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

Meow Chat

  
App Review – Meow Chat

Threat Level – Very high


Meow Chat is an app developed by a company named Minus headquartered out of New York City. The company was backed by over 2 million dollars to launch a new style of mobile dating/chatting service which turned into Meow Chat. I did not find any other apps developed by this company which tells me they are working really hard to polish Meow Chat for its users.

So what is Meow Chat? The app Meow Chat describes itself as a fun way to chat and meet new friends. It does have a 17+ rating so they intend for adults to use this app and not children. On reviewing Meow Chat, it reminded me a lot of Tinder style layout with a mix of Grindr and Whatsapp (2 similar chat/dating applications ). Make no doubts about it, this app is a dating/hookup/chatting with strangers app. This app also allows instant chatting with strangers from around the world. With the similarities of Tinder, the main difference is Tinder seems to match more on location as Meow Chat uses interests in your profile to help match users. Now you see why children should not be using this app. Thinking of children and chatting with strangers does not go together.  Meow chat is available on all major mobile markets for download and has a very easy sign in process. You link up Meow Chat with your Facebook profile or create a login with an email address. You can then chat to existing friends by inviting them to join or find new chat partners from around the world. I did notice a lot of accounts while I was testing the app that were outside the United States. On setup it does send you a confirmation Thank you for signing up email. Be looking for this of you monitor your children’s email accounts. 

As soon as you login, clicking Random Chat throws you into a random chat room where you can talk publicly and get to know people for a private chat session or the explore feature will show you a map of other Meow Chat users around you or have similar interests as you. You can scroll through profiles that shows 3 of the users pictures along with a one line intro. I saw intros as innocent as Let’s Chat to the other end of spectrum saying What would you do with me. It doesn’t take long to see exploring profiles there are some that are explicit while others are safe. I had mentioned how this app looks and feels like Tinder. The way it shows profile pics for you to like or chat with is similar. Tinder focuses purely on hooking people up by location, whereas Meow Chat goes one step further and finds people with the same interests as you. 
Meow Chat claims to be the “fastest growing social network with millions of members from every country”. Its Google Play page states that it has been downloaded 10 million times on Android alone. It is free to download but you can purchase coin packs inside the application that allows you utilize advanced features inside the app. 

Meow Chat promotes mature conversations and warns users that their account will be suspended for inappropriate behaviour. You can report another user, bygo on their profile by tapping their image and tap ‘Report User’. You can also click ‘Block User’ to stop them from communicating with you. If you continue to have an issue There is also an email address to contact Meow Chat at hello@meow.me.
As I discussed earlier, this app is rated for adults and children should not be using this application. If you see this one on your child’s device, delete it immediately and find out who they have been chatting with. Children should not be using Meow Chat. 

App description – yellow cat, cat, cat chat, meow, cat, cat chat bubble, yellow chat bubble, bubble, yellow

Chance

 
 App Review – Chance

Threat Level – Very High

Chance is an app by a company called Just.me and is a chatting app designed to allow users to easily chat with complete strangers. We are seeing a growth in similar apps that you can download and chat with other people that you don’t know. The terrifying part of that is the ease of the app setup. Anyone can download the app for free and be chatting with a complete stranger in minutes. 

Chance app describes itself as an app for meeting new friends from around the world. It will introduce you to random strangers, you decide whether to chat with them or not. The app even encourages you to take a ‘Chance’. And you will be chatting with someone new. If you like them, you can get to know them even better and exchange pictures and texts. One of the developers mottos is ‘even your best friend was a stranger at some point’. 

As a parent, thinking about my child chatting with strangers from around the world is terrifying. Keep an eye out for this one because consenting adults should be the only ones using this. 

App description – blue, white, mask, white mask

Sneek

App Review – Sneak

Threat Level – Very High

Sneek is an app that is growing in popularity since the Snapchat story craze has become more and more common.  Sneek is an app that is described as a fast, fun way to discover moments as they unfold around you. Send funny, crazy, or ridiculous photos and videos to everyone nearby.  Sneek your friend streaking down Main Street, or the aftermath of your last Fraternity party for all to see. Just Sneek it, that’s it. Sneeky the squirrel as the app calls is mascot is a way to share any photo or video to others around you.

Sneek is an anonymous video and pic sharing app that is available on IOS and Android devices.  Sneeks concept is to allow people to share with not only friends, but with people in their immediate area. You can view other people’s posts that are close to where you are posting from  This is why they are trying to market towards college campuses.  With that being said, most College students are adults. They share adult content from parties and other college extra curricular activities.  Most of the videos that I have reviewed inside the app have been from local college in my home town and are not what I would want any underage child viewing in my house.  This app is made for adults by adults. There are features that can be added to your photos to make them more personal.  Filters and text can be applied for individuality of the posts.    

We are now seeing that Middle Schools and High School students are starting to figure out the app from family members in college or word of mouth and are trying to copy what young adult college students are doing.  If you see this app on your childs device, make sure it is being used innocently and not to share any inappropriate photos or videos.

 

Sneek – Orange squirrel, squirrel, snapchat story, stories, yeti, yetti, Sneek, Sneeky the squirrel

Jiggler

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App Review -Jiggler

Threat Level – Very High

Jiggler is an adults only app made by a company called Red Light Center. Red Light Center is known for their adult virtual worlds online, where they market to adults on a way to explore your deepest sexual fantasies and desires. This is Red Light Centers first app on the market. Due to this app having naked photos (computer generated) I am confident the Apple Store rejected it on their App Store, but Android welcomed it. This is an Android only app for the time being. They would have to really tone this one way down and keep the clothes of the models to ever be approved through Apples App Store.

So what is Jiggler? Jiggler is an app described as a way to have a giggle while you jiggle. You create a female or male avatar with your choice of race. After you select your race and sex, you customize your character with the size of private parts that you wish them to have. You can also select some clothing if you wish.

Once you have your avatar created, you can shake your device to make your avatar giggle and dance to music. This app has no other purpose other than making naked or clothed avatars to dance. This app is not meant for children, and should not be an app that your child has on his or her device.

app description – red, circles, x, red app, c, c, breast icon, chest, breast, chest,

Secret

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App review – Secret
Threat Level – Very High

Secret is a free app available on the IOS and Play store. The app is described as a place for you speak freely without judgement. With that last sentence, you can see why I gave this app a high threat level for your children.

You start Secret and the tutorial walks you through the step by step process of setting up your anonymous account. That means, well… You don’t have to do anything. Once you launch the app it is ready to roll.

The basic concept of the app is you are telling secrets to strangers. You don’t know them, and they do not know you. That is the last thing I want my children doing. The app appears basic with pictures and text. When you make a post, you select a picture or upload your own as a background for your “secret”. The secrets being shared are usually one or two line typed text messages with different font selections.

As I was browsing the app I saw posts that were saying things like “Me and my mom do drugs together” and “I have a porn addiction” also people had shared updates like “calm down and enjoy life” and other G rated quotes. During my brief session of using the app, I saw about half the secrets posted that I would NOT want my kids reading. When people make a post, it does not know who you are and does not associate a profile picture or any profile to the post (known as a secret). Secret does allow people to comment on your secret or give it a “like”. People can view comments of the secret without posting or clicking on a like. If a secret is liked, it shows people around you (GPS) or friends that you have selectively decided to share your secret with what that post is and allows them the opportunity to like it or comment on it. When you make a comment, the app associates a default picture with your comment, but just for that thread. This allows people to know who is posting numerous comments on a thread. This generic photo changes though if you go to comment on another secret.

Another thing that was concerning on this app was posts that I felt kids were making being inquisitive. I saw a couple secrets asking about sexual oriented questions. The comments were just as graphic as the secret shared. These were obviously posts that I would not like my kids reading, liking or commenting on.

This app is one to put on your watch list. If you see this app pop up on your child’s download list, remove it quickly. This app should be for adults only.

App description – fox white black fox face animal cat wolf

Yik Yak

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Yik Yak
Threat Level – Very High

Yik Yak is an app available on all mobile markets that advertises itself as an app to tell it all without telling who you are. The developers of the app goes as far as calling it “the anonymous social wall for anything”.

All users are anonymous from the start of the download. The registration process requires no personal information other than your location which will use your phones gps to determine that. This app allows you to create a handle name or nickname so people can associate you since there is no other information exchanged. The style is similar to Facebook status updates and shows you posts of others that are posting around you, yes all anonymously. They call the posts “Yaks” and they show up in the live feed for other “Yakkers” in the area. This app puts its content in the hands of all the anonymous users.

Users can vote posts up or down in the news feed and after two down votes, the post disappears. The app does state it is for plus 17 age group and targeted for adults, but no verification is required. They encourage nearby users to spread the word about parties or events and to share any thoughts about those things going on nearby.

One concern is the bullying factor and kids download app to make posts and spread rumors or derogatory posts about others under the anonymity of an unknown person. If you see this app on your child’s device, you need to discuss the dangers of sharing information Nd reading information posted by anonymous users.

Description – green app, yak, horns, brown green.