The world of social media is an ever-changing, constantly evolving puzzle of creativity that can improve communication options for the users. Recent trends in social media have shown growth in apps that help the user delete the message sent or even conceal their identity. In our nation’s schools, these apps have become tools for cyber bullying in some cases, giving parents pause about what apps their student might be using.
Here are some of the apps a parent might want to learn more about:
The Losing-Cool Apps. Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are well-known and widely used. Among young people, these are losing popularity because parents often have their own accounts
Backchat. This app allows the user to message friends anonymously with the ability to guess who the message is by purchasing “clues” in packages priced at $.99 and up.
Whisper. The Whisper app allows users to share text-over-picture messages anonymously on an updating feed. Users can respond to a message publicly or send an anonymous private message. Bullying has consisted of pictures of students with unkind messages in the overlay.
Popcorn Messaging. This app uses the location function on the phone to allow users to see other users within a one-mile radius of their location. The profiles are based on usernames only, giving no more information than the user wishes to share. Unsuspecting teens could find that they are not talking to the person they think they are on this app.
Ask.fm. Based outside the United States, members of this forum can post questions about any person or topic of their choosing. Questions that identify other teens and ask vulgar questions for all to answer have been problematic in some schools and communities.
Yik Yak. With a slogan of “no password, no profile, it’s all anonymous”, this app is growing in popularity and controversy in early 2014. Based on GPS location, the app time stamps the messages, giving schools and law enforcement a way to track the author of the comments in cases of bullying and threats to public safety. Some schools have made efforts to ban the use of Yik Yak because of the disruption of the school environment by its use.
Parents must stay current in their knowledge of social media platforms and what their students are using. While all use of these apps is not sinister in nature, some is. Our students need to know that nothing on the web is truly anonymous, comments and pictures can come back to haunt you later, and that their parents are watching what they are doing on their devices.
With Teens and Social Media, Lack of Context is Everything. www.npr.org, February 24, 2014.
Social Media, Tech, & Your Teen. www.moretobe.com. March 12, 2014
Anonymous Social Media App Poses Danger to Children. www.wltx.com March 17, 2014