The new year brings new apps growing in popularity among kids, tweens and teens. Instagram and Snapchat are still undoubtedly incredibly popular amongst teens and young people today. However, there are new additions on our watch list appearing in the App Store under the Social Media banner with features including video-sharing, streaming, direct messaging and the ability to connect with strangers. If your children or family members are using connected technology it is so important to know the potentially dangerous and risky features that exist within the applications they use. Knowing the ins and outs will help you as a parent make informed decisions as to whether this space is somewhere you are happy for your children to engage in.
Musical.ly aka Tik Tok went gangbuster in 2018 and as a result there have been many spin off apps that have a similar premise. Users, again often of a very young age, post LIVE VIDEOS of themselves singing and dancing. Users create these live videos, with the ability to save them and also add the growingly popular beauty filters. The concerning features within this application lie in the ability for strangers to save the video of others to be stored on their device and then chat privately.
Do NOT be fooled by this cute little guy! Another LIVE streaming social networking application that has growing popularity amongst younger users of connected technology. These ‘entertaining’ and at times provocative live broadcasts are created by young users who then receive ‘gifts’ from other users. Videos that have been broadcast can then be saved and stored by other users.
This is another application that falls under the unfortunate “Anonymous Chat” umbrella. This genre of application has become extremely popular. With the tag line “Get tons of anonymous messages” there are no prizes for guessing what type of behaviour is occurring on this platform. Users post PUBLIC comments and questions and then receive anonymous responses. ASKIP allows private messaging between the user and strangers and is fraught with sexual conversation given the anonymity of the response. It is also a prominent platform where users experience online bullying through the responses posted anonymously to questions posed.
Another application that it centred around talking to strangers. “LIVE RANDOM VIDEO CHAT” is how it is sold to its users. A similar functionality to Tinder where users swipe to match then begin chatting. This application joins several others with the same premise, promoting connecting/matching with strangers allowing instant chat and video conferencing and has potential to be rife with sexual, inappropriate and offensive content.
This simulation style game sees users create a profile. The purpose of the game being that the user plays the entire game from infancy to death. The character gets gradually and the users makes choices about making money making and spending money, develop relationships with other profiles (note that these are not connected other real users). Parents should know that BitLife exposes younger users to mature ideas. As your character gets older, users can choose to “hook up” with the pretend profiles, drink, take drugs, gamble, and commit crimes. Users can start over when the character dies, therefore creating endless free play, which adds to a screen time issue if the users is very much into the game.