Communicating with friends via mobile devices has come a long way since text messaging. It now includes photos, videos, and more. Instead of using only one way to send messages, teens (and adults) are using lots of different secret messaging apps to share a secret here, stalk a crush there, or post a selfie anywhere.
Depending on what they want to say and to whom, teens choose the app that best fits their needs. Some of these apps give you an option of a direct or “secret” messaging. Hence, the conversation is private and is also self-destructive in some cases. Some apps offer options to save these messages, but most are live only for a single view.
Keeping up with all these different platforms can be challenging for parents. Especially, if they don’t use the same apps their kids are using.
So to help, we put together the basics on what to know about some of these apps.
6 secret online secret messaging apps your teen may be using
Are you aware that you can send disappearing photos and video on Instagram? Instagram is primarily a photo and video sharing app that allows users to take pictures and videos, apply a digital filter, and then share them online with followers. You can also send direct messaging and disappearing content. When you swipe to the left to get to your Messages, “tap the camera to send a disappearing photo or video” appears at the top. Parents, also note that upon account creation, all the photos you post on Instagram are public by default (meaning anyone can see them). Be sure to go in and make your photos private.
KIK MESSENGER APP
Kik is a smartphone messaging app similar to “What’s App” that allows users to connect with friends and chat in groups. It allows sending text, pictures, videos, sketches, and more all within the Kik app. Unlike some other messaging apps, Kik identifies its users with unique usernames. Parents can learn more about Kik in their recently updated Guide for Parents.
Snapchat is an app that allows users to share photos, videos, and messages (or “snaps”) with a list of contacts. It has become the most popular camera/messaging/social media application in the world with 158 million daily active users and over 400 million snaps sent each day. Snapchat users can set a time limit for how long recipients can view their snaps (from 1 to 10 seconds). The snap disappears from the recipient’s phone after few seconds. However, the recipient can take a screenshot of the snap, saving it for as long as they like. Hence, it is important to warn your kids to take necessary precautions & use good judgment when “snapping”. Parents, also note for users under 13, Snapchat offers a similar service called SnapKidz.
WhatsApp often referred as the leader of the messaging apps, is used by over 1 billion people worldwide. This Facebook-owned messaging app allows you to share messages, videos, and phone calls. Recently, the company enabled end-to-end encryption, which is controversial for many reasons. What this does is ensures that any data (messages or media) sent between individuals can only be read by each other and it can only be unlocked with a secret key code. This setting cannot be disabled and is automatically enabled with the newest update. Parents should encourage kids to be open with their conversations, just like with any other app usage.
Secret is an app that lets users anonymously share messages (or “secrets”) with others. It is similar to the app whisper. What differentiates Secret from Whisper is that the secrets users share are done so with members from their social networks, instead of with strangers. However, Secret does not tell you which of your friends is also using the app. We don’t need usernames or profiles to login. Anyone can hide their identity and bully others as they can send the message as anonymous. To learn more about Secret, check out their Community Guide.
Hike is an app for communication that allows its users to send SMS and instant messages under a single roof. It is quite famous among Indian teens and tweens for its wonderful chat themes and updated stickers with profanity (something parents need to worry about). Hike Direct allows users to share messages without any kind of data charges within a radius of 100 metres through Wi-Fi Direct. It also allows users to hide individual and group chats providing extended privacy. Teens can also play different online games that are available on hike messenger. That include Word rush, India Puzzle, Word Search, Number Rush, Sudoku, Snake, Solitaire, Connect, 2048, Run Bhai Run, and Teen Patti Nights
Now that most major social networks are duplicating the success of Snapchat, it should be no surprise that Facebook is in the game too. Not only does the Messenger App have disappearing stories, there is also a way to enable secret messages. When you start a new chat, there is an option for “Secret” in the upper right corner. Just like snapchat, you can text the recipient directly and set a time for the message to disappear. Just like any other app, enabling the “Secret” mode does not protect against screenshots being taken. Parents need to be aware of all the options available. Although this feature is not enabled by default, teens can easily discover this in the settings.
As tech trends shift with the winds, it’s crucial for parents to keep tabs on which apps their kids are using. Ask your kids if they are using messaging apps, and if so, which ones they like best. Be aware of how they are using these apps and as always, monitor. You can use parental control app like Nischint to monitor which apps your kids are using. Keep the communication open so that you can make sure your kids are using messaging apps and any apps on their mobile devices safely. Also visit our blog for additional information on how to manage your child’s online activities.