Dangerous Social Media Apps Parents Should Know About

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Bark Technologies, a company that promotes Internet safety for children browsing the Web, has compiled a list of dangerous applications based on what children can access.

MINNEAPOLIS — As a parent, it can be difficult to keep tabs on what apps are populating your kids’ phones and how they’re using those apps. Experts from Bark Technologies, a parental control app that helps parents monitor their child’s internet and screen habits, have created a list of what they consider to be the 12 most dangerous apps based on indicators that their software flagged as inappropriate.

One of them is Discord, an app that is most commonly associated with games. However, children and adults can delve into topics other than games. Bark’s 2021 Annual Report found Discord consistently in the top five platforms for bullying, suicidal ideation, body image, and more.

Marketing director Titania Jordan, who also carries the dual title of “parental manager,” says it’s because of the app’s multiple conversation channels.

“It’s based on the premise of the game, but there are other groups and conversations going on there,” Jordan said. “It has chat rooms, it has direct messaging, it has voice chat, it has video calling. And there are so many different servers, which you can think of as channels. And…it can expose children to all kinds of inappropriate content.”

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Yik Yak also made the Top 12. It’s an app that lets people post to public forums, connecting with people within five miles of their location. It relaunched in 2021.

According to Bark’s website, “Yik Yak is also a breeding ground for bullying, especially when it becomes popular on school campuses. Rumors can get published and spread like wildfire. Another threat to watch out for is content that encourages sexual assault and violence, an issue the app had in 2017.”

Aside from lesser-known apps like Yik Yak and Discord, some familiar ones made the list, like Snapchat and Instagram.

Jordan says that while parents may think they know everything about these apps, there may be features that parents aren’t aware of.

“We know the premise behind the app is disappearing messages, disappearing photos,” Jordan said of Snapchat. “But what you might not know is that Snapchat has a feature called Snap Map that shows your child’s real-time location to anyone they’re connected with, and you can zoom in to the very accurate visual description of what the building looks like are in…their school, a friend’s house.”

Jordan says it’s best to open up a conversation with your kids about these apps, and maybe even hang out with them.

“You can’t overlook that,” she said. “So you have to get into mature themes with your kids at a much younger age than you think and at a more consistent pace, a more frequent pace than you might think.”

But she also says to be sure to take it easy and know there will be bumps in the road.

“No parent before our group of parents has had to deal with children who have so much access at such a young age and at such a widespread rate. We are finding out as we go. So allow yourself a little thank you.”

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