Portions of content found at foreverymom.com
A while back, we listed eight computer and mobile apps that pose potential dangers for kids because they can be used for bullying or stalking. These apps are still potential threats when it comes to the safety of your kids.
But as is so common with everything Internet-related, new apps spring up all the time. That’s why it is so important that parents remain vigilant and keep abreast of all the latest social media platforms being used by their kids.
Luckily, Boys Town follows app development so you don’t have to. And we’ve put together an up-to-date list of new apps that may pose a danger to your kids.
1) Gaggle (from the Gaggle App in the iTunes Store): This is an anonymous local bulletin board that offers a fast, reliable way to share your thoughts, gossip and talk about things around you with the people around you.
Problem: Like Yik Yak, Gaggle is completely anonymous and can foster a community without accountability, which can lead to sexual or hateful content and extreme language.
2) Blendr: This is a flirting app where the user can meet new people through GPS location services. Users can send messages, photos, and videos, rate the hotness of other users, etc.
Problem: There are no authentication requirements, so sexual predators can contact minors; there also is a danger of sexting.
3) Omegle: This app is primarily used for video chatting. Users do not identify themselves through the service. Instead, chat participants are identified only as “You” and “Stranger.” However, users can connect Omegle to their Facebook accounts to find chat partners with similar interests. When choosing this feature, an Omegle Facebook App will receive a user’s Facebook “likes” and try to match him or her with a stranger with similar likes.
Problem: Sexual predators can use this app to collect personal information about kids in order to track them down more easily in person.
4.) 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 a person would be willing to hook-up with doesn’t mean they will actually hook up, it can create a hook-up norm within a peer group. 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.
So what should you do if you find these apps on your teen’s phone or tablet? Hopefully, you’ve already laid out the ground rules regarding your kids ‘use of technology (for more on that, you can sign up for our free Technology Track, a series of four emails that contain a lot of useful information on this subject). The bottom line is that if you’re paying for their phone/tablet/laptop, you have the authority to approve of its use, including what apps they can use. And if your kids refuse to comply with your rules, you can simply take away their devices until they do. By the way, this also goes for any devices they buy with their own money. They’re still minors living under your roof, so your house rules still apply.
Depending on the operating system your kids’ devices use – Android or iOS – you can set up permissions that allow you and only you to install or delete apps. Check out this article on how to do that. As we said earlier, the key is to be vigilant and aware of how your kids are using their devices.
These days, technology is constantly changing, and apps come and go with alarming speed. Keep coming back to BoysTown.org/Parenting to keep up with all the latest news and advice on this and many other parenting subjects.