Kids looking for new friends have no business on the MeetMe app. The name might sound innocent enough, but this dating app is way too racy and dangerous for young users. It’s designed to help strangers, ages 17 and up, connect based on similar interests and location. But police warn predators are using MeetMe. Users can private message each other and participate in livestreams.
Due to the mature content on this app and the potential for in-person meetups, the Smart Social team wants to make sure parents know just how dangerous MeetMe could be for kids.
What is the MeetMe app?
- Formerly the MyYearbook app, MeetMe is a social network that markets itself as a dating app
- The “Meet” feature allows users to search for users by location, gender, and sexual orientation
- The “Chat” feature allows direct messaging- users can private message each other, see their photos, and view any posts they’ve made on MeetMe
- Users can add a picture, bio, photos, and posts to their profile
- By default, the user’s age and location is visible on their profile
- The “Live” feature allows users to watch or stream live video on the app. Live streams can be filtered by location, so users can see people streaming nearby.
- Users are encouraged to send gifts, bought with real money, to live streamers through the app
- The “Discuss” feature is like a Facebook wall that anyone can post to publicly
- Discussions can be filtered by topic
- Users can like or comment on posts
- During our review of the app, our team found posts that were soliciting users to meet up in person for sexual encounters
Deputies created a list of apps used by predators to target minors and MeetMe is at the top
“The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in Florida made national headlines after releasing a list of nine apps that predators could be manipulating to solicit children to commit sexual acts.”
The MeetMe app was at the top of their list.
Source: KSLA News
Sheriffs are warning parents about MeetMe
“A recent study by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education shows 40 percent of fourth through eighth graders have connected with a stranger online. The Horry County Sheriff’s Office says establishing an online agreement laying out expectations is key to protecting your child.”
“[MeetMe is an app] parents should be aware of”
Source: WECT News
MeetMe app in the news:
Apps listed by the law enforcement officials could expose children to unwanted sexual advances, racial slurs and bullying. The list of potentially dangerous apps range from more well-known names like Snapchat, MeetMe and WhatsApp all the way to a Calculator App that allows people to hide photos, videos and browser history.–Newsweek
[A predator is] now charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. He met his victim, investigators say, through the MeetMe app, and within days, she was gone. –ABC
What parents say about the MeetMe app:
“NO REDEEMING VALUE!
Don’t let your child or teen use this app. Safety is a big issue. I just deleted it off my teen’s phone. So many men trying to contact her… It’s hard to monitor what your child sees, so just don’t let them install it.”
“I just found out my 15 year old is using this app to meet girls.
I had no idea this was on his phone until last night. He met some girl (at least she says she is a girl, but who knows who this person is) and she is now on Snapchat with him and sending him photos of herself topless. This isn’t for kids.”
Source: Common Sense Media
What users say about the MeetMe app:
“I was almost scammed out of about $2,000 because a scammer (or group of scammers) is very good at what they do. They pretended to be someone attractive, sent me explicit photos, and called me the next day on my personal cell phone claiming to be a police officer saying I was going to be arrested.”
“There are many people from all across the world who badger, threaten and all around just make it not fun to converse with others due to the massive amounts of people looking for sexual interactions or plainly bullying other users.”
Source: iOS App Store
Why should parents care?
- There are several reports of predators using the MeetMe app to target minors
- The main goal of the app is for strangers to talk to each other which makes this app incredibly dangerous for students
- By default, all profiles on the app are public. Users can change the settings of their profile so that only friends or MeetMe members can see their profiles
- Users can see who has looked at their profile (students will be tempted to view a lot of profiles)
- Every profile our team looked at resulted in receiving a message from that user (all strangers)
- Content on the app can be inappropriate, negative, and mature. Students will come across profanity and suggestive imagery
What can parents do?
- If your student has the MeetMe app, delete it immediately and discuss the dangers of using it
- Teach your children to never communicate with strangers on social media
- Discuss spending limits with your kids and consider changing the settings on their phones so they can’t make purchases without your permission
- Remind your tweens and teens that people aren’t always who they say they are online. Someone might appear to be their classmate or peer but could really be someone much older with a fake profile
- Teach your children they can always come to you, or a trusted adult, if they’re contacted by a stranger or if they ever feel uncomfortable online
- If you’re ready for your student to be public on social media, encourage them to set up a profile on one of the Green Zone Apps so that they can begin to build a positive digital footprint
- If your student is experiencing unusual behavior, consider contacting the school counselor or a private therapist. We love therapists and suggest one to every student who might be going through a hard time
If your kids want to connect with others who share similar interests, there are lots of safer app options out there. MeetMe has so many potential dangers that we have placed the app in the Smart Social Red Zone as an app that your kids should not have access to.