(WFLA) – A recent bust from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is prompting a warning for parents.
Deputies arrested 21 men in a six-day sting called “Operation Intercept Five.” The men are accused of soliciting young boys and girls for sex, many times using social media apps.
Now, police are urging parents to check your kids’ phones to see if they are using any of the apps.
The dangerous apps can expose your children to a range of things from bullying and unwanted sexual messages, some apps can even give strangers your child’s location.
Here’s what you can do to help protect your children:
- Approve every app on your kid’s phone
- Check privacy settings
- Talk with your kids about phone use, apps, and social media with your kids
- Find out what is popular in your region, different apps catch on in different locations
Here are the 15 apps the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is warning against:
MEETME is a dating social media app that allows users to connect with people based on geographic proximity. As the apps name suggests, users are encouraged to meet each other in person.
WHATSAPP is a popular messaging app that allows users to send texts, photos, voicemails, make calls and video chats worldwide. WHATSAPP uses an internet connection on smartphones and computers.
BUMBLE is similar to the popular dating app “Tinder,” however it requires women to make the first contact. Kids have been known to use Bumble to create fake accounts and falsify their age.
LIVE.ME is a live-streaming video app that uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster’s exact location. Users can earn “coins” as a way to “pay” minors for photos.
ASK.FM is known for cyberbullying. The app encourages users to allow anonymous people to ask them questions.
GRINDR is a dating app geared towards gay, bi and transgender people. The app gives users options to chat, share photos and meet up based on a smart phone’s GPS location.
TIKTOK is a new mobile device app popular with kids used for creating and sharing short videos. With very limited privacy controls, users are vulnerable to cyberbullying and explicit content.
SNAPCHAT is one of the most popular apps of 2018. While the app promises users can take a photo/video and it will disappear, recent features including “stories” allows users to view content for up to 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.
HOLLA is a self-proclaimed “addicting” video chat app that allows users to meet people all over the world in just seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content and more.
CALCULATOR% is only one of several secret apps used to hide photos, videos, files and browser history.
SKOUT is a location-based dating app and website. While users under 17 years old are unable to share private photos, kids can easily create an account using a different age.
BADOO is a dating and social networking app where users can chat, share photos and videos and connect based on location. While the app is intended for adults only, teens are known to create profiles.
KIK allows anyone to contact and direct message to your child. Kids can bypass traditional text messaging features. KIK gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
WHISPER is an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user’s location so people can meet up.
HOT OR NOT encourages users to rate your profile, check out people in their area and chat with strangers. The goal of this app is to hook up.