Popular App Could Put Your Child at Risk - Fox 2 News Headlines

Popular App Could Put Your Child at Risk

Posted: Updated:
A mom tells FOX 29 an app allowed a random texter send messages to her daughter's iPod. A mom tells FOX 29 an app allowed a random texter send messages to her daughter's iPod.
Rob D'Ovidio, a professor of criminal justice who specializes in high tech at Drexel University, searched the web and found similar apps easily. Rob D'Ovidio, a professor of criminal justice who specializes in high tech at Drexel University, searched the web and found similar apps easily.
Philadelphia, PA -

A local 12-year-old girl received graphic and disgusting text messages from someone she may not even know-- and she doesn't even have a cell phone. 

A popular app on her iPod allowed the messages to get through, but there are things parents can do to prevent it from happening to their kids. 

First and foremost, experts say, you have to keep up with the technology, and know what your kids are using.

The mom who contacted FOX 29 Thursday thought she had it under control.  She took precautions, but she didn't realize how risky some apps could be until she read the text messages someone sent her daughter. 

One said, "I want to f*** you right now."  Another read, "Did you get in the shower?  I'm watching you." 

The messages sent a chill through her mother, whose identity we're protecting.  The mother said after she read the texts, she was "terrified that my daughter's not safe."

Whoever sent them used an app called "Pinger" to text the messages from someone else's cell phone number.  Pinger is just one of many such app's. 

Rob D'Ovidio, a professor of criminal justice who specializes in high tech at Drexel University, searched the web and found them easily. 

"I got a handful of them, some called 'Fake Me Out,' others called 'Funny Looker.'"  Many of the app's are free.  "With these anonymous services you have the ability to cover your true identity," D'Ovidio explained.

 The mother of the sixth grader who received the disturbing texts thought she had been protecting her daughter:  she wouldn't let her have a cell phone.  But she did buy her an iPod.  She didn't realize the app's could be just as risky. 

"You can get an iPod Touch and really mimic the functionality of a smart phone with that, from everything from making phone calls to sending text messages to sending multi-media messages," D'Ovidio said.

So what's a parent supposed to do?  Professor D'Ovidio has strict rules for his young kids. 

"They can't download an app without our permission.  I actually have to go in and do it."  And D'Ovidio keeps close track of the friends his daughter is allowed to text.  "When she comes to us and says, I want to send a message to one of my other friends, we will only add that individual's name if we know who that person is."

Trying to control content on your child's device after the fact may be too late.  The texter who wrote the girl made that clear when her mother tried to block future texts.  "She said, you think you're slick?  Well, you keep blocking, I'm gonna keep changing my number."  Those app's allow the sender to keep using different phone numbers and identities, so blocking just one number won't work.

If you do download an app for your child, you want to check the privacy guidelines to ensure that the app maker is storing the information it's collecting.  That will enable you can trace the source of a problem, if one arises.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Only On Fox: Arsonist On The Loose In South Jersey Town

    Only On Fox: Arsonist On The Loose In South Jersey Town

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:45 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:45:07 GMT
    It started with a brush fire, then another fire at the rear of this home on Monroe Street and finally a blaze that swept through this vacant home up the block, just a few feet away from where Emma Sethman
    It started with a brush fire, then another fire at the rear of this home on Monroe Street and finally a blaze that swept through this vacant home up the block, just a few feet away from where Emma Sethman
  • Police Search For Missing 16-Year-Old In Camden

    Police Search For Missing 16-Year-Old In Camden

    Police Search For Missing 16-Year-Old In Camden

    Sunday, April 20 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-04-21 02:42:45 GMT
    Police say Zebedee Matthews was reported missing Sunday, April 20th from his home on the 600 block of Benson Street.Police say Zebedee Matthews was reported missing Sunday, April 20th from his home on the 600 block of Benson Street.
    Camden County Police are looking for a missing 16-year-old from Lanning Square.Police say Zebedee Matthews was reported missing Sunday, April 20th from his home on the 600 block of Benson Street.Police describe him as a black male, 5'6 ½", 115 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. He has been reported missing three times before and is known to frequent Leonard Avenue in Camden, according to authorities.If you have information on his whereabouts, please call the CCPD tip line at (856) 757-7042.
    Camden County Police are looking for a missing 16-year-old from Lanning Square.Police say Zebedee Matthews was reported missing Sunday, April 20th from his home on the 600 block of Benson Street.Police describe him as a black male, 5'6 ½", 115 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. He has been reported missing three times before and is known to frequent Leonard Avenue in Camden, according to authorities.If you have information on his whereabouts, please call the CCPD tip line at (856) 757-7042.
  • Kraft Foods Group Recalls 96,000 Pounds Of Hot Dogs

    Kraft Foods Group Recalls 96,000 Pounds Of Hot Dogs

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:24 PM EDT2014-04-21 01:24:54 GMT
    Kraft Foods Group, Inc. has issued a recall for approximately 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners.
    Kraft Foods Group, Inc. has issued a recall for approximately 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners.
Powered by WorldNow

WJBK-TV | Fox 2
16550 West Nine Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

Main Station: (248) 557-2000
Newsroom: (248) 552-5103

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices