Everybody has a smartphone these days, including your children. They are loaded with apps that anyone, regardless of age, can download and have fun with. In our country, probably what\u2019s No: 1 for keeping in touch is WhatsApp, and probably Snapchat too \u2500 the latter being predominantly used for having fun with its cute face filter feature.\r\n\r\nThese are not the only apps we use to stay connected with our network of online and offline friends, many of whom we do not really know. It\u2019s the same for your children, whether they are teens, tweens or just kids old enough to have a phone.\r\n\r\nWhile we make our fair share of mistakes on the phone, posting up information we shouldn't, imagine our children who are even more impressionable.\r\n\r\nThere are groups they could belong to and people they chat with that they think are alright and when they are enticed to discover even more exciting interaction, they are given access to a whole bunch of other apps that offer all kinds of creative ways to share videos, pictures and even private secrets. Some of these apps pinpoint geolocation and offer face-to-face meet-ups, dates, sharing of explicit content with live-streaming video and even cyberbullying.\r\n\r\nLast year, following the arrest of a Venice man who sent illicit sexual images to an 11-year-old child via the popular app SnapChat, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office released a list of nine apps that paedophiles and human traffickers often use to target children.\r\n\r\nLast month, following the arrest of 25 suspected child predators and human traffickers, Sheriff Tom Knight of the Sarasota County released another 15 global apps that could put children at risk of being targeted by predators.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn the news release, Sheriff Knight said social media has made it easier than ever for predators to prey on children. \u00a0He urged parents to be more vigilant about what their kids are doing online and on their phones.\r\n\r\nAs a parent in Malaysia, you may think that the news does not concern you. After all, Sarasota is in Florida, USA. But then, there are no borders in the internet world. An app used by one country at one end of the globe is just as easily downloadable and popularly sought after at the other end.\r\n\r\nAccording to a report in the News Straits Times published on Sept 4, 2019, a \u201cCyberSAFE in Schools 2015\u201d survey released by Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, CyberSecurity Malaysia and the Education Ministry says more than 90% of schoolchildren in Malaysia use the internet via their phones. Of this, 83% are vulnerable to online risks because of minimal parental supervision. The same report mentions that paedophiles in the UK and the US are grooming Malaysian children via social media chatrooms and video chat apps.\r\nDark Places on the Web a Child Should Not go to\r\nThe end word to all parents is \u2500 take proper heed. It may look like invasion of your child\u2019s privacy but for their safety, do ask them those tough but necessary questions. Look through your children\u2019s phones and demand passwords if you see anything suspicious. You can also set controls but these are not foolproof as some dangerous apps disguise themselves inside kid-friendly videos and games.\r\n\r\nA good example is the Momo Challenge. It is a creepy internet game that targets young children by encouraging them to text their number on WhatsApp. It then sends them instructions to complete a series of increasingly bizarre and dangerous tasks. If they fail, they must inflict self-harm or take their own lives. The Momo Challenge may not exactly be sexual in nature but the intent is nevertheless the same, and that is \u2500 to endanger your children.\r\n\r\n\r\nKeep More than an Eye on Your Children\u2019s Online Activities\r\nThe ever-evolving digital world churns out an endless influx of new apps and games making it especially difficult for parents to keep track of their children's activities. However, one way is to regularly talk to your children about online safety. And pay particular attention when your children:\r\n\r\n \tBecome very secretive, especially about what they are doing on the phone or on their laptops.\r\n \tAre spending a lot of time on the internet and social media\r\n \tAre switching screens on their device when approached\r\n \tAre withdrawn or angry after using the internet or sending text messages\r\n \tHave lots of new phone numbers or email addresses on their devices\r\n\r\n\r\nSoutheast Asia\u2019s kids are targeted. Paedophiles can now use an array of mobile and online tools \u2013 including social networks, video-sharing sites, and the dark web \u2013 to direct and watch child rape and sexual abuse with anonymity\r\nQuoted from article in Free Malaysia Today\r\n\r\nHere are the Apps that Parents should be Wary of:\r\n\r\n\r\n \tWhatsapp:\u00a0This is a popular messaging app that allows users to send and forward texts, photos, voicemails, website links as well as make calls and video chats. They can also form group chats and share information and files to one another. However, kids and teens oversharing and not knowing where to draw the line expose themselves to predators.\r\n \tSnapchat: It's one of the most popular apps of 2018. The app has a lot of fun face-tracking features and on the surface, looks harmless. The messaging app allows users to send pictures, videos and text messages to a selected group of recipients. These \u201csnaps\u201d disappear from the device after or up to to 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see their location. Snapchat \u00a0is harmful to children under 18 because the snaps are quickly deleted , making it nearly impossible for parents to see what their child has sent out to others. \u201cSexting\u201d (sending explicit messages and pictures) is seen as a large problem on this app. In Canada, 10 teenage boys were arrested and slapped with child pornography charges after they used screen captures of explicit images sent through Snapchat. On top of that, Snapchat seems ideal for cyberbullying. Because the app leaves no paper trail,\u00a0 bullies feel comfortable using Snapchat to say and send hate messages to others as no one can trace when, where and how the damage was done to the recipient of these messages.\r\n \tMeetme:\u00a0A dating social media app that encourages users to meet up.\r\n \tGrindr:\u00a0A dating app geared for the LGBT community with options to chat, share photos and meet up.\r\n \tSkout:\u00a0A location-based dating app. While users under 17 years old are unable to join, kids can easily create an account with an older age.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tTiktok:\u00a0A new app popular with kids that's used for creating and sharing short videos. With very limited privacy controls, users are vulnerable to cyber bullying and explicit content.\r\n \tBadoo:\u00a0This is a dating and social networking app where users can chat, share photos and videos based on location. This is an adult app but teens are known to create profiles.\r\n \tBumble:\u00a0It's similar to the popular dating app, Tinder, however, it requires women to make the first contact. Kids create fake accounts and falsify their age to use Bumble.\r\n \tKik:\u00a0This app allows anyone to contact and direct message your child, sometimes anonymously. Kik gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.\r\n \tLiveMe: This live-streaming video app uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster's exact location. Users can earn coins within the app and use them as a way to pay minors for photos.\r\n \tHolla:\u00a0Holla allows users to meet people all over the world in seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content, and more.\r\n \tWhisper:\u00a0This is an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user's location so people can meet up.\r\n \tAsk.fm:\u00a0This app has become known for cyberbullying. The app encourages users to allow people to anonymously ask them questions.\r\n \tCalculator%:\u00a0This is one of several secret apps used to hide photos, videos, files, and browser history.\r\n \tHot or Not:\u00a0This app encourages users to rate other users' profiles, with the focus on physical appearance. It also allows users to check out people in their area and chat with strangers. The goal of this app is to "hook up."