Jentrie Hales, community advocate, @techhealthyfamily
Recently while in my phone’s app store, I noticed a headline in the store that was titled “Our Favorite iPhone Essentials.” This title was followed by a list of apps that were considered “absolutely necessary” for all iPhone users. This simple interaction got me thinking about the apps that are essential to us. The ones that we use every day. The ones that our kids tell us they cannot live without. The ones that make life so much more convenient and also sometimes complicated.
So in honor of wrapping up the 2022 year, I made a list of 22 unsavory things that you may not know about our “essential” and most-used apps of this year.
1. Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower reported that Facebook’s algorithm intentionally shows users things to make them angry.
2. Also in her report: “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, [Facebook will] make less money.”
3. Roblox is an app where 67% of the users are 16 and under.
4. The app is also a known place where users can enter adult-like scenarios such as virtual strip clubs.
5. Although Instagram claims to have a strict “no nudity” rule, accessing pornography is as simple as searching the right hashtag.
6. Instagram is the social media site used most by predators.
7. Studies have linked heavy Instagram use to poor mental health and increased anxiety.
8. Vanish mode is a newish feature to Facebook Messenger that allows messages to disappear once they have been read.
9. It was reported in July 2022 that over 8.5 million people had been victim of scams that occured over this app.
10. When a user spends more than 90 minutes a day on the app, TikTok’s format of short videos has been linked to decreased attention span.
11. 91 minutes is the average time a teen or child spends on the app daily.
12. The “Duet” feature is a way for predators to exploit young users.
13. Amazon profits from selling items related to incest, sex trafficking, and grooming of minors, according to endsexualexploitation.org/amazon.
14. Amazon and affiliate web services host thousands of websites of prostitution and hardcore violent pornography.
15. Because of the nature of the anonymous and private groups, discord is a hotspot for places like white supremacy groups to meet up.
16. Research suggests that Twitter has a negative effect on learning.
17. Just like other apps, negativity spreads more effectively than good news.
18. Top Twitter cybersecurity reports found that a large amount of Twitter users are bots.
19. When utilizing the “snapmap” feature, it allows other users to see someone’s exact location down to the layout of the house when zoomed in enough.
20. Snapchat is a common avenue for users to buy and sell drugs.
21. The ability to snap, edit, and distribute photos also makes it a hub for cyber bullying.
22. A 2018 study showed that kids spend 15 times more time watching Netflix than playing outside.
In conclusion, for all the good these apps do in our life, I would make the argument that many of them are actually not essential in our life. Only, it’s up to you to decide which are actually necessary and beneficial for you and your family and which are better to stay in the app store.
Jentrie Hales is a community advocate with five years’ experience empowering parents and children in different settings. She has been invited into classrooms, youth groups, and parent groups throughout the Cache Valley to speak about healthy relationships with tech and professionally mentors families that feel overwhelmed with managing the tech in their home. Follow her on Instagram @techhealthyfam or email her at email@example.com.