New apps and social networking sites spring up all time. Young people love using social networks – they can be a great place to socialise and express themselves. But there can be risks for children sharing too much information on social networks too.
These is certainly not a definitive list of the services to watch out for, nor are any of the apps or websites listed definitively 'bad' – but in the wrong hands, whether malicious or just naive, they can be platforms for abuse.
A good website to check apps and websites is: http://www.net-aware.org.uk/
Anonymity apps and websites help users to keep their information secret, or share information anonymously. New apps and websites like this are being created all the time.
Whisper is a free app for iOS and Android that allows users to send anonymous messages to other users and then receive replies. It also allows for adding an image to the post.
Whisper has been widely criticized for violating users’ privacy by requiring access to the users’ cameras and contact lists. The app also allows for the anonymous spreading of malicious content and has been linked to cyberbullying.
A social networking site where people can ask questions to get responses from other users. Users can choose to be anonymous or not, but the vast majority hide behind anonymity.
Users often post hateful messages without ever being identified or being held accountable. Other reports allege that in the past two years the website was linked to many cases of extreme cyberbullying.
Poof is an iOS App that allows people to hide icons of other apps that they have previously downloaded while still having access to the app.
This could allow Young People to hide inappropriate apps.
Instagram is now the most popular social network for UK teens. Out of the 7200 teenagers surveyed, 76% were active on Instagram compared to just 45% on Facebook.
Instagram has lagged behind other social networks badly when it comes to using security precautions and the initial setting of photo visibility is set to public rather than private by default.
Snapchat is a widely known app that allows users to send “view once” images for a given number of seconds and the photo “disappears” once viewed by the recipient.
Although the intended use of the app is to send silly pictures to friends, often times kids think this is a safe way to “sext” or send flirty, suggestive photos. However, the recipient can still screenshot the image and keep it on their phone, forward to friends or post it on social media.
Third party apps have also sprung up which "help" those wanting to save the images. Security on these services is often not very strong.
This is an image-based bulletin board website, divided into various boards whose subjects range from Pokémon to pornography. No registration is required and content isn't retained on the site for very long.
The app has a rating of 17+ in the AppStore, but there's no way to prevent somebody under the age of 17 from signing up, as parents have pointed out.
At its worst the site is disturbing, graphic and highly sexual. The Guardian once summarized the 4chan community as "lunatic, juvenile... brilliant, ridiculous and alarming."
This is a social chat app that creates an anonymous social chat room of up to 500. Yik Yak's moderation and monitoring is totally controlled by users – who vote comments up or down.
Yik Yak works as a bulletin board populated solely by those in your proximity. It shows the most recent posts and allows people to connect with others while still being anonymous, but with the feature of users being within a certain geographic area. So users may post anonymously, but they are part of your community nearby.
Although many of the apps aren't intended for them, teens are increasingly using dating apps which there can be many unprecedented risks. The Tinder app is currently the most popular dating/”hook-up” app.
Tinder works by finding singles near your location. Once two people have 'liked' each other's image they can privately message each other.
Although this is supposed to be an adult dating site, anyone over the age of 13 can sign up. The Independent recently reported that 7% of the app's userbase is aged 13-17.
Tinder says its users aged between 13 and 17 will only be able to view others of the same age but, worryingly, the app just takes a user's age from their Facebook profile - something which is pretty easy to change, or even create a fake profile for.
Here are some of the other more popular dating/”hook up” apps that are being used by younger people more often. These are the descriptions of the apps directly from the iTunes App store.
"Chat, Flirt and Meet New People Find nearby dates with Blendr, the free, socially flirtatious chat-to-meet app. Blendr uses your mobile device’s location services to connect you with the fun singles closest to you who share your interests and want to chat it up! With more than 200 million users around the world, Blendr is the best way to break the ice with more people around you".
"The awesome new app that lets you meet, chat and even flirt with new friends looking for some company just like you! With this app, you’ll be talking to new friends and local singles in no time. MiuMeet lets you start conversation with new people through its messaging platform so you can meet up live and in person with that special someone. Whether you’re looking to branch out into a new social group or interested in dating that special person, MiuMeet is perfect for you and anyone else in between".
"The world’s leading mobile social network app exclusively for gay, bi and curious men – is sexier and faster than ever. With over 7 million guys in 192 countries, Grindr finds guys close to you for chatting and meeting anywhere in the world. Find your perfect guy right now".
"Meetme helps you find new people nearby who share your interests and want to chat now! It’s fun, friendly, and free! Join 100+ MILLION PEOPLE chatting and making new friends. It’s for all ages, all nationalities, all backgrounds — EVERYONE!"
If you have any sites or apps that you think should be in the list, please share them.