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Arkansas AG Warns Against Apps That Hide Pictures on Smartphones

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 22 percent of teenagers log onto their favorite social media sites more than 10 times a day, and 75 percent own cell phones. (Twenty20)
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 22 percent of teenagers log onto their favorite social media sites more than 10 times a day, and 75 percent own cell phones. (Twenty20)
June 8, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It may not be enough to periodically take a peek at your children's pictures or texts on their smartphones. App developers are one step ahead of well-intentioned parents and have developed programs that hide photos and videos and in some cases disguise them as things such as calculators.

It's an issue Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge wants parents to be aware of this summer as kids have more time on their hands. She says the good news is there are equally effective apps available to parents.

"They can put apps on their own phones,” says Rutledge. “And again these are apps on parents' phones such as Secure Teen, Parental Control or Parental Control Board that are helpful for parents to know who kids are texting, what music they're buying and many other things."

Experts say you also can look at your teen's settings under "privacy" to get a list of what applications on their phones have access to their pictures. Experts say other programs to be aware of include the dating app Bumble that functions like Tinder and encourages girls to make the first contact and LIVE-ME that shares photos and videos with strangers.

Beyond using technology to protect your children, Rutledge says it's also wise to make sure children understand the potential dangers of sharing personal information and photos since it has a long shelf life online.

"We are no longer in the age of Polaroids, 35-millimeters,” Rutledge says. “It's OK to talk to your child about, 'This photograph can live forever and it can be very damaging and hurtful, so be mindful before you send a photograph of yourself.' "

Other apps to be aware of include Whisper, an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers and reveals a user's location so people can meet up; and Hot or Not, which encourages teens to rate each other's physical appearance and chat with strangers.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - AR