It seems every month or so there are new apps being developed. Sometimes parents can find themselves at a loss in trying to keep up with the new apps, and how to safe guard their teens and kids from unhealthy consequences of the virtual world they often live in. Below is a brief summary of some of the apps being used by teens:

This is a temporary messaging system. Teens generally use this app to discuss day to day events. Teens can chat with more than one person. This app is liked by teens because it is “Narrowcasting” where they can share their day with a “narrow” group as opposed to Facebook or Instagram where they generally have more friends and things are “broadcasted”. The down side of snapchat is teens can experience inappropriate bullying.
This is a social site letting kids/teens ask questions and also to answer questions from their peers. This site has questionable anonymity. There is concern that bullying can occur on this site. There is concern that it can sync with Facebook and therefore not be anonymous.

Kik Messenger:
This is an app where one can send text/pics and videos. There is anonymity and unlimited messages are allowed, so teens don’t have to worry about “going over” their text limit. Messages can be sent to an individual or group, teens can also surf the web within this app. So parents that are trying to screen web searches, be aware teens can surf web through this app. The negative with this app is that it is highly possible to have contact with strangers. In addition, there are internal components to the app as they are trying to sell or promote products.

This is an anonymous chat room where users can discuss anything. Often the conversations are filled with lewd language, sexual content, and alcohol and drug stories/information. This app has been implicated in cases of sexual predators contacting teens. This is not an app for kids or teens.

This is an app for more or less “social confessions” where users can post what is on their mind. It is generally for 17 and older teens. The positive of this app is that it can be helpful to confess one’s thoughts. The down side is that some of the confessions are highly disturbing, there is generally lots of sexual talk and there is a likelihood that some of the confessions can go public as BuzzFeed is starting to publish some of them.

Yik Yak:
This is an anonymous chat app. On this app you can send photos and texts to those that are geographically close to you. Often what users post, people in the area know what/whom they may be talking about since they live in the same area. On the negative side, this app has been linked to several serious teen threats. and the conversations are often rude.

Stay tuned for the May newsletter where we will post some more app information for adults to be well informed.

On behalf of Desert Streams have a wonderful April and spring.
Article submitted by Pam Stinchcomb