Teens, Apps, and What to Look For….

This is a topic that I am super passionate about. It not only affects our family personally, it affects so many other families, most do not even know they have a problem. Today we are going to talk about kids and dangerous apps that you need to be looking out for.

In a world where everything is at our fingertips, it is hard to remember what the world was like before phones, devices, and social media. I scroll through Facebook way more than I should, and my phone is never to far away. This is something I personally am going to start working on, but it is also hard for me because I am just starting this blogging adventure, and social media is how I get the word out. I am always reading other individuals posts, and learning and growing through what I have researched. At this point, it is my job. But, when does it become a problem?

One of the things I really want to touch base on is apps kids are using today, that are extremly dangerous, and ones parents NEED to look out for. If you are allowing your children to have their own device, you need to take that device right now, and look for these IMMEDIATLY:

  1. HIP (Hide it Pro) is an app on the phone designed to look like a simple music site. Teens and kids use this app to hide photos, text messages, videos, or any other inappropriate or sensitive materials from their parents. It uses a PIN to allow the kids to safely remove material from their phone into a “vault”.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS?: This app is expecially dangerous because if you are one of those parents who checks your kids phone or tablet for inappropriate things, this app allows them to hide anything going to that device from you. This could be inappropriate conversations, contact info on strangers, pictures, anything. It hides it all.

2. CALCULATOR+ has been on the news a few times, and every time it goes public the app creaters actually change the apperance of the calculator. This is very similar to the HIP app. It allows teens or children to hide content they do not want their parent seeing, the only thing different with this app is that it also allows them to hide browser history or browser searches. It also allows more content to be stored.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Pretty much for the same reason as the HIP app it allows children to hide sensitive or inappropriate material from their parents. This app is hidden better, because when parents see it on their child’s phone it looks like a normal calculator. What you want to look for is the plus sign after the words, that will let you know that this is an app that is hiding material.

Another app that allows children to hide their home screen on their phone to look like a normal screen is called POOF. You can go into your child’s app store and search if this has been downloaded.

3. Snapchat is a social media app that allows kids to send pictures and chat, and the material disappears. You can not track pictures that were sent or conversations that were had unless your child has taken a screenshot of something. Another reason why snap chat is dangerous is because you can screen shot anything your child has sent without their permission. So if your teen daughter sends a risky photo to another individual, that person can screen shot it, and send it out for the world to see. It seems innocent enough with silly filters, and funny pictures, but it can also be a place that puts your teen at risk for bullying, sexual content, and strangers accessing them.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Snap chat is dangerous because almost any teen I know, uses this app instead of texting for the simple reason of what they are saying and sending disappears. This allows them to pretty much say and do whatever they want, and there is no history of it. It is also dangerous because if your teen is sending someone risky pictures, the recipient of the material can screen shot it, save it, and then send that picture out to anyone they want, including sex trafficers and child preditors.

4. LINE is an app that allows free text messaging, video chatting, and sharing photos. Your teen can choose how long they want a photo to stay up, whether it be a few seconds or a week or so. As long as your teen is connected to wi-fi they can use this app to pretty much do and say whatever they want to whoever they want.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS? Any app that allows your teen to video chat with anyone they want is dangerous. Any app that allows your teen to send photos that do not stay on their device is also dangerous. This is how teens get groomed into sex trafficking, and this is how child predaters gain access to inappropriate materials.

5. WHISPER is an online forum where teens can share their thoughts, or other things “annonymously”. I use the phrase annonymously lightly because there is an option on this app where someone can put on their “location”and it connects the individual to people in their area. It will also give strangers their location. It also gives access to teens to communicate privatley. This opens up the door to predators to find out exactly where the teen is while they are talking to them. Whisper is NOT an app I would ever allow my child to use.

WHY IT IS DANGEROUS? Well, first off, it is dangerous simply by the materials your teen can access. From online bullying, to posts about drugs and alchohal, to even posts about how to committ suicide. Not only does it allow them access to these things, it gives them access to complete strangers to chat who are near them. NOT only does it give access to strangers to chat, it gives the strangers there actual location. I can not stress this enough, if your child has this app on their phone you need to act immediatly in deleting it, blocking, it and having a serious talk with your teen on who exactly they were talking to and what was said.

6. KIK, oh how I hate this app with a passion!! KIK is an app that allows teens to send video messages, chats, gifs, pictures ect. The problem with KIK is there are absolutely no parental controls and your teen can connect with anyone in their surrounding areas. KIK has been a app that has personally affected our family with our teen. She had connected to a stranger in the area that started grooming our daughter. After we found the information we turned it over to local authorities and it was found that the individual posing as a normal teen to our daughter, was actually running one of the largest sex trafficking rings in the Chicago area. She honestly thought she had just connected with a boy around the area her age, who seemed to have a lot in common, and the end result was and still is absolutely frighting.

WHY IT IS DANGEROUS? The main reason this app is dangerous is because anyone can use it. There are no parental controls to where you can set who they can and can’t talk to. It also connects your kids to strangers around them, with no background information on who this person is. This app is definitley by far the most dangerous app available to children today.

Another website I would like to bring attention to is a website called OMEGLE. This is not an app but you can see if your child has been using this website by searching their browser history.

OMEGLE is a website that allows children to talk to strangers through video chat and messaging. You go onto the website, put in your location, and it connects you with anyone in your area, or you can choose a different area to connect. I obviously do not have to go into details on why this is incredibly dangerous.

Some other apps that you need to look out for are:

  1. Tinder
  2. Blendr
  3. Ask.fm
  4. Houseparty
  5. VINE
  6. YOBO (Formally Yellow)- This one is like a Tinder for kids who are 13-17

There are so many more apps and websites out there, but these are the top picks that I wanted to touch base on because they are the most common. I can not stress it enough that you need to make sure you are monitoring your children and their devices. I am very anti-device as many of you know for certain reasons, and not being able to 100% monitor is one of them. You can ask my 6th grader who begs us all the time for a phone, with the simple answer of No. I am going to write a few more in depth posts in the future about how technology is affecting our children’s development, how it affects their social skills, their emotional health, and what really happens when a child becomes addicted to their device. These are all things we have dealt with personally in our home, so to say I am an expert, no, but to say I have lived through the nightmare of these apps and issues, yes.

I know it is really hard to wrap your head around it because so many parents think “Not my kid” and “We have had talks about the safety of the internet, they would never do those things” believe me I know. I have said all of these lines myself. But they are, and there are child preditors out there on all of these apps grooming, and getting to these kids. So, just be aware.

(I used Google Image for a picture of these apps so you know what to look for)

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