December 22, 2015 at 9:44 PM EST - Updated July 9 at 6:46 PM
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC)
Your kids are on their smart phones all the time, but do you know what apps they are using and which ones maybe you should talk to them about.
One local expert says no app is safe, and it may be time to lose a few to keep your child safe.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We all know the big names. Did you know your kids may be using other social media outlets, you don’t know about? Who else might be using them may even scare you.
Everyone has their favorite app, and most of these kids caught on long before you did.
Experts say some apps, like Kik, may be opening their phones to danger. Kik is an instant messaging app and doesn’t need a phone number like typical text message, just a user name. So anyone can sign up.
“If you log into their accounts, you can see what apps they have downloaded, but if they use snapchat, for example, you won't know if they are using it for something they are not supposed to do,” said Antoine Gedroyc, One Stop IT.
Gedroyc with One Stop IT in Savannah says there really is no such thing as a safe app anymore, because the heavy flow of data and pictures linked to social media. It makes dangerous strangers lurking, behind false profiles, a true threat.
“Adults that are saving those pictures you are not supposed to save but can save, can be sold on black market of child pornography and other disgusting things,” said Gedroyc.
"It's not a rare thing for us to see that,” said Alex Beck, Gaggle.
Alex Beck works for Gaggle – a company partnering with school districts to monitor students' social media. He says anonymous apps can be tools for sex offenders.
“Sort of a child grooming, a predator grooming a child or something like that. Obviously it's mostly student to student but students can't be sure of who they're talking to with anonymous apps,” said Beck.
With Ask.fm, anyone can create an account and start asking and answering questions.
"You can't see the person asking the question, even if you want to know,” said Jesus Gomez, sophomore.
The safety team at Ask.fm have moderators browsing posts to make sure nothing crosses the line, but critics say you can’t catch every detail.
Whisper lets anonymous users share secrets they may not want to post elsewhere. Everything from X-rated call outs to unsettling calls for help. The app's developers say they've referred more than 50,000 posts to the National Suicide Hotline for help. Whisper's critics say teens could do without it.
"They're sort of what we refer to here as basically the stall of a public bathroom. Anyone can get on there. Anyone can make an account and say what they want to say,” said Beck.
The same goes for Yik Yak, which works like a community message board. Users have to be at least 18 to sign up for this one. Anyone in the general area can post to the app and wait for answers. Experts say it is best a parent is involved.
"If they're left on their own, then who knows what they could be doing,” said Beck.
The best advice for parents: know what apps your children are using, keep an open line of communication, ask questions and don’t be afraid to be nosey. Especially if you are paying the phone bill.