Teens have access to a large amount of technology that helps them interact with people around the world, but some experts say this isn't necessarily a good thing.
In recent months, a good amount of attention has been paid to the fact that many kids are using online services such as social networks or applications in direct violation of the user agreements, and that often, their parents don't know they're doing so. As such, they may be putting themselves at risk for a wide variety of problems, and some of the worst have been in the news lately.
For instance, a popular location-based dating and social networking application for smartphones known as Skout recently shuttered its service for teens after it was alleged that three men between the ages of 21 and 37 used its teen-centric service to lure boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 15, and later sexually assaulted them, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times
. The company started out as a service for adults but had recently started a separate service for children between 13 and 17 when many in that demographic began using it.
For its part, Skout says that its service has technology that helps to scan for nude photos, sexually suggestive messages, profanity and other troubling activity, the report said. It also characterized its closing of the teen service as "temporary."
Similarly, a 17-year-old girl is being sought in connection with an alleged prostitution ring in Ottawa that worked through social networks, according to a report from the Canadian Press
. Two 15-year-old girls are already in custody in connection with the ongoing investigation. It's alleged that the girls they lured into the service were between the ages of 13 and 17.
Officials believe that parents need to take a larger role in dealing with kids' online behavior, the report said.
"Know who your kids are talking to online," Ottawa police Staff Sgt. John McGetrick told the news agency. "If they are going to meet someone you're not familiar with, ask them: 'How did you meet them? Did you meet them online? What did they say?' If I’m a parent, I'm going to have access to my kids' accounts and I'm going to read them. If they don’t like it, that's unfortunate."Matt Cullina
, CEO for Identity Theft
911, has a blog about kids' privacy concerns.
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