app apps

7 apps that could cause harm to our students

Cyberbullying, harassment, and more--parents and educators should know the harmful apps that children might be hiding on their phones

1. Snapchat: Snapchat is a pretty ubiquitous social media app that lets users send a seconds-long snap to friends. While the snaps disappear after 24 hours, users can screenshot them, so children’s activities don’t disappear with the snap. More problematic is the app’s location sharing, or Snap Map, which could make users vulnerable. Parents should make sure the feature is turned off if their child uses Snapchat.

2. Yubo: Yubo, sometimes called “Tinder for Teens,” rebranded itself in late 2017, changing its name from Yellow to Yubo and updating some of its major safety issues, including linking accounts with other social media platforms and lacking privacy options. However, there is no age verification, which means children of any age can enter an eligible birth date and use the app freely.

3. Omegle: This app exists to connect strangers–users are connected at random for video chats. The website states that chats are anonymous unless users choose to reveal their identity, and even reveals that predators have been known to use the site, and advises caution. It also claims video is monitored, but there is an option for an 18+ or unmoderated section.

4. Vault: The Vault app lets users hide photos and videos, and the icon is unassuming, so parents may not know if their child has explicit images saved to their mobile device. The app can be unlocked with a password or Touch ID.

5. House Party: A live-streaming group video chat app like this leaves the door open for bullying or sexually explicit activities. Users can chat in groups of eight and are notified when friends are in the app.

6. Sarahah: This anonymous messaging app was removed from the iTunes and Google stores after serious bullying accusations. But parents should perform regular searches for similar anonymous apps. It looks like users can still register through the tool’s website, which calls the tool a way to receive honest feedback from coworkers and friends who can remain anonymous.

7. Tellonym: The download page praises the app’s ability to help users “get tons of honest messages,” “find out new stuff about your friends,” and “ask things you never dared before.” As with other anonymous apps, users are at risk of being bullied or harassed.

Laura Ascione

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