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The apps all parents should really know about

From talking to strangers across the globe to classmate cyber bulling, there's a million and one ways for kids to get themselves into some serious trouble online. And as soon as you get them a smartphone (to ironically keep them safe) you open yourself up to a whole new world of worry.

Here's the apps you need to become familiar with pronto:



Kik Messenger


Free messaging service that often gets out of hand.

Danger factor: 7/10 


One parent who was actually being very diligent about her child's online profile found out about this when she read comments on her daughter's Instagram photos: 


“Add me on KiK!” all these young boys kept saying. 


When she checked out what Kik was, she discovered that it was a way of sending private messages and images for free – and things often got creepy. 


Basically she discovered that people would scout for ‘hotties' on Instragram and then try and get them into a private conversation elsewhere. Very seedy indeed.


Tinder


Dating app based on GPS.

Danger factor: 10/10


Imagine a dating website based on GPS location, your facebook profile images and shared facebook connections. Tinder may have started with good intentions – meet single ‘friends of friends' but it soon became a platform to hunt for attractive members of the opposite sex who may be nearby. 


While targeting the older demographic, the problem for parents comes due to the fact that Tinder uses facebook information upon signup. This means that children as young as 13 can join. And do. 


Snapchat


Free messaging service that deletes the contents after they've been viewed. 

Danger factor: 7/10


If you've heard the following line: “But the photos are deleted after 10 seconds!” then watch out, your child may be trying to pull the wool over your eyes.


Snapchat became popular as it seemed like a compromise between parents and kids - they could still send images but they would be instantly deleted forever. However, the fact that the ‘risk' was removed only made what was being sent seedier. 


In addition to this, since its launch, lots of ad-hoc services have been developed to get around this rule, which means that Snapchat may not be quite as secure as it seems.



Whisper

Anonymously tell the world your secrets.

Danger factor: 5/10


The idea behind Whisper is similar to a confessional. Kids can post images anonymously and place text over the image with a confession like ‘I'm a flirt', etc. 

While there's no ‘user profile' the app does allow users to communicate with people who are close by. It has therefore become rife for cyber bullies and also those looking to lure children. 

It's understandable why a parent wouldn't worry about an app that their child isn't actually signed into but there are many ways around this when GPS tracking is in place. 


Ask.fm

Anonymously ask the world any question you like.

Danger factor: 5/10



Another app that successfully hides its dark side under the ‘anonymous' tag is ask.fm. This app allows users (who are predominately young teens) to anonymously ask questions.


However, due to a lack of monitoring by the developers, there is a widespread inclination to turn questions into targeted cyber bullying. There have been four recorded cases of teen suicide due to the bullying on ask.fm.


While there is no textbook way to monitor your child's social identity it's a good ideas to start by understanding all of the apps and platforms in which they are having these conversations. Without that level of knowledge you will never know where the trouble hides.

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