Justin Visser is a resource officer at Grant Public Schools. He said it’s important for kids and parents to be more vigilant.
“I think parents right now don’t understand what kids are doing behind their screens, but predators spend hours. That’s their full-time job. And so, giving these kids a voice to know that that’s not right is huge,” said Visser.
Visser said with more kids going online since the pandemic and the way social media is set up, it can lead to some dangerous situations.
“It’s not about who they know. It’s all about numbers on a lot of these things, Snapchat, stuff like that. ‘My biggest thing is ‘Hey you don’t know who everybody you’re talking to,’” said Visser.
There are also things parents can do, including monitoring your child’s activity online and talking to your kids about online predators. But Visser stressed that the big one is taking away technology at night.
“If we allow our kids to have the phones at bedtime, they’re doing things that we cannot see. Keeping that phone out of the out of the bedroom at night is huge,” said Visser.
Unknown to many parents, kids can hide apps on their phones easily and you wouldn’t even know it’s on there. There are also secret apps and apps where the communication can be deleted or hidden. Visser says lots of apps have backdoors to secret areas not easily discoverable. Snapchat has a hidden backdoor password protected photo vault connected to it. Even an innocent looking app like a calculator can be something else entirely.
“You have a calculator where it works just as a regular calculator until I put a code in there and press a button and then it goes to a secret photo vault. Every app has some sort of backdoor hidden something in it, and it’s just a matter of navigating and trying to find that,” said Visser.
Visser said there is an online resource for parents called ‘Protect Young Eyes.’ It’s a valuable resource that gives you the pros and cons of the different apps that kids are using.
Visser said most parents don’t realize the danger is real, but he’s seen it firsthand.
“I’m still far behind. They’re making apps every single day that we are so far behind that kids already know about hidden apps, secret apps, and communication through apps where you can delete these things. We are so far behind as parents that we need to keep on educating our parents to keep up with it,” said Visser.