LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – In the age of technology, children as young 7 years old own cell phones or iPads, or have access to both.
And if they care about joining a popular trend, they most likely have the app Musical.ly, which gives people a platform to lip sync, make music videos and show off their creativity.
The app’s homepage seems harmless, but specific hashtags can be found through simple searches for words like sexy or even skinny, some videos are too pornographic to show on TV and some are promoting anorexia or self-harm.
“It can just lead down a path of cyber bullying or being approached by predators asking them to do inappropriate things,” said Holmen Police Department investigator Crystal Sedavie.
She says predators are also posting videos and exposing kids and teens to disturbing images.
“Any app where our children go, bad guys are going to go there.”
She says many kids may be posting videos in clothing that gives away where they are.
“If they have on like a Viking t-shirt or they do it out in public at a public park and it’s easy to figure out where they are, that can be very terrifying if someone really wants to mess with the kid and say ‘hey I bet you’re from Holmen because I see you’ve got a Viking Holmen t-shirt on.”
Pediatrician Charlie Peters with Mayo Clinic Health System says the comments that kids may be receiving on the videos could have long term negative effects.
“Their self image, self concept, self esteem.”
He says it’s important for parents to keep a close eye on what their kids are being exposed to.
“It’s a reminder that what they can come in contact with would not necessarily be information or material that parents would approve of.”