Police departments across the United States are warning parents about potentially dangerous apps on their children’s smartphones, here are 15 of the top apps to watch out for.
13WOWK reports that police departments across the United States are reminding parents to watch out for certain apps on their child’s phone. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in Florida has published a list of apps that people should watch out for their children using, including multiple social media apps, dating apps, and apps that hide content.
Previous versions of dangerous app lists were updated in July after 25 individuals were arrested in an online predator and human trafficking sting. All six of the new apps added to the list were used by the suspects who were arrested in the operation. Many of the apps used are advertised for adults but can be easily accessed by children leaving them vulnerable to everything from unwanted sexual messages to online bullying.
Apps to be on the lookout for according to the police include:
- Ask.fm – Ask.fm is known for cyberbullying. The app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions, which are often inappropriate for children.
- Badoo – Badoo is a dating and social networking app where users can chat, share photos and videos and connect based on location. While the app is intended for adults only, teens are known to create profiles.
- Bumble – Bumble is similar to the popular dating app ‘Tinder’ however, it requires women to make the first contact. Kids have been known to use Bumble to create fake accounts and falsify their age.
- Calculator% – Calculator% is only one of multiple apps used to hide photos, videos, files and browser history. The apps are designed to be overlooked by parents as they appear to be basic utilities such as a calculator.
- Grindr – Grindr is a dating app geared towards gay, bi and transgender people. The app gives users options to chat, share photos and meet up based on a smart phone’s GPS location.
- Holla– Holla is a self-proclaimed ‘addicting’ video chat app that allows users to meet people all over the world in just seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content and more.
- Hot or Not – Hot or Not encourages users to rate your profile, check out people in their area, and chat with strangers.
- Kik – Kik allows anyone to contact and direct message your child. Kids can bypass traditional text messaging features. Kik gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- Live.me – Live.me is a live-streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster’s exact location. Users can use “coins” as a way to “pay” minors for photos.
- MeetMe – Meetme is a dating social media app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. As the app’s name suggests, users are encouraged to meet each other in person.
- Skout – Skout is a location-based dating app and website. While users under 17 are unable to share private photos, kids can easily create an account using a different age.
- Snapchat – Snapchat is one of the most popular apps in recent years. While the app promises users can take a photo/video and it will disappear, new features including ‘stories’ allow users to view content for up to 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.
- TikTok – TikTok is a new mobile device app popular with kids used for creating and sharing short videos. With very limited privacy controls, users are vulnerable to bullying and explicit content.
- Whatsapp – Whatsapp is a popular messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, voicemails, make calls and video chats worldwide.
- Whisper – Whisper is an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user’s location so people can meet up.
The police suggest that parents keep an eye on the apps used by their children and personally approve the ones installed on their devices, check their privacy settings, and speak to children about the apps they use and the dangers of the Internet and keep track of the apps popular in your region and how they’re being used.