What it Is:
MeetMe, formerly known as myYearbook, is a social network that differentiates itself from other apps because it introduces people to new friends instead of connecting them to existing ones. New users create profiles using either an email address or their Facebook account.Once logged in, MeetMe members can be introduced to other users that are located nearby. Users are able to see profile pictures, basic information and choose to message other MeetMe members. Users can also browse through the newsfeed of people, aka, strangers, nearby.
As an extra feature, users can also earn “MeetMe Credits,” also nicknamed “Lunch Money,” to build their profile and gain more profile views. These credits allow their profiles to gain more attention. It also allows them to use various search filters to search for fellow users based on their relationship status, age, sex, location, and even their body type. These credits are earned through various app activities such as:
- Frequent activity (logging on daily)
- Purchasing credits
- Frequently viewing others’ profiles
- Regularly interacting with other users
- Connecting with “secret admirers” during games
*This feature makes it feel like a game, which is draws in younger users, like kids and teens. The problem is, kids and teens should NOT be using this app.
What Parents Need To Know:
According to Teensafe.com, “MeetMe is widely considered to be a dating app to find people nearby. There are a number of games available for users to play that feed into the dating app reputation, including the Blind Date game, where users are asked to answer questions to be introduced to a match. MeetMe also features an “Ask Me” feature, where anonymous questions can be sent to users. These questions are not monitored or censored, However, there are more teen-friendly games on MeetMe as well, including solitaire, air hockey, and crosswords. “
Another concern we see all too often on these apps is the age requirement. Although the app states that users must be at least 13, there is practically no age-verification process to keep this in check. With approximately 194.2 million views in the United States alone, it’s safe to assume a huge range of age groups regularly visit this app. While our teens may naively assume they are chatting with a fellow teen, they may actually be connecting with someone twice their age, someone who may want to harm them or possibly even worse.
Privacy is another huge concern with this app. There are NO privacy settings. The app encourages users to be open and share personal details to make more “connections” with fellow users. With no settings, you have no control over what you see and don’t see on your feed. It’s extremely common for sexually explicit and even pornographic material to show up on user news feeds. Everything–including your teen’s information–is out in the open and easy for everyone to see.
Cyber bullies, pedophiles, and predators in general are drawn to these types of apps. They are the perfect place for them to seek out vulnerable kids and teens who are looking for acceptance, connection and companionship and are not using their best judgement when it comes to safety and privacy.
Project B3’s Tips and Suggestions:
- MeetMe is NOT for kids and teens and it is known to be one of the apps they “secretly” use on their devices. Now you know what it is and what you are looking for.
- If you’re concerned your teen is already using MeetMe, or an app like it, carefully discuss with them their activity and explain the danger of talking with strangers and sharing private information. Try to find out what info they’ve shared and whether or not any strangers have attempted to make contact. If you have concerns, always consult trusted authorities before deleting the app. It may contain information they need.
- Keep an open dialogue going with your children about what they are doing online, which apps are ok and which ones are not. Keep up to date with their privacy settings.
- It is never too young to discuss that meeting strangers they’ve met online is NOT okay.