5+ Scary Apps Your Kid Might be Using

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Published on

10.25.2022

As the saying goes, “There’s an app for that.” 


Now, more than ever, there are apps for so many things that didn’t seem possible only a year or two ago. While this creates opportunity, it also puts potentially dangerous content at kids’ fingertips.

Even parents who consider themselves tech-savvy can miss the latest app trends in their kid’s life.

To make it a bit easier to navigate, we’ve created a list of dangerous and potentially harmful apps that you should understand, and know if your child has access to any of them. 

It’s important to note that these “dangerous apps” aren’t bad by nature, but simply that they create an environment where dangerous content can thrive. Whether it’s through anonymity or self-destructing messages, some apps make it easy for kids to be exposed to content they’re not ready for. 

Snapchat

Well-known for its wacky filters and self-destructing messages, Snapchat has roughly 557 million users, making it one of the most popular social apps. While the app has recently released new parental controls, it’s important to know the dangers. Below are some ways that Snapchat can be problematic for your kids. 

snapchat app on cell phone

Disappearing messages

The disappearing messages function that Snapchat pioneered allows the sender to set different timers and triggers that supposedly auto-delete their sent messages.

This provides the idea of privacy, and a platform that is well-known for sending explicit photo and video content and text messages. The problem beyond the fertile ground for young people to get involved in risky behavior, is that something posted to the internet is never truly deleted. Even if it were deleted from the app, the recipient can easily screenshot anything posted.

GPS location

Another dangerous function within Snapchat is the Snap Map, which allows friends to see the exact location of connections who have their location settings turned on. This means anyone who is connected with your child or teen could be able to see where they are, at any time. 

cartoon phone with GPS

Screen addiction with Snapstreaks

Snapchat also contributes to screen addiction with their gamification of snaps called Snapstreaks. Basically, the longer you’ve been sending direct messages or “Snaps” to someone the longer your streak continues. If you haven’t sent a Snap within 24 hours the streak will be broken. This is a small, but effective way to increase a user’s time on an app, which lends to more screen time. 

Instagram

One of the top three social media apps globally, and a part of Meta (formerly known as Facebook), Instagram is common among adults and teens alike. While it started as a photo and video sharing app, it’s grown to compete directly with Snapchat and TikTok with the implementation of disappearing messages and Reels. Here are some of the ways Instagram can be dangerous.

Inappropriate content

Even if your child has a private account, they can still access explicit content simply by searching for it in the search bar. And while Snapchat has been working toward filtering nudity and other content, there’s still plenty out there that can be harmful for young eyes. Learn more about the apps that can expose your child to pornography here.

Disappearing messages

Just like Snapchat, Instagram has the option to set messages to automatically disappear. And just as with Snapchat, this creates a place for young people to test risky behavior. 

Comparison culture and body image

Due to being one of the largest social media apps, and its focus is heavily on curated images and photos, Instagram creates a natural place for comparing oneself to others. Internal research from Instagram showed the app makes body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.

NGL

To be clear NGL, which stands for “Not gonna lie” is not a social app in its own right, it is an add-on app to Instagram. NGL allows users to send each other messages anonymously. While the person sending knows who they’re sending to, the recipient doesn’t know who the sender is, which creates a sort of one-sided conversation. Anonymous apps like NGL create an opportunity for danger. 

NGL App

Cyberbullying

Even though NGL has implemented algorithms to detect trolling or bullying language, the fact that the sender can remain anonymous can still create problematic situations for kids. Additionally, it’s difficult for algorithms to catch everything, especially when it comes to determining the intention behind messages. 

Encrypted messaging apps (Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram)

While these are not social media apps that facilitate connections with anyone, encrypted messaging apps like Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram are made for privacy. They are for secure direct messaging, and are commonly used by drug dealers, government agencies, and sometimes sexual predators because of their privacy. 

Sexting

Messaging apps like these are end-to-end encrypted, meaning no one aside from the sender and recipient can see the contents of the messages. This makes it easy for people to send any content they want without the worry of prying eyes. This creates an opportunity to send nude pictures or other explicit images or videos. 

Kik

Kik is a messaging and chat app with few content filters or protection. It’s extremely spammy with ads, and with the Live section of the app being dominated by adult type content, there are few redeeming qualities on Kik. While they do have community guidelines that prohibit things like sending pornographic material, cyberbullying and the like, there seems to be very few tangible safeguards in place.

Inappropriate content

Because of the Live function, there is a stream of content other users are making, but most of the popular content is typically men and women in near-to-no clothing. There are very few ways to avoid this, as Kik doesn’t filter much, if any of its content.

Sexting

Kik has mainly been labeled as a place to sext, as users can be as anonymous or open as they want. There are no filters or algorithms stopping any kind of images, videos or language, making it another easy place to send and receive risky content.

Sexual predators

Kik has an easy way to connect with others using their Public Groups option, which allows users to connect over their interests using hashtags to search groups. This isn’t inherently wrong, but it does open the door for your child to engage with predators who are specifically targeting younger users.

Protecting your kids

Education is a great prevention tool. If you’re concerned about any of these apps, especially if your kids are asking about them or are already using them, it’s important to have an open conversation with them about how they can be used to hurt others. Show them you’re on their side, and your main interest is in protecting them, not monitoring their every move. 


An easier way to safeguard your younglings against so many digital pitfalls is to start them with a Gabb phone. Built with kids as the focus, they don’t have internet, social media or addictive games to worry about. It lets them ease into the digital world responsibly, and learn tech in steps. You can check out all of our devices here.

Gabb Staff Writer

More than a cellular company—Gabb Wireless is a movement to connect kids to what matters most with safe technology solutions.

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