4 Apps Used for Sexting and Cyberbullying Parents Should Know About

Discover how these apps are being used and what you can do

female hands using smartphone

Cyberbullying, sexting and sexual bullying among teens are growing at an alarming rate. Almost daily, there are reports about these issues. But what’s worse is that most parents have no idea how these apps are used until something terrible happens. Aside from the fact that most victims of bullying don’t tell anyone they are being bullied, many parents do not know what their teens are doing online.

In fact, according a study conducted by McAfee, more than 70 percent of teens hide their online behavior from their parents. Meanwhile, less than one in five parents are aware that their teens are viewing and sharing inappropriate photos. They also do not realize their kids are talking with complete strangers. Here are four apps every parent should know about. These apps are commonly used by teens for sexting and cyberbullying.


Kik is a texting service that lets teens chat and swap pictures while bypassing their wireless provider’s SMS service. The service is popular among teens who do not have unlimited texting. This way, they can text their friends without incurring a lot of texting charges.

What's more, the messages on this service do not show up under a parent’s wireless plan like traditional text messages. As a result, kids tend to take more risks with Kik and are sending text messages their parents know nothing about.

Sometimes this includes sexting, making inappropriate comments and even cyberbullying.

The only way parents can view Kik messages is to have the child’s phone and use the app. On Instagram, kids often say “kik me." What this means, is “send me a text message using Kik.” It’s a way for kids to talk offline rather than publicly on Instagram.

While much of what teens do on Kik is harmless, it does provide a greater opportunity for teens to take more risks online, especially if their parents have no idea they have the app on their phone. Additionally, if the privacy settings are not set appropriately teens may be contacted by complete strangers. Other similar services include WhatsApp, TextNow and Viber.


Millions of photos are shared every day on Snapchat. But the appeal to teens is not the photo sharing capability but that those photos automatically self-destruct in ten seconds or less. Or, so they think. As a result, some teens use Snapchat to share inappropriate or nude photos of themselves or others thinking it will be gone in ten seconds any way.

Since Snapchat’s development though, several hacks have surfaced allowing kids to save or take screen shots of the photos. This means the photos never truly disappear. As a result, kids sometimes save the photos and later post them publicly to embarrass and humiliate the sender.

What’s more, Snapchat recently started offering a “stories” feature will allows photos to last for up to 24 hours. This new feature offers even more opportunities for kids on the receiving end to keep those photos alive and use them in malicious ways. 


The Vine app allows users to record and edit six-second looping videos, which they can share with their followers, usually on Twitter. In general, teens are creating Vines that are silly and fun. Some examples might include six-second videos of someone singing, being silly or playing with a pet.

But kids have found a way to exploit the technology and use it in a very mean and negative way. For instance, some kids are videotaping others without their knowledge. Then, they share the Vines as a way to make fun of or mock another person. This is a classic form of bullying.

Meanwhile, other kids are playing games like “the slap game” in which one person videotapes while another person slaps or hits a person in order to record a reaction. They later share the Vine for the world to see. There are even violent versions called “knock-out” where someone punches an unsuspecting person in an attempt to knock them out. Kids have even used Vine to make fun of other kids. One way is to point to a person's shoes and shout "what are those?" while videotaping the person's shoes. It is a way to make fun of them.


Tinder is a matchmaking service, or the hookup app as teens call it. The app allows users to scroll through images of other members and flag the ones they like. If the members flagged like the person back, they are both notified. Then, they can contact one another and meet.

While many teens are using the service as a way to find dates, there is a darker side too. One of the primary problems with Tinder is that the minimum age is 13, which means your very young teenager could be connecting with people that are too old for her. Additionally, pedophiles and other sexual predators could be contacting your child. And, they could be pretending to be someone completely different.

What's more, the software relies on GPS from the users’ cell phones to figure out where they are. The goal is to show users photos of other people they might want to meet in the same geographical area. The downside is that now predators also know your child is nearby.

Another problem with the app is that kids upload suggestive photos of themselves or photos that make them appear older than they really are. Additionally, some kids are using the service for cyberbullying. For instance, they go on the service pretending to be interested in someone and arrange a meeting. But when the unsuspecting person shows up for the date, she is ridiculed and humiliated instead. These embarrassing moments are caught on video or in photos and uploaded to social networking sites for the entire world to see.



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