WASHINGTON - Kik, Snapchat and Yik Yak are just a few of apps kids are using these days and while you think you know your child, you may have no idea. It turns out everything you have taught your children about online safety may go out the window in a matter of moments.
A D.C. father is putting it all to the test after a scare with his own child. Now, he makes a living exposing parents to stranger dangers online and how quickly their child might expose themselves and their family to a predator.
In a case that rocked the D.C. region, Prince George's County school volunteer Deonte Carraway was charged with sexually abusing several students and producing child pornography through the popular messaging app Kik.
Carraway's alleged predatory behavior has robbed his victims of their innocence and left lasting scars on them and their families.
Reginald Corbitt has experienced this pain and fear first-hand.
"I created Safe Cyber because of my 13-year-old daughter," said Corbitt. "She was having conversations with people she did not know - nor did I know them as well."
But Corbitt said it is time for parents to wake up and stay informed. Safe Cyber is a website he created to help parents do just that.
"Particularly young people, they need help managing that because they don't understand that just because it's social, it doesn't mean that you can be social with anybody on there," he said.
To demonstrate how easily kids let their guard down, he created fake online profiles to popular apps to show parents and educators how quickly children will divulge information.
From there, the conversation can spiral out of control into a danger zone.
Some examples Corbitt described were: "Are you close to me? You know that type of stuff. Then I can say, 'Are you close to me? Where do you live at?'"
Corbitt has seen children respond to that question with their home address, school name and more.
"Sometimes within minutes, sometimes it can take a day or so depending on how often I respond to them," he said.
Corbitt said now more than ever, parents should be armed with information.
"We know the story of the 13-year-old [Nicole Lovell] who lost her life because she met someone on the Kik app," said Corbitt. "It's important that parents monitor. It's important that parents enforce boundaries because at the end of the day, it can bring physical harm to a child."
Corbitt's top three tips to help keep your kids safe:
- Children should use smart devices in common areas of the home and not the bedroom.
- Create settings that require parental permission before children can download apps.
- Take advantage of monitoring software that will flag certain words or inappropriate pictures.
For more information, go to safecyberedu.com