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Family 411: Kids and smartphones, protecting children from internet dangers

CINCINNATI (Sheila Gray) -- Ever hear of Skout?  How about Chat Roulette?
Strangers who want to get to your kids could be as close as those apps on their smartphones.  We've all heard the warnings about watching our kids on the computer but now those computers are in their pockets.

"They can change the operational software.  They can change or hide what they're doing," Dr. Art Jipson said, a Sociology and Criminology professor.

Candace's 13-year-old daughter Anna uses her smartphone to connect with friends.

"She texts, and a little bit of Instagram," said Candace.
Lots of kids connect on apps like Instagram along with Facebook, Snapchat, the lesser known Skout and countless other chat apps.

"There's a lot of information being shared when people think they have privacy," Dr. Jipson said.
Criminal experts say young people, and even parents, don't always fully understand how easily they can reveal their identity and location.  Candace didn't know that her daughter's phone can actually communicate with the apps on it, even when she's not using it.  Did you?
Predators do and criminals have used random chat apps to geolocate their targets.

13-year-old Anna said, "It never asked me my age or if I had my parents permission."

Internet security firm Mcafee did a recent survey of kids.  More than half said their parents know only some of what they do online.  About a quarter said their parents don't have time to check.

Parents need to know the latest software, know the latest apps.  You can turn off location services on the phone or the apps in its privacy settings.  Click on each app to see if it is accessing the phone, info or pictures.  The free app "Lookout" will warn you about security risks, tell you how to improve security settings, and even tell you which apps are tracking and revealing your location.
And don't forget to talk to your kids.  Experts say communication is better than any software.  Experts also say this generation of kids thinks it's completely natural to share everything about their lives online.  So be sure to talk with your kids about what's appropriate.  And it's not a bad idea to spend some time with the owner's manual for your kids smartphone.

Follow Sheila Gray on Twitter @SheilaGrayTV and LIKE her on Facebook

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