FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A few simple tips can help protect children from sexual predators on social media. One of the best ways to control apps on a child’s electronic device, Kentucky State Police said, is by using a password to regulate which ones can be downloaded.

Sgt. Josh Lawson, who has spent four years with the electronic crimes branch, suggests parents have access to their kids phones, computers, and passwords.

"We've seen everything from family members, school teachers, coaches, to predators across the country, across the world," Lawson said. "They have to have their authorization to go in and purchase or get any apps even if they're free."

Some applications have hidden features that allow secret communication.

"There are apps that look like a calculator that hide images," Lawson said.

Criminals often use apps to send messages that disappear.

"Snapchat is of particular concern due to the fact that it will erase pictures and messages after they are sent or received," Lawson said.

The Kik app is another application commonly exploited by criminals.   

“Their servers and the company is based outside of the country where it hinders law enforcement, a lot of times, in easily retrieving that information," Lawson said.

Monitoring software can help protect kids, but Lawson suggests that parents also need to research the apps on their kid's phone.

“One app that we talked about today would go away tomorrow and a new one would take its place," he said. "So unfortunately, that makes it difficult for not only law enforcement but also for parents to police."

Lawson said parents should follow their kids social media accounts and review the privacy setting. And the most important advice may be some old fashioned parenting.

"An open line of communication is the best defense from these types of things," Lawson said.

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