Teens using smartphone. (Photo: Thinkstock)
LITTLE ROCK, (KTHV) -- A recent study shows 75 percent of teens have a cell phone. They've become a fixture and a life line for most of us. And while cell phones are extremely useful, some teens are using apps that have the potential to be extremely dangerous.
"We don't know when to put it up," says 16-year-old Shelby Spooner.
Shelby's iPhone connects her to a world of apps that her parents never knew existed until her mom started getting tech savvy.
"It kind of makes you paranoid. It is mind-boggling to try and keep up with," explains Shelby's mom Paige.
What the mom of three found shocked her.
Paige recently wrote an article in Little Rock Family Magazine, in which she explored apps and media ratings. She shared three potentially dangerous apps with THV 11.
#1. Snapchat -- It is one of the top free downloaded apps with users sending more than 20 million snaps every day. However, some teens are sexting with it.
How Snapchat works:
Someone can send you a picture through the app and control how long you see it, up to 10 seconds. Many users think the picture disappears forever. But you can actually take a screen shot of the picture and it will stay in your photo library.
"Nothing is ever gone on the internet. It is there and you can find it," says Paige Spooner.
#2. Instagram -- It is a popular app with 90 million plus users. While plenty of the pics are fine, it is not meant for children under 13 because there are many nude photos and disturbing images. If the account isn't blocked anyone, again ANYONE, can follow your child and steal their pictures.
"These kids don't know what they are getting into," says Shelby.
#3. Vine -- It came out last week and is already climbing the free download chart in the app store.
"You hate to introduce it but you want parents to be cautious," explains Paige.
Vine allows you to share six second looping videos. In its short existence, it is already receiving bad publicity for pornographic videos shared with thousands of users.
Shelby understands the dangers. She says, "With technology, there is a lot of power that you are holding in your hands."
Meanwhile her mom has a vital message. She's hoping other parents will also get tech savvy and talk with their kids about the potential dangers of these apps.
She says, "I don't know if we can truly be smarter. We can just try and stay a step ahead."
Useful websites: iKidApps.com, which offers free weekly apps, and CommonSenseMedia.org, a go-to for movie reviews and more.
Education.com released the top 8 worst apps for kids that should be avoided.
In Spooner's article, she writes, "If you own an Apple device, go to 'general,' then 'restrictions.' You will be prompted to enter a 4-digit passcode so that only you have access to change the parental codes. Once it is set, you can enable or disable features like Safari, cameras, FaceTime, iTunes, YouTube and other apps. You can also select the ratings you allow your children to view for movies, books and apps.
There are also apps available for download that keep children from viewing harmful content. Two economical choices with some of the best ratings are Safe Browser and Surf Balance ($7.99)."