The app requires that you verify your identity through Facebook. It will then verify that you are a student (according to Facebook) and which school you attend. This allows you to only interact with kids from your school. It is designed for high school aged kids.
1. This app has a rating of 17+ for a reason.
(Description from the App Store) "After School is an anonymous and private message board for your school. Post confession, funny experiences, compliments, feelings, and more!
The app has a rate of 17+ for the following reasons:
- Infrequent/mild profanity or Crude Humor
- Infrequent/mild sexual content and Nudity (I give you their Twitter landing page as just one very mild example)
- Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes
- Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
2. The app is several months in following a re-release by the company with (what they consider to be) safety features and upgrades.
After being removed from the App Store by Apple, the company took some time to reconfigure and address the safety concerns that many parents had. They relaunched the app in April of this year. Once again, it's use is skyrocketing. Heres why you need to know about "After School."
"After School App Spreads Cyber Bullying."
"Controversial After School App Relaunches With New Safety Features and Zero Tolerance For Hate."
The creators of After School insist now that their app is safe and that there is a zero tolerance policy for bullying. However, I would argue any time that you give anyone the chance to say anything under the cloak of anonymity, there is the potential for inappropriate content, bullying, and all around nastiness. Check out this review from the App Store from someone who appears to have experience with the After School App.
4. The app posts it's own random content about users. "Would you kiss with (so and so)?" Yes and no buttons and a spot for comments......opening up the potential for things to become caddy quickly. As you scroll, you'll see things like this.....try to erase this from your 16 year old sons mind. Good luck with that.
(Google suggests "is the After School app fake" when I began to type. That tells me I'm not the only one trying to figure this out.)
What's the harm in that? Well, for a 14 year old girl who keeps seeing her name show up in posts like "So and so is so hot. I just wish she was into me." "I just can't get so and so off of my mind." "I am crushing so bad on so and so." That leaves 14 year old so and so vulnerable and potentially with a broken heart. There are quite a few reviews like this one. Can't you just see so and so gushing over her phone as she's scrolling through these posts that are about her?!
As if parenting isn't tough enough, keeping up with all of this ever changing media stuff is for the birds. We've got to stay informed. The idea is not that we would ban them and give them no freedoms, but that we would have conversations with them about how to use apps like this. Here are some helpful articles.
Forbes Magazine .....safety with anonymous apps. http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymagid/2014/12/08/advice-if-you-or-your-kids-is-using-after-school-or-other-anonymous-apps/
Common Sense Media's review of the app: (see the "families can talk about" section")
Do you know about Family Share? If not, check this out. After School is one of the apps that enables sharing.
Just as I begin to feel a sense of dread overtake me that there is no way I can keep up with it all, have enough conversations with my children, or get it all right, I am reminded that this battle belongs to someone other than me. I am merely a tool to be used.......notice verse 14, "if you hold on to me for dear life........." I am so feeling like that these days.
Holding on for dear life,
Psalm 91:1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you--
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!”