- Johnson Park Middle School
Top 12 Most Dangerous Apps for Kids
March 9, 2022 -- For even the most tech-savvy of parents, keeping up with all of the latest apps your child wants to download can be a real struggle. It can be difficult to tell which apps are a real threat to your child’s well-being.
Our Family Engagement team and our tech-safety partners at Bark recently shared a list of twelve most widely-used and most dangerous apps for young people to have on their phones. Some you’ll probably recognize, but a few may surprise you.
You can watch the full presentation from our Virtual Family Engagement Session at https://www.ccsoh.us/Page/10849.
Bark’s Top 12 Most Dangerous Apps for Kids
Keep in mind that these aren’t arranged in order of most dangerous to least dangerous. They all have different features with varying levels of inappropriateness.
Snapchat has been around since 2011 and popularized the trend of “disappearing messages.” However, kids may not always fully understand that nothing really disappears on the internet - especially when a screenshot is just a quick button tap away. In addition to providing a space to send nudes, Snapchat also presents other dangers for teens. The GPS-powered Snap Map enables friends (and potentially even strangers) to know your child’s exact whereabouts.
One of Instagram’s primary dangers is the sheer amount of inappropriate content kids can access in just a matter of seconds, especially porn. Parents may overlook this, but remember that a private account does nothing to prevent explicit searches - it just prevents certain users from viewing your kid’s posts. Instagram has also added disappearing messages and photos.
Discord is a huge place for teens to hang out and talk about gaming. So, why is Discord so dangerous? Because it can expose kids to all sorts of inappropriate content, from hate speech and porn to bullying and online predators. And even though it’s popular among teens, Discord is used by more than just kids, which means that adult content on the app is rampant. It can be easy for kids to get involved in a Discord server and make “friends” and then be influenced by sketchy adults.
4. Yik Yak
One of the most dangerous messaging apps for kids of the past decade has recently made a resurgence. Yik Yak is an anonymous chatting app that lets users within a five-mile radius read publicly posted messages. When we say anonymous, we really mean it: Yik Yak has no user names, no handles, no real names, and no photos - so imagine how wild things can get in an environment with no accountability. Yik Yak is also a breeding ground for bullying, especially when it becomes popular on school campuses.
5. Among Us
Among Us is an animated whodunnit mystery video game played on phones and tablets. If you’re wondering why Among Us made this list, it’s not because of the mild violence (though there’s plenty of that) - it’s because of the chat function. The game features a text chatroom for use during the emergency meetings to discuss who might be the imposter. Profanity and violent language can be common. Also, many players move to Discord or Zoom to talk while playing - opening the door to conversations with adult strangers.
Twitter is usually considered an app for breaking news, celebrities, and stand-up comedians. But it’s also a go-to source for porn. Kids know this and use Twitter to find porn because the platform won’t look suspicious if a parent does a quick browser history check. And kids don’t even have to sign up for a Twitter account or use the app to access its content - they can check it out anonymously through any web browser.
Omegle is an anonymous video chatting platform that pairs you with a complete stranger somewhere in the world. Sensing a theme? Anonymous apps are usually some of the most dangerous apps out there for kids. What they find on Omegle can be extremely dangerous: kids can be exposed to nudity and even real-life sex acts on screen. Predators can lurk on the site, grooming children and saving photos and videos from their encounters.
Hoop allows kids as young as 12 to form connections with total strangers. By swiping through profiles - which include the person’s age, gender, and photos - users can pick who they’d like to start a conversation with. They can then request that person’s Snapchat username with the tap of a button to continue the conversation there. While adults are also able to use the app, Hoop claims that users over 18 won’t be shown kids’ profiles. Still, this seems a little too close for comfort.
Kik is a free instant messaging/chat app that has almost no redeeming value, with the vast amount of sexual content the app can expose kids to. If you don’t use Kik to chat with friends you already know (and why would you, if you have texting capability, Facebook Messenger, or other more reputable apps), you’re left with nothing but strangers in chat rooms. Because of this, the potential for messaging with potentially predatory adults is enormous with Kik.
10. Vault apps
Vault apps are used to hide content on phones and tablets, from photos and files to other apps that kids don’t want their parents to know about. They often look like harmless apps - a popular one is a fake calculator, which grown-ups wouldn’t usually think twice about. Sometimes, these apps require a passcode to gain entry. Some even take a photo if someone is trying to figure out the combination to it. Whether they’re hiding off-limits apps like Snapchat or even inappropriate photos, nudes, or racy memes, vault apps can spell trouble.
Roblox is an open-world video game that’s wildly popular with kids 5-12 who can often find games with characters and settings from pop culture. Roblox isn’t just one game; it’s actually a platform hosting millions of games that users have created and published. As with any app that has user-generated content and in-game chat features, there’s always the chance that kids can run into inappropriate content (violence, profanity, sexual content, drugs/alcohol. There’s also the chance of children messaging with potentially predatory adults.
Yarn is something most parents wouldn’t expect to be dangerous. It’s a reading app, but definitely not one you want your kids downloading. Yarn tells stories via fake text messages that are either scary or sexual. In addition to text messages, you can also watch short videos on a variety of topics. Sometimes, they’re even in the form of TikToks. You can also listen to audio clips kind of like an audiobook or podcast.
Our partners at Bark provided links to several great resources to learn more about digital dangers, download valuable resources to monitor online activity, and hear from other parents.
Start with a personalized parental control report through the Barkomatic app. You can hear from other parents when you join the “Parenting in a Tech World Facebook Group” FB Group. The Common Sense Media website also provides information, reviews, and warning sign about new apps and online content. And more stories like this one can be found on the Bark Blog.