HeyTell

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Heytell

Threat Level – Moderate

Cost – Free (with chargeable add ons)

Heytell is a messaging app that does not use text like a normal messaging app…. it uses voice. Remember how popular Nextel was with the push to talk feature, now there is an app for that! And it doesn’t matter what kind of phone you have, because this app is cross platform ready for IOS, Android and windows.

A cross-platform push-to-talk app, with voice mail seems pretty valuable for people who don’t like to type. Beyond covering just about every popular platform, HeyTell’s interface is incredibly easy to use. First time users can go through their contact list and invite anyone via Text to download HeyTell and begin voice chatting. Once you have contacts with the app, simply choose one and push the button.

HeyTell isn’t true push-to-talk, but essentially it’s just as effective. The app records your message and instantly sends it over to your contact. If they don’t happen to have HeyTell open, it will send a push notification. There will even be a transcription of the message, so it even feels like you’re just viewing a text. That is, until you open the app.

The exchange back and forth between voice messages is so quick, you’d barely know it wasn’t real time. There’s no need to worry about data usage either, as the company claims that each message uses about as much data as sending an email. The app even works with just WiFi, so if you happen to not get signal in your home, but have WiFi, it doubles as an effective way to call someone.

There are privacy levels, too, if you feel like you don’t want to be available 24/7. Users can choose to be able to be contacted with or without an invite to open the app. You can also block some contacts or choose to allow others no matter your privacy setting.

There are paid add-ons such as a voice changer and group chat, but those aren’t necessary if you don’t want to spend money. There is also a send to Facebook or Twitter option which ties Heytell to other social media outlets.

I gave this a moderate threat level due to the fact it is a messenger app. Remember this app requires the other person receiving the voice message to have a Heytell account as well, so monitor your child’s friends list inside the app and as always explain the dangers. Setup the block feature as well to keep others from sending messages at times you don’t want your child receiving them.

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Facebook Messenger

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Facebook Messenger

Threat Level – Moderate

Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and voice communication.

Integrated with Facebook’s web-based Chat feature and built on the open-source protocol, Messenger lets Facebook users chat with friends both on mobile and on the main website.

If your child has this app on their device, then they have a Facebook account. Remember this if 1. You didn’t know they had Facebook and 2. If you have restricted their Facebook accounts, they still have access to chat with Facebook friends with this app.

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CocoPPA

cocoppa

CocoPPA

Threat Level – Very High

Just for the record, right off the bat.. Yes it looks innocent, and Yes it is called CocoPPA.  That spelling is not  a spell check error.  This app is made by Japanese company, and I have not figured out the reason for the name of this app yet.

CocoPPa is an app which enables you to make your favorite image as the “one-touch icon” and place the icon on the home screen.  Seems harmless enough right? This app allows you to make custom icons for other apps.  This app seems innocent , Hello Kitty pink and purple color scheme kinda feel for your device.  The programmers of this app probably never thought of it being anything but a cute fun way for kids to change the look and feel of their device or phone.

That would have been a great idea, if they made the app icon disguise keep the same name.  But they didn’t, it is customizable or set from a template.  So you ask me, What does that mean? Let me explain

Digi Social is another Very High Threat rate app that i have reviewed in the past.  WIth this Cocoppa app, they can download Digisocial (knowing it may get them in trouble)  Then take this app and disguise the look of the Digisocial app, and even the name to something else.  It could say You Tube but when you touch to open it, it then opens Digi Social app which is a plus 18 app with sexually explicit content.

This is every kids dream, that is trying to keep you from knowing about a texting app, or another app that they may have gotten in trouble with , and you thought they deleted.  So you ask yourself, If the app disguised is not called the app it actually is, then how in this world can i ever monitor that?  Will you have to open up every app on your kids device, to make sure it boots to the right application?  The answer is No, and let me explain how to combat this.

This app basically works as a shortcut between it and the actual app, so you still have to download the app you are trying to disguise on your phone or device.  So if you make a pretty cute pink app with bubbles and flowers and call it Bubble pop, but it actually opens a sexually explicit Digis Social app, you still have to have the regular Digisocial app on  your device somewhere.  The only place to hide it, would be inside a folder to make it less obvious.  So to combat this, all you need is to look for all apps on the phone, even apps inside folders.

This app doesn’t replace the original app icon, but just makes a second one, and shortcuts it to original.

I gave this a Very High Threat level, because I wanted to archive it as such, to let parents know that there are disguise apps such as this out there, so pay attention to the little things.  Especially the names of apps.  One slip up could cause your child to see something they should never see. Be diligent in your social media safety!

If you are still confused, watch this Tutorial Video on how they show you to set up this app.  You will understand the Disguise feature, and how it could be taken advantage of for the wrong reason.

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Oovoo

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Oovoo

Threat Level – Moderate

Oovoo is a free video chat and instant messaging client developed by ooVoo LLC for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS. It was released in 2007, and is similar to Microsoft’s Skype and Apple’s FaceTime. It does have a web interface also to allow PC users to interact on video calls with mobile devices. This app stresses the ability for higher latency video chatting with up to 12 people (showing 4 people on phone or itouch). They also have a messaging feature similar to any text over data application.

Calls can be recorded in real-time and twelve-way video chatting is supported.

Oovoo provides real-time comments and warnings about performance and usage, and has a connection speed display that gives an indication of latency.

I gave this application a moderate threat level. With the restrictions setup properly, the only video conferencing that can be done with approved friends. As I would recommend with any video chatting is proper moderation of who their friends are and who they are chatting with.

Throwback

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Throwback

Threat Level – Very Low

Throwback is an app that lets you take a picture, and send it to yourself or a group of friends at some point in the future. The app won’t let you even see the picture you’ve taken any sooner than a month.

When you receive the picture, you’ll be able to save it to your camera or PC since it arrives in the form of an attachment to your email.

The idea comes from founder Calli Higgins. In her own words, “it’s out of an exploration between photography and nostalgia.” “After researching why certain images pang us while others don’t, I realized nostalgia is conjured by revisiting something you haven’t seen in a while,” she stated in an interview.

The app is super simple and straightforward. Once you’ve registered an email address, you are given the option to take a new picture or choose on from your photo album. You then select a date, a general range of time (from six months to five years) or click “Surprise.” The soonest you can receive a picture is one month from the current date.

Seems like a harmless app, but anytime pictures and kids are involved, we need to be careful. I think this app is completely innocent and doesn’t show any signs on being exploited, and the harshest offense may be juvenile pranks. One thing to remember is that this app uses the camera feature from inside the application. Utilizing this feature will permit the photos taken from showing in your camera roll. So when you take a picture, it stays in the app itself.

The pictures are sent as an attachment to an email address that is from whatever address you setup when you first opened the app. Unlike Poke or Snapchat where the viewer only has a certain time frame to view the picture.

As of now there are no social ties, but I can see them connecting in the near future. This may allow people to put a time frame on when pictures are showed to your wall or tweeted. Another interesting feature that we will have to look for in updates

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Find my Friends

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Find my Friends

Threat Level – Moderate

Find my friends is a free app on the apple IOS. You will see when you go to download, this is actually made by Apple, and is a recommended install when you get a new Apple Device. This is a location based sharing network where you sign in with your iTunes account. Once you sign in to the app, it shows your location on a map. You then invite your friends and when they accept, they can see you on a map, and you can see where they are.

Not a lot of chat features other than basic, and I would normally give a high threat level on any app that wants to publish the users location (especially for children) but here is why I didn’t. Apple has developed this app to be secure enough that the user has to accept, and then allow others to see where they are. As long as you confirm who is on your child’s friend list, and they are not a threat, and just an innocent friend, your ok.

The user interface makes it very easy to see your friends, and for them to see you. But now for the neatest feature for you to utilize for safety. If you have your children on separate accounts on iTunes, you can add them and set alarms. For example, you could set an alarm if they leave a certain area (like sneaking out in the middle of the night) or set an alarm to alert you when they get to a certain location. For example, I could set an alert to tellme when my 17 year old gets to work at Ingles. This feature attempts to tilt the fear of being a GPS app away from bad, to it being a safety feature.

I Haven’t read about any hacks or any instances where the app was compromised, and being an Apple product, I am pretty sure they monitor its security settings very well.

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Parlor

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Parlor

Threat Level – Very High

Parlor is a social networking app that allows people to meet with similar interests and chat in one on one conversation either via text or voice. Anytime there are one on one conversations in an app you have to be careful of its intentions.

This app is restricted to 17 years and older, but all it takes is clicking the accept button and you will fly right by that step. Also reading in the description of the app, it clearly states that posts are made about sexually explicit topics

Chatting one on one with strangers with enough sexually explicit content that they put it in the description with a 17 year old plug tag…..not for kids! Keep the kids far away from this app.

The app is broke down into 6 categories from the main menu. Sports, Music, Politics, Dating, Random and Food. You can select a category and it then gives you option to call or message a stranger that has selected the same topic as yours.

When I launched the app to use it, I was connected 4 times to men that sounded to be at least 30 plus years of age. One even sounded like an elderly male. They all wanted to talk and was eager to ask me where I was calling from.

With just a few minutes of basic email address and name setup (which the app does not verify). You are ready to begin your voice or text chat with a stranger. Look out for this app, keep your kids away!

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