10TV asked social media expert, JJ Canon, what apps parent should be concerned about and she put three at the top of the list: SnapChat, Tinder and Ask FM. (Get the full list here)
Canon warns that these apps can expose teenagers to a global playground for criminals.
“The internet is a pedophile’s paradise, whether people want to acknowledge that or not,” said Canon.
Snapchat, an instant photo sharing app where the image “erases” after a certain number of seconds, requires a minimum age of 13 – however, users can easily enter a fictitious birthdate.
Next on the list is Tinder, an online dating app where users swipe “yes” or “no” on photos of strangers and chat with them.
Ask FM rounds out Canon’s top three. It's an anonymous question and answer site that is notorious for cyber bullying.
Officer Chuck Collier of the Dublin Police Department agrees that these apps create chaos.
“We call it keyboard courage,” Collier said. “If I’m not talking to you face-to-face, I say a lot meaner things."
Collier also points out that anonymity can play a troublesome role as well. Video chat Omegle is another app that could lead to trouble. Collier points out that its claims of anonymity are a problem.
“You don’t know who you’re talking to. It could be somebody down the street, or it could be a 50-year-old pedophile in Arizona,” Collier said.
Some parents are already taking actions and setting rules to prevent their children from using the apps.
There is no hiding the apps in Jennifer Sayre's home. She's set house rules that limit 12-year-old Abigail's social media to Instagram and Twitter. Abigail has to use technology in the living room or someplace visible to her parents.
"She seems to understand that any of those things that come up she's not permitted to just get them," said Jennifer.
It's an understanding Abigail and her schoolmates at Hilliard's Station Middle School are learning together this year with the rollout of the district's one-to-one program. Sixth graders were loaned iPad minis to use both at school and at home.
Hilliard's technology team will hold sessions to get parents up to speed on the information highway their children are navigating with ease.
"The best thing is prevention so that the parents start teaching kids how to use the internet, phones, technology right from the beginning," said Dr. William Cotton of Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Cotton urges parents to start with an open dialogue about what’s safe, and what isn’t - including cyber bullying and the stress it can cause.
"Over time it can really hurt the child, cause them to be depressed for a long time. The worst case scenario is when you get the suicide. They're so sad from it that they try to end or end their lives. Obviously we want to stop it before it gets that far," added Cotton.
- SnapChat - Age restriction on this one is appalling. Set all the timers you like, it only takes ONE (1) second for anyone to take a screenshot. Anyone can "add" and send snaps to anyone. Let's not forget the recent "Snappening" where hundreds of thousands of SnapChat pics were leaked. Huge risk for inappropriate content.
- Tinder - A hook-up dating app which, despite age restrictions, co-founder Justin Mateen disclosed (in February 2013) that 13-17 year olds make up over 7% of users. This is disturbing to say the least.
- Ask.fm - Via Ask.fm FAQ - "The ability to ask anonymous questions is an important part of our service. Ask.fm will not reveal the names of people who are sending anonymous questions. However, be aware that anonymity does not mean that you can post offensive questions to others. This site is notorious for cyberbullying and has been linked in recent past to several suicides. Beware of any app which allows users to post anonymously.
- YikYak - Another app which allows users to post anonymously. Comments made there are distributed geographically to the nearest 500 people who are logged in to the app. Linked to cyberbullying and threats of violence at school campuses, causing lockdowns.
- Vine - Dangerous because of ability for adults to follow your child's account and potentially find out where video was taken through us of location services.
- Instagram - Big risk for exposure to inappropriate content and bullying. Many kids (under the age of 13) have multiple, sometimes "secret" accounts. They have one to show Mom and Dad and then however many more that parents won't be aware of unless monitoring very closely (i.e., using Parental Control Software).
- You Now - Live streaming video app where kids under the age of 10 uploading videos of themselves to win points. Definite privacy issues if kids are filming in their homes, etc.
- Keek - Video uploading and sharing app with no privacy settings or restrictions to adult content. Profiles can be shared to Twitter and Facebook, which increases possibility for exposure. There are no parental controls.
- Chat for Omegle (Talk with Strangers) - Obviously, not for kids.
- Whisper - Like a combination of SnapChat and Twitter, Whisper lets users anonymously share their secrets with millions of users.