Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Cyber crimes cops tell parents to delete app from kid's phones

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BATON ROUGE - The Attorney General's Office encouraged parents to forbid their children from downloading the kik messenger app - and told parents who have kids who use it to delete the app from their phones.

"Far too many child extortion cases have involved this app," the state's legal authority told WBRZ Thursday.

Messages are difficult to track, and children can receive unsolicited messages. Some of those messages are often inappropriate, Buddy Caldwell's office said.

In the capital region, there have been numerous cases involving the app where suspects have used it to communicate with underage people and trick them into sending inappropriate and illegal images to someone using the app.

"I have strict, strict rules about it. They try to push it a little bit, but then we have that other discussion and they're punished," Cheri Ausberry, a mother in Baton Rouge, said.

Ausberry knows the dangers of the digital age.

A recent study found parents believe an appropriate age to give a child a cell phone is 12-years-old. Ausberry's children have them, and she makes sure to watch what they do.

"It's different now than when we were kids. You didn't have cell phones. It was just don't 'talk to strangers, don't walk by yourself.' Same thing applies, but now with social media and the phones, they can pick up anything," she said.

"Without the proper supervision, children can easily be exposed to inappropriate material and messages, be exploited by sexual predators and even fall victim to con artists," Caldwell reminded parents.

The Attorney General suggests parents establish ground-rules before allowing their children to access the Internet and to use common sense during family Internet time. He also said people should not give out any personal information such as address, telephone number, photos of yourself, parents' work address/telephone number, or the name or location of your school without parents' permission.

Other things to remember, Caldwell said are:

-Never assume others are really who they say they are.

-Never agree to meet with an online acquaintance.

-Do not pick screen names that give away personal information.

-Do not respond to any message that makes you feel uncomfortable, and report it to a parent or guardian.

-Follow your parents' rules for using the Internet.

"User safety is extremely important to Kik. We’ve built unique safety features right into the app, allowing people to block, filter, or report inappropriate behavior. We are also actively involved in a broader societal effort to educate parents, kids, and law enforcement about online trust and safety," a kik spokesperson said in a statement about this story Thursday.


Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz


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