With the widespread use of smartphones among preteens and teens, the district is finding a number of mobile apps that are a distraction in the classroom and are being used for cyberbullying, sexting and accessing pornography, all of which are prohibited in schools.
New apps and technologies can make it especially difficult to keep track of online interactions and behavior. We strongly recommend that all parents be proactive in monitoring smartphone use.
With that in mind, here are some popular mobile apps to be aware of –
Facebook & Twitter – Many major social networking apps are equipped with Internet browsers that bypass blocked or monitored browsers when users click links from posts; both of these networks are liable to contain adult content in some form, and are possible avenues for cyberbulling
Instagram – Adult content can appear frequently on this photo and video sharing app used for many major social networks
Kik – Instant messaging app that acts as a free texting app; no parental controls; becoming a common avenue for sexting
Vine – Twitter app that allows users to create and share six-second videos; Twitter raised minimum age limit to 17+ for Vine after pornographic clips began appearing
Keek – Allows users to upload video status updates and share video content through major social media networks; no privacy settings
Ask.fm – Allows users to ask questions from other Ask.fm users; option of anonymity; often used for cyberbulling
Whisper – Users submit anonymous questions or confessions as a text over a picture; other users are allowed to comment and private message; carries a 17+ rating on the App Store
Snapchat – Photo messaging app; users take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to recipients with a set time limit for how long recipients can view their “Snaps” (1 to 10 seconds), after which they will be hidden from the recipient’s device and deleted from servers
Tumblr – “Microblogging” service that allows users create content and post media on a short-form blog; high amount of pornographic content
Tinder – Online dating app; allows users 12+; intended to match users in a geographic area
Yik Yak – Allows users to post anonymous comments to users in a 5-10 mile radius; commonly used for threats and other forms of bullying; app was disabled in Chicago following multiple safe school violations; developer has said the app was intended for users “college-age and above”
Note: The popularity of these programs has given rise to apps that carry different names but more or less have the same functionality. In fact, many of the copycat apps have more flexible guidelines when it comes to inappropriate content.
It’s also crucial to review security and privacy settings on your child’s device to protect against unwanted material or contact.