16 Apps and Websites Kids Are Heading to After Facebook

Social media apps that let teens do it all -- text, chat, meet people, and share their pics and videos -- often fly under parents' radars.
Christine Elgersma Senior Editor, Apps| Mom of one Categories: Cell Phone Parenting, Facebook, Instagram, and Social, Technology Addiction
Senior Editor, Apps| Mom of one
16 Apps and Websites Kids Are Heading to After Facebook

Gone are the days of Facebook as a one-stop shop for all social-networking needs. While it may seem more complicated to post photos on Instagram, share casual moments on Snapchat, text on WhatsApp, and check your Twitter feed throughout the day, tweens and teens love the variety.

You don't need to know the ins and outs of all the apps, sites, and terms that are "hot" right now (and frankly, if you did, they wouldn't be trendy anymore). But knowing the basics -- what they are, why they're popular, and what problems can crop up when they're not used responsibly -- can make the difference between a positive and a negative experience for your kid.

Below, we've laid out some of the most popular types of apps and websites for teens: texting, micro-blogging, self-destructing/secret, and chatting/meeting/dating. The more you know about each, the better you'll be able to communicate with your teen about safe choices.


TEXTING APPS

Kik Messenger is an app that lets kids text for free. It's fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you only use the basic features. Because it's an app, the texts won't show up on your kid's phone's messaging service, and you're not charged for them (beyond standard data rates).

What parents need to know

  • Stranger danger is an issue. Kik allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with. The app allegedly has been used in high-profile crimes, including the murder of a 13-year-old girl and a child-pornography case. There's also a Kik community blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages (sometimes displaying users' full names) to contests.
  • It's loaded with ads and in-app-purchases. Kik specializes in "promoted chats" -- basically, conversations between brands and users. It also offers specially designed apps (accessible only through the main app), many of which offer products for sale.

WhatsApp lets users send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people with no message limits or fees.

What parents need to know

  • It's for users 16 and over. Lots of younger teens seem to be using the app, but this age minimum has been set by WhatsApp.
  • It can be pushy. After you sign up, it automatically connects you to all the people in your address book who also are using WhatsApp. It also encourages you to add friends who haven't signed up yet.

GroupMe is another app that doesn't charge fees or have limits for direct and group messages. Users can also send photos, videos, and calendar links.

What parents need to know

  • It's for older teens. The embedded GIFs and emojis have some adult themes, like drinking and sexy images.
  • Teens are always connected. Without fees or limits, teens can share and text to their heart's content, which may mean they rarely put the phone down.

MICRO-BLOGGING AND PERFORMANCE APPS AND SITES

Instagram lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 15-second videos, either publicly or with a private network of followers. It unites the most popular features of social media sites: sharing, seeing, and commenting on photos. It also lets you apply fun filters and effects to your photos, making them look high-quality and artistic.

What parents need to know

  • Teens are on the lookout for "likes." Similar to the way they use Facebook, teens may measure the "success" of their photos -- even their self-worth -- by the number of likes or comments they receive. Posting a photo or video can be problematic if teens are posting to validate their popularity.
  • Public photos are the default. Photos and videos shared on Instagram are public unless privacy settings are adjusted. Hashtags and location information can make photos even more visible to communities beyond a teen's followers if his or her account is public.
  • Private messaging is now an option. Instagram Direct allows users to send "private messages" to up to 15 mutual friends. These pictures don't show up on their public feeds. Although there's nothing wrong with group chats, kids may be more likely to share inappropriate stuff with their inner circles.

Tumblr is like a cross between a blog and Twitter: It's a streaming scrapbook of text, photos, and/or videos and audio clips. Users create and follow short blogs, or "tumblogs," that can be seen by anyone online (if made public). Many teens have tumblogs for personal use: sharing photos, videos, musings, and things they find funny with their friends.

What parents need to know

  • Porn is easy to find. This online hangout is hip and creative but sometimes raunchy. Pornographic images and videos and depictions of violence, self-harm, drug use, and offensive language are easily searchable.
  • Privacy can be guarded but only through an awkward workaround. The first profile a member creates is public and viewable by anyone on the Internet. Members who desire full privacy have to create a second profile, which they're able to password-protect.
  • Posts are often copied and shared. Reblogging on Tumblr is similar to re-tweeting: A post is reblogged from one tumblog to another. Many teens like -- and, in fact, want -- their posts reblogged. But do you really want your kids' words and photos on someone else's page?

Twitter is a microblogging tool that allows users to post brief, 140-character messages -- called "tweets" -- and follow other users' activities. It's not only for adults; teens like using it to share tidbits and keep up with news and celebrities.

What parents need to know

Musical.ly – Your Music Video Community is a performance and video sharing social network that mostly features teens lip syncing and to famous songs but also includes some original songwriting and singing. Musers, as devoted users are called, can build up a following among friends or share posts publicly.

What parents need to know

  • Songs and videos contain lots of iffy content. Because it features popular music and a mix of teens and adult users, swearing and sexual content are commonplace.
  • Gaining followers and fans feels important.  Teens want a public profile to get exposure and approval, and many are highly motivated by getting more followers and likes for their videos.

LIVE-STREAMING VIDEO APPS

YouNow: Broadcast, Chat, and Watch Live Video is an app that lets kids stream and watch live broadcasts. As they watch, they can comment or buy gold bars to give to other users. Ultimately, the goal is to get lots of viewers, start trending, and grow your fan base. Note that there are other apps like this that are less popular with teens such as Periscope, but Facebook has just included live-streaming as a feature, so expect to see more and more personal broadcasting.

What parents need to know

  • Kids might make poor decisions to gain popularity. Because it's live video, kids can do or say anything and can respond to requests from viewers -- in real time. Though there seems to be moderation around iffy content (kids complain about having accounts suspended "for nothing"), there's plenty of swearing and occasional sharing of personal information with anonymous viewers. In general, it mimics the real-life potential for kids to do things they normally wouldn't do in pursuit of approval but in a much more public way.
  • Teens can share personal information, sometimes by accident. Teens often broadcast from their bedrooms, which often have personal information visible, and they sometimes will share a phone number or an email address with viewers, not knowing who's really watching.
  • It's creepy. Teens even broadcast themselves sleeping, which illustrates the urge to share all aspects of life publicly and share even intimate moments with strangers.

Live.ly – Live Video Streaming poses all of the same risks that all live streaming services do, so poor choices, oversharing, and chatting with strangers are all a part of the package.

What parents need to know

  • It's associated with musical.ly – your music video community. Because of the parent app's popularity, this streamer is all the rage and Musers have a built-in account.
  • Privacy, safety, and creepiness are concerns. Because teens are often broadcasting from their bedrooms to people they don't know, sometimes sharing phone numbers, and often performing for approval, there's the potential for trouble.

SELF-DESTRUCTING/SECRET APPS

Burn Note is a messaging app that erases messages after a set period of time. Unlike many other apps of this sort, it limits itself to text messages; users cannot send pictures or video. That may reduce issues such as sexting -- but words can hurt, too.

What parents need to know

  • It allows kids to communicate covertly. To discourage copying and taking screenshots, a spotlight-like system that recipients direct with a finger (or the mouse) only reveals a portion of the message at a time.
  • It may encourage risky sharing. The company claims that its "Multi-Device Deletion" system can delete a message from anywhere: the device it was sent from, the device it was sent to, and its own servers. But it's wise to be skeptical of this claim.
  • You don't have to have the app to receive a Burn Note. Unlike other apps -- for example, Snapchat -- users can send a Burn Note to anyone, not only others who have the program.

Snapchat is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. Most teens use the app to share goofy or embarrassing photos without the risk of them going public. However, there are lots of opportunities to use it in other ways.

What parents need to know

  • It's a myth that Snapchats go away forever. Data is data: Whenever an image is sent, it never truly goes away. (For example, the person on the receiving end can take a screenshot of the image before it disappears.) Snapchats can even be recovered. After a major hack in December 2013 and a settlement with the FTC, Snapchat has clarified its privacy policy, but teens should stay wary.
  • It can make sexting seem OK. The seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share pictures containing sexy images.

Whisper is a social "confessional" app that allows users to post whatever's on their minds, paired with an image. With all the emotions running through teens, anonymous outlets give them the freedom to share their feelings without fear of judgment.

What parents need to know

  • Whispers are often sexual in nature. Some users use the app to try to hook up with people nearby, while others post "confessions" of desire. Lots of eye-catching, nearly nude pics accompany these shared secrets.
  • Content can be dark. People normally don't confess sunshine and rainbows; common Whisper topics include insecurity, depression, substance abuse, and various lies told to employers and teachers.
  • Although it's anonymous to start, it may not stay that way. The app encourages users to exchange personal information in the "Meet Up" section.

Yik Yak is a free social-networking app that lets users post brief, Twitter-like comments to the 500 geographically nearest Yik Yak users. Kids can find out opinions, secrets, rumors, and more. Plus, they'll get the bonus thrill of knowing all these have come from a 1.5-mile radius (maybe even from the kids at the desks in front of them!).  

What parents need to know

  • It reveals your location. By default, your exact location is shown unless you toggle location-sharing off. Each time you open the app, GPS updates your location.
  • It's a mixed bag of trouble. This app has it all: cyberbullying, explicit sexual content, unintended location-sharing, and exposure to explicit information about drugs and alcohol.
  • Some schools have banned access. Some teens have used the app to threaten others, causing school lockdowns and more. Its gossipy and sometimes cruel nature can be toxic to a high school environment, so administrators are cracking down.

CHATTING, MEETING, DATING APPS AND SITES

MeetMe: Chat and Meet New People -- the name says it all. Although not marketed as a dating app, MeetMe does have a "Match" feature whereby users can "secretly admire" others, and its large user base means fast-paced communication and guaranteed attention.

What parents need to know

  • It's an open network. Users can chat with whomever's online, as well as search locally, opening the door to potential trouble.
  • Lots of details are required. First and last name, age, and ZIP code are requested at registration, or you can log in using a Facebook account. The app also asks permission to use location services on your teens' mobile devices, meaning they can find the closest matches wherever they go.

Omegle is a chat site that puts two strangers together in their choice of a text chat or a video chat room. Being anonymous can be very attractive to teens, and Omegle provides a no-fuss opportunity to make connections. Its "interest boxes" also let users filter potential chat partners by shared interests.

What parents need to know

  • Users get paired up with strangers. That's the whole premise of the app. And there's no registration required.
  • This is not an app for kids and teens. Omegle is filled with people searching for sexual chat. Some prefer to do so live. Others offer links to porn sites.
  • Language is a big issue. Since the chats are anonymous, they're often much more explicit than those with an identifiable user might be.

Tinder is a photo and messaging dating app for browsing pictures of potential matches within a certain-mile radius of the user's location. It's very popular with 20-somethings as a way to meet new people for casual or long-term relationships.

What parents need to know

  • It's all about swipes. You swipe right to "like" a photo or left to "pass." If a person whose photo you "liked" swipes "like" on your photo, too, the app allows you to message each other. Meeting up (and possibly hooking up) is pretty much the goal.
  • It's location-based. Geolocation means it's possible for teens to meet up with nearby people, which can be very dangerous.

The bottom line for most of these tools? If teens are using them respectfully, appropriately, and with a little parental guidance, they should be fine. Take inventory of your kids' apps and review the best practices.

TV editor Polly Conway and former Common Sense Education writer Kelly Schryver contributed to this article.

About Christine Elgersma

Christine Elgersma started as Senior Editor, Apps and Digital Learning in January, 2015. Before coming to Common Sense, she helped cultivate and create ELA curriculum for a K-12 app, taught the youth of America as a... Read more
Have you discovered apps on your kids' phone that you'd never heard of before?

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Comments (69)

Teen, 13 years old written by ilovestarbucks456

Kik - Just like internetlovingteen said, it's rated 17+ for a reason. It's absolutely not for kids. WhatsApp - Heard of it, but never used it. Group Me - Never heard of it. Instagram - Relatively safe, however, it does have some explicit content. Tumblr - There's some pornographic content on it, but you can search for certain things you like, so it's relatively safe if you don't wander into the explicit sections of it. Twitter - Relatively safe as long as you set it to private. Has some swearing. Musical.ly - Relatively safe, however, some songs have swearing and/or explicit content. YouNow - Never heard of it. Periscope - Heard of it, but never used it. Live.ly - Never heard of it. Burn Note - Never heard of it. Snapchat - A bit difficult to use and can potentially have explicit content. Would not recommend for kids. Whisper - Can potentially have NSFW content and things like suicide, self-harm, and drugs. Not for kids. Also rated 17+ for a reason. Yik Yak - Heard of it, but never used it. MeetMe - Not for kids. Omegle - Not for kids. Tinder - Can have explicit and sexual content. It's generally used for hook-ups instead of long-term dating relationships. Do not let kids on this app.
Educator and Parent written by jagv

Great article and an excellent resource to parents. As a parent of a teenager, it is very useful to me. As parents, we need to continuously remind them that their primary duty is doing good at school and acting responsibly. Thank you for compiling a great list. Jag kudoswall.com Your child’s proudest moments. Now in one place.
Educator and Parent written by kprice5

ooVoo is not safe for children. Unless this app has changed, my 13 yr old daughter was "talking" with men ranging all the way up to age 41, from Texas to Amsterdam. By the comments, these men knew she was underage, which I shared with the police.
Teen, 14 years old written by CountryGirl_01

That new app Down to Lunch is a new bad one its for sex trafficking it texts you and tell you your friends have invited you when they actually have no idea what the app even is. When you download it and signup it asks you for your address, and all your personal info. I know I got a text coming out of Atlanta Georgia that told me to sign up. So they already have our numbers! So all you parents warn your kids about this app!!
Adult written by Chalee80

All the cruel things were possible before digital media when social media was just signs on trees and walls. I believe digital media allows supervising adults to find out about potential threats and current wrongdoings a lot better than when they used to rely on some random shy kids by asking "you can tell me, what's going on with him/her?"--because that kid would never tell. It is easy to download an app to monitor kids and tell kids what to do and not do. But it is very hard to teach by examples, because that means we have to act as we say at all times without using get-out-of-jail-free card, "this is different" excuses. I personally believe showing kids the examples of self-disciplined and forgiving adults is more important than telling them about what more things they should not do.
Educator and Parent written by peterj3

Thanks for this informative article. Every parent is obliged to monitor online kids' activities. In this way he/she can be sure that everything is alright ... Or at least a parent should teach FB etiquette to kids like on smstrackers.com. Thus you will know that your kid won't get under the bad influence.
Parent written by mollyisyou

A Grown up human being brain is not the same as the brain of a teen. You can never control the social network of a teen, only the company that made the platform can make a feature too actually make that dream come true ;)
Parent written by aleena

The list should update with www.ivyties.com; A social network for college admission. teens here get help with their university admission and get most useful advice from other people.
Teen, 17 years old written by LifeAsLouLou

Honestly, there's good and bad in anything the world throws at us. And Social Media is no exception. First of all, most social media (including Facebook) users have to be at least 13 to even sign up so there's no reason for "tweens" to be on them at all. That being said I've noticed that tweens that ignore the rules aren't very familiar with what's not acceptable. Most social media platforms are supposed to be only available for 13+ because the Internet is in fact a scary place and most children don't know how to use the Internet responsibly until their 13 or 14. On another note, I think it's important that parents are aware of what goes on on social media, however, unless you're child is under the age of 14 it's not acceptable to monitor everything and creep on their page and check their phone because even though you do have the right to know what's going on, your child is now a teenager, their probably in high school and they need "privacy". Always checking what their doing will more than likely result in you losing their trust because Parents, you don't need to know every single thing. If you're child is old enough to have a their own phone and almost finished with school, their old enough to have a private life. And I will be blunt when I say this, if you monitor your teenagers social media they will do at least one of the following: block you, make their account private, or make a new account that you won't find. And they won't do it because they're hiding something, they'll do it because they need space. Social Media is only dangerous when people don't know how to use it and regardless of how hard parents try to " protect" their children, it's ultimately up to the child to protect themselves. Their is a block button and privacy settings for a reason. Only the user can control it. And a tip for parents: not letting your child use social media when they ask to will only make them ignorant to it. This generation... My generation and the generation after me, we're growing up in the digital age and if you don't let your kid learn now it's going to take a while for them to get caught up later. Social Media is always changing and it's just part of our culture now. It's not dangerous unless you let it be.
Parent written by mollyisyou

LifeAsLouLou : I could not have said it better. i agree with everything you said , especially about not controlling a teens social media/network account. Thanks for this ^^
Adult written by shumicpi

I guess Twitter and Pinterest are in the game! Oh ya forgot to mention Instagram as well. People now just want to share the visual status!
Teen, 13 years old written by internetlovingteen

Kik- it's rated 17+ for a reason. ooVoo I have never heard of before. WhatsApp- heard of it, but it's not popular in my social circle, so I unfortunately can't supply any useful information. Instagram- fairly safe to use. Most of my friends just use it to chat with one another. Just make sure your kid sets theirs to private, and they should be fine. Tumblr- can have inappropriate content(porn, "smut", profanity, graphic images of self-harm, drug use, etc.), but is generally fine since content that one will come across is determined by who one follows and which tags they search for. Radical politics are a theme throughout the website, too, but as long as you keep tabs on your kid's blog, it should be fine. Twitter- can have profanity, but generally fairly safe to use. It's good as long as it's set to private. Vine- has plenty of inappropriate content. Not necessarily appropriate for every teen(let alone tweens), but most of it is just annoying stuff that kids at school will quote until they've sucked all the humor out of it. Burn Note- never heard of it, let alone used it before. Snapchat- pretty tame. Usually just videos of people acting like idiots and silly face selfies. Whisper- can have some pretty dark content. If I were a parent, I wouldn't let a kid use it. Yik-Yak- I'd watch them pretty closely if they're using this one. MeetMe- never heard of this. Omegle- keep them away from this. This is clearly for adults. Skout- don't know much about it, but I've heard of it. Tinder- this and Grindr are both hook-up apps that should probably not be used by teenagers, though they should be fine for adults. A few more to add: Google+- practically no one uses this, but it should be fine. Reddit- as long as they only subscribe to appropriate subs, it should be fine. They probably won't tell you they use Reddit if they do, though—it kinda defeats the purpose. Pinterest- absolutely fine for everyone. They might use Pinterest instead of doing their homework, though, so be warned... 4chan- if your teen is using this site, throw their computer out the window. 4chan isn't even appropriate for adults. MySpace- if your kid is using this, they may have blows to their self-esteem due to them not being ranked as their best friend's best friend. FaceBook- fewer teens are using this anymore. It's mostly just parents. I don't even know anyone under the age of 25 who uses this. Vimeo- kind of like YouTube, but fewer trolls in the comments section. YouTube- tons of profanity. Make sure they're only watching appropriate stuff. Voat- basically a European clone of Reddit. People who get banned from Reddit flock to there, though, so it's basically filled with the worst of Reddit. Digg- basically no one uses this. LinkedIn- teenagers will probably not be using this. It's usually accountants and businesspeople who are looking to get jobs. Flick- photosharing. Mostly photography. iFunny- funny pictures and internet memes. Lots of swearing, but the content itself is pretty tame. LiveJournal- don't know too much about this, but it's pretty much like its name. WattPad- monitor their use of this. It has lots of erotic fan-fiction. Text messaging- don't read these unless you have reason to believe they are in danger. It's kind of like reading their diary, if their diary was a chat log. Telephone- this is used less and less and texting more and more, but they'll be fine if they're using the phone to call people. Don't eavesdrop on their conversations, though. That's snooping, and those are private (to them, the person they called, and the NSA : ) FaceTime/Skype- they should be fine, but make sure they're safe if they're skyping or facetiming a boyfriend or girlfriend. Actually talking to people- if they're doing this, be glad. Don't eavesdrop. This is the most private mode of communication. : ) Basically, as a rule of thumb, if it's on the web for anyone to access, checking it out is fine and is never snooping, but if you're stealing their phone in order to read their text messages one they've fallen asleep, that's snooping, and it's probably going to make them trust you less. Also, teenagers might sign up for social media accounts without your permission or knowledge. This is pretty normal, and usually is fine, but sometimes can be dangerous. If they're over the age of 13, they can legally sign up for many social media accounts without parental permission, but it still is technically you responsibility as a parent to do your best to keep them safe online. Be aware of their online activity, but don't be nagging or nosy or disrespect their privacy. Hopefully this has been helpful : )
Educator written by kaitgustafson

Any plans to update your Common Sense lessons to include these more up-to-date apps and social media sites? I find that I want to use your videos to teach digital citizenship to my high school students, but the references and sites discussed are becoming rapidly outdated. MySpace has long been abandoned and the way people use Facebook has radically changed in the past few years - I'm having trouble locating materials that hold real world relevance for my students that don't come across as out-of-touch or condescending.
Adult written by clare wilson

Really the most popular list of social media you discussed with us most of the people are getting sticked to them and really those are the preferable ones i have also tried bubbly that's also good enough.
Kid, 11 years old

I have a 10 yr old brother and he uses minecraft. He sometimes complains that they are saying mean things and cussing on the chat. Where is minecraft on this site?
Educator and Parent written by TeachingKidsToThink

As a clinical psychologist and speaker on raising kids in the Instant Gratification Generation, I found this to be extremely helpful and to the point. I have shared it with many parents. New apps are developed all the time so sharing this information is the best way for parents to know what is out there. In our area the app causing an rash of cyberbullying and threats to schools is the "anonymous" app called Burnbook, which is based on the Burn Book from the movie Mean Girls.
written by ConcernedReader2015

Your claim that “But knowing the basics -- what they are, why they're popular, and what problems can crop up when they're not used responsibly -- can make the difference between a positive and a negative experience for your kid.,” is a genetic fallacy because you are stating that parents do not know what their kids are doing, but at the same time it is a tautology. This is considered a genetic fallacy because it is common for older people, i.e., most parents of teens, do not know what all these social media apps are about and it is common since these are new technologies that are developing fast and are hard to keep up with when you have much more to worry about. Most people have who have difficulty are those with families. Which whom are most, if not all, parents. So now assuming that with the knowledge you share parents of teens will be well informed of what each app is and what it is utilized for is a claim that is derived from your ending statement, which is where you created a tautology. The information that is used to prove your argument only shows that the ends were the means, by which I mean the point of your argument was to introduce your conclusion. So the best thing to do is to make sure that if you are going to post anything informational there should be a long check of logical fallacies.
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old written by spnteach

It is so hard to keep up with these apps so thank you for the list! I've found that the terms of service for the apps and reviews give parents the best guidance or can clue them in. When my 11 year old requested Kik, I checked online and saw that it was rated 17+! After carefully testing it, I found that because we have parental controls enabled on the old iPhone he is using, it did not allow for the web and image searching within the app so that was a relief and he can only communicate with the kids he knows. There is a very strict filter on the websites he can access since we have already gone down the road of accessing extremely inappropriate content. YouTube is another one that we block after finding him watching narrated Grand Theft Auto videos that were extremely violent and sexually degrading (which he came upon after watching a YouTuber gamer who originally discussed Minecraft). Now that there is a YouTube kids app, we have allowed YouTube again. It would be great to have all these apps on a list with the TOS, and any alerts that parents should be aware of because I am finding that most parents have no idea what kids add access when they are handed fully enabled smart phones with no restrictions or conversation. All of these things need to start being discussed around 9 or 10 it seems these days and don't assume that even the basic parental controls work well or that your child will not be exposed to it on some other child's unrestricted smart phone.
Parent of a 3, 8, 10, and 12 year old written by Rogergee

We always talk about where kids go after...what about where kids can go before, and still retain their privacy? There is a app called GeckoLife which allows one to create spaces to communicate privately. Has all the features others have like messaging, pics, video...but it's done with a little more purpose. My kids use it with their friends...and family.
Teen, 14 years old written by eazy__breezy

People seriously need to stop acting like snapchat is "meant for sexting". Like seriously, its not and unless your kid is going to add random people who clearly do that type of thing, snapchat is a perfectly harmless app, so wise up.
Educator written by Moon Goddess

Viber is a free texting and phone app. All you need is wifi. My 30-year-old daughter texts/calls me from Germany. There is a nominal fee for calls, but texting is free.
Teen, 13 years old written by tbh.hailea

some of these apps can cause danger to your child. i am a teen and to be honest omegle is the #1 site for your child not t go on. especially video! snap chat is not that bad. it is the childs full responsibility to whom they add. i use snap chat to just tai with family and friends. i do not add who i don't know. kik is ok. i had to make a 2nd ik because to many people i didn't know had my kik. i don't know how they got my kik but i just made another one. you could block people on kik but t was to many people. instagram i have about 3 ig accounts. i have my personal, back up, and tumblr. instagram can be dangerous. if you don't have your page private then random creeps can follow. i have mine private so i can accept whom and whom i don't wanna accept. you can enable the location setting or make up your own for example " disney land, florida" is with your location or you could create your own for example " tbt at dineyland" or " comment something nice." out of those apps i think the most dangerous is omegle. the least dangerous is instagram and snap chat. hope this helped
Educator and Parent written by vizioninteractivem

Another useful website is www.candyfist.com Which is built on a php platform. Nothing is creative about just viewing and liking photo's on your phone. I remember when Myspace had all the criteria of uploading photo's, music, blogging, chatting with friends, customizing your profile the way you wanted which showed teens how to code. This was actually useful and unique for individual members.
Parent written by JHart

Thanks for the great list and info Kelly! My 14 year old desperately wants to be using some of these apps. We have resisted so far, but realize that she really is an anomaly at this point so are now considering letting her at least use Instagram (as long as we come up with agreements about privacy settings etc). I've read that teens shouldn't use their real name/photo on their profile as it's publically searchable (despite the privacy settings). I see almost all her peers using their real name and photo, and they say it's so they are searchable to friends. Makes sense, but seems unsafe - any tips on this?
Teen, 13 years old written by Lilz the pawz

Instagram is probably the best out of all of them because you can make your account private, which allows more control on who's seeing your posts. I suggest a private instagram and see how sensible your daughter is about it then take it from there
Teen, 16 years old written by pancaekes

Hi JHart! As a fellow teen I'm here to advocte and encourage to usage of social media for your 14 year old daughter. I personally had a very monitored Facebook since I was 10 (mainly since I lived overseas to contact other family members). When I was 13, I was introduced to Instagram. Since then, I've used it to update my friends on my whereabouts (since I'm still constantly traveling) and keep up to date on their whereabouts. If you are concerned about your teen's safety on Instagram, here are some tips I've learned: 1) Only use your first name as your "real name". Instagram doesn't require you to put both names. 2) Careful what you put in the bio (it's always going to be public). I have some attributes about me (World traveller. Foodie. Dog Lover) and a cute quote and some emojis on mine. Nothing too specific about me. 3) My account is set on private. 4) I do not share Instagram photos with the location turned on unless I know I will not be going back to that place for a while (ex. you're day at disneyworld or something). 5) My Instagram profile picture uses a cheesy, but cute filter. The profile picture doesn't matter too much since people cannot click and make it bigger like they can in say Kik. 6) Your username should not be your full name. Mine is my first name and then something else. I personally do not really see any other difficulties that could go along with the app as seeing it's a photo uploading and viewing media. Instagram has made lots of effort in taking out spam accounts and there is little to inappropriate material (atleast I haven't seen much- especially lately, in my 2 years of using the app). Anyways, I hope I helped!
Parent written by oxl

Imtags.com is another new one I see a lot of teens using, they post their im usernames and find new people. They include Kik usernames, Snapchat usernames and BBM pins. I think this idea is open to abuse because anybody could find your snapchat or kik username.
Educator written by MsHB

This is a great post with important information for parents. I would love to share it with the parents at our school. Any chance it is available in Spanish?
Teen, 14 years old written by lineardowd

Just to give you an opinion from a teens point of view: I am 14 and I use most of these. And most of them can only be dangerous if your child is looking for danger. On Snapchat, you could be harmlessly sending pictures to your friends. In settings it gives you the option to only recieve pictures from people that you add on snapchat. Out of all of these I think instagram is the least dangerous. Like I said before you are only going to find danger if you're looking for it. You can make your page private so people must request to follow you. And you will only see other people's photos whom you follow. Out of all of these I use Twitter and Tumblr the most. On tumblr, you only see content from the blogs you follow so your child should not be following any blogs that are posting Pornographic images anyway and same with twitter. Oovoo is not bery dangerous either because you can only video chat and message people if they add you and you also add them so just make sure your kid isn't adding anyone they don't know. Omegle is really just a TERRIBLE website. Even on the safe chat people are still naked and I don't use that website at all. I LOVE VINE. Many of the 6 second videos are hilarious. I guess I would say the only problem is language. But if someone swears a lot in their vines or does something you don't like then your teen should not follow them. And of course, ***YOU CAN ALWAYS MONITOR THEIR SOCIAL MEDIAS*** Just follow them on twitter, instagram, tumblr, add them on facebook etc. You will be able to see anything they post. Unless they block you. But if they do block you, you could just take all their social media away!! CONGRAYS IF YOU READ THIS UNTIL THE END BC THIS IS SO LONG!
Educator and Parent of a 15 year old written by Caroline Knorr

Thanks for your comment. You make an excellent point that teens who use social media responsibly can keep themselves safe. Your perspective is really appreciated.
Parent written by DAMSG

My daughter went on Omegle after seeing it used on a YouTube video - the video showed the chat was safe- a tween talking to two young kids. My daughter's experience was much worse. Despite the numerous warnings on the initial page -she went right in and started to find people to chat with. She smartly had her camera off -but found no one would chat with her. So she turned it on - showing only below her neck. Sure enough - someone started chatting to her. He (using typing only) asked her to stand up and turn around - she did that - and he promptly threatened her -" I have taken a photo of your butt (she was fully clothed) and your face (not sure if that was possible) and I will put them onto social media and will embarrass you if you don't do what I say..." she promptly shut it down and came down in tears. We alerted the local police and reported the incident -which they fully supported. This is NOT a site for anyone but ADULTS. Despite many warnings and much education about this type of site - my daughter ignored everything for the chance of chatting and feeling that 'she belonged and was popular'. Such a hard thing to parent around.
Educator and Parent written by Cyber Safety Lady

Thanks for this list, but I think you need to update your review of Kik Messenger. You mention just one app within Kik Oink? Kik Messenger has over 400 "cards" or apps available to connect to your Kik app. You get to these apps through the Kik app from the slide out window in the app, or from under the message window. None of these apps are verified by either Google Play or iTunes, and many are plain and simply hook up apps. Also you will find that most kids make up names for Kik, It's not correct to say that they have a real name policy they don't. You can also use Kik without verifying your email address, so it's easy for people to make up an email address to hide your identity. The privacy settings in Kik don't block contact from strangers, or effectively hide new messages from strangers. Messages from new contacts or strangers are placed in the main message window at the bottom, by turning on the 2 privacy settings, "Message Preview" and "Notify for New People" all that does, is place a message from a stranger or new contact, in the main message window, but blurrs the profile picture and any photo they may send. If you then click on the message to find out if it's a friend...as so many kids make up user names it could be, it reveals the picture and clicking accept reveals the profile picture. There are many reports of strangers and Porn Bots sending kids porn pictures as way of first introduction. And increasing reports of predators using Kik Messenger to extort nude photos from kids. There are many websites set up, that have collected user names and profiles on Kik and advertise them by category, girl or boy, ages etc... Kik Messenger is also rated 17+ on the app stores. Please update the review of Kik. This is one very dangerous app.
Parent of a 10 and 12 year old written by myuserid

I completely agree with you, Cyber Safety Lady. I think the Common Sense Media review of Kik needs to be updated. The sub-apps of Kik (available via a side swipe) offer their own versions of YouTube, Internet Browser, Image searching and more. There are parents out there that may think that turning off Safari will prohibit their child from accessing YouTube or other inappropriate content; however, Kik is a backdoor for your children to access these very sites. The problem with the CSM review of Kik is that it falls into the trap of categorizing the app as a "texting" app, but it is much, much more! Please re-evaluate the product and see if you agree that your review needs to be updated. Thank you Cyber Safety Lady! (I think I originally learned of the holes in Kik from you!)
Educator written by Polly Conway

Hi there -- Thank you so much for your comments! Our review doesn't say you have to use real names, only that you can (which is not recommended by us). Regarding Oink, it's one of many mini apps created by Kik Messenger; we chose to call it out but weren't implying that it is the only one -- and you're right, lots of Kik's mini apps aren't regulated as they're created by independent developers. It's a challenging app to safely navigate, so your concern is right on target.
Educator written by SEMSLibraryLady

Great list. KakaoTalk is very popular in Asia, and with Asian American kids at my school. We use it all the time to communicate with my daughter in Korea and our former exchange student in Japan. Kids love all the emoji, but be aware, the cute ones aren't free! I'm not sure about privacy settings, etc., because my daughter is over 21:)
Parent of a 9 and 13 year old written by tanyamwilliams

I highly recommend iPhones for the ability to block apps, internet, etc. The restrictions have a different 4 number passcode so only you can have access to those features. You can block their ability to add or delete apps. We also have a rule that all devices are turned in at bedtime and charge on my nightstand until morning. If I bought the phone and pay the bill, you follow my rules, it belongs to me and I let you borrow it.
Teen, 14 years old written by tiffc

The thing about Tumblr is that things are separated by "tags". Unless you follow a person who posts content with tags like "nsfw" which is usually used for porn or you look up a tag yourself, you will not come across this content. You can also block tags, or "blacklist" them so that you won't come across them. There are some great resources like writing activities and tips, craft instructions that are available on Tumblr (and you don't have to have a blog to go directly to it). The password protected blog is your second blog, but you don't have to put anything on the first and just post from the second. Those are all tips that I find useful about that website because of its rise in popularity. And about websites giving information to the police: there was an incident that happened in my city where a girl was posting a Gossip-girl like Tumblr blog and it spread. There were students who tried to contact Tumblr support to remove the blog as it had some raunchy pictures, but they could not do anything about it since they were not the ones actually in the pictures. I know that the blog was taken down after someone called the police -- it was actually child pornography due to the nature of some of the pictures. They were able to track the student down and she ended up getting expelled.
Adult written by crashtx1

Good list. For most of these apps there is no good reason to have them. Kind of like being out at 3:00 a.m., nothing good is going to happen. Also note that most of these apps have a private chat feature, including Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, etc. The "meet" apps are scary as well, because they really encourage random stranger contact. Pretty sure nothing will change unless a lot of bad things happen.
Parent written by Concernedmom1234

My child was lured by a complete stranger on Instagram. I am NOT a lax parent, in fact, very far from it, but you CAN NOT compete with a predator. They are professionals. They can be anyone they want on a profile, and kids generally believe this stuff. Kids want more "likes" and followers. These predators can know where your kids go to school, anything they want just by keeping up with your kids posts! Please BE NOSEY! Don't make the mistake I made, and then have to deal with what we are dealing with. This is literally every parents nightmare. It's a hard toss-up because you want your kids to be able to contact you, but at what cost? Their lives? I know mine is LITERALLY lucky to be alive. Predators manipulate, lie, groom, tell your kids what they want to hear. If you live in a small area like we do, it wouldn't be hard just from following posts to find out where you live, where your kids go to school. You think this could never happen to you, BUT IT CAN HAPPEN, and does happen WAY MORE THAN YOU THINK! I think I read it's a 100% chance kids will be contacted by a predator online these days no matter how strict you are (I was very strict and always wanted to be in the know about what our kid was doing, with whom, and where) but it still wasn't enough. Now my child is a victim, we get to go through a lengthy court battle b/c I had this person arrested, and I also have to carry the guilt of providing them with a cell phone. It's not just the kids that have no supervision, trust me, PLEASE, if a predator wants to get at your kid, they will. This is why they are called predators because they PREY on kids. I hope that someone reads this and at least considers what I am telling you, because if one kid doesn't have to go through what we are going through, it was worth making this comment!
Educator and Parent written by Cyber Safety Lady

What a horrible thing to happen. It is so important that we don't rush to allow our kids to use social media too early. They need to be mature enough to be able to spot predators, and old enough to tell parents if it happens. It's also so important that parents educate themselves on what these apps, do. What the content is inside the apps ,does it have privacy settings that actually block and protect your child. Sadly so many parents don't seek out education around technology or cyber safety. Most parents think it won't happen to their child, they also believe they know enough. I teach I.T teachers about cyber safety. Cyber Safety education is a very specialised area, no matter how much experience you have with computers and the internet, parents need to learn HOW their kids are using these things. Don't think you know enough...find out for sure! If you have the opportunity to attend a technology or cyber safety talk please go, and take your friends. Knowledge is power.
Adult written by crashtx1

Thank you for your post, and I am very sorry for what happened to your child. You correctly point out that no amount of monitoring, including using software, can cover all the bases. There are just too many things out there and too many creeps willing to take advantage. I'm a "computer guy" with all kinds of filters, etc. on, but my daughter was given a thumb drive with executable VPN software to beat OPENDNS and my firewall settings. I only caught it by happenstance. So ignore any "bad parent" comments; those people just don't know.
Parent written by Concernedmom1234

I forgot to add that if you have an issue, these sites are notorious for NOT giving info to the police easily, which wastes a bunch of time. I would think when a young child is involved, these sites would easily give up pertinent info that would help catch a predator, but they don't, the sites will fight it all the way.
Parent written by elftok

google+ is being used by kids. They are encouraged to use it by their schools as some schools use google drive to introduce a way of documenting school work and working with friends on homework and or getting feedback from the teacher while out of school.
Educator written by Polly Conway

It's true -- it seems like Google+ is a site that's being used pretty responsibly by kids, parents, and teachers -- its tools lend itself very well to keeping track of school stuff and can definitely enhance communication between students and educators.
Teen, 14 years old written by tiffc

Yes! As a student I agree with this. Our school uses Google Apps For Education and Google Drive for school work. However, Google+ is blocked on our accounts. Some students use their own personal Google account, but I don't think there are many teens using the website solely for social networking.
Kid, 10 years old

anybody can make a account even if they dont have a adults permission. instagram is fun and if your mom try to look for you she wont find you. duh dont use your real name
Parent written by Ffxmom

anyone heard of "hot or not"? My teens use this. I think the people are grouped by location. You click on whether you think someone's pic is hot or not. Then you can text the person. (this is actually how Facebook started at Harvard!) Sounds potentially dangerous not to mention a real blow to your self-esteem if you get all "nots"!
Teen, 14 years old written by lineardowd

Yeah on hot or not it doesnt tell you if someone rates you "not" but if you rate them "hot" and they rate you "hot" then it will say you guys connected. Only then can they message you. Most guys are only looking for nude photos which is gross. It is very easy to say no. Or just not use the app at all like me.
Kid, 12 years old

Even though a bunch of the kids in my class use this 'Instamagram', they're too young for it obviously. I think that those social networking things have to validate if one is too young to use it, example like how Nintendo charges 50 cents to your parents to make sure that either your parents helped you or not.
Adult written by luison13

Great list, tho it probably applies more to kids in the US. Some of those apps do not feature much in Ireland. In many European countries Whatsapp is all the rage, especially in those like Spain where texting still costs money.
Kid, 11 years old

...I am not sure what planet you are on. Spain? You need to pay for texting pretty much everywhere in the world. and I'm Irish and this applies to my friends and I.
Parent written by Deblock

Is there a way to find out my son's user names for these. I already have twitter, ask.com(?) and Facebook. But would like to check the others sites also.
Educator and Parent of a 14 year old written by Caroline Knorr

Thanks for your question. Aside from the obvious -- ask him what his user names are -- you probably can't find him on these apps and sites just by searching. And if he has enabled privacy settings, he may not be publicly searchable. I often try a little "child psychology" on my teen. I play dumb (which he probably thinks I am anyway, LOL) and I ask him to explain something to me. So, maybe ask: I've heard about this thing called Ask.fm. Do you have any idea what it is and how it works. Or tell him you're signing up and need to know how it works -- you might get more information out of him that way vs. a direct question. Good luck.
Educator and Parent of a 14 year old written by Caroline Knorr

Thanks for your comment. We have a review of Roblox (http://www.commonsensemedia.org/website-reviews/roblox) but we didn't include it on this list because -- while it does have social features -- it's not really an open-ended social network.
Adult written by crashtx1

This is a really good list(other than Google+ which I know of no kids using). All of the apps listed are trouble. Kids are going there because Facebook is too easy to track, texting is easy to check and limit, and why would they want to not been seen? Yep. Tumblr in particular is a pathetic world of self loathing and porn.
Educator written by Ms.Thoennes

I'm sure there is plenty of self-loathing and porn on Tumblr. However, my daughter has been using it for years, primarily to participate in the fan communities of various TV shows, movies, podcasts, and video games that interest her. Kids in these communities demonstrate a lot of creativity as they role play, share artwork, and mash-up different stories. When drama arises in those communities, she is smart enough to stay away. She has also learned a lot about politics and gender roles, social justice issues and respect for diversity. I suppose we are fortunate that she has a good head on her shoulders and wants to share her world with us rather than hide it.
Parent written by missusharris

My son switched from txt msg to Kik about a month ago and it really threw me for a loop. I was used to randomly checking his texts, but took me a couple of weeks to realize his text inbox was empty because he had switched to a new app. He texts constantly, usually to girls, and his content is too provocative and sometimes completely crosses the line. As much as we redirect him and counsel him and consequence him on this, he seems to keep doing whatever he can get away with. Now, my husband and I are thinking of uninstalling all of his apps except ones for productivity, like calendar and checklists. we may still allow the camera, but that seems harmless as long as there's no app to post the actual pics. I'm wondering if this move will be so extreme that it starts a tug of war. Any thoughts?
Teen, 14 years old written by lineardowd

If you take his phone and make him text in an ipod, he will have a free phone number and you can text for free, but you will have to buy mins. I think it starts you off with 60 or so. But the catch is that he can only text where there is internet. So mostly at home
Educator and Parent written by summermom

I just saw this list and I thought I'd add what we do. We use Verizon as our carrier and they allow you to put time restrictions on the phone. My son switched to using a texting app on his IPod. We explained that going around us wasn't okay and we put parental controls on his IPod. We actually took seriously the need to keep the internet out in the open - our 2 computers are in a public space. So, we felt strongly that having the internet on a phone or on an IPod was counterproductive. So, we only let him have games and music on the IPod. He still finds work arounds, but at least he knows where we stand. Porn is a huge concern, but so is respecting our guidelines as far as no texting in school, or after 10pm on a school night (we feel like the only ones....) Best of luck - it's a battle but one that's worth winning.
Educator and Parent of a 14 year old written by Caroline Knorr

Could be. Kids think of their devices as their private property -- as personal as a diary -- so uninstalling his apps may backfire. Depending on his phone, you might be able to restrict app downloads so he can't download new apps. Keep talking about your expectations for responsible use and after he demonstrates that he can follow your rules, he could earn back privileges.
Parent of a 7 and 13 year old written by Tillymint1971

My eldest would chat to her friends every minute of every evening in parallel to life at home if allowed. They use What's App. Do you know how well managed this app is? Her other favourite site is Pinterest. I spoke to her and explained why I don't want her to use Tumblr or Facebook but one of the reasons I gave for not having a Facebook account was that she sees her friends at school every day, it's best for family overseas or people you don't see very often. She accepted that but the same could apply to a What's App. I don't think I would stop her using What's App cos she frequently shares the exchanges she has with friends with me and it's useful for communicating when they're doing homework, but sometimes I feel she is living her life in several alternate realities and sharing every minute of her friends' angst, fangirl hysteria and with some friends their loneliness. At the weekend I often take her iPod Touch off her and she participates fully in family life - still, only just a teenager!
Teen, 13 years old written by Pancakeeeeees

So yes we have all heard stories about abuse and all that from these "totally awful unsafe sites", but most of the time it only happens because the child isn't seeing signs that someone could be a potential stalker, ect. I live in America and adults educated me about social media and staying away from certain things. Lots of people say that social media destroys your brain and all that, but people, it's the 21st century! This century is about technological advances and bettering people's lives with new inventions, don't keep your child away from that! Social media helps you feel included and I think it's more positive than negative on your whole person. There's always going to be someone out there who wishes harm on people like me, and they try to reel you in. But keeping your child away from social media only makes them more gullible, and more likely to get in a bad situation