15 apps police say parents should look out for on their kids’ phones

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(WCMH) — Police departments across the country are reminding parents about potentially dangerous apps that could be on their child’s phone.

The list currently being circulated originated with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. It includes several social media apps, dating apps and apps intended to hide content.

The list was first released in May 2018. Six apps were added in July after the arrest of 25 men in an online predator and human trafficking sting.

The sheriff’s office said all six of the new apps were used by the suspects who were arrested.

The app, many of which are intended for adults, can expose your children to a range of things from bullying and unwanted sexual messages, some apps can even give strangers your child’s location.

The apps include:

  • Ask.fm – Ask.fm is known for cyber bullying. The app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions.
  • Badoo – Badoo is a dating and social networking app where users can chat, share photos and videos and connect based on location. While the app is intended for adults only, teens are known to create profiles.
  • Bumble – Bumble is similar to the popular dating app ‘Tinder’ however, it requires women to make the first contact. Kids have been known to use Bumble to create fake accounts and falsify their age.
  • Calculator% – Calculator% is only one of SEVERAL secret apps used to hide photos, videos, files and browser history.
  • Grindr – Grindr is a dating app geared towards gay, bi and transgender people. The app gives users options to chat, share photos and meet up based on a smart phone’s GPS location.
  • Holla– Holla is a self-proclaimed ‘addicting’ video chat app that allows users to meet people all over the world in just seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content and more.
  • Hot or Not – Hot or Not encourages users to rate your profile, check out people in their area, and chat with strangers. The goal of this app is to hook up.
  • Kik – Kik allows anyone to contact and direct message your child. Kids can bypass traditional text messaging features. Kik gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
  • Live.me – Live.me is a live-streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster’s exact location. Users can earn ‘coins’ as a way to ‘pay’ minors for photos.
  • MeetMe – Meetme is a dating social media app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. As the app’s name suggests, users are encouraged to meet each other in person.
  • Skout – Skout is a location-based dating app and website. While users under 17-years-old are unable to share private photos, kids can easily create an account using a different age.
  • Snapchat – Snapchat is one of the most popular apps in recent years. While the app promises users can take a photo/video and it will disappear, new features including ‘stories’ allow users to view content for up to 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.
  • TikTok – TikTok is a new mobile device app popular with kids used for creating and sharing short videos. With very limited privacy controls, users are vulnerable to bullying and explicit content.
  • Whatsapp – Whatsapp is a popular messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, voicemails, make calls and video chats worldwide. Whatsapp uses an internet connection on smart phones and computers.
  • Whisper – Whisper is an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user’s location so people can meet up.

Here’s what you can do to help protect your children:

  • Approve every app on your kid’s phone
  • Check privacy settings
  • Talk with your kids  about phone use, apps, and social media with your kids
  • Find out what is popular in your region, different apps catch on in different locations

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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