Special Report: Apps that keep parents in the dark - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Special Report: Apps that keep parents in the dark

Posted: Updated:

You may think you're one of the parents who has monitoring their teen's high tech conversations pretty well covered. More than 84 percent say they do.

But teens are finding ways around your watchful eyes with new apps that let them text and share photos without you ever knowing. And they've created new codes for the texts you can see, codes you need to know. Your child's safety could depend upon it.

We asked moms and their teenagers to take our technology test. We asked about new apps that allow kids to call, text and send pictures for free, as well as the latest "teen lingo."

Parents didn't score too.

Carol Coleman was surprised to learn "LMIRL" means "Let's Meet In Real Life".

Michelle Burgess successfully guessed what "GYPO" means. "Get Your Pants Off?" she asked. 

We worked with SmartParents, a service that allows parents to monitor their children online, to show you what your teens could be saying on their high tech devices.

"There's been kind of an arms race between parents and technology," explains Gerry Polucci, the CEO and Founder of SmartParents. "And parents are losing."

You may think you're on top of it, watching what your kids text using the plans you pay for, but did you know there are new apps out there that allow teens to call and text for free? They don't even need a data plan.

"It's scary in a way, just not knowing," mom Carol Coleman admitted.

And there are apps that allow people to "text" pictures, which disappear from the receiver's phone in seconds.  

Hailey says though she's never sent a revealing picture, it does happen. "I'm not going to deny that pictures that are really risqué go through that too," she said.

HELPFUL LINKS FOR PARENTS

Making You Child's Online Trips Safer
www.smartparents.com

Ten Terms Parents Should Know
www.smartparents.com/texting.aspx  

Parental Monitoring to Prevent Cyberbulling or Sexting
http://www.uknowkids.com/ 

Figuring Out the Lingo
http://www.uknowlingo.com/

Some 28 percent of teens report they've texted naked photos of themselves. What teens don't realize is that the picture isn't always gone for good.

"The receiving person can take a screen shot of that on their iphone," Polucci says.

And speaking of risqué, the very latest chat terms are anything but innocent. Few of our parents knew that "GNRN" means "Get Naked Right Now" or that "IMEZRU" actually means "I'm Easy Are You?"

Teens use these abbreviations and hundreds more to "KPC" or "Keep Parents Clueless."

But they're not alone.

"Sexual predators use these terms for much the same reason," Polucci says.

Tim Woda says an online sexual predator used teen chat abbreviations like "A-L" for "Age and Location" to target his 14-year-old son.

"I was terrified," Woda said. He told police, and the man chatting with his son was arrested and pleaded guilty to "sexual solicitation of a minor".

"This particular predator had over 250,000 lines of sentences in code written in his computer where he was targeting and grooming children," Woda revealed.

SmartParents suggests you monitor the apps your child downloads and stay on top of the tech lingo. Odds are your kids are.

"The technology is so different today than it was in my generation," Michelle Burgess says.

After Tim's experience, he started a company that helps parents monitor their kids online, uKnow.com 

Powered by WorldNow

1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, Ga. 31906

FCC Public File
publicfile@wtvm.com
706-494-5400
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WTVM. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.