A who’s who of popular apps

Do you know which apps your children are using? Many parents struggle to keep up with the evolving nature of the new apps that children are using. To give you a quick whistle-stop tour of the latest apps, Hilary Smith shares insight on the up and coming apps of the moment.

Today, children are able to access the world from anywhere with a tap or swipe of their finger. Social media, devices, and technology have invaded our lives, offering us multiple benefits and perks. Unfortunately, riding technology’s coattails are also a number of potential dangers that may pose a risk to children’s safety online.

One way to help reduce the risks associated with modern technology is to understand the apps kids are using and downloading every day. It’s no secret that children spend a lot of time on their devices and social media is constantly evolving. In order to help keep children safe while on social media, it’s important to understand how and what apps of the moment teens are using.

Here’s is a list of some of the most popular apps that your children may be using that you should know about.

Music and social media apps

Musical.ly

Geared for the 16 and up crowd, users can film, stage, edit, and share music videos with others on this downloadable app. This app allows ‘Musers’ the ability to create and express themselves through videos and songs. Teens enjoy the endless creative opportunities that are available on this new app

What parents need to know: Over 10 million Musers use this app daily, but over 70 million people have registered on the site. The music and videos initially appeal to children and teens, but this app is being developed into a social media network that allows users to connect with each other. However, like all social media, it’s important to reinforce the message to teens that they should think before they post. Also, being aware of the site’s community guidelines can give them a good understanding of what is appropriate behaviour on the platform.

musical.ly logo

Dubsmash

This relatively new app is meant for users who are aged 18 and older or 13 and above with parental permission. Like Musical.ly, people utilize this app to create simple videos that show them lip syncing short movie and song soundbites. This is a highly entertaining app for teens and celebrities have been known to use it as well.

What parents need to know:  After being downloaded over 10 million times, a few legality concerns have been raised about possible violations of copyright laws. Kids should try to find sound clips from public domains and lawyers recommend privately sharing videos instead of posting to “public forums such as Facebook or Instagram”. For more information, please visit their terms of service section on the main Dubsmash site.

Whisper

This anonymous app encourages users to write their deepest confessions and upload them onto images. These ‘memes’, which are called Whispers, are then posted to the site allowing others to read everyone’s secrets. As an added bonus, it allows fellow readers to “heart” the confessions they find amusing.

What parents should know: Whisper has a minimum age requirement of 17, but at least 4 percent of this app’s 20 million worldwide users are underage. While entertaining, the anonymity of this app can be used as a way to cyberbully others and spread rumours. People may also use fake identities to pose as others in order to spread gossip. See Whisper’s community guidelines for more details on what to expect on the app.

Ask.fm

This is another anonymous app that uses a “question and answer” format to allow users to ask questions while others answer.

What parents need to know: Ask.fm requires its 150 million global users to be at least 13 years of age. However, it has earned a bad reputation as it has been linked to many cases of cyberbullying and suicides. In 2013, the social media platform received a lot of media attention due to the tragic cyberbullying case of Hannah Smith, a 14 year old girl from Lutterworth in Leicestershire. Parents need to be aware that like other social networks, it can be used to cyberbully children. For more information on how it works and its safety features, visit the site’s safety centre.

Burn Note

This app destructs or “burns” messages shortly after the receiver views the content. It was originally created to prevent sensitive workplace communications secure and prevent unintended people from viewing the messages. Users often enjoy the “Spotlight” feature that shows only part of the text while you hover over it; this is to circumvent screenshots.

What parents need to know: Over 10,000 users have installed this service. With no trace of sent messages and a lack of opportunity to document the message, it may provide bullies the perfect chance to share harmful messages. The key thing to note is every Burn Note will disappear. This app does require users to be of “a legal age to form a binding contract” before downloading. For further information, please see Burn Note’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Dating apps

Tinder

Typically, this dating app allows adults to meet up. Tinder encourages users to swipe profile images looking for people they find physically attractive and would be interested meeting in real life.

What parents should know: Tinder has changed their age limit to only allow 17+ year olds on the app, but there are still many children using social media site underage. A recent Internet Matters survey found that the majority of people of 11 and 12 year olds are using some social networking sites, despite the age limit being 13. Children using social media sites underage may be expose to people and content that may not be appropriate for their age. With an estimated 50 million users worldwide, it’s important to read the safety suggestions as recommended by Tinder.

MeetMe

Formerly known as MyYearbook, MeetMe was created to allow users to locate people who have similar interests that are located in close proximity.

What parents should know: The minimum age requirement for this site is 13 (if they have parental permission). In the UK alone during 2012 and 2013, there were over 23 thousand sexual offences recorded against children. We need to keep these numbers in mind, because MeetMe offers a platform that may enable perpetrators to contact and groom young victims. While the vast majority of the company’s 3.2 million monthly users are genuine people looking to talk, there are those who develop false profiles and pretend to share interests kids enjoy, making it easier to get in contact with children. Head over to the site’s suggested guidelines to use MeetMe safely.

Pokémon Go

This is the new app that has taken the world by storm since its launch earlier in July. It is a gaming that builds on the success of the Pokemon franchise give player a new way to play a mobile game by using ‘Augmented Reality’. It uses a phones camera and GPS maps to allow players to catch and train pokémon in the real world

What parents need to know: The game has sparked a number of organisation such as the NSPCC to raise concerns over the lack of safety offered to children on the platform. There are four key things to watch out for. The first is stranger danger – as children are out and about looking for these creatures some could be lured to meet up with people face to face.

As you have to stare at the screen while walking, children have to be reminded to stay aware of their surroundings. As well as costing a lot in terms of the in-app purchases, it also uses a lot of data as it requires constant GPS tracking so be aware of this. -See more in depth info on PokemonGO mobite app.

Looking Ahead

One of the greatest challenges as a parent is keeping kids safe from the world around them without covering them in bubble wrap. Talking to children and offering advice about the potential dangers in the online world can help them to build resilience and make smarter choices on the internet. Also, encouraging kids to be open about what they share on social media and giving them the appropriate tools for navigating the digital world safely can reduce their exposure to online dangers.

Additional information

If you’d like to learn more about other popular apps children are using here are some places you can visit:

Parents apps guide – summary of risky and popular apps children use

NSPCC and O2 NetAware – guide to social apps children use

 

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