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apps parents need to know about

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You’ve probably heard about the social media apps students in Colorado used to keep their sexting secret.  Investigators say at least 100 students were involved. I’m pretty sure there were a lot of surprised parents.  While we all like to think we know what our kids are doing, some kids will find a way to keep their secrets. Here is a list of social media apps all parents should know about.

 

 

SNAPCHAT
This app lets users send videos sand photos to people on their friend list.  Users decide if it is a video or image.  It can only be seen a certain amount of times and the user can tell if the viewer saves the chat.  The warning is that anything sent via this app can be saved. Many users believe this is a “safe” app for sexting, but it can be saved and posted anywhere on the internet. For more information on Snapchat click here.

BLENDR 
This social media app allows people to meet using GPS location services.  Users send messages, videos, photos and can rate other users.  Anyone can join and this increases the opportunity for sexual predators to contact and meet up with minors.  As with other apps, this one is prime for sexting.

KIK MESSENGER
This is another instant messenger app that allows users to share videos, pics, and more.  Users don’t use phone numbers, instead they use screen names.  Users can send YouTube videos, memes, and gifs.  Although many teachers are using this app for school, there are no parental controls and no authenticating.  This makes the app a risk for sexual predators and sexting. A common term associated with this app is “kik buddy” which means “sex buddy.”

ASK.FM
Ask.fm is a social networking site used almost completely by teens.  The premise is that users are able to ask and answer questions by users and remain anonymous. Teens have been known to use the app to target other people in derogatory ways.  This is one of the most used apps for cyber-bullying.

YIK YAK
This app is particularly dangerous for users because it is so simple and easy to use.  Users post text-only “yaks” that are a maximum of 200 characters.  The texts are viewed by users in the general area.  That means anyone within a certain distance can read and yak.  The posts are anonymous, but users can connect.  Users have used this app to bully others in the area.  This app is geared toward college students, but many high schoolers are now using it.

VAULT APPS
There are quite a few apps with the word vault in their title.  These apps use fake calculator “front” to allow users to keep pictures, videos, and chats secret from anyone who doesn’t know what to look for.  It is easy for anyone who is looking to find the best app for their platform.

DOWN
This app requires users to connect with Facebook. In the app they categorize their friends as someone they would like to hang with or someone they are “down” to get with.  This app is specifically for sex and finding sex with other users.  Although teens may not actually get “down” with someone, it makes the idea of casual sex normal for users.

 

The bottom line is just being aware can let you, the parent, know what your kids are doing. If you check your kids’ phone regularly you can search for apps by name. Try an open search term like “vault” or “picture locker” to see what your kids are looking at.  Parents can set up a code on their kids’ phone so kids can only buy and download parent approved apps.  Check out CommonSenseMedia for updates and information on helping your kids stay safe on social media.