Social media has become the primary mode of communication for kids—and anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder have skyrocketed among teens. With teen social media use averaging upwards of 12 hours per day, they’re feeling the effects. They also are bound to stumble upon obscure social media platforms—platforms you’ve probably never heard of.Some social media platforms are fairly harmless, but they all have the potential to cause problems for your kids.
Outside the most popular platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, there are dozens more that are obscure. Some social media platforms are fairly harmless, but they all have the potential to cause problems for your kids. Others will be dangerous if they are not monitored like any other. Here are 12 obscure social media platforms you probably didn’t know exist.
What it is: It’s an app that alerts users to people with whom they’ve crossed paths in real life recently, providing a chance to connect personally.
What parents need to know: Content rating of Mature 17+. Supposedly does not reveal your exact location, but this could inform a predator of a basic travel route a user follows.
What it is: It enables users to create 3D avatars and construct their own fantasy world.
What parents need to know: Rated 17+, and for good reason. In addition to smearing the line between real and fantasy, the rating warnings include sexual content, drug/alcohol use, and mild horror.
What it is: It’s online groups for messaging (voice, video, and text).
What parents need to know: Discord also has invite-only groups and direct messaging options. If you don’t know who your child invites to his or her group (or who invites your child to a group), the risk exists for your child to be abused or exposed to explicit material.
4. BIGO LIVE
What it is: Live streaming of everything from singers to gamers.
What parents need to know: Allows users to enter live video rooms. Dangers of explicit content, including language, behavior, and images.
What it is: Users can have live group video chats with other users around the world.
What parents need to know: Rated for ages 17+. Brief video calls or text chats can be from anonymous users and poses a risk of an exchange of sexual videos/conversations.
6. 7 Cups
What it is: Connects users for free to volunteer listeners for emotional support.
What parents need to know: Anonymous, but must create an account to use. They do offer services to teens. Unfortunately, the child is reaching out to a stranger rather than confiding in someone he or she knows.
What it is: Connects to Snapchat and enables users to be matched up to new “Snap” friends based on similar interests.
What parents need to know: No chat or direct messaging features, but opens the door for predatory activity, nonetheless. Just like Snapchat, pics can be screenshotted and shared.
8. Marco Polo
What it is: A video chat platform that doesn’t necessarily need to be live.
What parents need to know: A lower-risk option for kids to connect in the world of social distancing.
What it is: Live chat with anyone around the world.
What parents need to know: Users can swipe left or right to accept or reject chats from random people. No monitoring of users’ ages. Easy for predators to use.
What it is: Online games and chat rooms.
What parents need to know: Rated for ages 12+, geared more toward older teens. No pop-ups on this app. Some violence and sexual themes.
What it is: Group messaging app with direct message capabilities.
What parents need to know: Mass sharing of emojis, GIFs, and links to websites. With the app, it is possible to get around parental controls. Users cannot delete past posts. According to both Protect Young Eyes and Bark, this creates a high risk for sexualized content, cyberbullying, and blackmailing.
What it is: Live video broadcasting platform.
What parents need to know: Advertises to youth to “be a star” and “create a fan base.” Watching and creating videos can be addictive. Rated 17+ but taking a stance to inhibit younger users by restricting anyone under 18 from creating an account. The app previously deleted over 600,000 accounts containing sexualized videos of younger females. Easy to come across sexual, violent, or crude behaviors and language.
This is only a sample of the ever-growing and evolving world of social media. It can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible to keep up with the obscure social media apps and platforms kids might find. Keep loving your kids by communicating regularly with them about online safety and expectations. Learn how to keep your home safe. And lead by example with your own social media use.
Sound off: What do you do to keep your family safe online?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s your favorite social media platform?”