This month’s arrest of two Florida girls whose relentless cyberbullying allegedly drove twelve-year-old Rebecca Sedwick to suicide has, for many parents, refreshed anxiety.
It also points to some glaring blind spots many of us non-teens have.
Sedwick’s mother’s, Tricia Norman, thought she knew what was happening in her daughter’s online world because she checked Rebecca’s phone texts and Facebook regularly. Unbeknownst to Norman, Rebecca had signed on to a number of other apps that allowed the bullying to continue under the radar. Experts warn that these apps are propagating at a pace that’s impossible for parents to keep up with.
For parents worried about being in the dark, here are four unfamiliar places where cyberbullies might lurk. If you see these apps on your child’s phone, get familiar with them:
Voxer Walkie Talkie: The main feature of Walkie Talkie is its "push-to-talk" system. This free app lets you send instant texts, audio and photos, and messages can either stream live or users can listen later.
Kik Messenger: A texting app that requires only user names (not phone numbers) that allows for group texting. Before jumping to her death, Rebecca Sedwick changed her name on Kik to “That Dead Girl” and sent a goodbye message to two friends.
4chan: One of the original bizarro back alleys of the internet, this imageboard website just celebrated its 10th birthday. Anyone can post images on boards, and anyone can comment, and as far as content, anything goes.
Do you know an app or a community beyond Facebook that’s a cyberbullying risk? Let us know in a comment or a blog post.