Statistics show that one out of every five teens has been contacted by a child predator online.
As parents it’s our job to protect our kids, but in this digital age it can sometimes feel like a daunting task. And while the apps themselves do not pose an actual threat to our kids safety, they can provide an opportunity to expose, persuade, and, potentially lead kids to make bad decisions. Thankfully, the same technology that makes us fearful for our children and their safety, provides plenty of resources and information for parents, too.
Keep in mind that no amount of research or knowledge is as beneficial as maintaining an open line of communication with your child. Set boundaries, ground rules and consequences, but most of all let them know that you’re a safe space and that they can come to you no matter what they encounter online.
With that said, there are constantly new apps popping up, some you might be aware of, some you might not. Here’s a quick guide for reference.
The features of the site are similar to other social networking sites. Features include mobile games, chat, instant messaging, eCards, and photos. Considered by law enforcement to be one of the most popular apps for use by child predators.
Popular messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, voicemails and make calls and video chats worldwide. WhatsApp uses internet connection on smart phones and computers.
The Monkey app allows kids to chat with new people from all over the world. Users are randomly matched with other users for a brief, introductory video call. When matched with a new person, you can add more time or add the person on Snapchat to continue the connection. No age verification in place in order to provide a safer environment for young users
With a tagline of “Talk To Strangers” it’s easy to guess why this app is dangerous for kids. The Omegle app picks individuals at random for you to chat or video message with one on one.
Live streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcasters exact location. Users can earn “coins” as a way to “pay” minors for their photos.
One of the most popular apps by far, it’s popularity came by promising that users can take photos, and videos that will disappear. Snapchat now offers the ability for stories where content is available for up to 24 hours. Allows users to see you location
Kik allows anyone to contact and direct message your child. Kids can bypass traditional text messaging features. Kik gives unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
An anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. Reveals users locations so people can meet up.
Secret app designed to hide photos, videos, files and browser history.
Known for cyber bullying, this app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions.
Mappen App (AKA: Make Something Happen) is a social media app that focuses on location sharing. Users share their location on the Mappen app and what they’re doing with their friends so that they can get together in real life.
Hot or Not
Encourages users to rate your profile, check out people in their area and chat with strangers. In short, a hook up app.
Formerly known as Musical.y, TikTok is used for creating and sharing short videos. Limited privacy settings available, users can be exposed to cyber bullying and explicit content.
Self proclaimed addicting video chat app that allows users to meet people from all over the world in just seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content, and more.
Popular Dating Apps:
While social dating apps are meant for adults, the threshold for setting up an account is fairly low, should an underage child want to create an account, giving a little mis-information is about all it takes.
Allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. Users are encouraged to meet each other in person.
Dating app geared towards, gays, bi and transgender people. This app gives users options to chat, share photos, and meet up based on smart phone GPS location.
Similar to Tinder, only Bumble requires women to make the first contact. Kids are easily able to set up fakes accounts by falsifying their age and information.
Location based dating app and website, kids under the age of 17 are not allowed to share private photos but this rule can easily be bypassed by using a false age.
Dating and social networking app where users can chat, share videos and photos and connect with others based on location. Meant for adults, it is common for underage kids to create profiles for catfishing.
For even more information on the dangers of excessive screen time, follow these tips on preventing digital damage and managing your child’s screen time.
For more in depth reviews on apps and games, check out Common Sense Media