While lots of kids use their smartphones and technology for appropriate and benign purposes, the three ways that kids seem most likely to get in trouble is by sending inappropriate pictures (sexting), being mean to others by cyberbullying, and by meeting strangers. Please be aware of these risks and keep your eyes open. Kids need supervision!
We continue to update this site with new apps that come out. Please check back frequently.
An account holder is asked questions or given comments anonymously. They do not need parental permission or email or any ID to register. The account holder is not anonymous; the asker/commenter is. Account holders will usually share their ask.fm address in the bio of their Instagram page. Ask.fm has become one of the leading cyber-bullying sites.
Users send and receive pictures which will disappear in 1-10 seconds, which the sender sets. Once the recipient opens the picture, the timer starts. This app gives kids a false sense of security of sending inappropriate pictures; however, there are free apps they can get to save these pictures, and they can also take screen shots of the images.
Users post and receive 6 second videos. It’s free, easy to sign up, doesn’t verify age (13). You can’t block anyone from following you, and anyone can see your videos—and you can see anyone’s. There is porn on Vine, though it is marked, yet it’s an easy click away.
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets”, which are text messages limited to 140 characters. Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Very public! Twitter does have private messaging option.
Users can text back and forth with no text charges, no phone number. This is an app where kids will go to get away from parents’ eyes. Seems harmless, but it is quickly becoming a site where kids will flirt and sext out of the watchful eyes of parents.
See Kik Gaining in popularity over Kik and Twitter. Private messaging. In addition to text messaging, users can send each other images, video, and audio media messages as well as their location using integrated mapping features.
An app designed to hide photos, files, messages, videos, etc. Once you have transferred any of these to the Vault, the said message/photo/video may be deleted from its original home without being deleted in the Vault. Many variations. Will look and act like a calculator. The picture on the right, is the Android Photo Vault.
According to ABC News: “Yik Yak works like an anonymous bulletin board, displaying messages from people in a user’s area that can be voted ‘up’ or ‘down’ on the page. Tyler Droll, founder and CEO of Yik Yak, said the app was designed to be like ‘a city’s central plaza or campus bulletin board.’” What it has become however, is a format for bullies, targeting students and faculty. “Untruthful, mean, character-assassinating short messages are immediately seen by all users in a specific geographic area.”—Dr. Keith Ablow
Motto: “Share Secrets, Express Yourself, Meet New People.” Users set up anonymous accounts to make their “confessions.” Others “like” it, share or comment. HAS LOCATION FEATURES. Reportedly, a 12 year-old Washington girl was raped by a 21-year old man who she met on Whisper (commonsensemedia.org)
This app helps users find others in their geographical area. Users are able to view each other’s photos and once users have “liked” each other, they can direct message. HAS LOCATION FEATURES. Due to the geo-location features, users are put at risk of stalking, “catfishing” (pretending to be someone you are not) or worse.
This site allows anybody to ask you anonymous questions. The person asking you does not have to join to ask you. The questions you are asked will go into your Qooh.me™ Inbox, at this point the public won’t see the questions. If you choose to answer a question the Question and your answer will be seen by the public on your Qooh.me™ profile, your facebook wall and Twitter (if you choose to).If you don’t like the question you are asked, you simply delete it , then nobody will see or know about it.
Flinch is an app that allows users to play an old childhood game of a staring contest. Stare at the other person across from you, keep a straight face, and the first person to smile or laugh, loses the match. Sounds like fun, right? Not if the other player live- streaming to your phone is a stranger who could be any age, from any country, and say or do anything in the course of this “game.”
After School launched in 2014 it’s mission: Give teens a safe but anonymous place to talk to high school classmates. After School, like Yik Yak before it, aims to provide an anonymous place to post thoughts to those in the same geographical region. Apple pulled the app amid growing concern over the threats of violence and bullying that had been occurring on it. The app now allows parents to set passwords and restrict content.
A picture and video-sharing app, popular among pre-teens and teens. Parents should know Instagram is a launching pad for the other apps listed—users will post their links to their askfm page, snapchat address, kik address, etc. Privacy settings are available. However, kids can easily find themselves looking at pages of people they don’t know. Parents should communicate to their kids that Instagram posts are not private. In of itself, Instagram is fun and innocent. However, communication with kids is imperative that “likes” doesn’t equal friends. Instagram has a direct messaging feature.
Competition for SnapChat. Messages, videos, photos go away in seconds as set by the sender. The graphics are fun—users can personalize messages with colors and “stickers.” You can create anonymous group texts so all participants can be “candid” to each other. You are alerted if another user screenshots your message/picture.
Another app parents should be aware of– YouNow. Their motto: Broadcast to a live audience. Explore and engage with talented content creators. Connect with our vibrant real-time community. The live-stream broadcasting (aka live-casting) site-slash-app, lets users perform whatever they are doing for viewers all over the world, via the cameras on their computers, tablets and smartphones. …but anyone can rebroadcast it.
This app picks someone else at random and lets you talk one-on-one. Chats are anonymous. Users can add interests, and Omegle will match interests as opposed to random selection. IP addresses can be viewed in certain settings. Omegle.com even states “Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful!”
A messaging app that is similar to WhatsApp, where the sender accrues no charges or records for texts. Converts email into text messages—the sender will have an email address as in: firstname.lastname@example.org