#childpredator | 15 apps parents should look out for, per St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is reminding parents to familiarize with today’s potentially dangerous apps their children could have access to.

On Monday, they shared a graphic showing 15 apps parents should know about “which could expose them to bullying, explicit content, sexual predators and more.”

CBS12 News discovered how easy it is for a child to be targeted.

The apps include dating and messaging apps, some well-known like WhatApp, TikTok and Snapchat, as well as Badoo, Skout and MeetMe.

Many of these pose a threat for kids as users can share explicit photos or meet up using a smartphone’s GPS location.

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“They come up with something new every day. I would be a liar to say I know everything that is going on, but a situation is still a situation. You need to help your kids understand the dangers of speaking to strangers,” said Courtney Sharp, business owner and mother of two from West Palm Beach.

There are several secret apps out there, such as ‘Calculator%’, used to hide videos, photos, or browser history.

“What kind of photos would you need to keep a secret? I talk to my kids and explain to them that child pornography is still a law for children, so if they receive or send something that they shouldn’t, they are going to be held accountable for their actions,” Sharp said.

Over the years, law enforcement arrested online predators using these specific apps.

Licensed psychologist Dr. Raphi Wald says the bottom line, protecting your child is parental involvement.

“You want to be honest with them. I think the tendency for a lot of parents may want to sugarcoat rather than tell the whole truth to a child, whatever age it is,” Dr. Wald said.

“If you choose not to talk to your children about the dangers or if you choose to shield them like blocking them from social media access, they’re going to want it more. They’re going to find a way, and now they’re going approach it differently, then if you’d been open and honest with them,” Sharp said.

Apps parents should know about, according to deputies:

MeetMe: A dating app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. Users encouraged to meet in person.

Grindr: A dating app geared toward the LGBTQ community based on smart phone’s GPS location.

Skout: a location-based dating app. While users under 17 are unable to share private photos, they can easily create an account using a different age.

WhatsApp: a messaging app used to send texts, photos, make calls and video chats worldwide.

TikTok: app used to create and share videos with “very limited privacy controls,” per law enforcement and users vulnerable “to bullying and explicit content.”

Badoo: a dating and social networking app based on location intended for adults only.

Bumble: a dating app that requires women to make the first content. Law enforcement says “kids have been known to use Bumble to create fake accounts and falsify their age.”

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.

Kik: Deputies say Kik allows anyone to contact and direct message your child and kids can bypass traditional text messaging features, giving users unlimited access.

Live.Me: a live-streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos. Deputies say users can find out a broadcaster’s location and earn coins as a way to pay minors for photos

Holla: a self-proclaimed “addicting” video chat app that allows users to meet worldwide in seconds, according to deputies. Viewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content and more.

Whisper: deputies say it’s an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers and reveals a user’s location so people can meet up.

Ask.Me: known for cyberbullying and encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions, according to deputies.

Calculator%: deputies say is only one of several secret apps used to hide photos, videos, files, and browser history.

Hot or Not: deputies say it encourages users to rate your children, check out people in their area and chat with strangers.

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