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Top Apps

Top Apps Teens are Using Right Now

Teen and Tweens have access to hundreds of different social applications. We've taken the top apps and given you a summary of each app, what's good about them, what's bad and some tips to help you navigate this with your child.

All Things Snapchat

Snapchat

Snapchat is a social media-messaging app that allows you to exchange video, pictures, and text that disappears after a short amount of time. You can post things that live up to 24 hours on your feed to instantly vanishing as soon as you take your finger off the screen or swipe a certain way. The most popular age range of Snapchat users is 12 to 22 years old, and 80% of teens use Snapchat.

The Good-

  • Searchable content is filtered well
  • Able to connect with friends
  • Opportunity to follow positive role models

The Bad-

  • Messages disappear
  • Advertisements might not be suitable for teens
  • Your messages can be screenshot and saved
  • There is pressure to keep up “streaks” (which is how many days in a row you’ve snapped with someone).
  • It ranks your friends, therefore people snap a lot in a day just to be someone’s “best friend” on snapchat. This usually is a bunch of pointless communication that takes up time.
  • If privacy settings are not set correctly strangers can find your snaps on the map feature. Which would show the exact location of the snap.

Tips:

  • Make sure your username is not your real name (That way only the people you want to follow them do)
  • Know who your kids are snapping with (they should always know the people personally)
  • In the settings menu, look at who your kids have blocked. (This may tell you any bad accounts they might have been snapping with).
  • When your kids first get their snapchat, create your own as well so you can see how its being used.
  • Know their password
instagram

Instagram

Instagram is a free social networking app where you can share photos and videos with friends from your mobile device. This app lets users take pictures and videos, and then they can apply a filter to it so they can share it with friends. There’s also a private messaging feature which could replace texting for some teenagers. Teens find a lot of worth and satisfaction in how many likes their post received. Everyone who makes an Instagram account can post a photo or video, and it will be displayed on their profile where their followers will be able to see it.

The Good-

  • Able to connect with friends
  • Opportunity to follow positive role models
  • Potential to use artistic side

The Bad-

  • Searchable content is unfiltered.
  • Hashtags can lead to bad subjects
  • Stranger danger
  • DM’s (direct messages) Anyone can send your child a message

Tips:

  • Have a clear rule about clearing history
  • Monitor what accounts they’ve searched
  • Monitor what Hashtags they’ve searched or clicked on
  • Check their Explore feed, it shows posts based on your kids' history.
  • You can log into their account on your phone and easily switch between accounts.
  • Even if account is private using a hashtag makes the post public
  • Teach them to never use hashtags.
Twitter

Twitter

Twitter is a social networking service where users post and interact with brief messages called "tweets" which are limited to 140 characters. Twitter's popularity comes from how fast and easy it is to read tweets from other users. Twitter is relatively simple to set up: all you do is join with a free account, create a Twitter name, and then send tweets as often as you'd like. All in all, Twitter is like a mixture of instant messaging, blogging, and texting, but with limited content sent to a potentially broad audience.

The Good-

  • Ability to communicate with educators
  • Opportunity to follow positive role models

The Bad-

  • Searchable content is unfiltered
  • History is easy to clear, even one search at a time
  • Hashtags can lead to bad subjects
  • Stranger danger
  • Links leading to content unsuitable for younger teens.
  • Ability to view what’s trending, which can sometimes be inappropriate for teens.

Tips:

  • Know who your kids follow and who follows them.
  • Have a clear rule about clearing history (even though it's easy to clear one search at a time)
  • You can log into their account on your phone and easily switch between accounts.
  • Teach them to never use hashtags
tbh app overview

tbh

According to the app description:

tbh is an app for giving anonymous feedback to friends. Unlike other anonymous apps, all the feedback is positive. We built tbh because we believe that social networks should make us feel better about ourselves—not worse. To be honest, we love our members and we only want the best for them.

This app seems positive overall, but we see the potential for addiction and hurt feelings if your teen is not voted for something they think they should be.

 

Other Popular Apps you might not know your teen is using:

We do NOT recommend any of these apps…

Periscope

Periscope

Periscope is a live video app that allows you to watch and broadcast real-time videos from your mobile device or tablet. A lot of the content on this app is not monitored and your child can watch any and every live video from all over the world. All you need is a mobile device and an Internet connection. You can watch anyone’s live stream that you’d like. The reason for its popularity is because people like to see what other people are doing in the moment.

The Good:

Nothing for teens!!

The Bad:

  • Easy to find X-rated broadcasts
  • Periscope is public so it's easy to communicate with strangers
  • Location can be easily shared
  • Predators pretending to be younger
  • Teens broadcasting to strangers which leads to explicit talk and possibly more.
  • You can have a private broadcast with complete strangers
  • You can be added to groups without permission (groups usually are usually contain adult material)

Tips:

  • This app is a NO for teens.
Sarahah

Sarahah

“Sarahah,” means “honesty” or “frankness” in Arabic.

According to the app description:
Sarahah helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner.

This application is such a danger for kids as everything is anonymous.  Bullies and predators can stay hidden with no detection.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a private messaging app that allows students to use wifi to bypass text messaging services and directly communicate with other users on the app. This app is owned by Facebook and is growing faster than Twitter. Many people who like this app have international friends/family due to the no cost and user friendliness. Through this app, they can send texts, photos, videos, links, etc.  The reason why this is popular is it has features like group chatting, voice messages and location and contact sharing. But to be honest, this app allows many avenues for teens to be inappropriate and sadly many parents don’t usually monitor this app.

Kik-logo-med

Kik

Kik has over 275 million users and allows you to chat with other people, bypassing text messaging features. Anyone on the app can anonymously contact and direct message you through text, pics or video. All they need to know or guess is your username. Some police are concerned that adult predators might use this app to pretend like they are tweens and teens so they can communicate with the like.

GroupMe

GroupMe

GroupMe is a messaging app that allows users send direct messages and group messages without any fees. It first became popular because of its emojis and GIFs, but unfortunately, some of these emojis and GIFs are adult themed. With GroupMe, you can't delete past posts, and there are some concerns about the user's control over content. Teens are using it the most to share homework. They start group me’s for their entire class. For example: all juniors at a high school are on the same GroupMe. They are not monitored by teachers and it has become a problem for kids cheating.

Afterschool

After school

After School is an anonymous app that provides a private chat group for your school. Students can connect with friends who go to their school and post whatever they want, whether good or bad. Within the first two months of this app being available it was rejected from the app store twice due to complaints because of some bad messages from teens on the app. To join the group/school, all you have to verify is that you’re a student of that particular school on Facebook. Much of the content in this app includes pornography, bullying, gossip, rumors and alcohol or drug references.

Ask_fm_app_H

Ask.Fm:

Ask.fm is a social network that lets you ask questions to your friends or other users of the app. People use this app to anonymously ask questions about life, religion, politics, books, pop culture, food, travel and many more things. It helps you see what other people think about on different things that might interest you. You can directly or indirectly ask questions to anyone, and anyone can answer or respond to questions through text or video. Many of the questions are inappropriate for many people responding. Ask.fm is known for its cyberbullying tendencies and there have been links to teen suicide. There is no age verification, so you can pretend to be any age.

whisper-logo

Whisper:

Whisper is an anonymous, confessional app that lets people express who they are and comment on users who do the same.  Whisper reveals the location of users, which makes it easier for predators to find and connect with users. This app also serves as an outlet for you to share intimate secrets and have people respond to it.Questions and comments are paired with a picture and most often the questions are sexual. Strong language and graphic photos are seen often.

Whisper requires you to be 17 years old to register, but you can pretend to be any age.

YikYack

Yik Yak:

Yik Yak is a local social-networking app that lets users post "anything and everything" anonymously, including a lot of explicit content that's clearly not for kids. This app is very popular with high school students. It lets anyone connect and give information to others anonymously, including sharing pics. Cyber bullying and bomb threats have been made many times on this app; therefore the app is blocked on most middle school and high school campuses.

Bonus:
Secret Calculator/Vault apps (Private Photo Calculator% App)

Caculator Apps

The Private Photo (Calculator%) app provides students a way to hide pictures and videos behind an ordinary-looking calculator app. This app appears to be a normal looking and operating calculator app, but when you open it and enter a secret code, you unlock an area that is completely private and confidential, which might include inappropriate pics and apps. These types of apps are extremely dangerous and there are many of them. You need to know all the apps that are on our kid’s phones. In fact, it’s smart to download the apps to your own phone so you can try them out.

“But what about Facebook?”

facebook

Obviously, one app that we are missing is Facebook.  Most people are pretty comfortable with this network and the built in security features keep things pretty secure. And to be honest, most teens and tweens are not active on it, which is why we didnofficially” include it on this list. But as with all social networks, you should be aware who your childs friends are and watch for concerning issues.

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