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Family First: Phone apps and children's safety

You've heard the warnings before, but don't overlook even the "harmless", well-known apps

With kids no longer physically in school, and summer vacation just around the corner, State Police want parents to know how to keep their children safe. 

For a lot of these apps, you’ve heard the warnings before, but don’t overlook the seemingly harmless gaming apps like Roblox. They’re designed for kids but where kids go, predators go, claiming to be kids. That’s where they groom children and start to chat with them.

Police say parents should check messages periodically, going beyond the text message box. Look for other apps on the phone where kids can be messaging. There are a lot of them.

Watch the full video on how to keep children safe when it comes to apps.

If you’re worried about breaking trust with your child by overstepping and looking into their phone, police say don't be:

"If your child is under 18 and you pay for the phone, not only can you search the phone—but you should be checking that phone periodically."

Tik Tok is one of the most popular apps out right currently. It’s all about funny, short videos or dances generally--kids aren’t thinking that their video and are high risk, but police say they can be:

"Most kids, when recording, they do it in their bedroom. They’re broadcasting out to everyone information. A lot [of kids] have public accounts, they want to get more followers. So think about all that info: a poster of band you like, what school you go to, maybe their name on the wall. Then, predators hop on Tik Tok and gather information."

Police say to be on the lookout for fake Instagram accounts as well.  

Your kids know you know about their main account, but a fake Instagram profile or “Finsta” would be public, likely have more followers. Those may be posts you don’t approve of and it won’t have their real name on it. To find out if your child has a "Finsta", open the app and click on the top. There you’ll see all the names used on the app.

You may have had a lot of talks with your child about not snapchatting anything they’ll ever regret, but did you know there’s a “my eyes only storage”?  It’s not automatic. If your child has this feature, they had to turn it on, and there’s likely pictures or video hidden inside.

There's even more things to consider when it comes to hidden; Some apps may look like calculators, but most won't be. Police say when you put in a secret passcode, it can open to a secret photo vault, video vault, or secret internet browser. It's a place where children can store things they don't want mom or dad to see. 

Parents should be familiar with common phrases, hashtags, and double meanings of emojis as well. On some apps, users can remain anonymous, rate people, divulge secrets about others, and State Police say it can lead to cyberbullying. 

Another tip is to make sure kids know what information to never put out on social media.

It is a lot for parents to monitor and there are resources that can help, like bark.us.