BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — West Baton Rouge schools are joining other districts from across the United States alerting parents about safety concerns with the popular app Saturn.
Saturn is a calendar built for high school students, and the app claims to be in use at 16,000 schools and growing. Students can easily upload and share their schedules, including classes and extracurricular groups, with other app users.
“If your child installed the Saturn App on their iPhone, you may want to delete it,” said WBR schools in a Facebook post. “The app claims to be the ultimate organizer for busy high school life, but lacks important features that protect the users from predators, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and privacy.”
WBR schools are among other districts across the country warning against using the app. Bay District Schools in Florida are working to ban the app on district networks and devices.
Santa Rosa County District Schools in Florida specifically warned parents about the lack of verification for users.
“The app allows students to log in using their personal cell numbers, Snapchat accounts, or student email addresses and that information allows students to join any school in the” country.” Kids can then friend each other, but there is no guarantee that the student sending the friend request is actually a student. There are many, many other features on this app that have the potential to expose children to unsafe situations while online,” the district shared in a Facebook post.
Bark.us, a site that provides parental control app reviews, ranks Saturn a 1 out of 5. The site got high marks for the potential of predation and harmful content with low values for privacy, parental controls and positive value.
A Sunday, Aug. 13, blog post on the app’s website, touted security improvements: “We’ve raised the bar for the amount of contact overlap users must have with other students at a school to be verified. New features in our backend system will also proactively flag and block phone numbers that we deem suspicious from registering for Saturn. If a user fails to verify using our improved protocol, their account will be restricted from participation in any school community and eventually removed.”
Unverified users reportedly will not be able to access verified user data.
According to the app’s website, student verification can be limited by which schools allow district email addresses to be used to verify identities. The app does not, according to its site, partner with any school and parents and teachers reportedly aren’t allowed on the app.