What is the app Saturn, and is it safe for kids?
Saturn is a social networking app growing in popularity for the 2023 school year. It promotes the ability to share scheduling and events with friends and classmates but also boasts that it “helps manage your time.” These innocent claims are enough for many parents to allow it without scrutiny; however, this app has major safety and security concerns parents need to be aware of.
Here are 5 facts you need to know about Saturn.
#1 Creating an Account
Saturn asks for your birthday and phone number, OR continue on with Snapchat. We selected the ‘I don’t have Snapchat’ option, which allowed us to verify our phone number over text.
After entering our FIRST and LAST Name, we chose our High School graduation year. Notice below there are only four options for those currently in high school. Even though the app is rated 12+ the app developer indicates in the app store that only the “high school experience” of Saturn is currently available.
#2 Schedules, Events, & Friends
Saturn’s app tagline is “Schedule, Events, & Friends.” The app lures kids in by promoting the ability to share your new school schedule with your friends. And while it does allow the feature of sharing schedules, it does so in a much more socialized way than simply texting a picture of your schedule to your friends.
Ironically, the account setup leads through steps to add friends, then allow event notifications, then set up your schedule – the opposite of how they promote the features of the app. Perhaps, we are reading into this, but it is pretty obvious the priority of the app is not sharing schedules but rather creating an environment of social sharing.
Saturn prompts you to “Add Your Classes” in order for you to see your classmates, keep track of your schedule, use class chats & more. Setting up our test account, we chose the local high school with over 3000 students. This school operates on an A/B day schedule, and the app knew that. Furthermore, when we selected our classes (based on a real student’s schedule), Saturn had a list of the school’s teachers ready to be matched with the class we chose. After we entered the schedule we could then see who was also in the class (or at least who told Saturn they were in that class) and, of course, share it with others.
After a prompt about connecting your phone contacts is a prompt to ALLOW EVENT INVITATIONS. This feature allows Saturn to send notifications of event requests and friend requests. Which surely is meant to prevent and cause FOMO.
Once you’ve created your account, Saturn prompts you to ALLOW CONTACT VERIFICATION so that you can “share your schedules and chat with your best friends.” We chose DON’T ALLOW and had no problem accessing the local high school’s information.
Next, Saturn wants to ACCESS YOUR CONTACTS (so you can find your friends). This grants Saturn access to all of your phone contacts (including Mom/Dad/Grandparents) so they can cross reference them and tell you who is already on Saturn. And consequently, who you need to invite to be on Saturn with you. Again, we chose DON’T ALLOW and proceeded without issue.
Once on the homepage of the app, Saturn was quick to provide us with a crying emoji because we had no friends. This was another prompt to connect our phone contacts with the app.
Saturn has a direct messaging feature (as all social media apps do) they call CHAT, found on the bottom navigation bar. They claim that you’ll need to verify your school email address in order to gain access to this feature. However, when you VERIFY it prompts you to sign in with Google or Microsoft email.
This, we thought, would surely block just any Gmail account, but it DOES NOT. Any Gmail account works – which is scary!
As with all social media direct messaging features, these provide great ease to bully, sext, cheat, extort, and so on. Communication within this chat feature is easily hidden or deleted and will rarely be monitorable.
#4 Improve your life??
There are several sketchy features of this app that makes obvious their bait-and-switch strategy. First, they offer law enforcement guidelines and use language to describe the app that is not found anywhere else (find under profile, settings, more options, LEGAL, and then Law Enforcement Guidelines; see below)
What is Saturn, Law Enforcement asks?
Saturn is an app that helps high school students organize, simplify, and improve their lives.
That is a really bold statement to make for an app that promotes its usage during school instructional hours! Case in point: the app has a countdown clock on its homepage to show you how much time is left in the class you’re in. This alone can distract a student’s ability to focus and learn, much less the chats and notifications the app allows. No one who actually cares about high school students would actually think this is an improvement to their lives. Not teachers that is for sure.
The second sketchy feature we’d like to highlight is its overt connection with Snapchat. Brave Parenting has long ago condemned Snapchat to our list of apps to never allow in your home due to its promotion of disappearing and vile content and perceived anonymity. Saturn has Snapchat written all over it from its connection in Sign Up, the similar ease of connecting with high school students (no matter who you are), and the interface mimicking the cartoon aesthetic of Snapchat bitmojis. Snapchat is not appropriate for teens, regardless of who or how it is promoted. Thus, anything so interconnected with Snapchat should be avoided.
The truth is that there are many professional apps to help organize schedules and tasks that integrate with text and email. An app like Saturn does not promote “Time Together,” nor does it “Improve Your Life.” It creates inauthentic connections with classmates, exposes a student’s schedule to bullies or predators, and promotes screen distractions in the classroom which hinders learning.
#5 App Ratings & Review
Saturn is currently only available on iOS.
Google Play: unavailable
Common Sense Media: n/a
Brave Parenting: Don’t Allow
The Apple App Store states the following data may be collected and linked to your identity:
- Contact Info
- Usage data
Acknowledging social media apps like Saturn is HOW kids do life and communicate does not give reason to allow an app like this. Because, as parents, we must at the same time acknowledge (1) social media apps and other smartphone distractions negatively impact mental health and classroom learning and (2) the natural sinfulness of mankind.
(1) Negative Impacts on Mental Health and Learning
- Increased time on social media is correlated with increased rates of depression. 
- In 2021, 57% of high school girls reported feeling sad and hopeless (and average usage of 9+ hours per day on their phones). 
- Saturn allows for both cyberbullying AND traditional bullying, considering it shares class schedules and activities with others and provides a bully with a location within the school.
- The National Institutes of Health found that kids who spend more than 2 hours on a screen received lower scores on thinking and language tests. 
- The mere presence of a smartphone decreases cognitive capacity and test-taking brain power. 
- Students who attend school with smartphone bans perform better on tests. 
(2) Sinfulness of Mankind
Why do we see evil acts so often attributed to social media applications? Because it anonymously connects all people, all over the world, of different backgrounds, beliefs, and values. And everyone, Romans 3:23 tells us, sins and falls short of the glory of God. Not everyone thinks that child predation is evil. Not everyone believes that sextortion, human trafficking, or innocent children killing themselves while attempting adult stunts is wrong. Many actually call it good and seek out children where they can be found most vulnerable: social media. Because mankind is sinful and their thoughts are evil all of the time, parents must diligently protect kids from direct and anonymous contact with “the world.”
The question can always be asked, “Why does God allow this evil?” and we encourage you to read this thorough answer from our friends at GotQuestions.org if you get hung up on this point. It is sufficient enough to say for this review, however, that because the Saturn app allows the sharing of schedules, activities, tasks, and events while having substandard checks and balances to verify actual high school admission, this is a predator haven!
The security risks are simply far too great to allow this app on your child’s phone. This isn’t even mentioning the security risk to the teachers whose daily schedules and classroom location become available to anyone who desires access. A million what-ifs can play out in our heads that we’d never wish to happen.
Parents, let’s stop this app’s momentum by not allowing our high schoolers to use it. And DEFINITELY not any middle schoolers.