This particular application has been downloaded over 17.5 million times with over 12.5 billion text messages and over 350 million photos sent within the network. The whole concept around this app is the ability to turn your iPod or smart phone into a free text messaging device. The application assigns an actual phone number to your device and with that number you can send and receive text messages. Within this application you can also set up a profile with your picture, join communities and search people. Of course, for the average teenager this sounds like a great text messaging app to download to their iPod or phone.
Although this application is extremely popular, the CSOII Unit is seeing trends with kids getting in trouble and losing their cell phone privileges, then turning to their iPods and downloading this free app without their parents even realizing it. They’ve also seen kids that aren’t allowed to have text messaging capabilities do the same thing.
Now that the Unit is well aware of this application, they too are immersing themselves within it. Some concerns they see are:
1. Parents don’t realize that an iPod can turn into a free texting device. Since it’s free, most teens just download the application through iTunes and they’re ready to go, without some parents even knowing.
2. There are many communities that are inappropriate for kids. Although there are age restrictions, kids can still join that community.
3. Sexting is very prevalent in these communities. It’s not unlikely to be asked for a nude picture of yourself.
4. If you're not careful anyone can search your profile.
5. Since you don’t know some of these people face to face, you don’t know who you’re really talking to.
Some tips to help you be safe when using this application:
• Don’t share your personal information on your profile or within the communities.
• Be selective and keep your contacts to people you know face to face.
• If someone asks you for a naked picture, say no. This is against the law if you’re under the age of 18.
• Join communities that are appropriate for your age group.
• If you feel uncomfortable with a person or situation, report it to TextPlus or your local law enforcement agency.