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Beware of perverts targeting children through popular apps

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Posted at 2:22 PM, Feb 18, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Chatting on the internet one minute, being exposed to a flasher the next. It's not just adults we're talking about. This can happen to kids. Your kids! 13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean introduces you to one family who reminds us the internet can be a dangerous place.

SO INAPPROPRIATE

"It's just so inappropriate. I can't believe a website is that easy to access," says local mom, Christina Fletcher.

Her 7- and 12-year-old sons recently went on a website allowing users to video chat with strangers.

"They were both watching a site called Omegle. Dad walked in and was like, what are you guys doing?" says Christina.

"I thought we were going to be able to have a conversation with other kids and like be able to play games with each other," says her 12-year-old son, Luke.

USER EXPOSED HIMSELF

He says they found lots of adults on the website, including one who exposed himself! Christina says her 7-year-old also told her about an uncomfortable conversation.

"He said yes mommy, they asked me to show me yours, I'll show you mine," says Christina.

MUST HAVE PARENT'S PERMISSION

The boys say they learned about Omegle from social media ads. The website says: you must be at least 13 years old and anyone under 18 must have a parent's permission. But the site doesn't verify a user's age. You simply click a button for text or video chat.

"As soon as you hit video, you could start talking to somebody live," says Christina.

"We don't have to worry about strangers on the streets as much as we have to worry about strangers in our children's hands on their devices," says Heather Doto with Nevada Child Seekers.

RELATED: Tips for parents on how to protect children from online predators

NEVADA KIDS MEETING STRANGERS ONLINE

She says more than 8,000 children are reported missing in Nevada each year. About 200 of them are considered endangered or abducted. Most disappear after meeting someone online.

"There are so many apps that give strangers, predators and pedophiles opportunities to have a conversation with your child," says Doto.

UNWANTED SEXUAL CONTENT OR NUDITY

Omegle is one to watch out for.

"One in four children have actually witnessed unwanted sexual content or nudity online... If you look at the reviews for this Omegle app, that is something that is said over and over and over again," says Doto.

Another one is LiveMe. The app is popular with teens even though it's rated 18 plus. Users create a live broadcast on popular topics. The fear is they may do things they shouldn't, to build a bigger fan base.

"The thing about LiveMe is it's all based on attention and fans. The more you do, the more followers you get... This is where you have children exposing themselves, dancing, doing all types of inappropriate things in order to please their viewers," says Doto.

MONITOR YOUR CHILDREN

If your child has their own device, Doto says it's important to monitor what they're doing. Make sure they understand nothing is private on the world wide web.

"A lot of predators also screen record and attempt to share this or share these videos to pornographic websites. That's something they can do without the child's knowledge," says Doto.

If you find out someone exposed themselves or had inappropriate conversations with your child, Doto says tell police.

REPORT PREDATORS

"You absolutely 100% should report these people. Report these predators," says Doto.

Christina says she's blocked her kids from getting on Omegle. She's talked to them about the dangers of the site and now she's warning other families.

"I would just hope parents would honestly go back in history to see if your child's been on it or ask your child if they've been there," says Christina.

"Don't go on it because it's really inappropriate," says Luke.

OMEGLE WARNING

We reached out to Omegle, but didn't hear back. The Omegle website states:

"Do not use Omegle if you are under 13. If you are under 18, use it only with a parent/guardian's permission."

It goes on to say, "Do not transmit nudity, sexually harass anyone, publicize other peoples' private information, make statements that defame or libel anyone, violate intellectual property rights, use automated programs to start chats, or behave in any other inappropriate or illegal way on Omegle."

LIVEME WARNING

We reached out to LiveMe, but didn't hear back. The LiveMe app states:

"LiveMe introduces a total ban on use by underage users. Please report unauthorized use of this platform by underage users. Underage users are those who are under a legal age of 18."

It goes on to say, "LiveMe expressly prohibits LiveMe users from participating in or distributing any sexual content. Sexually suggestive behaviors and content or activities with sexual innuendo are not allowed."

CYBER TIP LINE

If your child is being sexually exploited online, be sure to tell police. You can also report it on the Cyber Tipline, run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.