With so many apps readily available to download on phones and computers, and new ones popping up every day, it can be challenging to keep track of which apps your kids are using. Here is a list of the most popular apps for teens right now, along with what you need to know about each app.
Parents always worry about the messaging apps on their kid’s phones, since any messaging app lead to inappropriate conversations, and raises the risk of exposure to predatory and improper behaviour. Here is a list of some of the most popular messaging apps, and what parents need to know about each of them:
- Kik is super popular – reportedly used by 33% of American teens aged 13-17.
- Kik has been in the news a few times, because of cases involving online predators.
- The company that develops Kik offers a safety guide for parents.
- WhatsApp was one of the top-ranked apps on Apple’s list of the most popular apps in 2018.
- Children over 13 can use this app.
- Users can send unlimited messages and photos on WhatsApp without worrying about data limits.
- Users can also share their locations and contacts while messaging – but this feature can be turned off.
- With Telegram, users can send texts, images, and videos.
- Users must be aged 16 and above.
- Users can send secret messages and use X-rated stickers and plug-ins.
Anonymous Messaging Apps
Apps that facilitate anonymous texting can lead to cyberbullying. Some of the most used anonymous messaging apps are:
- The app has over 10 million users.
- Children aged 13 and up can use the app; however, anyone under 15 must get permission from their parents.
- Tellonym claims that it monitors the chats for inappropriate content. They also have a section on their site about safety concerns.
- Several schools have warned parents about cyberbullying connected with the app in England.
- Users can block messages from people who are not registered in the app.
- Users must be at least 17 years old.
- Lipsi encourages users to leave their Lipsi link in their Instagram bio so that they can receive anonymous feedback about their posts.
- All users can easily erase chat history.
Live Video Chatting Apps
Live video apps often raise concerns about the child’s privacy and the potential for exposure to inappropriate content and interaction with predators. These are some of the most widely used live video chatting apps:
- The app allows users to engage in live video chats with strangers.
- Several users complain about users performing sexual activities during chats.
- Houseparty is a group video chat service and is reportedly the fourth most downloaded app on the App store.
- 60% of its users are under 24.
- Chats are not monitored – which raises the risk of your kids being exposed to inappropriate content.
- Users can only add friends from Facebook or people in their contact list.
- Houseparty has an option to add people nearby based on location, but it can be disabled.
- The privacy settings can be configured to reduce the risk of strangers joining a chat.
Entertainment apps can expose children to inappropriate content and potentially lead to interaction with strangers. Some of the most popular entertainment apps are:
- According to a Pew Research Center study from 2018, YouTube is the world’s most popular internet platform, with 85% of teens aged 13-17 using it.
- The company recently reiterated its policies, prohibiting harmful content.
- Past efforts to ban inappropriate content have been unsuccessful. Inappropriate content has even managed slipped through YouTube Kids – an app specifically designed for use by children.
- Zepeto is a fast-growing app that allows users to create animated versions of themselves and interact with other users in a chatroom.
- It allows users to interact with strangers using an anonymous follow function. Users can also message each other directly.
- The app has a ton of ads. Users may feel pressured to make purchases to get more likes and followers.
- BitLife is a text-based, life simulator app.
- Users must make adult choices – for instance, whether to have a one-night stand or use drugs.
- Teens under 17 should not use this app.
- Discord is a text and voice chatting tool for gamers.
- It has over 100 million users.
- Some users discuss games meant for older teens and adults; hence there is a high risk of your child accessing age-inappropriate content.
- Users can direct message each other, so there is the potential for interactions with strangers.
- TikTok is the new Musical.ly – the two companies merged in 2018.
- The app has over 80 million users. It was also one of the top-ranked apps on Apple’s list of the most popular apps in 2018.
- TikTok was in the news because teen users were receiving inappropriate messages from other users.
- Accounts are public by default. If the account isn’t private, anyone can contact the user directly.
- There is some explicit content on the platform, but a restricted mode helps filter it out.
There is a high risk of exposure to inappropriate content on photo-sharing apps.
- The same Pew study from earlier revealed that 69% of teens aged 13-17 use Snapchat more than any other app.
- The app has been in the news frequently, for instances of predator encounters and users self-harming as a result.
- One of the most alarming features of the app is its “Discover” feature, which enables individuals and companies to create their own channels.
- Some of the channels are age-gated, and users must say they’re at least 18 to access the sometimes-explicit content.
- This photo- and video-sharing app is the second most popular app for teens aged between 13-17.
- Teens often set up alternative accounts on Instagram to post photos they don’t want their regular followers (such as parents) to see.
Knowing what apps your child uses is the first step to ensure they’re safe online.