Predators Using Smartphone Apps to Target Teens - ABC 8NEWS - WRIC | Richmond, Virginia News & Weather

Predators Using Smartphone Apps to Target Teens

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HENRICO (WRIC) – The Beasley family has three daughters and two of them already have smartphones.

Instagram is ok but Facebook is off limits because of the dangers that could be lurking.

"There is such an easy access to them through these outlets," says mom Paulette Beasley. "That it's hard to protect them from those things that can be harmful."

Detective Kevin Hiner works in the Richmond Internet Crimes Unit and sees more and more teens using apps to hide things from their parents.

But that also means criminals, pedophiles and sex offenders are getting to your children through social media.

"'If your child is in a room upstairs with this type of technology, there's a child sexual predator in the bedroom," Hiner says. "Whether or not they are there in person, or they are there via the Internet."

Parents, have your heard of an app called KIK? Kids are using it to send text messages to each other. And if you're just checking their regular text messages, you'll never know what they are up to.

Kids are using Snap Chat to send naked pictures of themselves to friends and their "online friends" - people they don't really know.

And they think it's not a big deal because the pictures automatically delete in as little as three seconds.

"When we talk with children that have done that, the best advice we can give them is, well, if you are not going to walk in naked to your homeroom in high school, you probably shouldn't be sending nude pictures of yourself," Hiner says. "Because once it's out on the Internet, it's out there forever."

The Beasleys say they've given their girls some freedom because they already have a good foundation.

But that doesn't mean mom and dad aren't checking in.

"I think you have to be smart," Paulette Beasley says. "You know your kids are going to be curious and that they do get influenced by their friends, so there has to be that time when you are double checking to make sure they are staying on that right path."

So what do you as a parent need to do to stay on top of all these new apps?

Don't just check their emails, text messages or calls. You also need to check the apps they are using.

Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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