Harlem is starting school today and the other local schools are soon to follow, so local law enforcement is wanting parents to be aware of certain app your kids could be using on their phones.

Police want parents to know that the "messenger" apps their kids are using could come with a higher cost.

Loves Park School Resource Officer Aaron Johnson told mystateline.com:

You can message and communicate through Instagram. Snapchat is probably the biggest one, It kind of gives the illusion of safety. They say that the messages go away when they’re deleted, but that’s not the case. A lot of times, either [someone will] screenshot a picture or screenshot a text message.”

Some apps aren't even what they say they are. Some serve the purpose of hiding things that your children might not want you to find.

Johnson touched on that by saying:

The one I know, specifically, [is Calculator+]. It shows up as a calculator. And, if you put in a certain combination of numbers, like a safe, it unlocks a partition in the phone that you can store photos in, that you wouldn’t even know were there, otherwise,”

If that wasn't scary enough some even disclose your child's location while they're using it.

Johnson says to make sure you go into the settings of the app and make sure there’s not a location component. If there is one it's usually set to public, so that would have to be changed to hide the user's location.

Keeping communication lines open with your kids about what they're doing online is always a good thing to do.

Talk with your kids and see what they’re using, how they’re using it, and download it for yourself. See if it’s something that you’re okay with them having that level of privacy.”

It's not just local law enforcement that is waring parents, but law enforcement across the country are telling parents about 15 apps they should be aware of. One department even posted a graphic to their social media with them all listed:

  • MeetMe: The dating social media app allows people to connect based on location. Users are encouraged to meet each other in person.
  • WhatsApp: The messaging app allows users to send texts, video calls, and voicemails to other people. It also includes photo sharing and video chat capabilities.
  • Bumble: Similar to Tinder, but requires women to make the first contact. Police said kids and teens have been known to make fake accounts and lie about their age.
  • Live.Me: A geolocation-based live-streaming app that allows users to find a broadcaster’s location. Police said users can earn “coins” to “pay” minors for photos.
  • Ask.FM: The app lets users ask anonymous questions. Police said it can be used for cyberbullying.
  • Grindr: A dating app geared toward the gay, bi and transgender community. Users can chat, share photos and meet based on their phones’ GPS location.
  • TikTok: The app lets users create and share short videos. Police said it’s popular with kids and has limited privacy controls. Users are vulnerable to cyberbullying and explicit content.
  • Snapchat: Snapchat remains one of the world’s most popular social media apps. Users are supposed to be able to send photos/videos that will later disappear, but features like “stories” allow people to share content for up to a day. Snapchat also allows other users to see your location.
  • Holla: A video chat app that allows users to meet people from all over the world. According to some reviews, users could encounter explicit content, racial slurs, profanity and more.
  • Calculator+: The innocuous-looking app appears to be a standard calculator but allows users to hide photos, videos, and files they don’t want other people to see.
    Skout: The location-based dating app doesn’t allow users 17 and under to share private photos, but kids could easily create an account by lying about their age.
  • Badoo: The dating and social media app is meant to be for adults, but teens have been known to create accounts. Users can chat and share photos and videos based on location.
  • Kik: The app allows users to send direct messages to other users. Kids can use it to bypass traditional text messaging.
  • Whisper: The anonymous social network lets users share information with strangers. It also reveals a user’s location so people can meet each other.
  • Hot or Not: The “hookup” app lets users rate profiles, check out people in their area and chat with strangers.

There are monitoring apps out there that parents can use to see their child's location and send them alerts about it, along with being able to supervise and control what apps they can download and use. Those are NetNanny and Norton Family Premier.

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