymous. No profiles or accounts. Posting a message allows the closest 500 users (using GPS location of the device) to read it. Many experts call this the meanest app and point to its potential for cyber bullying. Teens have used this app to anonymously place school bomb threats.
Snapchat – This app recently made the headlines for leaking the photos of over 200,000 users, many of which were teens. It lets users share photos with others. Teenagers can use this app to share nude photos with strangers, as the recent leak shows. Teens feel safe using it because the “sexts” are supposed to auto destroy.
Poof – An app that allows hiding of other apps. This can make it very difficult for parents to see what apps their teens actually have installed. To make sure you see all the apps on the phone. Check settings>applications/apps to see the list of installed apps.
Ask.fm – Lets users ask each other questions. The app has been linked to many cases of hurtful cyber-bullying, some have even resulted in suicides. Many of the questions are also sexual in nature. In response to the uproar in the U.K., there was now added a button for reporting abuse.