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Dangerous app trends among teens

Chances are if you are a parent, you have a Facebook or Twitter account, but while you are "liking" and "sharing" your teens and tweens have already moved on to the next hot social media trend you may not even know about yet.

WKYT's Amber Philpott is tracking some of the most popular social apps and sites among your teens and the dangers every parent should know about each.

It's where most young people live these days on their phones.

"I've got to have my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Twitter is probably the most important one I have," said Kate Sanders a 20-year-old Lexington woman.

"Me and my friends we love to use Vine, Instagram and Twitter," said Sean Hughes a 16-year-old Lexington high school student.

Nearly 70% of teens admit hiding their on-line activity from their parents.

Susan Denman, a Lexington mother thought she was doing the right thing as a parent.

Denman's 13-year-old daughter wasn't even allowed a cell phone, but its what she was doing on her tablet that stunned the mother of three!

"I found out that my daughter had been talking to a 19-year-old man, so it's a very heart breaking experience to have to go through," said Denman.

Denman was able to stop her daughter from becoming a victim, but like so many parents she admits she was clueless.

"Social media is a moving target," says Dr. Marlene Huff a professor and Associate Director of Adolescent Medicine at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Marlene Huff specializes in behavioral and mental health in teens.

In the last few years she has seen the growing problems that can come with this new virtual world.

"There is danger in social media that children just aren't able to manage on their own," said Dr. Huff.

Dr. Huff says many of these new social mediums like Ask.fm, Snapchat, Kik and Whisper can be a breeding ground for a growing problem, cyberbullying.

"I call it the virtual reality that exists for teenagers, it also allows people to be anonymous," said Dr. Huff.

Ask.fm made headlines in late 2013 when a 12-year-old girl in Florida jumped to her death after her parents say she was bullied on the popular app.

Intended to be a question and answer forum, Dr. Huff says its far from it.

"Ask.fm which is a terribly gossipy way of anonymously bullying another person."

Other apps include Snapchat, it's a place to send images and videos. The "snaps" as they are called are supposed to disappear based on the time limit set by the users.

Dr. Huff says those snaps don't really disappear, so that can always come back to you.

Crime experts say Snapchat is the number one sexting app and those snaps can easily be saved.

Whisper is another app, its considered a teen confession app.

Anonymous users superimpose text over pictures. Its another place where cyberbullying has become a problem. The app also allows users to communicate via GPS, making it easy for a user to be tracked down.

Kik messenger is an instant messaging app used for exchanging videos and pics.

"A lot of adults and other people who live in the underground world of virtual reality can actually have access to our children," said Dr. Huff.

Dr. Huff says there is danger in all of these sites if not used correctly, but she is concerned that teens and tweens are dying because of what's being said on these sites.

"This is the first year we are really seeing youth suicides begin to increase."

The virtual world for teens isn't going away, for parents its an ever changing frontier with a sometimes dangerous reality. As parent trying to navigate, Susan Denman hopes others will wake up faster than she did.

"Don't become ignorant to the fact that these chat sites and programs and apps are out there," said Susan Denman.

Dr. Huff says the best thing parents can do is educate themselves and know what their children are doing on-line and what apps they have on their phone.

She also says that some of these apps can actually be a good thing helping children who are shy engage with others, but again it comes to education on what is right and wrong in the virtual world.


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