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Creepy teen apps, Facebook cryptocurrency, life-saving smartphones, and more: Tech Q&A

Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products, and all things digital.

Sometimes, choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job.

This week, I received questions about creepy teen apps, a new Facebook cryptocurrency, smart TV viruses and more.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?

Tap or click here to email me directly.

Smart TV viruses

Q: Please help me solve a debate. I say my smart TV can get bit by malware and viruses. My buddy says I am a dope. Who’s right? A six-pack is riding on your answer!

A: Smart TVs have gotten flak since they were first released and for good reason. These devices have allegedly sent reports on personal viewing back to data companies, which means that the TV you watch … is watching you.

But now there’s this: Smart TVs can contract malicious viruses. You win! Because a smart TV is really a great display connected to a computer, it’s not a surprise that it can get viruses. Samsung TVs run their proprietary software, and some models have pre-loaded security software. Tap or click to learn how to check for viruses on smart TVs.

Kids and social media woes

Q: Have you heard about an app called Yolo that teens are secretly using?

A: I have heard of Yolo, and like millions of parents, I am deeply concerned. Snapchat is already an uncomfortable app in the hands of teenagers, and Yolo connects to it and lets kids send each other comments and photos anonymously. While online privacy is important, this kind of faceless communication can lead to cyberbullying, predatory behavior, and other destructive activities that many adolescents aren’t equipped to handle.

Although the developers insist that the app is harmless and provides a healthy community, I am skeptical, and you should be too. Tap or click to learn more about the anonymous app gaining popularity among teens.

Emergency phone settings

Q: Is there a setting on my parents’ phones that I can use so emergency responders can have access to their medical info? They’re getting older, and I’m worried.

A: Many people with chronic health conditions wear medical bracelets, and that little sliver of metal could easily save someone’s life, even after the first responders arrive. Not surprisingly, a smartphone can do you one better: You can program your phone to display certain allergies and conditions without unlocking your screen.

This ability doesn’t cost you anything, and many paramedics are trained to check phones for information the moment they arrive on the scene. For example, you may be taking beta blockers, or you’re hyper-sensitive to latex, or you have a seizure disorder. Tap or click to activate medical information on the locked screen.

Bitcoin for Facebook?

Q: I heard that Facebook is getting into the cryptocurrency businesses. What does that mean?

A: If you know anything about cryptocurrency, you probably think of Bitcoin, the monetary system that exists only online. Bitcoin has made a lot of headlines over the years, for its mere existence, but also for web-savvy people have made, and lost, a great deal of money. But like everything Facebook does, the new cryptocurrency called Libra will appeal to everyday people, not just maverick investors.

Facebook has already become heavily involved in the populist banking business, thanks to its associations with PayPal and the ability to instantly send money through Messenger. This cryptocurrency was probably inevitable, and although I will not be personally investing a cent, I won’t blame anyone for being curious. Tap or click here to learn more about Facebook’s new digital currency.

Ask me discreetly

Q: I want to ask you digital stuff questions, but I don’t want to look like a fool on your radio show. Can you still help me?

A: You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There are no dumb questions.” But that’s not very reassuring when your question is heard on national radio with millions listening and then, more watching the television show. That’s understandable, which is why, when you submit a question, we can always protect your identity.

Not every question makes it onto the air; I may answer it in this column or forward it to my editorial team for a story. Just remember this: For every question you have, there are probably hundreds of others who have wondered the very same thing. Also, I personally read every single email you send. Tap or click to ask me a question.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer.

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