Teens and Social Media: 10 Scary Apps

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-close-up-portrait-teen-girl-tablet-computer-beautiful-cute-image36360850

 

iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices have become “vital” appendages to most teens… it’s how they connect with one another and the rest of the world. While there are many advantages and fun-aspects of social media, there are also some very real dangers. Pulling back the covers, we find alarming statistics:

      • More than 104 million child pornography images have been reviewed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children since 2002. This number is increasing at an alarming rate due in large part to the Internet. In fact, the number of new images reviewed in 2013 was an astonishing 24 million, an increase of 30% in just one year.
      • In 82% of online sex crimes against minors, the offender used the victim’s social networking site to gain information about the victim’s likes and dislikes. (Journal of Adolescent Health, 2010)
      • 70% of kids ages 8 to 18 report unintentionally stumbling across pornographic images while online. The average age for a child to be exposed to online pornography is 11 years old.

Online threats are very real and can range from mildly age-inappropriate content to cyberbullying to sexual exploitation, assault or even death. Child abuse investigator Detective Alex Petty specializes in child protection and abuse cases and has seen more than his fair share of crime related to teens and social media.

Very scary.

“There are some scary social media sites out there,” Detective Petty stated. “Parents need to be vigilant and help their kids understand the all-too-real dangers online.” He shared the following list of apps about which he thinks all parents should be familiar and have on their radars:

1) Ask.fm: This site allows people to anonymously follow users and ask any question they want. After reading all sorts of things about this app, I decided to download it myself… and was shocked. The 2nd question posed to me by an anonymous user was, “What is your bra size?” I can only imagine the types of questions posed to kids who actively use this app. YourSphere actually calls Ask.fm “a toxic site.” Detective Petty and I couldn’t agree more.

2) Creepy: This app extracts geolocation data and pulls together all public information about a person that is available online. It then plots that data on a map when possible, showing users that person’s whereabouts. “Creepy is a good name for this app,” commented Detective Petty.

kik screen shot
From BeWebSmart.com

3) Kik: This app specifies it’s for people aged 17+… but younger kids are actively using it. Kik is commonly used for sexting – kids often promote their Kik names on Instagram, posting “Kik me at xxxx”. BeWebSmart.com did a little research on this app and immediately found some alarming, pretty standard activity (see example screen shot). BeWebSmart.com reminds parents, “Remember, you don’t need a phone to use iPhone apps; if your child has an iPod touch or an iPad, they can install iPhone apps.  Kik is just one of many free texting apps available in the App store.”

4) Pheed: One of the fastest growing apps, Pheed has been touted by Forbes as ‘the new Twitter,’ Mashable as ‘the next social craze,’ and Huffington Post as ‘the next generation of social media.’ With 81% of it’s user base aged 14-25, Pheed is incredibly popular among teens. It offers live stream broadcast capability and, unlike Vine, doesn’t set a time limit for video or audio streaming.

5) Snapchat: Widely known as “the sexting app”, kids often think photos they share immediately disappear… not true. Screenshots can be saved then distributed to others. I am a volunteer instructor for a body safety class that is taught in elementary schools in my area where Snapchat comes up. Even children in 2nd grade (i.e., 7 -9 year olds) know about Snapchat, either from older siblings, friends or from using the app themselves.

 6) Qooh.me: Similar to Ask.fm., Qooh.me allows users to post anonymous questions — things I’ve read about this app is that the anonymous questions posed are often mean spirited or totally inappropriate, even though the Qooh.me ‘terms and conditions’ state, “You may not use Qooh.me to abuse, bully, harass, threaten, malign, slander, impersonate or intimidate anyone.” There are no privacy setting options. Given the online feedback and Detective Petty’s experience with this app, watch out for this one, parents!

7) Vine: This 6-second video production app is used by many for legitimate purposes, but it also has a dark side. When it was initially launched, Vine was heavily used to distribute pornography. Vine attempted to remove as much porn as they could, but to get around that and continue porn posts, users simply changed the hashtags they were using. Terms of service have not changed since 2013, so sexual content and nudity are still permitted.

Here are three more apps to add to Alex’s primary list:

8 & 9) Whisper and Post Secret: both of these apps allow for anonymous posts of “secrets”. If secrets are linked to a child (accurately or inaccurately), they can lead to cyberbullying or worse.

10) Girls Around Me: a super creepy, sometimes referred to as a “stalking”, app, “Girls Around Me” uses geolocation technology that connects to other apps (such as Four Square or Facebook) to identify the location of females (or males – user can specify) in the user’s immediate area. Over one-quarter of online sexual offenders used their victims’ social media sites to identify their physical locations.

Parental Controls: What Are Content Ratings?

allow_apps_rated
From BeWebSmart.com

Parents can limit the types of apps their teens download to digital devices via parental control functions on iPhone or iPads. Various apps are assigned ratings (source: iTunes)…

      • 4+ Applications in this category contain no objectionable material.
      • 9+ Applications in this category may contain mild or infrequent occurrences of cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, and infrequent or mild mature, suggestive, or horror-themed content which may not be suitable for children under the age of 9.
      • 12+ Applications in this category may also contain infrequent mild language, frequent or intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, and mild or infrequent mature or suggestive themes, and simulated gambling which may not be suitable for children under the age of 12.
      • 17+ You must be at least 17 years old to purchase this application. Applications in this category may also contain frequent and intense offensive language; frequent and intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence; and frequent and intense mature, horror, and suggestive themes; plus sexual content, nudity, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs which may not be suitable for children under the age of 17.

BeWebSmart.com offers a simple step-by-step guide to restrict application downloads by rating. These steps should work for Apple products including iPhones and iPads. For parental controls on other types of digital devices, please refer to the manufacturers’ websites for details and instructions.

Bottom line… 

There are steps parents can take to help protect their kids online. “It may seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be,” Detective Petty encourages parents. “Just actively check the phones, mobile devices and computers your kids use.” He advises parents to talk with their kids about social media safety, both while they are at home, as well as when they are at friends’ homes, school or other places where they have access to the Internet.

Heartfelt Thanks

IMG_3486Committed to preserving public safety and the protection of children, Hamilton County Sheriff Mark Bowen, along with Detective Alex Petty, hosted a community forum, “Teens & Social Media”, in Noblesville, IN on March 10, 2014. Much of the information in this blog was shared at that forum. About the increase in social media related child abuse cases, Sheriff Bowen said, “Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen an uptick in these cases. Obviously, fraud and cybercrime have increased over the years with social media and the internet, so really this is a topic that’s important to everybody.”

About Alex

Alex PettyDetective Alex Petty is a veteran investigator in crimes against children. A former Hanover College football player and now law enforcement officer for 23 years, Alex has been with the Hamilton Co. Sheriff’s Department since 1996 where he started in Sheriff’s court security, moved to the patrol division and was then promoted to detective in 2006. Alex holds several professional designations including that of certified drug recognition expert and instructor, crisis negotiator, and instructor for Child First/Finding Words child forensic interview training in Indiana.  A loving husband and proud father of four fabulous kids aged 17 to 10, Alex coaches football and basketball in his spare time. Ever since he was a little boy, Alex wanted to be an investigator. “I come from a single parent home, so I know what it’s like for the single mom and dad,” he shared. “Kids are forced to adapt to ever-changing societal influences; some good, some bad. I want parents to know that if they communicate with their kids, take charge and do their part to show kids a healthy way to live, they really can strengthen family relationships.” Have a question for Alex? Contact him at (317) 733-1282 or [email protected].

About Ginger

Chance and GK 2013-04-26Raising awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse has become Ginger’s life mission. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger can be contacted via her website, “Ginger Kadlec: 4UrKids” at gingerkadlec.com or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/gingergkadlec.

Share small business news, blogs and social media tips with Project Eve’s community of small business owners and entrepreneurs today. Our contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds; so whether you are a small business owner, social media strategist, financial adviser, serial entrepreneur, or write an amateur blog we urge you to contribute a blog to our 500,000+ community today. For more information, please refer to our Content Submissions Guidelines.

Add a Blog

103 COMMENTS

  1. Somebody necessarily lend a hand to make critically
    articles I would state. That is the first time
    I frequented your website page and to this point? I surprised with the analysis you made to
    create this particular put up amazing. Fantastic
    process!

  2. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for
    your site. You have some really great posts and I believe I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love
    to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a
    link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested.
    Thanks!

  3. I’m really impressed with your writing talents and also
    with the format for your blog. Is this a paid topic or did you customize it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is uncommon to see
    a great weblog like this one today..

  4. My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right.
    This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time
    I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  5. hello!,I really like your writing very a lot! share
    we communicate extra about your article on AOL?
    I require a specialist on this space to unravel my problem.

    May be that is you! Having a look forward to
    look you.

  6. Right here is the right web site for anybody who would like to understand this topic.
    You realize a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really
    would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject that has been discussed for decades.
    Excellent stuff, just excellent!

  7. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  8. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  9. My brother suggested I would possibly like this web site.
    He used to be entirely right. This publish truly made my
    day. You can not imagine simply how a lot time I had spent for this info!
    Thank you! natalielise pof

  10. I like the valuable information you provide on your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and test again here regularly.
    I am reasonably certain I’ll learn many new stuff proper right
    here! Best of luck for the next!

  11. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get set up?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost
    a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% certain. Any recommendations or advice would
    be greatly appreciated. Appreciate it

  12. You really make it seem really easy together with
    your presentation however I in finding this topic to be actually
    something that I feel I might by no means understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m taking a look forward on your subsequent post, I’ll attempt
    to get the hang of it! pof natalielise

  13. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a team of volunteers and starting a new project
    in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work
    on. You have done a outstanding job!

  14. Great beat ! I wish to apprentice at the same time as you
    amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog website?
    The account helped me a acceptable deal. I have been a little bit acquainted of this your
    broadcast provided brilliant transparent idea

  15. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps
    everyone else encountering problems with your
    site. It appears as though some of the written text on your content
    are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide
    feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well?
    This may be a problem with my web browser because
    I’ve had this happen before. Thank you

  16. I am really impressed along with your writing talents and
    also with the format for your blog. Is this a paid subject matter or did
    you modify it yourself? Either way stay up the nice high quality writing, it’s rare to peer a great weblog like this one these days..

  17. Simply want to say your article is as surprising.
    The clearness to your put up is just excellent and i can suppose you’re knowledgeable in this
    subject. Well with your permission let me to snatch your feed
    to stay updated with drawing close post. Thanks a million and please
    carry on the enjoyable work.

  18. I am curious to find out what blog platform you have been working
    with? I’m experiencing some small security issues
    with my latest site and I’d like to find something more secure.
    Do you have any suggestions?

  19. Excellent blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out
    there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Bless you!

  20. Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog article
    or vice-versa? My site addresses a lot of the same subjects as yours
    and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.

    If you are interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Terrific blog by the way!

  21. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Chrome.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or
    something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to
    let you know. The design look great though!
    Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Thanks

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here