The S.M.A.R.T Initiative — Social Media Awareness and Responsibility Training

Hello! Thank you for stopping by my S.M.A.R.T. Initiative – Social Media Awareness and Responsibility Training! Just a little corner of the world wide web where you’ll find various tools, links and app reviews concerning the online safety of our children.

Now is the time to get Primed rather than remain Paranoid; where Concern is Appraised!

Reviews
* description of apps, explanation of uses, safety precautions, and age appropriateness

Ranking
* apps are categorized on a Scale; this is an opinion gauge – a Threat Level I personally & strongly trust. The Threat Levels begin at very low (fairly safe when used responsible) and end at very high (very dangerous, particularly for children)

Search a specific app or browse a previous review – just enter the title of the app in the search bar.  The search… bar is located on the right-hand side just down the page a bit – on this homepage, just scroll down and you’ll run right into it

Did you search for a specific app and you cannot find it here on S.M.A.R.T? No problem; send me a request!  Scroll to the very top of this page & click on, “Request app Review!”  Within 24 hours; I will research the app, have it ranked, and a breakdown will be posted right back here from your submission! I take great pride in assisting you with the education of Social Media with regards to your children.
Parents,  Social Media is not a fad; it is a change in the way we communicate.  Learn this social communication for the safety of our children.

Interested in a free live presentation where I discuss the 4-step process of keeping your children safe on social media?   Just scroll back up to the top of the page and click on “Upcoming Presentations,” where you will find a calendar of previously scheduled events! Hope to see ya soon!

Do you know… what they’re downloading… I do!

Lasso

App Review – Lasso

Threat Level – Low

In the calm of the night, Facebook has released a new app called Lasso. It appears, Facebook has dipped into its bag of tricks and pulled out a TikTok clone. Lasso is a music-filled video sharing app that has reportedly been working on since October. The app is available now for both iOS and Android.

Facebook description of Lasso is an app that makes it easy for anyone to create and share short videos with fun effects. The app will allow users to follow other users, search for content using hashtags and and of course create new short videos using a plethora of all new tools.

Facebook makes sure to note that the app includes a huge music library. This music library is going to be the big difference on how this app wants to stand out from Tik Tok.

Because Lasso is owned by Facebook, of course it is going to integrate into its own ecosystem so you can sign in using an Instagram or Facebook account (it also gives you opportunity to create one if you’ve managed to avoid the platform for this long but there is no way that is possible). The app will need to access your profile page, photos and videos. When you make your own videos on Lasso, you’ll be able to share them directly to your Facebook Story. A similar compatibility with Instagram stories that per multiple stories is coming early 2019.

You can get Lasso, which Facebook rolled out very quietly but Is already filled with content, suggesting the app may have been able to a small group of community members before its big release. We will see where it goes from here. Not a whole lot of security concerns with this app due to it just being a video editing or sharing app. You will just need to monitor on occasion what kind of videos your kids are recording. That is why I am giving it a Low security threat on this app review.

Description – purple, string, lasso, figure 8, 8, pink, purple and pink, pink 8, purple 8

Facebook Messenger for kids

App Review – Facebook messenger for kids

Threat Level – Low

If you haven’t heard, Facebook has a version of Messenger targeted to kids. This is a stand alone app on IOS and Android. The app is appropriately called Messenger Kids, and is a newer messaging app designed specifically for children between the ages of six and 12. It does not require a Facebook account, which makes sense, considering law says children under the age of 13 can’t have a Facebook account.

At launch, it was just available for IOS but now is on Android as well. The app is geared with kids in mind and you can tell this by the look and feel of app. Facebook described the standalone app as an easier way for children to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can’t be together.

Kids can use it to video chat with a grandparent or message a cousin or send a decorated photo to a friend. The app is controlled through a parent’s Facebook account, and it does not require the child to have an actual Facebook account since it is a stand alone app they will download to their own device.

The app itself is fun with child appropriate filters and stickers for chat and video calls and they can start a one on one or group video chat with only parent approved contacts. They can also see when their contacts are online, and then they can send them photos, videos, or text messages. Kids can also access a library of child-appropriate GIFS, stickers and masks. Adult friends will receive their messages via the regular Facebook Messenger app so there is not a need to download multiple messengers for parents.

I think this was a great move by Facebook to at least show they are trying to help with safety and children messaging apps on mobile devices. Obviously there are risks to any online messaging but at least they are trying to lock it down as much as they can. Kudos Facebook.

Tags – Facebook, messenger, FB, FB for kids, messenger for kids

Houseparty

App Review – House Party

Threat Level – Medium

House party is an app developed by Life on air incorporated. It appears they have put all their focus into this one app and it is still slowly climbing up the charts. I got an email from a parent about this app this morning and with the beginning of summer amongst us, kids are looking at different ways to communicate with their friends over summer break. House party, gaining momentum is going to be one of them. We need to watch for these style of trending apps.

So what is Houseparty? Houseparty is a group video conversation app. You can have up to 8 people in your live video Houseparty. Friends and friends of friends, can communicate with each other via live video and text messaging inside the app.

Remember there is no screening and the video is live, which means there is always the possibility of inappropriate content for children, but that of course depends on the friends who they are on the app with. Parents should remember also that users can send links on the app via a text message to whomever they want, and anyone can screenshot and share to anyone.

This one boils down to the basics again within app you have chat, video chat, direct messaging and sharing. Remember, if you find this app on your child’s device, the most important part is to find out who they are using it with.

House party – red cup, cup, red, glass, cup, solo cup, solo

Friend of

App Review – Friendo

Threat Level – High

Friendo is an app developed by the self titled company ‘Friendo’ and is available on the Apple and Android Mobile app stores. As for Category, it is a hybrid gaming app that has social ties. Now what do I mean about a ‘hybrid’ app? Simple. It’s a game, and it is social media all in one. Similar to the recent Facebook acquired TBH (to be honest) app, Friendo has went viral and has started climbing the trending charts since November of 2017

This app has several categories

that friends can quiz each other on, such as what their favorite foods or sports are, and other personality traits. Users take turns answering questions about each other, and they’re then ranked in an in-app leaderboard, which shows their scores. This is where the social side comes to play

Friendo is geared towards younger teens but the app’s terms of service states that users are required to be 13 or older. So why for the 13 or older? Because of the NSFW categories (Not Safe for Work). These NSFW “categories” of questions that any user can unlock by inviting three friends to join the app. It won’t take long for your child to invite three people. Trust me in that one.

An example of a NSFW category is MSFK (marry, sex, friend, kill) quizzes users on what they’d rather do with a given celebrity. Is this something your 10 year old should be reading? Another NSFW is called Dirty. It has questions like “In bed, I am..” and “if forced to, I’d rather watch a gross porno starring…” (one of the available answers includes, ‘my teacher’. As you can see there is a reason this app got a high threat level from some of the NSFW categories. Some of these may be humorous for adults, but definitely not for children. There is a feature that allows permission from the other person on the NSFW category once asked. Still doesn’t take much to accept.

Keywords – quiz, question App, November, quiz app, mask anything ask, Friend, Friends question, friends App, ask friends, smiley, emoji, blue, gray, smiling

TBH

App Review – TBH (to be honest)

Threat Level – Moderate

Tbh is an app created by a company called Midnight labs, but was recently bought out by Facebook in October 2017. TBH stands for “to be honest”. This is a common abbreviation used by your children in messaging. Users anonymously answer questions or take polls about their classmates. Users can answer questions, or submit their own questions or poles to others. And yes, there is the word parents should fear ‘anonymously’. Usually if it is anonymous it immediately ranks a high threat level.

So how does it work? The app relies heavily on the gps location of the users device. It basically has to have access to the users location inside the app to determine what schools are nearby so that the user can select the people they know that have registered or they know are affiliated with the school.

This app knew the safety concerns with cyber bullying and inappropriate polls, questions and comments so it took an extra step. The app requires permission through the developers before the questions are rolled out. This allows the company to help prevent inappropriate polls and questioning. All questions are multiple choice and a list of students friends names are choices.

Users earns gems when a poll is generated with their name in it. Gems basically act like trophies for users (blue trophies =boys Pink trophies=girls)

After much debate and review, I am going to give this a moderate threat level just to be safe due to a lot of anonymous polls. If you decide to let your child download and answer questions, have them show you what is going on around them and what polls they have been a part of. Just be careful. It appears depending on the school your child goes to will determine the activity of the data inside the TBH app. From this initial review it appears they do a pretty good job filtering anything that would be considered cyber bullying. When Facebook puts their name on it, they are going to try to keep it clean and they have the man power to do it.

Tags – white, tbh, black text, t b h

Sarahah

App Review – Sarahah

Threat Level – Very High

Sarahah is an app developed by Zainalabdin Tawfiq. If you haven’t heard of this or seen anything about it, then get ready. It is already here and is the talk of the kids with school starting back. This app originated and has been growing in Saudi Arabia and Egypt with the biggest growth to date in India. With the amount of growth, it was a matter of time before it hit the United States…and guess what, it is here.

The Sarahah app is meant for sending and receiving feedback from others, anonymously. The creators described it by saying: Sarahah helps people self-develop by receiving constructive anonymous After you create a Sarahah profile, which anyone can visit (with or without account) people can visit your profile and leave messages, anonymously. If they have logged in, messages are still anonymous by default, but users can choose to tag their identity.

On the receiving side, all the messages show up in an inbox where you can flag messages, delete them, reply, or favourite them.

Parents must remember anonymity enables people to act out and behave in sometimes harmful ways without consideration for others. Even positive reviews still warn that this app is not for the weak but is marketed as a social interaction tool. If you scroll through the reviews that people are leaving, you will see a common thread of people receiving mean messages.

You can remove your profile from search results, limiting the people who you share your profile with, and you can also turn off access for unauthorised users. Right now you cannot right back which is a feature they are currently changing. You can also block senders, so you will never see any further messages. This seems like a sandbox for cyber bullying. We need to monitor this app very closely.

This isn’t the first anonymous messaging app we’ve seen that took off. You have read my other reviews in past with Yik Yak, Secret and even Whisper. Sarahah’s seems to look more at private messaging and less on social media, and so visiting another users’ profile won’t show anything, unless they choose to make the posts public. This app doesn’t even require a login or account if you don’t want one. This is a first for this style app. The email addresses you register with is usually a tool for marketing to generate income for the company.

As you can see, I gave this app a very high threat level. Do to its booming success and growth with kids, We need to remember anonymity apps such as this are really dangerous and cannot be monitored the way they need to be. Once negative anonymous messages are received, emotionally the damage is done to our children.

App Description – blue, turquoise, mail, mail app, blue mail, letter, blue and white letter