Facebook is in the process of launching its next app, SlingShot, in an attempt to capture a greater share of the messaging app market which is the main artery of communication for digital natives. According to a CNN report, Slingshot is Facebook’s answer to SnapChat, a really popular with teens and young adults to have a virtual conversation by sharing vanishing photos about what’s happening and comments.
Already another upstart called “Yo” has emerged as a potential rival according to a recent Mashable report, out ranking Slingshot on the Apple app listing with $1 million in angel investor money. A Technology Crunch article praised “Yo” as innovative and significant for its minimal functionality and simplicity to exchange meaningless contact with a simple “Yo”, that is hyped to have great meaning in social context. One of the many skeptical comments about this article sums it up nicely: “its amazing to see how the world works. Anything that is remarkable (but USELESS) can come at the top.” And yet the question remains, “on top for how long and to what end?” Yesterday, another TC article cries out for an end to the “app-happy” silliness and questions how a concept like “Yo”, which does nothing, can get funded. “Yo is a fad,” Sara Perez writes, “and nothing more.”
For the modern tween and teen, app trends are like fashion fads and pop music; it is a crowded, competitive field appealing to the emotional vulnerability and excitability of people. Facebook was for but a fleeting moment the popular destination for social media – and was quickly eclipsed by Instagram, which is a photo-centric app that allows people to share images and status updates more efficiently. And so Facebook purchased Instagram in order to have access to the growing base of young users only to be challenged by SnapChat and Kik for the young hearts and minds.
Kammy Caruss, owner of YNOTWeb in Orangevale, understands intimately the nature of social media and commercial uses of it. She is concerned that SlingShot and other apps like it are a ploy for the vulnerable or innocent among us who want to believe that there is a measure of privacy in their network activities. “Slingshot and Snapchat are essentially the same thing,” she said. “Taking advantage of people who think a ‘limited time’ view is enough to protect them. Everyone with experience knows you can screen shot it and preserve indefinitely or share.”
Make downloading apps family business
Apps are surfacing quickly with catchy phrases and entice people to put their trust in the creators of the app who acquire and manage personal data and so the personal security we want for our children must come from within. So how do we prepare our children to ignore the apps that are trendy and risk over exposure?
Establish a family approved app list, and document all of the apps that every individual in your family uses. List the functions and benefits of each app. And then encourage your tweens and teens to come to you with any new and trendy app to discuss before making a decision to download and engage. The reason is simple: if you download an app without really knowing who is behind it and why (how will your life be better using it?), it is possible you could get caught up in someone else’s malicious plan. And so we explain to our children that our job as guardians is to help them stay in control of their social media network experiences.
For more about training children to be cyber-secure citizens, go to: Banana Moments: Help for Parenting in the Network Culture.