The Most Dangerous Apps of 2024

By Kyla Ford

This past summer my 15-year-old nephew and 8-year-old niece visited our home. A few days after they left, I noticed an increased request from my children to use my and my husband’s cell phones and iPads. One afternoon, my 6-year-old was using the iPad when I heard from the other room “I’m going to kill you”. I was shocked and immediately went to investigate. After glancing at what he was watching, everything seemed innocent and I thought perhaps I had misheard. Little did I know the “kid-friendly” app he was using contained overt content, putting him at risk of encountering explicit language, violence, cyberbullying, and encouraging parental rebellion.

It didn’t take me long to realize that while their cousins were visiting, there was a lot of unrestricted access to smartphones. My son innocently explained that he downloaded an app one of his cousins had on their phone.

Unfortunately, my son’s story is not unique. Many children inadvertently access apps and social media platforms that are not age-appropriate, exposing them to potential harm. 56 percent of 11 to 16-year-olds have seen explicit material online (NSPCC, 2016). One in ten children between the ages of 8 to 11 report seeing something inappropriate or worrisome online (Ofcom, 2022).

It is critical for parents to understand the apps their children are using. When you’re unfamiliar with an app, be intentional about researching what it is, what source it comes from, what the privacy policies are, and what the reviews say.

As we explore the most dangerous apps of 2023 in preparation for 2024, be sure to keep in mind that apps are constantly being updated and it may be important to re-check an app that is already on your child’s device. Don’t forget to review articles from Educate and Empower Kids previous year’s Most Dangerous Apps: 2022, 2021, and 2020.

Zoomerang is a video creator app that allows you to create short videos, apply filters, and add special effects and background music. The app is popular because of its user-friendly tutorials that help make creating and editing photos easier, especially for younger kids with a mobile device. It is a popular app for creating videos for other social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

Parents should be aware that this app allows for location tracking. This can put children at risk for online predators to see where children are located while using the app. The app may also allow kids to see content and hear music that is not age-appropriate.

BeReal is a photo-sharing app that aims to keep social media simple. There are no filters and no edits. The app gives users a two-minute window (based on geographical location) to snap a photo and share. Photos disappear after 24 hours. Parents should be aware that this app allows for connection with people they do not know. A recent study from ParentsTogetherAction found that 59% of BeReal users have been exposed to sexual content while using the app (Protect Young Eyes, 2023). This app also risks exposing your location as Geo-Location is set to be on by default. There is a Friends of Friends tab that allows photos to be shared and viewed publicly. Users can also share a song which poses the risk of exposure to explicit songs.

Yarn is NOT your average reading app. Yarn tells stories via fake text messages and conversations that are explicit or frightening. Yarn is set up to make it seem like you are reading someone else’s conversation. Yarn also allows users to watch video shorts in numerous genres including TikTok videos, and allows users to listen to audio. Yarn is popular because of its fan fiction curiosity appeal.

Parents should be aware this app is geared for teens plus, but is easily accessible to any child with access to the app store. Some of the Yarn book titles include “Send Nudes?” and “Sexting 101” and categories like “romance” and “racy”.  Yarn also promotes a choose your own adventure text thread. This app also allows for in-app purchases of up to 99 dollars. Parents should be aware this app is popular among teens seeking to explore sexuality.

Hot or Not is an app that allows users to rate others as “hot” or “not”. Hot or Not requires users to upload photos of themselves, and disclose an email or Facebook Account, as well as their cell number. The app allows users to scroll through others’ profile pictures and see if they have similar interests and mutual friends. The app ranks using hearts and “x’s”.

Parents should be aware this app allows for location to be shared as well as other personal information. The app is rated for ages 18+, but it allows for users to be as young as 13. Unfortunately, there is no age verification process which makes it extremely dangerous. This app allows strangers to message each other if they match by rating the other person as “hot”. As with many social sites, there is no way to verify someone is who they say they are.

Yik Yak is a social networking app that allows messaging to and from people within a 5-mile radius. This app became popular when it launched in 2013 and relaunched in 2021. This app is used to share content related to school life including gossip, memes, inside jokes, and more. Yik Yak allows users to post anonymously which has caused great concern about privacy.

Parents need to know this app has faced harsh criticism for its anonymity including reports of cyberbullying, violence, and sexual harassment. As a result of anonymous sharing, there is also a high potential for predation. Strangers can comment and interact with users’ posts and exchange personal information through messaging quite easily. Parents should also be aware some content disappears after 24 hours.

YouTube Kids is an online video-sharing platform, a sister site to the popular YouTube. This kid-targeted app features access to TV shows, music videos, educational videos, and user-created content. YouTube Kids is curated for children preschool aged to 12 years old. This app allows users to create a personal profile and curate content geared toward their age and interest.

Parents should know that YouTube Kids runs the risk of exposing young children to violence, nudity, and bizarre content. Violence is the most common negative content found in “kid-targeted” video content. Unfortunately, YouTube Kids does not offer content filters. YouTube Kids also allows advertising. Ads can be problematic as they can promote content and products that are more “grown-up”. One positive aspect of YouTube Kids is that it allows parents to set controls including time limits and collections. As always, be aware of how some content, even kid-targeted content, can impact your child emotionally.

Knowing where to start to protect your children from the dangers of inappropriate apps and social media platforms may feel overwhelming. However, there are many approaches, tools, and resources available to help you navigate this parenting responsibility.

Setting boundaries, leading by example, and having open communication are the most important approaches to protecting your children from digital dangers.

If you’re still not feeling confident about starting the conversation with your younger kids about safety and digital media, try the book, Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure or Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good. These books include thoughtful conversation starters, engaging workbook questions, and simple activities for parents and kids.

All of our books are available here on our website or on Amazon.

Kyla Ford is currently earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Marriage and Family studies at Brigham Young University-Idaho. She is an intern through Educate Empower Kids and will graduate in April 2024. Kyla is passionate about helping families have healthier relationships for a happier life. She loves learning about different family dynamics, individual cultures, and tools that allow families to be successful. Kyla has been married to her best friend, Kevin, for 12 years and they have three children, Hunter (11), Hayden (9), and Henry (6). Together with her family, Kyla enjoys traveling, playing board games, watching movies, reading, and serving in her church.


Martellozzo, E., Monaghan, A, Adler, J. R., Davidson, J, Leyva, R. and Horvath, M. A. H. (2016). “I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it…” A quantitative and qualitative examination of the impact of online pornography on the values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of children and young people. London: Middlesex University. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.3382393

Ofcom (2022). Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report. Retrieved from

Protect Young Eyes (2023). What is BeReal? Retrieved from

social media and teens: the ultimate guide from Educate and Empower Kids

Get a FREE eBook copy of The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online

How do you talk to your teens about social media? Are your kids ready? Download our free 18-page e-book, complete with a social media contract for families.

I have/Work With

Download the e-book