• Internet Safety

    The Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. Kids who are old enough to swipe a screen can have access to the world.

    Getting Involved in Kids' Online Activities

    Aside from these tools, it's wise to take an active role in protecting your kids from Internet dangers. To do that:

    • Become computer literate and learn how to block objectionable material.
    • Keep the computer in a common area, not in individual bedrooms, where you can watch and monitor its use. Monitor any time spend on smartphones or tablets.
    • Share an email or social media account with your child so you can monitor messages.
    • Bookmark kids' favorite sites for easy access.
    • Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behavior.
    • Forbid your child from entering private forums; block them with safety features provided by your Internet service provider or with special filtering software. Be aware that posting messages to forums reveals a user's email address to others.

    Popular Social Media Apps and Sites

    Many school counselors across the country have put together a list of the most popular social media apps and sites so we can all be aware of what our students are finding online. It is important to remember that technology is constantly changing. What may be popular one week, is not necessarily popular the next and is often replaced with a new app or site. At CLV, our goal is to teach students how to use technology in a safe and responsible way. It is our hope that this list will prompt a discussion of online safety. If you would like more information on, please go to www.commonsensemedia.org

    TEXTING APPS

    GroupMe is an app that doesn't charge fees or have limits for direct and group messages. Users also can 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, such as drinking and inappropriate content.
    • 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.

    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).

    WhatsApp lets users send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people.

    Tik Tok - Real Short Videos is a performance- and video-sharing social network that mostly kids lip-syncing but can get dicey. 

    • Songs and videos contain lots of iffy content. Because the platform features popular music and a mix of teen and adult users, swearing and inappropriate content are commonplace.
    • There are often creepy comments. Though lots of comments are kind, videos often have comments about the performer's body or other inappropriate references, and since kids under 13 and adults use the app, it's especially creepy.
    • Gaining followers and fans feels important. Teens want a public profile to get exposure and approval, and many are highly motivated to get more followers and likes for their videos.

    Houseparty - Group Video Chat is a way for groups of teens to connect via live video. Two to eight people can be in a chat together at the same time. If someone who's not a direct friend joins a chat, teens get an alert in case they want to leave the chat. You can also "lock" a chat so no one else can join.

    What parents need to know

    • Users can take screenshots during a chat. Teens like to think that what happens in a chat stays in a chat, but that's not necessarily the case. It's easy for someone to take a screenshot while in a chat and share it with whomever they want.
    • There's no moderator. Part of the fun of live video is that anything can happen, but that can also be a problem. Unlike static posts that developers may review, live video chats are spontaneous, so it's impossible to predict what kids will see, especially if they're in chats with people they don't know well.

    Live.me – Live Video Streaming allows kids to watch others and broadcast themselves live, 

    earn currency from fans, and interact live with users without any control over who views their streams.

    What parents need to know

    • It's associated with Tik Tok - including musical.ly. Because of the parent app's popularity, this streamer is very popular, and many kids who use one app use the other, too.
    • Kids can easily see inappropriate content. During our review, we saw broadcasters cursing and using racial slurs, scantily clad broadcasters, young teens answering inappriopriate charged questions, and more.
    • Predatory comments are a concern

    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.

    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.
    • 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, even intimate moments, publicly -- and potentially with strangers.

    Monkey -- Have Fun ChatsIf you remember Chatroulette, where users could be randomly matched with strangers for a video chat, this is the modern version. Using Snapchat to connect, users have 10 seconds to live video-chat with strangers.

    What parents need to know

    • Lots of teens are using it. Because of the connection with Snapchat, plenty of teens are always available for a quick chat -- which often leads to connecting via Snapchat and continuing the conversation through that platform.

    Yubo (formerly Yellow - Make new friends) is an app that is often called the "Tinder for teens" because users swipe right or left to accept or reject the profiles of other users. If two people swipe right on each other, they can chat and hook up via Snapchat or Instagram.

    What parents need to know

    • It's easy to lie about your age. Even if you try to enter a birth date that indicates you're under 13, the app defaults to an acceptable age so you can create an account anyway.
    • You have to share your location and other personal information. For the app to work, you need to let it "geotag" you. Also, there are no private profiles, so the only option is to allow anyone to find you.

    Amino - Communities, Chat, Forums, and Groups is an interest-based app that lets users find people who are into the same things. Teens can join groups -- or create them -- and then post within the group, follow other users, and chat with them via text, voice, or video.

    What parents need to know

    • Contact with strangers is part of the experience. While it's great for kids to be able to feel a sense of belonging and kinship with others, the mix of kids and adults blended with all varieties of chat makes it risky. Also, unless a kid is in a closed group, everything they post is public, and other users can search for them. Make sure your kid's location is not included in their profile.
    • Mature content and bullying is common

    OoVoo- a free voice, video, and messaging app. You can only chat with approved  friends but can have chats with up to 12 people for free.

    WhatsApp- another free texting app for users 16 and over. After the first year it charges .99 cents per year. It accesses the user’s phone contact list and location services.

    Instagram- lets users snap, edit, and share photos and videos either publicly or privately. Anyone who follows you (if your account is private) can “like” a picture.    When you sign up, public is the default unless you adjust your settings. If the account is public, users can search through hashtags and location information to see other’s  photos. There is also a direct messaging option to send “private” pictures and messages to up to 15 people.

    Tumblr- a cross between a blog and Twitter. Users create short blogs that are similar to a scrapbook of text, photos, and/or video clips. Privacy is hard to create and not the first option when creating an account. Posts can be inappropriate and are often copied and shared.

    Twitter- a site where users post 140- character messages and follow other’s activities. Public tweets are the norm, though you can choose to have a private setting, and updates appear immediately.

    Meerkat- allows Twitter users to live stream video. A “Here, come with me” not “look what I did” app.

    Vine- an app that lets users post 6 second video clips that loop. It like many other apps is public by default and often hosts inappropriate material.

    Burn Note- a messaging app that erases messages after a set period of time. It is limited to text messages but you do not have to have the app to receive a message.

    Snapchat- a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on pictures and videos they send before they disappear. SnapChats can be used for embarrassing or inappropriate photos, but users should know that the Shapchats do not go away forever. Snapchats can be screenshotted or recovered.

    (Slingshot is the Facebook version of Shapchat)

    Whisper- a confessional app that allows users to post anything that comes to mind along with a picture. There is a “Meet Up” section that encourages users to share personal information. Confessional topics often include inappropriate material that can be leaked and become public.

    Yik Yak- is essentially Twitter by location. It lets users post brief comments to the geographically nearest 500 users. It does reveal the location of the user by default and can contain explicit information.

    MeetMe- their tag is “Chat and Meet New People”. It is not specifically a dating site, but has a function where uses can secretly admire others.

    Omegle- “Chat with Strangers”. The premise of the app is to link users together based on common interest. It does not require registration- just a username and password and you can search for people to chat with based on age and gender specifications. The front page of the website states that predators have been known to use Omegle.

    Skout- is a flirting app for teens and adults. Users are placed in the appropriate peer group and share, comment, and post pictures and text. Users get notification when someone near their geographic area joins and receives notification when someone “checks out” their page.

    LINE- a messaging app that allows users to send videos, texts, and voice messages for free. LINE does include a hidden chat similar to Snapchat and encourages in app purchases. It requires “minors” to have parental permission before signing up but does not provide a place to monitor parental permission.

    Ask.fm- a site that lets kids ask questions and answer those posted by others, with an anonymous option.  Bullying has been linked to this site with several stories reported in the news.

    Cloaq- a site that assigns users random usernames and doesn’t collect any personal information. It is an anonymous posting site that can contain inappropriate and personal material. It claims that no information on the site is collected or kept, but that is never a guarantee with the internet.

    Periscope- a live video app that allows users to stream from their phone and anyone that uses the app can watch them live. There is an option for private broadcast but by default it is public.

    Riff- allows users to create a video that others can add onto and publish on Facebook.