4 Apps Teens Love that Parents Need to Monitor

Phone Apps

Cyber Crime Expert Sedgrid Lewis shares the four hottest apps being used by teens and why parents need to monitor them.

It’s holiday time and most teenagers have received a new cell phone or Mp3 player.  According to Pew Research, over 78% of teens have cell phones with almost half of them having smartphones. Teens will be rushing to online mobile app stores to purchase the hottest apps on the market.

According to a recent study, 58% of all teens between the ages of 12-17 have downloaded apps to their personal cell phones. This generation loves to communicate through their cell phones. The movement away from desktops to laptops has become problematic. The rise of sexting, bullying, prostitution, and drug use are taking place over third party mobile apps.  Apps have become the new way for teens to engage in at risk behavior without the watchful eyes of their parents.

The list below is the hottest apps that are being used by teenagers. We take a look at why teens love them and why you should monitor them.

1. Snap Chat

Why Your Teen Loves It
Snapchat allows users to send images and videos to their friend lists. The secret sauce is that the sender can place a time limit on how long the receiver reviews the image or video. The content or “Snaps” self-destruct from 1-10 seconds based upon the time limit set by the users. After the snap self-destructs it is also deleted from the Snapchat Servers. Teens love snapchat because of it’s simplicity and speed. It sends photos and videos much faster than standard text messages. Teens sends millions of snaps throughout the day of funny facial expressions or pictures of their pets.


Why You Should Monitor It
Snapchat is the number one sexting app on the market. Teens send nude snaps to their significant others under the impression that snaps self-destruct. Forensic Experts have stated the snaps can easily be recovered thus they are never truly deleted from the receiver’s phone. Due to the countless number of nude snaps, porn sites have popped up over the internet to take advantage of the free content. There have also been numerous cases of bullying with the app.

2. Kik Messenger

Why Your Teen Loves It

Super quick instant messaging app with over 100 million users that allow teens to exchange videos, pics, and sketches. New Kik cards allow user send Youtube videos, create memes, and gifs without leaving the app. Kik Cards reached over 2 million users within first week of their launch.


Why You Should Monitor It

Teens are using the Kik app for sexting and dating. Teens are sending nude selfies to one another through the app. The term sex buddy is being replaced with Kik Buddy. Teens used Reddit and other forum sites to place classified ads for sex by giving out their Kik usernames. Kik does not offer any parental controls. Additionally, there is no way of authenticating users thus making it easy for pedophiles to use the messenger app.

3. The Whisper App

Why Your Teen Loves It

Whisper is the Teen Confession App. It allows users to superimpose text over a picture. The secret sauce is that users are anonymous thus allowing for secrets to be posted. Over 70% of whisper users are women under the age of 25. Whisper provides freedom for young users to share raw feelings and emotions over simple pictures.


Why You Should Monitor It

Teens have started using the app for cyberbullying. Due to the anonymous feature of the app, teens are posting pics of other teens with derogatory text superimposed on the image. Users do not have to register to use Whisper thus no user profile. Unfortunately, the app allow users to communicate with other users nearby by using the device GPS location settings. Pedophiles seek out female whisper users to establish a relationship. Recently, a Seattle, Washington man was arrested for raping a 12 year old girl that was lured to a hotel through the app.

4. Ask.fm App

Why Your Teen Loves It

Ask.fm is one of the hottest social networking sites that is almost exclusively used by teenagers and pre-teens. 25% of teens have posted something on ask.fm over the past 30 days. It is a question and answers site that allows user to ask anonymous questions. Ask.Fm has Twitter and Facebook integration that allows users to connect with all their friends on those popular sites.


Why You Should Monitor It
Due to intense bullying, Ask.fm has led to 4 documented cases of suicide in the United States, Ireland, and Great Britain. User engage in hyper bullying by constantly asking inappropriate and derogatory questions. The app is totally anonymous and is not being monitored by the developers.

The key for parents is to monitor downloaded apps on their child’s phone. Google the apps to learn if they are dangerous or inappropriate. Gather all of your child’s passwords and user names for monitoring purposes. If your teen refuses to give you his or her passwords, then download spyware such as Mspy to review your teen’s cell phone activity. It is always better to be safe than sorry.


Also read: Posting a Child’s Life For the World to See is a Privacy Issue

 Photo: Flickr/Bonnie-Brown

About Sedgrid Lewis

Sedgrid Lewis is aJuvenile Justice Expert who has over 15 years of experience in the field. Sedgrid is a national cyber crime expert that specializes in sexting and cyberbullying. Follow him on Twitter @spyparent and check out SpyParent LLC


  1. http://adammclane.com/2013/08/22/why-you-should-delete-snapchat/?fb_action_ids=10201240661960869&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=213061592190388&action_type_map=%22og.likes%22&action_ref_map=
    Read this article… EVERYONE… Snapchat DOES NOT DELETE ANY OF THE PHOTOS YOU TAKE. They simply change the address that the image is stored at so you can no longer view it, but they store it permanently and reserve the right to sell the photos as well as all of your personal information.

  2. I grew up with an extraordinarily overprotective father. It was so bad the guys at my school were too scared to ask me out. I was the oldest of four children and stories of him were already legendary. He trusted me enough to make my own judgements on dating and I luckily came to no harm. I didn’t grow up with all this technology, it was just on the verge of coming out as I was entering adulthood. I now have four children who complain to me about their lack of a phone,a laptop, an iPod touch, etc. my oldest is only 12 with my youngest being 6. I’ve thought long and hard about it all. I see no reason for so many children to have phones. Many of these problems wouldn’t exist otherwise. We give our children all these things because we feel they need them. They really don’t. I can just barely justify my need/use for my iphone5. I guarantee that a teenager has no real use for it, besides the whole “keeping up with the Jones’ ” thing. It’s a status symbol. A parent shouldn’t have to spy/monitor their child’s life like that in anyway, shape or form. Simple old fashioned talking, verbal communication should be done instead. It should be started from when they are young and it will establish a good relationship and trust. Removing any need for ‘spyware’. I’ve seen it done before by many different types of parents. I’m not a parenting expert, I’m getting ready to hit the teenage years with my oldest in a few monthsb, but right now if he will sit down and ask me for advice on girls and help on dealing with bullies and will still hug me in front of his friends then doing something right I feel. Most boys won’t talk to their moms about their personal lives or problems.

  3. As a parent I would just like to say a few things…
    1- every parent on here is correct. It’s your job to raise a safe, health child. You have authority over their actions and you better have access to their electronics.
    2- every kid on here is correct. You must raise your child with values and trust them, they will be independent adults one day (or they should be) and you hovering over them doesn’t allow them the oppertunity to make mistakes in a safe environment where they can learn from them.
    3- teach your children how to be adults, in the end it truly is your only job. No one learns to be successful from a supervisor that hovers over them and micro-manages their work. Your children are incapable of being trusted or having some leyway because that is how YOU raised them.

  4. Well i have a 15 year old boy whose on some of these sites and the rule is if he wants them then i have all his passwords i dont spy behind his back i look at it right infront of him and he has no problem with it because he has no interest in making himself look bad or putting himself or brothers in danger. I believe that more parents should minister what their kids do not spy. If you haven’t done or dont plan to do anything wrong then it wont be a problem right. It takes a lot of my time to check his accounts and messages etc but its well worth it to protect him and let him know i care. If i didnt id just say no to all of it and be done but i do understand that this technology is no different then books were in my parents day. So i will keep up with the times as well and my son and i have a great understanding about this stuff and i respect his privacy but till hes 18 i will supervise and guide in good desicion making :) wouldn’t it be nice if you all and your parents could talk about anything at all with out judgement ? I think parents sometimes forget what its like to be a teen . It’s not easy not at all . Good luck to all of you.

  5. While I don’t have anything particularly groundbreaking to say, I would like to point out something simple. Teenagers have sex drives. Really active sex drives, in a lot of cases.

    It’s nothing new, and it’s nothing that isn’t biological! Most people from ages ~14 and up start looking for sexy things on the internet. They’ll often make pretty bad decisions for the sake of finding sexy things on the internet, which is where KIK and Snapchat come into play.

    I think it’s important for them to know the risks of sharing nudes and personal information, definitely. Education about smart sexting is almost as important as edcation about smart/safe actual sex.

    Anyway, my main point here was gonna be that, if you track your teenager’s history, you’re prooobably gonna find some stuff that isn’t very… innocent. Whether it’s straight-up porn, explicit fanfiction, whatever, just be prepared to lose the image of your kid as a virginal little cherub who’s never thought about sex once in her life.

  6. I don’t care if keeping track of what my children are into makes me “nosey”. I don’t care if kids think they are entitled to their “private” lives…they ARE children! Until they are 18+ and paying their own bills and I have done everything in my power to raise them right, they are MY children and I WILL be keeping check on them.
    Like someone here said if you have nothing to hide, it wouldn’t bother you. The problem with teens today is that they think they are entitled..but no, they aren’t. They need to be thankful that their parents even give them phones and other electronics and pay for them, because it certainly isn’t owed to them. If Teens want it…it comes with the condition that I WILL moniter it…and if they don’t like it, good. I’ll save myself some money by not buying it or taking it away. Teens aren’t suppose to get equal respect for privacy as adults…respect is earned.

    • You are a great mom

    • Lol your poor kids, tell them in sorry for me, would you?
      They they can’t be sheltered like that! Give them some space or the second they do turn 18 or pay their own bills they will go crazy and do all the things you told them not to because they finally have basic rights. I don’t care if they’re children, I they behave wrong online then you raised them wrong, if they do what you want them to do when you’re not around, good job but trust them. That’s why I don’t have a relationship with my parents and I beg you to do otherwise.

  7. Both the teens and parents posting here are making huge generalizations about how kids should be raised. Every child is different and has different needs. Some are trustworthy some are not. Some need monitoring some do not. I believe my parents pushed me to rebellious behavior. My parents trie their hardest to shelter me but I also went to public school. And it’s pretty much impossible to shelter a public school child. So with those 2 mixed it was like a game to see what I could get away with. I got away with a lot. Like lofe changing forever scarring shit. I regret all of my actions to this day. I know I was responsible for my choices and actions and I don’t blame my parents but as you all like to say in the comments I was a “dumb kid” and when when that’s happening to a teen of course they’ll react that way. If there’s one thing I wish they would have done differently is that they would have gotten over the power issue and just tried to understand and have a conversation and not reminded me everyday and treated me like I was a dumb kid. Maybe then it would be different. But nobody’s perfect.

  8. You can definitely tell which posts are from kids and which are from adults. Kiddos it’s called monitoring not spying. and there are plenty good reasons for monitoring what you all do. No one is saying the parents don’t trust the kids its called we love you we want you to be safe in this sick world we all live in. The internet is full of pedophiles, murderers and other nightmares. Trust me when I say you have no idea what could be in store for you if you are not careful. now before you roll your eyes I will explain; it wasn’t that long ago I was a teenager in high school, us girls use to roam the mall every Friday night. at school we used to talk about the latest guys we were talking to in chat rooms. And yes we thought we were cool when we use to send pictures back and forth with them via email. Sad story but one of my friends did meet up with the one she was talking to and he raped her. Now you’re probably thinking stupid girl but guess what we all have had the same mindset since we were just teens. looking back at those times makes me glad that my mom was protective of what I did and I was glad of the system we had. if I was allowed to go out I had a set curfew to be home and my phone was to be on at all times in case she need to get ahold of me. Now if I was going to see a movie I would put my phone on silent and if she text me I would reply. now if I was going to be past my curfew I was to call to let them know or if I was at a party and say I drank too much it was to call if I needed them to come pick me up or to make sure it was okay for me to spend the night. My parents were once teenagers as well they knew how teens think. see I’m glad for my parents my ring what I did this allowed me to go out and have fun what they wanted me to make sure I was safe it didn’t matter if it was on the Internet or out of the house or even just in the backyard. Now I’m a mom to a three year old, yes I have some time before he’s a teen but in reality I still watch what he does. I love him too much for him to get hurt. After all it’s the same principle. but yeah I guess I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about after all I’m 29 it wasn’t that long ago when I was a teenager….

  9. There is a vast difference between monitoring and invading and an ocean of difference between either of those and stalking. If I am monitoring a child’s/teen’s technology activity, the majority of the time it has very little to do with trusting the child/teen–I know them, I have a fair idea of what kind interests they have….it IS that I don’t trust the adults who prey on children/teens. If this makes me paranoid, overprotective, or overbearing to those children/teens, then so be it; I am perfectly content with it. I’d far rather have those children and teens hate me–at least they are alive and safe to do so.

  10. I fully understand and appreciate the parental desire to protect our children, and the panic and uncertainty that comes from knowing apps with potential to be misused like this exist. But I have such an issue with this “monitoring” idea…kids of this generation have replaced a large portion of communication that used to be verbal and in person with communication over their phones/the internet. Probably upwards of 99% of kids aren’t going to use apps Kik to buy drugs or any of the other dangerous stuff mentioned here, but they will use it to talk about very personal things that would be horribly embarrassing for their parents to find out (think about the stuff we used to talk about at sleepovers, passing notes, whispering in the hallways…). I find this kind of monitoring less like being a careful, loving parent and more equivalent to attaching a microphone to your kid’s backpack to hear what they say to their friends between classes. Kids need space to talk to their peers in private, just like we had when we were kids!

    If you want to be careful, have open conversations with your kids. Let them know they can tell you everything and anything. Because the other important thing is, unless you’re a software developer or something, your kids are better at technology than you. If you think you’re monitoring their devices either by having their passwords or by taking them and looking at them, trust me, your kids know ways to get around this. Establishing a trusting relationship where you can ASK for information is 10000x more effective than trying to TAKE it with “my house my rules” kind of arguments (which will also only work to hurt your relationship/make your kid feel hurt and trapped).

    • Jenga I completely agree. I found that my child came to me with more because I wasn’t constantly pestering him or saying no every chance I got. We certainly had our disagreements, but usually that was when he was forgetting that I wasn’t just mom the friend all the time, that sometimes I did have to say no and he would have to accept it. I was DEFINITELY not perfect, but I am happy that he & I had the relationship we had and still do now that he is 18 and moved out. We even spend one night a week playing pool together just us so we can catch up. It’s nice to know that he still needs me at times, and truth be told, I need him! : )

  11. I’ve read through most of the comments and I’d like to give my perspective. I am a 18 year old girl and a senior in high school, still living at home. My parents, after reading through the past comments, are exceptionally lenient. There are times when I love them to death for that, and times that I wish they would have watched me more. The fact of the matter is, the reason they give me the freedom I have is because I have earned their trust. Have I misused this trust at times? Most definitely. In the end, teenagers will find a way to do what they want, so it is better to instill morals instead of fear. When I did something wrong, I wasn’t afraid of getting caught, I felt awful simply because I knew I had done wrong.

    • Yes, I spent my entire childhood trying to “earn” my father’s trust back. I lost his trust for everything – my grades weren’t good enough, I came home after curfew, the phone rang after the “no calls after 9pm” rule, our house got toilet papered (popular prank in the 90’s – like THAT was my fault)! As a result, my father and I barely have a relationship now. I think that is what made me promise not to do that to my own child. A child should be told as often as possible how proud you are of them and although you will disappoint each other occasionally, you love them with all of your heart.

    • Thank you for sharing

    • I agree with Katy. A parent can only police just so much, but at some point you have to trust in the judgement of the young person. So parents probably need to have a frank and open conversation with their kids rather than violating their trust and snooping their phone. Bullying is definitely something that needs to be talked about, because suicide is unacceptable. But as far as sexting goes, the parent needs to recognize that their teens have an emerging sexuality and its counter-productive / destructive to try to suppress that. Instead, they need to be educated on RISKS, such as pregnancy, disease and so forth, and with especial respect to the new digital age, the fact that nude photos sent to a crush one day can be used as a weapon the very next, or LOST or stolen, etc, and they’ll NEVER regain control of it.

  12. doyoureallycare says:

    I have been on my own since I was 16, been paying for my own bills, phone, food, rent, everything.. Just because someone is young does not mean that they are idiots and can’t learn things for themselves. Luckily, when I was growing up my mom TRUSTED me and didn’t monitor everything I did. Yes, she took my phone away when I did something bad. But she didn’t go and monitor everything I did, because she knew the more she said no the more I would want to rebel. And what happened because of that? I grew up to be a smart, independent and mature adult. I didn’t party or sneak out at night because my mother taught me better than that. She taught me how to be responsible by letting me hang out with friends, and be my own person. She knew that I needed to grow into my own person and the only time she would interfere was when it was completely necessary. And instead of me being a rebel, hating my mother and not truster her, I knew right from wrong, loved my mother, and completely trusted her. When she asked me something about what I did, whether that was have sex or have a beer,I would tell her the absolute truth, and we would talk about how to be responsible, not get drunk and out of control, and how to be protected, emotionally and physically. She knew that I was going to do those things whether or not she wanted me to, so she taught me how to be responsible with my actions. And because of that, I never even wanted to go out and party, ever. Instead I actually enjoyed hanging out with my mom, she was my best friend, not just my mother. and thats how I think all parents should be. You will get better results. Then when I had to start living on my own at 16, I knew what to do. I knew how to be a good person, be responsible and be mature, because instead of treating me like a 5 year old my whole life, my mom treated me like a human being, like someone who can understand right from wrong, and make my own mistakes. Thats what growing up is about. And its DISGUSTING how you are treating that poor girl. Who are no worse than the cyber bullies that this article is trying to warn you about. Sickening.

  13. Thank you for the article and information, but I would like some feed back about how exactly a parent can keep an eye out when it comes to Snap chat since the pic and info is gone after 10 seconds ( I realize gone for us, but not for good) I trust my daughter and she has never given me a reason to NOT trust her, but it’s still something I would like to be aware of :)

  14. If a teen refuses to give a parent their passwords, why put on spyware? Why not just take the phone?

  15. abrandnewline says:

    Here are my feelings on this article which feels less like education and more like fear-mongering.

  16. If teen refuses to give the parent his/her passwords, then take the phone away. End of story.

  17. I am not sure if it has been mentioned already but with Snap Chat you can also take a screenshot of the pics that are being sent to you..nothing is safe.

  18. Short of being a Forensic Scientist, how can a parent monitor “Snap Chat”? My daughter’s snap chats are gone fast. She has hers set at 4 seconds. How can I see what she’s sending and to whom?

  19. Father of a teen says:

    I understand why everyone is up in arms – teens are using point to point media vs page based social network sites. Has anyone ever stopped to consider that it is because they don’t want their Grandmother commenting on their photo or their mom commenting on their statuses and conversations? Has any parent ever considered that their excessive stalking and overreaching into their kids lives are the reason they are moving to this? Is it possible that while we parents are chained to shackles of having to censor everything we say and post on our Facebooks, these kids may just be a little smarter than us and possibly a little more discreet? Is it possible they are just sick of having their whole life on display? See, most of us don’t have 300 friends we go to school with every day, so we are stuck visiting our friends from 20 years ago’s pages to see their anniversary photos and pictures of their kids. I am willing to bet most teens are a lot more media savvy than most adults. How many people have “friends” that relentlessly bomb your page with political stuff. Just let the kids have their stuff.

  20. Cedric Satterfield says:

    Ask.fm did not cause anyone’s suicide. The person caused the suicide. Im really tired of apps, shows, music, whatever being listed as the cause of teen suicide. People are the cause of suicide. Everything else is just a distraction.

    • You are so right! It’s the same with guns. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

      • Bennett Schneider says:

        Of course, it’s much harder for the people to shoot other people if they have regulated, restricted access to the most lethal of the guns.

    • While AskFM did not cause anyone’s suicide, it certainly made it easier for people to remain anonymous while bullying those that committed suicide. If this website, and others like it, weren’t available, how willing do you think these same cyber-bullies would be to bully someone face to face?

  21. The other day I discovered that my daughter created a kik account and an Instagram account without my permission. She does not have an email account so when I checked out the one she used, she had just “made up” an email account and both apps allowed her to continue using it. When I tried to delete the kik app, it asks you as a parent why you want to delete your child’s account, and I told them the same thing. That was 4 days ago and I haven’t heard anything from them.

    • As long as your daughter knows right from wrong and how to protect herself, what is the harm? When you limit her so strictly, she will just do it behind your back.

    • Why do parents need to “buy” their children under 18 a “smart” phone, anyway? All they really need is some form of communication device to contact you when they are away from you, or vice versa. All those bells and whistles only cost money. It seems there’s an expectation these days that all kids are entitled to these devices. That is not the case. It is not a materialistic sign of love if you buy them one. It is not a sign of parental abuse, neglect, or emotional abandonment if you don’t.

  22. There seems to be an expectation out there that parents “should” buy a child under 18 a “smart” phone/device. Wake up people, all they need is some communication device to keep in touch with us when away from us, or vice versa. All those bells and whistles are not necessary, and certainly not free. Once they are 18, they have the legal ability to have access to these devices…i.e. buy their own.


  1. […] http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/4-apps-teen-love-that-parents-need-to-monitor-kerj/4 Apps Teens Love that Parents Need to Monitorgoodmenproject.comCyber Crime Expert Sedgrid Lewis shares the four hottest apps being used by teens and why parents need to monitor them. […]

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  4. […] bullying.  But just because your teenaged students may be active users of the latest social media, think Snap Chat, Kik, Whisper, and Ask.fm, doesn’t mean they are responsible digital citizens. Teaching the concepts of digital […]

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