NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – By now, you’re familiar with Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. Every social media app comes with its own risks, but many of the ones that pose the greatest danger to your children, you’ve likely never heard of.
“Probably just lesser known to older folks,” Margie Quin explained. She’s the CEO of End Slavery Tennessee, a 26-year law enforcement veteran, and the mother to a 14-year-old. “If you won’t let your kids go out and play on Interstate-40 or Interstate-65 in rush hour, you shouldn’t let them play on the internet either,” she said.
The dangerous equivalents are social media apps like <a title=”Human trafficking experts on high alert as kids spend more time on internet” href=”https://www.wsmv.com/tncms/asset/editorial/84353b5a-354e-5c36-b8f2-ec5564b640a6/”>LiveMe, which allows users to livestream and find the broadcaster’s location, ASKfm and Whisper. Quin also warned dating apps like Grindr, Skout, Badoo, Plenty of Fish, and MeetMe, and messaging apps like Kik are often reported by human trafficking survivors</a> as apps they were forced to use.
“These are what we call anonymizing apps,” Quin explained, “so, there’s no way for these applications to check your identity, check your age, check your marital status… I think anybody using those types of apps online should assume that people, who are getting online on using them, are not being 100 percent truthful.”
Many of these apps also assign users a random phone number, making it difficult for law enforcement to trace predators. “Kids these age think, ‘Oh, it won’t happen to me,’ but it does. It will happen to kids their age,” Quin said, adding that perpetrators will often include details in their profile to entice young people. “If I’m a predator on the internet, I’m going to put in there that I like the most popular music band that young people are listening to… Slowly overtime, [they] strengthen that relationship and talk to that person more and more, and lure them in, begin to isolate them from their friends and their family.”
Quin encouraged parents to have an open dialogue with their children on this topic.
“I think giving children information is power,” she said. “In 2020, we’re going to have to prepare our children in a way, and it’s going to include information about the internet, and the dangers associated with it. It’s just not responsible at this day and age not to do that if you’re a parent.
Quin recommended parents download the app Family Link to manage children’s activity on their smartphones. It allows you to monitor which apps your child uses, how long they spend on them, and limit their overall phone usage.