However it’s incredibly difficult though to keep up with what your teens are doing online, and most of the time they know more than you do. We’ve narrowed it down to five of the riskiest apps that you need to watch out for.
Private photo and video album vault hider + safe download browser. With 2.3 million active users worldwide each month and 37,200 downloads in Australia over the past 90 days, this is an iPhone calculator that looks and works just like a normal calculator until a secret password is typed in. Kids store photos, videos, notes and anything else they want in there, plus they also access a private web browser that doesn’t keep a history on their phone.
As the name suggests, Kik is all about online instant messaging without a phone number being required. All kids need to do is pick a username, and start chatting either with a group or one-on-one. It’s developed somewhat of an infamous reputation due to being used for grooming, sexting and inappropriate content. It also has an inbuilt web browser, so kids can search the internet without parents knowing. There are also websites dedicated to sexting on Kik – we recommend you steer your kids far away from this app.
As one of the most popular social network apps used almost exclusively by children, Ask.fm mixes user anonymity and limited monitoring of content to create the perfect environment for cyber bullying and sexual content. This app is notorious for bullying, as users namelessly create posts about others, and has a detailed history of cyber bullying and grooming related incidents. Even just a few years ago, this app had been associated with nine documented cases of suicide. Avoid at all costs.
Forbes Magazine recently named Tinder as the “world’s hottest app”. It’s a dating or ‘meet-up’ app that is popular amongst twenty-something’s and increasingly teens. It’s pretty easy to use, all you need to do is register, find people in your area by turning on your location settings, check out other user’s photos, and if you find them attractive you can “swipe right” to chat privately.
Whilst the stated intention of Tinder seems very innocent on its overview in the App store (eg. “Start a chat, make plans and get out tonight!”), in reality it is used for casual sexual flings between strangers. Even high profile celebrities are using Tinder, though the more worrying trend is kids as young as 14 are prolific users of Tinder. Don’t let your kids near this one until they turn 18.
Most parents would have heard of Snapchat and using it is simple; share time-limited videos or photos and after 1-10 seconds the image “self-destructs”. Or so users think. It’s really easy for other people to take a screenshot and share photos with others – mainly porn sites or the other kids in school. Earlier this year a 15 year old school girl in the US committed suicide after a nude Snapchat video of her was leaked to her entire school by her ex-boyfriend. That’s just one example.
If you don’t want to find a photo of your child on sites such as snapperparty we suggest that this app is used by older teens only. It’s highly likely you are going to find this app on your teen’s phone, so we recommend that you sit down with your child to discuss these issues (hey maybe show them this article!) and have a look at the new Snapchat Safety Centre.
The potential dangers posed by these apps sound terrifying and it can be easy as a parent to think that your teenager is ok, but the reality is that they aren't. The good news is that you don't have to be in it alone - Family Zone and our team of Cyber Experts can help you sort out what's appropriate for your child, and provide you with the tools and resources to help you navigate this journey.