Apps for gaming, messaging, social media, homework, tracking exercise. There are apps you can use for almost anything you can imagine. Apps can be used to learn a new language, improve memory, text and message friends, and to socialize.
What is an app?
App is short for application, which is a self-contained computer program specialized for a specific use and designed to make using a website, program, or a game easier.
There are thousands of apps, some free, some costly.
Countless apps enhance life in positive ways, allowing us to socialize, pay bills, shop and listen to music with ease. Specialized apps can help grow a kid's interest in photography, art, or music, or allow youth to express themselves and their views to a far-reaching, like-minded community. Numerous apps can make using the internet fun and interactive, while others can cause risky situations for youth by unintentionally revealing personal information or resulting in huge costs due to in-app purchases.
The list of apps that are popular among youth is ever changing, with some of the commonly used apps including TikTok, What'sApp, Instagram, Houseparty, Snapchat, Tumblr, Yolo, and Like.
Some youth are accessing dating apps, such as Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Grinder, all of which are designed for use by adults. These apps are easy to download and relatively easy to use, even the user is not of the particular app's intended required age.
There are apps adults may not feel are appropriate for children in their care, which is it is important to talk with your kids about apps they are using, benefits they see in using those apps, and why they enjoy using certain apps. You could find out the app you are questioning is safe, fun and engaging, or that it raises further questions and concerns.
Common questions by caregivers
- What apps should I be worried about my child using?
- How can I ensure that the apps my kids use are safe? How can I manage this given how fast things change?
- How do I know if my kid is hiding apps or information within apps that appear harmless or look the same as others?
Top tips for caregivers
Start a conversation with your youth about the apps they are using, why they use them, what they like and don't like about a particular app, and who they connect with via these apps. Encourage youth to protect their personal information, to be mindful of their screen time, to remove location features on some apps, and, together, come up with guidelines for safe use.
As an adult, learn more on your own about the apps your kid is using, including how the apps gather personal information, if they have privacy settings your kid should be using, and how youth can report and block inappropriate content. Explore and learn more by downloading an app, using it, figuring out its features and benefits, as well as some of the features that may be problematic.