With new apps being released almost daily it’s very difficult to keep up with the changing times. That is why I’ve decided to release an annual list of 10 apps that I won’t let my kids install. Some apps might just make the cut year after year, and others will drop off as apps go out of business or if they release an update that allows for better parental controls.
Instagram has added many of Snapchat’s worst features, such as disappearing photos in messages. However, Snapchat is still not allowed because it has a very addictive component. Streaks happen when your child interacts with particular friends for several days in a row. Kids are so addicted to keeping these streaks alive that they will give their login credentials to other friends when they get grounded from their own device. That is a BIG NO in my book.
This app used to be called Music.ly and allows kids to create and share short videos. The lack of parental controls and privacy settings makes this one too much of a “wild west” for me to be ok with. Plus it’s being investigated at the moment too, so I’d just skip this one.
People are way more ruthless when they are able to hide behind a screen or computer. They are even more ruthless when they can be anonymous about it as well. This entire app was built on that concept. It’s a huge breeding ground for bullying, and inappropriate content and conversations.
My kids have been complaining about this for years, but I still refuse to let them use it. The chat in Roblox is wide open, so strangers can chat with your children, and is not moderated well, so is often inappropriate. Also, the platform allows others to upload games, which can sometimes contain inappropriate things or even malicious software that can be installed on your computer. I have definitely heard stories from friends about things that have been said to their children on the platform. It’s always been a hard NO from me.
While sounding quite innocent, it is actually what is referred to as a “vault app” meaning you can hide photos or videos you want to watch later or that you don’t want your parents seeing inside this seemingly benign application. Any app that allows you to hide something is a no from me.
6. Any VPN App
Many kids will try to use the excuse with their parents that a VPN app will help “speed up their phone” They are totally wrong, and they don’t know how VPN’s work. What they really want to do is connect to a VPN to keep their browsing history secret, and to circumvent parental controls and restrictions placed on the wifi they are connected to. These are definitely on my list of apps I won’t let my kids install.
7. Any Dating App
There are SO many dating apps, and most of them are pretty terrible, especially for a teenager. There are plenty of people to meet at school, sports or other activities that they don’t have a need for a dating app yet. Just let them go out and have fun with their friends, there will be plenty of time for dating when they are out of the house!
Live streaming apps were more prevalent before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all included the feature in their own platforms. However, there are still several out there, and this one uses geolocation to share videos with others nearby. Users of the app can earn coins, which has made the platform a target for predators to “pay” minors for explicit videos.
While I’m a huge Reddit fan myself, I wouldn’t let that app (or allow the website) on my children’s devices. Mainly because there is very little moderation, and you could literally find people chatting about anything. It’s pretty much the largest online message board in the world, and that is exposing your kids to a lot of things they might not be ready to handle.
Honestly, kids will continue to find messaging platforms anywhere. Kik earns its place on our list by allowing access to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Some other platforms require you to know the person, or their phone number (like Marco Polo). But you can literally talk to anyone on Kik, and I very much dislike that.
This is my top 10 bad apps list. But there are literally hundreds that could easily take some of these spots. One factor I took into consideration is current popularity among teens and tweens. If an app is particularly bad, but the kids aren’t using it, it probably didn’t make the cut.
Please do your research for any application your child wants to install. Also, make sure you’ve locked down the ability to install apps that have not been approved. You can do this through Screen Time settings on Apple, Google Family Link on Android or a parental control app like Boomerang.
Together we can keep our kids safe on the technology they are using! These are the apps I won’t let my kids install. What apps would you add?
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com