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#parent | #kids | Monkey, Honk and other phone apps that the NSPCC is warning parents to beware of

It’s no secret that the internet is a very different place for children today than it was ten years ago.

Gone are the days when children would spend hours on Habbo House or on the EastEnders website dressing up Pat Slater in fur coats and enormous earrings.

Today, nine out of 10 children use the internet every day (ONS), and most have easy and often unrestricted access to many apps that involve talking to strangers, sharing personal information and sharing images/videos of themselves.

According to the ONS, one in 50 children said that they spoke with people who actually turned out to be much older, and more alarmingly, 5% of children aged 10-15 actually met up in person with somebody they met on the internet.

Read more: Trainee doctor found with roses and orgasm delay pills after attempting to meet fictitious 15-year-old girl

Children’s charity NSPCC has published a list of nearly 100 popular apps, with the help of Net Aware, that are “potentially dangerous” or inappropriate for children.

These are the 10 apps had the poorest rating according to the survey:

1. Monkey

Monkey is an app that markets itself as the “Omegle alternative for TikTokers”. The app connects users to strangers through video-chat, typically based on gender, and offers a place for youngsters to find a sense of community with said strangers.

The app is targeted toward younger audiences, and it encourages potentially vulnerable users to be their “authentic self” without the peer pressure of hanging out with actual friends.

In terms of content, privacy and safety, Monkey was rated the lowest possible rating.

On Monkey, there’s a very high chance your child might come across sexually explicit content, and there is no option on the app to turn off your location.

The app’s official rating is 13+, but the Net Aware advises it’s 18+.

2. Omegle

Similar to Monkey, Omegle is a years-old chat-with-strangers site and app that lets people connect at random through video chat.

It’s notorious for explicit, inappropriate content, mostly from older men.

Omegle is particularly dangerous because it doesn’t require any registration, meaning users can connect with strangers from across the world at the click of a button. There is no control over who you connect with – it’s done entirely at random.

In terms of safety, Omegle ranks particularly low for content and blocking settings, as the app doesn’t have a reporting/blocking button.

The app’s official rating is 13+, but Net Aware advises it’s 18+.

3. Yolo and Hoop

Both Yolo and Hoop are aimed at Snapchat users.

Yolo lets users anonymously ask and answer questions that are posted on Snapchat stories, and it has a ‘Join your school’ function that uses your location to suggest nearby school group chats.

The app has received such as poor rating because there’s no real way of knowing whether the people you chat with are actually in the school, and there have been many reports of online abuse and inappropriate behaviour on the app.

Hoop is similar to Yolo: it offers Snapchat users an easy way to add new friends on Snapchat from all around the world. While Hoop doesn’t allow 13-17 year olds to connect with 18 year olds, there is no age verification process to ensure that users are entering the correct age.

Both apps have an official rating of 13+, but Net Aware advises 18+.

4. Tellonym

Tellonym is is an app that lets users anonymously ask and answer questions on their profile. It’s something of a successor to sites like Formspring or AskFM that were popular in the 2010s.

Unsurprisingly, because users remain anonymous, the app attracts a lot of cyberbullying and online abuse. When AskFM was popular, one young girl killed herself after a swathe of anonymous bullying.

On Tellonym, there is a filter feature on the app which allows users to block 10 words they do not want sent to them, and it’s pretty easy to block other users.

Net Aware advises parents to show their children how to optimize the filter section to minimise the risk of online bullying, and to ensure their privacy settings are set to private (by default, information is public).

The official age rating is 17+, which isn’t too far off Net Aware’s rating of 18+.

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5. Wattpad

Wattpad is a unique app that enables users to learn, read and write stories in an online community. On the surface, the app seems innocent enough, but some of the most popular genres on the app contain adult, sexual or violent themes.

There is also an option for users to comment on and discuss other user’s stories which can easily breed online abuse.

Net Aware advises parents to switch on the ‘Mature’ filter if their children use Wattpad to filter out explicit content, and to add ‘Blocked’ tags to keep inappropriate content at bay.

The app’s official rating is 13+, but Net Aware advises it’s 16+.

6. Houseparty

Houseparty is a free video chat app where you can talk to people one-on-one or in groups of up to eight. Users can talk to their friends or to strangers, and they can also play games on the app. Unlike other video streaming sites, Houseparty is popular for its trivia games such as Pictionary and Heads Up.

You can only add someone on Houseparty if you have their username, but the app also lets users connect with you through your location if you aren’t careful to monitor privacy settings.

The app has grown in popularity since it introduced the new Epic feature which allows Fortnite players to stream and chat directly to their friends on Houseparty when playing on a PC or Playstation 4 or 5.

The app’s official rating is 13+, but Net Aware advises it’s 18+.

7. is a free online messaging site which lets children talk to strangers both on public forums and private messages. You can access the site as a guest or by creating an account.

Net Aware reported explicit content on the chats as well as inappropriate language for children.

Additionally, there are no safety controls for parents, and there is no verification for people signing up, meaning that users any age can join the forums.

Net Aware advises parents to contact the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command ( CEOP ) if you suspect an adult is in contact with your child and they are behaving inappropriately.

8. Honk

Honk is a unique messaging app that lets users chat in real time through a live chat box. With Honk, there is no chat history or send button – instead, users can see what the other person is typing as they type it.

Net Aware didn’t flag any inappropriate content on the app (likely because content is deleted pretty much immediately), but it did flag the concern that disappearing messaging might encourage users to say things they wouldn’t say in real life.

This app doesn’t track location, but there are no parental controls or safety features like the filters seen on other apps. When you sign up, the app asks whether you’re 21 or under, but access is the same regardless of age.

The app’s official rating is 13+, but Net Aware advises it’s 16+.

9. Imo

Imo is another free messenger app that lets users talk through video, voice or text. imo users can chat with strangers nearby through turning on the location setting, or with friends.

Sexual content has been reported on imo, and while you can easily report or block another person, you can’t report individual pieces of content which can make it difficult to regulate inappropriate material.

The app’s official age rating is strangely as low as 4+, but Net Aware recommendation is 18+.

10. Kik

Kik is an instant messaging app that has been around for more than a decade. Users can chat with friends, play games and even chat with bots, but in recent years, Kik has followed the trend of chatting with strangers through its new “Meet New People” features which lets users start a conversation with random people.

On Net Aware, Kik scored very low in terms of content because there are is no automated moderation or filters.

As with many another messaging and connecting apps, there have been many reports of inappropriate and adult content on Kik. There is also no automated moderation on the app, meaning that inappropriate content can take some time to be removed.

You can explore the full catalogue of apps to be cautious of here .

The NSPCC advises parents and carers to have open, regular conversations with their child about their online activity to help understand what apps and sites they are using and be able to explore the online world together.

A spokeswoman for NSPCC Cymru Wales said: “Time spent online can be great for learning, socialising and entertainment, but the lack of investment in essential safety features on livestreaming and video chat apps like Monkey leave children and young people vulnerable to abuse and at risk of seeing inappropriate content.

“Poor design choices on livestreaming sites can be exploited by groomers to abuse children in real time, and this risk has increased over the last 18 months with more children and young people spending time online due to the pandemic.”

“Failing to design sites with child safety in mind allows offenders to target children and this needs to be addressed urgently. The UK Government must push ahead with its Online Harms Bill that creates a regulator to hold companies and bosses accountable when their sites put children at risk of avoidable harm.”

The organization also listed some tips to help adults keep their children safe online:

  • Explore apps, sites and games together
  • Talk to your child about what they’re sharing
  • Let your child know they can talk to you
  • Know where to get further support
  • Know how to report unwanted contact from adults

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