apps caution

6 underground apps students hide from schools

Educators and parents should keep these apps, which aren't always used for the best intentions, on their radar.

Technology is nearly ubiquitous in classrooms, and it holds extreme importance in the lives of today’s children.

But with technology comes responsibility, and many ed-tech stakeholders emphasize the importance of teaching students about digital citizenship, being aware of their digital footprint, and being responsible and safe online.

Despite the best efforts of parents and educators, children can–and do–get into sticky situations with technology. And as everyone knows, things you post online, in group chats, or send in text messages don’t disappear if you delete them.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of apps adults might want to know about, not in an effort to alarm parents and teachers, but rather to inform them of the threats that accompany technology ownership and use.

(Next page: 6 apps that might put students at risk)

1. Whisper: The app states users must be 17 years old to download the app. Even if children followed that age restriction, high school students can download and use it. The app lets users share their thoughts or opinions via text that is placed on top of an image. Users also can connect directly with one another. It has the potential for cyberbullying and online harassment.

2. ASKfm: This app lets users ask anonymous questions (they also can choose to not be anonymous). Kids might use it for cyberbullying and to unfairly target certain classmates.

3. Private Photos (Calculator%): According to the app, “anyone who starts this application will see a calculator but if you put in passcode it will open up a private area.”

4. HiCalculator: The app’s description indicates it “ can hide your photos and videos behind a calculator.” Parents, teachers and other adults are likely to pass over the app without realizing it.

5. Hide It Pro: Users can hide pictures and videos behind a lock screen and can create multiple photo and video albums and email them to others from inside the app. The app automatically locks when users exit it, and it also includes a code-enabled feature that makes the app appear empty if someone, like a parent or teacher, finds it and knows what it does.

6. Yik Yak: This location-based app lets users post text-only messages that are visible to users who are closest to the original poster’s location. The app’s iTunes description says the app contains frequent and/or intense sexual content or nudity, frequent and/or intense alcohol, tobacco or drug use references, crude humor, fantasy violence and more–all of which could be problematic in any kind of environment where bullying and cyberbullying or sexual assault or harassment are concerns.

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Laura Ascione

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