“The bad guy’s not just at the bus stop anymore. He has entrance right into your kid’s bedroom and hand-held cellphone device.” Sexual predators can target your children even when your child is in the room down the hall. And sexual predators aren’t the only problem. Cyber-bullying and exposures to sexually inappropriate content are additional concerns. Not everything in the app store is truly a helpful tool for the end user, unfortunately.
New apps are constantly being created, so it’s important to monitor what your child downloads. Mostly, it’s important to know what each and every app does, whether it has any benefits, and where they can expose your children to danger. Our focus here isn’t so much on the geocaching types of adventure apps (think Pokemon Go) where the dangers involve wandering without paying attention.
Mostly, we want to help parents become aware of the online tricks predators use. Here are some things to look for as you determine which apps you need to monitor, specifically the 9 most dangerous apps for kids today.
Image Courtesy: ©Thinkstock/djedzura
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This app allows you to post secrets anonymously and also allows you to chat with other users in your geographic area.
Why It’s Dangerous: Many children are drawn to communicating with strangers, feeling that their secrets are safer with them than with their friends. This app is a perfect tool for ill-intentioned strangers looking to connect with young people because it allows you to exchange messages with people nearest to you (so anonymity can be easily lost).
Conversation starter for Whisper – Why would you tell your secrets to strangers? If you are struggling with something, will a stranger care or be able to help you? Do you think it would be safe to accept their help/friendship?
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All Yik Yak users are anonymous. They don’t create a profile or account, but they can post comments that are accessible to the nearest 500 people (within a 1-5 mile radius). A psychiatrist called this the most dangerous app he’d ever seen because it “can turn a school into a virtual chat room where everyone can post his or her comments, anonymously. Untruthful, mean, character-assassinating short messages are immediately seen by all users in a specific geographic area.”
Why It’s Dangerous: This app is causing problems in schools across the United States, with students maliciously slandering teacher, staff, and other students. In fact, several schools have now banned smart phones from campus because of this particular app.
Conversation starter for YikYak– What kind of things would a person want to post anonymously? How would you personally use this app? What would you post anonymously? Why?
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A free app-based alternative texting service that allows texts/pictures to be sent without being logged in the phone history. (Similar apps: Viber, WhatsApp, TextNow)
Why It’s Dangerous – Makes it easier for your child to talk to strangers without your knowledge since it bypasses the wireless providers’ short message services (SMS). Children also think they can “sext” without parents finding out. In addition, strangers can send your child a “friend request.”
Conversation starter for any app – Are you being safe with that app? Are you encouraging others or tearing them down? Are you being bullied? Are you putting out too much information about yourself? Is this an app that brings God glory?
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Allows you to capture an image or video and make it available to a recipient for a specific time. After that time limit is up, the picture/video automatically disappears forever…or so Snapchat claims. (Similar apps: Poke, Wire, and Wickr)
Why It’s Dangerous – Kids can receive (or send ) sexually inappropriate photos. This app also makes kids feel like they can “sext” or send inappropriate pictures without consequences because the image will self-destruct automatically. The truth is that nothing sent over the internet disappears. There are always ways to retrieve and capture those images.
Conversation starter for SnapChat – Why do you want to send pictures that disappear? Would you be okay with anyone seeing that pic?
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Allows users to watch and post six second videos.