Snapchat is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. Most teens use the app to share goofy or embarrassing photos without the risk of them going public. However, there are lots of opportunities to use it in other ways.
It can make sexting seem OK. The seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share pictures containing sexy images.
There’s a lot of iffy, clicky content. Snapchat’s Discover feature offers a grab-bag of articles, videos, and quizzes from magazine publishers, TV networks, and online sources mostly about pop culture, celebrities, and relationships (a typical headline: “THIS is What Sex Does To Your Brain”).
Whisper is a social “confessional” app that allows users to post whatever’s on their minds, paired with an image. With all the emotions running through teens, anonymous outlets give them the freedom to share their feelings without fear of judgment.
Whispers are often sexual in nature. Some users use the app to try to hook up with people nearby, while others post “confessions” of desire. Lots of eye-catching, nearly nude pics accompany these shared secrets.
Content can be dark. People normally don’t confess sunshine and rainbows; common Whisper topics include insecurity, depression, substance abuse, and various lies told to employers and teachers.
Although it’s anonymous to start, it may not stay that way. The app encourages users to exchange personal information in the “Meet Up” section.
CHATTING, MEETING, AND DATING APPS AND SITES
Monkey – Have Fun Chats. If 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.
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.
Teens can accept or reject a chat. Before beginning a chat, users receive the stranger’s age, gender, and location and can choose whether to be matched or not.
MeetMe: Chat and Meet New People. The name says it all. Although not marketed as a dating app, MeetMe does have a “Match” feature whereby users can “secretly admire” others, and its large user base means fast-paced communication and guaranteed attention.
It’s an open network. Users can chat with whoever’s online, as well as search locally, opening the door to potential trouble.
Lots of details are required. First and last name, age, and ZIP code are requested at registration, or you can log in using a Facebook account. The app also asks permission to use location services on your teens’ mobile devices, meaning they can find the closest matches wherever they go.
Omegle – is a chat site that puts two strangers together in their choice of a text chat or a video chat. Being anonymous can be very attractive to teens, and Omegle provides a no-fuss way to make connections. Its “interest boxes” also let users filter potential chat partners by shared interests.
Users get paired up with strangers. That’s the whole premise of the app. And there’s no registration required.
This is not an app for kids and teens. Omegle is filled with people searching for sexual chat. Some prefer to do so live. Others offer links to porn sites.
Language is a big issue. Since the chats are anonymous, they’re often much more explicit than those with identifiable users might be.
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.
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.
It encourages contact with strangers. As with Tinder, the whole point is to meet people. The difference with Yellow is that the endgame is sometimes just exchanging social media handles to connect there. Even if there’s no offline contact, however, without age verification, teens are connecting with people they don’t know who may be much older.