Are you monitoring your teen's cell? - WFLA News Channel 8

Are you monitoring your teen's cell?

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LARGO, FL (WFLA) -

When it comes to teenagers you might wonder what's the next "it" social site? That's tough for parents to track because it's constantly changing. Teens are dividing their attention between an array of applications that let them text and chat with their friends and often with strangers.

15-year-old Brenna McAnulty spends a lot of time on her phone. One of her favorite new apps, Match Me, is a virtual dating site where Brenna thought she came across one of her idols, teen pop artist Austin Mahone.

The two began frequent on line chats culminating in a plan for Brenna to go to his upcoming concert in Tampa. He offered her a ticket to his meet and greet and the concert for $150.

"I was really excited because he said I could hang out with him," says Brenna. But then, the would-be Austin Mahone suggested Brenna get a hold of her parents credit card without their permission. That's when Brenna told her mother, Valerie McAnulty, about the chats.

"The minute he started asking for money was the minute I was like no," said Valerie McAnulty. "When Brenna finally realized everything was false, I think she spent the next day and a half in her room just completely depressed."

Robyn Spoto is the President of Mama Bear, an app that helps parents track their kids on line activity.  She says of the internet , "It's a wide open door for a lot of bad to happen."

Another popular teen app is Ask FM.  Spoto is not a fan of it because you can choose to be anonymous which she says opens the door for bullying and other dangers.

Spoto gave that app a test drive herself.  "Within ten minutes there was a young girl.  I found out what school she went to, where she lived in New Jersey and the names, the full names, of the friends in her group."

Under the Children's On Line Privacy Protection Act, kids under the age of 13 shouldn't even be on social media but one in four 9 year olds has a Facebook page according to Spoto. Sometimes the parents know about it and condone it. Sometimes they don't.

Spoto recommends parents constantly monitor their kids cell phones. "It's awareness. It's being in the know and not being afraid of what you're going to find if you find something."

Valerie McAnulty agrees. "I think technology has made this a very dangerous world. It preys upon people who are naive."

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