With the increasing number and popularity of social media outlets, it is getting harder and harder to keep tabs on what our children are sharing over the internet. Here is a list of seven of the most popular apps and sites that are as potentially dangerous, as they are fun.
A social site where users can ask and/or answer questions on various topics. Although it looks and sounds quite innocent, the site has been repeatedly criticized for numerous cases of cyber bullying, sometimes with fatal results. The administrators have since promised better regulation and monitoring, but hurtful comments are still common.
This 17+ rated mobile app is used for texting and provides the user with additional options, some of which are not available on a phone – no fees and character limitation, pre-designing greeting cards, user’s pictures show on the message, and it allows the quick sharing of photos and sketches to both individuals and whole groups. People can also text strangers outside their contacts list by using just a username. It is that same option that puts Kik Messenger on the list of apps, commonly used for cyber bullying and sexting.
A dating app. Used by people looking for a relationship or a just a one-night stand, it allows users within the same geographical location to start messaging each other once they have exchanged “likes” of their profiles. Although rated 17+, Tinder also allows the registration of much younger teens – aged 13 to 17, and while they are supposed to be restricted to viewing profiles within that range, age verification comes from Facebook and is easily manipulated.
Basically one big message board with many, many treads, 4chan.org allows the posting and commenting of nearly everything – from pictures of favourite movie characters and TV shows faves, to hardcore pornography and various disturbing images. Definitely adults only.
A social network that allows the taking, editing and instant sharing of photos and short videos. It is owned by Facebook and has become the most popular social media network among US teens, incorporating some of its feature – “like” buttons, for example. Always remember that pictures are set to be visible to all by default, so if you want them shared with your kid’s followers only, you will have to edit the profile by yourself (fortunately, it is easy to do – just open Edit your Prifle and switch on the Posts are Private option). Instagram has also become somewhat infamous for its mediocre security, as account hijacking is easy and not uncommon.
A messaging app, that gained popularity for its “disappearing” option. Advertised as a harmless way to share an embarrassing or funny situation which vanishes ten seconds later, the app can sometimes lure teens into a false sense of security and privacy, as vanished posts can be retrieved, and there is nothing stopping you from taking a screenshot of the message, before it disappears.
The creators of this app call it “the anonymous social wall for anything and everything”. It requires no personal information upon registration and users’ s posts are visible via a live feed to the nearest 500 people. Rated 17+ and initially advertised to college students, the app has been linked to harmful comments, aggressive cyber bullying, sexual content and even several school closings due to false bomb threats.
So, which app are your children using? Share your experience and recommendations in the comment section below and let us know what you think of social media.