A new app called Whisper has been getting a lot of buzz recently, particularly in the teen community. Parents should take note.
Launched in the spring of 2012, Whisper allows users to post a message, secret or confession, and the app superimposes that message over a picture – either a stock picture from the Whisper library or one from the user’s phone. The app uses GPS settings to determine a user’s location, and the default location setting is “on”, so parents wary of predator risk should turn the GPS setting off on their kids’ phones.
One novel and critical feature of the app is that all users are anonymous, and this anonymity has users feeling free to confess some pretty outlandish things. The anonymity is also creating somewhat of cyberbullying culture. According to an article at the Good Men Project titled 4 Apps Teens Love That Parents Need to Monitor:
“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.”
As a parent, you may be worried that your teen is using Whisper and is either doing some bullying, or the victim of it. First of all, the app is rated 17+, so if your teen is under 17, he shouldn’t be using it.
The above referenced article encourages parents to monitor what is going on with your teen, but the problem is that unlike with other social networks, it is not possible to “friend” or “follow” your teen and monitor what he or she is up to, since it is a fully anonymous platform.
To see what your teen has been up to on Whisper, you’ll need to access his phone (do you know the home screen password?), open the Whisper app, click on the Activity tab and enter the PIN number (yes, you need that too). We understand that it’s a lot of work and you’ll need your teen’s cooperation, but that’s what it takes to check what’s happening on Whisper.
A valid option for parents is to not let teens use Whisper in the first place, since it’s so difficult to monitor. If you do allow it, as we mentioned above, turning off location data is a good idea, and posting selfies or pictures of friends should be avoided. Keeping your teens safe in cyberspace isn’t getting any easier.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.