(CBS 11 NEWS/CBSDFW.COM) – From sexting to online predators it’s an ever-changing challenge for parents to protect their teenagers from the hazards of the hundreds of free apps available at their fingertips.
“Most of the apps are actually good, but they can be used in bad ways,” said certified life coach and counselor Keisha Howard.
Howard, known as “Coach Keisha”, travels the state speaking and teaching teenagers how to be careful when socializing on their smartphones, while educating parents on what to look out for.
“Pause before you post. That’s just the biggest rule,” she said. “Also, I definitely tell parents to conduct frequent phone checks as often as possible.”
With the help of Coach Keisha here are our top five potentially dangerous apps.
- Snap Chat – This app allows you to send a picture or video to a friend for an allotted amount of time before it’s deleted. Experts say this is the top app teenagers use to send inappropriate and risqué pictures. Many teenagers fall victim into believing there’s no harm with sending such pictures because they’re quickly deleted. However, Howard said what many forget is all some has to do save a screenshot and that picture can be saved and shared.
- Yik Yak – This app is allows people to anonymously send messages to other users within a mile and a half radius. It often turns into an anonymous message board for an entire high school. It has been dubbed by some the most dangerous app because the anonymity often leads to cyber-bullying.
- Kik – As parent you might think you’re on top of things by checking your child’s cellular text messages. But many teenagers these days text message each other using a popular app, called Kik. Experts say sexting and bullying are a common on this app in large part because kids feels as if their parents aren’t going to be checking their Kik account. Kik accounts can also be accessed online, so even when parents take away a teenager’s smartphone they can still message friends using a computer.
- Whisper – This app encourages teens to anonymously share deepest darkest secrets with a stranger. Experts warn this is an ideal app for ill-intentioned strangers to connect with teenagers in their area. For starters they can message each other so anonymity can easily be lost. Plus, experts say it uses GPS tracking which is another tool for a predator to track down your teenager.
“There’s such thing as stranger danger so avoid all those people you don’t know and only talk to people you do know,” Howard said.
- Poof, App Lock, Hidden Apps – Just because you don’t see a particular app doesn’t mean it’s not on your child’s phone. There are apps that can be downloaded for free that hide other apps or change the icons to make them look like different apps. A new popular app called ‘Calculator+’ appears to be just calculator, but it is really designed to hide photos and apps. Howard said this is why it’s important for parents to click on all the icons when checking their child’s phone
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