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  • Writer's pictureGrow

Are Your Kids Using These Apps?

It is not a question of whether your child does or doesn't need a cell phone. At this stage in the advancement of the human race, a cell phone is a necessity. As a parent spending $1,000 on this necessity, I am a little confused but that is my own personal issue.

There have been several recent reports of arrests made after online predators and human trafficking stings. Law enforcement officers around the country are reminding parents about potentially dangerous apps their kids could have access to.

The apps included in a list distributed by law enforcement 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.

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. Law Enforcement said users can earn "coins" to "pay" minors for photos.

Ask.FM: Law Enforcement 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+: Law Enforcement says 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, Law Enforcement says 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. Law Enforcement says 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," Law Enforcement said.

Whisper: An anonymous social network that lets users share secrets with strangers. Law Enforcement says it also shows users' locations so people can meet up.

Hot or Not: The app lets users rate profiles, check out people in their area and chat with strangers. Law Enforcement says the goal of the app is to hook up.

In May, Apple and Google removed three dating apps from their stores after reports of the apps allowing children as young as 12 to access them. The Federal Trade Commission said apps Meet24, FastMeet and Meet4U appeared to violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and the FTC Act.

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.

Voit also recommends parents and teens check out the website Netsmartz for some guidelines to follow. 

Having sat in training about the dangers of the cyber world, Grow definitely encourages parents to stay up to date about what is truly lurking beneath the surface. Some basic apps are decoys to obtain a user's details for resale.

The most susceptible to technology transgressions are the elderly and our children. Let us ensure that they are being protected.

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