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Warning to Parents: Monitor your Children’s Activity on these Popular Social Media Apps and Games

The New Jersey Department of Children and Families shared the following infographic, warning parents to closely monitor what their children are doing on 21 popular social media apps and games:

Here are some brief explanations of each app and their uses:

Whisper: Free Android and iOS social media app in which users post and share photo and video messages “anonymously,” although this claim has been challenged with privacy concerns over Whisper's handling of user data.

Skout: A location-based social networking and dating app/website. Skout uses a cellphone's GPS to help find other users within a general radius of one another.

Grindr: A location-based social networking and online dating app targeting the LGBTQ community.

Omegle: An online chat platform that connects a user with random strangers from all around the world. After login, the app pairs the user with a “Stranger” based on shared subjects of interest. They can chat together privately through text, video, or using a built-in microphone.

Tinder: An American geosocial networking and online dating app that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other profiles based on their photos, a small bio, and common interests. Once two users have “matched,” they can exchange messages.

Tumblr: A blogging and social media tool that allows users to publish a “tumblelog,” or short blog posts. Tumblr's major differentiator is the free-form nature of the site and the ability of users to heavily customize their own pages.

Chat Avenue: Free chat rooms where users can chat anonymously as a guest or register a username. Some chat rooms available to join include those for adult chat, teen chat, kids chat, singles chat, gay chat, lesbian chat, and more.

Chat Roulette: Chat Roulette is an online chat platform that pairs random users for webcam-based conversations. Visitors begin an online chat (text, audio, and video) with another visitor.

Wishbone: A survey app asking teens to choose between two various things. Survey questions range from “who wore it better,” to product or location preferences. However, it is a comparison app that also has a chat function, and can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying, inappropriate/sexual content, etc. A live video streaming platform created by Teens can use to broadcast to fans and friends, and have real-time interactions. They can broadcast real-time, anytime to anyone who is on the app and take a snapshot, comment, send digital gifts and follow broadcasters. User create 15-second to 1-minute lip-syncing music videos and choose sound tracks to accompany them, use different speed options, and add pre-set filters and effects. The app also allowed users to browse popular “musers,” content, trending songs, sounds and hashtags, and uniquely interact with their fans. Please note, ByteDance Ltd. acquired Inc. in 2017 and MERGED it into what is most commonly known today as TikTok in 2018. TikTok is what you will want to monitor!

Meetme: Users can find people nearby who share interests, stream live video, send gifts, chat, and share photos.

Paltalk: Offers chat rooms and the ability for users to create their own public virtual chat room. App stores headers for the app state, “Talk to Strangers in Anonymous Chat Rooms” and “Paltalk: Chat with Strangers.”

Yubo: A social media app encouraging teens to find new friends by allowing them to swipe left or right to connect and live stream. Sounds like Tinder for teens to us.

Kik: App used for communicating with friends in group chats or direct messages.

You can then connect by searching for usernames, scanning a Kik code (or QR code), or allowing access to your address book. Additionally, it lets you chat with strangers, access public chats, etc.

Hot or Not: A social app that has users rate the attractiveness of others based on a series of photos. Users set up an account of their own with photos, an email or Facebook account, etc. Hot or Not states it will not accept a profile unless the user is 13 or older, and that users 13-17 can't chat or share photos with users older than 17. However, there's no age verification process. Users can log in to see what others think of them, and if two users think each other is ‘hot,’ they can send messages to each other.

Down: According to Down’s website, “DOWN is the most honest dating app available to meet locals nearby - you get to choose whether you want a casual relationship OR a more serious one. Unlike other dating apps, we view sexuality as a healthy, natural, and crucial aspect to relationships; We're all adults, so sexual intention and attraction shouldn't be hidden. We believe it's healthier for everyone involved if people are up-front with what they want, by specifying if they want to GET (a) DATE or GET DOWN.”

Adam4Adam: A dating app geared towards the members of the LGBTQ community. The app allows its intended users to meet, chat, access webcam, etc.

Fortnite: A popular video game/app that allows kids to play with their friends virtually (as well as strangers), does include minor violence, and appears to be addicting according to parents reviews, but there is also a “mic” function which also appears to lead to bullying/cyberbullying.

Minecraft: Another popular video game/app that allows kids to play with their friends virtually (as well as strangers – but this can be turned off), and poses similar issues with Fortnite above; addicting and can encourage bullying/cyberbullying.

Discord: According to an article in Wall Street Journal, “If your teens play videogames, there’s a good chance they’ve found their way to the Discord chat service, or will soon.

The free service, accessible from mobile devices and computers, allows users to talk to friends or strangers in real-time via voice, text or video chat. It made its debut four years ago as a way for people to communicate while playing videogames. With the rise of ‘Fortnite’ and other popular online multiplayer games, it has exploded.”

An increase in screen time from a global pandemic to our area’s cold winter can mean an increase in exposure to the dangers online. Talk to your kids about what they’re sharing, and who they’re sharing with. Stay safe!

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