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Police Say Predators Use Apps To Target Minors

Reported: Apr. 20, 2014 12:04 AM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (Dan Matics) – Police are issuing an important warning for parents - online predators are now using some smartphone apps to target kids!

Would you give your cell phone number to a complete stranger?

That's essentially what police say some kids are doing on social media websites, by simply posting their screen names to messenger apps.

This could give a predator an open invitation to a conversation with your child.

It's no secret some social media websites can be a breeding ground for online predators, but now police said a few newer apps for your smart phones make it easier for the wrong people to send or solicit inappropriate pictures to and from minors.

"It’s getting out of control,” Cpl. M. Moore, of West Virginia State police, said. “I don't know where the stop button is."

Moore is investigating an alleged online predator -who reached out to a minor through the app Kik.

"It’s a conversation with someone they don’t know and it turns sexual," Moore said.

Kik and similar apps can be used with wi-fi, and a lot of kids use the messaging part so it won't eat up their data plan.

Here's how it works:

Kids post their screen names on sites like Facebook and Twitter -- open season for a child predator.

"They go to town,” Moore said. “It’s all anonymous, and they can just go to town."

Another app to worry about is snapchat.

It's picture messaging, but the picture goes away within ten seconds.

"There’s the possibility there's no evidence," Moore said.

He said always think about what you send and receive.

"Don’t just hand an iPad or cell phone to a kid,” he said. “Teach them safety!"

Moore says the best thing is don't talk to someone on these kinds of apps, unless you are absolutely sure it's someone you know.

And never assume anything is private - once it's on the Internet, it's there forever.



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