Mechanicsville, MD- Yes, it is back to school time. The flurry of getting school supplies, clothes, and finding bus routes. One often overlooked area in our hectic lives is what our children are doing on there cell phones. Those little devices that pack so much power now are being used by predators to lure children with promises of anything from pets and video games, to exotic trips and even modeling contracts.
Sheriff’s and Child Safety advocates across the country for years have been pushing parents to reign in their child’s cell phone use and to make sure you know exactly what they are using, even making sure to look for “Hidden” apps.
Recently the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office made arrests of twenty-five men who were using internet ads, online apps, and social media sites to lure children to their cons.
At the press conference, the sheriff listed 15 apps you’ll want to keep an eye on.
MeetMe: an app where anyone, of any age, can contact someone, with the emphasis being on dating.
WhatsApp and SnapChat: While they may seem harmless, they can tell anyone your geographic location, send unlimited messages, video, and images that disappear after a certain time, but can also be screenshot by the receiver or anyone on the list.
Skout: A flirting app that’s used to meet and chat with new people. Teens and adults are in different groups, but ages aren’t verified.
TikTok: Creating video, even adult themes with age verification
Badoo and Bumble: Dating apps, but can get around age verification
Grindr: Geared toward the LGBTQ community. It allows users to share photos and meet up based on geographic location
Kik: Live streaming app, but you don’t know who’s watching and your kid’s location is revealed.
Holla: is all about connecting strangers around the world through video chat. Enough said.
Whisper: a social confessional where the user can remain anonymous but can share the location.
ASKfm: encourages people to share anonymous feelings and confessions, but also opens the door for bullying as people can respond.
Hot or Not: rates users on attractiveness. No age verification and can send messages.
Calculator%: Several secret apps that allow the users to hide photos, videos, and even browser history.
A few other popular apps not mentioned:
Facebook: easy to circumvent the age verification, and can set security so parents can’t find it. Also can use fake names. You can create a Facebook Messenger account with actually having a Facebook account. Messenger also now has the ability for “Secret” or encrypted conversations that delete after a certain period of time.
Twitter: Has a Direct message feature that can be sent by anyone. Location can also be turned on. Can follow anyone.
Instagram: Direct Message feature, and can give location if set up. Even innocent family photos of the backyard BBQ with the location turned on can give predators a general area to work with.