If you’re a parent, then helping your kids and teens navigate the digital world can seem like a difficult task. There are many safe apps and websites available for your kids, but there are also many dangerous apps for kids and teens as well.
Many social media channels have age requirements that are ignored. Some apps, such as Instagram and Twitter (which both made the list) have many safe functions for your kids, they also contain ways to access some dangerous sexual context.
Are you ready to parent well in the digital age? Good parenting involves educating yourself about the apps that kids and teens are using. You can begin educating yourself by starting with this list of 10 dangerous apps for kids and teens:
Tinder: This is an app that is used for dating and hooking-up. Users can rate others and find ways to connect via GPS location services. When both users “flag” each other, then they are able to connect with each other.
- Why it’s Dangerous: This app is primarily used for hooking-up with strangers based on their appearances.
Whisper: The Whisper app is an anonymous confession app, where text can be superimposed onto pictures and shared with the Whisper community. Although the post is anonymous, it does show the area where you are posting from. In Whisper, you can search for people in your area and scroll through their posts, comment on them, and message them.
- Why it’s Dangerous: The two main dangers with this app are sexual predators and bullies. Children feel safe communicating their feeling with strangers, but through messaging can build relationships with complete strangers that often lead to them revealing their identities, which sexual predators take advantage of. Also, kids and teens can post derogatory pictures of others anonymously, leading to cyber bullying.
Snapchat: This app allows its users to send photos and videos to their friends. After a set amount of time, these photos and videos “self-destruct.” This is currently one of the most popular apps for kids and teens, and has a younger child version called SnapKidz.
- Why it’s Dangerous: The main danger for this app is sexting. Screen shots and recordings can be used while the Snapchat is playing, and the sexting content will sometimes end up on the web or be used for cyber bullying.
Instagram: One of the most popular apps for kids, teens, and young adults, this social media app allows users to post photos and short videos online, and follow their friends in order to see their photos and videos.
- Why it’s Dangerous: Even though Instagram fights it, pornography can be found on Instagram. Also, unless a profile is set to private, complete strangers can “follow” kids, and can even use the pictures to identify their locations.
Twitter: This social media app allows for users to post short messages, pictures, and videos on their profile. They can follow other users and have followers themselves, and can message someone if they begin mutually follow each other.
- Why it’s Dangerous: Twitter is notorious for its inability to stop pornography, which comes through the posts of various user accounts. Also, it’s another avenue for strangers to connect with kids and teens, if they are not careful.
YikYak: With this social media channel, all users are anonymous. The comments they post are accessible to the nearest 500 people, according to GPS location services (typically within 1-5 miles).
- Why it’s Dangerous: This app is absolutely notorious for its usage in cyber bullying in schools. One psychiatrist called it “the most dangerous app I have ever seen.” The app can contain derogatory comments, sexually explicit photos, and personal attacks.
KiK Messenger: This instant messaging app allows users to send pics, videos, YouTube videos, memes, gifs, and sketches to other users.
- Why it’s Dangerous: Users can send different forms of media to each other without it being logged into the phone’s history. Kids and teens have used this app for sexting without parental knowledge. Also, they can connect with complete strangers via friend request.
Hiding Apps: These category of apps, which include Poof, Hidden Apps, App Lock, and Hide It Pro, allow the users to hide which apps they don’t want visible on their phone or tablet. Some of these apps are quickly deleted from the app stores, but new apps are constantly being uploaded.
- Why it’s Dangerous: There’s no reason why kids and teens would need an app like this. If you see one of these apps on your child’s phone, you can automatically assume that they are hiding some apps from you.
Vine: This social media app allows users to record and post six-second videos.
- Why it’s Dangerous: The biggest danger is that short porn videos pop up in the news feed, and porn can also be found through the search function as well. Predators can also look for kids and teens based on their location.
9Gag: This app is used to create and share funny pictures and memes.
- Why it’s Dangerous: Some of the pictures (or the comments on them) can be quite vulgar or sexually explicit. In addition to cyberbullying, this app can also be reportedly used for “swatting,” which is when someone gathers information on a specific user, then anonymously calls the police with certain details that require them to send a SWAT team to the house.
There are many dangerous apps out there, but an important task for parents in the digital age is to talk with their kids and teens about technology and apps. Ask questions like:
- Why is it not safe to use certain apps?
- Is it dangerous to talk to strangers?
- Why is it bad to send sexual pictures of yourself to someone else?
- Does this app, and what you’re doing with it, glorify God?
Kids and teens have not developed the necessary critical thinking skills to think through everything by themselves. Don’t assume they know the dangers of certain apps, but take the time to learn new technology and continue to help them learn how to navigate this digital world safely. Just like you wouldn’t let your kid go explore the world by themselves, make sure to give them guidelines and instruction that helps them navigate the digital world safely.