With recent reports of arrests made for online predator and human trafficking, Sheriff Johnny Bivens is reminding parents about potentially dangerous apps their kids could have access to.
Bivens said predators frequently utilize the internet and mobile applications to contact the children to have sex.
Law enforcement nationwide have compiled a list of 21 apps parents should know about and become familiar with.
The apps include well-known social media and dating apps like Snapchat, TikTok and WhatsApp, as well as location-based dating apps like MeetMe, Grindr and Skout.
Bivens says he encourages parents to monitor their children’s phones and keep an eye on what mobile apps they are using.
He say parents and teens should know two things:
1. Once a picture or video leaves your phone and is sent to someone else, it is out of your control.
2. Someone can use that picture or video against you.
Bivens also recommends parents and teens check out the website Netsmartz for more guidelines to follow.
The apps featured on the most recently compiled list:
• Plenty of Fish: A popular free dating app and website that encourages chatting with strangers. It allows users to browse profiles based on location.
• HILY: A dating app where users can browse photos, engage in chats, send private videos and more. Based on the GPS location of a mobile device, strangers can arrange to meet up locally.
• Zoosk: A location-based dating app and website similar to many others. The app is available in 80 countries and utilized a ‘carousel’ feature which matches users with random strangers.
• Mocospace: A free social networking and dating app. Users can connect with strangers worldwide via text messages or voice calls.
• Best Secret Folder: Specifically meant to hide photos and videos. According to app store descriptions, it features password protection, decoy videos and alarm settings.
• Monkey: A live video chat app that connects users to random strangers worldwide, offering group chat and private message options. It claims to be rated for ages 12 and up but has “mild sexual content and nudity.”
• MeetMe: A dating social media app 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 falsify their age.
• Live.Me: A live-streaming app that uses geolocation to share videos. The sheriff’s office said users can earn “coins” to “pay” minors for photos.
• Ask.FM: The sheriff’s office said this app lets users ask anonymous questions and is known for cyberbullying.
• Grindr: A dating app geared toward the LGBTQ community based on user 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,” the sheriff’s office said. The Kik app is actually going away, although there’s no clear date for when it will shut down.
• 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.
Credit: Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office
Click here for a printable PDF of the apps.