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Apps and Websites Kids Are Heading to After Facebook

Gone are the days of Facebook as a one-stop shop for all social networking needs. While it may seem more complicated to post photos on Instagram, share casual moments on Snapchat, text on WhatsApp, and check your Twitter feed throughout the day, tweens and teens love the variety.

If your foster child owns a smartphone it’s a good idea to know the basics about these apps – what they are, why they’re popular and what problems an crop up when they’re not used responsibly.

Texting Apps

Kik Messenger is an app that lets kids text for free. It’s fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you only use the basic features. Because it’s an app, the texts won’t show up on your kid’s phone’s messaging service, and you’re not charged for them (beyond standard data rates).

What parents need to know

  • Stranger danger is an issue. Kikallows communication with strangers who share their Kikusernames to find people to chat with. The app allegedly has been used in high-profile crimes, including the murder of a 13-year-old girl and a child-pornography case. There’s also a Kikcommunity blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages (sometimes displaying users’ full names) to contests.
  • It’s loaded with ads and in-app-purchases.Kik specializes in “promoted chats” — basically, conversations between brands and users. It also offers specially designed apps (accessible only through the main app), many of which offer products for sale.

WhatsApp lets users send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people with no message limits or fees.

What parents need to know

  • It’s for users 16 and over.Lots of younger teens seem to be using the app, but this age minimum has been set by WhatsApp.
  • It can be pushy.After you sign up, it automatically connects you to all the people in your address book who also are using WhatsApp. It also encourages you to add friends who haven’t signed up yet.

Micro-Blogging and Performance Apps

Instagram lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 15-second videos, either publicly or with a private network of followers. It unites the most popular features of social media sites: sharing, seeing, and commenting on photos. It also lets you apply fun filters and effects to your photos, making them look high-quality and artistic.

What parents need to know

  • Teens are on the lookout for “likes.” Similar to the way they use Facebook, teens may measure the “success” of their photos — even their self-worth — by the number of likes or comments they receive. Posting a photo or video can be problematic if teens are posting to validate their popularity.
  • Public photos are the default. Photos and videos shared on Instagramare public unless privacy settings are adjusted. Hashtags and location information can make photos even more visible to communities beyond a teen’s followers if his or her account is public.
  • Private messaging is now an option.Instagram Direct allows users to send “private messages” to up to 15 mutual friends. These pictures don’t show up on their public feeds. Although there’s nothing wrong with group chats, kids may be more likely to share inappropriate stuff with their inner circles.

Twitter is a microblogging tool that allows users to post brief, 140-character messages – called “tweets” – and follow other users’ activities. It’s not only for adults; teens like using it to share tidbits and keep up with news and celebrities.

What parents need to know

  • Public tweets are the normfor teens. Though you can choose to keep your tweets private, most teens report having public accounts. Talk to your kids about what they post and how a post can spread far and fast.
  • Updates appear immediately.Even though you can remove tweets, your followers can still read what you wrote until it’s gone. This can get kids in trouble if they say something in the heat of the moment.

Secret/Self destructing Apps

Yik Yak is a free social-networking app that lets users post brief, Twitter-like comments to the 500 geographically nearest Yik Yak users. Kids can find out opinions, secrets, rumors, and more. Plus, they’ll get the bonus thrill of knowing all these have come from a 1.5-mile radius (maybe even from the kids at the desks in front of them!).

What parents need to know

  • It reveals your location.By default, your exact location is shown unless you toggle location-sharing off. Each time you open the app, GPS updates your location.
  • It’s a mixed bag of trouble. This app has it all: cyberbullying, explicit sexual content, unintended location-sharing, and exposure to explicit information about drugs and alcohol.
  • Some schools have banned access.Some teens have used the app to threaten others, causing school lockdowns and more. Its gossipy and sometimes cruel nature can be toxic to a high school environment, so administrators are cracking down.

Snapchat is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. Most teens use the app to share goofy or embarrassing photos without the risk of them going public. However, there are lots of opportunities to use it in other ways.

What parents need to know

  • It’s a myth that Snapchats go away forever. Data is data: Whenever an image is sent, it never truly goes away. (For example, the person on the receiving end can take a screenshot of the image before it disappears.) Snapchats can even be recovered. After a major hack in December 2013 and a settlement with the FTC, Snapchathas clarified its privacy policy, but teens should stay wary.
  • It can make sexting seem OK. The seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share pictures containing sexy images.

Chatting, Meeting, Dating Apps

Tinder is a photo and messaging dating app for browsing pictures of potential matches within a certain-mile radius of the user’s location. It’s very popular with 20-somethings as a way to meet new people for casual or long-term relationships.

What parents need to know

  • It’s all about swipes.You swipe right to “like” a photo or left to “pass.” If a person whose photo you “liked” swipes “like” on your photo, too, the app allows you to message each other. Meeting up (and possibly hooking up) is pretty much the goal.
  • It’s location-based.Geolocation means it’s possible for teens to meet up with nearby people, which can be very dangerous.

Omegle is a chat site that puts two strangers together in their choice of a text chat or a video chat room. Being anonymous can be very attractive to teens, and Omegle provides a no-fuss opportunity to make connections. Its “interest boxes” also let users filter potential chat partners by shared interests.

What parents need to know

  • Users get paired up with strangers.That’s the whole premise of the app. And there’s no registration required.
  • This is notan app for kids and teens. Omegle is filled with people searching for sexual chat. Some prefer to do so live. Others offer links to porn sites.
  • Language is a big issue.Since the chats are anonymous, they’re often much more explicit than those with an identifiable user might be.

For more apps, and the full original article, please click the following link

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/16-apps-and-websites-kids-are-heading-to-after-facebook# 

Article Information

Posted on 12 September 2016

Posted in Advice for young people / Family Advice / Foster Caring

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