• Junior Oliveira

The 15 potentially dangerous apps for children - What are the real threats behind them?

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Hi everyone, to reflect in-depth on this topic (which is strongly related to online safety & privacy) , I have to say that I believe in the maxim of "the most effective parental control is an open and honest conversation". And also, I think parents should trust their kids to be responsible and safe with whatever they are doing.  Thus, the essential aspects of maintaining a healthy relationship are having complete, utter trust in the other.  However, as digital technology and the internet keep moving forward and provide our children with new ways to interact and communicate online, I also think that parents should be aware of what their children share about themselves on the Internet, or what they watch, or who they meet. For this reason, we should know more about apps, software, or digital tools that are available because most likely, our children already know. 

I have decided to write this post because I received a message from a parent asking me about an app called "the Secret Calculator" - basically this application looks like an innocent calculator, and it is available on the iOS and Android platforms; but actually, this app is used to hide files, photos and videos. Also, I have received several updates on "15 potentially dangerous apps all parents should be aware of" so please have a look at this list below (I t this list from ABC 15 News Web-page); many of these apps have 'rules', such as minimum membership age, or the sort of content, pictures or content members are allowed to share, however, invariably, the sign-up process relies on trust and in reality, it is easy for kids to pretend they're older. 

I would like to make it clear that this list was created by the law enforcement officials in the USA ( The Sarasota County - Florida / Sheriff's Department ), firstly because they could potentially expose children to unwanted sexual advances, racial slurs and bullying, and a second important thing is that 25 online predators have been arrested and the police department said that each suspect engaged in conversations using some of these listed apps.

THE 15 POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS APPS FOR CHILDREN: MEETME, a dating social media app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. The app's users are encouraged to meet in person. BUMBLE, a dating app. Kids have been known to use Bumble to create fake accounts and falsify their age.

LIVE.ME, a live-streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster's exact location. Users can earn coins as a way to pay minors for photos.

ASK.FM is known for cyber bullying. The app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions.

TIKTOK, a new app popular with kids for making and sharing short videos. With limited privacy controls, users are vulnerable to cyberbullying and explicit content.

SNAPCHAT, one of the most popular apps in recent years. New features include allowing users to view content for 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.

HOLLA, a self-proclaimed addicting video chat app that allows people all over the world to meet each other in seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content and more.

CALCULATOR%, a secret app used to hide photos, videos, files and browser history

SKOUT, a location-based dating app and website. While users under 17 are unable to share private photos, kids can easily create an account with an older age.

BADBOO, 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 make profiles.

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.

WHISPHER is an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user's location so people can meet up.

HOT OR NOT encourages users to rate your profile, check out people in their area and chat with strangers. The goal of the app is to hook up.

GRINDR, 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 smartphone's GPS.

WHATSAPP, a messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, voicemails, and make calls and video chats.

What to do if my child has downloaded one of these apps?  If you have found one of these apps on your child's phone, do not panic; you might feel shocked with some of the content description found on the list above, but panicking will not help resolve the situation. Talk to your child calmly and please bear in mind that these apps themselves do not pose an actual threat to their safety, but they can provide an opportunity to expose, persuade, and, potentially lead kids to make bad decisions; such as engaging in a conversation with strange people or leading them to share inappropriate photos.

Important consideration: You need to understand that there are literally thousands of millions of apps available and, even those apps where the intended purpose by the app’s creator may be innocent, and these police departments found that can be used dangerously, but it is likely that some of these apps could be used for appropriate purposes, as well, such as Whatsapp or TikTok.

Have an open and honest conversation about online safety, think about when the last time was th you had a conversation with your child about going online? Parents should trust their children more with everything, whether it’s going out with friends, or when they are using their digital devices, parents should trust their children to be responsible and safe with whatever they are doing.

I know, when it comes to balancing privacy and protection the key point that we have to bear in mind is the fact that the internet offers lots of opportunities for our kids – and unfortunately, it can be positive or negative. Also, we have to consider that technology is changing faster than mums and dads (parents in the 21st century) can keep up, for this reason, we should be aware of the controversial apps that are available because most likely, our children already are; then, don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable and don’t shy away from digital technology you don’t understand. Why not engage with them online? Screen time shouldn't always be alone time.

Please remember that an enjoyable and healthy relationship between parents and their children is one of the most important things to maintain. And also think that technology is a double-edged sword when raising children, striking a balance is the key concept needed since we cannot avoid advanced digital technology and we have to encourage them to be responsible digital citizens. This process can start with you nurturing a strong emotional bond, setting the boundaries and leading by positive examples. I am sure you can do it!

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​Photo Credit: Girl with a blanket

<a href="">Technology photo created by freepik -</a>​

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Sarasota County Fla. Sheriff's Department​

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