A 12-year-old girl was lured away from her home by a ruthless predator, never to be the same again. And sadly, horrifying cases like this one are becoming more and more frequent across America.
With countless stories in the media about missing children, it has become abundantly clear that the bad guys aren’t necessarily waiting at the bus stop or even just skulking around your neighborhood anymore. They have entrance right into your kid’s bedroom via the cellphone you bought them.
As parents, it’s more important than ever that we monitor our children’s cellphone use. It’s our job to protect our kids from predators, bullying, pornography, and unwanted sexual messaging.
But the horrifying reality is that, now more than ever, predators are able to gain access with little to no effort due to the countless dangerous apps that are available to children.
Cellphone apps come with all kinds of capabilities these days. It can be so hard to keep track of what the new fads are — and especially difficult to know which ones are dangerous.
Thankfully, For Every Mom has provided an incredible resource to help equip parents and teach them what to look out for. If your child or teenager has a cellphone, please be sure to check their mobile device and make sure they don’t have any of the popular — but very dangerous– apps listed below.
The 15 Most Dangerous Apps of 2017:
(Via For Every Mom)
1. WHISPER: An anonymous confession app.
Why it’s dangerous: Anonymity of app lets users post photos and confessions of someone who isn’t you. Potential to lead to bullying. Uses GPS, so predators can find anyone easily.
2. YIK YAK: An app that allows users to post 200 character “Yaks” that can be viewed by the 500 people closest to them as determined by GPS.
Why it’s dangerous: Users put sexually explicit content on the app, although it’s anonymous. Can reveal personal details that makes users easily found, especially with GPS.
3. DOWN: A dating app connected to Facebook.
Why it’s dangerous: Allows you to classify your friends into people you would be “down” with “hooking up” with. Creates a normalcy for a sexual hook-up culture for your child.
4. KIK MESSENGER: An instant messenger app that allows users to send videos, pics, and GIFs.
Why it’s dangerous: Very popular for sexting. No parental controls or authenticating. Easy for predators to find your child.
5. VINE: An app that allows users to watch and post 6-second vidoes
Why it’s dangerous: Most videos are harmless, though porn videos do pop up in the feed, exposing your children to explicit imagery. Can easily search for/access porn videos on the app. Predators utilize app to search teens and find their location; can connect with teens via other messaging apps.
6. ASK.FM: A popular Q&A social networking site used almost exclusively by kids.
Why it’s dangerous: Creates a virtual, consequence-free forum of cyber bullying. Nine documented suicide cases have been linked to the site in the U.K. and U.S.
7. SNAPCHAT: A photo-sharing app that allows users to send photos to specific people, assigning the photos an allotted time — after which they will “disappear” and are virtually untraceable.
Why it’s dangerous: It’s very popular for sexting. Users can easily screenshot or save images, so they aren’t really gone. Saved images can be used to send “revenge porn” or for any other malicious purpose.
8. POOF, HIDDEN APPS, HIDE IT PRO, APP LOCK: Apps designed to hide other apps on your phone. Not all of these apps are currently available, but if your child already has them, they can still use them.
Why it’s dangerous: These allow your child to conceal apps from their phone screen so that you can’t find them. Parents have to be diligent about searching for them.
9. OMEGLE: A video chatting app.
Why it’s dangerous: Users are anonymous, so it’s easy for your child to make friends with a predator. Known to be a predator favorite.
10. OOVOO: A video chatting app where users can chat with up to 12 people at a given time.
Why it’s dangerous: While this app isn’t terrible in itself, your kids MUST use its privacy settings. Your kids should only let people who know them chat with them.
11. BLENDR: A “flirting” app allowing users to send photos/videos to anyone on their “friends” list and rate their “hotness”
Why it’s dangerous: App uses GPS that is not authenticated. This loophole allows predators to easily find minors or anyone else they’re looking for. Popular for sexting. “Hotness” rating allows for bullying.
12. CHATROULETTE: A video chat site that randomly matches you with someone around the globe to have a video chat.
Why it’s dangerous: Very popular for cybersex and pornography. Potential to be randomly matched with a chat partner who’s nude in front of their camera. No parameters in place to stop the person you are chatting with from recording your chat and sharing it.
13. SKOUT: A flirting app used to meet new people.
Why it’s dangerous: Ages aren’t verified. Teen version available, but security features can be bypassed by using a fake birthday.
Adult version exposes kids to profanity, suggestive images, and private messaging with strangers who can see their location.
14. MEET ME: An app that uses GPS to allow users to meet new people who live nearby.
Why it’s dangerous: No age verification. Account is linked to Facebook, which makes your location easily identifiable to predators. Popularity rating makes seeking approval from strangers seem like a game.
15. TINDER: An app used to find dates and hookups using GPS tracking.
Why it’s dangerous: It’s easy for adults and minors to find each other. The “rating” system can be used for bullying.
With so many dangerous resources available to our little ones — and not-so-little ones — it’s important to do everything in our power to protect our families. If you’re a parent, please consider implementing the following phone safety tips:
1. Approve every app on your kid’s phone, or password protect downloads.
2. Follow your gut instincts if something feels off with your child.
3. Encourage your children to use technology, including their social media accounts, for good.
4. Talk openly and honestly about online safety and make it a priority to have regular discussions about phone use, apps, and social media with your kids.
As parents, it’s our God-given responsibility to ensure that our children are safe and protected. Have you checked your child’s phone lately? Please share this article with every parent you know — by doing so you may safe a life!