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 (or lack thereof), 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!

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

Bubble Chat

App Review – Bubble Chat

Threat Level – High


Bubble Chat is a free app designed by a company named Hit Labs. It appears this is Hit Labs first app for the Social Media genre and they went all in. 

Group texting has slowly become popular with teens and adults. I see my daughters using apps such as GroupMe and iMessage group texting with their friends. My daughters cheer team and gymnastics team utilize the group feature of GroupMe. You also see circles of friends of your children getting involved in group messaging to stay connected. 

So what is Bubble Chat? Bubble chat is a group texting app that has added a few extra features to make it stand out ahead of the competition. 

When you first download the app, it asks you what kind of group you are wanting to start. Sporting group, friend group, etc. The app will then ask for your phone number to confirm you do have a number to associate it with. After these couple of steps to setup, you are ready to start your group. The app makes you select one person to add to the group before the group is created. Once your group is live, you can then add more people to it. The app uses data to send messages rather than using your texting plan through your cell phone. Most text driven apps use data, either cellular or wifi depending on what you are connected to. 

If you use GroupMe or other messaging apps, the group text user interface will look similar. It has a chat window at bottom of screen along with buttons for sharing pictures, videos, gifs and stickers. You will also see a drop down menu at the top with the name of the group (or bubble) you are currently in. You can have multiple bubbles ..aka group chats.. going at one time. You will

notice in the lower menu there is a button for live video chat and also a menu of “celebrities” you can invite to your chat. I didn’t recognize any of the celebrities myself. They stated they were anything from professional models to MMa fighters. How often one of these so called celebrities will ever jump into someone’s chat is beyond me. Bubble Chat having this celebrity feature draws in curiosity from children. 

The live video chat feature is something that the many other competing group texting app doesn’t have. You can select the live chat and immediately start sharing live video with up to 10 people in your group. This is a good feature for the app, but unsupervised children and live video chat do not mix well. Adults or monitored chat for your children would be preferred for this feature. Add the “celebrity” chat and now you could have your children inviting strangers or so called celebrities to their chat groups. or live video streams. 

Other members of your groups or “bubbles” must have the app installed on their devices as well. The live chat feature along with inviting “celebrities” to your bubbles, is what bumped this group texting app up to a high threat level. 

Make sure if you let your kids use Bubble chat, you stay on top of who they are in chats with and especially who they are live chatting with in the video streams. 

Description – B, bubble, b letter, letter b, 3D b, neone b, bright color b, 3b’s, neon b, bubble, chat, GroupMe, group chat, group video, live video 

Clips

App Review – Clips


Threat Level – Very Low

The app Clips is Apples newest app available on the App Store. Clips app basically is named after the word Video Clips because that is literally all you do with it. Edit videos. 

In the world of Snapchat, FB messenger and other social media outlets where pictures and videos are being shared, I feel Apple needed to be involved without taking on the social media side to those apps. So out of no where the Clips app launched. I was kind of confused at first because Apple already has an app called iMovie that allows just about any editing option for pictures and video that can be offered but then I understood what they were going for which I’ll explain shortly. 

The Clips app was the first app I have seen that requires you to be on the newest version of IOS 10.3.1. When I went to download the app, a prompt immediately popped up that did not allow me to download the app without updating to newest IOS. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. How many times do you click the later button as your phone asks you to update, even though they’re security updates. So the skinny on this newest Apple app is if you want Clips, you must update. Once the update is installed and you are ready to launch Clips, you will see a pretty basic, simple to use interface attached to a video editing app. Clips allows you to take videos or select videos to throw some editing towards. Add captions? Sure .. Add stickers? sure. Would you like to use live dictation to put text over top of your videos? You can do that too. 

So now to the rating and should you let your children use Clips app. I have it a very low threat level because that is my lowest rating. This app doesn’t have any features that is going to jeopardize safety or security of device and is really easy to use. This app allows only local editing and the share features have to be shared in other apps. So basically this app is just an editing app for your videos and once your done you can save away to your device to pull up in other apps. The export video after edit is your normal selections, device, camera iCloud Drive etc. In a long list of picture editing apps, this is Apples answer to video editing with no new social media ties. 

Description Keywords – blue, apple, video, camera, blue camera, video editing, edit, video, blue and white, blue, light blue

Triller

App Review – Triller


Threat Level – Moderate


Triller is an app developed by a company of the same name Triller LLC. Triller is another social media video sharing app in the long list of other video sharing apps. Triller advertises that you can make your life come to video. More specifically there slogan is ‘Your life in video’. They advertise in the app store to join Triller and make your moments look better than ever! Just a few snaps and Triller makes a great video for you. Triller encourages you to join the millions of other making amazing videos on the fly. So what makes this app different?


First out the shoot, Trilller is available on the two major mobile markets in IOS and Android. If you search on the App Store on IOS, you will find that Triller also has an app for the Apple TV and an extension for iMessage. The app is free and after you download it, you will be prompted to make a Triller account. The account setup is basically like any other social media app account creation. You can select to login with your Facebook, twitter, email or phone number. 


Once your account is created, Triller will ask you to select people you would like to follow. It does the standard scan of your contacts and your Facebook or twitter friends to show you who is already using the app that you may already know. After you select your friends, it will show you a menu similar to how instagram looks to pick ‘celebrity’ accounts to follow. From individuals to business accounts. 


After you have selected your followers, the feed will look similar to instagram. Block style scrolling that allows you to scroll through videos your friends or people you have followed have posted. When you go to make your own post, you will see that Triller wants to help you make your video post by adding your own music and helping you piece together your own videos. Once Triller has assisted you in making a video you are ready to post it for fellow Trillers to view. You can like or comment on videos and even direct message another Triller user. 


I have this a moderate threat level for children using this app. I would categorize this app with instagram or Twitter. A social app similar to instagram. You will want to make sure they know who they are following and make sure who is following them. No strangers! Only approved friends by mom and dad. Remember the direct messages. You want to make sure they are. It talking in direct message to someone they don’t know. 


I feel like this app is another spin on Instagram and you should use the same precautionary measures for your children as you do Instagram. 

Description – pink, pink black, ball, pink. Purple, Ball, sliced ball, circle, sliced circle

You Now

App Review – You Now

Threat Level – Very High

YouNow is an app developed by a company named YouNow incorporated and launched back in spring of 2016. This app is available on all the major mobile markets and is free download. This app does however have subscription service for 4.99 a month that can be billed directly to your iTunes account and iTunes subscriptions. The paid service unlocks other features and let’s you connect and find more people to live broadcast yourself with along with adding stickers, more chat features and access to broadcasters replays. 


You now could be described as a mix between you tube and going Facebook Live. This app let’s you create an account with an email address, and go live by streaming whatever you are doing via your devices camera. They advertise this app as a way to express yourself and share with others your artistic side such as singing or broadcasting what you are currently doing. You can also search for others who are currently broadcasting live, and with a active subscription view replays of their live broadcasts. Once inside one of these live views streaming, you may comment on videos and read others comments or participate in a live chat with the creators of the live stream and their viewers. You can also select the people you enjoy following the most. You can also be notified when they go live. Or replay the videos they have streamed and created in the past. 


With a lot of streaming service features being added to social networks like Facebook and Periscope (owned by twitter) you are going to start seeing more and more of this kind of content. Live streaming is dangerous for kids for two reasons. One, being live if they make a mistake and say something or do something, there is no way to get it back or have removed. The content has already been shared. Also from the viewing side of the app, I have already found from researching the app that some content with strong language or very edgy content that I would not want my children to be viewing. 


A lot of kids want to be seen or be the popular one and stand out in their circle of friends. Make sure they are not doing this at the expense of their own safety or putting content out that parents would not approve just to be “popular” or to go “viral”. Live streaming features will continue to grow inside apps that are already out as well as new ones on the horizon. Be aware of this trend. 

App Description – green, now, white letters, now, like, like green, green with white, green white, green and white