Last Monday my phone rang at 7:30am. I thought it was my mother calling to gently remind me (again) that I need to do a better job of calling her every day. To my surprise it was a middle school counselor I worked with over a year ago. He called to ask me if I had heard about the new app uMentioned. I had not. He said that the app is growing very quickly in popularity among the kids at the school where he works full-time and in schools where he works part-time. He said many kids have gotten in over their heads using this app and now want no part of it. He said to me, “You know it is bad when kids come to be pleading for help in getting the app of their phone (don’t want their parents to know) and to make other kids stop saying hurtful things about them via the app.” The counselor downloaded the app and looked at what kids were posting. As usual, there were many pictures of tweens and teenagers in various stages of undress. There were the typical posts of kids calling girls whores and sluts. I downloaded the app as well. I’ll soon be removing it from my phone.
Here is what I have learned about uMentioned.
TAG LINE FROM UMENTIONED.COM
Get the juiciest stories, darkest secrets, and funniest moments shared by students on your campus.
WHAT IS UMENTIONED
uMentoined is an app that you can download to an Apple or Android mobile device.
WHAT IS THE TARGET USE\AUDIENCE
The creators say that the app is intended for college students.
HOW DOES IT WORK
Users log in, pick a school and then are directed to a feed of all of the posts happening at that school. The feeds are made up of ‘Confessions’, ‘Overheard’, or ‘Spotted posts. If you swipe a post to the right, you are saying that you like the post. Swipes to the left mean you don’t care for the post. Users can post comments, confessions or anything else they like and remain totally anonymous. Some teens\tweens use stock photos behind their posts, and some upload actual photos of themselves. There are photos with young people not wearing much at all.
PROBLEMS USERS CAN FACE
As with any app that has an anonymous feature, you can say whatever you want (true or not) about another person and not suffer any consequences. The app can be used in cyberbullying.
There are many parental control programs you can buy and install on your child’s computer or mobile device that will monitor content and (or) block what they can do on that device. However, talking to your child early and often about what’s going on online and occasionally checking their phone may be just as effective.
John L. Jones