Special Report: What undercover apps are on your teen's phone? - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Special Report: What undercover apps are on your teen's phone?

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Apps used by teens can have dangerous consequences for everyone involved.

So how do you know if your child is using a dangerous app or site?

Dr. Kathleen Stansberry is an expert in the field of social media, apps and the internet.

"Parental involvement with media activity is something that should be well ingrained their entire life. Limits should be set early," said Stansberry.

But before you listen to her as an expert she's also a parent.

"My son, my 7-year-old in particular, we spend a fair amount of time online but we do it together," Stansberry said.

Stansberry is familiar with all the new technologies are out there that parents need to look for on their kid's phone, tablets and computers.

Our first topic is apps that are hidden vaults. One called Calculator Plus has nothing to do with a calculator. It's a false front that once you open the app, you need a password, from there you have access to files, to then hide pics and videos.

"That would be a huge red flag that there's something going on that my child doesn't want me to be aware of or doesn't want anyone to be aware of. And it's natural to want privacy but to actively go through the process of hiding something that's not going to work," said Stansberry.

The next type of app and website of concern is the continued popularity of anonymous chat sites, which also all have app versions. What started with Chat Roulette has exploded into sites like Omegle. When you search Omegle on Google, the phrase comes up as, "Talk with Strangers!"

"I feel like, didn't we tell our kids our entire lives not to talk to strangers?" said Stansberry.

The concerning part about an app like Omegle is there is no sign-up, no email address to register too, no phone number meaning no real way to track back who's posting what. You click and instantly start texting a complete stranger.

For a demonstration with the professor we used the internet version of Omegle and in a split second we were connected to a stranger who said she was a 21-year-old woman.

"It shows how easy it is to first go from site to site. So it's not enough to talk about one dangerous site, or dangerous apps. That it's not one location. It's that your phone and your computer and the web in general, facilitates a lot of interactions. A lot of them are good. A lot of them are not," said Stansberry.

According to Stansberry, parents need to have a working relationship with their kids and the types of media their using before you just hand them a phone for the first time.

"It's a conduit into a massive amount of people. So just as you wouldn't, I don't know, send your kid into a crowded auditorium full of people and say ohh go make some friends and not monitor them, you can't do that with a phone either," said Stansberry.

There are two devices and apps parents can use for protection. First parental controls.

"Parental control tend to be more related to maybe making things not available or you can, there are apps so you can have the phone shut off or you can only use apps for a certain amount of time," said Stansberry.

Then there are things called nanny control apps.

"If a child downloads a new app, maybe you can get a ping on your phone or an alert so you are actually connecting your phone or your technology with your child's," said Stansberry.

Bottom line, the apps and the kids are getting smarter, and parents have to try to keep up.

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