Parent Guide to the anonymous After School App
- It’s an anonymous chat/forum app similar to Yik Yak that requests access to and uses location based services. (Note: Yik Yak was eventually pressured into "geofencing" K-12 schools to prevent use from campuses over cellular networks, which slowed its popularity some.) The After School App has quickly surpassed the popularity of Yik Yak among teenagers.
- The main distinguishing feature is that the After School App creates a separate chat/forum group for each school and attempts to prevent parents/guardians/adults from accessing the chat/forums based on Facebook profile information.
- To join the group/school you have to verify that you’re a student of that school on Facebook (the app will check the public and private group associations on your Facebook page).
- The app may ask students to scan an ID or drivers license in order to access "17+" forums.
- The app is now rated 17+ on the app store, it was 12+ at launch, so parents may be able to prevent access over cellular by restricting all 17+ apps on their child's device. The rating by itself, of course, does not prevent access and the app encourages kids to connect to any school they attend including middle and high schools.
- The app does allow passcode lock restrictions to be set up in Parental Controls.
- When the app launches, it requests permission to use "location based services" and then displays a list of schools in the area along with the number of After School App users at each school.
- Teens that post threats or pornographic images can face arrest or serious charges and the app does collect device specific cellular network information that can be shared with law enforcement in an investigation.
What can you do to keep kids safe?
- Have a dialog with your child to see if s/he is using this app.
- Discuss the potential legal consequences of participating in online bullying, sexting (or possessing explicit pictures of minors), or posting threats.
- Trained counselors and a Cyberbullying Tip Line are available through Student Services. If your child is a victim of bullying or being threatened be sure to take a screen shot to preserve the evidence.
- Set an age restriction on your child’s phone (as the app is 17+ it won’t allow younger kids to download).
- If your kids have this app, download the app and search for your kid’s school/group. Then monitor the content.
- After you open the app and allow it to use location based services it will automatically find schools around your location.
- Choose on the school you want to join.
- Click on “I’m a student” (verify with Facebook).
- To get through the verifying process you need to add the school to your Facebook page. Set it as "private" so that it doesn't show up on your Facebook profile and be sure "Graduated" is not checked.
- Note that After School App also analyzes Facebook friends so this may become part of the App's verification process in the future.
Is it possible to filter access to the After School App?
- You can restrict access to the app through device specific Parental Controls as mentioned above. Or, if you have a home or office Web content filter or your cellular provider offers a customizable filter, you can block ".onemainframe-api-1132284403.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com". After School App uses Amazon Web Services so this Web address is very much subject to change and is different depending on what region of the United States you are in.
- If you have a home or office firewall you can block the following After School App IP addresses: 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199
- For Apple computers, run: "dig api.onemainframe.com" in Terminal to see the list of IP addresses that the app uses in your region at any given time. Currently "188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11".
NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement. With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates.
Your kids know a lot about being online. Start catching up with them today with this streaming presentation. You will learn about what kids are doing online, the risks they may face, and what you can do to keep them safer.
Internet Safety Basics
Follow the links in the left menu to access more NetSmartz Workshop resources or go directly to the NetSmartz Workshop at http://www.netsmartz.org/
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is the national clearinghouse and resource center funded under Cooperative Agreement Number 98-MC-CX-K002 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® is a registered service mark of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
NetSmartz is a registered trademark of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Resources provided courtesy of Buncombe County Schools.