After School App Overview
Approximately 11 teenagers die every single day as a result of texting while driving. So for parents, it should spark serious concern that the first featured user quote on the After School app’s homepage is: “driving stick steering with your knees and scrolling this app bc can’t miss a second”.
Publishing this as an appraisal of the app runs the risk of normalising (if not promoting) dangerous behaviour and immediately forces parents to consider whether or not they want their child to be using an app with such questionable core values.
This isn’t the first example of how the After School app can be controversial, with the anonymous app having been removed from the App Store and Google Play Store due to reports of bullying, harassment, and violent threats.
Features For Parental Caution
Parents/adults cannot use the app
Collects personal/device information
17+ due to mild profanity/alcohol and drug reference/mild nudity and sexual content
What Parents Should Know About The After School App
After School is a private, anonymous, and moderated social network for teenagers. Although it markets itself as being a social space “where authenticity meets positivity”, the After School app was removed from the App Store following complaints that it was being used as a portal for bullying. Since then, the app creators have implemented stringent safety rules, including a dedicated team of moderators. Every post submitted on the app is reviewed by an actual human being who can either approve or decline the post. Posts that could indicate self-harm ideation trigger additional actions, such as a pop-up notification asking the user if they’d like to speak with someone.
After School is exclusively designed for school-aged children and teenagers, and adults are not allowed on the app. Students must verify their age and which school they attend before they can join the network. This is considered a safety measure by the app designers.
While concerns surrounding derogatory and hateful content being posted through the app have since been addressed, the anonymous aspect of the app still leaves children vulnerable to having people post on their behalves;
“At first it was people saying nice things and complimenting others, and then it turned into bullying. A user posted my phone number along with instructions to contact me for photos, a message that was punctuated by a winking smiley face and icons of a camera and a bikini. After receiving harassing messages, I had to change my number.” (15-year-old girl.)
How The After School App Works
Users of the After School app can gain access with Facebook, but they also need to verify which school they attend. Once verified, members can connect with their classmates and post messages on their school’s network feed.
With its added safety measures in place, it’s clear that the After School app is going to greater lengths to safeguard users from threats such as cyberbullying, which tend to flourish in anonymous conditions. While the lack of accountability provided by anonymous apps can foster a culture of cruelty, there are also benefits associated with anonymity. After School and other anonymous apps enable users to have an outlet for their unpopular opinions without having it permanently imprinted on their personal records. These opinions don’t necessarily have to be rude or mean in nature, they could be political, personal, or even related to pop-culture. It’s part of human nature to feel the need to vent our feelings of frustration or confusion but sometimes we want to do so without the pressure of taking ownership of them. This is particularly important for young people as they discover their sexualities, religion, and values. However, it’s our duty as parents and caregivers to ensure that children are able to use their anonymity in a way that is constructive, within a space that is safe. While After School is attempting to be that space, its ban on parental involvement and history of misconduct does raise some concern. Therefore, we think parents should exercise caution when deciding whether or not to allow their child to use this app.
Whether it’s After School or some other app – there will always be some sort of social networking fad that enables users to conceal their true identities. So, when your child is at an age you deem appropriate for them to begin engaging with social media, take the opportunity to discuss the dangers associated with anonymous apps. You may also want to discuss:
Who they can talk to if they have a negative experience online
What they should do if someone posts something on their behalf without their permission