(WPRI/WFLA) — Police say a Warwick man accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old Michigan girl met his alleged victim online and lured her away from her family.
Cases like this are the reason the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is urging parents to check your kids’ phones to see if they are using apps which could put them in contact with potential predators.
The dangerous apps can expose your children to a range of things from bullying and unwanted sexual messages, some apps can even give strangers your child’s location.
Here’s what you can do to help protect your children:
• Approve every app on your kid’s phone
• Check privacy settings
• Talk with your kids about phone use, apps, and social media with your kids
• Find out what is popular in your region, different apps catch on in different locations
Here are the apps the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is warning against:
BUMBLE is similar to the popular dating app “Tinder,” however it requires women to make the first contact. Kids have been known to use Bumble to create fake accounts and falsify their age.
LIVE.ME is a live-streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster’s exact location. Users can earn “coins” as a way to “pay” minors for photos.
ASK.FM is known for cyberbullying. The app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions.
SNAPCHAT is one of the most popular apps of 2018. While the app promises users can take a photo/video and it will disappear, recent features including “stories” allows users to view content for up to 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.
HOLLA is a self-proclaimed “addicting” video chat app that allows users to meet people all over the world in just seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content and more.
CALCULATOR% is only one of several secret apps used to hide photos, videos, files and browser history.
WHISPER is an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user’s location so people can meet up.
HOT OR NOT encourages users to rate your profile, check out people in their area and chat with strangers. The goal of this app is to hook up.
KIK allows anyone to contact and direct message to your child. Kids can bypass traditional text messaging features. KIK gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
A representative from KIK disputed the claim that it gives users “unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime” and released the following statement in response:
“Kik takes online safety very seriously, and we’re constantly assessing and improving our safety measures. There are two ways we do this.
“One is through technology and constant improvements to the product itself. Our team is regularly investigating new technologies and evaluating moderation practices to help us become leaders in online safety. We also encourage users to report content that they believe violates the Kik Terms of Service and Community Standards. Users are able to block other users they no longer wish to chat with, or ignore chats from people that they don’t know. Actions are taken against users found to have violated Kik’s Community Standards or TOS. Those actions may include banning the user from the Kik platform, and reporting illegal behaviors to law enforcement agencies.
“The other is through education and partnerships with organizations that help adults and teens understand the challenges of today’s online landscape and how to avoid bad situations. For years, we’ve had teams dedicated to this, and we will continue to invest in those types of tools, provide resources to parents, and strengthen relationships with law enforcement and safety-focused organizations.
“Online safety will always be a priority for us. We want our users to safely enjoy Kik, and we will continue making it a positive place for them to interact and have meaningful conversations.”