Parents, If Your Kids Have Any of These 10 Dangerous Apps, It’s Time to Hit “Delete”

If it seems that your kids are always at least one tech-step ahead, that’s because they are. This author does a great job at helping modern parents to close the gap by highlighting some of the most dangerous apps for your children. Whether you’ve heard of them or not, you need to know why these apps are dangerous in order to protect your kids.

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What Our Experts Are Saying

Insights and recommendations from the doctors and subject matter experts in the Modern Parent Project community!

What to Do?

Our recommendations for Modern Parents

How can we really know what apps our kids are using?

This is where a clear agreement about cell phone usage comes in. The key part of this agreement is that parents hold the password for app downloads. That way, nothing goes into their phone without your consent.

What if we discover one of these apps has made its way onto our child’s phone?

It’s time for a conversation with that child about why that app is not safe and why it must be removed. Since his/her friends are likely using the same app, this won’t be a popular move so be prepared. It’s also time to tighten up your cell phone usage agreement.

What if our child wants an app we’re not familiar with?

Before deciding one way or another you’re going to need to do some research. It could come in the form of a google search. Don’t just type in the app’s name, type the words “concerns” “risks” “illegal” and/or “danger” after the app’s name as well. Most proactively, a consultation with an MPP expert could be very helpful in this situation.
Dr. Bill Bercaw

Co-Founder, The California Center for Healing

What NOT to do?

Our recommendations for Modern Parents

Isn’t kids choosing edgy apps just today’s version of 'kids will be kids?'

Don’t fool yourself. This is about as serious as it gets. We just about guarantee you that someone in your child’s class has an app on their phone that you would NEVER want on your kid’s phone. Not just because you think it’s a waste of time but because it is actually dangerous. Our kids naturally have a false sense of security behind these apps and are often completely unaware of risks.

Is it really worth trying to keep up with something we’ll always be a step behind?

Don’t throw in the towel. Just because there is no way to know about every potentially dangerous app doesn’t mean it’s not worth taking steps to proactively stay current. Our constantly updated “MPP Banned Apps List” will help.

So just keep our phone usage agreement tight and stay current on dangerous apps?

Yes, but don’t forget about perhaps the most important protector of all: your ongoing dialogue with your children. When they see you as a trusted ally (as opposed to an oppressive police force), your kids we be far more likely to accept your limits around their apps as just another way you are looking out for them. They will also be more likely to come to you when they encounter a related situation that is challenging for them.
Dr. Bill Bercaw

Co-Founder, The California Center for Healing

Parents, If Your Kids Have Any of These 10 Dangerous Apps, It’s Time to Hit “Delete”

Sex educator Megan Maas has the scoop on 10 apps that can be very dangerous for your kids, and what you need to know about them.

By  (article)

You may be thinking your kids are downloading apps because they are just a simple way for them to keep in contact with their friends. This is certainly true for most kids, but unfortunately, even innocent use of most of these apps can land a kid in a situation he/she never intended to be in. Here are some potentially dangerous apps that are popular among kids:

 

Tinder

An app that is used for hooking-up and dating. Users can rate profiles and find potential hook-ups via GPS location tracking. 450 million profiles are rated every day! The good news is, this app pulls information from user’s Facebook profiles, so it is more authenticated than other apps.  Problem: It is easy for adults and minors to find one another. Also, due to the rating system, it is often used for cyber-bullying, because a group of kids can target another kid and purposefully make his/her rating go down.

Snapchat

This app allows a user to send photos and videos to anyone on his/her friend list. The sender can determine how long the receiver can view the image and then the image “destructs” after the allotted time.  Problem: It is the #1 app used for sexting, mostly because people think it is the safer way to sext. However, the “snaps” can easily be recovered and the receiver can take a screen shot and share it with others. Also, a lot of images from Snapchat get posted to revenge porn sites, called “snap porn.”

Blendr

A flirting app used to meet new people through GPS location services. You can send messages, photos, videos, rate the hotness of other users, etc.  Problem: There are no authentication requirements, so sexual predators can contact minors, minors can meet up with adults. And again, the sexting.


Kik Messenger

An instant messaging app with over 100 million users that allows users to exchange videos, pics and sketches. Users can also send YouTube videos and create memes and digital gifs.  Problem: Kids using the app for sexting and sending nude selfies through the app is common. The term “sext buddy” is being replaced with “Kik buddy.” Kids use Reddit and other forum sites to place classified ads for sex by giving out their Kik usernames. Also, Kik does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, thus making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with minors.

Whisper

Whisper is an anonymous confession app. It allows users to superimpose text over a picture in order to share their thoughts and feelings anonymously. However, you post anonymously, but it displays the area you are posting from. You can also search for users posting within a mile from you.  Problem: Due to the anonymity, kids are posting pics of other kids with derogatory text superimposed on the image. Also, users do not have to register to use Whisper and can use the app to communicate with other users nearby through GPS. A quick look at the app and you can see that online relationships are forming through the use of this app, but you never know the person behind the computer or phone. Sexual predators also use the app to locate kids and establish a relationship. One man in Seattle, Wash., was charged with raping a 12-year-old girl he met on this app in 2013.

Ask.fm

Ask.fm is one of the most popular social networking sites that is almost exclusively used by kids. It is a Q&A site that allows users to ask other users questions while remaining anonymous.  Problem: Kids will often ask repeated derogatory questions that target one person. Due to the anonymity of the badgering, it creates a virtually consequence-free form of cyber-bullying. Ask.fm has been associated with nine documented cases of suicide in the U.S. and the U.K.

Yik Yak

An app that 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.  Problem: Users are exposed to and are contributing sexually explicit content, derogatory language and personal attacks. Although the posts are anonymous, kids start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users.

Poof

This app allows users to make other apps “disappear” on their phone. Kids can hide any app they don’t want you to see by opening the app and selecting other apps.  Problem: It’s obvious, right? Luckily, you can no longer purchase this app. But, if it was downloaded before it became unavailable, your child may still have it. Keep in mind that these types of apps are created and then terminated quickly, but similar ones are continuously being created. Others to look for: Hidden Apps, App Lock and Hide It Pro.

Omegle

This app is primarily used for video chatting. When you use Omegle, you do not identify yourself through the service. Instead, chat participants are only identified as “You” and “Stranger.” However, 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.  Problem: Sexual predators use this app to find kids to collect personal information from in order to track them down more easily in person.

Down

This app, which used to be called Bang With Friends, is connected to Facebook. Users can categorize their Facebook friends in one of two ways: They can indicate whether or not a friend is someone they’d like to hang with or someone they are “down” to hook-up with.  Problem: Although identifying someone you are willing to hook-up with doesn’t mean you will actually hook-up with them, it creates a hook-up norm within a peer group. Depending on your sexual values, this might be something you don’t want for your child. Also, because of the classification system, a lot of kids will feel left out or unwanted, which can lead to anxiety, etc.

The most important thing you can do as a parent to protect your children from dangers that are associated with the use of these apps is to talk with them frequently about their social lives. You can start by establishing yourself as an approachable parent and talking with them early and often about sexuality and romantic relationships. Without a strong bond and open communication, trying to regulate and monitor Internet use won’t be very effective. However, setting technology boundaries (when and where they access the Internet) and monitoring their online behavior can be effective if you have a strong foundation to build on. Just remember to keep on top of it, there is no software that can eliminate risk or the need to parent. Ultimately, your goal is to raise an individual who can manage his/her online and offline behavior in a healthy way because he/she wants to. The process starts with you nurturing a strong emotional bond, leading by example and setting the boundaries. You can do it!

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