Detectives warn parents of hidden dangers on social media apps

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If you think you know what your kid is saying, or who they are talking to, detectives are telling you think again.

HAINES CITY, Fla .– The Haines City Police Department and Polk County Sheriff’s Office are teaming up to share important information with parents about their children’s activities on apps and social media.

If you think you know what your kid is saying, or who they are talking to, detectives are telling you think again.

“There may be parents who think they are monitoring their children’s activities. Maybe they see an app and assume it’s a harmless app. Or some sort of game. When really it could be used for something much worse, ”Haines City Police spokesperson Mike Ferguson said.

The Department and detectives from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office teamed up on Wednesday in a free workshop at the Lake Eva Events Center on Johns Avenue.

The revealing discussion aimed to focus on hidden apps, the alternate meaning behind what might look like harmless emojis, and other online activities that parents might be totally unaware of.

“We don’t know what’s on the phone. So we don’t really know 100%. We’re not sure, ”said Dina Reyes, a mother from Haines City.

Manuel Fernandez accepted. Her children are still young, but Fernandez said information is vital for good parenting.

“It’s really important to know what they see in the apps,” he said. “The content of all the videos. “

Edith Fuentes, also a parent, said it is up to parents to learn this sort of thing. And while it may seem odd, she said parents need to monitor their children’s online activities.

“They think they know everything,” Fuentes said. “And they start talking with a stranger who they think is nice.”

Detectives say parents shouldn’t feel bad for being in the dark when it comes to these things. They were too. That’s until they started seeing a trend less than two years ago.

Haines City only has a total population of around 25,000, but they faced nearly 200 cases of physical and sexual abuse against children.

A persistent trend even surprised them.

“More often than not, these relationships have formed through social media devices or apps. And that’s kind of at the root of the problem, ”Ferguson said.

Sadly, Haines City Police say they are seeing similar numbers again this year – physical and sexual abuse that can be traced back to contacts made on digital platforms.

Their goal, they say, is to provide parents with the information they need to protect their children.

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