Parents Express Concerns Over Daughters’ Use of Certain Cellphone Apps

A group of tween girls opened up to ABC News' T.J. Holmes.

ByABC News
March 31, 2016, 8:50 AM

— -- When “GMA” correspondent T.J. Holmes sat down with parents and their six preteen daughters for a special roundtable on technology, the parents expressed concern that their children were using smartphone apps that they didn’t know about.

The apps -- a "fake" Instagram account known as Finstagram; ASKfm, which allows users to anonymously post questions to other users, and another that looked and functioned like a calculator but once a special code was entered, revealed a private folder for photo storage -- came as a surprise to the parents.

This morning on “GMA,” the six girls -- Cammy, Gianna, Allie, Sabrina, Bella and Alyssa, all between 11 and 13 years old – discussed the apps with their concerned parents.

“That calculator is something you hide and you have to have a secret message,” Lena said to her daughter Allie. (Their last names, like all those involved, are not being withheld.)

Allie asked her mother whether she wanted to review her camera roll.

“Why do you have to have the calculator?” Allie’s father, Bill, said. When he asked her whether her mother knew she had it, Allie replied, “no.”

Holmes asked the parents whether they monitored their daughters’ Instagram accounts. Most said they didn’t, and when Holmes asked the girls to reveal how many followers they each had, their answers surprised their parents.

One girl said “509.” Another said “588,” while another said “594.” Another said thought she had “708” followers,” while another said “1,083.”

“I’m in shock,” Tarzy, the mother of Gianna, who has more than 1,000 followers, said. “Like, 1,000 and she's -- no. And then I just found out it's private and she has 1,000?”

“You follow it!” Gianna said.

Holmes showed another mother some of the questions on the daughter’s Askfm page – including one that asked whether her daughter was a virgin.

Robin -– a mother –- said she would like to see the app removed from her child’s phone. The other parents said they wanted to monitor their children’s cellphone use a little better and be more aware.

“I mean, how can we keep up with all these apps?” Lena, a mother, said. “Every day, there's a new app that's being invented.”

Added Jimmy, a father: “My problem has been that I've had blinders on to it, didn't know about it...So now, it's my responsibility to speed up and learn and participate.”

During the conversation, Bella got upset and Holmes asked her why.

“I looked at my mom and she was getting, like, teary-eyed,” the girl said, crying. “So I thought that she, like, didn't trust me anymore.”

Bella’s mother explained her daughter’s response, telling Holmes: “When I get emotional, she gets emotional.”

In a statement to ABC News, ASKfm said it spends "millions of dollars" to "strike the right balance between safety and privacy for our users."

The statement reads:

"ASKfm is a leading global Q&A app that allows users to express themselves and interact authentically with their friends. Included in the app is the option for users to ask questions with their identity hidden to the public. We actively work in partnership with users, parents and schools to guide all users toward positive and responsible choices online. We spend millions of dollars on our user reporting and moderation tools in order to strike the right balance between safety and privacy for our users, the vast majority of whom are teens and young adults," the statement reads. "Our safety center ( provides a wealth of information and tips for parents and teens, ages 13 and older. These tips are not only important to ASKfm users, but to teens using any form of social media."

Instagram declined to comment for this story. ABC News also reached out to two companies that make calculator apps that allow users to store photos privately and they also declined to comment.

Stay tuned to "GMA" all week for more of the tweens and technology roundtable.