3 Kinds of Apps That Stir Up Drama in Schools

Some social networking apps appeal to negative impulses. By Caroline Knorr
3 Kinds of Apps That Stir Up Drama in Schools

If your kid is among the 73% of teens who have access to a smartphone, you're well aware of the app obsession that can take over a brain and body in seconds. For teens, smartphones + apps = social networking. And where there's social networking, there's sure to be drama.

While a lot of social networking is harmless -- and even beneficial -- some apps are specifically designed to appeal to users' darker impulses. Confessionals, anonymous comments, incriminating photos, rumor-mongering -- that sort of thing. Worse, some apps apply location services to this already combustible mix, connecting everyone in a school and magnifying problems like cyberbullying, gossip, and physical threats.  

Keep these apps on your radar, and talk to your kids about responsible social networking:

  • Yik Yak. This "location aware" social networking app lets users post "anything and everything" anonymously. The brief, Twitter-like comments and photos are distributed to any 500 people using Yik Yak closest to you geographically. Anonymous threats against schools and individual students have prompted many schools to ban the app, using the company's "geo fencing" guidelines to restrict communications in a certain area. Also watch out for: Streetchat - Image Board for Schools and Colleges, Burnbook, and After School - Funny Anonymous School News for Confessions & Compliments.
  • Ask.FM. This question-and-answer app lets kids pose queries and answer questions from other users. With questions like "am I pretty or ugly?," the confessional nature makes kids vulnerable to negative feedback. Bullying is a major concern, and Ask.FM has been cited as a factor in stories of teen suicide. In response to these problems, the company changed management and launched a robust safety center. Still, you have to wonder about an app that has a whole section just for law enforcement investigating criminal activity. Also watch out for: Whisper.
  • Snapchat. For seemingly consequence-free communication, you can't do better than the self-destructing messaging app Snapchat. The app has gained a reputation as a "sexting" app because outgoing (and incoming) pictures, videos, and texts aren't permanently stored on devices. Still, many third-party developers have created apps that let recipients save snaps from unsuspecting senders. One of the biggest problems with Snapchat is its popularity: One teacher complained of massive class disruption when the app released an upgrade during the school day. Also watch out for: BurnNote, Slingshot.

About Caroline Knorr

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As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?"... Read more

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Comments (5)

Parent of a 14 year old written by Zacha76

Compared to other websites and apps, these are childsplay. Social media gives many false impressions from lavish lifestyles, 'natural beauty' instamodels, and gossip. These are the risks. You have to give your child a stable platform and way of thinking before you let your kids onto it. The problem is that most parents and teens don't know how to handle new age problems. You will never truly prepare your child for the world if you don't give them the basics and experience to handle it.
Adult written by Sassy Librarian

Snapchat users also know that they can watch the video, turn off cellular & turn on airplane mode, rewatch the video, pause and take a picture and then the sender never knows.
Adult written by TeachingKidsToThink

Thank you so much for sharing this information. New apps are being developed all the time and it is so important for parents to share anything they learn with each other to keep up to date. I was happy to share this on our Facebook page and will continue to share great information from your site.
Teen, 16 years old written by Maya16

I think that social media can hurt teenagers because it can increase sexting and that increases getting into trouble.
Teen, 14 years old written by BandFanGirl

That is true, but it can also be used for good, such as spreading the word about charity or talking to friends who have moved away. Social media is probably one of the best things that have ever happened to me. If it weren't for it, I wouldn't be able to talk to my best friend who now lives in another state. (I don't know her phone number, so we use social media to contact each other)