With so many kids doing at-home learning and on the internet regularly, law enforcement departments across the country have put together a list of phone apps parents should be aware of.
Online predators can find their way to your child at any time and recently during a sting operation in Sarasota, Florida, 25 people were arrested for trying to lure a child for sex. According to Sheriff Tom Knight, “all of the men arrested utilized the internet and mobile applications to contact the children.”
Apps Parents Should Know About:
- MeetMe is a dating social media app that connects people based on their location. Users are encouraged to meet in person.
- WhatsApp is a messaging app that allows texts, video calls, photo sharing, and voicemails with users worldwide.
- Bumble is similar to Tinder, but requires women to make the first contact. Law enforcement says kids and teens can create fake accounts and falsify their age.
- Live.Me is a live-streaming app that uses geolocation to share videos. Users can earn “coins” to “pay” minors for photos.
- Ask.FM is an app that lets users ask anonymous questions and is known for cyberbullying.
- Grindr is a dating app geared toward the LGBTQ community based on user location. Some users have been lured only to be assaulted.
- TikTok is a new app popular with kids that 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 is 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 is a self-proclaimed “addicting” video chat app that 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 is 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 is another 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.
- Whisper is an anonymous social network that lets users share secrets with strangers. Police say it also shows users’ locations so people can meet up.
- Hot or Not is the app that 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.
An estimated 752,000 people are listed on state sex offender registries in the U.S. as of fall 2019, and according to a new SafeHome.org survey, a majority of people have checked the sex offender registry in their state to see how many offenders live near them. And these are just the people who are registered.
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Sources: SafeHome.org, Office of Ken Paxton/Attorney General of Texas, Sarasota Sheriff’s Office