COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Parents, if you aren't already monitoring what your kids are doing on their smart phones and tablets, you might want to start today.
Cyber experts say some of the apps teenagers are using for what seems to be child's play, can open the door to some very risky behavior with long term consequences. Who hasn't snapped a picture and Face Booked, texted or tweeted it someone?It happens all the time, but according to cyber experts, kids are using certain apps to go the extra mile. Apps like Snap Chat allow users to send a picture or video faster than the standard text, but some kids are using it to send nude pictures of themselves to a boyfriend or girlfriend. The sender thinks the snap will automatically delete, but that's not always the case.
Lexington County parents Dawn Hyatt and Carin Sease both have teenagers who are big into the social media. Both are familiar with Snap Chat and other apps popular with teens.
"I'm always checking to see what they've got on there and what they don't have on there," said Dawn Hyatt, referring to her kids' tablets and cell phones. Carin Sease says "I have all their passwords and they hate it, they hate it." Sease and Hyatt say they take those steps to make sure their kids don't experience the potential negative consequences of using social media platforms.
The app whisper is also pretty popular with the teenage crowd. It allows an anonymous user to put a text over picture which some say can open the door for secrets to be posted. The experts say because a user can remain anonymous some teens have used it to bully other kids. "Kids can go ahead and say what they want. They can just walk away and there's no reaction and a lot of times. They're braver behind an ipad or phone than they would be face to face, so to me it's escalated that," Sease says.
USC professor of health, Dr. Robert Valois, studies teen risk behaviors. He says, like Sease and Hyatt parents need to monitor their kids?? social media activities. "They need to be checked because if there's a chance for it to be used in an inappropriate way the good percentage of teens are going to take the risk and do something foolish." Hyatt and Sease say as long as their kids are living their houses, on their dime, the kids will have to play by the rules and be open about what they're doing on social media sites. "We don't necessarily think that our kids are going to do it, but we will say somebody can send that to you and you need to know if the picture comes through on your phone, you're just as responsible as the person who sent it," Hyatt says. "Be careful, your child's probably innocent, but not necessarily the person on the other end. Just like with these apps, the person that's creating it might not have innocent reasons to create it or people figure out how to use things for inappropriate ways," said Sease.
And what some kids who use these apps may find surprising is that what they think is anonymous and deleted forever, is not necessarily the case according to Dr. Robert Valois. "If it's on a hard drive somewhere, it can be recovered."
Do you know someone who's been bullied online or in the traditional way?Tell us how that experience has impacted their lives in the comment section below.