Is the TBH App Safe for Students?

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October 16, 2017

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What is the tbh app?

  • TBH stands for “to be honest”, the tbh app is a social networking platform
  • Users anonymously answer questions/polls about their classmates
  • In addition to answering questions, users can submit new questions/polls
  • In order to use the app, users have to grant tbh access to their phone’s location and contacts
  • tbh uses the phone’s GPS to list schools in the area. Then, the user selects the school they attend
  • Questions/polls are created by the developer in an attempt to keep the app from becoming insulting or negative
  • When users create a poll, the poll must first be approved by the developer
  • Questions are multiple choice and a list of students friend’s names are the available choices
  • Users earn gems when their name is picked in a poll
  • Gems act like trophies and are color coded: pink if a girl picks you or blue if a boy picks you

Why should parents care?

  • Users cannot use the tbh app unless they allow the app to access their phone’s location and contacts
  • There is no verification process on the app so anyone can sign up and say they attend a school in their area, even if they are an adult
  • Even though the questions/polls are approved by the developers, tbh can still promote bullying and make it easier for students to become a target
  • Children can encounter inappropriate content if they spend time on the tbh app
  • This app encourages users to anonymously critique their classmates which can promote unhealthy student interactions
  • The gem system can become a form of cyberbullying since it is based around peer judgement

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Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Table of Contents

Note: The tbh App was discontinued in July of 2018 but we leave this app guide here to teach parents and educators how it worked.

TBH stands for “to be honest”, and the tbh app is a social networking platform where users anonymously answer questions/polls about their classmates.

Parent & educator training video

Listen along on our podcast

Facebook acquired the tbh app

  • After less than 3 months in the app store, Facebook acquired the tbh app in October 2017
  • At the time of the acquisition, tbh had 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users
  • The tbh app is one of the fastest growing apps for teens

What are parents saying about tbh app?

Should an app be able to require full access to a kid’s contacts and locations like this app? Don’t exploit kids desire by extracting such personal information. Your app is an overreach into the lives of unaware, very young kids who just want to connect with their friends. –WidMark1
Some of the [questions] are wildly inappropriate. –SeedOak

Source: iTunes App Store

What is the tbh app?

  • TBH stands for “to be honest”, the tbh app is a social networking platform
  • Users anonymously answer questions/polls about their classmates
  • In addition to answering questions, users can submit new questions/polls
  • In order to use the app, users have to grant tbh access to their phone’s location and contacts
  • tbh uses the phone’s GPS to list schools in the area. Then, the user selects the school they attend
  • Questions/polls are created by the developer in an attempt to keep the app from becoming insulting or negative
  • When users create a poll, the poll must first be approved by the developer
  • Questions are multiple choice and a list of students friend’s names are the available choices
  • Users earn gems when their name is picked in a poll
  • Gems act like trophies and are color coded: pink if a girl picks you or blue if a boy picks you

Why should parents care?

  • Users cannot use the tbh app unless they allow the app to access their phone’s location and contacts
  • There is no verification process on the app so anyone can sign up and say they attend a school in their area, even if they are an adult
  • Even though the questions/polls are approved by the developers, tbh can still promote bullying and make it easier for students to become a target
  • Children can encounter inappropriate content if they spend time on the tbh app
  • This app encourages users to anonymously critique their classmates which can promote unhealthy student interactions
  • The gem system can become a form of cyberbullying since it is based around peer judgement

tbh app in the news

Privacy concerns, a future chat function, and the possibility of mean-use are still concerns [on tbh]. –Common Sense Media
[tbh’s] ‘gamified’ structure still feeds the distraction and sense of disconnection that are causing epidemic levels of depression and isolation among today’s smartphone-addicted teens. –Fortune

What can parents do?

  • If your teen has the tbh app, have them delete it and discuss the dangers of anonymous apps
  • Check out our Parent App Guide page and encourage your student to use apps in our Green Zone
  • Discourage your teen from using anonymous apps or any apps that promote giving anonymous feedback
  • Challenge your child to find positive and new ways to connect with their peers on social media
  • Consistently work on having an open and healthy dialog with your children about social media
  • Ask your teen about their day at school and online
  • As a parent, strive to be approachable and supportive

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