When I was younger (not that long ago really, I’m only 28) none of my friends had a mobile phones before they were fourteen or fifteen. We barely had game consoles and a tablet was something you swallowed, not something you played games on.
Nowadays everywhere you look there are eight year olds with phones and five year olds with tablets and it’s probably safe to say most households have some of this technology being used by the kids. But do you really know what your kids are getting up to online, what games they are playing and what apps they are using?
There are sadly some apps out there that, as parents, scare the hell out of us; things we would never want our child to be downloading or using. The worst part is that it seems now every time we learn about something we need to be watching out for there are a hundred more we don’t even know exist. We have compiled a list of some of the worst apps out there, ones you as a parent need to watch out for.
It is certainly worth checking your children’s phones or tablets for these apps and if you find them, make an educated decision about what you want done and discuss it with your kids. It is important, after all, to make sure your kids are well educated enough about the dangers to make good choices for themselves about what they do and don’t download.
Here are the apps most likely to cause problems or expose your kids to inappropriate content.
This is a social networking/instant messenger hybrid. It gives people the ability to send not only messages but files and photos too, meaning the content that can be sent may not be desirable or appropriate. Messages are private and very hard to access for parents as they can be deleted easily and with no trace. This app is commonly used for sexting.
This one comes with a false sense of security for a lot of people, kids included. Photos are sent between people but are only available for ten seconds once opened, then they disappear, leading many to send things they normally wouldn’t as they feel safer knowing it will disappear after the ten second time limit. Anyone quick enough can screenshot the image and do with it as they please.
Poof and similar apps
Poof itself has recently been removed from app stores, but there is always a similar app popping up to take the place of the last. This app enables the phone or tablet user to hide apps downloaded to the phone, they are there and they work but they just can’t be seen. So you may think your being a diligent parent, monitoring usage constantly, when all the while this app is hiding things your kids don’t want you to see.
The motto for this app is “Express Yourself Share Secrets Meet New People”, already sounds like something you don’t want your kids using right? This app is designed as a social hook up that can translate from online to real life. Anonymity is key and names are not available, only locations but they are accurate to within a kilometre. Anyone can connect with your kids through this app and photos can be sent, making it perfect for cyber-bullying and sexual interaction and predators.
This app has been in the news quite a bit as it has been the platform for some very serious cyber-bullying cases in several countries. It is social networking in a question and answer format and is not monitored in anyway so there are absolutely no restrictions on what can be posted. Even if a user is blocked by your child, the user can still see their profile and all interactions they are having with others app users.
This is another app with complete anonymity for its users and is basically a twitter meets text message affair. Anyone can send out an anonymous message of up to 200 characters and then based on GPS location, the nearest 500 people can read the message. If your child is on this and there are other local users there is absolutely no way of telling who or what your child might be subjected too.
This app is used to make and share short videos, a maximum of six seconds in length, played on a loop. This app has been widely used for explicit content and also commonly for kids to film and share fights in the school yard or elsewhere. It also has a messaging function and users can search for and connect with other users based on location.
This app is all about finding people in your local area who are ‘down’ for the night. This app connects with facebook and users can categorize their friends into ‘buddies’ or those they would like to ‘get down’ with, if you catch my drift! People then search their friends to hopefully find a match with someone who is also up for ‘getting down’. Eek!!!
You’ve probably heard of this one, it is very widely used now and enables users to upload a pic of themselves and then be rated by other users, a heart to show your interested or a big X if your not. Once two people ‘heart’ each other a messaging connection is established. Aside from the bullying aspect, there are also sexual predators to consider, a photo is easily uploaded, that doesn’t mean the person on the other end is who they say they are.
This is a chat app that connects random strangers. Anything can be said to or by your kids and then the message log can be saved and turned into a link to be shared ANYWHERE.
Think the randomness of roulette combined with video chat. Your kids could be confronted with anyone or anything on the other end of the video chat and this leads to them being potentially exposed to some awful content.
How Do I Get These Apps Of My Child’s Phone/Device?
If you want to stop your children downloading apps without your permission, this can be changed through their phone settings menu and it is password protected so you can set a code they don’t know and maintain control, at least for now.
On an Iphone go to the ‘Settings’ menu, then select ‘General’, ‘Restrictions’. From here you can limit access to many different things all protected by a passcode set by you.
On an Android phone go to ‘Settings’ then ‘Users’ and select ‘Add User/Restricted Profile’. From here you can limit access to many different things, controlled by a passcode set by you.
As a parent do you closely monitor your kids phone and tablet usage? Have you ever found questionable apps or content?