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Social Media Apps

(Posted February 25, 2020)

Get to know your teen’s favorite social media apps
Texting apps

Kik Messenger allows your child age 13 or older to text for free with no character limits or ads. Why it poses a danger:

·        It does not show up in you’re a cell phone messaging service, so you won’t know what or when your child is texting to others.

·        Strangers can message your child if they know your child’s Kik username.

·        It features “promoted chats” in which your child can chat with a brand and be subliminally marketed to.

WhatsApp is another messaging service; this one is for teens 16 and older only. You can send text, audio
and video messages to as many people as you want with no size limit or feeds.
Why it poses a danger:

·        Many people younger than 16 sign up anyway.

·        Although it offers “end to end encryption” between users who send messages to one another, claiming that even the software developer can’t read or store messages, this could give teens a false sense of security when sharing — as anyone can screenshot a conversation and share it later.

Photo/ Video-sharing apps

Tik Tok is for teens older than 16 who want to be the next breakout rock star. This app allows them to record and share videos of their performances. Why it poses a danger:

·        Songs and videos include bad language and other types of content you might not want your young teen exposed to — as anyone can post videos in this app.

·        Users can comment on videos, which can result in hurt feelings, inappropriate or sexually suggestive comments. Again, adults can participate in these conversations, too.

Houseparty enables group video chatting through mobile and desktop apps for teens 13 and older. Users receive a notification when friends are online and available to group video chat. Why it poses a danger:

·        Again, while you may think the harmless, goofy video you are sharing with up to eight people stays between you, anyone can screenshot a moment that your teen might regret later.

·        Teens might get involved in video chats with people they don’t know well, exposing them to inappropriate content that can’t be “stopped” by a moderator.

‘Secret’ apps

Snapchat became popular quickly, thanks to its promise that videos shared would “disappear” over time. It is free and available to anyone over the age of 13, including adults. Why it poses a danger:

·        Embarrassing or inappropriate photos never go away if a friend screenshots them to share with others.

·        Snapchat does keep data on “snaps” sent and received, so there is a way to recover sexy images or other photos that shouldn’t be shared.

·        “Snapchat is a camera where it matters more how you feel than how you look,” according to its website. With many filters and the ability to copy and paste images into carefully curated photos, your teen may receive images that don’t accurately reflect reality and feel pressure to curate his or her own “better” reality.

Whisper is positioned to get teens 17 and older to expose their innermost secrets, claiming anonymity to the user. There is no way for Whisper to verify the age of any user.Why it poses a danger:

·        Teens don’t even need an email to sign up. And they don’t need to input their names. However, if the location identification is left on, predators can easily tell where a teen is located.

·        Teens may reveal secrets that they regret. And they may be exposed to “confessions” with sexual or inappropriate content that they feel pressured to “share.” One example of a shareable meme posted on the Whisper website: “When I start talking to a girl, I test her and see how long it takes her to send me a naked picture. If it’s within a week she fails and isn’t for me.”

·        A review of the app in the Apple Store by a teen reports that she often gets asked to share nude pictures.

— Information courtesy of Common Sense Media


Lewis Collins

Superintendent of Schools

Union 103 and Moosabec CSD

Jonesport/Beals Island, ME

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