LITTLETON, Colo (CBS4) – Colorado kids are being targeted on social media apps. As more and more kids get smartphones, the age of victims gets younger and younger. One couple found out firsthand when their 9-year-old was targeted.
“We thought our daughter was just making videos about her crafts and stuff. Well it turned into something completely different, and it happened just like that,” said the young girl’s mom.READ MORE: Debris, Rising Water Rush Along Black Creek As Flash Flood Warnings Plague Glen Haven, Cameron Peak Fire Burn Area
Within minutes of starting her live video feed on the live.me app, she got inappropriate comments and even threats.
“They were telling her they were going to hack her up, and they knew where she lived and all this,” said the girl’s father.
They may actually have known where she lives, if she clicked “allow location services” when setting up the app.
“That’s one of the biggest no-nos. When I talk to kids and parents, I say never have location services on because if you do, that gets someone that much closer and that much quicker to your child,” said Sgt. Mike Harris, head of the CHEEZO Unit Child Sex Offender Internet Investigations.
Harris said live.me is among a slew of new apps that put children in contact with adult strangers.
“They’re worldwide apps, so now our kids are exposed to not only predators in the United States, but a lot of people,” Harris told CBS4.
He urges parents to be vigilant. He recommends parental controls that don’t allow a child to add an app without permission. He also showed CBS4 how to find the top cellphone monitoring software, like Phone Sheriff and Net Nanny.READ MORE: CDOT Says Drivers Should Pack A Few Extra Things While Traveling This Summer
“Lots of parents say, ‘My kid would never show a naked portion of their body.’ I’m here to tell you that it happens far more often than anyone wants to believe,” Harris added.
Live.me is a live video sharing app. You’re supposed to be 13 years old or older to be on it. In a statement to CBS4, live.me said:
The safety of our users is a top priority for Live.me. Our community guidelines reflect our zero-tolerance policy towards any indecent or inappropriate behavior, and we take all allegations of violations against those guidelines very seriously.
Beyond existing safeguards in our app, and strict protocols for our moderators to address any violations, our automatic software detection and human moderators are on call 24 hours a day. We actively support law enforcement in identifying and prosecuting any users found to be endangering our community in any way, and remain committed to improving upon and providing more tools and resources to ensure everyone can enjoy their broadcasting experience.
Parents whose kids are targeted on social media apps may be surprised how quickly an innocent video can turn ugly.
“One conversation about the internet and the dangers of it is not enough. You have to keep talking to them, and check in on what they’re doing,” said the mom.
The CHEEZO Child Sex Offender Internet Investigations Unit will be at the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Safety Fair on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.MORE NEWS: Company Says GPS Showed Where Stolen Truck Was Yet Victims Say Aurora Police Showed Little Interest