Parents: Beware of the "Whisper" App

Jan 08, 2014

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With almost 3 billion monthly page views, the mobile app Whisper does something Facebook doesn't do — it give users complete anonymity when posting comments.  And because posts are anonymous, they can get very explicit, vulgar, and shocking.

When you open the app, you see a series of images with text written over the image. Users create these images in seconds. They look like online memes. 

Many comments are things only best friends reveal to each other or are those hidden in the deepest recesses of someone's inner monologue.  Most Whisper users are women (70%) between 17 and 28 years old and they typically spend 20 minutes per day checking content between 8 to 10 times per day. 

The company founder claims to have gone to great lengths to keep content respectful. He said there are over 100 people moderating comments and content.  In spite of that, much of the content is vulgar and explicit.

In addition, Whisper makes it possible for users to meet up with each other in person.  In essence, the anonymity can go away and face-to-face meetings may result.

App Rating

The app is rated 17+ on iTunes App Store. When installing the app, users have to "verify" they are old enough to download it.  On the Google Play (Android) Store, the app is rated "medium maturity."

What can parents do?

Parents should monitor the use of this app among children and even teens due to the sexually explicit content and the potential of it facilitating face-to-face meetings with unknown persons including registered sex offenders or sexual predators.  

With Net Nanny for Android, parents can view and block/allow apps on Android phones or tablets.  

Apple has built-in a few parental controls features on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.  If parents set limits on the types of apps installed (such as allowing only apps that are rated 12+), then children cannot download the app.  To enable this feature, go to Settings>General>Restrictions>Enable Restrictions > Allowed Content:Apps > and select a setting such as 12+.