A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Secret - Speak Freely is a social-media app that's designed to let people voice whatever's on their mind without anyone being able to know who said it. The app promises anonymity, but that's a tough promise to keep in the long term in the online world. Because it is seen as anonymous, though, people voice all sorts of thoughts, some showing longing for a significant other, some admitting their sexual orientation when they feel they can't in the real world, and some lauding sex, alcohol, drugs, or violence. Despite the site's promise of anonymity, the app demands that users supply their email addresses and phone numbers so it can match them with their friends (though you don't know who's posting what).
What's it about?
Users write whatever's on their minds, pairing their thoughts with an image of their choosing (which they can blur if it has identifying characteristics). Posts made by any of your contacts who use the app are viewable by you -- though it doesn't say who wrote it. Users can comment on those posts or like them as well. Posts judged most interesting by the app are viewable to anyone around the world. If you find a post objectionable, you can access a report feature by swiping to the side. From there, you'll also be able to block users.
Is it any good?
Although there's something freeing in being able to voice your thoughts without social ramifications, SECRET- SPEAK FREELY raises some red flags. For an app that promises anonymity, it gathers a lot of personal information -- including your email address and phone number. It offers reasons for this, but that's still a strong tie back to you that threatens the very secrecy users likely are seeking.
That said, the app quickly is becoming a phenomenon -- and parents should certainly be aware of it. Also, the app does allow users to report content they find inappropriate, which is a step above what some other "anonymous" sharing sites offer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss oversharing and why it's important to think before you share something online.
Families also can discuss how even "anonymous" may not truly be anonymous on the Internet. Anything you say online can potentially be traced back to you at some point.
Note that if you input a false phone number, there's no way to change that information later.
For kids who love friendship and creativity
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