Teens use different devices to send explicit photos - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Teens use different devices to send explicit photos

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Many parents are shocked to learn their children are sending explicit photos of themselves to other teens. WDRB's Rachel Collier uncovered how parents can find out exactly what their kids are doing.

"The girls, they feel like they have to use their bodies to get a boy to like them," says Duane Anderson, who found that out the hard way when he recently disciplined his 14-year-old daughter. "She got in trouble and she told a lie. So her cell phone was the punishment. We took it away," said Anderson. That is when he found the messages. "The really inappropriate thing was the guy from Meade County, who I believe is 19 years old, sent her a picture of his penis."

After filing a police report, Anderson knew he had to take over. "I said surely there's some software you can put on your computer to monitor websites, there's got to be something out there for your phone," Anderson wondered.

Sure enough, he found it. For just about $5 a month, Mobile Watchdog allows Duane to monitor his daughter's phone.

All of her texts are sent to his computer and phone. "First I always click on her name and I go to the activity log. Every text, every call, everything that's happened today," Anderson explained.

He says it has made things much easier. "I've had situations where she's had someone text her an inappropriate thing and I will text them directly -- you need to stop. And usually, they do," he chuckled.

His daughter thinks it is weird. She wanted to remain anonymous, but gushed on what kids her age are up to these days. "Yeah, other girls are talking about how they're already involved in their sex life and talking about drugs and alcohol, and how they're partying all the time," she said.

Keep in mind, she is only in 8th grade, but says teens face mounting pressure. "All their friends say they won't be cool if they don't try this, like a drug or if they don't drink or don't go so far with a guy."

Through talking with his daughter, Duane has learned how hard it is for teens to say "no." "They'll ask her to show something on cam, and if she doesn't do it then they'll say mean things they won't talk to her, they'll try to manipulate her into doing it," Anderson added.

But with Mobile Watchdog, Duane has disabled the camera on his daughter's phone, and blocked video messaging websites like Skype. "Send me a picture of you," Duane acted out, "my phone will not send pictures," would be the response from his daughter, Anderson explained. "You're blocked from sending it. You can't send the pictures."

"Once you take the picture and it's out there forever, we can never take it back," said Dan Jackman.  The detective with LMPD's Crimes Against Children Unit has seen extreme cases of texting involving girls in the 5th grade. "Girls taking pictures of their privates and sending them out to adults. I guess 'cause they see older sister doing it," said Jackman.

Teens connect with adults on websites like Tumblr and My Yearbook. Jackman says parents should keep their children's usernames and passwords. He has an easy way to prevent problems when teens should be sleeping. "Collect devices at night and then they can have them tomorrow morning before school," Jackman suggested.

But parents, don't be fooled. Teens are not just using cell phones to communicate with friends. An iPod touch or a Nintendo DS can be just as dangerous.

"They got a lot of apps on there but a lot of parents don't realize that the kids take pictures, movies of themselves on there and they send them to other people through text apps, email, whatever," Jackman explained.

He says there is an easy way to check what is going on. "Random audits. Just randomly go into the house or the kids' room or whatever it be. And grab the iPod touch, their iPhone, whatever phone it be. And go through it," Jackman tipped.

Still, it always seems there's a way to get around the parents. Even with Mobile Watchdog, Duane still finds surprising text messages. He found messages from one friend asking his daughter about smoking. As he kept scrolling through, things got worse -- sexual conversations popped up. "This is something I haven't even seen yet. Now we're going to have a conversation about this," Anderson stated.

We found messages from another guy, asking how much experience his daughter has with guys. "This kid here is on my radar now," Anderson said matter-of-factly.

As he works to regain trust with his daughter, Duane wants his experience to provide insight to others. "A lot of parents are going to be in denial at first. They're going to be like, no, there's no way my little girl would do that, it's the other persons fault. But when you look at the text message and if you're honest with yourselves, you're gonna say yeah, my little girl grew up and I didn't even see it," Anderson admitted.

It is hard to stay on top of ever-changing technology, but we have a list of handy sites that may help, including netsmartz.org. Detective Jackman says, "Netsmartz has lots of information regarding online safety. There are movies outlining incidents that have occurred to minors across the nation."

Another site he suggests is missingkids.com. "Missingkids.com is run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children," said Jackman. "There are over 180 free publications for citizens to use.  The information ranges from tips on finding a babysitter, daycare to how to talk to your child about sexual exploitation. The publications come in multiple languages."

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