How to protect your child from online predators

Police say a Cypress man raped a 12-year-old girl Tuesday after meeting and luring her through the MeetMe App.

The MeetMe App is designed for interacting with strangers rather than keeping up with friends--something experts say can be dangerous.

"You don't know who you're talking to online," said Melissa Rangel who teaches internet safety through the Texas Center for the Missing.

From MeetMe to Kik to Snapchat, popular apps are creating more opportunity for predators and pedophiles to not only talk to your children, but to track their location.

"The safety concerns that we run across all the time is that kids are posting too much information," said Rangel. "They post everything, and they somehow leave their GPS locator on."

Rangel says there's always a new social app out, and predators are quick to jump on the new technology in order to meet and groom children.

"They go through an app, because they think that's not going to be traced back to them, because it's an application, not a phone number," said Rangel.

Parents should keep up with the new apps their children are using, and they should also be aware of new features on old apps, said Rangel, noting the new map feature that Snapchat rolled out last year. The map allows anyone who befriends your child on Snapchat to track their exact location throughout the day. Snapchat users can go to the app's settings and click "See my location" to hide the user's location on the map

"These apps are just adding new features every single time you turn around," said Rangel. "Can you keep up with them? No, but our kids can."

Kids are also keeping up with new ways to hide apps from their parents, said Rangel. Ghost apps--including the Secret Calculator App--appear to be basic apps that you'd see on anyone's phone, but once you click on those apps, they are used to store hidden apps and web browsers.

"The best thing that a parent--as myself, or anyone else--is to not only see what apps your child has, but log into them to see what they're posting," said Rangel.

Rangel also recommends that parents download a watchdog app on their phones, such as the MMGuardian App or TeenSafe App. Watchdog apps allow parents to remotely view the activity happening on their children's phones.

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