There is a new app that is gaining popularity called Saturn. The application is a way for kids at the same school to easily communicate with other members of their classes and share their class schedules. It is meant for high school students only.
Privacy Issues with the Saturn App
There has been a ton of buzz about this app lately, as a parent who was testing out the app to see if it was safe for their child discovered some very concerning things about the app. What they discovered is that as soon as they signed up for the app, prior to verifying that they had a school email address, they were able to see all of the students who have signed up for the app and their schedules.
This is VERY concerning, especially since it opens the children who have signed up to stalkers and predators in the area. The good news here is that as of yesterday (August 14th, 2023), the company has resolved this issue.
I signed up for the app (as my child) and was unable to see other students until I submitted my child’s email address with a verified school email. I tried several different methods, including the way that the original poster explained how he was able to see the rest of the students. None of them worked, and I was unable to see other children’s names that attend that school until I used a verified school email.
I also tried to verify my account with a fake school email address, and a non-school-issued address. Neither of these got me access to information about the other students at the school.
The main problem with the Saturn app
Even though they have resolved the privacy issue, I still cannot recommend this app. The main reason though is that it is only available for iOS devices. Due to this, it is still not inclusive to the entire school. If you really want to be able to chat with the other members of your class, the application needs to have all the members of the class.
Since this app is only available on iOS (iPhones) it excludes any students who do not have an iPhone. Many students will have Android devices, or Kids Safe smartphones, and will be unable to participate.
A better option for kids to communicate with their classmates is to create a chat in Discord or something like WhatsApp. Kids already exclude others that have Android devices because of iMessage. They don’t need another reason to exclude and bully them.
What can the Saturn app do?
See a student’s class schedule
The main draw for the Saturn app is the ability to see who is in your class, which you’ll be able to see as soon as school starts anyway, but this does allow you to easily find the social media profiles of the people in your class if you are too shy to ask for it. Again, this is reliant on the students uploading their schedules.
Students do also have the ability to toggle OFF the ability for the entire school to see their schedule. This will limit them to only people who are already in their classes that can see that they are in their class. They wouldn’t see other classes the student is in unless they are also in that class.
Create and share events
The Saturn app has a “Bulletin” section that allows you to post events. You can create an event for your club, or a sporting event or anything else you want the school to know about. There are some privacy settings too for events so you don’t have to publish them to the entire school.
Another feature of the Saturn app is the ability to create different chat groups. You can have a chat for your class, create your own group chat, or just direct message an individual through the app. These chats are not monitored or moderated by anyone, so definitely be careful with what you share.
One feature I see as a benefit of this app is the daily schedule. It will help you to know which classes you have at what time and a school calendar. If you have split days (A/B schedule) it will tell you which day it is, and if there is no school that day.
I can also see the Saturn app being helpful as a way to track your tasks and homework. You can assign a task to one of the classes on your schedule, or create a personal task that isn’t related to your class. You can assign it a due date too. I can definitely see this as a great way to help kids get started keeping track of their assignments and tasks if they haven’t started using a task list yet.
The last section allows you to see the other students who have signed up for the Saturn app at your school. If you tap on an individual profile you can see their schedule (if they have not made it private), the friends they have connected with inside the app, and their social media profiles if they have added them like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Venmo.
So, is the Saturn app safe?
While I wouldn’t categorize the app as completely safe, it has resolved the main issues people were having with the app. I still wouldn’t encourage my kids to use it because of its exclusion of Android devices at this time. Go ahead and download it for yourself and check it out though. I highly recommend doing that for any app you are thinking about allowing your child to get.
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