LITTLETON, Colo. — Kids and teens love their phones and apps, but they are not always fun and games.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office’s Cheezo Unit, 15 child sex predators have been arrested after trying to lure children using social media sites.
“Those are the ones we have caught because I have a very small unit here and half the time we’re doing education,” Sgt. Mike Harris said.
Cheezo focuses heavily on education for children and parents to try and prevent kids from falling victims to predators.
It compiled a list of the 10 apps teens are using that parents need to know”.
- Calculator% — It looks like a calculator but functions like a secret photo vault.
- Omegle — A free online chat website that promotes chatting anonymously to strangers.
- Yellow — It’s designed to allow teens to flirt with each other in a Tinder-like atmosphere.
- Whisper — An anonymous app where the creators promote sharing secrets and meeting new people.
- Ask.fm — Ask an anonymous question and get an answer. This app has been linked to the most severe forms of bullying
- Instagram — Many kids are creating fake accounts to hide content from parents. Kids also like to text using Instagram because messages are deleted once a user leaves a conversation.
- Kik — The messaging app has built-in apps and web content that would be filtered on home computers.
- Wishbone — An app that allows users to compare kids against each other and rate them on a scale.
- Burn Book — Post anonymous rumors about people through audio messages, tests, and photos.
- Hot or Not — Strangers rate your profile. Goal is to lead to a hook up.
While these are considered by Cheezo to be the most important apps for parents to know about, investigators warn they need to research every app on a child’s phone since they are constantly changing.
“Every time I think I’ve seen it all, we are blown away,” Harris said. “If you give out personal information, you’re talking to people you don’t know, any app or social networking site can be dangerous.”
He also recommends turning the location services off on any app a child is using so predators can’t use geo-data to determine their location.
Cheezo will be hosting a class for parents about online safety at 6:30 p.m. May 10 at Falcon Bluffs Middle School (8449 S. Garrison St., Littleton).