Val Quinn, Channel Seven Sunrise GadgetGuy has a stern warning for parents about Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).

“Internet Addiction Disorder is real. Its all about the instant gratification we feel when we post something and get a like. Or we habitually check Facebook for fear of missing out (FOMO),” said Val.

That feeling can become addictive. That’s not just vanity. It is a chemical reaction involving the neurotransmitter dopamine and a reward pathway in the brain similar to the one that controls other addictions such as food or drugs. Seriously — Internet Addiction Disorder is a real thing. Symptoms include

  • Preoccupation with the Internet;
  • A need for increased time spent online to achieve the same amount of satisfaction;
  • Repeated efforts to curtail Internet use;
  • Irritability, depression, or mood lability when Internet use is restricted;
  • Staying online longer than anticipated;
  • Putting a job or relationship in jeopardy to use the Internet;
  • Lying to others about how much time they are online; and
  • Using the Internet as a means of regulating mood.

“The internet is a dangerous place. Unrestricted and unsupervised use is dangerous, especially for early teens that are yet to develop their sense-of-self,” said Val.

GadgetGuy has identified apps that a teenager should not use unsupervised

The list is much longer if you include ‘secret apps’ that disguise posts, photos and other personal contacts.

Omegle (oh·meg·ull) – Talk to strangers

Omegle claims it is a great way to meet new friends. It selects someone at random and sets up a one-on-one talk. Or, you can add your interests, and it will look for someone who is into the same things as you. It has been called the Russian Roulette version of chat.

It claims chats are anonymous, and video is ‘machine’ monitored. But reports show it is not always so. The danger is revealing too much information or skin. And while it is for 18+ years, there is no way to check. It has an unmonitored/uncensored option too – guess which is most popular!

Wishbone masquerades as a quiz app

Wishbone’s appeal is that you can join with your friends and celebrities and vote on the Daily and Nightly Dozen! You get a series of pop culture-based questions with two distinct choices twice a day. You pick a side, then see how your friends voted!

It is rated 17+, and the terms of service specify it’s for ages 13+. It forbids sexually explicit and illegal content. Again this is not policed. Teens can connect via Facebook, and that information becomes available to Facebook advertisers.

It is an advertiser’s dream – knowing what you feel about almost any topic. It gives them the ability to slip in questions or be featured in the daily dozen. Advertisers love Wishbone as it can help them go viral.

Remember that the cost of any free product is you! Teenagers often don’t realise the consequences of sensitive information they give away.

Parents should be concerned about

  • Cyberbullying: As a comparison tool. Children can compare to each other and incite cyberbullying on the app.
  • Online grooming: A risk of online grooming as adult users target younger users and take advantage of their trust.
  • Data collection: If a child connects their Facebook or Twitter account to the app, it will collect information about them, their friends and those they have in common with on Wishbone.
  • Private Messages: User can send private messages to each other if they follow each other. It is vitally important to ensure teens only follow ‘real friends’ rather than people they have never met.

On the dark side, hackers stole 2.2 million email addresses and 287,000 mobile numbers from Wishbone. Many users are young women under the age of 18.

Whisper is a gossip site

Whisper is an online community of 20 million users. It allows users to anonymously post their innermost secrets (confessions) and statements to the public. Also to send private messages to other users — all without revealing their identities. It has about 3.5 billion-page views a month.