With several reports of arrests made after online predator and human trafficking stings, law enforcement officers around the country are reminding parents about potentially dangerous apps their kids could have access to. Most of the apps involve talking to people or sharing videos and pictures. It’s a concept that officials say puts kids at risk and in a vulnerable position.
Police said parents and teens should know two things:
- Once a picture or video leaves your phone and is sent to someone else, it is out of your control.
- Someone can use that picture or video against you.
According to law enforcement, apps parents should know about:
MEETME: a dating social media pp that connects people based on location. Users are encouraged to meet in person.
WHATSAPP: a messaging app that allows texts, video calls, photo sharing and voicemails with users worldwide.
BUMBLE: similar to Tinder, but requires women to make the first contact. Law enforcement says kids and teens can create fake accounts and falsity their age.
LIVE.ME: a live-streaming app that uses geolocation to share videos. Users can earn”coins” to “pay” minors for photos.
ASK.FM: this app lets users ask anonymous questions and is known for cyberbullying.
GRINDR: a dating app that connects people to chat, share photos and meetup based on a smart phone’s GPS location.
TIKTOK: a new app popular with kids lets users create and share short videos. Law enforcement said the app has “very limited privacy controls” and users can be exposed to cyberbullying and explicit content.
SNAPCHAT: one of the most popular social media apps in the world, Snapchat lets users take and share photos and videos. The app also lets people see your location.
HOLLA: this self-proclaimed “addicting” video chat app lets users meet people in seconds. Law enforcement said users have seen racial slurs and explicit content.
CALCULATOR+: police say this is one of several apps that are used to hide photos, videos, files, and browser history.
SKOUT: a location-based dating app that is supposed to prohibit people under 17 from sharing private photos. However, police say kids can easily create an account with a different age.
BADOO: a dating and social media app where users can chat and share photos and videos based on location. Police say the app is supposed to be for adults only, but they’ve seen teens create accounts.
KIK: Police say kids can bypass traditional text messaging features using this app. Kik “gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime” says police.
WHISPER: an anonymous social network that lets users share secrets with strangers. Police say it also shows users’ location so people can meet up.
HOT OR NOT: the app lets users rate profiles, check out people in their area and chat with strangers. Police say the goal of the app is to hook up.
Officials say there’s an easy way to make sure your kids stay safe. “The biggest thing parents can do is, #1, talk to their children. Talk to kids about these apps and the dangers of what happens if you share too much information. Parents should be easily able to access their child’s phone and accounts. #2, parents can periodically check their child’s phone. Look at their phone. See what kind of apps are on their phone. Experts say this creates a boundary while also opening the door for communication. “Just because you’re looking at your child’s app doesn’t mean that you’re going through all their comments, their likes, their photos. But if you had a concern, you have the ability to do that.
Parents are advised to do the research in order to stay on top of trending social media apps. Overall, officials say the easiest things to do as a parent is to stay educated, talk to your kids and monitor the apps they use.