Last Monday, March 3rd, I had the opportunity to speak at the monthly 10th grade parents meeting. Parents know that when it comes to technology, parenting in the 21st century can be hard work (see my November post titled Parenting & Technology; It’s Hard Work for some notes from a fall Parent Tech Tuesday meeting).

While it might seem like a daily chore to keep up with what is happening in the world of social media and texting apps there are a few google searches you can use to keep pace. If you have a few moments to dive in I’ve provided several links below to get you started.

Recommended Google Searches:

If you are pressed for time then I’ve listed some apps below for your review as well as re-printed a recent post from Brendan Schneider’s Internet Marketing for Schools blog. Brendan is the Director of Admission and Financial Aid for Sewickley Academy in Pennsylvania.

Ask.fm: This site is an ask a question, get an answer site and is totally anonymous. Connected to Facebook and Twitter accounts users can easily re-transmit the ask.fm questions and answers to a larger audience. Most often associated with cyberbullying issues.

Omegle: Omegle is a free online chat website that allows users to communicate with strangers without registering. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously using the handles “You” and “Stranger”.

Kik: Kik is an instant messaging app that is similar to texting but users have multiple options of talking with individuals, with groups and within a social networking environment.  Users can also use Kik to send photos and files and send greeting cards.  It combines texting with a social network.

Whisper: This app is focused on sharing photos and “secrets” to other users.

The information below is a reprint from:
Syme, Chris. “New Messaging Apps You Want To Be Aware Of.” Internet Marketing For Schools.
N.p., 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.
http://www.schneiderb.com/new-messaging-apps-want-aware/

Chance: A hybrid of the defunct Just.me, which was a Tech Crunch product, is at the top of the list. If you thought Snapchat was a nightmare, meet its evil twin. Chance offers users, who just have to verify they are 17 or over, a chance to connect with random strangers all over the world with the mantra “take a chance.”  Need I say more? And we all know how effective the age verification screens are.

Wut: This app bills itself as a semi-private chat app and joins the bulging group of text messaging apps that allow kids to bypass their text message limits (and parents’ eyes). Wut relies on an interface with your Facebook friends and can send a message to all your friends that have Wut. I know all these apps start to sound repetitive after a while, but this is basically Facebook messaging that goes out to everyone at once. Not on Android (yet).

Telegram: Another group messaging app that allows you to send messages up to 200 people at once. Images and video are allowed as well as text.  The interesting thing about Telegram is that it is promoting itself as the “safest and fastest” messaging app out there. Their app description addresses several areas for people who are uneasy about messaging apps: security, reliability, privacy, and support. This app is available for both Android and iPhone.

Confide: An SMS-based Snapchat copy. Unlike Snapchat, it relies on your phone contacts and SMS service to contact recipients. When you enter a contact, you are prompted to load the app which allows for “secret messages” to be sent. The app requires you to swipe the screen to read a message. Once it’s read, it seems to disappear (from app description). The plus here, you need someone’s phone number or email to reach out initially.

Popcorn: I haven’t tested this app, but I have a cyber security problem with it anyway. First red flag is that location service has to be enabled to use. This app allows you to literally “text anyone within a mile.” Like an earlier app, Chirp, the only requirement is that receivers have the app open on their phone.  Popcorn also allows users to “earn points” a la Foursquare for certain actions. Forbes ran an article on the app back in November 2013–an interview with the founder. It’s being pushed as a perfect app for dorm residents and sports events attenders.  Their Facebook page has a download link for iPhone only so far. I think this is the only app in this group with mass potential.

Blink: Another Snapchat knock-off. Being fairly new, it has its set of glitches and bugs according to user reviews. As the wandering herd of teens and young adults look for places to hide out, apps like Blink may survive for a while, but mass appeal is unlikely.

Messaging apps continue to flood the iTunes store—some safe and secure, and some just not. It’s a good idea to keep on top of what is out there to be able to educate your students and children on where the dangers are. Test drive them and see for yourself!

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Have questions or comments you can use the comment box below or drop me a line at cto[at]ravenscroft[dot]org

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