Nine Popular Apps for Teens That Parents Should Monitor
Cell phones and tablets—if your teen doesn’t have one already, they are likely asking to get one. But with so many apps being released every day, it can be hard to keep track of everything teenagers want to download on their phone, tablet, or computer.
As with any new technology, improper use of phone apps can pose a danger for children. These dangers can come in the form of cyberbullying, sexting, and online predators. That’s why it is important to make sure parents are staying up-to-date on the trendiest, most popular apps that kids are using.
While most teens spend a lot of their time on TikTok and Snapchat, there are some other popular apps among teens, that parents should know about. We put together a list of some of the trendiest apps of 2020, along with what you need to know about them!
Among Us is a popular multiplayer online game of teamwork and betrayal. The game takes place in a space-themed setting, in which 4-10 players attempt to hold a spaceship together and return it back to civilization. However, one of the ten players is an imposter who is trying to sabotage the spaceship and kill the crew. In the game, players can call emergency meetings and have ‘real’ conversations with the group they are playing with. The game originally had a 16+ age rating for strong violence but has since changed to a 9+ age rating. The good news is that the chat feature does filter out profanity! However, it’s been reported that conversations can get off-track and veer away from the game.
You have likely scrolled through your social media feed and come across a quiz you just had to take. What Disney character am I based on my music selection? Can we guess your age based on what types of cheese you prefer? The quizzes are catchy and you want to see the answer. That’s the kind of the intrigue of Bitlife. BitLife is a text-based, life simulator app where you try to make all the right choices to become a model citizen. Users (17 and up) are asked to make adult choices, like whether to go on a date with someone you just met, have kids, lie, steal, and possibly go to jail. The themes are adult. If you notice the app on your child’s phone, it is recommended that you delete it. BitLife is not appropriate for kids and younger teens.
Discord is a voice and text chatting tool that currently has over 100 million users. The app was originally used by gamers but has recently turned into a community for friends to stay in touch. According to Discord, whether your child is part of a school club, a gaming group, or just friends who want to spend time together, they make it easy to hang out. Parents should be aware, however, that users (13 and up) can send direct messages to each other, so there is a potential for interaction with strangers. You also can’t control the topic of conversations in each ‘server’, meaning conversations aren’t monitored or censored.
Holla is an app where users are encouraged to “meet fun people.” Users (17 and up) are able to have a live chat with people around the world. With over 30 million users, the app is said to be one of the best video chat social apps of 2020. The free app allows its users to meet people face-to-face. Several reviews mention users having inappropriate conversations during chats. Since users are chatting with strangers, this is not an app for kids.
Houseparty is a social networking service that enables users to group video chat. When a user (13 and up) logs in, they can see which friends are online and available to internet chat. They can also receive notifications when someone has “come into the house.” It’s reported that most users spend more than an hour per conversation on the app. According to Bark, a parental control phone tracker app, Houseparty does not monitor chats, which raises the risk of kids being exposed to content that may not be suitable for their age. Users can only add people they already know through Facebook or their contact list. However, there is an option to add people nearby, which could be problematic. It’s recommended that parents turn the location service off and update privacy settings to lock certain chats.
Lipsi is an app that allows its users to remain anonymous while providing honest thoughts and real feedback. The makers of Lipsi encourages users (17 and up) to put their Lipsi link on their Instagram account so they can receive anonymous feedback about their posts. One concern about Lipsi is that users can easily erase their chat history, making it hard to keep an eye on what they’re responding to.
First it was Musical.ly and now it’s TikTok. According to statistics updated in October of this year, the app is available in over 150 countries, has over 1 billion users, and has been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States alone. TikTok (12 and up) is the most popular destination right now for quick, fun, mobile videos. The app makes it easy for kids and teens to create their own videos with filters set to some of the hottest music out there! One concern is that accounts are public by default. This means parents will need to make sure they (or you) go in and set the account to private so no one can contact your child directly. There is a restricted mode that helps filter out anything that’s inappropriate. You’ll want to make sure that is turned on, too!
VSCO (Visual Supply Company) is a photo-sharing app that is very similar to Instagram except you cannot like any posts. Instead it just allows users (ages 13 and up) to post and see other users’ photographs and videos. Users can’t send private messages to random people through the app. They can only communicate with anyone who follows them on VSCO. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on who follows your child. It’s also important to note that you can’t make an account private. However, you can remove your location information. The app is said to be fun for creative expressions. You may have heard the term floating around out there— “VSCO girl.” That’s a popular term that refers to girls who like certain trendy brands.
YouTube is one of the most, if not THE most, popular internet platforms available to teens right now. According to The Pew Research Center survey, 85 percent of U.S. teens, ages 13 to 17, use YouTube. While much of the content is good, there is still going to be inappropriate material accessible to anyone with an account. The good news is that YouTube has restricted emotionally upsetting and violent stunts and pranks. You’ll still want to keep an eye on what you child looks at on YouTube. A simple search for one thing can send your child down a rabbit hole of other content. If you have younger children at home, you may want to check out YouTube Kids. The platform was developed for 7-year-olds and older to have a safer space to browse videos.
It’s important to be proactive and make sure to have open lines of communication with your teen. Let them know that you aren’t trying to invade their privacy. You just want to be involved in what they’re doing. Make sure to check out our 10 apps kids use that parents should know about article for more apps to be aware of.
Brittany Martin is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff. Having grown up in Fort Myers, Florida, she attended Florida Atlantic University and earned a degree in communication, with a minor in political science. During her senior year at FAU, she began working as an associate producer for a TV station in Fort Lauderdale. Over the course of ten years, she has produced local news in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Spartanburg, and Greenville, South Carolina. In her spare time, she enjoys running, planning vacations to Disney, and spending time with her husband, family, and miniature dachshund named Minnie.