Shelby Poploski, like many, lets her 8 and 12-year-old daughters use tablets and, her older daughter, a phone.
Her youngest daughter likes to play games on apps like Minecraft and RoBlox.
“Recently, she told me another player told her he loved her and I told her don’t give them any information, don’t tell them your name,” said Poploski. “I make sure that, you know, the names that they use for their characters don’t identify them in any way.”
But that’s when the reality of the fantasy world of apps set in.
“I don’t like the fact that people can interact with them, they can pose as another child,” she said.
News 5 found that it is actually very easy to do just that. Most of the popular apps ask for your age, and to share location settings, but the app doesn’t verify your age.
As an experiment, we set up an account with the app Yubo. The app is supposed to be a way for teens to make friends, but it looks similar to Tinder. We said we were a 14-year-old girl and set our picture as a stuffed animal.
In a matter of minutes, we were bombarded with teens and kids in the Cleveland area, and had friend requests from kids.
Another app to look out for is the Whisper app. It’s an anonymous way for people to post secrets, and you can see those secrets from people nearby and can comment or talk to any of the users.
Ask FM is another one that is infamous for cyber-bullying. It allows users to anonymously ask other users questions.
Some other apps that could pose safety threats:
- Hot or Not- It’s a way for people to rate user’s pictures, but it’s connected to your location, so you could potentially be connected with predators.
- Live Me- it is geared around live-streaming videos, but you can find user’s exact locations.
- Omegle- you can chat and connect with strangers, but there’s no way of verifying if that stranger is who they say they are.
Experts say the best thing a parent can do is to have open communication with their kids, something that is important to Poploski.
“They know it's OK if they come across something. I can't prevent them from seeing everything, hearing everything, but if they have questions, come to me,” she said. “I can kind of explain things better and help them understand.”