5 Dangerous Mobile Apps Your Children Should Not Be Using
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You finally acquiesced and agreed to give your kids a smartphone. But you’re still not sure. Is it totally safe for a child to have a phone? Sure, you can keep in touch with your offspring… but is that really why they wanted the phone? Or was that just you?

Do your children have another purpose in mind for the expensive iPhone you just shelled out for?

Quite possibly. A bunch of apps pose as being ideal for children and young adults but actually turn out to be pretty horrific. We couldn’t possibly cover them all here, but have collected five of the worse for you to consider.

It isn’t just social networks, either. Games, dating apps, and tricks that hide app icons are all misused, either by your kids or by online predators.

1. Roblox

It might appear to be an innocent Minecraft clone, but Roblox is a pretty unpleasant place if you’re a child. Building things from blocks is nice, sure; interacting with some of the other players is utterly objectionable, however.

Of course, not every other player on Roblox is an abusive creep or a pedophile. But parents need to be aware of just what is going on in the game. This can prove quite difficult, and even if you join the game yourself you’re not aware of everything that is going on. Fortunately, Roblox has introduced some safety features as of 2017, with parental controls for disabling in-game chat, age appropriate settings, and improved moderation.

Is this enough for you? Obviously, you can only permit what you feel comfortable with. If Roblox seems like it’s not ideal for your children, why not try Minecraft instead? Creating your own local Minecraft server and inviting the whole family to play is straightforward, using a standard PC, or even a Raspberry Pi How to Set Up a Minecraft Server on Your Raspberry Pi How to Set Up a Minecraft Server on Your Raspberry Pi A guide to setting up a Minecraft server on a Raspberry Pi. Read More .

2. Snapchat

You’re no doubt aware of Snapchat, the “handy” encrypted chat app that lets people sent messages (including photos) with a shelf life. Basically, the message is destroyed shortly after it is received, screengrab tools notwithstanding.

Snapchat is also rife with sexting (that’s text messages with sexual content), a growing problem among teenaged users. Sending sexually explicit (or even simply nude) images is illegal across the western world, in an attempt to battle child pornography. Snapchat, therefore, poses a particular risk not only to your child’s sexual health but to their liberty.

One mistake could mean a life in and out of prison. It’s important to talk to your children about sexting How to Talk to Kids About Sexting (According to Experts) How to Talk to Kids About Sexting (According to Experts) Sexting is a growing problem among teenagers. But how do you broach the subject? What information should a parent convey to their kid? Here's the best advice from experts. Read More , and you should encourage them to apply all of Snapchat’s security features 8 Tips to Keep Your Snapchat Secure 8 Tips to Keep Your Snapchat Secure People of all ages use Snapchat to send illicit, self-destructing selfies. The privacy issues are numerous, so use our Snapchat security and privacy tips to shore up your account and stay safe! Read More .

Concerned about Snapchat? Kik and the anonymous Yik Yak app are also worth worrying about How Safe Are Apps Like Kik, Yik Yak And Snapchat For Teens? How Safe Are Apps Like Kik, Yik Yak And Snapchat For Teens? What's safe for my child? Will they be safe on the Internet? Is this a safe app? The reality is that nothing is safe - it's how you use it that makes it safe. Read More .

3. Dating Apps: Think About It!

Online dating is a massive industry. Teenagers and young adults are coached by culture to want to be appealing to their peers. Several dating apps are accessible to children as young as 13 thanks to Facebook integration.

What could possibly go wrong?

5 Dangerous Mobile Apps Your Children Should Not Be Using TinderHome 640x500

In short, if you’re children have dating apps on their phones, it’s time for a conversation. These apps encourage anonymous “relations” and one-night stands. If your children are studying hard, this isn’t the sort of distraction they need. Not to mention the potential these apps have for ruining reputations.

You could also look at it this way: swiping (as per Tinder) is an incredibly superficial action, and utterly disrespectful. The teen/young adult age is when concepts like respect for others needs to be emphasized.

Few people have found long-lasting happiness after a few minutes in a dating app.

4. Tumblr

The internet has many dark places: the Dark Web A Visual Guide to the Deep and Dark Web A Visual Guide to the Deep and Dark Web The Internet is a strange place. It's an awesome place that's filled with all kinds of great entertainment, useful knowledge, and cat pictures, but the Internet has a darker side, too. Read More , for instance, or Usenet. Then there are the sites only accessible via Tor. When it comes to the web itself, things are largely out in the open. Until it comes to Tumblr, a pretty unusual place with its own culture.

dangerous mobile apps children

Ostensibly, Tumblr is a social blogging platform, with a regular audience. Unfortunately, adult material is common, there is a risk of identity theft, and there’s an unhealthy attitude to eating disorders and self-harm.

There’s also the fact that whatever your child posts (Tumblr encourages the posting of images) is instantly available for everyone in the world (and in particular, Tumblr) to view. Admittedly, Tumblr use can help encourage the development of interests and hobbies. However, other (more responsible) sites also fill that function.

Monitoring your child’s use of Tumblr is recommended. Suggesting they look elsewhere for blogging software 10 Most Popular Content Management Systems Online 10 Most Popular Content Management Systems Online The days of hand-coded HTML pages, and mastering CSS, are long gone. Install a content management system (CMS) and within minutes you can have a website to share with the world. Read More or researching hobbies is a good idea.

5. Ask.fm

Popular question and answer site Ask.fm is a social network aimed at 11-to-14-year-olds, ostensibly to help them find out more about the world.

Except, it doesn’t really work like that: well, unless we’re talking about the world of cyberbullying.

This is the prevailing view of Ask.fm and unfortunately, at this stage, its public face is unlikely to ever recover.

At this point, you’re no doubt wondering: what the hell is wrong with people? Why would children and young adults abuse the opportunity to learn more than any previous generation? Why misuse such a potentially wonderful resource with reprehensible behavior?

Of course, the truth is that it’s only a few bad ones causing the problems. But protecting your children means avoiding the website, and uninstalling or blocking the app. Read our detailed look at Ask.fm 3 Reasons To Keep Your Kids Off Ask.fm 3 Reasons To Keep Your Kids Off Ask.fm it's more important than ever for parents to understand the technology landscape and educate their children about the proper uses — and hidden dangers — of the Internet and social media. Read More to find out more.

Watch Out for Jailbroken iPhones and Rooted Androids

Finally, how your youngsters use their iPhone and Android devices is a potential risk. While we would encourage anyone to explore the advantages and disadvantages of running Jailbreak How to Jailbreak Your iPhone or iPad (iOS 10.2) How to Jailbreak Your iPhone or iPad (iOS 10.2) Even though you probably shouldn't jailbreak your iPhone, many of you are going to do it anyway, so here's how. Read More , or rooting your Android device The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet So, you want to root your Android device? Here's everything you need to know. Read More , for kids this is potentially a problem.

dangerous mobile apps children

Apps that can make icons appear to “vanish” from view can be misused. Such apps are available on both iOS (once the Cydia store is installed) and Android. Supposedly aimed at helping the user perform other tasks (such as clearing up many screens of app icon clutter), these apps can be employed to hide apps and games.

Perhaps not so sinister… but it depends on what is being hidden. Violent games? Dating apps? Worse?

Whatever the case, there’s really no need to Jailbreak your teen’s phone. And it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to root your Android in future.

Get Your Children on Board With Smartphone Safety

What’s covered above is just the tip of the iceberg. So what should you do next? And are there other apps your children may have installed 5 iPhone Apps Your Teenager Has Probably Installed 5 iPhone Apps Your Teenager Has Probably Installed As a parent, you can be forgiven for wondering: "How do I help my child use their phone wisely when I don't even know what the danger is?" Read More ?

Well, abandoning the idea of a phone may not be the best approach. Instead, check the links, get the full facts, discuss with your partner. Only then bring your children into the conversation. Help them to understand the privilege of having a phone; explain their responsibilities, not only in looking after the device, but the content, and themselves.

What do you think? What are your concerns about mobile apps for children and young adults? Have you already encountered questionable apps? How did you deal with this?

Image Credit: belchonock/Depositphotos

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  1. Daniel Escasa
    February 2, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Why a smartphone if you simply want to keep in touch when a feature phone will do?

    • dragonmouth
      February 6, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Because Johnny and Janey MUST have the latest and the greatest to entertain them. Because parents cannot be bothered to watch their kids. They use the phone as an electronic babysitter. That's why!

  2. dragonmouth
    January 29, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    What about Facebook? That is not exactly child-friendly.