Steven and Chris

Risky Apps Your Kids Might Be Using

With almost 20,000 mobile applications being launched every month, it's nearly impossible for parents to keep track of what's good or what's harmful for their kids. Parenting expert Jennifer Kolari discusses the three apps that are on her radar for being a negative influence on kids.

1. Whisper

What does it do?

It allows you to anonymously post your secrets, comment on other's secrets, and chat with other users in your area. The latter allows many opportunities to make things less anonymous than any parent would be comfortable with.

Why are kids tempted?

Due to the anonymity, it's very easy to post photos of other kids with derogatory text superimposed on the image.

Why is it dangerous?

Users do not have to register to use Whisper and can use the app to communicate with other users nearby through GPS. A quick look at the app and you can see that online relationships are forming through the use of this app, but you never know the person behind the computer or phone. Sexual predators also use the app to locate kids and establish a relationship, and they could be near your home.

2. Snapchat

What does it do?

This app allows a user to send photos and videos to anyone on his/her friend list. The sender can determine how long the receiver can view the image and then the image "destructs" after the allotted time.

Why are kids tempted?

Snapchat is the No. 1 app used for sexting, mostly because people think it's the safer way to sext.

Why is it dangerous?

The "snaps" can actually be easily recovered and the receiver can take a screen shot and share it with others. Also, a lot of images from Snapchat get posted to revenge porn sites, called "snap porn."

3. Yik Yak

What does it do?

This one gives the nearest 500 people the ability to communicate in a chatroom-like atmosphere. Yik Yak is an anonymous social app that let people jump on and off without giving away their true identities. The messages can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking.

Why are kids tempted?

Yakking' is the welcoming, authentic, and anonymous version of tweeting. Anyone using Yik Yak can turn a school into a virtual chat room where everyone can post comments anonymously. Untruthful, mean, character-assassinating short messages are immediately seen by all users in a specific geographic area.

Why is it dangerous?

Users are exposed to and contributing sexually explicit content, abusive language and personal attacks so severe that schools are starting to block the app on their networks. Although the posts are anonymous, kids start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users. Imagine the damage this can do with cyberbullying at school. It's also dangerous if your child starts talking to a stranger. This wouldn't be a stranger in some remote state that has no access to come near your child, this would be someone who is close by, who could easily arrange a meeting or a visit!

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