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Secret teen sexting apps on the rise

4:53 PM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
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ROCKFORD, Mich. (WZZM) -- Four East Rockford Middle School students are back in class after a sexting incident that led to their suspensions.

District Superintendent Mike Shibler says a 13-year-old girl sent a graphic photo of herself to a boy over a weekend prior to Christmas break, but when the picture surfaced in school, those involved were sent home.

"The consequences of their behavior is far more serious when it comes to long-term effects than a few days suspension," said Shibler.

Shibler is right about the long-term consequences, says Kevin Damghani. He's one of only two certified Apple technicians in West Michigan, and works for Computer Rescue 911 in Grand Rapids. He's an expert on apps and says programs created for sexting are changing on a daily basis.

"Thousands and thousands of apps," he said.

One of the most popular is Snap Chat. It allows you to take a picture on your phone and send it to a friend. Three seconds after it appears on his or her phone, tablet or computer, it disappears.

"There's no history, no tracks, so teens are using that app for sexting," he said.

But apps aren't just for sexting. Some hide what teens are doing.

Take "Secret Calculator;" it covers text messages, so parents can't see them.

"This app looks like a calculator, it even says calculator, but it will let you hide photos and documents," said Damghani.

There's also Photosecret and Facebook Poke. But teens are forgetting two words: screen shot. Damghani says it can destroy anything, on any app, you thought was private.

"So that can be used for purposes of blackmail, or teens at school with humiliation," he said.

The Rockford students are learning that lesson the hard way.

Shibler says this was the first case of sexting in his district that he knows of.

He's been preparing for it though; He actually planned a seminar about electronic safety last year and it will take place Thursday, January 17. It's called Electronic Safety in the 21st Century and will feature experts from Spectrum Health, the Kent County Health Department, and the 17th Circuit Court Family Division.

The seminar takes place from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. in the Rockford High School Auditorium at 4100 Kroes NE.

"We have to, because the sophistication and proliferation of electronics is certainly going to more pronounced rather than less," he said.

Damghani also recommends that parents put app restrictions on their children's phones. He encourages you to stop by their office for help in doing so at 3070 Broadmoor Avenue Southeast in Grand Rapids.

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