In the 1986 comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, popular high school senior Ferris Bueller skips school by convincing his parents that he is ill. He later convinces both his girlfriend Sloanne and buddy Cameron to join him on his day off.
Sympathy for the ill Ferris spreads throughout the school and inspires the campaign to “Save Ferris.” In 1986 such a scenario almost seems possible – with one person passing on the story to another until everyone had heard some version of Ferris’ plight. However, that was in an era where rotary dial phones were still used and – access to the Internet was reserved mostly for academic researchers.
Today the world is infinitely different — and much faster. Apps drive communication and rumors among youth – with the latest bearing the unusual name of: After School – Funny Anonymous School News for Confessions & Compliments.
After School for short — provides communication between students of specific high schools. The intent is to allow students within each school to keep up-to-date on who’s dating who; why Carter got cut from football and how Meagan stole Crystal’s boyfriend. Couldn’t they just use SnapChat, Kik or Instagram? Sure they could… but those are “so yesterday.”
To use the app — students must enable geolocation and select their high school from the list. Before granting access to the app — students must use their Facebook profile to verify they attend that school. If their school is not listed, there are other steps they can take.
The Facebook connection has caused some heartburn for students – in large part because many don’t really use Facebook. Additionally, some have voiced privacy concerns fearing their private information will be shared with other apps.
Once verified, the user may have access to the entire range of anonymous posts from other students within the school – or they may create their own anonymous posts.
After complaints about bullying on the app were made it was removed from the iTunes app store. Since that time, changes were made – and the app is back in the store – and now provides live moderators and tighter age-verification.
Moderators can and do tag posts for content. As such, terms such as sex, gossip, funny and others are now searchable. Conversely, they can tag them as potential threats and alert the proper authorities.
To access mature content, a user must scan the back of their state-issued ID cards to prove they’re over 17. Of course this can be easily manipulated. Yet, it shows the developer is doing more than most to make this a safe place for students.
The approach to age restriction should minimize predators from accessing teens. However, it also significantly minimizes the ability for parents to monitor their child’s activity.
Because bullying can occur, the app does provide live-chat to support of students at risk for self-harm.
SHOULD I BE CONCERNED
As with any app and technology – it’s important that parents monitor their child’s activity. This app makes it difficult to do so without having access to your child’s login credentials.
Given the anonymous nature of the app – there is a possibility for highly sexualized content and bullying — but it appears the developers have gone well beyond most to control such behavior for those under 18 years of age.
What are MY RATINGS?
- I give the app a thumbs up for innovative technology
- A thumbs down for inappropriate content
- A thumbs up for privacy.
Again, as with all apps, venture into this app with caution.
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