Parents should be aware of what's on their child's cell phone - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Parents should be aware of what's on their child's cell phone

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A new study from Drexel University said 54 percent of people reported sexting as minors (WFSB) A new study from Drexel University said 54 percent of people reported sexting as minors (WFSB)
AVON, CT (WFSB) -

Parents with children who have a cell phone are being warned about what else that piece of technology could be being used for.

Jill Maloney, of Avon, said when her 17-year-old daughter first got a cell phone, it was for emergencies only. Now, she uses it for other things like talking with her friends.

“We've had the conversation about what’s on the cell phone is permanent,” Maloney said.

That’s a conversation, according to researchers, that is so important.

A new study from Drexel University said 54 percent of people reported to have participated in sexting as minors, and the majority of the people polled…61 percent, weren’t aware that sexting could be considered child pornography.

“Kids have always had secret places. Whether it's the woods, tree, parent’s basement an alley. Now that backyard is in their pocket in their smartphone,” said Quinnipiac University Professor Rich Hanley.

There are a few ways children may try to outsmart their parents. The first is with an app called “Secret,” which allows the user to snap a photo and hide it inside a private folder. The only way to see if is to open the app and put in a password.

“The best thing parents can do is let their kids know that just because the app is cool in school, doesn't mean it’s cool in real life,” Hanley said.

A quick search for privacy apps on the Google or Apple stores will find all sorts of privacy apps. Many of them are free and spread by word of mouth.

There are ways that parents can protect their children.

“They can disable a lot of the functionality on a smartphone simply by refusing to let the smartphone download apps. That has a downside. That means stuff won’t get updated,” Hanley said.

There are also safety apps, like ‘Teen Safe,’ which allows parents to snoop on their children’s texts, browser history, and see their social media accounts anonymously.

Maloney said she doesn’t believe it is necessary to have the apps, but Hanley believes each family should evaluate if they need one.

“These apps aren’t inherently dangerous in a sense. It’s just a natural part of childhood. Now that childhood is lived in their pocket,” Hanley added.

He said he expects the number of privacy apps to continue to grow in popularity, making it more of necessity for parents to watch what their children are clicking on.

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