Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 18, 2013

Monitoring your kids on Facebook? That's so 2009.

(Continued)

"I find myself throwing up my hands every now and again," Patterson said. "Then I'll see something on TV or read an article in the paper about some horrible thing that happened to some poor child and their family, and then I try to be more vigilant. But the reality is, I'm ...stupid" when it comes to social media.

Mobile apps refer to the software applications that can be downloaded to a mobile device through an online store such as Apple's iTunes. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are some 800,000 apps available through Apple and 700,000 apps on Google Play.

Among the most popular mobile apps among kids is Instagram, free software that digitally enhances photos and posts them to your account online. The photos can be shared on other social media sites such as Facebook, which bought Instagram last year.

Then there's Snapchat, among the top 10 free iPhone apps available. Coined by the media as the "sexting" app, Snapchat lets you send a text, photo or video that self-destructs within 10 seconds of being opened.

Kik Messenger also allows unlimited texting for free and offers anonymity to its users. Able to run on an iPod Touch or Kindle Fire, Kik allows vague user names — for example, a nickname or a string of random digits — that won't reveal a person's real name or phone number.

But as with anything online, each of these apps comes with serious caveats.

Snapchat, for example, acknowledges on its Web page that its messages aren't guaranteed to disappear: Anyone receiving a text or photo can use their 10 seconds to capture a "screenshot," or photo of their device's screen, and save that image to their phone. Video also can be downloaded, although Snapchat says it alerts senders when their data is saved.

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