According to the Techcrunch blog (http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/11/after-school-app-again-pulled-by-apple-after-more-school-shooting-threats/) the controversial app, After School was taken off of the app store sometime yesterday. It is unknown at this time if the app will return to the marketplace.
This second removal comes after yet another round of issues including several youth using the app to make anonymous threats of violence and shooting. Earlier this week it was reported that a student was arrested in Detroit based on threats.
What is becoming more clear is that teens (as well as adults) love an anonymous site. These sites can be used in the way they were intended, to post anonymous thoughts or feelings. However, with enough frequency to cause problems, they are used to bully or tease other teens on the app. They are also being used to threaten violence. It is unclear as if any of the teens arrested for violent threats had the intent or means to go through with the threats, but the posts are taken very seriously.
Though the apps are “anonymous” perhaps the teens are unaware that nothing on the internet is truly anonymous. There is always a way to locate the origin of a post. Additionally, these latest developments further the cause of parental involvement.
Parents, I continue to urge that you talk to your children about their technology. Are they on this app? Do they know friends who use it? Have they ever seen any bullying on the apps they use (this or others like it). Teach your children how to report bullying and violence on the apps they use and encourage them to talk to you about things they see that make them uncomfortable. Encourage your children to use such apps in a way that reflects well upon them. As Connectsafely.org says, “share thoughtfully.”