Beyond the expected — Snapchat, Tinder, Whisper and the like — there are plenty of lesser known apps and websites that are just as dangerous for teens, if not more. Here are some of the latest dangers, often targeted towards teens, that can not only expose them to pornography, but can also make it easy for total strangers to communicate with them. Check your App and Activity reports. See any of these apps or websites on your child’s device or web browsing? If so, it’s time to take action.
Targeted as a “Tinder alternative for teens,” this app is marketed specifically to 13-19 year olds. With more than a million users, Spot a Friend invites teens to make friends by swiping through profiles of other teenagers in their vicinity. Once a “match” is made (by two people swiping right on one another), messaging — between total strangers — can begin. Yikes. Unsurprisingly, the app has already been associated with unlawful sexual relationships between adults and minors.
With more than 400 million users, this free messaging app allows people to make video and audio calls, as well as send and receive texts, photos and location messages. And while the app markets itself as a way to communicate with friends and family, Tango can also connect teens with strangers if they don’t make their account private. Like many other social media networks, Tango defaults to a public profile upon account creation, potentially connecting kids to total strangers who are also using the app. Furthermore,Tango’s live streaming feature can expose teens to user-generated pornography. Overall, there are far safer ways for your teen to text and video message the people in their life.
See this app on your kid’s phone? That’s not good. Previously known as “Bang With Friends,” DOWN touts itself as a safe and confidential place for “casual dating” with features that include — wait for it — geolocation. While the app is not designed for nor targeted directly to teenagers, the ease with which accounts can be created and the fact that DOWN shares location even when the app is not active, are all reasons to ensure this is not on your child’s device.
This meme-sharing website allows users to upload and share everything from funny pics to GIFs, videos, anime and more. So far, so good. The problem is that much of the content is geared towards adults, not tweens and teens on the prowl for a funny image or video to share with friends. According to Common Sense Media, women are often referred to in demeaning terms, and many of the GIFs border on pornography. This, coupled with the fact that there are no privacy settings anywhere on the site, make 9Gag far from appropriate for teens.