Sarasota County Sheriff's Office arrested 25 men in a sting operation to catch online child predators. The men were between the ages of 19 and 65, and had originally believed they were meeting up with 14-year-old children for sex. The arrests were made just last month.
In the wake of this operation, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has compiled a list of 15 apps that all parents should know about. Enough is Enough (EIE), a national non-profit organization, shared the list and added it to their catalog of tools to help kids stay safe online.
It should be noted that none of the apps are inherently bad, but they have the potential to be misused and abused by child predators and cyber-bullies.
In addition to the list of apps, EIE encourages parents to teach their kids smart online habits. They report that you should teach your child to:
- Be as anonymous as possible
- Use privacy settings
- Avoid in-person meetings
- Be honest about their age when signing up for apps
- Remember social networking sites are public spaces
- Avoid posting anything that could embarrass them later or expose them to danger
- Remember that people aren't always who they say they are
- Avoid inappropriate content and behavior
- Report inappropriate behavior to social networking sites
As for the apps, the list originally started out at nine, but eventually grew to 15:
- MeetMe: A social dating app that allows users to connect based on proximity.
- Grindr: A dating app geared toward LGBT users, also connects based on proximity.
- Skout: Location-based dating app, easy to create accounts with false information.
- WhatsApp: Worldwide messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, calls and video chats.
- Tiktok: An app for users to make short videos. Generally safe, but highly susceptible to cyber bullying.
- Badoo: Adults-only dating and social app, has been used by teens.
- Bumble: A dating app like Tinder, but is easy to make accounts with false information.
- Snapchat: Social app that deletes photos after viewing, and users can view each other's location.
- Kik: Social app that allows anyone to contact and direct-message your child.
- LiveMe: Live-streaming video app; users can earn coins to 'pay' minors for videos.
- Holla: Video chat app; reviewers report being confronted with racial slurs and explicit content.
- Whisper: Anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers.
- Ask.fm: Anonymous questions app, infamous for cyber-bullying.
- Calculator%: One of several secret apps to hide photos, videos and other files.
- Hot or Not: Social app that encourages users to rate your profile. Also allows users to meet up.
All of this information was compiled in EIE's effort to combat the exploitation of children online.
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