Detective: Parents should be aware of apps their kids are using - WSMV News 4

Detective: Parents should be aware of apps their kids are using

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

Channel 4 is examining some popular phone apps teens are using today and the dangers that parents and grandparents need to know.

“Parents have got to be on their toes and they have to understand what their children are doing on their apps,” said Det. Chad Gish with Metro police.

Gish works in the Technical Support Unit with Metro police. A father of teens, he said he is intentional about learning the new apps and warning others of the potential dangers behind them.

In some gaming and puzzle apps, users join a room through a back door and then often communicate and play a game with a stranger.

“We have a child who’s a minor and they think they’re playing this game with another minor who’s really pinned themselves off on the screen name as “Micheal16California,” and it’s actually a 65-year-old man or woman, usually a man, chatting and trolling and trying to find more information out about these children,” Gish said.

More apps are created every day. Some of the more popular ones are Kik, Whisper and Tumblr.

Some of the dangers include an app not requiring age verification. Even if it’s rated for people over the age of 17, anyone can download it.

Some reviews reveal people using an app to meet strangers for sexting. Other apps can be full of child solicitation and show a user’s exact location.

For any app, parents should know there are thousands of users, some predators with bad intentions, who are trying to get to their child.

Gish said in one Midstate case, a man befriended a girl by pretending to be a young boy.

“’Send me a selfie shot of you naked,’ and of course she was like, ‘Why should I do this?’” Gish said. “’Well, if you don’t, I’m going to tell your boyfriend.’ And so anyway, she ended up sending him a picture of herself, and so once he got these pictures, he started blackmailing her with these pictures.”

There are also covert apps. They appear to function in one way, such as a calculator app. But enter a code and it opens an encrypted back end with secret files.

A quick search for “best iPhone apps to hide photos” reveals apps like Keepsafe, Vaulty and Photo Vault.

Gish had a final message for parents.

“You can’t police them 24/7 online. You just can’t. There’s no way. You have to educate and arm yourself with what these applications do,” he said.

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