PITTSBURGH - Every day it seems your kids are using a new social media app to talk with friends and even strangers.
“You don’t know who you are really dealing with,” one teen told Target 11.
“They will send you pictures that show bad things,” said another.
Karen Yoakum is a U.S. postal inspector who speaks to kids about online safety.
“They're looking for that child to respond and online predators they are very savvy,” she said. “A lot of the apps we see over and over in our investigations are KiK.
Kik is an instant messaging app that's been associated with sexting.
“It's difficult because parents need to watch all the programs their kids are using,” said Deputy Attorney General Tony Marmo of the Attorney General’s Child Predator Section.
Just a few weeks ago, a mother in Brackenridge discovered her 14-year-old daughter sexting with a 23-year-old man she met on the teen dating website Mylol.
Agents from the Attorney General’s office set up a meeting and busted the man.
"If it were a perfect world we would catch everyone before they ever touched a real kid," said Marmo.
Vine lets you post short videos but because nudity and profanity are allowed, the app quickly earned a maturity warning and 17+ rating from Apple.
Snapchat lets you share video and pictures that supposedly disappear after a few seconds but we learned there are ways to recover that data.
And just a few months ago, Target 11 alerted parents about Ask.Fm, an app that lets users post anonymous messages.
It's been blamed for cyberbullying and even teen suicide.
Yoakum tells Target 11 the key is for parents to be aware and involved.
“The message to parents is to set boundaries, set guidelines and have an open line of communication,” she said.
Target 11 reached out to the creators of these apps. Some responses are below:
We launched Ask.fm in 2010 to create a place where young people could ask each other the questions that are shaping their world, and share the thoughts, ideas and feelings these questions inspire.
Theirs is an age of curiosity. Their lives are changing. They are making the challenging transition from childhood to adult life. We give them a platform where they feel sufficiently confident to do this openly and honestly.
We believe that Ask.fm plays an important and positive role in the developing lives of young people around the world. With more than 80 million registered users in over 150 countries, we are proud of the contribution we are making and the community we are building.
Each member’s safety and well-being remains as important to us as it is to them, their friends, parents, guardians, and teachers. Of course, like any community, be it online or in the school playground, a tiny minority can spoil life for the overwhelming majority. That is why I want to tell you that we are always working hard to keep Ask.fm a fun and safe place for our members and users.
Over the past few years, Kik has put a major emphasis on building features and resources for both users and parents. On May 20, Kik announced a unique new set of features in the app, that mean messages from new people are treated in a totally different way.
Conversations with new people are automatically moved into a separate section, and users will only see the text of the messages from new people. Profile pictures and any picture of content messages will be blurred until the user chooses to look at them. Users have the option to reply, delete, block or report a new person right from their message.
Unlike many other smartphone instant messengers, which are based on a users' phone number, Kik uses usernames to identify our users. By using usernames instead of phone numbers as the unique identifier on Kik, users' personal information like cell phone numbers and email addresses are never, ever shared on Kik.
KiK also provides helpful information to users through its Help Center. Users can get information on how to keep their Kik account private there.
Additionally, we've developed a Parent Guide, to provide information about how parents can help their teens to have a great (and safe) experience on Kik. We're available to parents and users via our support email and via our Help Center.
Since June 20 2013, we are a Canadian company that has bought the old MyLOL.net website to transform into the new website MyLOL.com.
Our goal is to make this website more professional and even more secure.
The safety of our MyLOL members is very important to us and to the success of the company. The security is being improved on in each update that is made.
Every member who registers on MyLOL must read and accept these Terms and Conditions: http://www.mylol.com/master_terms.asp
We also send a private message to all new members explaining the security measures we use on MyLOL: http://www.mylol.com/safety.asp
The minimum age to register on MyLOL is 13 years old and the maximum his 19 years old.
Everything’s is reportable on MyLOL by a single click using the report button.
In our team, we have many adults admin moderator that verify all the report each 3 hours and they also verify each new registered members and uploaded profile pictures.
Vine lists rules and policies on its site.
Experts recommend parents be alongside their children when they download apps, or restrict access to apps by using the parental settings on their smartphones.
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