It is nearly impossible to stay current on all the apps that are presently available, let alone keep up on what is trendy, but “being in the know” is one way to protect your children online. As we continue our social media blog series, let’s tackle getting familiar with the apps and platforms teens and children are using.
Let’s start with the ones us adults are probably most familiar with:
Facebook: A social media site/app where users can post content, pictures and videos. Users can also comment on other’s posts. You can control privacy settings.
Instagram: A social media app where users can post pictures and videos. You can control privacy settings. One common trend among teens is to create a “Finsta” or fake insta account. This account is under a fake name but where they post honest content.
Snapchat: A social media app that allows users to send pictures and videos that disappear after they are viewed. This app gives users a false sense of security that their images have disappeared.
TikTok: An app for creating and sharing short videos. Initially targeted toward dance videos, this app now has diverse content. TikTok accounts are public by default. Unless that setting is changed, anyone can see their video. TikTok videos often contain inappropriate language and content and there is no way for parents to filter content.
Youtube: Another place to house and share videos. You can control privacy settings and it can be a great resource for a variety of content, including everything from educational to how-to videos. Inappropriate content has been sliced into videos.
Okay, those were the easy ones. Now let’s tackle the less common ones:
Tellonym: An anonymous messenger app. It allows you to ask and answer questions anonymously. Cyberbullying, violent threats and sexual content are all an issue with this app.
Bigo: A live streaming app. It allows users to vlog about their lives, live stream video games and host their own shows. This app is well known for nudity, violence, profanity and bullying. Users must also provide personal content including age and location.
IMVU: A virtual world game, like the old SIMS game, where the user creates an avatar and uses it to interact with others. There are also nudity and sexual encounters in areas over 18+ but there is sexual talk and behavior in other areas. There is a chat feature that randomly pairs avatars together. All profiles are public.
Houseparty: A video chatting app. Allows users to communicate through live video and texts in chat groups. The video is live and users can send links via chat or screenshot, allowing other users to join.
Ask.fm: An app that allows users to interact in a question-answer format with friends, peers and anonymous users. Cyberbullying is prevalent here.
Kik: A messenger app that uses a picture with speech bubbles to text back and forth. This app allows users to use a username instead of a phone number to text. This is another app known for cyberbullying.
Voxer: A walkie-talkie app that allows users to quickly exchange short voice messages. It allows messages to be replayed. Research has shown that bullying messages are more damaging when heard than read.
Vsco: A photo editing app similar to instagram that allows users to post pictures. You have to turn on privacy settings to limit location sharing.
And still more:
Whisper: Another app that allows users to anonymously share information. It allows users to overlap their content onto an image to be shared, similar to an e-card. This app also shows users location.
Tumblr: A photo sharing app that can also be used for chatting and sharing videos. Users can easily access pornographic, violent and inappropriate content. User settings are defaulted to public and difficult to change.
LOOK: Another video messaging app. Allows users to send video, text, emojis and gifs. Cyberbullying has also been reported on this app and accounts are difficult to delete.
Whatsapp: An app that allows you to send messages, pictures, videos and voice recordings for free over an internet connection. You can also make video and voice calls worldwide. This app allows you to create a false user name.
Liveme: A live sharing video app that allows you to share video through geolocation This is another app that shares location.
Holla: A video chat app that allows you to meet people all over the world. This app encourages you to meet strangers all over the world in private chats.
Twitch: A streaming service typically used to livestream video games. You can communicate with the streamer via chat and he gets to set the rules for their own chat.
Discord: This app was initially developed for gamers but has morphed into a place where you can chat, video chat or text with others on the platform. There are subject specific groups. Kids and Teens often use it as a place to interact with people with similar interests but, as with all online communication, you don’t know that the person on the other end is who they say they are.
There are several dating apps. These include:
Tinder: An app advertised as an app to allow people to connect locally, it is mainly used as a dating app or anonymous hookup. This app helps users to find other users in their geographic location. It also allows users to access each other’s photos and start instant messaging once users have both liked each other.
Meetme: Another app that allows users to meet based on their location. Users are encouraged to meet up in person.
Bumble: This app is similar to Tinder but requires women to make the first contact. It is easy to create fake accounts and falsify age.
Grindr: A location based dating app geared to gays, transgender and bisexuals. Again, this app shares location.
Skout: Another location based dating app similar to Tinder.
Badoo: Yet another location based dating app.
Other apps to be aware of (these types of apps are constantly changing):
Poof: This app hides other apps on your phone.
Calculator: This app hides pictures, videos and other content on your phone.
This is not a complete list of apps available but it is a start to understanding what is available to children and teens and what is available to them. If you or your teen need help with social media or any other concerns, email or call us at (217) 203-2008 to schedule an appointment.