Local expert warns about dangers of popular social media apps

Local News

HARVEYVILLE, Kan. (KSNT) – Roles were reversed at Mission Valley High School on Wednesday night when parents got a lesson in social media and suicide awareness.

Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram probably sound familiar to most parents. But the dangers in your child’s phone lie in what you don’t know.

Kansas Dept. of Education safety specialist John Calvert gave a presentation on dangerous social media trends.

“Social media evolves every day. A lot of it targets our youth. A lot of times they make apps so kids can hide things from their parents,” Calvert said.

That’s what tonight’s event was about teaching parents about the possible dangerous on social media.

Calvert talked about secret apps like Calculator, which looks like a calculator but actually hides pictures and contacts. He also mentioned meet up apps like Skout or Badoo where kids can privately share explicit pictures and messages and strangers can track their location.

“What we’re finding is our kids are victims to child trafficking. They’re friending people they don’t know. They’re having conversations with people they don’t know,” Calvert said. “These people are professionals at grooming kids to feel a certain way and act a certain way, and then they go and meet up.”

Wabunsee High School counselor Marilyn Workman said the event was eye opening.

“You really don’t know what they’re doing. You just assume they’re talking to someone. That’s so scary how they can just slip those pictures in there,” Workman said.

Now she feels a lot more prepared to help students.

“Oh my gosh, you know, I’m going to be looking,” Workman said.

The event also focused on suicide prevention and awareness. Mission Valley Superintendent Bill Clark said the hope is that everyone learned something new.

“Schools have the opportunity to provide education to everyone. not just students but to communities,” Clark said. “Bringing in stakeholders from all over to continue to update, to provide knowledge and to make people aware.”

John Calvert told parents that social media evolves so much that you can’t always know about all the bad apps out there.

He did have some advice to help parents deal with the dangers.

He said hold your children accountable by talking with them about what they’re doing. Don’t let them use their phones while they aren’t with you.

He also suggested keeping communication open so they know they can come to you with issues. Share information with other parents so everyone knows what to look out for.

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