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Apps used by sexual predators: What you need to know

Published: Aug. 20, 2015 at 3:36 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2015 at 4:14 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Multiple social media sites were used by a former Trinity High School teacher and coach who pleaded guilty to multiple counts related to child pornography.
 
Police discovered Patrick Newman, 33, had directed a 13-year-old boy from Texas to do sexual acts and send him videos. His cell phone revealed similar situations that involved 15 other boys from Indiana, Utah, United Kingdom and three in Kentucky. Federal Prosecutors said he asked two of the Kentucky boys to meet him, at least one did.
 
Newman used social sites like Kik, Grinder, Topix, Vine and Snapchat. Because social media trends change frequently, it makes it more difficult for parents to keep up, said University of Louisville Director of Digital Media Jeff Rushton.

[RELATED: Former Trinity coach, teacher had Louisville child porn victims]

Rushton said it's crucial to review information in your child's phone, because it could save them from predators.

"If you're paying for their phone, you should look through their phone," Rushton said.
 
The majority of the apps used by Newman can be found on most phones. However, in order to download and register, the user is supposed to be at least 13 years old. Anyone under 18 years old is required to have parental permission. Some of the most popular social media sites are meant to showcase conversations, but others keep communications "private."
 
"Snapchat is notorious for being private," Rushton said. "Everything is private until you find out they store everything, then it gets hacked and information becomes public."
 
Federal Prosecutors said Newman was in contact with boys using at least five social media sites. According to prosecutors, he would ask for their name, age and location, before striking up a conversation and turning it sexual.
 
"Grinder and Tinder are very similar apps that connect people through dating," Rushton said. "It is geographic, so it checks to see where you are."
 
Child Psychologist Dr. Bryan Carter said unusual behavior trends often reveal when a child has become a victim, such as becoming not being able to relate with their peers.
 
"An adult predator may prey on a child to make them feel accepted or say things that make them feel good about themselves," Dr. Carter said. "Be on the lookout for erased messages."

For example, if there are no messages on the phone of a child who texts a lot.
 
Rushton mentioned a variety of monitoring apps parents can use in order to follow their child's phone activity, such as Net Nanny or Cyber Sheriff.
 
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