WATERTOWN, NY (WWTI) – With more and more children and teens relying on technology to communicate, local parents are urged to be on the lookout for this app.
According to experts at the Jefferson County Victim Assistance Center, this includes the instant messaging application called Telegram. Telegram is a free cloud-based app available for Android and iPhone users.
However, some of its features are considered unsafe for younger users. This includes its secret messaging option which will delete messages after a certain period of time, as well as encrypted video calls, VoIP, and file sharing.
Cassidy Crino, facilitator of VAC’s Children’s Advocacy Center, warned that the combination of these two characteristics makes it unsuitable for all young users.
“The secret chat option allows messages to expire, be it a day, an hour or a week. So if a message, picture or video were to expire, it would be virtually impossible to retrieve and very difficult to protect this child,” Crino explained.
She warned that this can make it extremely difficult for law enforcement in child abuse investigations to determine the content of messages, as well as identify offenders.
“If a child were to be exposed or exploited on Telegram via chat or if there were photos of them shared. And if law enforcement tried to recover them, they would have to work with the Telegram app and their creators,” Crino said. “But if it gets deleted and encrypted, that would be next to impossible.”
Instead of Telegram or apps that work the same way, Crino suggested other instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger for kids, which is directly linked to a parent’s account.
Parents can also check the child’s phone to see which apps are visible. Parents or guardians whose children have iPhones can also use the battery to determine which apps are used the most, even if they are hidden.