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    DA Seeing Dangerous Trend in Cell Phone Apps

    Online applications, referred to as “apps”, create an ongoing challenge for parents of kids using smart phones and other mobile devices. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Child Sex Offender Internet Investigations (CHEEZO) Unit is seeing an alarming trend with teenagers using free apps such as Textfree.com and textPlus as an alternative to traditional texting, allowing them to send sexually suggestive messages or naked photos hidden from the eye of even the most diligent parent.

    “Kids as young as 11 or 12 find these free apps that allow them to discreetly hide their communications from their parents,” says District Attorney Investigator Mike Harris, “Many parents regularly check their kids’ cell phones and text messages, but these apps provide another avenue for kids to share sexy messages and photos that most parents don’t even know exist.” Teenagers or other users may have over 100 apps on their cell phone or other mobile device. The icons for these apps appear on the device “desktop”. Having so many apps can be confusing and even the most conscientious parents tend to review only the texting feature that came with the phone or other mobile device.

    The District Attorney’s CHEEZO Unit encourages parents to talk openly with their children about their online activities. According to Investigator Mike Harris, “One of the most important things a parent can do is to place curfews on their children’s cell phones, actually taking their phones and placing in the chargers in the parent’s room during the night.” In Jefferson County more than 60% of children report that they have their cell phones in their bedrooms throughout the night.

    A variety of programs are available for parents to use to monitor their kids’ cell phone activity.

    For more information on cell phone and general online safety please go to the District Attorney’s CHEEZO website www.cheezo.org or call 303-271-6766.

    Pam Russell
    DA Public Information

    February 23, 2012

    Last Updated: 6-20-2013
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