Parents: Know the apps your teens use - WNEM TV 5

Parents: Know the apps your teens use

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MICHIGAN, (WNEM) -

Internet use is a major part of most people’s lives, especially teenagers. So, the Michigan State Police are reminding parents to be safe and smart about the social networking apps their children use.

Earlier this month, an Endangered Missing Advisory was issued for a local 16-year-old. Investigators said she packed a bag of clothes and left with an unknown person she met on the Kik messenger app.

Luckily, officials found the teen safe on Iowa State University’s campus.

Kik allows users to chat anonymously and does not validate user information. It is designed to protect privacy, but also means that users do not truly know who they are talking with.

Police said predators use the app to convince teens to do things which result in exploitation or harm.

Kik is just one of the hundreds of free social networking apps available to kids and teens.

Michigan State Police have released a list of tips for parents to keep their family’s safe: 

  • Understand what your kids are saying when they are talking to others.  Some acronyms  include
    • PAW or PRW: Parents are watching
    • PIR: Parents in room
    • POS: Parent over shoulder
    • P911: Parent emergency
    • (L) MIRL: (Let’s) meet in real life
    • 9: Parent watching
    • 99: Parent gone
  • Talk with your kids and don’t sugar coat reality.  Share news stories with them, even if they include uncomfortable details.
  • Talk with your children about sexual victimization and potential online dangers.
  • Spend time with your kids online and have them teach you about their favorite apps, networks, and web sites.
  • Monitor your child’s phone.  Keep laptops and computers in common rooms.  Consider making your children’s rooms and the bathrooms technology free zones.
  • Utilize parent controls and randomly check his or her online accounts.
  • Teach your children responsible online activities and approve their apps.   

There are also several resources available online for parents. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) provides a comprehensive list of resources on their website.

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