Following a great response from our previous ‘app-to-date’ feature, Merseyside Police have helped us compose an updated guide of mobile-based apps to be aware of. These apps have been used in cyber-enabled crime, in some cases in relation to Child Sexual Exploitation or grooming.
Although these apps have not been created for this purpose, it may be beneficial for parents/ carers/teachers to be aware that the following apps may be utilised in this way.
A teen dating site that lets you rank other peoples profiles as snog, marry or avoid.
These ratings are then ranked and users are featured on a top rated members list. You can also send private messages via the app.
Concerns: Potential predators, inappropriate activities and pornographic images.
(formally known as ChaCha) is a random video chat app where you can meet people
from all over the world. “You never know who you’re going to meet next with just one swipe”.
Concerns around children using the app and potential sexual predators.
An app which can be used for private messaging and creating questions.
Concerns: Bullying and sexualized messaging.
A website and app for Android and IPhone, where you can send completely
anonymous comments and feedback to other users. It is becoming increasingly popular
but can be used to bully and send inappropriate messages to users. It can also link in with
Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.
Described as a place to chat, flirt, and find love, not aimed for children. The app
uses location services to find people near you.
Concerns: inappropriate messages, no parental control and lack of online safety features.
A photo and video sharing social network. The app is mainly centered on taking selfies but users can also take videos and chat.
Concerns: inappropriate photographs being sent, cyberbullying and blackmail.
A place for spur of the moment conversations. Click on a user to start an
audio call. At the end of the call you are asked to rate each other. The higher the
score, the better access you get to other people.
Concerns: children talking to strangers.
Described as ‘a hot new social network where you can get tons of new
friends and followers’. You can also share photos, message each other and stream live videos.
Concerns: the community of people using the app and child grooming.
This app was formerly known as “Yellow”. It was labelled as “Tinder for Kids” and
Concerns: sexual predators who could exploit the app and set up fake profiles and message teenage users.
Swarm by Foursquare
Users can use the app to see where friends are and to let them know where you are. You can plan to meet up at a specific location.
Concerns: app is location based.
This is described as a platform where you can start your own live stream and watch
Concerns: Inappropriate streaming and child grooming. It is believed
that grown adults are making inappropriate requests to children. The app also makes available
personal information on children.
Tango is a free app that allows the caller to make voice and videos calls and have
Concerns: Risk of strangers contacting you.
Other, more commonly known and used apps include: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, Youtube and Skype. It is important for children to understand when using any of these applications, that somebody’s profile on there may not be a true reflection of who they are, and that some people may wish to use these apps for activities that they were never intended for.
If you would like further advice about signs to look out for, or some help in how to try and make sure that any security settings that are on these apps are used correctly there is help and advice available.
https://www.getsafeonline.org/social-networking/ – have a guide to safe internet use and a specific area based on social networking, blogging and instant messaging.
https://www.thinkuknow.com/ – National Crime Agency backed website which breaks down information into separate areas for children, young people, parents and professionals.
https://www.nspcc.org.uk/ – have information on how to properly utilise parental controls and broaching the subject of difficult topics with children. There is also an advice line that you can call if you have any questions.