ABOUT THE APP: Snapchat is an extremely popular free messaging app for photos and short
videos only, which are automatically deleted after they’ve been viewed for a few seconds by
the recipient. For teens, this “self destructing” feature is a big part of what makes Snapchat so
appealing. Photos are shared with friends and you get to decide who to share with each time
you send a photo, they are not posted publicly. Once you set up an account, by default, anyone who knows your
username or phone number can send you a message and is now a “Friend”.
WARNING: Because the photos have a “limited life” of one to ten seconds, Snapchat has become a popular
means for “sexting”. Sexting refers to sending a text message with pictures of children that are inappropriate,
naked or engaged in sex acts. It is important for users of this app to realize that although pictures are designed to
disappear in 10 seconds or less, there is no guarantee that the recipient won’t take a picture of the message using
the “screenshot” feature of their phone or by taking a picture with a camera.
CONTROLS: You can configure Snapchat to only accept messages from users on your “My Friends” list in the
settings menu. Select “Who can send me snaps…”, then select “My Friends” instead of “Everyone”. To block a
user, tap the Menu icon, select “My Friends,” locate their name in the list and swipe right across their name (or
in Android, long-press the name). Press “Edit” and then “Block.” If you would like to delete a friend from your
contacts, press “Delete.” Even if you haven’t added the user as a friend, their name will still appear in the “My
Friends” list under “Recent” if they have sent you a message recently.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 13 or older.
ABOUT THE APP: Instagram is a photo editing and sharing app that allows users to edit
photos taken on their phone and post them to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the click
of a button.
WARNING: Instagram started in 2010 as a photo-sharing platform viewable only amongst its user base. In
April 2012 Facebook acquired Instagram and now those photos can go almost anywhere. You can browse
through all of them quickly by going to[USERNAME]. Instagram photos are open to the public
by default. Once a profile has been created, anyone can browse your child’s photos and follow them unless
their profile is set to private. Signing up for an Instagram account requires that the user provide a Username. In
many cases young children are using their real first and last names to create their accounts. To make matters
worse, the sign-up process has an optional phone number section where users can submit their phone number as
part of their public profile. All followers have access to both the user’s profile information and photos. For
unsuspecting children who don’t know any better, this means others have access to their first and last name and
phone number. As a parent, the last thing you want is an online predator having access to your child’s name and
phone number displayed right along side a photo history of their daily activities.
CONTROLS: Avoid choosing a user name that uses your child’s real first and last name. Do not enter a phone
number in the profile screen. Ensure that the photo sharing is set to Private - this will prevent the photos from
going out publicly where anyone can view them. Once a profile is set to private, users will have to send a
request to connect to your child. You can set the Privacy setting through the Instagram interface by going to
Settings and scrolling down to the setting labeled “Photos are Private” or “ Photo Privacy” and ensuring it is
turned on. Work with your child to select an appropriate profile photo that you can both agree on. It’s best to
avoid using an actual photo of your child and instead find something that best represents him or her or their
interests. Turn off the Geo-tagging or Location of photos, that way even if a photo gets out to the public,
hopefully no one knows where your child is.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 13 or older.
MORE INFO: (Instagram Help Center/FAQ/Tips for Parents)
ABOUT THE APP:. Kik is an app based alternative to standard texting. Kik users can send
and receive text messages and photos with individuals on their Kik contact list or they can
start a group chat with several Kik contacts.
WARNING: While many people use Kik to simply send messages to friends, it is also an
easy way for strangers to contact kids. Though Kik makes it easy to block other Kik users and ignore message
notifications from new people, they offer no privacy or parental controls. Also, kids are sharing their Kik
username on public social networks, like Instagram, through comments and profiles. Doing this opens the door
to unwanted solicitations from Internet trolls. There is no way for parents to monitor Kik messages or group
chats as records are not kept and chats are easily deleted.
CONTROLS: Ideally children should only message friends they know offline. In the ‘privacy’ settings of Kik
users can block people (tap settings, select privacy, select block list, tap +, select the person to block and tap yes
or block to confirm. In order to “manage” getting message notifications from unknown users, users will have to
do so under the settings section of their device (settings, notifications, ignore new people). However, users can
still read and reply to these “ignored” messages by simply clicking on the number of ignored messages at the
bottom of the screen.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 13 or older (13-18 must get parental consent). *However, Kik is rated 17+ by both
the App Store and Common Sense Media. The App Store gives the rating due to "Frequent/Intense
Mature/Suggestive Themes." Common Sense Media found it is best for older teens "who will not give out
personal information to Kik users they don't know or indiscriminately pay for premium features on other Kikenabled apps.
ABOUT THE APP:. is a Q&A-based site (and app) that lets users ask questions and
answer questions posted by other users.
WARNING: Essentially, if your child is on this website there are no restrictions about the type
of content that they are seeing. As with many social sites, some users keep things friendly and clean, while
others post hateful and sexual comments. Because the site allows anonymous posts, often kids use the site to
ask inappropriate questions or to bully or taunt another user. Anything posted is visible publicly. The site does
not monitor content.
CONTROLS: Change privacy settings so that people are not allowed to ask you questions anonymously.
Encourage kids to block users that are being inappropriate or are bullying.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 13 or older.
ABOUT THE APP:. Tumblr is like a cross between a blog and Twitter: a streaming
scrapbook of text, photos, videos, audio clips and/or animated GIFs. Users create and/or
follow short blogs (tumblelogs) that can be seen by anyone online.
WARNING: Pornographic images and videos, depictions of violence, self-harm, drug use and offensive
language are easily searchable. Primary Tumblr accounts are all public. Posts are often copied and shared and
once they are reblogged they are almost impossible to delete. Outsiders can easily comment on posts and send
direct messages to users.
CONTROLS: An account cannot be made private unless a user creates a secondary blog. The primary account
will always be public. Specific posts can be made private on the primary account by selecting “private” in the
“publish now” menu. You can “ignore” other users much like the “block” function in Facebook.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 13 or older.
ABOUT THE APP: Vine is a social media app that lets users post and watch looping 6second video clips. Videos can be shared and embedded on Facebook and Twitter.
WARNING: Many of the videos are harmless and while there is a lot of funny, clever expression on Vine, it is
also full of inappropriate content for kids. With basic searching one can find nudity, sex, offensive language,
and drug use. All posted videos are public by default which means they can be viewed and shared by anyone.
CONTROLS: Beginning with version 1.3, you can protect posts, making them visible in Vine only to the
people you approve to follow you. If you protect your posts, you will be the only one who can choose to share
your protected posts outside of Vine (to Twitter or Facebook). When a post is shared outside of Vine and the
post URL is revealed, anyone with the URL can view the post. To protect posts, go to Profile and then select
“Settings” and “Your Content.” On the “Your Content” page, check “Posts are protected.” This setting applies
to all of your posts.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 17 or older.
MORE INFO: formerly known as
ABOUT THE APP:., formerly known as Formspring, is a social media network designed for
meeting people and starting conversations. Users are able to post anonymous comments and ask anonymous
questions on another user’s account.
WARNING: Because the app and website allow users to post anonymous comments, it’s ripe for all kinds of
misbehavior and abuse. Cyberbullying is a fact here. There are no language filters and background images can
contain nudity. In its Terms of Use the site warns “you may encounter content that may be deemed
objectionable, obscene or in poor taste”.
CONTROLS: Make the account a Protected Account so you can control who sees what you post. Manage
privacy settings to control who on, can comment on your child’s posts and ask them questions. Turn
the “Anonymous question” feature off via your settings. (See the more info section below on how to do this.)
AGE REQUIREMENT: 13 or older.
MORE INFO:!/page/safety