Last year I mentioned Periscope, Meerkat, and YouNow as three apps that parents should be familiar with. At the time, Meerkat (now defunct) and Periscope were fairly new. People using the apps at that time were the early adopters. But now, live streaming has gone mainstream, especially now that Facebook is in on the action with Facebook Live. And, live streaming is attracting a younger audience due to live.ly, from the makers of popular app musical.ly. It’s important for parents to be aware of these apps and services due to the risks involved with live streaming.
It's hard to keep up with apps that your kids are using. Here you'll find reviews of popular apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, along with others you may not have heard of such as Omegle and Whisper. You'll also find reviews of apps that are helpful and useful for kids, teens and adults.
Yeah, I did it. I downloaded Pokémon Go. I’m not much of a gamer, and I usually don’t jump on bandwagons. When a new app or technology is hyped up to the extent that Pokémon Go has been, I tend to rebel and stay away until the fervor has died down. Usually I can wait a while to see if an app is going to take off before installing and testing it out. But, alas, I went ahead and downloaded Pokémon Go about a week after its release – after dead bodies had been discovered by people playing the game, after police stations were putting out warnings, after two men fell from a cliff playing the game, after a man crashed his car playing the game, and after a man was lured into a robbery at gun-point while – you guessed it – playing the game.
If you do a Google search right now for Pokémon Go, you’ll see over 36,100,000 results. So there’s a lot of information out there already about this app. This is not a comprehensive tutorial. (I’d have to get much better – I’m pretty dismal, I’ve only caught 2 little monsters so far!) But I wanted to highlight a few key facts that parents will want to keep in mind when evaluating whether their kids should be playing Pokémon Go.
musical.ly is an app for creating and sharing short videos. First introduced in 2014, musical.ly has become popular with the tween and teen set in their never-ending pursuit of popularity and fame, social likes and validation. Plus, it’s fun. While you can have a private account, most kids don’t. Here’s what parents should know about musical.ly.
Have you heard of the After School app? It is like Yik-Yak for high school. Both apps are geared towards students at a school to communicate with each other anonymously. While Yik-Yak is targeted to college students, After School is targeted to high school students. After School was in the news last year due to concerns and incidents of bullying. Unfortunately anonymous apps make it far too easy for this type of behavior to occur.
I wanted to get a sense of what this app is like and how it is being used, so I downloaded the app. Here’s what I found.
Have you seen links to a website called “vsco.co” in your kid’s Instagram profile or that of their friends? If not you might soon and you’ll be like me, wondering, what the heck is VSCO? As is my nature, I immediately clicked the links, visited the website and downloaded VSCO to see what this photo app is all about. There is limited social interaction here, and little in the way of privacy.
Flinch is an app by the makers of OoVoo. The premise of this app sounds fun – it’s basically the digital version of a staring contest. The first person who smiles, loses the game. While the technology behind the app is impressive, parents should know that kids using Flinch can stare down with complete strangers.
Here are a few apps all parents should have on their radar. Periscope and YouNow are apps used to live-stream video from your phone. More than just recording videos and sending them, with these apps you hit “record” and people can watch you – live. Sound a little scary? A little voyeuristic? A little narcissistic? I thought so too! I downloaded these apps to see what they were all about and yes, there are many kids and teens broadcasting their lives.
Snapchat has added a new feature called Discover, which delivers curated content from the likes of CNN, ESPN, People, and Cosmopolitan. Between Discover and the previously added Stories, Snapchat is moving beyond its origins as a disappearing messaging app. Snapchat Discover includes some questionable content for the young teen audience.
I hope that you never find Whisper on your teen’s phone. I could end this article right here! But that wouldn’t be too helpful. If you haven’t heard of Whisper, it is an anonymous sharing app where you can divulge your deepest, darkest secret to an audience of unknown people, and voyeuristically read and respond to their confessions.
Is a tech-free, screen-free vacation possible? As our family gears up for a summer road trip, this question has come to mind. I like the idea of completely un-plugging while on vacation. But at the same time, we are using a number of apps and sites to plan our trip, and will also rely on a few while out on the open road.