Police warn of dangers of social media apps after Saginaw girl f - WNEM TV 5

Police warn of dangers of social media apps after Saginaw girl found in WI

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Online safety was in the forefront after a Mid-Michigan girl was reunited with her family more than a week after vanishing with a man she met online.

That girl was found in Wisconsin.

The man she was with, 43-year-old James Werner, is behind bars awaiting extradition.

Police officers are sounding the alarms to make sure your child is safe.

Carman Castillo walked around Hoyt Park in Saginaw with her three kids on Tuesday. She said any time they are in public she stays on her toes with the mother bear mentality.

"It's very important they stay safe and I warn them all the time they have to stay by me," Catillo said.

It's what can happen in the very safety of her home she worries about most - what her kids may come across on the internet.

"A lot of predators out there. I worry a lot," Castillo said.

Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel said with the growing number of apps there is good reason for concern.

"They, being predators, have a lot more access to our kids than they ever used to have," Federspiel said.

Police said the missing 14-year-old Saginaw girl used the social media app Kik. That's how she first came into contact with the Wisconsin man.

It is an app Castillo said she knew little about, but her 10-year-old daughter knew what it was.

"It's basically where a lot of people go and they make videos about themselves," her daughter Cynthia said.

Cynthia doesn't have a phone, but she has some friends who use the app.

Federspiel said parents need to take extreme caution because once the app is closed the messages are gone.

"It's dangerous for young people who are communicating with someone they don't even know," Federspiel said.

He said parents must be involved more and know what their kids are doing and what apps they are using.

Castillo said she is always warning her kids about the dangers.

"They want to be trusting because they want to believe everybody's good, but that's not always the case," Castillo said.

It's apps like Kik and Snapchat that police said are becoming the more common tools predators are using.

There are tips on the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children that help parents stay aware of the newest apps kids and potential predators are using.

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