Group Me

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App Review – Group Me
Threat Level – Low

Group me is a free text messaging app (offers in app purchases for emojis) made by a company called Mindless Dribble Inc. Group Me is becoming more and more popular and has been popping up on kids phones. I know this because over the past couple days, I have received several emails asking about the app.

Group me should be classified in the data texting apps like kik, what’s app and any other texting app that uses data instead of cell service. The difference is the Group me app is designed for Groups. It is easily configured by setting up a free account and creating groups for everyone to see messages in after a
User sends out a message on it. You can share photos, videos emojis and all the other things that you can do with common text messaging apps. Group me just makes it easier to set up and send to a group. You can download the group me app on any platform from IOS to Android and start using. Another feature group me adds is the ability to have a non app user join the conversation. If you have a friend that does not have a smart phone, but can send SMS messages, they can still be part of the group. There is also a web client that allows access as well. Group me advertises and being the best way to group text your friends, co workers and more for free.

Just like any texting app, I recommend parents to know who their children are texting. If you find this all on your child’s device, make sure it is being used for the right purpose. You can assure that there are group text being sent or they would not have a reason to use the app. Be aware of who is in their texting groups and monitor the content if need be on their group topics.

I have seen this app being used more innocently by sporting teams or youth groups, but as a parent you should know the groups that your child are chatting in. Treat this as you would any text messaging app.

App description – blue, white, hashtag, smiley face, face, smile, blue white face

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

Gogii Games

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Website Review – Gogii Games
http://www.gogiigames.com

Threat Level – Very Low

Gogii games is a website that offers several different formats for downloadable video games. Gogii games is based out of Canada and is a Canadian video game developer and publisher. They are based out of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Gogii games is a small company with 21 employees.

Gogii game develops mainly hidden object games for the PC or Mac and then converted to mobile gaming on Android, IOS and even windows mobile. From their website, you can view what games they have currently launched and what devices they offer them on. The newest venture is Archie Riverdale Rescue looks to be one of their first attempts at mobile gaming where you can purchase more items inside the game. This game looks to be different than their normal hidden object style.

As for the social side of site and Gogii games, there isn’t much. The only links from site are the links to their own twitter feeds and Facebook feeds, but they do have one Social Tab. Under the social tab, is a free hidden object game that can be played online and through Facebook to involve all your Facebook friends. The Facebook game is called ‘The new Hidden Object Show’ . This game is designed for the social side and for Facebook. You can compete with friends, play 6 different style games as you find hidden objects. The theme is Carnival style and you can win tickets to buy new scenes, and in game prizes. You can also post your scores and brag to your Facebook friends. You can see Facebook leaderboards and compete with friends. The interaction in the social side is all through Facebook. There is no in game chat or picture sharing through the game.

I gave this website a Very Low Threat level on the social aspect if your children are playing games on it or through it.

Tags – Gogii, online games, hidden object games, mmo

DigitCalc

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App Review – Digitcalc

Threat Level – Very High

Welcome to the world of secret spy apps. Uh oh, probably something your kids don’t want you to know about, but I am going to tell you anyway:-).

Nestled down deep in the App Store is an app called Spy Calc and at first glance you see the app and think, what in the world is that? Spy Calc is an app in the growing line of what you see is not what you get section. In the App Store this app explains that it is developed for people to hide and store pictures, videos and documents. The description actually describes this as a hidden compartment app, and it truly is just that.

The app is free on all mobile markets and after download, it appears to be a calculator. The app looks like a calculator and even says Digit Calc underneath the image on your phone. Anyone looking at a device with this on it would think it is just a calculator. Even when you touch the app to launch it, the app is still a calculator. Complete with being able to add and subtract! So now you are now asking, what is wrong with my kid using a free calculator app? Well this is where the hidden compartment I was speaking of earlier comes into play.

When you first download the app and install, it will ask you for a 4 digit code and then save that as your password. When you open the app again and the normal looking calculator app appears, all you do is type the 4 digit code with a period before and after it and the app transforms. Not a cool Optimus Prime transform, but a transform into a totally different app. This is where you can take or upload pictures and videos. Once they are inside here, you can delete them from your photo album and no one ever knows there hidden in a calculator app.

Now for the info commercial spin on this….But Wait! There’s More! If you want to get rid of the ads at the bottom of the screen and unlock new features, pay the 1.99 for an upgrade. This upgrade will take away the ads, plus give you options to make secret folders to sort your pics and videos along with a way to upload documents. Another part of upgrade is a digital recorder. You can set the recorder to record digitally with your phone microphone with a different 4 digit code.

This app is definitely regarded as a spy app and it appears to be a sneaky way to save photos, videos and documents. So before you ask as an adult why I would give this a high threat level, ask yourself the following question…why would your child need to hide photos in an app that appears to be something else? Yes, now you understand. I don’t want my child hiding anything behind a calculator app. They are children, not secret agents.

Cyber Dust

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App Review – Cyber Dust

Threat Level – High

Welcome to the World of Dusting.

When you hear your children talking about dusting, it may be referring to a new growing in popularity app called Cyber Dust. Cyber Dust is an app designed and developed by a company named Mention Mobile. This is Mention Mobiles first venture into the world of social media/texting apps. This app is another in a long line of self destructing apps for the IOS market and in the future Android and Windows mobile.

Snapchat made self destructing photo sharing apps popular and started a trend of deleting after you send. The difference with Cyber Dust is that it is not just a self destructing picture sharing application, but it self destructs everything from text messages to pictures. Cyber Dust describes itself in the description as “Every spoken word isn’t recorded, why should your texts be?” Also, it states Have fun and private messages without worry. These are not things I encourage my 12 year olds to be doing. Do you want a child to feel “comfortable” knowing their messages would delete? Why would they need a feature such as that? Some other features inside app allows sharing of sticker packs, screen shot detection alert (allows you to notify sender that you took a screen shot of that alleged deleted text) and also send and received notifications. Future plans hint of group options and also video.

When you search this app in the IOS App Store, you will see it has a 12+ Restriction. I’m not sure I would want my 12 year old having conversations, texts or sharing pictures that automatically delete. Like I mentioned earlier, why would they need that? If they are using, you better ask them that question.

Basically, after you download the app and get your account setup with basic information that you see in most apps, name, email address and bio, then you are ready to roll. Your username allows you to invite others to your messages or shares. Now you are ready to send text messages, share pics all knowing that everything deletes after your recipient receives the message.

I have given this a threat level of high for one simple reason, Why do they need to delete what they text? Monitor this app closely if you allow your child to use, and be sure to look at who they are communicating inside of the app. This could get dangerous if strangers find their way into your child’s messaging feeds.

App Description – chat bubble, red, yellow, pixelating, small boxes, round, pink, red, yellow

Slingshot

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App Review – Slingshot

Threat Level – high

Welcome the newest app from Facebook called Slingshot. Snapchat is estimated to have more than 30 million users and reportedly turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook last fall. Facebook later went on to buy WhatsApp, a messaging app that’s especially widespread overseas. I think this is Facebooks answer to being turned down by Snapchat. Facebook has really been wanting to put their own spin on a picture sharing app different than Instagram. So now you have Slingshot.

Slingshot is an app available on all platforms and logs in through your Facebook account. Once you download Slingshot and get your account setup, then you are ready to start sharing pictures.

With similar apps such as Snapchat or I delete, self destructing picture sharing has become very popular. Slingshot takes a different approach from self destructing pictures by not deleting the pictures you send and receive, instead it requires you to send a picture or video back to the person who sent you a pic before you can see the one they sent you. Hence the name ‘Slingshot’.

The developers of Slingshot posted this….”With Slingshot, we wanted to build something where everybody is a creator and nobody is just a spectator,” its creators said in a blog post announcing the app. “When everyone participates, there’s less pressure, more creativity and even the little things in life can turn into awesome shared experiences.”

Slingshot has a lot of the similar photo filters we have seen, along with being able to type a message on top of the picture as well.

This app should be monitored closely to make sure you approve of your child’s friends that they are slingshotting photos from. Remember it is an app made by Facebook, so all the social ties will be there with that.

App description – rainbow, colors, multi color, rainbow circle, Facebook

Timehop

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App Review – Timehop

Threat Level – Low

Timehop is an app developed by a company of the same name out of New York, NY. The company began the early concept for its app in 2011 and was originally called 4squareand7years. This all began at a a Foursquare event to originally track Foursquare checkins to be able to look at previous checkins. After hard work from the original concept designers and investments from some big names, the company went from the name 4squareand7yearsago to Timehop. I guess to get away from the Foursquare tie in, due to the fact they wanted to touch all your social networking profiles and pictures. They did keep a little of their originated idea in their mascot (the app logo). The company’s mascot is a dinosaur named Abe (hopefully you see the Abraham Lincoln tie in with the old company name). Abe is what they call a timeasaur, due to his traveling in time to snag your photos. He will pop up inside the app to give you tips and tell you what to were doing this same time in the past.

So enough about the company, what does Timehop actually do? To use Timehop, you will need to create an account. There is also the Facebook Connect option, if you don’t want to go through another sign up process. The app makes use of the native iOS 6 Facebook integration, so the app will auto login to Facebook from your phone settings in IOS if you allow it to. The next step will be to link up your other accounts, like Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Foursquare, Dropbox, and more. You can also link up your Camera Roll to display photos that you have taken in the past. The app will automatically retrieve the time stamp off the photos in your camera roll saved to the picture, or the date you posted it to your social media account. It also pulls tweets and status updates. It does this to organize in an interface to show you what you posted or photos you took in the past.

The years are color coded, so you can clearly see how long ago something was posted. Timehop keeps everything sorted with an easy interface. Everything is clearly labeled so you don’t miss anything from your past.

The posts will show what service you originally posted it on, and it can also fetch all the details that you included as well. The app’s year headers also shows what day of the week.

Images can be viewed full-screen with just a tap, and any Foursquare checkins can be viewed on a map as well. All of your Twitter and Facebook updates will be displayed and don’t forget your Dropbox, Flikr and other photo storing accounts. Timehop will eventually have all your social media accounts tied in if you wish.

Any of your moments can be shared with others with a tap of the share button. You can send it by SMS, email, Facebook, or Twitter. These moments can also be posted inside Timehop itself, so you can share it with any of your friends who are also using the app. This is similar to an Instagram style.

There is a notifications screen also where you will be able to access the app settings, where you can modify services, notifications, your profile, invite friends through Facebook, and manage sharing.

I would monitor this app as I would any other photo sharing app with the friends you allow to share your child’s photos with. The strengths of this app comes from utilizing your already in use social media accounts and photos from your phone. One thing to remember also is you are giving Timehop access to all your photos on all your devices. The FAQ section says they do not use these for advertisement or marketing purposes, but just remember you are giving them access. This access of course can be turned off at anytime.

I see this app staying around for a while she to the amount of money investors are apparently putting into this company. They have obviously trying to find a way to profit from the free app and wants to be your digital photo time capsule, pulling in all your pictures to re live again with friends.

Description- Timehop, purple, dinosaur, yellow, purple dinosaur

Zoosk

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App Review – Zoosk

Threat Level – High

Zoosk is a dating service app that is available on all mobile markets. Zoosk was developed in 2007 by a company in California. Zoosk started as an online dating service from the web (zoosk.com) and morphed like so many others over to the mobile market with the growth of cell phones and tablets. Zoosk reported a net income of 2.6 million dollars in 2013, so as you can tell is not going away anytime soon. Zoosk is a popular dating service and has been in past years the most popular online dating service.

Zoosk uses data recommendations technology to help users find partners. It is often referred to as “proprietary Behavioral Matchmaking engine”. In easier to read and understand terminology the app or website learns from users’ clicks, messaging, and other actions to help produce more accurate matches. The idea is that the more data Zoosk obtains from its users, the better its recommendations can be. Sound familiar? This is a common techniques shared by dating services, and is a great tool for adults that are able to make their own decisions, but how about your 11 year old?

Speaking of ages, Zoosk targets users aged 25 to 35. Close to Seventy percent of its users are under age 35. Once again this app is for adults, not children. Kids are using this app
As a way to be able to chat with someone anonymously for fun. I cannot think of anything further from the word fun that would describe any child locked in their bedroom at night chatting with adults.

The Zoosk app or website allows it’s users the normal features. Zoosk is profile driven and you can upload multiple pictures and gives a beefy playground to talk about who you are. This is a dating site, so expect it needing a lot of info. After your profile is setup and questions are answered as to what your interests are, Zoosk will attempt to help you find people in your area (GPS utilization) to show you profiles of to see if you like or not. The app then shows a full screen of their profile page. This is what they refer to as Smartpick. On the page is a large chat button along with a place to send emote picture messages or even online gifts.

Another feature of Zoosk is an area labeled the carousel. This is a spot where you can browse around different profile users and try to locate some one that has your similar interests to chat with. Zoosk also allows you to view the profiles of people who have been viewing your profile. It doesn’t take long to figure out there are a lot of users of this site and app.

Another feature to be aware of is premium services that are inside the app. This service is allowed to bill you via your iTunes account, so if you start seeing charges on your iTunes account, you will need to research if your child may have signed up for the premium accounts. Premium accounts basically let’s you utilize more features inside the app or website and gives you even more access to other daters.

Zoosk is by adults, targeted for adults and used by adults. If your child is using Zoosk then they are violating Zoosk policies and also could be opening themselves up to a dangerous situation.

App description – red heart, red, heart, zoosk, zoos, zook

Charm

charm

 

Charm

Threat Level – High

Charm is an app that is being marketed as ‘You are more than a profile picture’  The reason they are sticking with this tag is due to the fact that the app is a dating app with video sharing capabilities.  Charm is a freshly redesigned app from the creators of Meet Me (formerly my yearbook).  Meet Me is another popular dating app that I reviewed last year in archive that is one of hundreds of social media dating applications. Most dating applications and websites allow for picture or multiple picture uploads to your profile page.  Charm is trying to steer more toward the video frenzy of Vine and Instagram and going with a video profile approach allowing its users easy to access video recorder and uploader from inside the application.

Created by the founders of MeetMe.com the Charm app asks users to upload short videos of themselves to attract others, positing that film provides a more realistic profile than just a picture. As quoted from the CEO Geoff Cook  “In many cases that photo is the best photo of that person ever taken and five or 10 years old,” said CEO Geoff Cook, who, along with his sister and vice president of brand strategy Catherine Cook, contends that the images appearing on most people’s Facebook feeds and traditional online dating profiles are a “best of” or “highlight reel” from that person’s life.  “Our purpose is to encourage authentic exchanges between people,” said Geoff Cook, who added that Charm is the first of four standalone apps the company is releasing.

The videos on Charm range from 3 to 10 seconds and users can host a maximum of four videos at one time.  Videos can be uploaded easily from inside the app.  This app is intended for an adult audience and adult dating services.  If you see this app on your child’s device, remember that adults are primarily using this app.  Find out why your child has this app and what they are using it for.  I did give this a high threat level due to the fact that children should not be utilizing a dating service app or website.

This app is free and is available on both android and apple markets.  Meet Me also has a website with Charm tie ins.

 

App search Tags- Red, blue, heart, red heart, blue heart, red blue circle