As a parent, it is difficult to keep up with the different apps that the kids are using. It is imperative that parents stay up-to-date on the apps that tweens and teens most frequently use, especially when the apps can compromise their child's online safety and can be used for cyber-bullying. braveparenting.net can help you navigate the newest trends.
Most parents know that SnapChat is not just used to put cute dog faces on photos. It is used to send messages that can disappear shortly after being read. This makes it easy to send someone a nasty message, say something mean about another student, or even to send inappropriate photos to others because "they disappear" before an adult would see them. Snapchat had captured 79% of the teenage market last year.
Most people DO NOT know that Instagram has now adopted many of the same features as SnapChat. Instagram is now owned by Facebook, which puts it in a better position to compete with SnapChat in the online marketplace. Disappearing photos are now a feature of Instagram Direct. Instagram has 600 million users. You can create multiple instagram accounts. Sometimes teens will use Instagram to create a "hate" page and keep it "private" to invite only certain users in order to bully another student. Here's another really important feature of Instagram--it is free because they can SELL the pictures and videos that you post. In addition, it's easy to screen shot a photo from Instagram Direct, so even though "it disappears," it might not disappear before someone takes a screen shot and can freely distribute it to others. Plus, nothing really ever disappears from the server, even if it disappears from your personal device.
Another app not mentioned on braveparenting.net, but recently hitting the news as a problem app for teens and tweens is called Sarahah. Sarahah is now connected to SnapChat, also. Sarahah is an app which was originally designed to allow corporations to give anonymous feedback to employees and bosses as personal suggestions and compliments completely anonymously. It just entered the app store in June. Teens have now discovered the app as a great way to cyber bully another teen because the app protects your identity. Combined with SnapChat, you can be anonymous AND quick--say something mean, be anonymous, AND the message disappears! You do not have to have an account to leave feedback. You do have to have an account to receive feedback.
As always, we hope that cyber-bullying never becomes an issue for your family, and we will do whatever we can to help if it becomes an issue at school. It is the parents' responsibility to keep an eye on their kids' mobile devices and apps. If you come across a new app or problem website, please let us know so that we can help spread the word to other parents.