New app protects kids from predatory texters
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
Predatory texting. It's when child predators text, or even, 'sext' your kids. Here's what you need to know before allowing your children to hit 'send'.
The world wide web was once confined to the expensive family computer shared by all members of the household. Now, most smartphones have more power than older full size computers, but what is the right age to give your kids a phone?
People interviewed had various answers:
"Maybe around 13, 14 something like that--like once they go into high school."
"I think middle school is about the right age."
"I mean, cell phones go from a lot of different levels. A lower level one for someone who is in middle school so they can contact parents when they are getting home from school...all the way up to the high tech ones for when you are in high school."
Now, even most low feature phones have texting capability. Dr. Lena Malofeeva specializes in adolescent behavior, and says texting can be quite damaging if the person on the other end has the wrong intention.
"We do know currently that sexting and psycological distress are related. There is a clear link between sexting and things like depression, anxiety rates, and rates of suicide," Dr. Malofeeva warns.
Dr. Malofeeva says parents need to monitor their children's technology use, but that can be tough amidst the flurry of websites, apps, and social networks. The good news? There's now an app for that. There is a program that parents can install on their child's phone. If they send a picture, it will go to the parents. Same thing with texting.
Bob Lotter invented the app called 'my mobile watchdog.' Lotter says he came up with the idea after volunteering with a Sheriff's Department in California. "When you tell a kid, don't talk to strangers, to them that means don't talk to adult strangers. It doesn't mean don't talk to other kids that you don't know, or people that you think may be a kid."
The app allows parents to see everything that goes in and or out of their child's phone, but doctors say even if you don't see what's on the phone.
There's also warning signs to look for like:
-Hiding the phone when around others
-Refusing to part with it
-Dodging questions about what's on their phone
Experts encourage parents to be proactive, because while laws discourage child predators, they do not prevent your child from being preyed upon.
The most important tip from doctors? Talk to your kids, and have an ongoing conversation about their phone use and who they are texting.