Experts warn that some social media phone apps can be trouble for teens

May 21, 2013 8:22:56 PM PDT
This week, Yahoo! announced it is buying the blogging website Tumblr. The announcement may have had you wonder, what is Tumblr? It's a reminder to parents that they have to be up to date with the latest and greatest in social media because some sites and apps can get your children into trouble.

One downside of some apps is that they allow the viewing of indecent images, while others can become forums for bullying. And in many cases, parents are the last to know.

These Freindswood High School students all use the photo hosting app Instagram. Now many of the apps users are adding a contact option through another app called Kik.

"They have seen your pictures and they know what you look like and now they have a way to contact you, which is kind of scary. And I know a lot of our friends use it," Kik user Sarah Slaton said.

If a child's Instagram account is public and they have Kik, strangers can contact them. Experts say the app can be used to by pass parental controls.

"It circumvents the phone, so parents have now lost all control," said Rania Mankarious with Crime Stoppers.

Mankarious says another app parents should know about is Vine. It allows users to take short videos of themselves or anyone else and post it in a open forum that anyone can view.

Wendy Slaton was videoed by her own kids and the images went viral within her community and she didn't even know.

"You could see somebody in the grocery store and they are like, 'Oh, that was so funny how Keith was doing that toe touch in your living room and he fell and hurt his head,' and I was like, 'Do I know you?'" Slaton said.

Social media experts say Vine has been used as a bullying tool and has the potential for sharing inappropriate images. Another website that should concern parents is the imaging-sharing site 4chan.

"Anyone can go on 4chan and really see anything they want to see. There is unbelievable amounts of nudity, there is pornography on it," Mankarious aid.

There is another app called Wanelo. It's a shopping app that takes users directly to retailers websites to buy products, but some experts worry some of the web sites could potentially be data mining.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13

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