A team of investigators found that online predators often use apps to target kids and have singled out several apps that could be putting your children in danger.
On the surface, there's nothing wrong with any of these apps but police have found these social media apps, including some messaging and dating apps, are being used as a medium by sex offenders and predators to lure minors.
Law enforcement is urging parents to remain vigilant and check their children's phones for suspicious activity. These potentially dangerous apps include popular social media apps like SnapChat as well. Most of these apps do require the user to be 18 years old, but like most social media, they have no way to verify whether or not a user is lying about his or her age.
Here's a list of the apps that could expose your children to unwanted sexual advances:
1. MEETME - A dating app that allows users to connect with others based on their geographic location. The app exclusively encourages users to "make friendships" with strangers nearby.
2. Kik Messenger – This instant messaging app, which is popular among children and teenagers, and has been known to allow child abusers and sex offenders to use the platform to reach out to their victims.
3. Snapchat - The photo-messaging app is loved by teenagers for its funny selfies and auto-deleting messages, but it has become a "haven" for predators who use the app to prey on minors.
4.HOLLA – This random video chatting app lets people meet others around the world over video chat for a designated amount of time. The app's ability to stay connected as 'Friends' allows predators to use this app to lure in young girls.
5.Whisper – A social media app that allows teens to share photos and video messages anonymously with strangers. Although the app keeps the user's identity anonymous, it does reveal the user's location, which has been exploited by a child predator to contact and rape a 14-year-old girl.
6. GRINDR - a dating app intended for gay, bi and transgender people, gives users options to chat, share photos and meet up with each other using location-based technology.
7. Skout – a location-based dating app that encourages talking and meeting up with strangers. The app has previously been used by predators to find and target young users.
8. LIVE.ME - a live-streaming video app that is a potential hunting ground for predators. The app allows users to share live videos of themselves to an anonymous audience and uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster's exact location up to 10 feet. Users can earn coins as a way to pay broadcasting underage girls for photos.
How to protect your kids from predators?
We urge parents to check their children's phones and the apps on their devices as this is the best way to defend against possible predators.