As a parent, it can feel impossible to keep up with our kids, especially when it comes to apps, social media and all things digital! We want to know what our children are doing online so we can protect them from the growing number of threats like cyberbullying, screen addiction, online predators and inappropriate content.

While you may be familiar with prevalent social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, there are tons of other apps currently popular with children and teens. We put together a list of some of the top apps adolescents are using as well as some apps you can use to keep your children safe online.

Apps Popular with Kids and Teens in 2019

Here are some of the most popular apps that children and teens are using and a few things to be aware of:

Messaging Apps

What it is:

Snapchat is a wildly popular messaging app that lets users send pictures and videos (snaps) to other users. Snaps disappear within seconds after they’re viewed.

 What you should know:

Because of the disappearing  nature of snaps, “sexting” is common on the app. Even though snaps are meant to disappear after they’re viewed, the recipient can take a screenshot and circulate the picture themselves.

What it is:

Kik Messenger is a free instant messaging mobile app. It’s anonymous, and no phone number is required. Users can simply sign up with a username.

 What you should know:

Kik messenger has been criticised for its safety and has developed a shady reputation of being used for child exploitation and inappropriate content.

What it is:

GroupMe is another app that’s popular with teens. This app allows people to create group text chats and works on any phone, even if it’s not a smartphone.

What you should know:

As with any messaging app, teens should be careful about who they’re communicating with and what they’re sharing.

Live Streaming Apps

What it is:

Tik Tok is a platform where users can watch and record short-form videos of themselves lip-syncing to sound bites.

What you should know:

Users can leave comments on videos posted, which does open up the possibility of your kid receiving negative messages.

What it is:

BIGO LIVE is a highly popular app that allows community users to connect through live streaming.

What you should know:

BIGO LIVE has been criticized for its lack of regulation and accountability. Users can broadcast footage that anyone can see.

Other Apps

What it is:

HOLLA is a live random video chat app that allows users to connect with other users. After signing up, users are randomly matched with a stranger, and both appear on camera. Users have the option to enable location options to meet someone close by.

 

What you should know:

While HOLLA requires users to be at least 13 years of age, there aren’t any strict age verification methods in place. Connecting over video with a random stranger is extremely risky, and using this app could expose your child to predators and inappropriate content.

What it is:

BitLife is a life-simulation video game. Players who start a new game begin in a randomly assigned country with a name and a pair of parents. Players then navigate through events and can pick options like getting a job or buying a car from a series of menus.

What you should know:

While kids aren’t directly exposed to risky behavior, the game may expose the player to mature ideas as their character progresses through adulthood. Players have the ability to choose actions such as doing drugs and committing crimes.

Apps for Parents to Keep their Children Safe Online

There are a number of apps available to parents to track, monitor and limit the time children spend online. Here are just a few apps that other parents are using to protect their children:

Family Time

Family Time is a parental control app that allows you to moderate your kid’s smartphone use. Key features include managing screen time and blocking apps. You’re also able to track your child’s location, and they are able to reach out to you with instant panic alerts in case of an emergency.

Bark

Bark helps parents keep their children safe without micromanaging them or being overly intrusive. The app monitors social media, email and text messages to detect signs of dangerous activity. If a potential threat (such as cyberbullying, sexting, and depression) has been detected, parents are alerted via text/email and also provided recommended steps to manage the situation.

ScreenTime

ScreenTime lets you manage how long your children are spending on tablets and smartphones. Parents are able to track the apps their child is using and for how long, websites they’re visiting, and when their child tries to install a new app. ScreenTime also allows you to block certain apps at certain times of day.

Talk. They Hear You.

Talk. They Hear You. is a free app from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that helps parents talk to their children about underage drinking. With the app, parents can learn the questions to ask and get ideas for how to keep the conversation going.

P3 Tips

This app allows the public to share information anonymously with Crime Stoppers programs, local law enforcement and schools. If you have information related to crime, underage drinking or safety, you can submit a tip privately and securely via the app.

Start the Conversation on Online Safety Today

While it’s impossible to track every single thing your child is doing online, it’s helpful to be aware of the types of apps they’re using, as well as a few other apps that you can use to protect your child.

Most importantly, talk — and listen — to your kids. They might tell you everything you want to know or at least drop the name of an app or a website you can check out on your own.

Are there any apps popular with your children that we missed? Have you found any parenting apps particularly helpful for your family? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!