Earlier this week I read an article in the Washington Post about millions of teens using an app to post anonymously. The headline caught my eye and what I found shocked me.
The app mentioned in the article is called After School.
After School is an app in the iTunes App Store and Android’s Google Play Store. The app was designed to allow teens to share anonymously without parents or adults viewing the content. Students from over 22,000 high school campuses have set up school boards in the app to share comments and images. Typical sharing includes anxieties, crushes, threats and vulgar gossip. The ability to stay anonymous has enabled teens to say and show things they would not normally share if they could be identified.
There is an estimated 2 million to 10 million app users. If the thoughts of this app scare you and you want to check it out for yourself, good luck! The app was designed only for teenagers. To become a user, you must link your Facebook account allowing the app to verify your age and the school you attend. Want to create a fake account to get around this issue?
After School has algorithms in place to block parents and school administrators from posing as a teen.
Like many social media apps considered to be dangerous for teens, the creators of After School say the app was designed to give teens an outlet to share their true struggles and anxieties without worrying about their identity. As with most apps, the use of the app is moving away from the original intent.
As stated in the Washington Post article, “Apple pulled the app from its store that same month, and a new version was released in April, promoting a long list of enhanced safety features, including a fast-response system that contacts authorities if a threat is detected. While After School has no information on the identity of users, it does keep cellphone data that can help police trace a post to a particular device. The app is now equipped with a warning system so that a teen who posts a worrisome message about being depressed or distraught will be sent a message asking if they would like to text with a counselor. More than 50,000 users have had text conversations with trained crisis counselors, according to the app’s creators.”
I pray this information will bring you to a place to discuss After School with your network and have open discussions with your teenager.
Most of the information in this post was found in the Washington Post article. If you would like to read the article, click here.