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Trendy Anonymous Apps Parents Need to Know

Trendy Anonymous Apps Parents Need to Know

Anonymous apps are popular. Just check the app store for Google and iOS and you’ll find anonymous apps are some of the most highly download apps right now.

So, what are anonymous apps? And, what do parents need to know about these trendy anonymous apps?

On anonymous apps, people often feel that their comments are consequence-free. So, anonymous apps tend to be places where you’ll find a great deal of ugly discussion and harsh, hurtful comments. While anonymous apps provide kids a safe place to share sensitive or painful things they might not otherwise, most lack the necessary support or help kids need for their struggles.

Make sure your kids understand the risks involved in sharing sensitive, personal information with strangers. Encourage them instead to reach out to adults and mentors who have a vested interest in their lives. And give them opportunities to share with other safe, trusted people. If you do permit your teens to use an anonymous app, be sure they know how to block and report other users if necessary.

Here are 6 Trendy Anonymous Apps Parents Need to Know

AfterSchoolAfterSchool

Age: 13 & Up
In App Purchases: No
Contains Ads: Yes

AfterSchool is an anonymous app for teens. The app was removed from the app store after complaints from school administrators about bullying incidents and has since been updated with moderation and tighter age-verification. AfterSchool uses a teen’s Facebook profile to verify they’re a student at a specific high school before granting access to the school’s page within the app.

Once the teen has been granted access to their school’s page, they can see videos, images, and posts created anonymously by other students. They can also create anonymous posts themselves. A live moderator reviews all posts and tags them to note the type of content they contain. Only teens 17 and up can view posts tagged with “sex,” “drugs,” “profanity,” or “gross.” Teens must verify they’re over 17 by scanning the code on their ID card.

What Teens Say

Teens like having a place where they can ask difficult, uncomfortable questions without fear of being judged. Most teens have grown up carefully crafting their digital identity. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter often don’t give them a place to share their personal struggles and anxieties. Being able to share struggles and even frustrations is the biggest draw AfterSchool has for teens.

What Parents Should Know

After being retooled with added safety features, such as every post being reviewed by a staff member before publication, AfterSchool was re-released last spring and has since exploded in popularity. The app went from being in half of the high schools in America to two-thirds, with 250,000 teenagers registered.

AfterSchool verifies age and school with Facebook. While this is better than nothing, it’s an incredibly easy system to spoof. If you are friends with a few teens at any given school, you can potentially get access to the message boards for that school on AfterSchool.

Anonymous apps can quickly become ground for cyberbullying. AfterSchool has tried to combat this issue by moving to moderated posts. However, they have strides to go here.

The app is targeted at teens, yet uses images that are sexualized. And, they have a 17 & Up area for tags like sex, drugs, profanity, and gross. That’s a concern when trying to raise kids to value themselves and others and to use technology wisely.

AfterSchool is available for iOS and Android devices.

 

AskfmAsk.fm

Age: 13 & Up
In App Purchases: Yes
Contains Ads: Yes

Ask.fm is a social site that lets kids ask questions and answer those posted by other users. Sometimes they are asking and answering anonymously.

What Teens Say

There are some friendly interactions on Ask.fm and the ability to toss out a question or answer one is appealing for many teens. There are also lots of mean comments and some creepy sexual posts. This iffy content can be the appeal of the site for some teens. Some of what you’ll see there is reality-show-shocking and does have that “I can’t believe they said that” draw to it.

What Parents Should Know

Ask.fm is a social site where users ask and answer questions posted by other users. Bullying is a major concern. In fact, the British news website MailOnline reported that the site has been linked to the suicides of several teens.

As with many social sites, some users keep things friendly and clean, while others post hateful comments or sexual come-ons.

Kids have the option of answering questions via webcam. The site doesn’t monitor content, but users can report behavior that’s violent, pornographic, or contains hate speech.

Talk to your teens about cyber-bullying and how anonymity can encourage mean behavior. Anonymous answers are optional. Users can decide whether to allow anonymous posts and can remove their answers from streaming to decrease their profile’s visibility. If your teens do use the site, turning off anonymous answers may lower the chances of getting aggressive answers in their stream.

Ask.fm is available for iOS and Android devices.

 

KandidKandid

Age: 13 & Up
In App Purchases: No
Contains Ads: Yes

Kandid is an anonymous social app popular with high school and college students. It allows users to share photos and text by location, either privately within their campus or publicly with others nearby. Usernames and emails are not required when setting up an account.

Using Kandid, users can share images and thoughts anonymously. Other users nearby can comment and private message.

One feature that makes Kandid stand out among other anonymous apps is the School Zones. These are individual campus feeds. Kandid has mapped out School Zones to ensure accuracy. This means users can only see and use their Kandid feed and chat rooms while in the area Kandid has designated as the School Zone. Once a user steps out of the designated School Zone area, they will not be able to see the feed or interact in the chat rooms.

Another feature Kandid offers is the ability to tag a location. Users can tag a location like the library, then create their own private chats with other Kandid users nearby.

What Teens Say

What teens love about Kandid is it allows them to tag spots in their School Zones. It can be incredibly specific, giving users the ability to tag a classroom or library. Once a spot is tagged, other students using Kandid nearby can join in and start chatting.

What Parents Should Know

The anonymous, location-based chat feature of Kandid brings the biggest concern. While many high school campuses are closed during school hours, it’s easy for strangers to access the campus during large events. And college campuses provide easy access.

Since location is the determining factor for users, and users are anonymous, teens and young adults could easily be put into a situation where they are chatting with someone who has their eyes on them as well. This is a big safety issue. Teens and young adults need to be aware of this.

Also, the anonymous nature does create an environment that makes it easy for cyber-bullying to take place.

Kandid is available for Android devices.

 

OgleOgle

Age: 17 & Up
In App Purchases: No
Contains Ads: Yes

Setting up an account with Ogle is easy. Upon download, Ogle will ask for permission to use location services so it can find nearby schools. Users are shown a list of schools in the area and can simply select a school.

But users aren’t just locked into their school. They can toggle between feeds for multiple schools. This means anyone, not just students of a school, can see and post to a school’s feed.

Users can anonymously post photos, videos, thoughts, or questions to any school’s feed. They can also interact with other users by posting comments, or voting posts up or down.

Ogle also has group chat. In group chat, users can chat and send images. Ogle users can now start a group chat that has an end time of 6 hours on it. So, the chat and images from that group will disappear after 6 hours.

What Teens Say

Ogle has huge popularity in parts of the United States. Location-based anonymous apps are growing in popularity and, like it or not, some teens will post images and thoughts they can’t say openly. If you read reviews in the app store, you’ll find many teens sharing their concerns with Ogle. That’s both encouraging and scary.

What Parents Should Know

I wish I could give you some good news when it comes to Ogle. But I can’t. I see only glaring red signs with this app.

Ogle’s terms and conditions state that the app is for users 17 and up. This app is not limited to teens. This means anyone, regardless of age, can access your teen’s school feed. If that’s not scary enough, the content found on Ogle is raunchy and racy. It’s definitely not appropriate for teens.

In line with many of the other anonymous apps, bullying runs rampant here. This is definitely an app where you want to stand your ground as a parent.

Ogle is available for iOS and Android devices.

 

Sarahah

Age: none listed in the terms of agreement or privacy statement but both Google Play and iOS rate it as Teen (17 & up)
In App Purchases: No
Contains Ads: Yes

Sarahah is an anonymous messaging service. Sarahah created by the Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. It began as a website with one simple purpose — it allowed employees to post anonymous feedback to their employers. The site had trouble gaining traction and so Tawfiq looked for opportunities to expand. His concept could apply on a personal level too, with friends and acquaintances anonymously giving feedback to each other. His idea worked and Sarahah gained popularity in the Middle East and Africa. However, a little more was needed for it to take off in the West.

On June 13 this year, Tawfiq released an app version of Sarahah in both the iOS App Store and Google Play. Sarahah spread like wildfire. It hit the Top Three free apps on both platforms in no time. This was due largely in part to the app’s Snapchat integration, which made it far easier for teens to use. It’s now easy for teens to share their Sarahah messaging profile to their Snapchat followers.

What Teens Say

Teens love that it’s trendy and new. The ability to share their Sarahah profile using Snapchat’s link function is also a feature teens love. It means they can instantly begin connecting anonymously with friends to get and give feedback. And, in a world where everything is instant, that’s a big draw for teens.

What Parents Should Know

There is no ability to filter words yet on Sarahah. You can block and you can report. But, it’s unclear how Sarahah handles those incidents. Are they blocking the user you report? If so, that’s great. Or, are they blocking the IP address? If so, it’s easy to adjust your IP address.

The terms of agreement and privacy policy have no minimum age requirement listed. I find this odd and unsettling.

Sarahah is available for iOS and Android devices

 

StreetChatStreetChat

Age: 17 & Up
In App Purchases: No
Contains Ads: Yes

StreetChat is similar to Yik Yak. It’s a live photo and meme sharing board for middle school, high school, and college students. However, Yik Yak makes some attempt to verify users by location. StreetChat does not. Instead, it simply asks users to select the school campus board they wish to access.

Once on the board, they can browse photos or post their own. Users don’t need to be a student of the school. In fact, users can change schools every 24 hours. They can see posts from people at their school and other schools both local and around the world. In other words, anyone can join StreetChat.

Users get a score board on their campus board. Their posts receive “karma” points. So, StreetChat has gamified their app by encouraging users to post content other users will love. More karma points are given for pictures and live photos from a user’s camera. Posts receive up votes or down votes from other users.

What Teens Say

StreetChat doesn’t require users to reveal their real names or verify accounts via phone or email. It’s simple to create an account. Users choose their own unique username. This gives them a cloak of privacy to share or rant about anything.

What Parents Should Know

This is another social media site that allows teens to join anonymously. This type of open access site can pose problems for teens/tweens, as users have a veil of secrecy and tend to post and say things they wouldn’t if their name was attached. Users can post pictures with captions on the chosen board.

StreetChat has gamified their app by giving campus boards a user’s score board. Users compete with each other in popularity by collecting “karma” points. To collect points, users post pictures. Other users vote “up” posts they like and vote “down” posts they don’t like. “Likes” earn karma points and put users higher on the leaderboard.

Real-time photos (taken by your phone camera) earn more points than memes or downloaded pictures. This system encourages users to post pictures and live photos captured by their camera, as well as pictures that are already in their phones.

Most of the time users are trying to be funny with their posts. And, too often this is at the expense of their teachers and classmates. The boards are connected to schools and college campuses, and often users mention real people (other students, teachers, or friends) in their captions. Cyber-bullying becomes a real risk with this app.

StreetChat has a private messaging option. Because usernames are not verified, kids can never be sure who they are really talking to. There is a huge open door here for sexual predators to access this app.

I normally try to give just the facts and let parents decide with apps. But I feel so strongly that StreetChat is such a dangerous app I can’t, in good conscience, not state my thoughts here.

StreetChat is available for iOS devices.

You can find a full list of Anonymous Apps in my eBook Apps All Parents Should Know

Trendy Anonymous Apps That Parents Need to Know

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