The hidden dangers of cellphone apps
By Hannah Comeaux, M.A., LPC, PLMFT
Summer’s here and are out of school, which means more free time for electronic socializing. But, watch out, many apps are targets for cyberbullying or predators. Although they are constantly evolving and new ones being developed, here’s a current list of some well-known apps, and a few unknown outside of teen circles.
Facebook may allow you to see your child’s friends and posts, but most aren’t aware that anyone can send messages on FB Messenger without being friended. The messenger app also has a ‘secret’ conversation option, which means you can log in on another device and never see messages your teen is sending from their device.
Snapchat shares pics and videos that may only exist temporarily, however, anyone can screenshot the image and share.
Google Hangout is a group where kids may allow strangers to join, enabling them to monitor their chats or hack their phone cameras.
Finsta is used to set up multiple Instagram accounts to share pics or videos with unknown followers.
Askfm is a forum for teens to ask questions and get answers. But, who’s answering and what’s in their responses?
Whisper is used for anonymous chat, pics and sharing secrets – the perfect atmosphere where kids can feel safe enough to be lured into revealing private info.
Kik Messenger allows anonymity, a ‘search by age’ option and teens can share unsaved camera photos.
Calculator % looks like a common calculator but via passcode allows users to hide secret images.
Don’t snoop (unless you suspect danger), but do sit down frequently with your kids and review their social media accounts with them to keep an open flow of communication, and set reasonable expectations.