INDIANA – Attorney General Todd Rokita has an important warning for parents related to their kids’ internet usage. Technology is a great learning resource, but it can also expose children to inappropriate and dangerous activities online.
“While technology and the internet can be helpful, they can also be harmful,” said Attorney General Rokita. “Social media platforms can be helpful, but they can also open the doors to untraceable anonymous messaging, sex trafficking, and exploitation of children by criminals. We all must take steps to protect our children from online predators.”
Attorney General Rokita wants parents to become familiar with popular phone apps that may make children vulnerable to dangers online. Some of these include:
- TikTok – TikTok is a popular app among kids that are used to create and share short videos with limited privacy controls. Users are vulnerable to explicit content, ads, and cyberbullying from the moment they sign up.
- Bumble – Bumble is a popular dating app that requires women to make first contact. It is common for minors to use this app and falsify their age.
- Grindr – Grindr is a dating app for LGBTQ adults, not children. The app gives users options to chat, share photos, and meet with people based on a smartphone’s GPS location.
- Phony Calculator App – Most phones have a calculator app. However, there are many third-party calculator apps that serve as a “vault” where the user can hide photos, videos, files, and even browser history data.
- Snapchat – Snapchat is a photo and video sharing app that promises users their photo or video will disappear even though it does not. Snapchat stories allow users to view the content for up to 24 hours and share their location.
- Tinder – Tinder is a dating app that allows users to “swipe right” to like someone and “swipe left” to pass. Users can falsify their age, share photos, and messages, and meet.
- Tumblr – Tumblr is a blogging app and website that allows users as young as 13 to create an account. There are very few privacy settings and pornography is easy to find. Most posts are public and cannot be made private.
- WhatsApp – WhatsApp is a popular messaging app allowing users to text, send photos, make calls, and leave voicemails worldwide. This app makes it easier for predators to message children without parents knowing.
- YouTube – YouTube is a video-sharing app that may not be age-appropriate for kids. Inappropriate content can be found using innocent search terms, but with parental controls, this can be avoided.
New apps are always available, so Attorney General Rokita offers a few tips to help parents monitor their child’s online activity:
- Keep the computer or laptop in a common room of the house, not in a child’s bedroom.
- Utilize parental controls available from internet service providers or use blocking software. Some may be accessed by going to “Settings” on your device.
- Always maintain access to a child’s online account and monitor text, email, and other message inboxes.
- Familiarize yourself with computer safeguards, like firewalls, anti-virus software, effective passwords, and secure websites, and ask if they are being utilized at school, the library, and at friends’ homes.
- Never automatically assume that what a child is told online is true.
If you believe you or your child were targeted online by a predator, please contact your local police department. If you believe you were the victim of an online scam, please file a complaint at indianaconsumer.com or call Attorney General Rokita’s office at 1-800-382-5516.