Scratch


App Review – Scratch

Threat Level – Very Low


Scratch is an app and website that encourages kids to become involved in the art of coding. Coding as in programming computer applications both PC and mobile driven. I wish this had been available 25 years ago when I was growing up. You can imagine this as being digital Legos where you can let your child use their imagination to develop programs. Seems like an excellent idea. Let’s learn some code!


Scratch is actual the name of the programming language associated with this computer programming and also has an online community where children can program and share interactive media such as animation, games and stories with people from all over the world. Scratch is available on IOS and Android and costs 99 cents. As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively and build applications with their digital toolbox. Scratch is designed and maintained by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab.
Scratch is aimed for ages 8-16 years olds and is marketed for them, but also encourages parents to become involved with their children. It is an educational app that is geared to get children motivated about computer programming and developing different types of apps. Scratch also has a very interactive website that shows other programs developed by people using Scratch. 


There is a social connection inside the app when it comes to sharing information or ideas on apps users are trying to develop. When participating in the Scratch online community, members can explore and experiment in an open learning community with other Scratch members from all ages and interests. Members can share their work, get feedback, and learn from each other. While I created my user profile and searched through different social communications from website, I didn’t see any inappropriate comments or issues that I felt would be potentially dangerous for our children. All the comments, questions and interactions seemed to be strictly about the scratch development. 

The MIT Scratch Team works with the community to maintain a friendly and respectful environment for people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities. You can help your child learn how to participate by reviewing the community rules as well. Members are asked to comment constructively and to help keep the website friendly by reporting any content that does not follow the community guidelines. You can tell they take great pride in keeping their material clean. The Scratch Team works to manage activity on the site and respond to reports, with the help of tools such as profanity filters as well. This is a very nice addition for app safety for children. 

I was very impressed with the effort they have put into their community to keep it clean. Scratch also offers an offline community if you don’t wish to get involved in the social side of communication within the app. It is obvious Scratch developers are trying really hard to keep their project as an educational tool and is very impressive. I wish all apps took precautions that I see with Scratch and its development team on their approach to online safety. 

-App description – cat, kitty, cat app, cat pic, brown cat, orange cat

Musical.ly


App Review – Musical.ly

Threat Level – Moderate

Musical.ly is an app developed by the same named company. Musical.ly is available for mobile markets on App Store, play store and Amazon store. They took an app that was originally generated as a lip sync app to allow you to select songs to sing along with and put a social twist on it.

 
When you launch the app, similar to other socially connected apps, you are required to either create an account or sign in with your Facebook login. The app will then set your account up with a username. For example @aarony. This username style is similar to Twitter. Once your account is setup, you are ready to record and post your videos. The app allows you to select a song from the library inside the app and then let’s you speed up or slow down as you lip sync and record your song. After your video is made, you can post it to your user page. At this point, others can follow you and like your videos. One thing to remember, the account is created unlocked and you have to change it to private. I figured this out the hard way after I was testing app and made myself a video singing to Lionel Richie (which was pretty bad) and noticed two strangers had already liked my video for some reason. I am not sure who would ever like my rendition of a Lionel Ritchie song, but they did.

 
The videos after recorded are saved under your page with whatever hashtag you want to make it easier for people to find. As I looked through the videos however, I did noticed there was a lot of people that actually didn’t lip sync songs, they made other kinds of videos. There were several videos trending and one that caught my attention was a hashtag labeled #unicornchallenge. This was a viral video of different kids of videos from around the world doing the unicorn challenge. If you are wondering what this is, the unicorn challenge is when you take an ice cream cone and press it against your forehead. The cone makes what looks like a unicorns horn, hence the name unicorn challenge. Kids have added music to different unicorn challenge videos and are doing it in public at lobbies of fast food restaurants. They’re also other trending hashtags that are in the trending page such as Grammy awards and snowvids (snow videos). While browsing through other people’s videos whether trending or not, I did notice a lot of what appeared to be kids, but did not see any sexually explicit content. The app does have filter for sexual related searches which is great on their part. The company seems to be trying to make a respectable community of video sharers with proper filters for young adults.

 
One thing to remember about Musical.ly is that the app calls its users ‘Musers’ and will show you top ‘Musers’ of the app. On one of the menu options, it gives the user the top ‘Musers’ list with the top poster getting over 2 million likes. This app is slowly growing as more children find out about it. The popularity is growing daily.

 
As for the rating, I am going to give a moderate threat level. Most of the posts that were viral were legit hashtags and silly videos like the unicorn challenge. I feel you should still make sure that your child’s account is locked down so that everyone cannot access their videos and also to monitor their social side of app to make sure strangers don’t become obsessed with following every post your child makes. We have to remember as parents to follow our children’s online social life just as close as we do their physical one.

 
App description – red circle, red and white, white squiggly line, audio line, white red with line, audio, lip sync app

Cinch

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Cinch

Threat Level – Low

Cinch is an app developed by the company known for the App Called Klout. Cinch is advertised as an advice app. An app that tells you what you need to know from people that are in the know.

You download the app free of charge and is available on android and Apple devices. Once the app is downloaded there is only one way to access Cinch. That is logging in with a Facebook account. Once you are logged in, Cinch creates your account with username and profile picture it takes from Facebook. After this small intro, you are ready to start asking for advice.

Cinch will market that the advice comes from people that know about the topic you are representing. For example, my first question was one about wifi routers. I sent out a test question that I knew the answer to and with in 30 minutes, I had an answer from two different cinch advisors. The answer was a great one from both. I could tell that the persons who answered knew their topics. A few hours later I received an email asking me to rate their answers they had given me. This is where their rank comes in. From a business side, I am unclear if they just use volunteers that want to support the cause of the app and help answer questions, or if at some point after so many questions are asked do they start getting paid.

You can also browse through pages of other answered questions, and the interface and setup is very easy to complete. As I looked through the questions asked by others, I could see the profile picture and username of the person who asked, along with the name of the person who asked. I did not see any inappropriate questions or answers that were in the log, but have to remember the potential is still there for your kids to be asking for advice from people they don’t know.

At this point, there is no other forms of Social connectivity other than asking a question and receiving an answer. You can also view your question and answer log for past sessions you have asked for advice on.

Due to only being a question and answer site, I have a low threat level, but remember if you see this app on your child’s device to be sure to open and see what kind of advice they are asking.

App description: orange, c, white c, Klout, orange background with white c, the letter c, white letter c

Trakka

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Trakka

Threat Level – High

Trakka is an app developed for the App Store for apple devices, but will soon be on all platforms.

The first look at the Trakka app picture you will see that there are two devil style horns on the T. There is a reason for this. Trakka is an app for the location of all things adult.

The app costs 2.99 and when you download it, there will be the usual 17 plus warning that you click one button to advance past. After you download and launch the app, it will want to utilize your phone GPS to tell what area you are in to pull up all the adult night life that is in your immediate area.

Trakka has nine categories consisting of 1. Gentleman’s Clubs 2. Night Clubs 3. Strip Clubs 4. Bars 5. Adult Bookstores 6. Pubs 7. ATM locations 8. Hotels 9. Taxis once you click on a category, the app will display all the similar category items in a list. You also have a search feature inside the category.

Once all are listed, you have the option to place pins on your map to show you areas of businesses that were in your category. There is also a search feature for everything inside the app for all categories.

I see no reason for your child to have this app. Why would they need to know the location of adult oriented places in their area? This app was built for people who frequent these areas.

I see more social media tie ins down the chain with updates and other social content.

Keep the kids away from this one.

Black app, red T, red app, black t, big t, t. Devil horns

Ask.fm

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ASK.FM

Threat Level – Low

 

You will probably start seeing a web address pop up in your child’s profile on Instagram, or any other Social Site.  The web address will look like   http://www.ask.fm/aaronyarnell  or similar.  This is a a Popular Fad growing with kids.  So you ask Yourself, What is it?

Ask.FM is a website that has you set up an account with your name, then gives you a URL.  That URL is specific to you and is what I listed in first paragraph.  The address will look like http://www.ask.fm/aaronyarnell.  They are then able to copy that address and place it inside any of their profiles on any social site, or even on an email signature.  Basically anywhere others could see it.

When someone clicks on this URL, it takes them to a specific page that your child has set up for them.  This is a basic page that allows anyone to ask any question on anonymity.  They do not have to leave a name, or any contact info.  If your child has a ask.fm page, I recommend bookmarking it and keeping an eye on what is being posted.

Most of the time they are innocent questions, but just like with anything, there is the occasional person that wants to be mean, or ask an inappropriate question.

Since it is open to anyone to ask a question, I bumped from Very Low to Low, but it still can be moderated and followed closely to permit any unwanted questions being asked to your child.

 

Keywords: Ask, Ask.fm, fm, ask, question, profile url, profile site

Wanelo

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Wanelo

Threat Level – Low

Wanelo app is available on cross platforms for mobile devices and is actually categorized as a lifestyle app.

The basics of this app are similar to Pinterest. That was why it was confusing to see it in the lifestyle section on the app market.

With this app, you register with an email address and then tell some basic information such as sex and age range. From that point, you assign yourself a user name and a profile picture. The app then generates items for sale from different categories.

The app tiles the items which look similar to Pinterest and also allows you to follow others on Wanelo, and then allows them to follow you. Since all of the items are for purchases it has a couple different ways to save your favorites. One is similar to a favorites or bookmark feature, to view later. The other way is to save the item as a gift idea. In hopes your followers will feel sorry for you and buy it as a gift

As with most apps, it does have a tie in with Facebook and twitter to share items you find for sale onto your social networks.

There is no chat features or messaging features at this time that would put your child in contact with strangers.

Just like any app with a friends list, monitor it.

Wanlo, yellow, white, green, cubes, squares, small squares

Quick Meme

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Quick Meme

Threat Level – Very Low

Quick Meme is an app that is designed for quick Meme making. It has all the fonts for text and also the most popular Internet Memes.

For the ones that don’t know what a meme is, let me explain. An Internet Meme or Meme is defined (pron.: /ˈmiːm/ meem) as a concept that spreads from person to person via the Internet.

The concept of a meme was defined and described by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads; internet memes are a subset of this, specific to the culture and environment of the internet.

Fads and sensations tend to grow rapidly on the Internet, because the instant communication facilitates word of mouth transmission.

The most common Internet Memes are usually two lines of text with a picture. The pictures are used over and over again, with different text. Usually funny or witty text for joking purposes

Some of the common picture memes are named. For example, grumpy cat, or the famous Game of Thrones winter is coming.

Kids are beginning to catch into the wittiness of memes and the humor behind them. You see more and more going viral and even being signed as advertisement for big companies.

Most Memes are created for funny one liners or subjects to be edgy but funny. Below is an example of a grumpy cat meme.

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Meme, grumpy cat, 2 line text, silly