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Websites and Apps to be Aware of: A Cheat Sheet For Parents
Ask.fm is an online social networking platform that allows users to anonymously ask other users questions. The Q&A forum is unmoderated and has led to many instances of cyberbullying, and a series of bullying-related suicides.
Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to take pictures or videos and send them to a list of followers. Followers can only view the videos and photos for a set amount of time before they are supposedly “destroyed”. This app has been popular for “sexting”, as the sent image cannot be saved onto the recipient’s phone. However, it is unclear whether or not the image is actually destroyed permanently from Snapchat’s server, and users are able to take screenshots of the image or video, as well as replay it. This app has been associated with numerous sexting cases that have led to bullying. However, Snapchat has recently become more teen-friendly, with the addition of texting and use entertaining filters to share.
Kik is a mobile messaging app that allows users to anonymously chat with other users. The app offers free and unlimited texting through a wifi network, so parents are unlikely to know about it. The app has been used in multiple cases of attempted kidnapping, murder and sexual assault.
4. Information Hiding Apps
There are multiple information and photo hiding apps available for web-enabled devices, including smart phones, tablets, and computers. These apps may mimic harmless tools, such as calculators or note-taking functionalities, but their intention is to hide selected information (i.e. pictures, texts, and other compromising items). Some apps include: Vaulty, Hide It Pro, and Calculator%, among others.
Qooh.me is another social media site that allows users to ask other users anonymous questions. Individuals do not have to login to ask questions, so anyone can ask a user anything. There is also no online moderator and adult profiles are mixed in with those of teens and children.
While tumblr can be a place for kids and teens to connect with one another and share their “fandoms” (post about the shows or movies they like), tumblr also allows explicit content like porn, pro-anorexia (pro-ana) posts, pro self-injury posts, and other content that might be unsuitable for kids or teens.
Reddit.com is a large forum where individuals can anonymously post content. The content is grouped together in different threads, on which other users can comment. Reddit can be great for information and obscure interests, but it is unfiltered and home to offensive and graphic content. Users can also direct message other users and bully others. However, recently Reddit has taken steps to ban certain communities that promote graphic content.
4chan.com is similar to Reddit, in that it is a large user-run forum, but it is known for being even more subversive and offensive. Many topics on 4chan are inappropriate for kids and teens.
9. Pro-Ana websites
“Pro-ana” websites or forums are websites devoted to promoting anorexia and sometimes bulimia. These websites typically have “tips” for how to starve yourself and prevent hunger. The forums also allow individuals to post anonymous comments and compare the progression of their weight loss. These websites can hinder recovery from an eating disorder or trigger disordered eating.