ROANOKE, Va. – While many apps may have different functions some aren’t always safe.
Some of those include Calculator, Whisper and Hot or Not.
Even some popular apps, such as Instagram, allow people to use them anonymously or create fake profiles, which can make them dangerous to use.
There are many stories of teens across the county put in harm’s way all because of someone they were communicating with online.
A man’s son was lured from Alabama to Houston.
Another woman in New York was murdered by someone she met online.
Their stories are connected by the online gaming app Discord.
“So basically it’s designed for people to play the game together and simultaneously have the Discord app running to talk back and forth,” said James Ivory, professor of communication at Virginia Tech.
He researches the effects of virtual environments. His lab is often in the VT G.A.M.E.R. Lab.
“Any messenger app where you can create an account that’s not tied to your real identity can be abused and in this case, this one is as well,” said Ivory.
This gaming club at Virginia Western Community College moderates and sets rules for those using Discord.
“We never really had any problems being dangerous or anything. But if it were to happen, we kick them off the server and ban them,” said Charles Tomlin.
Other apps, such as 4chan, allow users to anonymously post images. Tellonym lets users anonymously ask questions of strangers.
Parents in Roanoke said it’s these types of social media apps that should be on your radar.
“You may trust your children and feel like you have guidelines for them but it’s the others out there you don’t know anything about. What are they doing? How are they luring them?” said Kathy Lamanca.
Parents we talked with said it’s important to make sure your children know who they’re talking to online.
“If you see somebody physically, you might know of a reason not to trust them. Like maybe the way they are dressed and the way they carry themselves. But with social media, you don’t have that visual instinct that protects you,” said Lamanca.
Parents can track their child’s online activity on 24 different social apps by downloading the app called Bark. It allows parents to get alerts of inappropriate activities in real-time.
Here are some other apps parents should know about: